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Transcript of Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, existence and reality.
The first signs of philosophy have appeared in Ancient Greece and throughout the whole world ever since. Philosophy has influenced many subjects, including science, math, religion, human studies, and even music.
Thales of Miletus
Western philosophy began with Thales, of Miletus in Greece. He is the first great philosopher on record. He set the path for other philosophers to use his rational thought process. He had philosophized that, since everything in the universe was made from a material that from which everything could be formed and was essential to life, all matter was made from water. Although this notion is false, he is important because he is the first philosopher to use rational thinking to come to conclusions about the world, (Buckingham et al., 2011, p. [Pages 22-23]).
Plato is one of the great philosophers of Ancient Greece. He approached philosophy with epistemology. Epistemology is the philosophy of knowledge, or how much people actually know about life and society. How do we know what is true or false, what is real or not? Epistemology makes people question life and if their beliefs are correct. It teaches people to second guess all the "facts" they are brought up to believe.
Pythagoras was a Greek philosopher who believed that he could use the relationships between numbers and mathematical patterns to explain the universe and the way that it was structured. He is also noted for his deductive thinking process, in which you were to use the facts you already know to learn new things, and the idea that facts gathered through abstract thinking are more concrete than facts you perceive through the senses. His thought process influenced the subjects of science, math, and music, and led to the creation of the Pythagorean Theorem, the Law of Octaves, and part of the Periodic Law, (Buckingham et al., 2011, p. [Pages 26-29]).
Zeno of Citium
Maurice Merleau Ponty
Aristotle lived between 384 and 322 BCE. He is considered one of the greatest philosophers of all time. Aristotle was a student of Plato and taught Alexander the Great. The work Aristotle did shaped philosophy from the late antiquity, throughout the renaissance, and is still shaping philosophy today. His work consists of approximately 200 treatises and only about thirty still survive. Aristotle wrote about disciplines, such as logic, metaphysics, philosophy of the mind, ethics, political theory, aesthetic, and biology. Aristotle was very good with plant and animal observation and taxonomy. Aristotle's work on biology proved to be very accurate, such as the anatomy of octopus, cuttlefish, crustaceans, and other marine invertebrates. Aristotle was successfully able to differentiate dolphins and whales from fish. One of Aristotle's treatises, Meteorology, contains information about the earth and oceans. Winds, earthquakes, thunder, lightening, comets, meteors and the milky way are discussed. (Sheilds C. 2008)
Confucius was an ancient Chinese philosopher. He was very focused on the conduct and morals of people, and his philosophy was based on his belief of self-discipline and had an influence in politics. Confucius was a very spiritual person who based his teaching off of social interactions such as respect and love for one another. He was the first major political/philosophical influence in ancient China. His ideas put a lasting mark on Chinese ideology.
Zeno of Citium was born in Citium, hence his name, in the island of Cyprus in 332 BCE. He died in 265 BCE in Athens, Greece. Zeno grew up as a merchant with his father. After being shipwrecked in Athens on a trip gone wrong he began to study Socrates. Additionally Zeno became a studier of other well known philosopher such as Crates and Polemo. Zeno was influenced by Crates he too became a cynic. However Zeno eventually broke away from the platonic teachings, changed his beliefs, and made cynicism more acceptable to the conventional population. In 301 BCE Zeno founded the Stoic school of philosophy and quickly attracted an abundance of students. Followers of Zeno were first known as Zenonians but were eventually known as Stoics. Stoicism grew quickly and lasted as a good philosophical system for a few hundred years. Ultimately Zeno became so respected and admired in Athenian culture that he was offered citizen ship but he denied because he did not want to dishonor his native Citium heritage. Zenos’ early stoicism included ethics, physics, and logic and was similar to Socrates philosophy because both held the belief that happiness was the goal of life. However Zeno did not equate happiness with pleasure like the Epicureans. Zeno defined happiness as living in accordance with nature. Stoics and Epicureans both believed in the existence Gods, although the Stoics believed that the gods interacted with humans, which was comparable to the Epicureans views. Stoicism owed much to Cynics due to their parallel views on the Gods. Additional Stoic viewpoints were that there were reasons for everything, even if it could not be fathomed. Due to Stoics belief in a rational universe they were able to maintain an inner peace at all times. (Kardas E. P. 2010)
Blaise de Pascal lived from in Paris. In 1642 Pascal invented a calculating machine to help his father, who was an accountant. Most often times Pascal is credited with the discovery of the mathematical theory of probability. Additionally Pascal has made a plethora of contributions to number theory and geometry. In 1646 Pascal came upon Torricelli’s experiments that used a barometer and the theory of air pressure. Pascal decided to replicate these experiments and do even more work on them. Eventually Pascal explained the reasons why a genuine vacuum could exist and how it did exist above the mercury in the barometer. Pascal defended these conclusions against father Noel who was rector of the college de Clermont in Paris. This led to Pascal giving one of the clearest statements of the scientific method in the seventieth century. A few years later Pascal became a part of a religious movement in France known as Jansenism. Pascal joined Jansenism because his father became ill and was cared for by Jansenists. On the night of November 23, 1654 Pascal underwent a conversion experience. Pascal met Antoine Arnauld who was a leading Jansenist philosopher and a theologian. Additionally Pascal became influenced by the great French Renaissance skeptic, Michel de Montaigne. Both men were fideistic skeptics. Pascal believed that reason could only work from first principles, which come from natural feelings. Pascal’s Wager is one of the classical arguments about worshipping a God or a Deity based on the fact that the existence of one would always remain uncertain. Pascal believed that in worshipping a God one would gain everything (Heaven), and lose nothing. However the disbelief in God there is everything to lose everything (Hell) and gain nothing. Overall Pascal believed that the general belief in God was the most beneficial. (Uzgaliz B. 2003)
René Descartes was a mathematician, scientist, and philosopher. He did studies on how the mind perceives the natural world, with the question of "How do our minds know?" He was also the first to make a connection of the senses of the body to natural philosophy (early forms of science). Descartes discussed the
mind-body relation, and how our senses connect thoughts
of keeping away from anything known to be harmful, but
also letting us know to go after anything beneficial.
He was also known to replace some of Aristotle's theories of why qualities such as color, or our view of objects, are seen the way they are. He was one of the first people to understand, that color isn't just a "real quality", but it is the way it is because of the particles' motion, and reaction to light, (Zalta & Hatfield, 2008).
George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was an idealist who is responsible for the first known development of communism. He was against materialism, which was most early philosophers believed in. He published three books, in 1812, 1813,and 1816,
"Science of Logic"
in which he discussed the matter of "being",
"essence", and "concept", He also studied the
"Philosophy of Right" which was his contribution
to political philosophy, and his idea of communism.
Hegel also did work with metaphysics, which earned
him the title of a "conceptual realist", because he compared objects by their kinds, properties, and relations, which was a logical approach, (Zalta & Redding, 1997).
Maurice Merelau-Ponty was a scientist and
philosopher who studied the relation of consciousness and
nature. His beliefs were syncretic since didn't fall into a specific category or branch of philosophy.
His studies explained why the physical
body reacts the way it does in nature,
or it's biological stimulus. His work is
the reason it is known why an animals
still go after food even if there is a glass screen separating
them, or why animals know which food would be more beneficial
only by judging their colors. He had a more scientific
approach to his philosophy, (Zalta & Flynn, 2004).
Socrates was a Greek philosopher living in Athens. Socrates examined daily life and questioned many concepts accepted in society (for instance, what constitutes "good", or "just"). He is best known for his dialectical method of questioning. In this method, he assumed the position of someone who was completely ignorant of a topic, and simply asked questions that would eventually expose a contradiction. However, this earned him a lot of enemies, and he was sentenced to death in 399 B.C.E. Socrates was so important to philosophy that philosophers are occasionally classified as post-Socratic or pre-Socratic, (Buckingham et al., 2011, p. [Pages 46-49]).
Francis Bacon performed studies on natural
philosophy and scientific methodology. He criticized the
work of Plato and Aristotle and had trouble agreeing with any traditional philosophical
beliefs. He was the first to separate
physics from metaphysics in attempt
separate one into a more solid science.
He practiced early forms of chemistry and
math to create theories on matter, but
what separated him from other philosophers
was that he believed in a "greater power over the earth"
or inanimate spirits that interacted chemically
and explained the behavior of objects,
plants, and animals, (Zalta & Klein, 2003).
Gottfried Leibniz is known as the last "universal
genius" and made contributions to many different branches of
math, science, and philosophy. A famous study he did was
the study of substances. He explained what a
substance was in nature, and why it was a
substance. He explained how each substance in nature is
unique, and every one must start with creation and end
in destruction. His work also criticized and tried to correct many past works, like the ones of Aristotle. Leibniz
contributed greatly to the theories of the union between the
body and soul and how the body reacts to the wants or needs
of the soul, (Zalta & Look, 2007).
Epicurus was a Greek philosopher. He included a view on the goal of human life, such as happiness and the absence of pain and illness. Epicurus used rational thinking to come to the conclusion that if one can overcome the fear of death happiness can be obtained. Epicurus stated that happiness is the goal of life, and because death is the end of sensation and consciousness it cannot be physically painful or emotionally felt. Additionally Epicurus included empiricist theory of knowledge, such as perceptions. He had a description of nature based on atomistic materialism and a naturalistic account of evolution from the making of the world to the coming of human civilization. He thought that he could disprove the idea of a soul still surviving in the afterlife with a basis of radical materialism. Epicurus held that the elementary constituents of nature are undifferentiated matter, in the form of discrete, solid, indivisible particles known as atoms below the threshold of perception, plus empty space, (Konstan, 2009).
Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher. The way he viewed the world was quite original and is still relevant even today. One thing he spoke about is how human beings can live together in peace and avoid the danger and fear of civil conflict. He writes about how the human body is like a machine, and that political organization is like an artificial human being. He claims that in the natural state human beings lack government. Government is an authority created by men. As long as human beings are not in some form of government, they live in Hobbes' state of nature, (Marvin, 2000).
Plato was a student of Socrates who used his teacher's methods to come up with ideas of his own. Through reasoning, Plato came to the conclusion that there is a world of "Forms", or "Ideas" that is separate from the material world that we live in. He believes that the world of "Ideas" has everything that we see, but in it's perfect form. Basically, everything that we see and perceive is just a shadow of what it is in its true form in the world of Ideas. For instance, the perfect dog is part of the world of Ideas, but the dogs we see are just imperfect copies of the perfect Idea dog. Plato's ideas influenced 17th century rationalism and was a major influence on Western philosophy, (Buckingham et al., 2011, p. [Pages 52-55]).
Adkins, L., & Adkins, R. A. (2005). Handbook to life in ancient Greece. New York, NY: Facts on File.
Buckingham, W., Burnham, D., Hill, C., King, P. J., Marenbon, J., & Weeks, M. (2011). The philosophy book: big ideas explained. New York, NY: DK Publishing.
Dr. C. George Boeree. (2000). Ancient Greek Philosophy. Retrieved November 4, 2013, from webspace.ship.edu website: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/greeks.html
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