Philosopher

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The School of Athens, by Raphael, depicting the central figures of Plato and Aristotle, and other ancient philosophers exchanging their knowledge.

A philosopher, in a wide sense, is someone who studies philosophy. The term "philosopher" comes from the Ancient Greek φιλόσοφος (philosophos), which means "lover of wisdom". The introduction of the terms "philosopher" and "philosophy" has been ascribed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras.[1]

A philosopher, in the more narrow and common usage, is any intellectual who has made contributions in one or more current fields of philosophy, such as aesthetics, ethics, epistemology, logic, metaphysics, social theory, and political philosophy. A philosopher may also be one who worked in the humanities or other sciences which have since split from philosophy proper over the centuries, such as the arts, history, economics, sociology, psychology, linguistics, anthropology, theology, and politics.[2] They may relate this knowledge to the discussion of philosophical problems.

In the classical sense, a philosopher is someone who lives according to a way of life, whose focus is upon resolving existential questions about the human condition, and not someone who discourses upon theories or comments upon authors.[3] Typically, these particular brands of philosophy are Hellenistic ones and those who most arduously commit themselves to this lifestyle may be considered philosophers.

In both definitions, philosophers address these questions through critical, systematic and reasoned approaches.

History[edit]

Ancient Greece and Rome[edit]

While Pythagoras coined the word, the first known elaboration on the topic was conducted by Plato. In his Symposium, he concludes that Love is that which lacks the object it seeks. Therefore, the philosopher is one who seeks wisdom; if he attains wisdom, he would be a sage. Therefore, the philosopher in antiquity was one who lives in the constant pursuit of wisdom, and living in accordance to that wisdom.[4] Disagreements arose as to what living philosophically entailed. These disagreements gave rise to different Hellenistic schools of philosophy. In consequence, the ancient philosopher thought in a tradition.[5] As the ancient world became schism by philosophical debate, the competition lay in living in manner that would transform his whole way of living in the world.[6]

Among the last of these philosophers was Marcus Aurelius, who is widely regarded as a philosopher in the modern sense, but personally refuses to call himself by such a title, since he had a duty to live as an emperor.[7]

Transition[edit]

According to the Classicist Pierre Hadot, the modern conception of a philosopher and philosophy developed predominately through three changes:

The first is the natural inclination of the philosophical mind. Philosophy is a tempting discipline which can easily carry away the individual in analyzing the universe and abstract theory.[8]

The second is the historical change through the Medieval era. With the rise of Christianity, the philosophical way of life was adopted by its theology. Thus, philosophy was divided between a way of life and the conceptual, logical, physical and metaphysical materials to justify that way of life. Philosophy was then the servant to theology.[9]

The third is the sociological need with the development of the university. The modern university requires professionals to teach. Maintaining itself requires teaching future professionals to replace the current faculty. Therefore, the discipline degrades into a technical language reserved for specialists, completely eschewing its original conception as a way of life.[9]

Medieval era[edit]

In the fourth century, the word philosopher began to designate a man or woman who led a monastic life. Gregory of Nyssa, for example, describes how his sister Macrina persuaded their mother to forsake "the distractions of material life" for a life of philosophy.[10]

Later during the Middle Ages, Persons who engaged with alchemy was called a philosopher - thus, the Philosopher's Stone.[11]

Early Modern era[edit]

Many philosophers still emerged from the Classical tradition, as saw their philosophy as a way of life. Among the most notable are René Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, Nicolas Malebranche, and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. With the rise of the university, the modern conception of philosophy became more prominent. Many of the esteemed philosophers of the eighteenth century and onward have attended, taught, and developed their works in university. Early examples include: Immanuel Kant, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.[12]

After these individuals, the Classical conception had all but died with the exceptions of Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche. The last considerable figure in philosophy to not have followed a strict and orthodox academic regime was Ludwig Wittgenstein.[13]

Modern academia[edit]

In the modern era, those attaining advanced degrees in philosophy often choose to stay in careers within the educational system. According to a 1993 study by the National Research Council (as reported by the American Philosophical Association), 77.1% of the 7,900 holders of a Ph.D. in philosophy who responded were employed in educational institutions (academia). Outside of academia, philosophers may employ their writing and reasoning skills in other careers, such as medicine[vague], bioethics, business, publishing, free-lance writing, media, and law.[14]

Women in philosophy[edit]

American philosopher Susanne Langer (1895-1985) was one of the first women to achieve an academic career in philosophy and the first woman to be recognized as an American philosopher. Langer is best known for her 1942 book Philosophy in a New Key.

Women have engaged in philosophy throughout the field's history. While there were women philosophers since ancient times, and a relatively small number were accepted as philosophers during the ancient, medieval and modern eras, particularly during the 20th and 21st century, almost no woman philosophers have entered the philosophical Western canon.[15][16]

In ancient philosophy in the West, while academic philosophy was typically the domain of male philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, female philosophers such as Hipparchia of Maroneia (active ca. 325 BC), Arete of Cyrene (active 5th–4th century BC) and Aspasia of Miletus (470–400 BC) were active during this period. A notable medieval philosopher was Hypatia (5th century). Notable modern philosophers included Anne Conway (1631-1679), Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) and Sarah Margaret Fuller (1810-1850). Influential contemporary philosophers include Susanne Langer (1895–1985), Hannah Arendt (1906–1975), Simone de Beauvoir (1908–1986), Mary Midgley (born 1919), Mary Warnock (born 1924), Julia Kristeva (born 1941), Patricia Churchland (born 1943) and Susan Haack (born 1945).

In the early 1800s, some colleges and universities in the UK and US began admitting women, giving rise to new generations of female academics. Nevertheless, U.S. Department of Education reports from the 1990s indicate that philosophy is one of the least proportionate fields in the humanities with respect to gender.[17] Women make up as little as 17% of philosophy faculty in some studies.[18]

In the early 1990s, the Canadian Philosophical Association claimed that there is gender imbalance and gender bias in the academic field of philosophy.[19]In June 2013, a US sociology professor stated that "out of all recent citations in four prestigious philosophy journals, female authors comprise just 3.6 percent of the total." The editors of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy have raised concerns about the underrepresentation of women philosophers, and they require editors and contributors to ensure they represent the contributions of women philosophers.[20] According to Eugene Sun Park, "[p]hilosophy is predominantly white and predominantly male. This homogeneity exists in almost all aspects and at all levels of the discipline."[16]

Black philosophers[edit]

Angela Davis (born 1944) is an American political activist, philosopher and author. Her research interests include African-American studies and the philosophy of punishment and prisons.

There are few black women philosophers, which includes women of African and Caribbean ancestry, African-Americans and other individuals from the African diaspora. According to professor L.K. McPherson, there is a "gross underrepresentation of blacks in philosophy."[21] McPherson states that there is a "...willful, not necessarily a conscious, preference among many members of the philosophy profession largely to maintain the status quo in terms of: the social group profiles of members; the dynamics of prestige and influence; and the areas and questions deemed properly or deeply 'philosophical.' None of this is good for black folk."[22]

The first black woman in the US to do a PhD in philosophy was Joyce Mitchell Cook, who obtained her degree in 1965 from Yale University. Other notable women include Angela Davis, a political activist who specializes in writing about feminism, critical theory, Marxism, popular music, social consciousness, and the philosophy of punishment and prisons; Kathryn Gines, the founding director of the Collegium of Black Woman Philosophers, who specializes in continental philosophy, Africana philosophy, philosophy of race and Black feminist philosophy; Anita L. Allen, the first African-American woman to complete both a JD and a PhD in philosophy, who focuses on political and legal philosophy, and who in 2010 was appointed by President Obama to sit on the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues; and Adrian Piper, an analytical philosopher who received a PhD in philosophy from Harvard; and Jaqueline Scott, who received a PhD in philosophy from Stanford University, and who specializes in Nietzsche, nineteenth-century philosophy, race theory and African-American philosophy.

Prizes in philosophy[edit]

Prominent prizes in Philosophy include the Avicenna Prize, the Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy and the Rolf Schock Prizes.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ φιλόσοφος. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
  2. ^ Shook, John R., ed. (2010). Dictionary of Modern American philosophers (online ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. Introduction. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199754663.001.0001. ISBN 9780199754663. OCLC 686766412. (subscription required (help)). The label of “philosopher” has been broadly applied in this Dictionary to intellectuals who have made philosophical contributions regardless of academic career or professional title. The wide scope of philosophical activity across the time-span of this Dictionary would now be classed among the various humanities and social sciences which gradually separated from philosophy over the last one hundred and fifty years. Many figures included were not academic philosophers but did work at the philosophical foundations of such fields as pedagogy, rhetoric, the arts, history, politics, economics, sociology, psychology, linguistics, anthropology, religion, and theology. Philosophy proper is heavily represented, of course, encompassing the traditional areas of metaphysics, ontology, epistemology, logic, ethics, social/political theory, and aesthetics, along with the narrower fields of philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophy of law, applied ethics, philosophy of religion, and so forth 
  3. ^ Pierre Hadot, The Inner Citadel. pg. 4
  4. ^ That is to say philosophically - Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, trans. Michael Chase. Blackwell Publishing, 1995. pg. 27: Introduction: Pierre Hadot and the Spiritual Phenomenon of Anicent Philosophy by Arnold I. Davidson. Citing Hadot, 'Presentation au College International de Philosophie,' p. 4.
  5. ^ Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, trans. Michael Chase. Blackwell Publishing, 1995. pg. 5: Introduction: Pierre Hadot and the Spiritual Phenomenon of Anicent Philosophy by Arnold I. Davidson. Citing Hadot, 'Theologie, exegese, revelation' p. 22
  6. ^ Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, trans. Michael Chase. Blackwell Publishing, 1995. pg. 30: Introduction: Pierre Hadot and the Spiritual Phenomenon of Anicent Philosophy by Arnold I. Davidson. Citing Hadot, Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques, p. 13
  7. ^ Wikisource:Meditations#THE EIGHTH BOOK
  8. ^ Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, trans. Michael Chase. Blackwell Publishing, 1995. pg. 31: Introduction: Pierre Hadot and the Spiritual Phenomenon of Anicent Philosophy by Arnold I. Davidson. Citing Hadot, 'Presentation au College International de Philosophie,' p.7
  9. ^ a b Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, trans. Michael Chase. Blackwell Publishing, 1995. pg. 32: Introduction: Pierre Hadot and the Spiritual Phenomenon of Anicent Philosophy by Arnold I. Davidson.
  10. ^ Readings in World Christian History (2013), p. 147, 149
  11. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". etymonline.com. 
  12. ^ Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, trans. Michael Chase. Blackwell Publishing, 1995. pg. 271: Philosophy as a Way of Life
  13. ^ A. C. Grayling. Wittgenstein: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2001. pg. 15
  14. ^ APA Committee on Non-Academic Careers (June 1999). "A non-academic career?" (3rd ed.). American Philosophical Association. Retrieved May 24, 2014. 
  15. ^ Duran, Jane. Eight women philosophers: theory, politics, and feminism. University of Illinois Press, 2005.
  16. ^ a b http://read.hipporeads.com/why-i-left-academia-philosophys-homogeneity-needs-rethinking/#
  17. ^ "Salary, Promotion, and Tenure Status of Minority and Women Faculty in U.S. Colleges and Universities."National Center for Education Statistics, Statistical Analysis Report, March 2000; U.S. Department of Education, Office of Education Research and Improvement, Report # NCES 2000–173;1993 National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF:93). See also "Characteristics and Attitudes of Instructional Faculty and Staff in the Humanities." National Center For Education Statistics, E.D. Tabs, July 1997. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Education Research and Improvement, Report # NCES 97-973;1993 National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF-93).
  18. ^ U.S. Department of Education statistics in above-cited reports seem to put the number closer to 17%, but these numbers are based on data from the mid-1990s. Margaret Urban Walker's more recent article (2005) discusses the data problem and describes more recent estimates as an "(optimistically projected) 25–30 percent."
  19. ^ https://www.nas.org/articles/women_in_philosophy_problems_with_the_discrimination_hypothesis
  20. ^ https://www.nas.org/articles/women_in_philosophy_problems_with_the_discrimination_hypothesis
  21. ^ L.K. McPherson. On Black Underrepresentation and Progress in the Profession. December 12, 2011. http://www.newappsblog.com/2011/12/new-apps-on-black-underrepresentation-and-progress-in-the-profession.html
  22. ^ L.K. McPherson. On Black Underrepresentation and Progress in the Profession. December 12, 2011. http://www.newappsblog.com/2011/12/new-apps-on-black-underrepresentation-and-progress-in-the-profession.html