This is kind of a hard question to ask. I'm doing some research on the human mind and its attributes - learning, thinking, etc.

There are many different kinds of thinking/reasoning, and I'd like to put together a basic classification. It's confusing, because psychologists, physiologists, philosophers and others all have different approaches.

Anyway, consider the following: Science, Philosophy, Religion, Spirituality

These are examples of what? For example, you could say that science and philosophy are overlapping "thinking spheres." I wouldn't call them "knowledge spheres," because philosophy isn't dependent on hard facts, of course.

There's probably a common term that fits here, but I just can't think of it.

EDIT: I wrote "common word" in my original post but should have wrote "common term" instead.

Don't shoot me, but I chose lens over discipline (the answer with the most upvotes). In fact, neither answer is exactly what I was looking for. Discipline sounds a little too rigid when some of the "things" I seek to categorize can be hard to define (e.g. spirituality). On the other hand, lens, by itself, doesn't really work.

Then I went back and reread 1006a's answer and noted the term disciplinary lens, combining both words.

I asked a really tough, somewhat ambiguous, question, and I got a lot of good tips from all the answers.

  • 4
    How about disciplines?
    – Stu W
    Sep 20, 2016 at 2:18
  • 1
    This one is difficult, as claimed, because Religion and Spirituality are subsets of philosophy and some areas philosophy can be viewed as a pseudo-science. One can say "Science and philosophy are disciplines that use critical thinking.", "Science and philosophy are two areas of advanced studies."
    – Leucippus
    Sep 20, 2016 at 2:38
  • 2
    How about fields of study?
    – Jim
    Sep 20, 2016 at 5:43
  • @Leucippus The pseudo-science part of your comment doesn't really matter in this context. After all Literature and Fine Art are respected fields of study but certainly aren't sciences any more than Religion and Spirituality are.
    – BoldBen
    Sep 20, 2016 at 7:35
  • 1
    @ Leucippus - The relationship between religion, spirituality and philosophy is one of the thinks I've been pondering. I haven't done a lot of research on it, but I tend to view religion as an offshoot of spirituality, which is in turn distinct from philosophy. As I see it, science is based on facts, evidence and logic, philosophy more on logic and spirituality on something entirely different, something more intuitive. But I'm just thinking out loud; no clear answers here, obviously. ;) Sep 20, 2016 at 12:15

5 Answers 5


The term I use for this is lens in the sense of

something that facilitates and influences perception, comprehension, or evaluation ("Lens." Merriam-Webster.com. Definition 5.)

Some examples of usage:

Some scientists . . . have been outspoken about the satisfaction they find in viewing the world through both a scientific lens and one of personal faith. (Science and religion: Reconcilable differences)

Reading Through a Disciplinary Lens

Connie Juel, Heather Hebard, Julie Park Haubner and Meredith Moran

Understanding how to think like a scientist, writer, or historian can provide students with new insights as they tackle a text.

(Article in March 2010 Educational Leadership)

When you study biopsychology, you examine memory, perception, cognition and behavioral disorders through the lens of physiology, neural biochemistry, biophysics and anatomy. ("What is Biological Psychology?" Learn.org.)

You can also usefully extend the metaphor by thinking about different kinds of literal lenses. For example, bifocals use different lenses to assist with near- versus far-vision; lenses can be used to isolate certain details, or combined to create various effects; and so forth.

So for your title question,

Science and Philosophy are two types of lenses.

You could also combine this with @alwayslearning's suggestion, for disciplinary lenses, or choose your own adjective: conceptual lenses, theoretical lenses, etc.

  • Very good suggestion; I'm pondering "mental lens," "reasoning lens," etc. Sep 21, 2016 at 0:56
  • The late Stephen Jay Gould offered the term 'magesteria' to compare and contrast the realms of science and religion. i found his conclusions specious to say the least, but the word does have a certain (borrowed) ring of authority.
    – Glasseyed
    Sep 21, 2016 at 2:32

The first word I could think of is disciplines (though already mentioned in comments). Further, where your "thinking spheres" overlap, it can be termed as interdisciplinary.


discipline noun

3 : a field of study

Filtered through scores of later interpreters, it percolated across a broad segment of academic culture and influenced disciplines as diverse as literary criticism and legal theory.

interdisciplinary adjective

: involving two or more academic, scientific, or artistic areas of knowledge : involving two or more disciplines

  • I upvoted all the responses, but discipline works best for me so far. Give me a while before I mark it as the correct answer, though. I don't think of spirituality as a field of study so much as an intuitive connection with the world around us, whatever that means. ;) I'm looking for a term that means "kind of thinking or reasoning," though discipline might still work. Sep 20, 2016 at 12:20

Lacking additional information on what you are seeking, I would call science, philosophy, religion, and spirituality subjects.

From The Free Dictionary:

subject: a course or area of study


You have sort of answered it in one way in the statement of your question itself: They are types of "approaches". Calling them "Knowledge spheres" is creating another terminology that needs to be explained. One would then ask, what is a "knowledge sphere", what is "Knowledge", and what is "sphere", why call it "sphere", etc. Of course, a question still remains, which is: "approaches" to what? The answer to this new question would depend on the the writer's perspective and the context in which the statement is written.


You've already accepted an answer, but it is not one word, and you've indicated that neither individual word is exactly what you're looking for. Given that, I thought I'd try two additional possibilities: perspective and worldview.

From The Free Dictionary:


  • a mental view or outlook; an understanding of how aspects of a subject relate to each other and to the whole

  • a way of regarding situations, facts, etc, and judging their relative importance

  • one's mental view of facts, ideas, etc., and their interrelationships

It's fair to say that different people have different perspectives, be they scientific, philosophical, religious, or spiritual. For example, one might say, "From a scientific perspective, ..." or "From a religious perspective ..." Perspective has some of the same connotations as lens.

From Wikipedia:

A comprehensive world view or worldview is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individual or society's knowledge and point of view. A world view can include natural philosophy; fundamental, existential, and normative postulates; or themes, values, emotions, and ethic.

It's fair to say that different people have different worldviews, be they scientific, philosophical, religious, or spiritual. So, one might have a scientific worldview, a religious worldview, ...

Of these two possibilities, perhaps perspective comes closest to the word you're seeking.

  • Wow, I think my question is over my head. ;) So many good comments that put it in perspective. Perspective and world view are both very good candidates. I tend to think of "world view" as an opinionated view, whereas science is what it is - and I'm viewing philosophy and spirituality in their entirety. I agree, perspective is the better fit here. Maybe something like "psychological perspective" or "mental perspective." Sep 22, 2016 at 1:31
  • @DavidBlomstrom You wanted one word, right? :-) According to its definition, a perspective is a mental view, which I suggest is what you were looking for: different mental views. You don't need to add another word. Sep 22, 2016 at 1:38
  • I goofed when I wrote "There's probably a common word..." I should have replaced "word" with "term." Sep 22, 2016 at 1:44
  • @DavidBlomstrom I don't know what difference it makes, but that's fine. I'm just trying to help you find the word that works best for you. If you're looking for a term, you should put all the answers through your term filter. :-) Sep 22, 2016 at 1:59
  • I'm not sure what you mean by "term filter," but I just read all the responses and tried to find the best fit. It's very hard because the topic is so complex, but I'm a lot closer. Sep 22, 2016 at 23:13

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