Philosopher

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The School of Athens by Raphael, 1509-1511, depicts Plato and Aristotle (center) exchanging their knowledge with other ancient philosophers. "The School of Athens" by Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino.jpg
The School of Athens by Raphael, 1509–1511, depicts Plato and Aristotle (center) exchanging their knowledge with other ancient philosophers.

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

Contents

In the classical sense, a philosopher was someone who lived according to a certain way of life, focusing upon resolving existential questions about the human condition; it wasn't necessary that they discoursed upon theories or commented upon authors. [2] Those who most arduously committed themselves to this lifestyle would have been considered philosophers, and they typically followed a Hellenistic philosophy.

In a modern sense, a philosopher is an intellectual who contributes to one or more branches of philosophy, such as aesthetics, ethics, epistemology, philosophy of science, logic, metaphysics, social theory, philosophy of religion, and political philosophy. A philosopher may also be someone who has worked in the humanities or other sciences which over the centuries have split from philosophy, such as the arts, history, economics, sociology, psychology, linguistics, anthropology, theology, and politics. [3]

History

Ancient India and the Vedas

The first account of philosophy composed can be found in the ancient Hindu vedas, written between 1500-1200 BCE (Rigveda) and circa 1200-900 BCE (Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, Atharva Veda). Before the vedas were composed, they were orally passed down from generation to generation.

The word veda means "knowledge." In the modern world, we use the term "science" to identify the kind of authoritative knowledge upon which human progress is based. In Vedic times, the primary focus of science was the eternal; human progress meant the advancement of spiritual awareness yielding the soul's release from the entrapment of material nature etc.

Vedic Philosophy provides answers to all unanswered questions i.e why there is pain and pleasure, rich and poor, healthy and sick; God - His qualities, nature and works. Soul – Its nature and qualities, souls of humans and animals; reincarnation – how does it happens, why one is born as he or she is. What is the purpose of life? What we ought to do?

Vedic knowledge comprises the four Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sāma, and Atharva) with their numerous Samhita, 108 Upanishad, 18 Purāna, Mahabharata, several Tantra texts. The entire Vedic Philosophy is divided into six systems:

  1. Nyaya : The Philosophy of Logic and Reasoning
  2. Vaisesika: Essence of things
  3. Sankhya : Nontheistic Dualism
  4. Yoga : Self-Discipline for Self-Realization
  5. Mimansa: Reflection of dharma
  6. Vedanta : The Conclusion of the Vedic Revelation The understanding of this system involves the pragmatic knowledge of how society must be organized, how the economy should be managed, and how the political class must govern society

In short, all six schools of Vedic philosophy aim to describe the nature of the external world and its relationship to the individual, to go beyond the world of appearances to ultimate Reality, and to describe the goal of life and the means for attaining this goal.

Ancient Greece and Rome

The separation of philosophy and science from theology began in Greece during the 6th century BC. [4] Thales, an astronomer and mathematician, was considered by Aristotle to be the first philosopher of the Greek tradition. [5]

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. [6] 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. [7] 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. [8]

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. [9]

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. [10]

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. [11]

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. [11]

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. [12]

Later during the Middle Ages, persons who engaged with alchemy were called philosophers – thus, the Philosopher's Stone. [13]

Early Modern Era

Generally speaking, university philosophy is mere fencing in front of a mirror. In the last analysis, its goal is to give students opinions which are to the liking of the minister who hands out the Chairs... As a result, this state-financed philosophy makes a joke of philosophy. And yet, if there is one thing desirable in this world, it is to see a ray of light fall onto the darkness of our lives, shedding some kind of light on the mysterious enigma of our existence.

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. [14]

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. [15]

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. [16] 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. [17]

Key thinkers

Some known French social thinkers are Claude Henri Saint-Simon, Auguste Comte, and Émile Durkheim. 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 Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy). Important German philosophers and social thinkers included Immanuel Kant, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Georg Simmel, and Martin Heidegger. Important Italian social scientists include Antonio Gramsci, Gaetano Mosca, Vilfredo Pareto, Franco Ferrarotti, and Elena Cornaro Piscopia.

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, and Mao Zedong. Indian philosophers include Adi Shankaracharya, Ramanuja, Chanakya, Buddha, Mahavira, Śāntarakṣita, Dharmakirti, and Nagarjuna.

Female philosophers

Women have engaged in philosophy throughout the field's history. While there have been women philosophers since ancient times, and a relatively small number were accepted as philosophers during the ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary eras, particularly during the 20th and 21st century, almost no woman philosophers have entered the philosophical Western canon. [18] [19] One notable woman philosopher was Hypatia.[ citation needed ]

Prizes in philosophy

Various prizes in philosophy exist; among the most prominent:

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, has been given to philosophers: Leszek Kołakowski in 2003, Paul Ricoeur in 2004, and Jürgen Habermas and Charles Taylor in 2015. [20]

See also

Related Research Articles

Indian religions Religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent

Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent; namely Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. These religions are also all classified as Eastern religions. Although Indian religions are connected through the history of India, they constitute a wide range of religious communities, and are not confined to the Indian subcontinent.

<i>Sutra</i> A text in Hinduism, Buddhism or Jainism, often a collection of aphorisms

Sutra in Indian literary traditions refers to an aphorism or a collection of aphorisms in the form of a manual or, more broadly, a condensed manual or text. Sutras are a genre of ancient and medieval Indian texts found in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

Upanishads Ancient Sanskrit religious and philosophical texts of Hinduism

The Upanishads are late Vedic Sanskrit texts of religious teaching and ideas still revered in Hinduism. They are the most recent part of the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, the Vedas, that deal with meditation, philosophy, and ontological knowledge; other parts of the Vedas deal with mantras, benedictions, rituals, ceremonies, and sacrifices. Among the most important literature in the history of Indian religions and culture, the Upanishads played an important role in the development of spiritual ideas in ancient India, marking a transition from Vedic ritualism to new ideas and institutions. Of all Vedic literature, the Upanishads alone are widely known, and their central ideas are at the spiritual core of Hinduism.

Eastern philosophy Set of philosophies originating in Asia

Eastern philosophy or Asian philosophy includes the various philosophies that originated in East and South Asia including Chinese philosophy, Indian philosophy, Japanese philosophy, and Korean philosophy which are dominant in East and Southeast Asia.

Hindu philosophy

Hindu philosophy encompasses the philosophies, world views and teachings that emerged in ancient India. These include six systems (shad-darśana) – Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa and Vedanta.

Mīmāṃsā is a Sanskrit word that means "reflection" or "critical investigation" and thus refers to a tradition of contemplation which reflected on the meanings of certain Vedic texts. This tradition is also known as Pūrva-Mīmāṃsā because of its focus on the earlier (pūrva) Vedic texts dealing with ritual actions, and similarly as Karma-Mīmāṃsā due to its focus on ritual action (karma). It is one of six Vedic "affirming" (āstika) schools of Hinduism. This particular school is known for its philosophical theories on the nature of dharma, based on hermeneutics of the Vedas, especially the Brāḥmanas and Saṃhitas. The Mīmāṃsā school was foundational and influential for the vedāntic schools, which were also known as Uttara-Mīmāṃsā for their focus on the "later" (uttara) portions of the Vedas, the Upaniṣads. While both "earlier" and "later" Mīmāṃsā investigate the aim of human action, they do so with different attitudes towards the necessity of ritual praxis.

Shruti or Shruthi in Sanskrit means "that which is heard" and refers to the body of most authoritative, ancient religious texts comprising the central canon of Hinduism. Manusmriti states that Śrutistu vedo vigneyah. Thus, it includes the four Vedas including its four types of embedded texts—the Samhitas, the early Upanishads, the Brahmanas and the Aranyakas.

Voluntarism is "any metaphysical or psychological system that assigns to the will a more predominant role than that attributed to the intellect", or equivalently "the doctrine that will is the basic factor, both in the universe and in human conduct". Voluntarism has appeared at various points throughout the history of philosophy, seeing application in the areas of metaphysics, psychology, political philosophy and theology.

Vedas Ancient scriptures of Hinduism

The Vedas are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism.

Āstika and Nāstika are concepts that have been used to classify Indian philosophies by modern scholars, as well as some Hindu, Buddhist and Jain texts. The various definitions for āstika and nāstika philosophies have been disputed since ancient times, and there is no consensus. In current Indian languages like Hindi and Bengali, āstika and its derivatives usually mean 'theist', while nāstika and its derivatives denote an 'atheist'; however, the two terms in Ancient- and Medieval-Era Sanskrit literature do not refer to 'theism' or 'atheism'. The terms are used differently in Hindu philosophy. For example, Sāṃkhya is both an atheist and āstika (Vedic) philosophy, though “God” is often used as an epithet for consciousness (purusa) within its doctrine. Similarly, though Buddhism is considered to be nāstika, the Gautama Buddha is considered an avatar of Vishnu in some Hindu traditions.

Pierre Hadot

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

Gargi Vachaknavi was an ancient Indian philosopher. In Vedic literature, she is honored as a great natural philosopher, renowned expounder of the Vedas, and known as Brahmavadini, a person with knowledge of Brahma Vidya. In the Sixth and the eighth Brahmana of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, her name is prominent as she participates in the brahmayajna, a philosophic debate organized by King Janaka of Videha and she challenges the sage Yajnavalkya with perplexing questions on the issue of atman (soul). She is also said to have written many hymns in the Rigveda. She remained a celibate all her life and was held in veneration by the conventional Hindus.

Philosophy Study of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct

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.

Western philosophy Philosophy of the Western world

Western philosophy refers to 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".

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. It 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 is found in accepting the moment as it presents itself, by not allowing oneself to be controlled by the desire for pleasure or by the 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.

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."

Philosophy of life Personal philosophy, whose focus is resolving the existential questions about the human condition

A philosophy of life is any general attitude towards, or philosophical view of, the meaning of life or of the way life should be lived. The term is generally used in an informal sense, meaning a personal philosophy whose focus is resolving basic existential questions about the human condition rather than an academic philosophical endeavour.

Medieval philosophy Philosophy during the medieval period

Medieval philosophy is 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

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. 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
  4. Russell, Bertrand (1946). A History of Western Philosophy. Great Britain: George Allen and Unwin Ltd. p.  11 . Retrieved 31 March 2016 via Internet Archive.
  5. Aristotle, Metaphysics Alpha, 983b18.
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. Wikisource:Meditations#THE EIGHTH BOOK
  10. 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
  11. 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.
  12. Readings in World Christian History (2013), pp. 147, 149
  13. "Online Etymology Dictionary". etymonline.com.
  14. Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, trans. Michael Chase. Blackwell Publishing, 1995. p. 271: Philosophy as a Way of Life
  15. A. C. Grayling. Wittgenstein: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2001. p. 15
  16. 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.
  17. APA Committee on Non-Academic Careers (June 1999). "A non-academic career?" (3rd ed.). American Philosophical Association . Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  18. Duran, Jane. Eight women philosophers: theory, politics, and feminism. University of Illinois Press, 2005.
  19. "Why I Left Academia: Philosophy's Homogeneity Needs Rethinking - Hippo Reads". read.hipporeads.com.
  20. Schuessler, Jennifer (11 August 2015). "Philosophers to Share $1.5 Million Kluge Prize". New York Times. p. C3(L). Retrieved 6 April 2016.