Siddhartha Gautama (563 – 483)
Gautama was known as Buddha, was born in Lumbini (Nepal) around 560 BCE. His father was the leader of clan and he led a life very luxurious and high status. But he was not contented with this life and left this in search of spiritual path. He was concerned with eastern philosophy and used the Buddhism approach. He was the first to challenge the sacred Veda text with his philosophical reasoning. He gave the four truth of his life.
The truth of sufferings (Dukkha), it is an inherent part of existence from birth through sickness and old age to death. The truth of origin of suffering (Samudaya) the cause of suffering is desire.
The truth of ending of suffering (Nirodha) suffering can be ended by detaching oneself from attachment. The truth of the path to ending of suffering (Magga) the eightfold path is the mean to end eliminate the ego and desires. The eightfold path includes the elements, right mind fullness, right action, right intention, right livelihood, right efforts, right concentration, right speech, and right understanding.
His famous quotes are, Belief nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, unless it agrees with your own reasons. And peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.
Socrates (469 – 399)
Socrates was born in Athens in 469 BCE. He was the son of stonemason. He was the founder of western philosophy and wrote nothing. He was concerned with the branch of epistemology and used the dialectic method. He used to ask question and gave new way of thinking, this was called dialectic method. It proceeds as dialogue between opposing views. His famous works were the phaiedo, symposium and apology which were recorded by his pupil Plato in the form of dialogues. He was interested in examining the life. He was the first philosopher, who introduced the concept of “good life”. He rejected the idea that virtue is relative thing according to him it is absolute. He gave the notion of immortal soul. He used to say “I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance”. He was sentence to death punishment in 399 BCE due to charges of corrupting the youth.
Plato (427 – 347)
Plato was born in noble family in Athens around 427 BCE and named as Aristocles but later he acquired the name Plato meaning “broad”. Around 385 BCE he founded the school called the Academy. He was the student of Socrates he was concerned with the branch of philosophy and used the rationalism approach in philosophy.
Socrates has left no writings. Plato recorded his important work in the form of dialogues. Plato’s famous idea was the theory of form. In which he said nothing is in its original form everything is the shadow. To illustrate his theory he demonstrated with allegory of the cave. He gave the notion that material is not concrete reality only the ideas in our mind is realty. He believed that human beings are divided into two form body and soul. Our body possesses the senses through we perceive and our soul possesses the reason through which we can perceive the realm of the ideas. He said the “The soul of man is immortal and imperishable.”
Aristotle (384 – 322)
Aristotle was born in Stagira and was the son of Physician. He was the student of Plato. He was concerned with branch of epistemology and used the approach epricisism. Aristotle believes that things in the material world are not imperfect copies of some ideal Form of themselves, but that the essential form of a thing is actually inherent in each instance of that thing. For example, “dogginess” is not just a shared characteristic of dogs. He opposed the idea of Plato theory of forms and he was believed in testimony of senses. His other famous work was the biological classification and the Syllogism. He was the founder of “Logic”. His famous quotes are “Man is social animal” and “Everything that depends on the action of nature is by nature as good as it can be”.
The Medieval World 250 – 1500 BCE
Early Christian philosophers such as St. Augustine of Hippo sought to integrate Greek philosophy into the Christian religion. This process was the main task of scholasticism, a philosophical approach stemmed from the monastic schools and was renowned for its rigorous dialectical reasoning. As the Roman Empire shrank and eventually fell, Europe sank into the “Dark Ages” and most of the culture it had inherited from Greece and Rome disappeared. The Church held the monopoly on learning, and the only true philosophy that survived was a form of Platonism. Islamic world also introduced a world of science and technology to the medieval Europe. In 15th century sparked the change of mode which led the people towards new thinking of rationality rather than faith to provide the answer of their questions.
St. Augustine of hippo (354 – 430)
Augustine was born in 354 CE in Thagaste a small town in North Africa from Christian mother and pagan father. He was educated to be a rhetorician, and he went on to teach rhetoric in his home town, and at Carthage, Rome, where he occupied prestigious position. He abandoned his career and devoted himself to writing Christian works, many of a highly philosophical nature. In 395 he became Bishop of Hippo, in North Africa. He was attracted to Christians. He was concerned with Ethics branch and used the approach Christian Platonism. Because was influenced from Plato. He said God is not parents of evil. Human have free will and means that they must be able to choose between good and bad.
Avicenna (980 – 1037)
Ibn e Sina or Avicenna was born in village near Bukhara in 980. He was concerned with the metaphysics and his approach was Arabic Aristotlianism. He was the most important philosopher in Arabic tradition and world’s greatest thinker. Avicenna self-consciously marked himself out as a philosopher rather than an Islamic theologian, choosing to follow Greek wisdom and the. path of reasoning and proof. He was highly influenced from Aristotle. He argued that mind and soul are distinct from the body. His others most significant works are in the domain of the indubitable self and the immortal soul are most important.
Jalal Ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (1207-1273)
Rumi was born in Balkh in Persia. He was also called Mawlana or simple Rumi. In 1244 Rumi became the shaykh (Master) of a Sufi order, and taught his mystical emotional interpretation of the Quran and the importance of music and dance in religious .ceremony. Rumi ideas were influenced from Sufism. In the 20th century, his ideas became very popular in the West, because his message of love chimed with the New Age values of the 1960s.
Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 2574)
Thomas was born in 1225 at Roccasecca in Italy. He studied at the University of Naples and then joined the Dominican order against the wishes of his family. He was interested in metaphysics and used the approach Christian Aristotelian. He was also influenced with Aristotle as most of the medieval thinkers. His notable ideas are Disputed Questions on Truth and on the eternity of the universe. His argued that “God could have made the universe without humans and then made them.”
Renaissance and the age of Reason 1500 – 1750 BCE
Renaissance is a cultural rebirth of extraordinary creativity in Europe in 14th century, was spread across Europe in 17th century, and it is viewed as the bridge between the medieval and modern periods. It was movement that viewed humans, not God. This new humanism was reflected first in the art and then the political and social structure of Italian society. In 17th century most significant philosophers of Europe were well aware of mathematics such as Rene Descartes. They believed that the best way of acquiring the knowledge is the reasoning process so it is also called the age of reasoning. In this era I shall discuss the major philosophers of this era.
Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626)
Francis was born in London. He was educated privately before, he being sent to Trinity College. After graduation he started training as lawyer but later he left it. He was appointed as Lord Chancellor but after two year he was dismissed due to convicted of accepting bribery. He spent his later life as a writing the books and doing the scientific work. He was the first known empiricist in British he argued that knowledge is power and it enables the people to do that things that could not be done. According to him scientific knowledge builds upon itself. It advances steadily and cumulatively, discovering new laws and making discoveries possible. He quoted that, by for the best proof is experience.
Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679)
He was orphan when born and fortunately taken by a wealthy uncl, who offered him a good education from Oxford University. He remained the tutor to the son of Earl of Devonshire. He met with noted scientists and thinkers such as Galileo Galilei as well. His first book, “De Cive”, was published in Paris in 1642. But it was his ideas on morality, politics, and the functions of society and the state, set out, made him famous. He was also skilled translator and mathematician. He concerned with metaphysics and used the approach Physicalism. According to him all humans are nothing more than flesh and blood machine. Leviathan is his most famous political work. Hobbes proclaims the universe that is, the whole mass of things, is corporeal. He further argued that each of these bodies has length, breadth, and depth, and that which is not body is no part of the universe.
Rene Descartes (1596 – 1650)
He was born near Tour in France. He was educated at the Jesuit College Royale. He was also served as volunteer soldier in Europe’s war. His branch was epistemology and used the approach rationalism. Cogito ergo sum I think therefore I am, Lay down his philosophical base. He used the method known as the method of doubt. He argued that It is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things. When someone says I am thinking, therefore I am, he recognizes it as something self evident by a simple intuition of mind. His notable works are Discourse on the Method, Meditations on First Philosophy, Principles of Philosophy and De Hominess Fuguris.
John Locke (1632 – 1704)
He was born in 1632. He was the son of a lawyer. He was graduated from Oxford University. He was impressed with empirical approach. He became famous due to his political philosophy; his major work is social contract theory of legitimacy of government and ideas of natural rights to private property. He criticized the idea that human beings posses any kind of innate knowledge. He argued that human minds are blank sheet of paper, which experience writes in the same way as light can create images on photographic film. His notable writings are, A Letter Concerning Toleration, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, and Two Treatises of Government.
George Berkeley (1685 – 1753)
He was born and brought up at Dysart Castle, near the town of Kilkenny, Ireland. He was educated at Kilkenny College, then at Trinity College, Dublin. He was elected as fellow of Trinity College in 1707. He was also empiricist meaning that experience is the primary source of knowledge. And his approach was idealism. He argued that a thing only exists in so far as it perceives or is perceived. According to him if things that are not perceivers only exist in so far as they are perceived, however, this seems to mean that when I leave the room, my desk, computer, books, and so on all cease to exist, for they are no longer being perceived. His notable ideas are Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, and Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous.
The Age of Revolution 1750 – 1900 BCE
During the Renaissance, Europe had evolved into a collection of separate nation states, having previously been a continent unified under the control of the Church. As power devolved to separate countries, distinctive national cultures formed, which were most obvious in arts and literature, but could also be seen in the philosophical styles that emerged during the 17th century. In 18th century philosophy continued to the centre France and Britain. Due to enlightenment the old values and feudal system came to an end. New nations founded the trades which give rise to the urbanization and prosperity. In Britain, where revolution had already come and gone, empiricism reached a peak in the works of David Hume. In this era the most revolutionary was Jean Jacques Rousseau. His vision of a society governed on the principles provided the battle cry of the French Revolution in 1789. German philosophy came to dominate the 19th century, largely due to the work of Immanuel Kant. Here are some of major philosophers.
David Hume (1711 – 1776)
Hume was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1711. He was educated at University of Edinburg. In 1763 he was appointed to the Embassy in Paris, where he became friend with Jean Jacques Rousseau. His famous writing “abundant caution” was published after his death in 1976. He was the empiricist and denied the idea that human innately acquire knowledge Hume argued that in our reasoning concerning fact, there are all imaginable degrees of assurance. A wise man therefore proportions his belief to the evidence. He was in the favor of inductive reasoning, our ability to infer things from our past. His further contribution towards philosophy is A Treatise of Human Nature, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, and Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.
ADAM SMITH (1723 – 1790)
Smith was known as the father of economics. He was born in Kirkcaldy in 1723. He was the professor at Edinburg University and Glasgow University. He was remained tutor to Henry Scot in 1760. He was remained close to the David Hume and other enlightenment thinkers. He was the most famous economist of the world. He explored the concept of self interests and bargain. He said man is the animal who makes bargain. He was concerned with political philosophy and he used the classical economic approach. His famous theory was The Theory of Moral Sentiments.
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