Socrates is often a character in Plato's dialogues. How much of any given dialogue is Socrates' point of view, and how much of it is Plato's, is heavily disputed, since Socrates himself did not write anything; this is often referred to as the "Socratic problem". However, Plato was doubtless strongly influenced by Socrates' teachings, so many of the ideas presented, at least in his early works, were probably borrowings or adaptations...
Socrates was an ancient Greekphilosopher who is widely credited for laying the foundation for Western philosophy. He was born and lived in Athens, where he spent most of his time in enthusiastic pursuit of wisdom (philosophy). He "followed the argument" in his personal reflection, and in a sustained and rigorous dialogue between friends, followers, and contemporary itinerant teachers of wisdom. Later in his life he became known as the wisest man in all of Greece.
Opinions about Socrates were widely polarized, drawing very high praise or very severe ridicule. He had many devoted followers (such as Plato), and many angry detractors. As an old man, he fell into grave disrepute with the Athenian state powers, and was commanded to stop his public disputes, and his associations with young aristocrats. He carried on as usual. Finally, he was arrested and accused of corrupting the youth, inventing new deities (heresy), and disbelieving in the divine (atheism). According to traditional accounts, he was sentenced to die by drinking poison. Presented with an opportunity to leave Athens, he...
Voltaire was known for his sharp wit, philosophical writings, and defense of civil liberties, including freedom of religion and the right to a fair trial. He was an outspoken supporter of social reform despite strict censorship laws in France and harsh penalties for those who broke them. A satirical polemicist, he frequently made use of his works to criticize Church dogma and the French institutions of his day...
William of Ockham was an EnglishFranciscan friar and scholasticphilosopher, from Ockham, a small village in Surrey, near East Horsley. He is considered, along with Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus, one of the major figures of medieval thought and found himself at the center of the major intellectual and political controversies of the fourteenth century. Although commonly known for Ockham's Razor, the methodological procedure that bears his name, William of Ockham also produced significant works on logic, physics, and theology. A pioneer of nominalism, some consider him the father of modern epistemology, because of his strongly argued position that only individuals exist, rather than supra-individual universals, essences, or forms, and that universals are the products of abstraction from individuals by the human mind and have no extra-mental existence. He denied the real existence of metaphysical universals and advocated for the reduction of ontology.
Martin Heidegger, was the German philosopher who wrote Being and Time. He was one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century, and his ideas have penetrated into many areas. His discussion of ontology has led to his being often cited as one of the founders of existentialism. His ideas inspired major philosophical works, e.g., Sartre's Being and Nothingness, although Heidegger insisted that Sartre misunderstood him. His philosophical work was taken up throughout Germany, France, and Japan and has gained, since the 1970s, a fair following in North America as well. Heidegger's work was scorned and dismissed, however, by many of his contemporaries, such as the Vienna Circle, Theodor Adorno, the Hegelians, and Anglo-American philosophers such as Bertrand Russell and A. J. Ayer.
Along with the historian Charles A. Beard, economists Thorstein Veblen and James Harvey Robinson, Dewey is one of the founders of The New School for Social Research. Dewey's most significant writings were "The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology" (1896), a critique of a standard psychological concept and the basis of all his further work; Human Nature and Conduct (1922), a study of the role of habit in human behavior; The Public and its Problems (1927), a defense of democracy written in response to Walter Lippmann's The Phantom Public (1925); Experience and Nature (1929), Dewey's most "metaphysical" statement; Art as Experience (1934), Dewey's major work on aesthetics; A Common Faith (1934), a humanistic study of religion; Logic: The Theory of Inquiry (1938), an examination of Dewey's unusual conception of logic; and Freedom and Culture (1939), a political work examining the roots of fascism. While each of these works focuses upon one particular philosophical theme, Dewey wove in all of his major themes into everything he wrote.
Following a mystical experience in late 1654, he abandoned his scientific work and devoted himself to philosophy and theology. His two most famous works date from this period: the Lettres provinciales and the Pensées. However, he had suffered from ill-health throughout his life and his new interests were ended by his early death two months after his 39th birthday.
William James was born in New York City, son of Henry James, Sr., an independently wealthy and notoriously eccentric Swedenborgiantheologian well acquainted with the literary and intellectual elites of his day. The intellectual brilliance of the James family milieu and the remarkable epistolary talents of several of its members have made them a subject of continuing interest to historians, biographers, and critics.
Bentham was one of the most influential (classical) liberals, partially through his writings but particularly through his students all around the world, including James Mill, who was his secretary, his son John Stuart Mill, and several political leaders (and Robert Owen, who later became the founder of socialism). He is believed to be the innovator of classical liberalism, a term first coined in the 19th century.
He argued in favor of individual and economic freedom, including the separation of church and state, freedom of expression, equal rights for women, animal rights, the end of slavery, the abolition of physical punishment (including that of children), the right to divorce, free trade, and no restrictions on interest. But, he was not a libertarian, and supported inheritance tax, restrictions on monopoly power, pensions, and health insurance.
Bentham was born in Spitalfields, London, into a wealthy Tory family. He was a child prodigy and was found as a toddler sitting at his father's desk reading a multi-volume history of England. He began his study of Latin at the age of three.
He went to Westminster School, and in 1760 his father sent him to Queen's College, Oxford, where he took his Bachelor's degree in 1763 and his Master's degree in 1766. He trained as a lawyer and was called to the bar in 1769. He became deeply frustrated with the complexity of the English legal code, which he termed the "Demon of Chicane".
Nārāyana Guru (नारायण गुरु,നാരായണ ഗുരു) (1856 - 1928) was a great sage and social reformer of India. Born in Ezhava/Thiyya (Ezhavas were a middle rung caste and have to face social injustices.) caste he revolted against the brahminical dominance and thereby transformed the social face of Kerala.
Nārāyana Guru is revered for his Vedic knowledge, poetic proficiency, openness to the views of others, non-violent philosophy and most importantly his unnerving resolve to rebel and change wrongdoing in society. Nārāyana Guru was instrumental in setting the spiritual foundations for social reform in the current State of Kerala (erstwhile states of Travancore, Kochi and Malabar) and was arguably one the most successful social reformers that tackled caste in India. He demonstrated a path to social emancipation without invoking the dualism of the oppressed and the oppressor.
In contrast to certain other reformers who criticized Brahmins and upper caste Hindus for the conditions of the lower castes, Nārāyana Guru stressed on the upliftment of a community through its own efforts by the establishment of schools and temples. In the process he brushed aside the Hindu religious conventions based upon Chaturvarna. His transformation of the social face of Kerala relied on emphasizing the Advaita philosophy.
Frege's father was a schoolteacher whose specialty was mathematics. Frege began his studies at the University of Jena in 1869, moving to Göttingen after two years, where he received his Ph.D. in mathematics, in 1873. According to Sluga (1980), the nature of Frege's university education in logic and philosophy is still unclear. In 1875, he returned to Jena as a lecturer. In 1879, he was made associate professor, and in 1896, professor. Frege had but one student of note, Rudolf Carnap. His children all having died before reaching maturity, he adopted a son in 1905.
Benedictus de Spinoza was a Jewish-Dutchphilosopher. He is considered one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy and, by virtue of his magnum opus the Ethics, one of the definitive ethicists. His writings, like those of his fellow rationalists, reveal considerable mathematical training and facility. Spinoza was a lens crafter by trade, an exciting engineering field at the time because of great discoveries being made by telescopes. The full impact of his work only took effect some time after his death and after the publication of his Opera Posthuma. He is now seen as having prepared the way for the 18th century Enlightenment, and as a founder of modern biblical criticism. 20th century philosopher Gilles Deleuze referred to Spinoza as "The absolute philosopher, whose Ethics is the foremost book on concepts" (Deleuze, 1990).
Although numerous collections from Wittgenstein's notebooks, papers, and lectures have been published since his death, he published only one philosophical book in his lifetime — the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus in 1921. Wittgenstein's early work was deeply influenced by Arthur Schopenhauer, and by the new systems of logic put forward by Bertrand Russell and Gottlob Frege. When the Tractatus was published, it was taken up as a major influence by the Vienna Circle positivists. However, Wittgenstein did not consider himself part of that school and alleged that logical positivism involved grave misunderstandings of the Tractatus...
Machiavelli was born in Florence, the second son of Bernardo di Niccolò Machiavelli and his wife Bartolommea di Stefano Nelli. His father was a lawyer of some repute and belonged to an impoverished branch of an influential old Florentine family.
Zhuangzi (莊子, 庄子, Zhuāng Zǐ, Chuang Tzŭ, Chuang Tsu, Zhuang Tze, or Chuang Tse) was a skeptical and mysticalChinese philosopher who lived around the 4th century BCE during the Warring States period. The Taoist text Zhuangzi is speculated to be partly authored by him and is the source of many anecdotes and idioms. He argued that life and knowledge are limited, and denied the need for government. His points on the limitations of language and the importance of being spontaneous were strongly influential in the development of Chinese Buddhism, especially Chan (Zen).
Lewis was born in Oberlin, Ohio, to a Professor of Government at Oberlin College and a distinguished medieval historian. He was known later in life for his formidable (even intimidating) intellect; this intelligence was already manifest during his years at Oberlin High School, when he attended college lectures in chemistry. He went on to Swarthmore College, and spent a year at Oxford (1959-1960), where he was tutored by Iris Murdoch and attended lectures by Gilbert Ryle, H.P. Grice, P.F. Strawson, and J.L. Austin. It was his year at Oxford that played a seminal role in his decision to study philosophy, and which made him the quintessentially analytic philosopher that he would be for the rest of his life. Lewis went on to receive his Ph.D from Harvard in 1967, where he studied under W.V.O. Quine, many of whose views he came to repudiate. It was there that his connection with Australia was first established when he took a seminar with J.J.C. Smart, a leading Australian philosopher. "I taught David Lewis," Smart would say in later years, "Or rather, he taught me."
Jacques-Marie-Émile Lacan (April 13, 1901 – September 9, 1981) was a Frenchpsychoanalyst and psychiatrist. His work, like most psychoanalytic work, owes a heavy, explicit debt to Sigmund Freud, but also drew from a number of other fields, including linguistics, philosophy, and mathematics. This interdisciplinary focus in his work has led him to be an important figure in many fields beyond psychoanalysis - particularly within critical theory.
His central idea was that the human subject is a creation of its use of language. From this understanding Lacan develops his study of psychoanalysis and his treatment strategies. His work, while controversial, continues to influence the development of psychoanalysis worldwide. In France and elsewhere various "schools" of Lacanian thought have emerged.
Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (5 May 1813 – 11 November 1855), a 19th century Danishphilosopher and theologian, is generally recognized as the first existentialist philosopher. He bridged the gap that existed between Hegelian philosophy and what was to become Existentialism. Kierkegaard strongly criticised both the Hegelian philosophy of his time, and what he saw as the empty formalities of the Danish church. Much of his work deals with religious problems such as the nature of faith, the institution of the Christian Church, Christian ethics and theology, and the emotions and feelings of individuals when faced with existential choices. Kierkegaard's work resists definite interpretation, since he wrote most of his early work under various pseudonyms, and often these pseudo-authors would comment on and critique the works of his other pseudo-authors.
Michel Foucault (October 15, 1926 – June 25, 1984) was a French philosopher who held a chair at the Collège de France, which he gave the title The History of Systems of Thought. His writings have had an enormous impact on other scholarly work: Foucault's influence extends across the humanities and social sciences, and across many applied and professional areas of study.
Marx believed that he could study history and society scientifically and discern tendencies of history and the resulting outcome of social conflicts. Some followers of Marx concluded, therefore, that a communist revolution is inevitable. However, Marx famously asserted in the eleventh of his Theses on Feuerbach that "philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point however is to change it", and he clearly dedicated himself to trying to alter the world. Consequently, most followers of Marx are not fatalists, but activists who believe that revolutionaries must organize social change.
Confucius (ChineseKong Fuzi, literally "Master Kong", traditionally September 28, 551 BCE–479 BCE) was a famous thinker and social philosopher of China, whose teachings have deeply influenced East Asia. Living in the Spring and Autumn period, he was convinced of his ability to restore the world's order, but failed.
After much travelling around China to promote his ideas among rulers, he eventually became involved in teaching disciples. His philosophy emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. These values gained prominence in China over other doctrines such as Legalism or Taoism during the Han dynasty. Used since then as the imperial orthodoxy, Confucius' thoughts have been developed into a vast and complete philosophical system known in the West as Confucianism. They were introduced to Europe by the JesuitMatteo Ricci, who was the first to Latinise the name as "Confucius".
The Analects is a short collection of his discussions with disciples, compiled posthumously. It contains an overview of his teachings.
Dennett is the author of several major books on evolution and consciousness. He is a leading proponent of the theory known by some as Neural Darwinism (see also greedy reductionism). Dennett is also well known for his argument against qualia, which claims that the concept is so confused that it cannot be put to any use or understood in any non-contradictory way, and therefore does not constitute a valid refutation of physicalism. This argument was presented most comprehensively in his book Consciousness Explained.
This great philosopher is a prize, is a treasure for American literature. Tech. Luis E. Ysabel
Gautama is the key figure in Buddhism, and accounts of his life, discourses, and monastic rules were summarized after his death and memorized by the saṅgha. Passed down by oral tradition, the Tripiṭaka, the collection of discourses attributed to Gautama, was committed to writing about 400 years later.
BlessedJohn Duns Scotus (c. 1266 – November 8, 1308) was a theologian, philosopher, and logician. He is considered one of the most important Franciscan theologians and was the founder of Scotism, a special form of Scholasticism. Some argue that during his tenure at Oxford, the systematic examination of what differentiates theology from philosophy and science began in earnest. He was known as Doctor Subtilis due to his subtle merging of differing views. Later philosophers were not so complimentary about his work, and the modern word dunce comes from the name "Dunse" given to his followers.
Roger Bacon (c.1214 – 1294), also known as Doctor Mirabilis (Latin: "astounding teacher"), was one of the most famous Franciscan friars of his, or, indeed, any time. He was an Englishphilosopher who placed considerable emphasis on empiricism, and has been presented as one of the earliest advocates of the modern scientific method in the West; though later studies have emphasized his reliance on occult and alchemical traditions. He was intimately acquainted with the philosophical and scientific collections of the Arab world which, having conquered the ancient centers of knowledge of Syria and Egypt, controlled access to many works of antiquity.
Thomas More (7 February 1478 — 6 July 1535), posthumously known also as Saint Thomas More, was an Englishlawyer, author, and statesman. During his lifetime he earned a reputation as a leading humanist scholar and occupied many public offices, including that of Lord Chancellor from 1529 to 1532. More coined the word "utopia", a name he gave to an ideal, imaginary island nation whose political system he described in a book published in 1516. He is chiefly remembered for his principled refusal to accept King Henry VIII's claim to be the supreme head of the Church of England, a decision which ended his political career and led to his execution as a traitor.
Even critics of Derrida acknowledge that his philosophical project, whether adequately represented by the term deconstruction or not, involved extremely close reading of texts and tremendous erudition. He was also noted for his efforts to encourage the study of philosophy amongst French lycée students.
Hume believed that all human knowledge comes to us through our senses. Our perceptions, as he called them, can be divided into two categories: ideas and impressions. He defines these terms thus in his An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding: "By the term impression, then, I mean all our more lively perceptions, when we hear, or see, or feel, or love, or hate, or desire, or will. And impressions are distinguished from ideas, which are the less lively perceptions, of which we are conscious, when we reflect on any of those sensations or movements above mentioned." He further specifies ideas, saying, "It seems a proposition, which will not admit of much dispute, that all our ideas are nothing but copies of our impressions, or, in other words, that it is impossible for us to think of anything, which we have not antecedently felt, either by our external or internal senses." This forms an important aspect of Hume's skepticism, for he says that we cannot be certain a thing, such as God, a soul, or a self, exists unless we can point out the impression from which the idea of the thing is derived.
Al-Kindī was born in Kufa, a centre of world learning at the time. Al-Kindi's father was the governor of Kufa, as his grandfather had been before him. Al-Kindi was descended from the Kinda tribe which had migrated from Yemen. This tribe had united a number of tribes and reached a position of prominence in the 5th and 6th centuries, but then lost power from the middle of the 6th century. Al-Kindī's education took place first in Kufa, then in Basrah, and finally in Baghdad. Knowledge of his great learning soon spread, and the Caliph al-Ma'mun appointed him to the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, which was a recently established centre for the translation of Greek philosophical and scientific texts. (He was also well known for his beautiful calligraphy, and at one point was employed as a calligrapher by al-Mutawakkil.)
One universal law that Comte saw at work in all sciences he called the 'law of three phases'. It is by his statement of this law that he is best known in the English-speaking world; namely, that society has gone through three phases: Theological, Metaphysical, and Scientific. He also gave the name "Positive" to the last of these because of the polysemous connotations of the word.
The basis of Sartre's existentialism is found in The Transcendence of the Ego. To begin with, the thing-in-itself is infinite and overflowing. Any direct consciousness of the thing-in-itself, Sartre refers to as a "pre-reflective consciousness". Any attempt to describe, understand, historicize etc. the thing-in-itself, Sartre calls "reflective consciousness". There is no way for the reflective consciousness to subsume the pre-reflective, and so reflection is fated to a form of anxiety, i.e. the human condition. The reflective consciousness in all its forms, (scientific, artistic or otherwise) can only limit the thing-in-itself by virtue of its attempt to understand or describe it.
Rand's writing emphasizes the philosophic concepts of objective reality, reason, rational egoism, and laissez-faire capitalism, while attacking what she saw as the irrationality and immorality of altruism, collectivism, and communism. She believed that people must choose their values and actions by reason; that the individual has a right to exist for his or her own sake, neither sacrificing self to others nor others to self; and that no one has the right to take what belongs to others by physical force or fraud, or impose their moral code on others by physical force. Her politics have been described as minarchism and libertarianism, though she never used the first term and detested the second.
Peirce was largely ignored during his lifetime, and the secondary literature was scant until after World War II. Much of his huge output is still unpublished. Although he wrote mostly in English, he published some popular articles in French as well. An innovator in fields such as mathematics, statistics, research methodology, the philosophy of science, epistemology, and metaphysics, he considered himself a logician first and foremost. While he made major contributions to formal logic, "logic" for him encompassed much of what is now called the philosophy of science and epistemology. He, in turn, saw logic as the formal branch of semiotics, of which he is a founder. In 1886, he saw that logical operations could be carried out by electrical switching circuits, an idea used decades later to produce digital computers.
Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Albans, was an Englishphilosopher, statesman and essayist but is best known for leading the scientific revolution with his new 'observation and experimentation' theory which is the way science has been conducted ever since. He was knighted in 1603, created Baron Verulam in 1618, and created Viscount St Albans in 1621; though both peerage titles became extinct upon his death. Bacon did not propose an actual philosophy, but rather a method of developing philosophy; he wrote that, whilst philosophy at the time used the deductive syllogism to interpret nature, the philosopher should instead proceed through inductive reasoning from fact to axiom to law.
Moritz Schlick was a German philosopher and the founding father of logical positivism and the Vienna Circle. Schlick worked on his Allgemeine Erkenntnislehre (General Theory of Knowledge) between 1918 and 1925, and, though later developments in his philosophy were to make various of his epistemological contentions untenable, the General Theory is perhaps his greatest work in its acute reasoning against synthetic a priori knowledge. Between 1926 and 1930, Schlick labored to finish Fragen der Ethik (Problems of Ethics), in which he surprised some of his fellow Circlists by including ethics as a viable branch of philosophy. Also during this time, the Vienna Circle published The Scientific View of the World: The Vienna Circle as an homage to Schlick. Its strong anti-metaphysical stance crystallized the viewpoint of the group.
With the rise of the Nazis in Germany and Austria, many of the Vienna Circle's members left for America and the United Kingdom. Schlick, however, stayed on at the University of Vienna: when visited by Herbert Feigl in 1935, he expressed dismay at events in Germany. On June 22, 1936, Schlick was ascending the steps of the University for a class when he was confronted by a former student, Johann Nelböck, who drew a pistol and shot him in the chest. Schlick died very soon afterward.