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Philosophy: The Basics
A huge subject broken down into manageable chunks
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  • Who created this website?
    This website was created as a personal project by Luke Mastin. He has no official training in philosophy and this site is intended as an entry level resource by a laymen for the layman. His professional website (as a web-designer) is at, and he can be contacted by email at if you have any comments, questions or complaints about the website and its content.

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  • What sources were used for the website?
    There are any number of websites dealing with Philosophy, and thousands of books available from your local library or bookshop. Among the many basic level sources used for this website were:

    These sources, and many others, can be researched for more, or more detailed, information.
    There is perhaps a certain amount of poorly-disguised paraphrasing and downright plagiarism, but all in the public interest and none for commercial profit.

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  • Why don't you include references and citations?
    Sorry, it's not that kind of a website! I don't have the time or resources for that level of detail. My intention is to provide an easily-digested overview of the subject matter, but please feel free to extend your studies elsewhere. Wikipedia, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy have reasonably comprehensive references and bibliographies for their articles.

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  • Why haven't you included information on "X-ism" or "Y-philosopher"?
    This is a general level guide to the major areas of philosophy and the main philosophers in history. It is by no means comprehensive, and the choice of what to include and what not to include was necessarily a personal one. But make me good case for the inclusion of something specific, and I may well oblige!

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  • I have read the whole section, but I still don't understand "X-ism". What's wrong?
    I have tried to explain the concepts as clearly as possible, with as few obscure technical terms as possible. But some of this stuff is just notoriously difficult, and some of it rests on very fine distinctions, and sometimes technical terms are just unavoidable. Some doctrines like Deconstructionism or Phenomenology and some of the concepts in Philosophy of Language are just very hard to grasp, and I still don't really understand it all. And, trust me, the original sources use even more obscure and jargon-laden language (try Hegel or Heidegger, for example)!
    All I can suggest is that you read around a tricky subject in several different sources (just as I did!) in the hope that one particular explanation makes it finally click. If you think the problem might be with the meaning of some of the terms used, try the Glossary or a good dictionary (like

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  • What if I can't see or use the drop-down menus?
    The multi-level drop-down menus at the top of each page should work in all major browsers (with the possible exception of Internet Explorer 6 on a Macintosh platform), and if for any reason they don't I would be interested to hear which browser and platform you are using. In any event, there is a text menu at the top and bottom of each page with links to the main top level categories from where you will be able to navigate to whichever page you like. Also the Home page has a full list of links, and acts as a site map for the whole website.

  • I can see the drop-down menus but some of them extend off the bottom of the screen. What can I do?
    Some of the drop-down menus at the top of each page are longer than the screen size in most screen resolutions. If you have a wheel mouse, just scroll down further using the wheel, or you should be able to use the side scroll bar without the drop-down menu contracting. If all else fails, just click the top-level link (or the text links to the top-level pages at the bottom of each page), and navigate from the regular links on the top-level pages.

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  • Why can't I find words like "Dialog" when I do a search?
    The spelling used is generally Canadian standard, a hybrid of English (e.g. "behaviour", "labour", "defence", dialogue", etc) and American (e.g. "medieval", "skepticism", "organize", etc). Try alternative spellings if necessary (also look at the other search tips below the search box.

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© 2008 Luke Mastin