Main article: Epistemology
Epistemology is concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge, [11such as the relationships
between truth, belief, and theories of justification.
Skepticism is the position which questions the possibility of completely justifying any truth.
The regress argument, a fundamental problem in epistemology, occurs when, in order to
completely prove any statement, its justification itself needs to be supported by another
justification. This chain can do three possible options, all of which are unsatisfactory according to
the Münchhausen trilemma. One option is infinitism, where this chain of justification can go on
forever. Another option is foundationalism, where the chain of justifications eventually relies
on basic beliefs or axioms that are left unproven. The last option, such as in coherentism, is
making the chain circular so that a statement is included in its own chain of justification.
Rationalism is the emphasis on reasoning as a source of knowledge. Empiricism is the emphasis
on observational evidence via sensory experience over other evidence as the source of
knowledge. Rationalism claims that every possible object of knowledge can be deduced from
coherent premises without observation. Empiricism claims that at least some knowledge is only a
matter of observation. For this, Empiricism often cites the concept of tabula rasa, where
individuals are not born with mental content and that knowledge builds from experience or
perception. Epistemological solipsism is the idea that the existence of the world outside the mind
is an unresolvable question.
Parmenides (fl. 500 BC) argued that it is impossible to doubt that thinking actually occurs. But
thinking must have an object, therefore somethingbeyond thinking really exists. Parmenides
deduced that what really exists must have certain properties—for example, that it cannot come
into existence or cease to exist, that it is a coherent whole, that it remains the same eternally (in fact, exists altogether outside time). This is known as the third man argument. Plato (427–347
BC) combined rationalism with a form of realism. The philosopher's work is to consider being, and
the essence (ousia) of things. But the characteristic of essences is that they are universal. The
nature of a man, a triangle, a tree, applies to all men, all triangles, all trees. Plato argued that
these essences are mind-independent "forms", that humans (but particularly philosophers) can
come to know by reason, and by ignoring the distractions of sense-perception.
Modern rationalism begins with Descartes. Reflection on the nature of perceptual experience, as
well as scientific discoveries in physiology and optics, led Descartes (and also Locke) to the view
that we are directly aware of ideas, rather than objects. This view gave rise to three questions:
1. Is an idea a true copy of the real thing that it represents? Sensation is not a direct
interaction between bodily objects and our sense, but is a physiological process involving
representation (for example, an image on the retina). Locke thought that a "secondary
quality" such as a sensation of green could in no way resemble the arrangement of
particles in matter that go to produce this sensation, although he thought that "primary
qualities" such as shape, size, number, were really in objects.
2. How can physical objects such as chairs and tables, or even physiological
processes in the brain, give rise to mental items such as ideas? This is part of what
became known as the mind-body problem.
3. If all the contents of awareness are ideas, how can we know that anything exists
apart from ideas?
Descartes tried to address the last problem by reason. He began, echoing Parmenides, with a
principle that he thought could not coherently be denied: I think, therefore I am (often given in his
original Latin: Cogito ergo sum). From this principle, Descartes went on to construct a complete
system of knowledge (which involves proving the existence of God, using, among other means, a
version of the ontological argument). [12His view that reason alone could yield substantial truths
about reality strongly influenced those philosophers usually considered modern rationalists (such
as Baruch Spinoza, Gottfried Leibniz, and Christian Wolff), while provoking criticism from other
philosophers who have retrospectively come to be grouped together as empiricists.
Main article: Logic
Logic is the study of the principles of correct reasoning. Arguments use either deductive
reasoning or inductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning is when, given certain statements
(called premises), other statements (called conclusions) are unavoidably implied. Rules of
inferences from premises include the most popular method, modus ponens, where given “A” and
“If A then B”, then “B” must be concluded. A common convention for a deductive argument is
the syllogism. An argument is termed valid if its conclusion does follow from its premises, whether
the premises are true or not, while an argument is sound if its conclusion follows from premises
that are true. Propositional logic uses premises that arepropositions, which are declarations that
are either true or false, while predicate logic uses more complex premises called formulae that
contain variables. These can be assigned values or can be quantified as to when they apply with
the universal quantifier (always apply) or the existential quantifier (applies at least
once). Inductive reasoning makes conclusions or generalizations based on probabilistic reasoning. For example, if “90% of humans are right-handed” and “Joe is human” then “Joe is
probably right-handed”. Fields in logic include mathematical logic (formal symbolic logic)
and philosophical logic.
Main article: Metaphysics
Metaphysics is the study of the most general features of reality, such as existence, time, the
relationship between mind and body, objects and their properties, wholes and their parts, events,
processes, and causation. Traditional branches of metaphysics include cosmology, the study of
the world in its entirety, and ontology, the study of being.
Within metaphysics itself there are a wide range of differing philosophical theories. Idealism, for
example, is the belief that reality is mentally constructed or otherwise immaterial
whilerealism holds that reality, or at least some part of it, exists independently of the
mind. Subjective idealism describes objects as no more than collections or "bundles" of sense
data in the perceiver. The 18th-century philosopher George Berkeley contended that existence is
fundamentally tied to perception with the phrase Esse est aut percipi aut percipere or "To be is to
be perceived or to perceive". 
In addition to the aforementioned views, however, there is also an ontological dichotomy within
metaphysics between the concepts of particulars and universals as well. Particularsare those
objects that are said to exist in space and time, as opposed to abstract objects, such as
numbers. Universals are properties held by multiple particulars, such as redness or a gender. The
type of existence, if any, of universals and abstract objects is an issue of serious debate within
metaphysical philosophy. Realism is the philosophical position that universals do in fact exist,
while nominalism is the negation, or denial of universals, abstract objects, or both.
[14Conceptualism holds that universals exist, but only within the mind's perception. 
The question of whether or not existence is a predicate has been discussed since the Early
Modern period. Essence is the set of attributes that make an object what it fundamentally is and
without which it loses its identity. Essence is contrasted with accident: a property that the
substance has contingently, without which the substance can still retain its identity.
Ethics and political philosophy
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Main articles: Ethics and Political philosophy
Ethics, or "moral philosophy," is concerned primarily with the question of the best way to live, and
secondarily, concerning the question of whether this question can be answered. The main
branches of ethics are meta-ethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. Meta-ethics concerns
the nature of ethical thought, such as the origins of the words good and bad, and origins of other
comparative words of various ethical systems, whether there are absolute ethical truths, and how
such truths could be known. Normative ethics are more concerned with the questions of how one
ought to act, and what the right course of action is. This is where most ethical theories are
generated. Lastly, applied ethics go beyond theory and step into real world ethical practice, such as questions of whether or not abortion is correct. Ethics is also associated with the idea
of morality, and the two are often interchangeable.
One debate that has commanded the attention of ethicists in the modern era has been
between consequentialism (actions are to be morally evaluated solely by their consequences)
and deontology (actions are to be morally evaluated solely by consideration of agents' duties,
the rights of those whom the action concerns, or both). Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill are
famous for propagating utilitarianism, which is the idea that the fundamental moral rule is to strive
toward the "greatest happiness for the greatest number". However, in promoting this idea they
also necessarily promoted the broader doctrine of consequentialism. Adopting a position opposed
to consequentialism, Immanuel Kant argued that moral principles were simply products of reason.
Kant believed that the incorporation of consequences into moral deliberation was a deep mistake,
since it denies the necessity of practical maxims in governing the working of the will. According to
Kant, reason requires that we conform our actions to thecategorical imperative, which is an
absolute duty. An important 20th-century deontologist, W.D. Ross, argued for weaker forms of
duties calledprima facie duties.
More recent works have emphasized the role of character in ethics, a movement known as
the aretaic turn (that is, the turn towards virtues). One strain of this movement followed the work
of Bernard Williams. Williams noted that rigid forms of consequentialism and deontology
demanded that people behave impartially. This, Williams argued, requires that people abandon
their personal projects, and hence their personal integrity, in order to be considered
moral. G.E.M. Anscombe, in an influential paper, "Modern Moral Philosophy" (1958),
revived virtue ethics as an alternative to what was seen as the entrenched positions of
Kantianism and consequentialism. Aretaic perspectives have been inspired in part by research of
ancient conceptions of virtue. For example, Aristotle's ethics demands that people follow
the Aristotelian mean, or balance between two vices; andConfucian ethics argues that virtue consists largely in striving for harmony with other people. Virtue ethics in general has since
gained many adherents, and has been defended by such philosophers as Philippa Foot, Alasdair
MacIntyre, and Rosalind Hursthouse.
Political philosophy is the study of government and the relationship of individuals (or families and
clans) to communities including the state. It includes questions about justice, law, property, and
the rights and obligations of the citizen. Politics and ethics are traditionally inter-linked subjects,
as both discuss the question of what is good and how people should live. From ancient times,
and well beyond them, the roots of justification for political authority were inescapably tied to
outlooks on human nature. In The Republic, Plato presented the argument that the ideal society
would be run by a council of philosopher-kings, since those best at philosophy are best able to
realize the good. Even Plato, however, required philosophers to make their way in the world for
many years before beginning their rule at the age of fifty.
For Aristotle, humans are political animals (i.e. social animals), and governments are set up to
pursue good for the community. Aristotle reasoned that, since the state (polis) was the highest
form of community, it has the purpose of pursuing the highest good. Aristotle viewed political
power as the result of natural inequalities in skill and virtue. Because of these differences, he
favored an aristocracy of the able and virtuous. For Aristotle, the person cannot be complete
unless he or she lives in a community. His The Nicomachean Ethics and The Politics are meant
to be read in that order. The first book addresses virtues (or "excellences") in the person as a
citizen; the second addresses the proper form of government to ensure that citizens will be
virtuous, and therefore complete. Both books deal with the essential role of justice in civic life.
Nicolas of Cusa rekindled Platonic thought in the early 15th century. He promoted democracy in
Medieval Europe, both in his writings and in his organization of the Council of Florence. Unlike
Aristotle and the Hobbesian tradition to follow, Cusa saw human beings as equal and divine (that
is, made in God's image), so democracy would be the only just form of government. Cusa's views
are credited by some as sparking the Italian Renaissance, which gave rise to the notion of
"Nation-States". Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Later, Niccolò Machiavelli rejected the views of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas as unrealistic. The
ideal sovereign is not the embodiment of the moral virtues; rather the sovereign does whatever is
successful and necessary, rather than what is morally praiseworthy. Thomas Hobbes also
contested many elements of Aristotle's views. For Hobbes, human nature is essentially anti-
social: people are essentially egoistic, and this egoism makes life difficult in the natural state of
things. Moreover, Hobbes argued, though people may have natural inequalities, these are trivial,
since no particular talents or virtues that people may have will make them safe from harm inflicted
by others. For these reasons, Hobbes concluded that the state arises from a common agreement
to raise the community out of the state of nature. This can only be done by the establishment of
asovereign, in which (or whom) is vested complete control over the community, and is able to
inspire awe and terror in its subjects. 
David Hume Many in the Enlightenment were unsatisfied with existing doctrines in political philosophy, which
seemed to marginalize or neglect the possibility of a democratic state. Jean-Jacques
Rousseau was among those who attempted to overturn these doctrines: he responded to Hobbes
by claiming that a human is by nature a kind of "noble savage", and that society and social
contracts corrupt this nature. Another critic was John Locke. InSecond Treatise on
Government he agreed with Hobbes that the nation-state was an efficient tool for raising
humanity out of a deplorable state, but he argued that the sovereign might become an
abominable institution compared to the relatively benign unmodulated state of nature. 
Following the doctrine of the fact-value distinction, due in part to the influence of David Hume and
his student Adam Smith, appeals to human nature for political justification were weakened.
Nevertheless, many political philosophers, especially moral realists, still make use of some
essential human nature as a basis for their arguments.
Marxism is derived from the work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Their idea that capitalism is
based on exploitation of workers and causes alienation of people from their human nature,
the historical materialism, their view of social classes, etc., have influenced many fields of study,
such as sociology, economics, and politics. Marxism inspired the Marxist school of communism,
which brought a huge impact on the history of the 20th century.
Main article: Aesthetics
Aesthetics deals with beauty, art, enjoyment, sensory-emotional values, perception, and matters
of taste and sentiment.
• Philosophy of language explores the nature, the origins, and the use of language.
• Philosophy of law (often called jurisprudence) explores the varying theories explaining
the nature and the interpretations of the law in society.
• Philosophy of mind explores the nature of the mind, and its relationship to the body, and
is typified by disputes between dualism and materialism. In recent years there has been
increasing similarity between this branch of philosophy and cognitive science.
• Philosophy of religion
• Philosophy of science
Many academic disciplines have also generated philosophical inquiry. These
include history, logic, and mathematics.
Main article: History of philosophy
See also: Western philosophy, Eastern philosophy, and History of Western philosophy
Further information: Philosophical progress
Many societies have considered philosophical questions and built philosophical traditions based
upon each other's works. Eastern philosophy is organized by the chronological periods of each region. Historians of
western philosophy usually divide the subject into three or more periods, the most important
being ancient philosophy, medieval philosophy, and modern philosophy. 
Main article: Ancient philosophy
Egypt and Babylon
Further information: Babylonian literature: Philosophy and Ancient Egyptian philosophy
Main article: African philosophy
There are authors who date the philosophical maxims of Ptahhotep before the 25th century. For
instance, Pulitzer Prize winning historian Will Durant dates these writings as early as 2880 BCE
within The Story of Civilization: Our Oriental History. Durant claims that Ptahhotep could be
considered the very first philosopher in virtue of having the earliest and surviving fragments of
moral philosophy (i.e., "The Maxims of Ptah-Hotep"). [2Ptahhotep's grandson, Ptahhotep
Tshefi, is traditionally credited with being the author of the collection of wise sayings known
as The Maxims of Ptahhotep, [21whose opening lines attribute authorship to the vizier
Ptahhotep: Instruction of the Mayor of the city, the Vizier Ptahhotep, under the Majesty of King
The origins of Babylonian philosophy can be traced back to the wisdom of early Mesopotamia,
which embodied certain philosophies of life, particularly ethics, in the forms
ofdialectic, dialogues, epic poetry, folklore, hymns, lyrics, prose, and proverbs.
The reasoning and rationality of the Babylonians developed beyond empirical observation. [22The
Babylonian text Dialog of Pessimism contains similarities to the agnostic thought of the sophists,
the Heraclitean doctrine of contrasts, and the dialogues of Plato, as well as a precursor to
the maieutic Socratic method of Socrates and Plato. The Milesian philosopher Thales is also
traditionally said to have studied philosophy in Mesopotamia.
Ancient Chinese Confucius, illustrated in Myths & Legends of China, 1922, by E.T.C. Werner.
Main article: Chinese philosophy
Philosophy has had a tremendous effect on Chinese civilization, and throughout East Asia. The
majority of Chinese philosophy originates in theSpring and Autumn and Warring States era,
during a period known as the "Hundred Schools of Thought", which was characterized by
significant intellectual and cultural developments. [24It was during this era that the major
philosophies of China, Confucianism, Mohism, Legalism, andTaoism, arose, along with
philosophies that later fell into obscurity, like Agriculturalism, Chinese Naturalism, and
the Logicians. Of the many philosophical schools of China, only Confucianism and Taoism existed
after the Qin Dynasty suppressed any Chinese philosophy that was opposed to Legalism.
Confucianism is humanistic, [25philosophy that believes that human beings are teachable,
improvable and perfectible through personal and communal endeavour especially including self-
cultivation and self-creation. Confucianism focuses on the cultivation of virtue and maintenance of
ethics, the most basic of which are ren, yi, and li. Ren is an obligation of altruism and
humaneness for other individuals within a community, yi is the upholding of righteousness and the
moral disposition to do good, and li is a system of norms and propriety that determines how a
person should properly act within a community. 
Taoism focuses on establishing harmony with the Tao, which is origin of and the totality of
everything that exists. The word "Tao" (or "Dao", depending on the romanization scheme) is
usually translated as "way", "path" or "principle". Taoist propriety and ethics emphasize the Three
Jewels of the Tao: compassion, moderation, and humility, while Taoist thought generally focuses
on nature, the relationship between humanity and the cosmos (天天天应); health and longevity; and wu
wei, action through inaction. Harmony with the Universe, or the origin of it through the Tao, is the
intended result of many Taoist rules and practices. Ancient Graeco-Roman
Main articles: Hellenistic philosophy and Ancient Greek philosophy
Plato (left) and Aristotle (right): detail from The School of Athensby Raffaello Sanzio, 1509
Ancient Graeco-Roman philosophy is a period of Western philosophy, starting in the 6th century
[c. 585] BC to the 6th century AD. It is usually divided into three periods: the pre-Socratic period,
the Ancient Classical Greek period of Plato and Aristotle, and the post-Aristotelian (or Hellenistic)
period. A fourth period that is sometimes added includes
the Neoplatonic and Christian philosophers of Late Antiquity. The most important of the ancient
philosophers (in terms of subsequent influence) are Plato and Aristotle. [27Plato specifically, is
credited as the founder of Western philosophy. The philosopher Alfred North Whitehead said of
Plato: "The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it
consists of a series of footnotes to Plato. I do not mean the systematic scheme of thought which
scholars have doubtfully extracted from his writings. I allude to the wealth of general ideas
scattered through them."
It was said in Roman Ancient history that Pythagoras was the first man to call himself a
philosopher, or lover of wisdom, [29and Pythagorean ideas exercised a marked influence on Plato,
and through him, all of Western philosophy. Plato and Aristotle, the first Classical
Greek philosophers, did refer critically to other simple "wise men", which were called in Greek
"sophists," and which were common before Pythagoras' time. From their critique it appears that a
distinction was then established in their own Classical period between the more elevated and
pure "lovers of wisdom" (the true Philosophers), and these other earlier and more common
traveling teachers, who often also earned money from their craft.
The main subjects of ancient philosophy are: understanding the fundamental causes and
principles of the universe; explaining it in an economical way; the epistemological problem of
reconciling the diversity and change of the natural universe, with the possibility of obtaining fixed
and certain knowledge about it; questions about things that cannot be perceived by the senses, such as numbers, elements, universals, and gods. Socrates is said to have been the initiator of
more focused study upon the human things including the analysis of patterns of reasoning and
argument and the nature of the good life and the importance of understanding and knowledge in
order to pursue it; the explication of the concept of justice, and its relation to various political
In this period the crucial features of the Western philosophical method were established: a critical
approach to received or established views, and the appeal to reason and argumentation. This
includes Socrates' dialectic method of inquiry, known as the Socratic method or method of
"elenchus", which he largely applied to the examination of key moral concepts such as the Good
and Justice. To solve a problem, it would be broken down into a series of questions, the answers
to which gradually distill the answer a person would seek. The influence of this approach is most
strongly felt today in the use of the scientific method, in which hypothesis is the first stage.
Main article: Indian philosophy
Further information: Hindu philosophy, Buddhist philosophy, Jain philosophy, and Upanishads
The term Indian philosophy (Sanskrit: Darshanas), refers to any of several schools
of philosophical thought that originated in the Indian subcontinent, including Hindu
philosophy,Buddhist philosophy, and Jain philosophy. Having the same or rather intertwined
origins, all of these philosophies have a common underlying themes of Dharma and Karma, and
similarly attempt to explain the attainment of emancipation. They have been formalized and
promulgated chiefly between 1000 BC to a few centuries AD.
India's philosophical tradition dates back to the composition of the Upanisads [30in the later Vedic
period (c. 1000-500 BCE). Subsequent schools (Skt: Darshanas) of Indian philosophy were
identified as orthodox (Skt: astika) or non-orthodox (Skt: nastika) depending on whether they
regarded the Vedas as an infallible source of knowledge. By some classifications, there are six
schools of orthodox Hindu philosophy and three heterodox schools. The orthodox
are Nyaya, Vaisesika, Samkhya, Yoga, Purva mimamsa and Vedanta. The Heterodox
are Jain, Buddhist and materialist (Cārvāka). Other classifications also
include Pashupata, Saiva, Raseśvara and Pāṇini Darśana with the other orthodox schools. 
Competition and integration between the various schools was intense during their formative
years, especially between 500 BC to 200 AD. Some like
the Jain, Buddhist, Shaiva andVedanta schools survived, while others
like Samkhya and Ajivika did not, either being assimilated or going extinct. The Sanskrit term for
"philosopher" is dārśanika, one who is familiar with the systems of philosophy, or darśanas. 
In the history of the Indian subcontinent, following the establishment of a Vedic culture, the
development of philosophical and religious thought over a period of two millennia gave rise to
what came to be called the six schools of astika, or orthodox, Indian or Hindu philosophy. These
schools have come to be synonymous with the greater religion of Hinduism, which was a
development of the early Vedic religion.
Main article: Iranian philosophy Persian philosophy can be traced back as far as Old Iranian philosophical traditions and thoughts,
with their ancient Indo-Iranian roots. These were considerably influenced byZarathustra's
teachings. Throughout Iranian history and due to remarkable political and social influences such
as the Macedonian, the Arab, and the Mongol invasions of Persia, a wide spectrum of schools of
thought arose. These espoused a variety of views on philosophical questions, extending from Old
Iranian and mainly Zoroastrianism-influenced traditions to schools appearing in the late pre-
Islamic era, such as Manicheism and Mazdakism, as well as various post-Islamic schools. Iranian
philosophy after Arab invasion of Persia is characterized by different interactions with the old
Iranian philosophy, the Greek philosophy and with the development of Islamic
philosophy. Illuminationism and the transcendent theosophy are regarded as two of the main
philosophical traditions of that era in Persia. Zoroastrianism has been identified as one of the key
early events in the development of philosophy. 
Main article: Medieval philosophy
St. Thomas Aquinas
Medieval philosophy is the philosophy of Western Europe and the Middle East during the Middle
Ages, roughly extending from the Christianization of the Roman Empire until the Renaissance.
[35Medieval philosophy is defined partly by the rediscovery and further development of
classical Greekand Hellenistic philosophy, and partly by the need to address theological problems
and to integrate the then widespread sacred doctrines ofAbrahamic religion (Islam, Judaism,
and Christianity) with secular learning. The history of western European medieval philosophy is traditionally divided into two main
periods: the period in the Latin West following the Early Middle Ages until the 12th century, when
the works of Aristotle and Plato were preserved and cultivated; and the "golden age" of
the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries in the Latin West, which witnessed the culmination of the
recovery of ancient philosophy, and significant developments in the field of philosophy of
religion, logic and metaphysics.
The medieval era was disparagingly treated by the Renaissance humanists, who saw it as a
barbaric "middle" period between the classical age of Greek and Roman culture, and the "rebirth"
or renaissance of classical culture. Yet this period of nearly a thousand years was the longest
period of philosophical development in Europe, and possibly the richest. Jorge Gracia has argued
that "in intensity, sophistication, and achievement, the philosophical flowering in the thirteenth
century could be rightly said to rival the golden age of Greek philosophy in the fourth century
Some problems discussed throughout this period are the relation of faith to reason, the existence
and unity of God, the object of theology andmetaphysics, the problems of knowledge, of
universals, and of individuation.
Philosophers from the Middle Ages include the Christian philosophers Augustine of
Hippo, Boethius, Anselm, Gilbert of Poitiers, Peter Abelard,Roger Bacon, Bonaventure, Thomas
Aquinas, Duns Scotus, William of Ockham and Jean Buridan; the Jewish
philosophers Maimonides and Gersonides; and
the Muslimphilosophers Alkindus, Alfarabi, Alhazen, Avicenna, Algazel, Avempace, Abubacer, Ib
n Khaldūn, and Averroes. The medieval tradition of Scholasticism continued to flourish as late as
the 17th century, in figures such as Francisco Suarez and John of St. Thomas.
Aquinas, father of Thomism, was immensely influential in Catholic Europe, placed a great
emphasis on reason and argumentation, and was one of the first to use the new translation of
Aristotle's metaphysical and epistemological writing. His work was a significant departure from
the Neoplatonic and Augustinian thinking that had dominated much of early Scholasticism.
Main article: Renaissance philosophy Giordano Bruno
The Renaissance ("rebirth") was a period of transition between the Middle Ages and modern
thought, in which the recovery of classical texts helped shift philosophical interests away from
technical studies in logic, metaphysics, and theology towards eclectic inquiries into morality,
philology, and mysticism. [3The study of the classics and the humane arts generally, such as
history and literature, enjoyed a scholarly interest hitherto unknown in Christendom, a tendency
referred to as humanism. [4Displacing the medieval interest in metaphysics and logic, the
humanists followed Petrarch in making man and his virtues the focus of philosophy.
The study of classical philosophy also developed in two new ways. On the one hand, the study of
Aristotle was changed through the influence ofAverroism. The disagreements between these
Averroist Aristotelians, and more orthodox catholic Aristotelians such as Albertus
Magnus andThomas Aquinas eventually contributed to the development of a "humanist
Aristotelianism" developed in the Renaissance, as exemplified in the thought of Pietro
Pomponazzi and Giacomo Zabarella. Secondly, as an alternative to Aristotle, the study
of Plato and the Neoplatonists became common. This was assisted by the rediscovery of works
which had not been well known previously in Western Europe. Notable Renaissance Platonists
include Nicholas of Cusa, and later Marsilio Ficino and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola.
The Renaissance also renewed interest in anti-Aristotelian theories of nature considered as an
organic, living whole comprehensible independently of theology, as in the work of Nicholas of
Cusa, Nicholas Copernicus, Giordano Bruno, Telesius, and Tommaso Campanella. [44Such movements in natural philosophy dovetailed with a revival of interest in occultism,
magic, hermeticism, and astrology, which were thought to yield hidden ways of knowing and