Philosophical Terms Vocabulary Practice (page 2)

Updated on Sep 8, 2011


The following exercise lists vocabulary words from this lesson. Each word is followed by four answer choices. Three of them are synonyms of the vocabulary word in bold. Your task is to choose the one that is NOT a synonym.

  1. paradox
    1. mystery
    2. contradiction
    3. puzzle
    4. clue
  2. antithesis
    1. an opposite
    2. a statement
    3. the reverse
    4. a contrast
  3. semantic
    1. concerning the meaning of
    2. related to the different definitions of
    3. using too many words
    4. distinguishing different contexts
  4. tenet
    1. prejudice
    2. belief
    3. opinion
    4. principle
  5. hedonism
    1. pleasure-seeking
    2. debauchery
    3. solitude
    4. indulgence
  6. teleology
    1. belief that nature is purposeful
    2. belief that natural processes occur for a reason
    3. belief that nature is haphazard
    4. belief that everything that occurs in the natural world is part of some higher plan
  7. paradigm
    1. model
    2. pattern
    3. example
    4. drawing
  8. abstraction
    1. theoretical
    2. conceptual
    3. tangible
    4. intangible
  9. logic
    1. confusion
    2. reasoning
    3. figuring out
    4. analyzing the truth of something
  10. erudite
    1. scholarly
    2. knowledgeable
    3. discourteous
    4. well read


Choose the word from the vocabulary list that means the opposite, or most nearly the opposite, of the following groups of words.

  1. unity, universality, oneness
  2. idealism, dreaminess, impracticality
  3. a professional, one who is properly trained, a qualified authority
  4. new, exciting, fresh
  5. selfishness, greediness, hostility
  6. concise writing, succinctness, speech that is not redundant
  7. a world of horrors, a "hell on Earth," future world of suffering and misery
  8. ignorant, uneducated, illiterate
  9. hard fact, physical evidence, tangible object
  10. answer, evidence, clue

Choosing the Right Word

Circle the word in bold that best completes the sentence.

  1. The two men were known for their wild (utopia, hedonism); they had a reputation for always eating at the best restaurants and cafes, and taking spontaneous vacations to exotic locales.
  2. His speech was very (erudite, tautology), and he received good reviews for his display of such fine research.
  3. Her volunteer work at the nursing home was just another example of her admirable (pragmatism, altruism).
  4. It is a(n) (antithesis, tenet) that followers of the faith often have difficulty with.
  5. I don't know what to make of it; it sure seems like a(paradox, paradigm) to me.
  6. Have you ever heard such a (banal, semantic) expression? I am just so tired of hearing that over and over again.
  7. If you really analyze the first premise of that (abstraction, syllogism), you will see that the conclusion cannot possibly be valid.
  8. She always closely followed the (dichotomy, dogma) of her religion, and often helped instruct others who had questions about it themselves.
  9. Don't panic. Let's try to use a little (logic, paradox) and see if we can figure out what must have happened to the keys.
  10. This place is like a little hidden (utopia, empiric) that we have been fortunate to find before anyone else ruined it.

Practice Activities

Go to the library and look up a book on philosophy. Not only will you read some interesting ideas by some of humankind's best thinkers, but you will no doubt see the words from this chapter in the text, as well as many others that you may not recognize. Find ten new words that you do not know the definition of, and look up those words in the dictionary. Then practice using each word in a sentence.

Use an Internet search engine and look up some of the words from this chapter. Does the search engine have links for the word? Go to a few of those websites and see why they used that word. Is the word part of the name of the website, or is it used in the text of the site? See how many words you can find from this list.


It might help to talk to someone about the ideas in this list. You'd be surprised at how many of these words relate to ideas in your own life, and the more you use or think about a word on a daily basis, the easier it is to remember.

Crossword Puzzle

Choose the word from the vocabulary list that best fits into the crossword puzzle. You can check your answers at the end of the chapter following the answers to the questions.

Philosophical Terms


Words in Context

The reader can understand that the narrator's former teacher's optimistic belief in a utopia is a belief in a better world that lies somewhere in the future. One gets the sense that this place must be almost like a paradise where, finally, no one would need the kind of help the teacher always gives. Thus, we can understand from the context of the passage that altruism must be an admirable quality that means an unselfish concern for others, which would explain the teacher's commitment to doing all he can for others and living a life of public service. We can conclude that an abstraction is a theoretical idea, but that the professor does not consider altruism to be just a word one only discusses in a philosophy class and does not practice. The narrator explains the teacher's tenet is that one must always strive to do more for others, so we can conclude that tenet means an opinion or belief of a person, religion, or school of thought. Since the teacher's pragmatism keeps him grounded and focused on practical efforts to help others, we should know that pragmatism is a way of thinking that emphasizes being realistic and useful. The teacher's choice to celebrate and throw parties is defended as not being selfish hedonism, so we can assume that hedonism means a pleasure-seeking lifestyle or philosophy. Finally, since the narrator states that he understands his teacher's unique ideology better after the celebrations, we can guess that ideology means those beliefs, opinions, or doctrines that he adheres to.

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