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fi los' o fE, (1) the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct; (2) a system of philosophical doctrine; (3) the study of the basic concepts of a particular branch of knowledge; (4) a system of principles for guidance in practical affairs


AristotleAristotle founded the Athenian school called the Lyceum. He was the first philosopher to analyze the process whereby certain propositions can be logically inferred to be true from the fact that certain other propositions are true -- all men are mortal; Socrates is a man; therefore, Socrates is mortal.
DemocritusDemocritus suggested that all substance in the universe was made up of particles so minute that nothing smaller was possible. He regarded those particles (atoms) as unchangeable and indestructible, and as the only content of the universe besides the very space in which they existed.
EmpedoclesEmpedocles believed that all matter was composed of various combinations and arrangements of four elements -- fire, air, water, and earth -- and that the forces of Love and Strife acted on those elements and caused them to mingle, separate, and recombine.
ThalesThales of Miletus believed that all substances come from water and will eventually revert to water. He also made important advances in the field of mathematics and was a careful observer of the heavens.
William JamesWilliam James believed that every difference in thinking must make a difference to someone, somewhere. If two theories differ, the difference becomes clear when we know (1) how they differ over what the facts are, and (2) the difference in our behavior if we believe that one or the other is true.
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