Philosophy. Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument. In more casual speech, by extension, "philosophy" can refer to "the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group". The word "philosophy" comes from the Ancient Greek φιλοσοφία (philosophia), which literally means "love of wisdom". The introduction of the terms "philosopher" and "philosophy" has been ascribed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras. Areas of inquiry Philosophy is divided into many sub-fields.
These include epistemology, logic, metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics. Some of the major areas of study are considered individually below. Epistemology Rationalism is the emphasis on reasoning as a source of knowledge. Logic. Epiphenomenalism. Epiphenomenalism is a mind-body philosophy marked by the belief that basic physical events (sense organs, neural impulses, and muscle contractions) are causal with respect to mental events (thought, consciousness, and cognition).
Mental events are viewed as completely dependent on physical functions and, as such, have no independent existence or causal efficacy; it is a mere appearance. Fear seems to make the heart beat faster; though, according to epiphenomenalism, the state of the nervous system causes the heart to beat faster. Because mental events are a kind of overflow that cannot cause anything physical, epiphenomenalism is viewed as a version of monism. Development During the seventeenth century, Rene Descartes argued that animals are subject to mechanical laws of nature.
He defended the idea of automatic behavior, or the performance of actions without conscious thought. Huxley defended automatism by testing reflex actions, originally supported by Descartes. Adrian G. Jean-Paul Sartre. His work has also influenced sociology, critical theory, post-colonial theory, and literary studies, and continues to influence these disciplines. Sartre has also been noted for his open relationship with the prominent feminist theorist Simone de Beauvoir. He was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature but refused it, saying that he always declined official honors and that "a writer should not allow himself to be turned into an institution". Biography Early life Jean-Paul Sartre was born in Paris as the only child of Jean-Baptiste Sartre, an officer of the French Navy, and Anne-Marie Schweitzer. His mother was of Alsatian origin and the first cousin of Nobel Prize laureate Albert Schweitzer.
(Her father, Charles Schweitzer, was the older brother of Albert Schweitzer's father, Louis Théophile.) When Sartre was two years old, his father died of a fever. World War II French journalists visit General George C. Cold War politics and anticolonialism John Stuart Mill. John Stuart Mill, FRSE (20 May 1806 – 8 May 1873) was an English philosopher, political economist and civil servant. He was an influential contributor to social theory, political theory and political economy. He has been called "the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the nineteenth century". Mill's conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state control. He was a proponent of utilitarianism, an ethical theory developed by Jeremy Bentham. Hoping to remedy the problems found in an inductive approach to science, such as confirmation bias, he clearly set forth the premises of falsifiability as the key component in the scientific method. Mill was also a Member of Parliament and an important figure in liberal political philosophy.
Biography John Stuart Mill was born on Rodney Street in the Pentonville area of London, the eldest son of the Scottish philosopher, historian and economist James Mill, and Harriet Burrow. Social liberalism. Social liberalism is the belief that liberalism should include a social foundation. Social liberalism seeks to balance individual liberty and social justice. A reaction against social liberalism in the late twentieth century, often called neoliberalism, led to monetarist economic policies and a reduction in government provision of services.
However, this reaction did not result in a return to classical liberalism, as governments continued to provide social services and retained control over economic policy. Origins United Kingdom By the end of the nineteenth century, the principles of classical liberalism were challenged by downturns in economic growth, a growing perception of the evils of poverty, unemployment and relative deprivation present within modern industrial cities, and the agitation of organized labour. The ideal of the self-made individual, who through hard work and talent could make his or her place in the world, seemed increasingly implausible. Germany Thomas Aquinas. He was the foremost classical proponent of natural theology, and the father of Thomism. His influence on Western thought is considerable, and much of modern philosophy was conceived in development or refutation of his ideas, particularly in the areas of ethics, natural law, metaphysics, and political theory.
Unlike many currents in the Church of the time, Thomas embraced several ideas put forward by Aristotle — whom he referred to as "the Philosopher" — and attempted to synthethise Aristotelian philosophy with the principles of Christianity. The works for which he is best known are the Summa Theologica and the Summa contra Gentiles. His commentaries on Sacred Scripture and on Aristotle are an important part of his body of work. Furthermore, Thomas is distinguished for his eucharistic hymns, which form a part of the Church's liturgy. Also honored as a Doctor of the Church, Thomas is considered the Church's greatest theologian and philosopher. Biography Substance dualism. Immanuel Kant. Immanuel Kant (/kænt/; German: [ɪˈmaːnu̯eːl kant]; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher who is widely considered to be a central figure of modern philosophy.
He argued that fundamental concepts structure human experience, and that reason is the source of morality. His thought continues to have a major influence in contemporary thought, especially the fields of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics. Kant's major work, the Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft, 1781), aimed to explain the relationship between reason and human experience. With this project, he hoped to move beyond what he took to be failures of traditional philosophy and metaphysics. Kant argued that our experiences are structured by necessary features of our minds.
Kant aimed to resolve disputes between empirical and rationalist approaches. Biography Young Kant was a solid, albeit unspectacular, student. Young scholar Early work Jeremy Bentham. Jeremy Bentham (/ˈbɛnθəm/; 15 February [O.S. 4 February] 1748 – 6 June 1832) was a British philosopher, jurist, and social reformer. He is regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism. Bentham became a leading theorist in Anglo-American philosophy of law, and a political radical whose ideas influenced the development of welfarism. He advocated individual and economic freedom, the separation of church and state, freedom of expression, equal rights for women, the right to divorce, and the decriminalising of homosexual acts. He called for the abolition of slavery, the abolition of the death penalty, and the abolition of physical punishment, including that of children. He has also become known in recent years as an early advocate of animal rights. Though strongly in favour of the extension of individual legal rights, he opposed the idea of natural law and natural rights, calling them "nonsense upon stilts". Life Portrait of Bentham by the studio of Thomas Frye, 1760–1762.
Aristotle. Aristotle's views on physical science profoundly shaped medieval scholarship. Their influence extended into the Renaissance and were not replaced systematically until the Enlightenment and theories such as classical mechanics. Some of Aristotle's zoological observations, such as on the hectocotyl (reproductive) arm of the octopus, were not confirmed or refuted until the 19th century.
His works contain the earliest known formal study of logic, which was incorporated in the late 19th century into modern formal logic. His ethics, though always influential, gained renewed interest with the modern advent of virtue ethics. All aspects of Aristotle's philosophy continue to be the object of active academic study today. Though Aristotle wrote many elegant treatises and dialogues – Cicero described his literary style as "a river of gold" – it is thought that only around a third of his original output has survived. Life Aristotle was appointed as the head of the royal academy of Macedon. Logic. Ayn Rand. In 1957, she published her best-known work, the novel Atlas Shrugged. Afterward, she turned to non-fiction to promote her philosophy, publishing her own magazines and releasing several collections of essays until her death in 1982. Rand advocated reason as the only means of acquiring knowledge and rejected faith and religion.
She supported rational and ethical egoism, and rejected ethical altruism. In politics, she condemned the initiation of force as immoral and opposed collectivism and statism as well as anarchism, instead supporting a minarchist limited government and laissez-faire capitalism, which she believed to be the only social system that protected individual rights. Life Early life Rand was born Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum (Russian: Али́са Зиновьевна Розенбаум) on February 2, 1905, to a Russian Jewish bourgeois family living in Saint Petersburg. Along with many other "bourgeois" students, Rand was purged from the university shortly before graduating. Polymath. Leonardo da Vinci is regarded as a "Renaissance man" and is one of the most recognizable polymaths.
A polymath (Greek: πολυμαθής, polymathēs, "having learned much") is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas; such a person is known to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems. The term was first used in the seventeenth century but the related term, polyhistor, is an ancient term with similar meaning. The term applies to the gifted people of the Renaissance who sought to develop their abilities in all areas of knowledge as well as in physical development, social accomplishments, and the arts, in contrast to the vast majority of people of that age who were not well educated. This term entered the lexicon during the twentieth century and has now been applied to great thinkers living before and after the Renaissance. Renaissance ideal Robert A.
Heinlein, Time Enough for Love (1973) Related terms See also