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The Giants of Philosophy
John J. Stuhr
Spieldauer: 2 Std. und 13 Min.
5 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
John Dewey was America's most influential philosopher. He wanted philosophy to rise above old tired disputes to address new, more vital questions and problems. Dewey's views are known as "pragmatism", which emphasizes action and results. He believed that knowledge and ethics, as well as art and religion, live only in the daily practice of one's life.
5 out of 5 stars
Great condensation of the ideas of a prolific writer
For Kierkegaard, truth is a subjective reality which we must live, not something to simply consider and discuss. His self-consciousness and self-examination highlight the practical demands of existence, and he opposes the speculative thinking of philosophical idealists. Kierkegaard says much of life's meaning depends not on external conditions, but on our internal choices about relating to them. He urges us to live with purpose and emphasizes that our task is not knowing but doing.
Jean-Paul Sartre, a French philosopher, is perhaps the best known advocate of existentialism. In this view, no external authority gives life meaning: mankind is radically free and responsible. In every moment we choose ourselves, with no assurance that we have a continuing identity or power.
A Portuguese Jew living in Holland, Spinoza was excommunicated because of the unorthodox view he took of God. Spinoza wrote in the rationalist style of a geometric proof to develop his idea of God as the infinite, indwelling cause of all things, a unified causal system that is virtually synonymous with nature.
Friedrich Hegel developed a profound and influential synthesis of all prior knowledge. He aimed to make philosophy an all-comprehensive science that would restate, in rational language, the truth of Christianity. In Hegel's vast speculative and idealistic philosophy, truth is found not in the part but in the whole. Nature is an organic whole shot through with rationality akin to the reason in ourselves.
David Hume (1711-1776) represented the culmination of the British philosophy of sense-experience. Although he lived in the age of reason, Hume had profound doubts about our ability to know anything in the world with certainty. This skepticism colored his view of science and gave rise to his devastating attack on proofs of the existence of God.
Nietzsche condemned nearly all of the religious and philosophical thought of his day to blunt terms (e.g., God is dead). He says the only reality is this world of life and death, conflict and change, creation and destruction. For centuries, religious ideas have given meaning to life in the western world; but as they now collapse, humanity faces a grave crisis of nihilism and despair.
Plato was the first great philosopher of the West to organize and record the issues and questions that define philosophy. A student of Socrates, Plato preserved the teachings of his mentor in many famous "dialogues" that deal with classic issues like law and justice, perception and reality, death and the soul, mind and body, reason and passion, and the nature of love.
St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.) was the first great systematic Christian philosopher. He attempted to combine the philosophical insights of Plato with the faith explicated in the Bible. Augustine thought of Plato's eternal forms as ideas in the mind of God; he believed that the Eternal Christ provides the light of knowledge to the human mind.
Immanuel Kant's "transcendental" philosophy transcends the question of "what" we know to ask "how" we know it. Before Kant, philosophers had debated for centuries whether knowledge is derived from experience or reason. Kant says that both views are partly right and partly wrong, that they share the same error; both believe that the mind and the world, reason and nature, are separated from one another.
Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) was Plato's student, but revised his teacher's ideas to be more consistent with ordinary experience. He thought human beings are one with the rest of nature, yet set apart from it by their ability to reason. Aristotle systematized the laws of thought, gave a complete account of nature and God, and developed an attractive view of the good life and the good society. He also provided the first systematic expositions of physics, biology, psychology, and the standards of literature.
St. Thomas Aquinas is known for producing history's most complete system of Christian philosophy. In the late 13th century, this quiet, reflective Dominican scholar combined the work of Aristotle with Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and pagan thought to reconcile reason and faith. For Thomas, intellectual knowledge is a sign of the spirituality that energizes the human center. He believed we can know that God exists, but not what God is like.