What is the difference between "Philosophical Ideas", "Philosophies" and "Philosophical Systems"?


To have a Philosophical Idea, or some Philosophical Ideas, this doesn't mean I am a Philosopher.

To be considered as a Philosopher this needs more and more Ideas, in many Topics.

Thus, what is the difference between:

  • Philosophical Ideas.
  • Philosophies.
  • Philosophical Systems.?

We have works of philosophers, like e.g: Wittgenstein, with a lot of "ideas" but with no "system" (same for Nietzsche, Kierkegaard). And we have "systems": Spinoza, Hegel.

So, Could we easily call Kierkegaard a Philosopher?. I think it is so hard to call Kierkegaard a Philosopher. We can find no problems with calling Him a Thinker, a real Thinker, but a Philosopher seems hard.

There is a Philosopher, and there's also a Thinker. To call this or that person a Philosopher, he should have a Philosophical System, or at least a Philosophy. Not just some Ideas. Besides he should act like a Philosopher, eat like a Philosopher, drink like a Philosopher. The style of all his life should be Like that of a Philosopher.

There are:

  • Thinkers.
  • Philosophizers.
  • Philosophers.

In One of my posts on this site, as far as I remember, I introduced an Idea about:

  • Scholar of Philosophy.
  • Philosopher.
  • Academic Philosopher.

There are a delicate distinction between three of them. Especially between: Philosopher and Academic Philosopher. Both of them are real Philosophers, from the moment of their birth. But the Academic studied Philosophy from all perspectives, He studied Logic, Linguistics, Psychology, Mathematics, Arts...etc.

Scholar of Philosophy we may Consider Him as "Thinker."

I need to study much more about Kierkegaard, He may be a real Philosopher, but his age, and short life didn't allow him to reach the level of Academic Philosopher, having a Philosophical System.

I hope my words are clear.

Thus, what is the difference between Philosophical Ideas, Philosophies and Philosophical Systems?


Posted 2020-04-26T05:23:55.280

Reputation: 413

1"Philosophical layout" is not used much, when used it simply composes dictionary meanings of "layout" and "philosophical". The latter can also be said about "philosophical ideas". So the question does not seem to go beyond a dictionary inquiry. – Conifold – 2020-04-26T07:25:47.890

@Conifold Could you give me the exact terms of Philosophical Ideas and Philosophical Layouts. – salah – 2020-04-26T07:40:36.387

1We have works of philosophers, like e.g. Wittgenstein, with a lot of "ideas" but with no "system" (same for Nietzsche, Kierkegaard). An we have "systems": Spinoza, Hegel. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA – 2020-04-26T11:04:50.370

@MauroALLEGRANZA Could we call Kierkegaard a Philosopher? – salah – 2020-04-26T11:53:05.010


Of course Kierkegaard was a philosopher. If you edit the question to explain why you doubt this it may help.

– Brian Z – 2020-04-26T14:13:34.417

Qualifying philosophers by the way they live if applied to all of us would disqualify nearly everyone for being alive. But your point is taken. Yet, if you read something, a book, a quote, an aphorism and in it you see and experience a sense of wisdom which serves as a guide, that's philosophy. Some systems philosophers went too far in extrapolating from what would have been better in short form. Some of the finest aphorisms come from the Cynics or Dog philosophers and they are all one liners. Good luck! CMS – None – 2020-04-26T15:51:31.577

@CharlesMSaunders of course such aphorisms may be an act of real experience of real Philosopher. But sometimes the aphorism may be just a delusion of psychic man. This psychic man may be considered historically as a wise man. – salah – 2020-04-26T16:22:47.073

See Søren Kierkegaard: "was a profound and prolific writer in the Danish “golden age” of intellectual and artistic activity. His work crosses the boundaries of philosophy, theology, psychology, literary criticism, devotional literature and fiction."

– Mauro ALLEGRANZA – 2020-04-26T17:51:05.633

@MauroALLEGRANZA Thank you for your helpful comments. I need to study Kierkegaard. Artist+Theologian+Logician+Linguistic=Philosopher. – salah – 2020-04-26T18:00:25.680



This strikes me as a question of semantics, for the most part. These are flexible words with flexible meanings, and we can easily get ourselves tangled in them to no particular end.

But to try to address the heart of the question (at least what I intuit that heart to be), then I have to start by going all the way back to Socrates, and his understanding of philosophy as 'the love of wisdom.' Now 'wisdom' is another squidgy term, but I think we all understand that term to imply certain qualities of praxis that both enrich our lives and keep us away from the kinds of troubles that foolishness, vanity, ignorance, or our typical array of angers, hungers, and impulses can lead us into. Therefore a philosopher is a person who loves wisdom, and reaches for those qualities in himself.

Now obviously we all have philosophical moments, or limited philosophies we live by: places where an idea occurs to us and causes us to reflect on ourselves and our behavior. In fact, Socrates counted on this; the 'method' of the Socratic method involves using questions to get another to reflect on his/her own ingrained beliefs and attitudes. Socrates thought that this kind of dialog would get people accustomed to self-reflective investigation, leading them onward to the love of wisdom so that they might become philosophers in their own right. And that is, I think, the best way to distinguish a philosopher from someone who has the occasional philosophical insight or a habitual life philosophy: the philosopher takes this mode of investigation as a practice rather than a happenstance.

Things are not quite as simple now as they were in Socrates time. The world we are exposed to is orders of magnitude larger than the world he lived in, and philosophy has grown and complexified with it. We have countless people who write entire books dedicated to specific questions or specialized fields of philosophical thought — a deep dive into some tiny pool of wisdom — and often we need to master what they say as we turn towards philosophy ourselves. This leads us to the idea of a philosophical system, which is really just a public effort to convince others that we would all be wiser if we understood the world and our relation to it in this particular way. Socrates would have disapproved, because Socrates (as a virtue ethicist) believed that philosophy couldn't be done in writing. For him philosophy had to be lived and experienced in real time; committed to paper, philosophy becomes dead words that can no longer adapt to a changing context. But still, this literature has value, and the entire field of academic philosophy has grown out of the necessity to read, digest, evaluate, and create these philosophical systems. But even in the academy there is a distinction between scholars of philosophy — those who are widely read and deeply knowledgeable about these systems — and those who produce significant texts that others read. The latter are whom we generally think of as philosophers.

People like Hegel, Kant, Heidegger, Sartre, and Spinoza are philosophers who produced philosophical systems: ways of understanding that they felt we would all be wiser by adopting. People like Wittgenstein, Nietzsche, and Kierkegaard are philosophers in the Socratic sense: they raise questions about things we blindly take for granted, and try to walk us back towards self-reflection. Any time you see a philosopher talking in aphoristic, elliptical, metaphorical tones, you can be sure s'he is reaching for a Socratic moment in which we continue the thought they leave hanging. Those who produce philosophical systems, by contrast, strive to be exacting and detailed, often to an infuriating degree (yes, Heidegger, I'm looking at you!). I don't think either approach is wrong; each is suited to different topics and different temperaments.

Hopefully this clarifies more than it confuses...

Ted Wrigley

Posted 2020-04-26T05:23:55.280

Reputation: 9 139

thank you, for your helpful answer.+1. The Socratic Philosopher is exactly the second type of those who are dealing with wisdom I talked about. A lot of people have moments of wisdom, but a few who are, from birthday, all moments of their life are wisdom. Thank you. – salah – 2020-04-26T17:50:10.170

@salah: I'm not sure about the 'from birthday' bit. Socrates (and I) believe that everyone has the capacity for philosophical thought. There may be some natural talents involved, but everyone is capable of being a philosopher if they choose. – Ted Wrigley – 2020-04-26T18:24:23.410

I don't agree with You and Socrates. Could a man with Dullness (mental problem), or schizophrenic, or can't easily practise Dialectic be a Philosopher?! – salah – 2020-04-26T18:48:11.307

@salah: Easily? This practice isn't easy for anyone. But I like to think that anyone can do it. Limitations are things to be overcome, as best one can. You may think otherwise, of course, but I prefer to be optimistic. – Ted Wrigley – 2020-04-26T20:10:29.020

Spiritually, there are three types of Humans: 1- Spiritual, 2- Psychic=Soulish, 3- Carnal. There are huge differences between these three types. Mentally, there are three levels of Intelligence: 1- High, 2- Medium 3- Low. (1,1) from the birth is Philosopher, i.e: Philosopher by Nature. The other 8 types graduate in the Liability to Learn Philosophy. I am VERY optimistic. I Support Directing Energies. The Philosopher by Nature should Study Philosophy and become Academic Philosopher. – salah – 2020-04-26T20:38:54.527