Philosophy Pages

    Dictionary    Study Guide  Logic   F A Q s
  History Timeline Philosophers   Locke

Nicole, Pierre (1625-1695)

French philosopher. Nicole was a long-time associate of Antoine Arnauld, with whom he co-wrote La logique ou l'art de penser, also known as The Port-Royal Logic (1662). In the Essais de Morale (Moral Essays) (1678) Nicole offered an enlightened defence of egoism.

Recommended Reading: Edward Donald James, Pierre Nicole, Jansenist and Humanist A study of his Thought (Martinus Nijhoff, 1981).

Also see EB.

Nietzsche, Friedrich (1844-1900)

German philologist and philosopher who criticized the over-emphasis on reason characteristic of Western philosophy and the tendency of traditional morality and religion to debilitate the human sprit.

For a discussion of his life and works, see Nietzsche.

Nihil est in intellectu quod non prius fuerit in sensu

Latin phrase meaning "Nothing is in the understanding that was not earlier in the senses." Hence, the central doctrine of the empiricism of Gassendi, Locke, and Mill.


Complete rejection of the existence of human knowledge and values or denial of the possibility of making any useful distinctions among things.

Recommended Reading: Stanley Rosen, Nihilism: A Philosophical Essay (St. Augustine, 2000); Simon Critchley, Very Little—Almost Nothing: Death, Philosophy, Literature (Routledge, 1997); Karl Lowith, Martin Heidegger and European Nihilism, ed. by Richard Wolin and Gary Steiner (Columbia, 1998); and David Levin, The Body's Recollection of Being: Phenomenological Psychology and the Deconstruction of Nihilism (Routlege, 1990).

Also see IEP and EB,

Noddings, Nel (1929- )

American philosopher. In her Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education (1984) and Women and Evil (1989), Noddings emphasizes the importance of personal relationships as the foundation for ethical conduct. Educating for Intelligent Belief or Unbelief (1993) offers a general account of epistemological values. Her comments on "Excellence as a Guide to Educational Conversation" (1992) are available on line. In Philosophy of Education (1995) Noddings examines in detail the relevance of philosophy—both historical and contemporary—for educational theory and practice.

Recommended Reading: Nel Noddings, The Challenge to Care in Schools: An Alternative Approach to Education (Teachers' College, 1992) and Nel Noddings, Starting at Home: Caring and Social Policy (California, 2002).

Also see Steve Tozer.

νοησις [nóêsis]

Greek word for intuition or thinking; the operation of νους [nous] without benefit of the discursive reasoning that characterizes διανοια [diánoia]. According to Plato, such awareness represents the highest portion of human knowledge. From this foundation, Plotinus developed a detailed theory about the operation of the human soul in relation to the world. Husserl later appropriated this Greek term in order to emphasize the characteristic intentionality of mental acts.

Recommended Reading: F. E. Peters, Greek Philosophical Terms: A Historical Lexicon (NYU, 1967).

Also see PP.


Belief that only particular things exist, as opposed to realism. Nominalists hold that a general term or name {Lat. nomine} is applied to individuals that resemble each other, without the need of any reference to an independently existing universal. Prominent representatives of this view include Ockham, Berkeley, and Goodman.

Recommended Reading: The Nature of Properties: Nominalism, Realism, and Trope Theory, ed. by Michael Tooley (Garland, 1999); Five Texts on the Mediaeval Problem of Universals: Porphyry, Boethius, Abelard, Duns Scotus, Ockham, ed. by Paul Vincent Spade (Hackett, 1994); Mia Gosselin, Nominalism and Contemporary Nominalism: Ontological and Epistemological Implications of the Work of W.V.O. Quine and of N. Goodman (Kluwer, 1990); and Nominalism, Constructivism, and Relativism in the Work of Nelson Goodman, ed. by Catherine Z. Elgin (Garland, 1997).

Also see SEP, EB, and ISM.

non sequitur

Latin phrase meaning, "It does not follow." The characteristic feature of arguments that fail to provide adequate support for their conclusions, especially those that commit one of the fallacies of relevance.


A meta-ethical theory according to which moral issues are not subject to rational determination. Dealing with values, not facts, moral assertions are neither true nor false, but merely express attitudes, feelings, desires, or demands.

Recommended Reading: Hume's Ethical Writings, ed. by Alasdair MacIntyre (Notre Dame, 1979); Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Hume on Morality, ed. by James Baillie (Routledge, 2000); and Charles L. Stevenson, Facts and Values (Greenwood, 1975).

Also see IEP, SEP, EB, and Steven Darwall.

normative ethics

Branch of philosophical ethics concerned with developing theories that determine which human actions are right and which are wrong. It is useful to distinguish normative theories according to the way in which they derive moral value from duties or rights: deontological theories hold that actions are intrinsically right or wrong, while consequentialist theories evaluate actions by reference to their extrinsic outcomes. Virtue ethics theories locate the highest moral value in the development of persons.

Recommended Reading: William K. Frankena, Ethics (Prentice Hall, 1973); Stephen Darwall, Philosophical Ethics (Westview, 1998); The Blackwell Guide to Ethical Theory, ed. by Hugh Lafollette (Blackwell, 2000); and Normative Ethics, ed. by Shelly Kagan, Keith Lehrer, and Norman Daniels (Westview, 1997).

Also see Ethics Updates, EB, and Kelly L. Ross.

Norris, John (1657-1711)

English philosopher. In his Essay towards the Theory of an Ideal World, Norris defended the philosophy of Malebranche against the empiricism of Locke.

Recommended Reading: John Norris, Treatises upon Several Subjects (Garland, 1993) and Richard Acworth, The Philosophy of John Norris of Bemerton (Lubrecht & Cramer, 1976).

Also see SEP and EB.


Things as they are in themselves; see phenomena / noumena.

Also see EB.

νους [nous]

Greek term for mind, reason, or intellect. Thus, in the philosophy of Anaxagoras, νους is an organizing principle for the universe as a whole. Plato distinguished this cosmic sense from the more ordinary operation of the human soul in achieving higher knowledge. Aristotle typically regarded νους as the distinctive faculty involved in the acquisition of general knowledge. As always, Plotinus elevated this into a quasi-divine principle.

Recommended Reading: F. E. Peters, Greek Philosophical Terms: A Historical Lexicon (NYU, 1967).

Also see EB and PP.

Nozick, Robert (1938-2002)

American philosopher; author of Philosophical Explanations (1981) and The Examined Life (1990). Although Nozick has dealt with a wide range of philosophical issues, he is best known for the libertarian political philosophy he defended in Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974). According to Nozick, direct action by the state is rarely warranted, and justice is appropriately evaluated by reference to the means by which social policies are implemented, rather than their consequences.

Recommended Reading: Robert Nozick, The Nature of Rationality (Princeton, 1994); Robert Nozick, Socratic Puzzles (Harvard, 1999); Robert Nozick, Invariances: The Structure of the Objective World (Harvard, 2001); Robert Nozick, ed. by David Schmidtz (Cambridge, 2002); Simon A. Hailwood, Exploring Nozick: Beyond 'Anarchy, State and Utopia' (Avebury, 1996); and Reading Nozick: Essays on 'Anarchy, State and Utopia', ed. by Jeffrey Paul (Rowman & Littlefield, 1981).

Also see R. N. Johnson and EB.

Nussbaum, Martha Craven (1947- )

American philosopher. In The Fragility of Goodness (1986) and The Therapy of Desire (1994) Nussbaum argues for the continuing relevance of the moral philosophy of Aristotle and the schools of the Hellenistic era. An on-line example of her use of this method may be found in "Victims and Agents: What Greek tragedy can teach us about sympathy and responsibility." She employs more modern literary texts as significant sources of insight into human emotions and decision-making in Love's Knowledge (1990).

Recommended Reading: Martha Craven Nussbaum, Poetic Justice: The Literary Imagination and Public Life (Beacon, 1997); Martha Craven Nussbaum, Cultivating Humanity (Harvard, 1998); Martha Craven Nussbaum, Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach (Cambridge, 2000); Martha Craven Nussbaum, Sex & Social Justice (Oxford, 2000); Ronald L. Hall, The Human Embrace: The Love of Philosophy and the Philosophy of Love: Kierkegaard, Cavell, Nussbaum (Penn. State, 1999); Martha Craven Nussbaum, The New Religious Intolerance (Harvard, 2012).

Also see Karl Hostetler.


Creative Commons License
The Philosophy Pages by Garth Kemerling are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

©1997, 2011 Garth Kemerling.
Last modified 30 December 2011.
Questions, comments, and suggestions may be sent to: the Contact Page.