Philosopher

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The School of Athens by Raphael depicting the central figures of Plato and Aristotle, and other ancient philosophers exchanging their knowledge. "The School of Athens" by Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino.jpg
The School of Athens by Raphael depicting the central figures of Plato and Aristotle, and other ancient philosophers exchanging their knowledge.

A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term "philosopher" comes from the Ancient Greek, φιλόσοφος (philosophos), meaning "lover of wisdom". The coining of the term has been attributed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras (6th century BC). [1]

Philosophy Study of general and fundamental questions

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

Ancient Greek Version of the Greek language used from roughly the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE

The ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is often roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, and Hellenistic period. It is antedated in the second millennium BCE by Mycenaean Greek and succeeded by Medieval Greek.

Pythagoras ancient Greek philosopher and mystic

Pythagoras of Samos was an ancient Ionian Greek philosopher and the eponymous founder of Pythagoreanism. His political and religious teachings were well known in Magna Graecia and influenced the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and, through them, Western philosophy. Knowledge of his life is clouded by legend, but he appears to have been the son of Mnesarchus, a gem-engraver on the island of Samos. Modern scholars disagree regarding Pythagoras's education and influences, but they do agree that, around 530 BC, he travelled to Croton, where he founded a school in which initiates were sworn to secrecy and lived a communal, ascetic lifestyle. This lifestyle entailed a number of dietary prohibitions, traditionally said to have included vegetarianism, although modern scholars doubt that he ever advocated for complete vegetarianism.

Contents

In the classical sense, a philosopher was someone who lived according to a certain way of life, focusing on resolving existential questions about the human condition, and not someone who discourses upon theories or comments upon authors. [2] Typically, these particular brands of philosophy are Hellenistic ones and those who most arduously commit themselves to this lifestyle may be considered philosophers. A philosopher is one who challenges what is thought to be common sense, doesn't know when to stop asking questions, and reexamines the old ways of thought. [3]

Classics Study of the culture of (mainly) Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome

Classics or classical studies is the study of classical antiquity. It encompasses the study of the Greco-Roman world, particularly of its languages and literature but also of Greco-Roman philosophy, history, and archaeology. Traditionally in the West, the study of the Greek and Roman classics is considered one of the cornerstones of the humanities and a fundamental element of a rounded education. The study of classics has therefore traditionally been a cornerstone of a typical elite education.

Meaning of life Philosophical and spiritual question concerning the significance of living or existence in general

The meaning of life, or the answer to the question: "What is the meaning of life?", pertains to the significance of living or existence in general. Many other related questions include: "Why are we here?", "What is life all about?", or "What is the purpose of existence?" There have been a large number of proposed answers to these questions from many different cultural and ideological backgrounds. The search for life's meaning has produced much philosophical, scientific, theological, and metaphysical speculation throughout history. Different people and cultures believe different things for the answer to this question.

The human condition is "the characteristics, key events, and situations which compose the essentials of human existence, such as birth, growth, emotionality, aspiration, conflict, and mortality". This is a very broad topic which has been and continues to be pondered and analyzed from many perspectives, including those of religion, philosophy, history, art, literature, anthropology, psychology, and biology.

In a modern sense, a philosopher is an intellectual who has contributed in one or more branches 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. [4]

Aesthetics Branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of art, beauty, and taste

Aesthetics, or esthetics is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of art, beauty and taste and with the creation or appreciation of beauty.

Ethics branch of philosophy that systematizes, defends, and recommends concepts of right and wrong conduct

Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. The field of ethics, along with aesthetics, concerns matters of value, and thus comprises the branch of philosophy called axiology.

Epistemology A branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with the theory of knowledge.

History

Ancient Greece and Rome

The separation of philosophy and science from theology began in Greece during the 6th century BC. [5] Thales, an astronomer and mathematician, was considered by Aristotle to be the first philosopher of the Greek tradition. [6]

Ancient Greek philosophy Philosophical origins and foundation of western civilization

Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BC and continued throughout the Hellenistic period and the period in which Greece and most Greek-inhabited lands were part of the Roman Empire. Philosophy was used to make sense out of the world in a non-religious way. It dealt with a wide variety of subjects, including astronomy, mathematics, political philosophy, ethics, metaphysics, ontology, logic, biology, rhetoric and aesthetics.

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. [7] 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. [8] As the ancient world became schism by philosophical debate, the competition lay in living in a manner that would transform his whole way of living in the world. [9]

Plato Classical Greek philosopher

Plato was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought, and the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world.

<i>Symposium</i> (Plato) philosophical text by Plato

The Symposium is a philosophical text by Plato dated c. 385–370 BC. It depicts a friendly contest of extemporaneous speeches given by a group of notable men attending a banquet. The men include the philosopher Socrates, the general and political figure Alcibiades, and the comic playwright Aristophanes. The speeches are to be given in praise of Eros, the god of love and desire. In the Symposium, Eros is recognized both as erotic love and as a phenomenon capable of inspiring courage, valor, great deeds and works, and vanquishing man's natural fear of death. It is seen as transcending its earthly origins and attaining spiritual heights. This extraordinary elevation of the concept of love raises a question of whether some of the most extreme extents of meaning might be intended as humor or farce. Eros is almost always translated as "love", and the English word has its own varieties and ambiguities that provide additional challenges to the effort to understand the Eros of ancient Athens.

A sage, in classical philosophy, is someone who has attained wisdom. The term has also been used interchangeably with a 'good person', and a 'virtuous person'. Among the earliest accounts of the sage begin with Empedocles' Sphairos. Horace describes the Sphairos as "Completely within itself, well-rounded and spherical, so that nothing extraneous can adhere to it, because of its smooth and polished surface." Alternatively, the sage is one who lives "according to an ideal which transcends the everyday."

Among the last of these philosophers was Marcus Aurelius, who is widely regarded as a philosopher in the modern sense, but personally refused to call himself by such a title, since he had a duty to live as an emperor. [10]

Marcus Aurelius Roman Emperor and philosopher

Marcus Aurelius was Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoic philosopher. He was the last of the rulers traditionally known as the Five Good Emperors, and the last emperor of the Pax Romana, an age of relative peace and stability for the Roman Empire. He served as Roman consul in 140, 145, and 161.

Transition

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. [11]

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. [12]

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. [12]

Medieval era

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. [13]

Later during the Middle Ages, persons who engaged with alchemy was called a philosopher – thus, the Philosopher's Stone. [14]

Early modern era

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. [15]

After these individuals, the Classical conception had all but died with the exceptions of Arthur Schopenhauer, Søren Kierkegaard, and Friedrich Nietzsche. The last considerable figure in philosophy to not have followed a strict and orthodox academic regime was Ludwig Wittgenstein. [16]

Modern academia

In the modern era, those attaining advanced degrees in philosophy often choose to stay in careers within the educational system as part of the wider professionalisation process of the discipline in the 20th century. [17] 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 PhD in philosophy who responded were employed in educational institutions (academia). Outside 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. [18]

Key thinkers

Jason Fox; Jonathan Pickens

French social thought

Some known French social thinkers are Claude Henri Saint-Simon, Auguste Comte, and Émile Durkheim.

British social thought

British social thought, with thinkers such as Herbert Spencer, addressed questions and ideas relating to political economy and social evolution. The political ideals of John Ruskin were a precursor of social economy ( Unto This Last had a very important impact on Gandhi's philosophy).

German social thought

Important German philosophers and social thinkers included Immanuel Kant, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Georg Simmel, and Martin Heidegger.

Chinese social thought

Important Chinese philosophers and social thinkers included Shang Yang, Lao Zi, Confucius, Mencius, Wang Chong, Wang Yangming, Li Zhi, Zhu Xi, Gu Yanwu, Gong Zizhen, Wei Yuan, Kang Youwei, Lu Xun, Mao Zedong, Xi Jinping.

Italian sociology

Important Italian social scientists include Antonio Gramsci, Gaetano Mosca, Vilfredo Pareto, Franco Ferrarotti, Elena Cornaro Piscopia.

Prizes in philosophy

Various prizes in philosophy exist. Among the most prominent are:

Certain esteemed philosophers, such as Henri Bergson, Bertrand Russell, Rudolf Christoph Eucken, Albert Camus, and Jean-Paul Sartre, have also won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The John W. Kluge Prize for the Study of Humanity, created by the Library of Congress to recognize work not covered by the Nobel Prizes, was given to philosophers Leszek Kołakowski in 2003, Paul Ricoeur in 2004, and Jürgen Habermas and Charles Taylor in 2015. [19]

See also

Related Research Articles

Metaphilosophy is "the investigation of the nature of philosophy". Its subject matter includes the aims of philosophy, the boundaries of philosophy, and its methods. Thus, while philosophy characteristically inquires into the nature of being, the reality of objects, the possibility of knowledge, the nature of truth, and so on, metaphilosophy is the self-reflective inquiry into the nature, aims, and methods of the activity that makes these kinds of inquiries, by asking what is philosophy itself, what sorts of questions it should ask, how it might pose and answer them, and what it can achieve in doing so. It is considered by some to be a subject prior and preparatory to philosophy, while others see it as inherently a part of philosophy, or automatically a part of philosophy while others adopt some combination of these views. The interest in metaphilosophy led to the establishment of the journal Metaphilosophy in January 1970.

Metaphysics Branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of reality

Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, between substance and attribute, and between potentiality and actuality. The word "metaphysics" comes from two Greek words that, together, literally mean "after or behind or among [the study of] the natural". It has been suggested that the term might have been coined by a first century CE editor who assembled various small selections of Aristotle’s works into the treatise we now know by the name Metaphysics.

Christian philosophy

Christian philosophy is a development in philosophy that is characterised by coming from a Christian tradition.

Perennial philosophy, also referred to as perennialism and perennial wisdom, is a perspective in spirituality that views all of the world's religious traditions as sharing a single, metaphysical truth or origin from which all esoteric and exoteric knowledge and doctrine has grown.

Rudolf Christoph Eucken German philosopher

Rudolf Christoph Eucken was a German philosopher. He received the 1908 Nobel Prize for Literature "in recognition of his earnest search for truth, his penetrating power of thought, his wide range of vision, and the warmth and strength in presentation with which in his numerous works he has vindicated and developed an idealistic philosophy of life", after he had been nominated by a member of the Swedish Academy.

Praxis is the process by which a theory, lesson, or skill is enacted, embodied, or realized. "Praxis" may also refer to the act of engaging, applying, exercising, realizing, or practicing ideas. This has been a recurrent topic in the field of philosophy, discussed in the writings of Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, Francis Bacon, Immanuel Kant, Søren Kierkegaard, Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci, Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, Paulo Freire, Ludwig von Mises, and many others. It has meaning in the political, educational, spiritual and medical realms.

Porphyry (philosopher) Neoplatonist philosopher

Porphyry of Tyre was a Neoplatonic philosopher who was born in Tyre, in the Roman Empire. He edited and published the Enneads, the only collection of the work of his teacher Plotinus. His commentary on Euclid's Elements was used as a source by Pappus of Alexandria.

"Shahāb ad-Dīn" Yahya ibn Habash Suhrawardī (1154-1191) was a Persian philosopher and founder of the Iranian school of Illuminationism, an important school in Islamic philosophy that drew upon Zoroastrian and Platonic ideas. The "light" in his "Philosophy of Illumination" is a divine and metaphysical source of knowledge. He is referred to by the honorific title Shaikh al-ʿIshraq "Master of Illumination" and Shaikh al-Maqtul "the Murdered Master", in reference to his execution for heresy. Mulla Sadra, the Persian sage of the Safavid era described Suhrawardi as the "Reviver of the Traces of the Pahlavi (Iranian) Sages", and Suhrawardi, in his magnum opus "The Philosophy of Illumination", thought of himself as a reviver or resuscitator of the ancient tradition of Persian wisdom.

African philosophy

African philosophy is the philosophical discourse produced by indigenous Africans and their descendants, including African/Americans. African philosophy presents a wide range of topics similar to its Eastern and Western counterparts. African philosophers may be found in the various academic fields of philosophy, such as metaphysics, epistemology, moral philosophy, and political philosophy. One particular subject that many African philosophers have written about is that on the subject of freedom and what it means to be free or to experience wholeness. Philosophy in Africa has a rich and varied history, some of which has been lost over time. One of the earliest known African philosophers was Ptahhotep, an ancient Egyptian philosopher. In the early and mid-twentieth century, anti-colonial movements had a tremendous effect on the development of a distinct African political philosophy that had resonance on both the continent and in the African diaspora. One well-known example of the economic philosophical works emerging from this period was the African socialist philosophy of Ujamaa propounded in Tanzania and other parts of Southeast Africa. These African political and economic philosophical developments also had a notable impact on the anti-colonial movements of many non-African peoples around the world.

Arnold Ira Davidson is Robert O. Anderson Distinguished Service Professor in Philosophy, Comparative Literature, History of Science, and Philosophy of Religion at the University of Chicago. He is also a member of the Committee on the Conceptual Foundations of Science at Chicago and a professor at the Università di Pisa in Pisa, Italy.

Pierre Hadot French historian and philosopher

Pierre Hadot was a French philosopher and historian of philosophy specializing in ancient philosophy, particularly Neoplatonism.

Western philosophy Philosophy of the Western world

Western philosophy is the philosophical thought and work of the Western world. Historically, the term refers to the philosophical thinking of Western culture, beginning with Greek philosophy of the pre-Socratics such as Thales and Pythagoras, and eventually covering a large area of the globe. The word philosophy itself originated from the Ancient Greek philosophía (φιλοσοφία), literally, "the love of wisdom".

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to metaphysics:

Stoicism School of Hellenistic Greek philosophy

Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. Stoicism is a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world. According to its teachings, as social beings, the path to eudaimonia (happiness) for humans is found in accepting the moment as it presents itself, by not allowing oneself to be controlled by the desire for pleasure or fear of pain, by using one's mind to understand the world and to do one's part in nature's plan, and by working together and treating others fairly and justly.

Philosophy of life formal: academic study of the fields of aesthetics, ethics, epistemology, logic, metaphysics, as well as social and political philosophy

There are at least two senses in which the term philosophy is used: a formal and an informal sense. In the formal sense, philosophy is an academic study of the fields of aesthetics, ethics, epistemology, logic, metaphysics, as well as social and political philosophy. One's "philosophy of life" is philosophy in the informal sense, as a personal philosophy, whose focus is resolving the existential questions about the human condition.

Medieval philosophy

Medieval philosophy is a term used to refer to the philosophy that existed through the Middle Ages, the period roughly extending from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century to the Renaissance in the 15th century. Medieval philosophy, understood as a project of independent philosophical inquiry, began in Baghdad, in the middle of the 8th century, and in France, in the itinerant court of Charlemagne, in the last quarter of the 8th century. It is defined partly by the process of rediscovering the ancient culture developed in Greece and Rome during the Classical period, and partly by the need to address theological problems and to integrate sacred doctrine with secular learning.

Protrepticus is a philosophical work by Aristotle that encouraged the young to study philosophy. It survives only in fragments and is considered a lost work.

Ilsetraut Hadot in Berlin, is a philosopher and historian of philosophy who specialised in Stoicism, Neoplatonism and more generally in Ancient Philosophy.

References

  1. φιλόσοφος . Liddell, Henry George ; Scott, Robert ; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
  2. Pierre Hadot, The Inner Citadel. p. 4
  3. Perry, Ralph Barton (1914). "Philosophy I: General Introduction: Philosophy and Common Sense" (PDF). In William Allan Neilson; et al. (eds.). Lectures on the Harvard Classics. Internet Archive. P. F. Collier & Son Corporation. pp. 126–128. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  4. Shook, John R., ed. (2010). "Introduction" . Dictionary of Modern American philosophers (online ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN   9780199754663. OCLC   686766412. The label of "philosopher" has been broadly applied in this Dictionary to intellectuals who have made philosophical contributions regardless of an academic career or professional title. The wide scope of philosophical activity across the timespan 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,turtles , 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
  5. Russell, Bertrand (1946). A History of Western Philosophy. Great Britain: George Allen and Unwin Ltd. p. 11. Retrieved 31 March 2016 via Internet Archive.
  6. Aristotle, Metaphysics Alpha, 983b18.
  7. That is to say philosophically – Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, trans. Michael Chase. Blackwell Publishing, 1995. p. 27: Introduction: Pierre Hadot and the Spiritual Phenomenon of Ancient Philosophy by Arnold I. Davidson. Citing Hadot, 'Presentation au College International de Philosophie,' p. 4.
  8. Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, trans. Michael Chase. Blackwell Publishing, 1995. p. 5: Introduction: Pierre Hadot and the Spiritual Phenomenon of Ancient Philosophy by Arnold I. Davidson. Citing Hadot, 'Theologie, exegese, revelation' p. 22
  9. Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, trans. Michael Chase. Blackwell Publishing, 1995. p. 30: Introduction: Pierre Hadot and the Spiritual Phenomenon of Ancient Philosophy by Arnold I. Davidson. Citing Hadot, Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques, p. 13
  10. Wikisource:Meditations#THE EIGHTH BOOK
  11. Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, trans. Michael Chase. Blackwell Publishing, 1995. p. 31: Introduction: Pierre Hadot and the Spiritual Phenomenon of Ancient Philosophy by Arnold I. Davidson. Citing Hadot, 'Presentation au College International de Philosophie,' p. 7
  12. 1 2 Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, trans. Michael Chase. Blackwell Publishing, 1995. p. 32: Introduction: Pierre Hadot and the Spiritual Phenomenon of Ancient Philosophy by Arnold I. Davidson.
  13. Readings in World Christian History (2013), pp. 147, 149
  14. "Online Etymology Dictionary". etymonline.com.
  15. Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, trans. Michael Chase. Blackwell Publishing, 1995. p. 271: Philosophy as a Way of Life
  16. A. C. Grayling. Wittgenstein: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2001. p. 15
  17. Purcell, Edward A. (1979). Kuklick, Bruce (ed.). "The Professionalization of Philosophy". Reviews in American History. 7 (1): 51–57. doi:10.2307/2700960. ISSN   0048-7511. JSTOR   2700960.
  18. APA Committee on Non-Academic Careers (June 1999). "A non-academic career?" (3rd ed.). American Philosophical Association . Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  19. Schuessler, Jennifer (11 August 2015). "Philosophers to Share $1.5 Million Kluge Prize". New York Times. p. C3(L). Retrieved 6 April 2016.