12 Great Philosophers You Should Know About If You’re Into Philosophy.

Peripatetic School of Philosophy
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Philosophy is such a broad field of subject that other subjects like, psychology, sociology, linguistics, etc came out from it. Wisdom, intellectual culture, and the search for knowledge are all associated with philosophy. Metaphysical questions such as “how are we supposed to live our lives” and “what is the ultimate reality” are asked by all cultured and literate societies. But let’s not go in depth of philosophy as a subject and learn about the great thinkers of all time, who made philosophy this fascinating and mind opening subject. So here are thirteen great philosophers and their big theories you should know about if you are into philosophy.

Thinkers in the Article:

  1. Socrates
  2. Plato
  3. Aristotle
  4. Epicurus
  5. Saint Thomas Aquinas
  6. Immanuel Kant
  7. René Descartes
  8. Thomas Hobbes
  9. David Hume
  10. George Berkeley
  11. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  12. John Locke
  13. Ludwig Wittgenstein

Socrates (469 BC – 399 BC):

Socrates was a Greek philosopher who lived in Athens and is regarded as one of the three founders of Western philosophy as well as the first moral philosopher of the Western ethical tradition, the other two were Plato and Aristotle. Socrates did not write any of his views or beliefs. We get to know about Socrates from the dialogues of Plato and Xenophon both were the devotees of Socrates, and from the testaments of other disciples of Socrates like, AntisthenesAristippus, and Aeschines of Sphettos. His dialectic method of inquiry, known as the Socratic method or method of “elenchus,” is his most significant contribution to Western thought. The Socratic method is also considered an important component in  Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Socrates said that he was not here to teach or to know something important, but rather to pursue answers to pressing human questions such as, “What is virtue?” as well as “What is justice?” and to encourage others in doing the same. His philosophizing style was to indulge in public debates about some aspect of human excellence and then demonstrate to his interactants that they had no idea what they were talking about. Despite the negative outcomes of these experiences, Socrates held some broad positive beliefs, such as that virtue is a form of knowledge and that “soul care” is the most significant human responsibility. Socrates died by suicide at the end.

Famous quotes by him:

  • An unexamined life is not worth living.
  • One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing.
  • To find yourself, think for yourself.

Plato (429?– 347 B.C.E.):

Plato was an Athenian philosopher who founded the Platonist school of thought and the Academy, the first institution to be known for higher learning in the Western world, during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. He was a student of Socrates. We get the word platonic(which is type of love that is intimate but not sexual) after his name. Many people believe Plato to be the greatest philosopher who ever lived. In philosophy, he is regarded as the founder of idealism. The Republic, Plato’s most famous work, depicts a wise society led by a philosopher. He’s also known for his dialogues (early, middle, and late), which highlight his philosophical theory of forms, which he’s also known for. The theory of Forms, also known as the theory of Ideas, is a philosophical theory, idea, or worldview attributed to Plato that claims that the physical world is not as real or true as timeless, absolute, and unalterable ideas, and it is a topic of philosophical debate in general. His other famous works are Apology which is a Socratic dialogue in which Socrates defends himself in court during his trial for impiety and corruption in 399 BC. And Euthyphro is a Socratic dialogue which covers subjects such as the meaning of piety and justice, the events in the dialogue occur weeks before the trial of Socrates. Some other popular works are: Meno, Crito, Timaeus, Symposium, Phaedrus, and Parmenides.

Famous quotes by him:

  • Love is a serious mental disease.
  • Your silence gives consent.
  • Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
  • Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.

Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC):

Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath. He was the founder of the Lyceum, the Peripatetic school of philosophy, and the Aristotelian tradition. Aristotle was one of the greatest thinkers of all time and the world’s first true scientist. He was Plato’s student for twenty-years who is best known for rejecting Plato’s theory of forms. Aristotle is generally regarded as the father of Realism. He made groundbreaking contributions to all fields of philosophy and science, inventing the field of formal logic and identifying and exploring the relationships between fields of science. He is the founder of zoology, his influence in the field of psychology is also worth noting as he was the first to write a book that dealt with the specifics of psychology: De Anima or On the SoulThe Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle is the best-known work on ethics where he discusses about eleven virtues like, courage, generosity, right ambition, good temper, friendliness, truthfulness, wit, etc. His early contribution in meteorology(The branch of science concerned with atmospheric processes and phenomena, especially as a means of weather forecasting.) is also significant. Aristotle differentiated among five-hundred species of birds, mammals, and fishes, this classification system was one of the earliest in scientific taxonomy, and was influential for over two thousand years. This was the first known attempt to group animals based on their behavior and, more significantly, on the similarities and differences in their physiology.

Famous quotes by him:

  • We are what we repeatedly do.
  • Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
  • Happiness depends upon ourselves.
  • Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.
  • A friend to all is a friend to none.

Aristotle books:

Epicurus (341 BC – 270 BC):

Epicurus was an ancient Greek sage and philosopher who established Epicureanism, an influential philosophical school which was based upon his teachings. He was born to Athenian parents on the Greek island of Samos. Epicurus produced a large number of works. He penned over 300 treatises. Epicurus’ original writings have survived longer than those of any other Hellenistic Greek philosopher. Despite this, the vast majority of what he wrote is now lost. Epicurus advocated living in such a way that one obtains the greatest amount of enjoyment possible during one’s lifetime while remaining moderate in order to prevent the misery caused by overindulgence in such enjoyment. Epicurus’ views or belief were so simple yet relevant even today, according to him death was an end of body as well as the soul, he taught even if gods exist, they have nothing to do with human affairs and one must be moral and do good in life not because doing bad or immoral would lend him in hell or he will be punished for it but it will spare him from feeling guilty about doing something bad. Epicurus, like Aristotle, was also an empiricist, believing that the senses are the only accurate source of information about the universe. Epicurus believed that the universe is infinite and eternal, and that all matter is made up of atoms, which are very small, invisible particles. The source of all occurrences in the natural world is atoms because they travel and interact with each other.

Famous quotes by him:

  • Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist.
  • Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.
  • Pleasure is the beginning and the end of living happily.

Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274):

Thomas Aquinas was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, Catholic priest, and Doctor of the Church. He is also known as the Doctor Angelicus, the Doctor Communis, and the Doctor Universalis within the scholasticism tradition, where he was a hugely influential philosopher, theologian, and jurist. The greatest of the Scholastic philosophers was St. Thomas Aquinas. He produced a systematic synthesis of Christian theology and Aristotelian philosophy, which dominated Roman Catholic doctrine for decades until being accepted as the church’s official philosophy in 1917. The Summa Theologiae or Summa Theologica meaning summary of theology is one of the best known work of St. Thomas Aquinas, in which he has given five logical arguments for the existence of god known as Five proofs or Five ways. His other famous work is The Summa Contra Gentiles which is a long written text(treatises) written as four books, it was most likely written to help missionaries justify and protect Christianity against dissenting points of doctrine in Islam and Judaism. Thomism is the name given to his doctrinal method, as well as the interpretations and developments created by the followers of Aquinas.

Famous quotes by him:

  • The things that we love tell us what we are.
  • Love takes up where knowledge leaves off.
  • Wonder is the desire for knowledge.
  • To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.
  • Better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.

Saint Thomas Aquinas Books:

Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804):

Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who was a key figure in the Enlightenment era. Kant is regarded as one of the most important figures in modern Western philosophy due to his extensive and systematic works in epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics which are all branches of philosophy. The Categorical Imperative is a famous part of his one of the popular works in the Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals which is his first mature works on moral philosophy, and it remains one of the field’s most important works. Categorical Imperative can be described as a method of analyzing motivations for action. The three formulations of categorical imperative are: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end.” “The idea of the will of every rational being as a universally legislating will.”

Famous quotes by him:

  • Happiness is not an ideal of reason, but of imagination.
  • Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind.
  • Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play.
  • Give me matter, and I will construct a world out of it!

Immanuel Kant Books:

René Descartes (1596 – 1650):

René Descartes was a French-born philosopher, mathematician, and scientist who spent most of his working life in the Dutch Republic, first serving in the Dutch States Army of Prince Maurice of Nassau and the Stadtholder of the United Provinces. “I think therefore I am.” which is a translated version of the Latin phrase Cogito, ergo sum(which means, I am thinking, therefore I exist) is popular statement made by René Descartes, to prove our own existence. The source of this famous quotation was Discourse on the Method, Discourse on the Method is regarded as one of the most influential works in modern philosophy, as well as a significant contribution to the advancement of natural sciences. Descartes addresses the issue of skepticism in this work, which had previously been investigated by other philosophers. René Descartes believed in Cartesian dualism or substance dualism. Descartes is regarded as the founder of modern philosophy. He is well-known for establishing a crucial link between geometry and algebra, allowing geometrical problems to be solved using algebraic equations.

Famous Quotes by him:

  • If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.
  • It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.
  • The greatest minds are capable of the greatest vices as well as of the greatest virtues.

René Descartes Books:

Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679):

Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher and one of the founding fathers of modern political theory. Hobbes is best known for his 1651 book Leviathan, in which he elucidates a key concept in social contract theory. Hobbes imagined what it would be like if there was no government, a situation he refers to as the state of nature. Each individual will have a right, or license, to anything in the world in that state. According to Hobbes, this will result in a “war of all against all.” He believed if there would be no government or no other authority then there will be no earth culture; no navigation; no use of goods that can be transported by sea; no instruments for moving and removing objects that require a lot of force; no knowledge of the earth’s surface; no arts; no letters; no society; and, worst of all, constant fear of violent death; and man’s life will be lonely, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. And, in order to prevent it, people accept a social contract (that’s what social contract theory is)and form a civil society. Hobbes contributed to a wide range of fields besides political philosophy, including history, jurisprudence, geometry, gas physics, theology, and ethics, as well as philosophy in general.

Famous quotes by him:

  • Curiosity is the lust of the mind.
  • Leisure is the mother of philosophy.
  • Words are the money of fools.

Thomas Hobbes Books:

David Hume (1711 – 1776):

David Hume was a Scottish Enlightenment philosopher, historian, economist, librarian, and essayist best known for his empiricism, skepticism, and naturalism. A Treatise on Human Nature is a book by David Hume that is widely regarded as his most important work and one of the most influential works in the history of philosophy. Hume’s A treatise on Human Nature was considered to be the founding document of cognitive science by many people but a lot of people in Britain did not agree on it and at the end Hume himself did not agree on it and wrote two more books  An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and  An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals which were the revised work of A treatise in Human Nature.

Famous quotes by him:

  • A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.
  • Custom is the great guide to human life.
  • Truth springs from argument amongst friends.

David Hume Books:

George Berkeley (1685 – 1753):

George Berkeley was an Anglo-Irish philosopher who was also known as Bishop Berkeley. His main contribution was the advancement of a theory he called immaterialism, which was later referred as “subjective idealism” by others. This theory claims that recognizable things such as tables and chairs are ideas viewed by the minds and, as a result, cannot exist without being perceived. Berkeley was an immaterialist. The master argument is an argument by George Berkeley also known as “Berkeley’s master argument” The master argument is that mind-independent objects do not exist because they are impossible to imagine, this argument was widely challenged as it was against intuition.

Famous quotes by him:

  • The same principles which at first view lead to skepticism, pursued to a certain point, bring men back to common sense.
  • Truth is the cry of all, but the game of few.
  • That neither our thoughts, nor passions, nor ideas formed by the imagination, exist without the mind, is what every body will allow.

George Berkeley Books:

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 – 1778):

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a philosopher, writer, and composer from Geneva. His political theory inspired the Enlightenment’s spread through Europe, as well as aspects of the French Revolution and the development of modern political, economic, and educational thinking. He is famous for his Discourse on Inequality and The Social Contract. Rousseau’s Social Contract is a book in which he theorized on the best way to create a political culture in the face of the problems of society, which he had already described in his Discourse on Inequality. The Social Contract is often regarded as one of the founding texts of modern political theory, emphasizing the importance of individuals participating responsibly in civil society in order to ensure their liberty. He also wrote a novel Julie, or the New Heloise which became important for the development of pre-romanticism and romanticism.

Famous quotes by him:

  • Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains.
  • What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?
  • No man has any natural authority over his fellow men.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau Books:

John Locke (1632 – 1704):

John Locke FRS was an English philosopher and physician who is widely regarded as the “Father of Liberalism” and one of the most prominent Enlightenment thinkers. His work had a major impact on epistemology and political theory. Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, as well as many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers and American Revolutionaries, were inspired by his writings. The subject matter of modern psychology has been strongly influenced by Locke’s theory of association. His other works were An Essay Concerning Human Understanding in which he described that a person’s mind at birth is like a blank slate and it gets filled with experience as life goes on. This essay became a principal source of empiricism, which is a theory in philosophy that states knowledge comes primarily from sensory experiences. The essay also influenced thinkers like George Berkeley and David Hume. Of the Conduct of the Understanding by John Locke is also one of his famous works which explains how to think logically and rationally. It’s a handbook for self-taught individuals. It is a companion piece to John Locke’s Some Thoughts on Education, which discusses how to educate children. This work was published two years after Locke’s death, in 1706.

Famous quotes by him:

  • What worries you, masters you.
  • All wealth is the product of labor.
  • Parents wonder why the streams are bitter, when they themselves have poisoned the fountain.

John Locke Books:

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889 – 1951):

Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein was an Austrian-British philosopher who specialized in logic, mathematics philosophy, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language. Wittgenstein was also a professor at the University of Cambridge from 1929 to 1947. Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus also known as TLP, was his only book was published in his lifetime. The book’s broad aim was to determine the relationship between language and reality, as well as to establish science’s limits. The text contains seven propositions, i.e., (a) The world is everything that is the case. (b) What is the case (a fact) is the existence of states of affairs. (c) A logical picture of facts is a thought. (d) A thought is a proposition with a sense. (e) A proposition is a truth-function of elementary propositions. (f) The general form of a proposition is the general form of a truth function, which is: [\bar p,\bar\xi, N(\bar\xi)]. This is the general form of a proposition. And, (g) Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent. These proposition contained their sub-levels which elaborated each statement or the heading. But his later works mainly Philosophical Investigations criticized his earlier ideas. In 1953, this work was published posthumously, in which Wittgenstein addresses a variety of problems and puzzles in the fields of semantics, logic, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of psychology, philosophy of action, and philosophy of mind, arguing that most philosophical problems are caused by conceptual confusions surrounding language use. The meaning of a word, according to Wittgenstein, is determined by how it is interpreted within the language-game.

Famous quotes by him:

  • Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
  • The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.
  • The world is everything that is the case.

Ludwig Wittgenstein Books:

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