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A philomath (//; Greek: φίλος philos ("beloved," "loving," as in philosophy or philanthropy) + Greek μανθάνειν manthanein, math- ("to learn," as in polymath)) is a lover of learning and studying. Philomathes, a Lover of Learning as compared to Philalethes, a Lover of Truth. Philomathy is similar to, but distinguished from, philosophy in that -soph, the latter suffix, specifies "wisdom" or "knowledge", rather than the process of acquisition thereof.
Philomath is not synonymous with polymath. A philomath is a seeker of knowledge and facts, while a polymath is a possessor of knowledge in multiple fields. It signifies the desire to learn and obtain knowledge.
The shift in meaning for mathema is likely a result of the rapid categorization during the time of Plato and Aristotle of their "mathemata" in terms of education: arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music (the quadrivium), which the Greeks found to create a "natural grouping" of mathematical (in the modern usage; "doctrina mathematica" in the ancient usage) precepts.
In a philosophical dialogue, King James first penned the character Philomathes to debate on arguments of whether the ancient religious concepts of witchcraft should be punished in a politically fueled Christian society. The arguments King James poses through the character Epistemon are based on concepts of theological reasoning regarding society's belief as his opponent, Philomathes, takes a philosophical stance on society's legal aspects but sought to obtain the knowledge of Epistemon. This philosophical approach signified a philomath seeking to obtain greater knowledge through epistemology. The dialogue was used by King James to educate society on various concepts including the history and etymology of the subjects debated.
- Benjamin Franklin, who used this pen name.
- King James, who used a character named Philomathes to debate on the topics of witchcraft in his dissertation of Daemonologie.
- Philomaths, Polish secret student organization that existed, 1817–23, at the Imperial University of Vilnius.
- Philomathean Literary Society (Erskine College)
- Philomathean Society, a literary society at the University of Pennsylvania.
- Philomathean Society (New York University)