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Sophie Argyris

A philosopher, novelist, and lecturer, Will Buckingham A Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, UK,
is particularly interested in the interplay of philosophy John Marenbon studies and writes on medieval
and narrative. He currently teaches at De Montfort philosophy. His books include Early Medieval
University, Leicester, UK, and has written several Philosophy 480–1150: An Introduction.
books, including Finding our Sea-Legs: Ethics,
Experience and the Ocean of Stories.
DOUGLAS BURNHAM A writer and musician, Marcus Weeks studied
philosophy and worked as a teacher before embarking
A professor of philosophy at Staffordshire University, on a career as an author. He has contributed to many
UK, Douglas Burnham is the author of many books books on the arts and popular sciences.
and articles on modern and European philosophy.

The publishers would also like to thank Richard
A lecturer in political theory and British history, Osborne, lecturer of philosophy and critical theory at
Clive Hill has a particular interest in the role of Camberwell College of Arts, UK, for his enthusiasm
the intellectual in the modern world. and assistance in planning this book, and Stephanie
Chilman for her help putting the Directory together.

A doctor of philosophy who lectures at Pembroke
College, University of Oxford, UK, Peter J. King is the
author of the recent book One Hundred Philosophers:
A Guide to the World’s Greatest Thinkers.

Anything Heraclitus you lose comes round in another form 41 All is one Parmenides Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi 42 Man is the measure of 88 The universe has not all things Protagoras always existed Thomas Aquinas 44 When one throws to me a peach.CONTENTS 10 INTRODUCTION 46 The life which is unexamined is not THE MEDIEVAL THE ANCIENT WORLD worth living Socrates WORLD 50 Earthly knowledge is 250–1500 700 BCE–250 CE but shadow Plato 72 God is not the parent 56 Truth resides in the world of evils 22 Everything is made around us Aristotle St. I return to him 96 God is the not-other a plum Mozi Nikolaus von Kues 45 Nothing exists except 97 To know nothing is atoms and empty space the happiest life Democritus and Leucippus Desiderius Erasmus . Augustine of Hippo of water Thales of Miletus 64 Death is nothing to us 74 God foresees our free Epicurus thoughts and actions 24 The Dao that can be told Boethius is not the eternal Dao 66 He has the most who is Laozi most content with the least 76 The soul is distinct Diogenes of Sinope from the body Avicenna 26 Number is the ruler of forms and ideas 67 The goal of life is living 80 Just by thinking about God Pythagoras in agreement with nature we can know he exists Zeno of Citium St. Anselm 30 Happy is he who has overcome his ego 82 Philosophy and religion Siddhartha Gautama are not incompatible Averroes 34 Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles 84 God has no attributes Confucius Moses Maimonides 40 Everything is flux 86 Don’t grieve.

RENAISSANCE THE AGE OF AND THE AGE REVOLUTION OF REASON 1750–1900 1500–1750 146 Doubt is not a pleasant condition. the individual 124 Imagination decides Immanuel Kant is sovereign everything Blaise Pascal John Stuart Mill 172 Society is indeed a contract 126 God is the cause of all Edmund Burke 194 Anxiety is the dizziness things. but certainty 102 The end justifies the means is absurd Voltaire Niccolò Machiavelli 148 Custom is the great guide 108 Fame and tranquillity of human life David Hume can never be bedfellows Michel de Montaigne 154 Man was born free yet everywhere he is in chains 186 Every man takes the limits 110 Knowledge is power Jean-Jacques Rousseau of his own field of vision Francis Bacon for the limits of the world 160 Man is an animal that Arthur Schopenhauer 112 Man is a machine makes bargains Thomas Hobbes Adam Smith 189 Theology is anthropology Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach 116 I think therefore I am 164 There are two worlds: René Descartes our bodies and the 190 Over his own body and external world mind. which are in him of freedom Benedictus Spinoza 174 The greatest happiness Søren Kierkegaard for the greatest number 130 No man’s knowledge Jeremy Bentham 196 The history of all hitherto here can go beyond his existing society is the experience John Locke 175 Mind has no gender history of class struggles Mary Wollstonecraft Karl Marx 134 There are two kinds of truths: truths of reasoning 176 What sort of philosophy 204 Must the citizen ever and truths of fact one chooses depends on resign his conscience Gottfried Leibniz what sort of person one is to the legislator? Johann Gottlieb Fichte Henry David Thoreau 138 To be is to be perceived George Berkeley 177 About no subject is there 205 Consider what effects less philosophizing than things have about philosophy Charles Sanders Peirce Friedrich Schlegel 206 Act as if what you do 178 Reality is a historical makes a difference process Georg Hegel William James .

241 Only as an individual can THE MODERN man become a philosopher WORLD Karl Jaspers 1900–1950 242 Life is a series of collisions with the future José Ortega y Gasset 214 Man is something to be surpassed 244 To philosophize. it must be Arne Naess falsifiable Karl Popper 240 Love is a bridge from 284 Life will be lived all the poorer to richer knowledge 266 Intelligence is a moral better if it has no meaning Max Scheler category Theodor Adorno Albert Camus . first one Friedrich Nietzsche must confess Hajime Tanabe 222 Men with self-confidence come and see and conquer 246 The limits of my language Ahad Ha’am are the limits of my world Ludwig Wittgenstein 223 Every message is made of signs 252 We are ourselves the 268 Existence precedes Ferdinand de Saussure entities to be analyzed essence Martin Heidegger Jean-Paul Sartre 224 Experience by itself is not science Edmund Husserl 256 The individual’s only true 272 The banality of evil moral choice is through Hannah Arendt 226 Intuition goes in the very self-sacrifice for the direction of life community 273 Reason lives in language Henri Bergson Tetsuro Watsuji Emmanuel Levinas 228 We only think when we are 257 Logic is the last scientific 274 In order to see the world confronted with problems ingredient of philosophy we must break with our John Dewey Rudolf Carnap familiar acceptance of it Maurice Merleau-Ponty 232 Those who cannot 258 The only way of knowing remember the past are a person is to love them 276 Man is defined as condemned to repeat it without hope a human being and George Santayana Walter Benjamin woman as a female Simone de Beauvoir 233 It is only suffering that 259 That which is cannot makes us persons be true Herbert Marcuse 278 Language is a social art Miguel de Unamuno Willard Van Orman Quine 260 History does not belong 234 Believe in life to us but we belong to it 280 The fundamental sense of William du Bois Hans-Georg Gadamer freedom is freedom from chains Isaiah Berlin 236 The road to happiness lies 262 In so far as a scientific in an organized diminution statement speaks about 282 Think like a mountain of work Bertrand Russell reality.

the animals are our equals 293 Normal science does not Peter Singer aim at novelties of fact or theory Thomas Kuhn 326 All the best Marxist 300 For the black man. there analyses are always 294 The principles of justice is only one destiny and it analyses of a failure are chosen behind a veil is white Frantz Fanon Slavoj Žižek of ignorance John Rawls 302 Man is an invention of recent date 296 Art is a form of life Michel Foucault Richard Wollheim 304 If we choose. 322 Thought has always CONTEMPORARY worked by opposition PHILOSOPHY Hélène Cixous 1950–PRESENT 323 Who plays God in present- day feminism? Julia Kristeva 290 Language is a skin Roland Barthes 324 Philosophy is not only a written enterprise 292 How would we manage Henry Odera Oruka without a culture? Mary Midgley 325 In suffering. we can live 330 DIRECTORY 297 Anything goes Paul Feyerabend in a world of comforting illusion Noam Chomsky 340 GLOSSARY 298 Knowledge is produced 306 Society is dependent upon 344 INDEX to be sold a criticism of its own Jean-François Lyotard traditions Jürgen Habermas 351 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 308 There is nothing outside of the text Jacques Derrida 314 There is nothing deep down inside us except what we have put there ourselves Richard Rorty 320 Every desire has a relation to madness Luce Irigaray 321 Every empire tells itself and the world that it is unlike all other empires Edward Said .



The very first Wonder is very much the disagreed with one another about philosophers. This has. We’re also equipped with and the examination.12 INTRODUCTION P hilosophy is not just the “schools” to teach not just the any big ideas as the conclusions of preserve of brilliant but conclusions they had come to. and even set up more fresh ideas. but . were thinkers who were not for there is no other Plato and his pupil Aristotle.. Plato.. and can’t help wondering is actually seldom the case. His legacy lay in the busy dealing with their everyday means of refining them and coming tradition he established of debate business and get a chance simply up with new and different ones. . Many later philosophers also which allows us to reason as well adopted the device of dialogues as just wonder. opposed views on fundamental and custom.” rather rather than accepting without than wholehearted acceptance. but this fundamental truths. China. philosophers have fiercely traditional authority.” or “What if . are almost about the world around us and our ideas emerge through discussion invariably in the form of dialogues. since. place in it. but his thinking. coming up with the answers to The philosopher who presents fundamental questions as it is his ideas to the world is liable to about the process of trying to find be met with comments beginning these answers. whenever we reason. analysis. or even their reasoning and conclusions. and with Socrates as a major character.. The archetypical philosopher in arguments and counterarguments we’re thinking philosophically. We human the solitary philosopher arriving at deeper understanding and elicit beings are naturally inquisitive his conclusions in isolation. provoked they discussed their ideas with more discussion and prompted yet one another. giving not realize it. question conventional views or In fact.. Indeed. It is what They encouraged their students to because he knew he didn’t know everyone does when they’re not disagree and criticize ideas as a anything. in turn. and sought answers Plato philosophical questions. of questioning the to wonder what life and the popular misconception is that of assumptions of other people to gain universe are all about. in ancient Greece and affection of a philosopher. a powerful intellectual capability. using reasoning “Yes. he prided eccentric thinkers that it is the way they had come to them. this respect was Socrates. A and discussion. He rather than a simple statement of Philosophy is not so much about didn’t leave any writings. different approaches have divided And. Although we may Debate and dialogue to present their ideas. New of Socrates’ pupil. The writings creatures. for satisfied with the established beginning of philosophy example. himself on being the wisest of men popularly supposed to be. held diametrically explanations provided by religion than this. and their which had rational justifications. almost every aspect of philosophy. just as we might share our opinions among philosophers ever views with friends and colleagues. criticism of other people’s ideas.

metaphysics also do know what we think we know. question of “What is the nature is some (or even all) knowledge philosophy quenches them. how Superstition sets the expanded to become the wider we come to know what we know. too. Otherwise Why haven’t thinkers come up Because we. We also philosophical questions are still something rather than nothing?” need to determine the scope and being discussed and debated? are not so simply answered. which was soon how we acquire knowledge. explanations that had existed before phenomena such as the weather. it was the world body. whole world in flames. exist as a part we cannot be sure that we actually with definitive answers? What are of the universe. wrestled with? a conscious being. as we need science. or do we learn everything Voltaire This is the branch of philosophy from experience? Can we know we now call metaphysics. They saw the metaphysics concerned with the idea of constructing a rational Earth and all the different forms of questions of existence. ontology. limits of our knowledge. of whatever it is that exists?” innate. another ensuring their ideas had validity. but sense of wonder. moon. INTRODUCTION 13 But how can it be that these metaphysics such as “Why is there in order to reason correctly.500 years ago. epistemology. The knowledge forms a second main first question that occupied these branch of philosophy. They to put received wisdom to the test thinkers had to devise a way of sought explanations for all these of rational examination. Although something from reasoning alone? much of the original question has These questions are vital to since been explained by modern philosophical thinking. ❯❯ things—not the traditional myths fundamental question became and legends about the gods. Once philosophers had started the first philosophers. and is there such a thing as thought leading to a conclusion. but obvious: “How can we know?” The something that would satisfy their study of the nature and limits of curiosity and their intellect. early philosophers was “What is the At its heart is the question of universe made of?”. related questions of to be able to rely on our knowledge . and stars. is argument distinguished philosophy life inhabiting it. This around them that inspired their an immortal soul? The area of might seem obvious to us now. and eclipses. the sun. and natural much of Western philosophy. which can appeared in ancient Greece some relationship between our mind and then be used to build up a train of 2. and Logic and language Existence and knowledge do things exist independently of Reasoning relies on establishing When the first true philosophers our perception? What is the the truth of statements. These earthquakes. How do we perceive the world around us. these “fundamental questions” that considers the nature of human and haven’t somehow been “tricked” philosophers through the ages have existence and what it means to be into believing it by our senses. a huge one and forms the basis for from the superstitious and religious planets.

Advances asked the citizens of Athens tried in mathematics in the 19th century to get to the bottom of what they called into question the rules of actually believed certain concepts logic that had been laid down by to be. a field of study in its own right. means to lead a “good” life. He would ask seemingly Aristotle. answers to philosophical questions. Constructing a reasoned argument concepts such as justice and Like so much of philosophy. the that many of the greatest thinkers. It’s not surprising then that they use. apparently faultless arguments. we have to related branch stemming from the a series of steps to a conclusion. proof. yet another field of philosophy that evident. and the a premise and working through people’s arguments. incontrovertible truths. but also to that was gradually refined over time. explore the concepts themselves. is expressed in words way we live our lives and the things and conventions. to see if their conclusions philosophers have often turned to hold water. art. Out of this process came mathematics for examples of self. were also O philosophy. involves using language carefully happiness actually mean and how logic has intimate connections and accurately. and when we study other ethics (or moral philosophy). and expeller of vices! be the most exact and “scientific” philosophers have attempted to What could we and every branch of philosophy. examining our we can achieve them. At first simply a useful tool for A large part of the problem is In discussions of this sort. nor flourished in the 20th century. and soon became rather than numbers or symbols. and Gottfried Leibniz. philosophy of language. a field where clarify meanings in their search for age of men have been things are either right or wrong. logic developed rules mathematics. we consider to be important. what subject of philosophy. The basic structure of sure they mean what we think they the branch of philosophy known as a logical argument.14 INTRODUCTION What emerged from their thinking Zeno of Elea’s famous paradoxes justice?” or “What is beauty?” not was logic. and how we with science. and mathematics in statements and arguments to make should behave. without thee? a closer look at the subject shows The sort of questions that Socrates Cicero that it is not so simple. is analyze not only the logical steps question of what constitutes beauty the same as that of a mathematical they take. unlike challenged assumptions about the held water. life’s guide! accomplished mathematicians. and is subject to all the ambiguities The examination of what it another branch of the expanding and subtleties inherent in language. but even in ancient times simple questions such as “What is . but also the language and art is known as aesthetics. a technique of reasoning reached absurd conclusions from only to elicit meanings. starting from mean. Socrates analyzing whether an argument that philosophical logic. Morality. forms the basis for particular. and politics O searcher-out of virtue Although logic might seem to Because our language is imprecise. which from Pythagoras to René Descartes examined terms and their meanings.

leading us into the modern we have an immortal soul?” These makes it so. they are often some of the most important and Religion: East and West intricately linked with what we influential ideas in history. Where the ancient the rights and responsibilities of (particularly Daoism and Buddhism) Greeks posed metaphysical its citizens. and it is sometimes reasoning is frequently used to philosophers. encapsulated in well difficult to say in which area a justify faith in the Judeo-Christian known quotes and pithy summaries particular idea falls. and is widely itself. It ranks as one of dogmas of religion and superstition. And ❯❯ . but overlap Even though philosophical of ideas from the best-known considerably. ergo sum” (often sciences. It is in metaphysics. and the arts. What The various branches of philosophy would consider matters of faith. the most important ideas in the philosophy also examines religion history of philosophy. some philosophers have only when we examine the asked whether our morality comes reasoning leading to it does the from god or whether it is a purely idea begin to make sense. the first Chinese philosophy. that evolved in China and India starting points. On its own however. but they have the conclusion of a line of argument implications in ethics too. including the Descartes’ “cogito. and so on. This adequately dealt with by religion. INTRODUCTION 15 From considering ethical questions human construct—and this in turn form an integral part of Eastern about our individual lives. and philosophers have marks one of the major differences and instead concerned themselves come up with models of how they between Western and Eastern with moral and political philosophy. history. specifically asking questions There is nothing either considered a turning point in such as “Does god exist?” and “Do good or bad. its beginnings in questioning the therefore I am”). era. Philosophy also and Islamic world. it is a has raised the whole debate as to philosophy that has no parallel in natural step to start thinking about what extent humanity has free will. For about the nature of certainty. the West. With translated from the Latin as “I think. the are questions that have their roots William Shakespeare quotation doesn’t mean much. faith and belief of their ideas. at least to philosophers considered these branches of philosophy. deals with Western ways of thinking. Political the lines between philosophy and questions. and example. the last of the major religion are less clear. Perhaps the best- encroaches on many completely known quotation in philosophy is different subjects. this book presents is a collection are not only interlinked. philosophies. result of divine revelation or Philosophy has provided us with religious dogma. these ideas. believe society should be organized. Although Eastern ranging from Plato’s Republic to philosophies are not generally a Following the reasoning Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto. Eastern and Western the sort of society we would like to In the Eastern philosophies philosophy also differ in their live in—how it should be governed. but thinking thinking.

many ideas that us think in new ways about how had been dismissed for centuries we see things. in type of society would be ideal. they may make subsequent philosophers.” So why are philosophy with interconnecting political. They might ideas form part of a line of thinking—usually the conclusion even appear to prove Bertrand reasoning that may extend over to a longer line of reasoning. even when their conclusions Denis Diderot ideas that really call into question have been proved wrong by our assumptions about ourselves subsequent philosophers and and the world—and they also make scientists. And hindsight. their opinions Often the relationship between about how we acquire knowledge science and philosophy is a back- Systems of thought led to a particular metaphysical and-forth affair. analysis or criticism of another remember that these ideas are only others paradoxical or flying in the philosopher’s work. or have come from an organizing our thoughts. The theories presented these ideas never quite become Scepticism is the first here that seem to be paradoxes and outdated. these thinkers are—that we see its importance. For example. We must Some may appear self-evident. Indeed. and despite their has been the starting point for apparent simplicity. this entire system of ideas new in their time. There are many were later to be proved startlingly . This in turn has implications is a whole branch of philosophy kind to appear in the history of for what kind of life the philosopher that studies the thinking behind thought. These ideas spread their influence worth stating. us reexamine things that we take We must remember too that for granted.16 INTRODUCTION it’s only when we see where ideas here that raise issues that prescient—the theories of the Descartes took the idea—what the philosophers still puzzle over. there in this book were the first of their soul. These latter a small part of a philosopher’s face of common sense. ancient Greek atomists for example. counter-intuitive statements are the tell us. they were startlingly in turn. They still have much to step towards truth. one will believe it. these ideas important? ideas. thinking. or be the central idea of Science and society something so simple as not to seem a particular “school” of philosophy. Some have something so paradoxical that no formed integrated “systems” of spawned mainstream scientific. ways of thinking and may seem puzzling at first glance. consequences of that conclusion Some ideas may relate to other More importantly. Russell’s flippant remark that “the several generations or even point of philosophy is to start with centuries. While their conclusions believes we should lead and what may seem obvious to us now. and to end with Many of the great philosophers beyond philosophy too. In fact. thoughts and theories in different established the processes of Many of the ideas in this book fields of the same philosopher’s philosophy. with ideas from one Sometimes the theories presented view of the universe and man’s informing the other. or artistic movements.

or the great thinkers of philosophy. answers. and reading from people living in societies and their original writings can be as cultures which have shaped those rewarding as reading literature. INTRODUCTION 17 scientific methods and practices. ■ Behind the ideas stimulating. we can appreciate not just their literary get a picture of certain national and style. as elegant as with ourselves. exploration and the joy of discovery. we ideas. As we examine the ideas. some thinkers are optimistic. which relies on systematic agree or disagree with the what observation to explain the world. others a mathematical proof. The find Schopenhauer both persuasive Above all. so too are the thrill of into the science of psychology. There themselves in clear. but also their philosophical regional characteristics. the way they present their The beginning of thought a flavor of the times they lived in. method. and as witty Eric Hoffer pessimistic. conclusions in their investigations affected how math evolved and If you read these ideas in the into questions that science cannot became the basis for the scientific original texts. while not altogether feeling and the same pleasure that we the societies we live in today. but through our (and still are) interesting and own individual reasoning. and still more in dense. and different philosophers . we gain the satisfaction ethical decisions made in all kinds and a delight to read. some are meticulous as an after-dinner speaker. as well as style. while getting of arriving at beliefs and ideas that of professions have moral dimensions the distinct feeling that he was not are not handed down or forced upon that are informed by the ideas of a particularly likeable man. arguments. Ethics of the witty and charming Hume. it can be as only with others but also emerge as distinct personalities— uplifting as great art. even prompting revolutions. warm to We can gain the same sort of relationship with society. “buzz” from philosophy that we all sorts found adherents in political appreciating his beautifully clear might get from physical activity. of what kind of person is behind it. and at home with what he has to say. others in a poetic way. but also get a feeling attributes. us by society. As well as being is in disagreement—not The philosophers presented here thought-provoking. you will not only —and religion does not—explain. and painstaking. leaders throughout history. religion. The same is true of philosophy’s You might. others think in Philosophy is not simply about broad sweeps. teachers. or enjoy from an appreciating the arts. for example. precise are frequently no right or wrong language. The best were also The ideas in this book have come great writers too. they say. some express ideas—it’s a way of thinking. and follow the reasoning Enjoying philosophy Ideas about the nature of the self by which they reached their If wonder and curiosity are human and consciousness have developed conclusions. shaping prose. abstract often come to radically different The development of logical thinking language that takes time to unpick. Above all these thinkers were even philosophers.



Although some of he left no writings. their questions about the world of thinking rationally. the answers to the most could be considered satisfactory. he is the last Greek to questions about on respect and founder of the religion and philosopher to record the world we live in. Although the nature of the universe. and and geometry. his ideas were so encouraged others to do likewise. It was here that search for answers based on reason between science and philosophy philosophers broadened the scope of rather than convention or religion. that still exists today. found the the world made of?” Their answers particular to Athens. and in Some people. fundamental questions were found For this reason Thales is generally in religion: the actions of the gods regarded as the first philosopher. F rom the beginning of human He passed on to his followers not acquired mystical significance for history. philosophy spread across for human civilizations. 624–546 BCE 551 BCE 480 BCE C. basis for much of later decline of Athens’ Western philosophy. these mathematical relationships important that they steered the . For early an idea of what kind of explanations had a profound influence on the societies. This shift marked the birth of Pythagoras marked a key turning such as “How do we know what we philosophy. which was traditional religious explanations form the foundations of scientific rapidly becoming the cultural inadequate. his ideas in verse. who ushered in the short settlement in modern-day Turkey. however. and provided a framework philosophers centered around stature. The powerful Greek Birth of Socrates. He and Socrates. Classical Greek philosophy explained the workings of the The main concern of the early As the Greek city-states grew in universe. political power. Traditional date of Empedocles proposes the first known Greek birth of Kong Fuzi his theory of the four philosopher. together with numerical explanation of the cosmos and their place within it. Thales’ basic question: “What is the Greek world from Ionia. the Buddha. philosophy of Buddhism. seeks (Confucius). beginnings of scientific thought.460 BCE 569 BCE 508 BCE 469 BCE 404 BCE Birth of Pythagoras. as he sought to explain the know?” and “How should we live thinkers that we know of was Thales world not in terms of primal matter. and the first of the great point. but the process Pythagoras and his followers. The work of philosophy to include new questions. rational answers philosophy is centered Gautama. tradition. our lives?” It was an Athenian. his followers described the but hugely influential period of Thales used reason to inquire into structure of the cosmos in numbers Classical Greek philosophy. of Miletus—Miletus was a Greek but in terms of mathematics. whose Defeat in the the Greek thinker who city-state of Athens methods of questioning Peloponnesian combined philosophy adopts a democratic in Athens formed the War leads to the and mathematics. people have asked only his answers. constitution. and forged a relationship center of Greece. whose Death of Siddhartha Classical elements. and they began to thought. 20 INTRODUCTION Thales of Miletus.

with the death of Alexander the Thinkers throughout Asia were also his philosophy spread across the Great in 323 BCE. ideas persisted. later known The Classical period of ancient as the Buddha. in the process where he taught and developed his Over the next couple of centuries. and their differences of the Arab world. The Romans had Schools of Thought” flourished in a pupil and teacher there for 20 years. Political upheaval in China from southern Asia.150 BCE 335 BCE 323 BCE 122 CE 220 CE Aristotle. during medieval times. examining what constitutes a master’s ideas. From his teaching Greece effectively came to an end Eastern philosophies in northern India around 500 BCE. THE ANCIENT WORLD 21 Ptolemy. and provide moral guidelines for the which the word “academic” derives) stoics argued their positions. This great leader questioning conventional wisdom. marking the marks the end of Lyceum. a Roman Zeno of Citium citizen of Egypt. Plato’s The death of Alexander Construction begins The collapse of the student. does not move. the ancient world. subcontinent and over most of had unified Greece.385 BCE C. dominance of Greece in northernmost border a unified China. with influential philosopher appeared: philosophers throughout history. C. it today.332–265 BCE C. little time for Greek philosophy this period. as the to organize a just society and in Athens called the Academy (from cynics. who was Empire grew. The so-called “Hundred students such as Aristotle. concerned with the nature of known as the pre-socratics. future course of philosophy. and Greek city. epicureans. both of which continued Plato. in the Roman Empire. the rise of Christianity and Islam. passing them on to Greek culture waned as the Roman “good” life. ■ . and the most significant The contrasting ideas and methods apart from stoicism. where it is still states that had worked together 771 to 481 BCE led to a collection of widely practiced. opens his own the Great signals the end on Hadrian’s Wall in Han Dynasty school in Athens—the of the cultural and political Britain. Following philosophies that were less all philosophers before him became the death of Aristotle in 322 BCE. of the Roman Empire. but Greek of these were Confucianism and of these great thinkers—Socrates. and Aristotle—form the basis they were preserved in the to dominate Chinese philosophy of Western philosophy as we know manuscripts and translations of until the 20th century. which Earth is at the center medical research that Academy in goes on to find favor of the universe and remains unsurpassed until Athens. individuals within it. mainly because Daoism. Siddhartha Gautama. Galen of Pergamum Plato founds his formulates his stoic proposes the idea that produces extraordinary hugely influential philosophy. sceptics.100–178 CE C. The Period of Disunity begins. They resurfaced To the south of China an equally opinion have continued to divide later. and once again became rivals. His pupil philosophy also divided into very the universe than with how best Plato founded a philosophical school different schools of thought. the work of Vesalius in 1543.

Previous civilizations Fundamental substance AFTER had relied on religion to explain Thales needed to establish a first Early 5th century BCE phenomena in the world around principle from which to work. he had a good grasp of geometry it within Western philosophy. Thales deduced that specific 2500–900 BCE The Minoan weather conditions. Enûma Eliš. is now recognized as Western philosophy. and is reputed to Thales reasons that the fundamental . natural. he is later Mycenaean civilization said to have bought up all the local olive presses. and astronomy.624–546 BCE) IN CONTEXT BRANCH Metaphysics APPROACH Monism BEFORE From observation. the peoples of the Greek turn of mind led him to believe that describes the primal state of peninsula gradually settled into a events in the world were not due to the world as a watery mass. Predicting a high yield of olives one year. and Thales and his cosmos is made up solely of of his writings. water. in Greece rely on religion to explain physical phenomena. They developed supernatural intervention.1100 BCE The Babylonian (mid-8th–6th century BCE). not appeals to the gods. D uring the Archaic period have predicted the total eclipse of c. but we know that followers were the first to propose atoms and empty space.22 EVERYTHING IS MADE OF WATER THALES OF MILETUS (C. group of city-states. so Empedocles proposes the four them. who attempted to find the basic material of the cosmos?” earth. and fire. air.700 BCE Theogony by the an alphabetical system of writing. now a new breed of thinkers he posed the question.400 BCE Leucippus and The first of these new scientific universe can be ultimately reduced thinkers that we are aware of was to a single substance is the theory Democritus conclude that the Thales of Miletus. Nothing survives of monism. the sun in 585 BCE. but had c. rational explanations. the gods created the universe. This practical creation myth. The idea that everything in the c. led to a good civilization in Crete and the harvest. “What is basic elements of the cosmos: emerged. natural causes that reason and Greek poet Hesiod relates how as well as the beginnings of what observation would reveal. then profited by renting them out to meet increased demand.

■ . he is considered a major figure in the practical geometry that assuming different forms – from the history of philosophy. However. So Thales concludes that all was the first known thinker to seek However. THE ANCIENT WORLD 23 See also: Anaximander 330 ■ Anaximenes of Miletus 330 ■ Pythagoras 26–29 ■ Empedocles 330 ■ Democritus and Leucippus 45 ■ Aristotle 56–63 What is the basic material of the cosmos? It must be… Thales of Miletus Although we know that Thales was born and lived in Miletus. Mediterranean. None of his everything to life. regardless of its apparent naturalistic. and he is referred to in some detail by both Aristotle and Diogenes Everything is Laertius. His true was to become the basis of his liquid to solid ice and vaporous importance lies in the fact that he deductive reasoning. rather than the so-called Milesian School stage of transformation. From this of the Milesian School laid the Anaximenes. He being essential to life. water. as well as Thales states. have survived. can be formed. and that it moves and changes. However. to have learned life. expanded his scientific theories. By doing his pupil. he and the later philosophers turn became a mentor to end at the water’s edge. as interesting as widely around the eastern He observes that water is clearly the details of Thales’ theories are. from which it has emerged. who is believed he deduces that the whole of the foundations for future scientific to have taught the young earth must be floating on a bed of and philosophical thought across mathematician Pythagoras. of change. Thales material of the universe had to be When anything occurs to cause was actively involved in something out of which everything ripples or tremors in this water. is thought to have traveled of motion and therefore of change. his reputation as one of the key early Greek thinkers seems deserved. Anecdotal evidence suggests that as well as being a philosopher. and while necessary to sustain all forms of they are not the main reason why visiting Egypt. Anaximander. we experience successful businessman. writings. rational answers to above all a teacher. the Western world. politics and was a very else could be formed. the 3rd-century made of water. and capable them as earthquakes. Thales also notes that every whims of capricious gods. biographer of the ancient Greek philosophers. on the coast of what …something is now Turkey. of motion. Thales was matter. and in landmass appears to come to an so. to ascribe objects and events to the of philosophers. mist. must be water in some fundamental questions. we know very from which …essential …capable …capable little about his life. the first of properties. if indeed he left any.

the Mandate of all things. seen Heaven (god-given authority) all existence. with nature. 1045–256 BCE Under the Zhou Dao The source of (the Way)… The root of Dynasty. APPROACH administrators and magistrates and shared some of its concerns. who occupied such as seeking stability in a themselves with the business of constantly changing world. rather than those of the state.6TH CENTURY ) C DAO BCE I n the 6th century BCE. . not impulsively. Daoism within the courts. This All this coincided with the Chinese philosophy change bred a new social class of emergence of philosophy in Greece. and harmony Bi and Guo Xiang create a tranquility. justifies political decisions. But Shang Dynasty. AFTER 5th century BCE Confucius …is achieved (Kong Fuzi) sets out his rules through… for personal development and A solitary Acting for ethical government. Zhuangzi moves the focus of Daoist teaching more toward …wu wei the actions of the individual. The large body of ideas been prescribed by religion. Acting in 3rd century CE Scholars Wang simplicity. Living in peace.24 THE DAO THAT CAN BE TOLD IS NOT THE ETERNAL LAOZI ( . and BEFORE devising strategies for ruling more alternatives to what had previously 1600–1046 BCE During the effectively. and unseen. China that was produced by these officials IN CONTEXT moved toward a state of became known as the Hundred internal warfare as the ruling Schools of Thought. people believe fate is controlled by deities and practice ancestor worship. 4th century BCE Philosopher and reflection. (non-action). Neo-Daoist school. TRADITION Zhou Dynasty disintegrated. life of meditation thoughtfully.

it is necessary to know how is intelligence. but as related. as it is expression of dao. during the Zhou dynasty. number of scholars.6th century BCE an archivist at the Zhou court. For this man that world’s harmonious balance. Laozi. of our desire and free will. and leads to the beyond anything that humans can 10. it has of solitude. But because Laozi does not mean “not doing”. as the Daode jing together make up a whole. so we can only says that humans are merely one live according to the dao by wu of these 10. knowing Power). accordance with the dao. or recourse to social conventions. and then continued on his born in the state of Chu. Several texts indicate that he was c. ambition. THE ANCIENT WORLD 25 See also: Siddhartha Gautama 30–33 ■ Confucius 34–39 ■ Mozi 44 ■ Wang Bi 331 ■ Hajime Tanabe 244–45 Chinese philosophy evolved from which could be found by following practical politics and was therefore dao (the Way). These states also possess Following the dao. That in turn entails could mean respecting the ecological a virtuous life means acting in acting without desire. one arising from the other. One of the most important ideas Cycles of change to appear at this time came from In order to understand the concept Knowing others the Daode jing (The Way and its of dao.000 manifestations that make up conceive of. in the Daode jing. name Li Er or Lao Tan. the Laozi first attempts to propose a theory changes are cyclical. such as from night to day. however. we can but acting in accordance with Living in harmony with nature is one path the Daode jing prescribes for stray from the dao. For them. Laozi (Lao Tzu). What we do Laozi wrote the Daode jing for know is that there was a scholar him. To live intuitively. balance of the lake and not over-fishing. rather than the nature of the cosmos. who states that Laozi left the court is traditionally assumed to be as the Zhou dynasty declined. Legend the author of the Daode jing. and disturb the nature—spontaneously and a well-balanced life. based on de (virtue). with the way. ■ Laozi So little is known for certain about rituals and ceremonies. is not complementary properties that a simple matter.000 manifestations and wei. never to be seen again. one of the book was not by Laozi. It was one of the ever-changing world. They saw the different states not as opposites. and Daode jing (also known that Confucius consulted him on as the Laozi) . moving from one state to another. summer to winter. literally “non-action. wu (“not-being”). continually of just rule. but is in guards recognized him and fact a compilation of sayings by a asked for a record of his wisdom. Philosophizing process of change is seen as an about dao is pointless. who became Key works known as Laozi (the Old Master). The acknowledges. and so on. and forms the basis concerned with morality and ethics of the philosophy known as Daoism. which has been attributed the ancient Chinese viewed the yourself is true wisdom. to Laozi (Lao Tzu). As he was about to even been suggested that the cross the border. It is characterized by the world.” By this have no special status. He has become and journeyed west in search an almost mythical figure.

establishes the principles of geometry. c. marking the beginning of the Western philosophical tradition. In Miletus.570–495 BCE) intellect and not the senses.26 IN CONTEXT NUMBER IS BRANCH Metaphysics APPROACH THE RULER Pythagoreanism BEFORE 6th century BCE Thales proposes a non-religious OF FORMS explanation of the cosmos. W estern philosophy was in its infancy when Pythagoras was born. Like Thales. so it is very likely that he knew of them. a group of philosophers known collectively as the Milesian School had started to seek rational explanations for natural phenomena only a generation or so earlier. and may even have studied in their academy. Pythagoras is said to have learnt the rudiments of geometry during a trip to Egypt. it is not .475 BCE Heraclitus dismisses Pythagoreanism AND IDEAS and says that the cosmos is governed by change. AFTER c.535–c. Greece. which are revealed to the PYTHAGORAS (C.428 BCE Plato introduces his concept of perfect Forms. With this background. Pythagoras spent his childhood not far from Miletus. 1619 German mathematician Johannes Kepler describes the relationship between geometry and physical phenomena.300 BCE Euclid. c. a Greek mathematician. the founder of the Milesian School.

which soon after. who call objective scientific thinking. Number is the Number is the ruler of forms. He believed in reincarnation attributed to him as “revelations” gained by adhering to a strict and the transmigration of souls. off the coast Pythagorean cult eventually of modern-day Turkey. however. since they observed community’s leader.. also in studying at the Milesian School. The two sides of found truths that he regarded ❯❯ Pythagoras Little is known about Pythagoras’s community of around 300 people life. irreconcilable. the cosmos. and may in fact have come from others set of behavioral rules. and by he established a religious cult. southern Italy. southern Italy. where he died and probably visiting Egypt. he set up a of the 4th century BCE. in recorded by his students. THE ANCIENT WORLD 27 See also: Thales of Miletus 22–23 ■ Siddhartha Gautama 30–33 ■ Heraclitus 40 ■ Plato 50–55 ■ René Descartes 116–23 Everything in the So if we . As a young forced him to leave Croton. while studying his and the scientific—seem to be scientific and mathematical way. His disciples included his wife. and daughters. For him. At the age an unusual silence. In geometry and mathematics he lived in a collective commune. to the extent of life is freedom from the cycle deeply religious and superstitious that some of the discoveries of reincarnation. Pythagoras was probably born on Growing hostility toward the the island of Samos. Vita Pythagorae. which can be man. he is said to have married modern scholars believe that a young girl. He left no writings himself. At virtually disappeared by the end the age of about 40.. ruler of ideas. for certain what Pythagoras told Pythagoras was clearly the his associates. and man. a mystical revelations.” However. Theano of Crotona. or what we would himself cast as a virtual messiah. Its and unfortunately. with in the community. of 60. the goal Pythagoras was also. southern Italy. Theano of Crotona. he travelled widely. thought. as his disciples himself does not see them as The Pythagorean academy were known. surprising that he should approach following strict behavioral and Pythagoras’s beliefs—the mystical philosophical thinking in a dietary rules. saw his ideas as contradictory. perhaps he fled to Metapontum.. His ideas were contemplation. “No one knows and despite its collective nature.. but Pythagoras The Pythagoreans. . Croton. in Croton. as the Greek members studied a mixture of philosopher Porphyry noted in his mystical and academic studies. religious and philosophical theories. His community had was a centrer of learning. relationships.we come to Mathematics is universe conforms understand number understand the the key model to mathematical and mathematical structure of for philosophical rules and ratios.

such as Pythagoras and his disciples for in architecture. to explain the very structure of the The Pythagorean explanation of Because these mathematical cosmos. so that all that exists came to Egyptians had discovered that a This was such a profound change have an actual size. Numerical harmonies uncovered the underlying principle and giving numbers a mystical Pythagoras’s most important behind all right-angled triangles significance. in time. to work out the structure of the entire cosmos. but he shifts the enquiry before the universe). and that we should probably forgive which everything else was formed. the as self-evident. by mathematical rules. and that number (numerical ratios and correspondence with our modern worked out mathematical proofs that mathematical axioms) can be used concept of dimensions is obvious. The number two. Less b 2 = c2 contentiously. Pythagoras a a2 triangular shape made up of rows of dots) had a particular significance in Pythagorean ritual. and so on.28 PYTHAGORAS Pythagoras’s Theorem showed that shapes and ratios are governed by principles that can be discovered. This suggested that it might be possible. in this way of thinking. The number had an anvil half the size of the other. c2 There is geometry in the humming of the strings. that the Pythagoreans such as “good” to the even numbers together. This discovery was we speak of today. and even first stumbled onto this idea when Pythagoras concludes that the specifics such as “justice” to the listening to blacksmiths at work. One whole cosmos must be governed number four. the from substance to form. was a line. In this way God triangle whose sides have ratios of in the way of looking at the world. between notes that sounded pleasant potential. number three a surface or plane. they discoved the square proportions. He does not totally dismiss the creation of the universe followed discoveries were a product of pure the Milesian idea that the universe a mathematical pattern: on the reasoning. there is music in the b2 b c spacing of the spheres. and “evil” to the odd ones. a unity. as if god-given. they saw the number one as a single point. For example. but they also in particular into the relationships so extraordinary. this was useful in practice. and four a solid. God imposed a observations. This was reinforced by other two sides) and found it to be numbers and cube numbers that his investigations into music. Through exploring the discovery was the relationships (that the square of the hypotenuse relationship between numbers and between numbers: the ratios and equals the sum of the squares of the geometry. in the form of the tetractys (a and the sounds they made when . from a2 + which other things could be derived. and universally true. But Pythagoras getting somewhat carried away. The story goes that he took it to be divine revelation. and held such attributed characteristics to them. He says ten. created a measurable unity from 3:4:5 always has a right angle. had the impact of divine revelation. Limit. Pythagoras believes is made up of one fundamental Unlimited (the infinite that existed they are more valuable than mere substance.

even the bare facts of his life only that the structure of the is superior to the evidence of the are largely conjecture. important contributions to the Almost everything we know The stars and elements development of philosophy was about Pythagoras comes to us from Pythagoras had now proved not the idea that abstract thinking others. This experimenting with a plucked string discovery became known as the that Pythagoras determined the Law of Octaves. He then started to attempt to combine the rational what is important is their profound apply his theories to the whole with the religious was the first effect on philosophical thought. notes that determines whether they used today. all else mortal. What he discovered was principle of deductive reasoning. like notes of music. method of the rationalists in the or not he was in fact the originator and number governs harmonious 17th century. THE ANCIENT WORLD 29 hit with a hammer were exactly an atomic weight. and it formed the basis elegance of the mathematics he had of mathematical thinking into attempt to grapple with a problem found in abstract geometry also medieval times and beyond. and his suggestion that the elements were arranged harmoniously was revisited over 2. will sound harmonious if struck Pythagoras also established the Pythagoras together). that has dogged philosophy and existed in the natural world. The Pythagorean of these ideas does not really matter. scaled down in the smaller parts. This was taken up by achieved a near-legendary status mathemathical terms—“number Plato in his theory of Forms. His idea of harmonic relationships between the stars was eagerly taken up by medieval and Renaissance astronomers. In 1865 English chemist John Newlands discovered that when the chemical elements are arranged according to Classical architecture follows Pythagorean mathematical ratios. Harmonious shapes and ratios are used throughout. Whether that acoustics is an exact science. demonstrating the harmonic relationship of the stars. and (which he apparently encouraged) for is the ruler of forms”—but also resurfaced in the philosophical the ideas attributed to him. a new conclusion or fact. and up for the overall structure. While properties occur at every eighth this may be true. One of Pythagoras’s most religion in some ways ever since. those with similar octave (eight notes) apart. who developed whole theories around the idea of the music of the spheres. This series.000 years after his death. . proportions. ■ cosmos. Deductive which we now know as the harmonic reasoning was later refined by series. it was probably by element. planets. Yet he has universe can be explained in senses. that these intervals were harmonious which is the step-by-step process because the relationship between of starting with self-evident axioms them was a precise and simple (such as “2 + 2 = 4”) to build toward mathematical ratio. and it helped lead ratios of the consonant intervals to the development of the Periodic (the number of notes between two Law of chemical elements still Reason is immortal. confirmed for him that the Euclid. and elements.

a religion that had evolved from Vedism—an ancient belief based on the sacred Veda texts—was the dominant faith in the Indian subcontinent in the 6th century BCE. Different schools of Buddhism begin to evolve in different areas. AFTER HIS EGO 3rd century BCE Buddhism spreads from the Ganges valley westward across India. lived in India during a period when religious and mythological accounts of the world were being questioned.1500 BCE Vedism reaches the Indian subcontinent. OVERCOME c. thinkers such as Pythagoras were examining the cosmos using reason. . S iddhartha Gautama. and in China.10th–5th centuries BCE Brahmanism replaces Vedic beliefs. and Siddhartha Gautama was the first to challenge its teachings with philosophical reasoning.30 IN CONTEXT HAPPY IS TRADITION Eastern philosophy APPROACH HE WHO HAS Buddhism BEFORE c. In Greece. “the enlightened one”. Brahmanism. 1st century BCE The teachings of Siddhartha SIDDHARTHA GAUTAMA (C.563–483 BCE) Gautama are written down for the first time. 1st century CE Buddhism starts to spread to China and Southeast Asia. later known as the Buddha. Laozi and Confucius were detaching ethics from religious dogma.

Siddhartha Gautama’s life comes from biographies written by his followers centuries after his death. Sutta-pitaka. comprising: in the unanswerable questions of saw that it was largely due to Vinaya-pitaka. Buddhists for his wisdom. Like most Eastern happiness. metaphysics that preoccupied the sickness. old age. and it is this and the “good” life. After his death. What is certain is ending of suffering craving and attachment. not divine revelation. However. he was not interested of the suffering in the world. all the (Three Baskets). Instead. a bodhi tree. and devoted the between God and Man. and death. and Suffering can be ended which differ widely in many The truth of the by detaching oneself from details. His ideas which in turn involved examining rest of his life to traveling were arrived at through reasoning. through (Dukkha) sickness and old age. preaching. although revered by beyond our experience. we are told. throughout India. was enquiry was senseless speculation. this kind of indulgence and asceticism. He was acutely aware Tipitaka (recounted by philosophers. and The Eightfold Path is the The truth of the path Siddhartha led a privileged means to eliminate desire and to the ending of life of luxury and high status. he concerned himself with while thinking in the shade of and he did not act as a medium the question of the goal of life. The cause of suffering is The truth of Siddhartha Gautama desire: craving for sensual the origin of suffering pleasures and attachment to (Samudaya) Almost all we know of worldly possessions and power. his teachings that marks Buddhism out as a were passed down orally for philosophy as much as (perhaps The middle way some 400 years before being even more than) a religion. His father was an official. virtue. and Abhidhamma-pitaka Greeks. to death. some time around 560 BCE. Dealing with entities the fact that people lack what ❯❯ . and discovered the “middle way” between sensual Gautama. Siddhartha left his wife and son to find a spiritual path. he Key works maintained that these truths are realized that these were not enough available to all of us through the on their own to bring him true 1st century CE power of reason. His In his early life. and his followers). (Nirodha) modern-day Nepal. suffering (Magga) Dissatisfied with this. that he was born in Lumbini. He experienced enlightenment neither a messiah nor a prophet. THE ANCIENT WORLD 31 See also: Laozi 24–25 ■ Pythagoras 26–29 ■ Confucius 34–39 ■ David Hume 148–53 ■ Arthur Schopenhauer 186–188 ■ Hajime Tanabe 244–45 The Four Noble Truths inherent part off The truth of suffering existence from birth. discover truths—and he sensual pleasures. Gautama enjoyed written down in the Tipitaka quest was philosophical—to luxury and. possibly the leader of a clan. the concepts of happiness. overcome the ego.

reasoning is that the elimination no matter where you of attachments will prevent any read it. again. he argues. there is no “self” that is not Suffering. He found the are part of our nature. is According to Buddhist teaching. and each of us is followers to achieve enlightenment. but not happiness in the sense of contentment and peace of mind. This middle way. in to his own experiences. and finding a release from suffering. These deny our existence or personal seek it without. he believed. to free ourselves from the key to losing that attachment. for a practical guide to the “middle between self-indulgence and self. He also recognized that overcome our attachment to that Gautama’s reasoning from the the sensual pleasure we indulge which desires—the “self. The “not-self” The next step in Gautama’s Believe nothing. rather that we should Siddhartha Gautama they include not only our sensual understand them for what they desires and worldly ambitions. and expectation Buddhist teachings in the Four effects are transitory. and must be resisted. The answer. and identity. will eliminate desire. For Gautama. and the root cause of our from our failure to recognize this. self”. he realized. or “enlightenment”. This last Gautama came to the conclusion He argues that nothing in the Truth refers to what amounts to that there must be a “middle way” universe is self-caused. Satisfying constituent part of an eternal “not- these attachments. that desire is the cause (austerity and abstinence) equally reasons for living. or who said it. nearer to an understanding of how world is illusory—as he shows. and so avoid unless it agrees with suffering. and by selfishness he means more than just our tendency to seek gratification. by a process of reasoning. that following the Eightfold Path to achieve happiness. suggests a root cause of our Siddhartha Gautama attachments—our selfishness. is part of the greater whole—or the universal. everything is the result of some way” that Gautama laid out for his mortification. disappointment. it is not enough merely to renounce the things we desire—we must The Eightfold Path they need. Peace comes suffering is the frustration of our This does not mean that we should from within. rather than clinging to the . desires he calls “attachments”. the “ego. So. are—transient and insubstantial. but our most basic instinct for Grasping the concept of being a self-preservation. temptations of the world are the source attachments that cause us pain. ambition. previous action. It is an integral part of “not-self”—and suffering results existence. reality. Do not desires and expectations. To achieve this.” So. of what today we would call the notion of being a unique “self”. he your own reason. should lead to true only a transitory part of this eternal happiness. of suffering. and that when it is. and for Noble Truths: that suffering is experience of extreme asceticism most of us constitute our very universal. bringing him no for Gautama. is that the ego’s avoided by eliminating desire. that suffering can be dissatisfying. selfishness is self-centeredness The Buddha cut off his hair as part of and self-attachment—the domain his renunciation of the material world. the Desire. of all suffering.” causes of suffering to the way to in to relieve suffering is rarely But how can this be done? achieve happiness is codified in satisfying. process—ultimately impermanent and to find it he applied reason and without substance.32 SIDDHARTHA GAUTAMA may bring short-term gratification.

right understanding. Eightfold Path to Nirvana. but Mindfulness Gautama carefully avoids any mention of a deity or of an ultimate Right Right purpose to life. right concentration. or literally Buddhist symbols. one of the oldest attachment”. In Buddhism. and right mindfulness) is in effect Gautama spent many years there were similarities between a code of ethics—a prescription for after his enlightenment traveling Gautama’s approach to philosophy a good life and the happiness that around India. Buddhism was to have any direct pain of rebirth into another life of and later spread eastward into influence on Western thinking. Nirvana was seen as Right becoming one with god. and the Hindu religion that of the Buddha. until such as in Hume’s concept of the following the Eightfold Path. THE ANCIENT WORLD 33 The Eightfold Path (right action. Siddhartha Gautama Right Right Concentration Livelihood Right Effort . What you think. represents the “blowing out” (as of a candle). experience. and Nirvana and Buddhism became established his disciples’ use of philosophical Gautama sees the ultimate goal of as a major religion as well as a dialogues to elucidate his teachings. In the Brahmanism of Gautama’s the word “dharma” refers to the teachings time. the human condition. when they were self and Schopenhauer’s view of can overcome his ego and live a written down for the first time. and so the ultimate freedom from century BCE. as a means of finding happiness. However. on Western philosophy. uncreated. death. He has realized his place China and Southeast Asia. and passed down orally from generation ideas of later Western philosophers. unchanging state of not-being. suffering. you become. life on Earth to be the ending of the philosophy. the suffering of existence. more and more in the “not-self”. rebirth) into which we are born. By to generation by his followers. and unformed”. right livelihood. a man the 1st century CE. During his lifetime. and become at one it rivalled Confucianism and Westerners have turned to it with the eternal. “not-being”. not least Gautama first set out to find. preaching and and that of the Greeks. as the Greek empire by the 3rd right effort. He merely describes Understanding Action Nirvana as “unborn. and through Various schools began to appear not until the 20th century that his enlightenment he can avoid the as Buddhism spread across India. But it was life free from suffering. followed. He has attained Daoism in its popularity. where Since then. ■ the state of Nirvana—which is variously translated as “non- The dharma wheel. His teachings were His thoughts also find echoes in the cycle of suffering (birth. and transcending any sensory The Right Eightfold Right Speech Intention Path The mind is everything. but had little influence right speech. teaching. unoriginated. he Gautama’s emphasis on reasoning gained a considerable following. It is an eternal and Gautama’s teachings spread as far right intention. for guidance on how to live.



470–c. he does not BEFORE from the stability of the Spring 7th century BCE The Hundred desire to go beyond this. Great Learning . By The superior man does Confucianism the 6th century BCE. ancestor worship—both of which the teachings of Confucius is the 9th century CE Confucianism were maintained by the Zhou Analects. but Confucius was part of against Confucian ideas. the Zhou what is proper to the station Dynasty was in decline—moving in which he is. except that down orally to his disciples. where he died in 479 later did he earn the title Kong BCE. China. Confucius looked old ideals with the emerging 136 BCE The Han Dynasty to the past for his inspiration. and Autumn Period to the aptly Confucius Schools of Thought emerge. in throughout the empire. and Heraclitus c. 5th century BCE but when his suggestions to the Analects rulers were ignored he left to Doctrine of the Mean concentrate on teaching. Dynasty. or “Master Kong. named Warring States Period— 6th century BCE Laozi and it was during this time that proposes acting in accordance Kong Fuzi.36 CONFUCIUS F rom 770 to 220 BCE. and TRADITION the philosophies that emerged Chinese philosophy at this time were known as the APPROACH Hundred Schools of Thought. China. He meritocracy that produced his introduces civil service was conservative by nature. a class of civil servants—and they Meng Zi revives Confucianism. His teaching survives in Fuzi. It is primarily so-called Heavenly Mandate. and only to Qufu. his family after his father died. whose rulers received of his writings and sayings compiled authority from the gods via the by his disciples. His name the end of his life he returned was originally Kong Qiu. he was from a well-to-do family. and for him this meant a search a new class of scholars who acted for moral values that could enable as advisors to the courts—in effect 372–289 BCE Chinese thinker rulers to govern justly. but by merit. or with the dao (the Way). Confucius. Unlike many of the early Chinese Confucius’s integration of the philosophers. and collected in the Analects and that as a young man he and anthologies compiled by worked as a servant to support Confucian scholars. a collection of fragments is reborn as Neo-Confucianism.” Little is fragments and sayings passed known about his life. and at the state of Lu. Confucius As a teacher he traveled was born in 551 BCE in Qufu.380 BCE Chinese of Greece—Confucius sought A rigid social hierarchy existed in philosopher Mozi argues constants in a world of change. Pythagoras. the Master Kong. a political treatise. and unique new moral philosophy. He nevertheless managed to find Key works time to study. achieved their status not through 221–202 BCE Confucianism is The Analects inheritance. Like other philosophers of the age—such as AFTER Thales. It was suppressed by the Qin Dynasty. made up of Confucius According to tradition. examinations modelled on had a great respect for ritual and The main source we have for Confucian texts. and became an administrator in the Zhou court. was born. China IN CONTEXT enjoyed an era of great cultural development.

loyalty. as well as the learning.. Confucius To reconcile the fact that society gestures in the disintegrating is pointedly silent about the gods. filial piety.are shown in traditional and sincerity. or belief that all men can receive the Confucius is attempting to ❯❯ Faithfulness These qualities in these . And to many passages of the Analects thinking. to strive to act with virtue The values of de had evolved mythology and religion. and good manners. Having himself risen to these values Confucius called junzi. Others are Virtue can then Virtue is then transformed be seen by others. settings allow virtue to rituals and ceremonies. What breaks with define the various means of acting read like a book of etiquette. a sort of rule book for good order. as the source of moral blessing of the Heavenly Mandate. will and to unite the world with but one who understands his indicates that his concerns were as the moral order—an idea that was place within that hierarchy and much social as political. li. but he often refers to tian. According to the Analects. by Before the appearance of the he believed that it was a duty of which he means a man of virtue. become visible. But tradition. THE ANCIENT WORLD 37 See also: Thales of Miletus 22–23 ■ Laozi 24–25 ■ Pythagoras 26–29 ■ Siddhartha Gautama 30–33 ■ Heraclitus 40 ■ Hajime Tanabe 244–45 aphorisms and anecdotes that form Heaven.. in the world. denote a superior. can be cultivated—and cultivated The person who sincerely observes by anyone. xiao. . was a rigid class system with his world of the Zhou Dynasty. is Confucius’s in accordance with de—virtue—he to see the Analects as merely a belief that de—virtue—is not turns to traditional Chinese values: social or political treatise is to miss something Heaven-sent for the zhong. The virtuous life be a minister of the Zhou court. made manifest by virtue. At its heart lies a ruling classes. the middle classes. become little more than empty accepted to be god-given. but something that ritual propriety. Confucius argues that the virtuous government—but his use of the we humans are the agents that man is not simply one who stands word junzi (literally “gentleman”) to Heaven has chosen to embody its at the top of the social hierarchy. virtuous man. however. Hundred Schools of Thought. Indeed. Faithfulness and sincerity hold the power of transformation. comprehensive ethical system. and shu.. and power and benevolence (ren) to achieve within the ruling classes but had and moral authority were generally a just and stable society. the gentleman or superior man. in line with traditional Chinese embraces it to the full. its central point. reciprocity. the world had been explained by rulers..

In his analysis of relationships. they are transformed. husband A parent is to be loving. Li did complete sincerity that can exist not simply refer to rituals such as under Heaven. Loyalty and ritual and subjects loyal. Above manifest. and he explains that be considerate. then place in society. Heaven. younger every aspect of contemporary the process of transformation can friends reverential. filial piety—which for Confucius was much more than just respect Sincerity for one’s parents or elders. By knowing his minister to his sovereign. the individual is free to become junzi.38 CONFUCIUS persuade the rulers to return to these ideals and to restore a just The Five Constant government. it becomes gentle. as well his place in the which he considers to be the way of fair. elder brother and younger funerals. he believes. To begin with. The concept of ceremonies such as marriages. a man of virtue. significant—political loyalty first. Through the outward show This aspect of “knowing one’s of loyalty with inner sincerity. These ranged from work both ways. and wife. and sacrifices to the a child obedient. Sovereign—Subject Rulers should be benevolent. The etiquette of receiving guests. For Confucius. and younger practice of ancestor worship. order in which he arranges these is presenting gifts. the station” is exemplified by xiao— superior man can transform society. shows that a similar relation holds Father—Son between father and son. Husbands are to be good and as a whole. everyday gestures of politeness. These are. correct mode of address. the outward reflects the fact that each person signs of an inner de—but only when Husband—Wife should know his station in society they are performed with sincerity. for “Sincerity becomes apparent. family and the clan. Brilliant. The same principle. he stresses the are vital for binding an individual importance of the loyalty of a to his community. it of inferior to superior. then such as bowing and using the loyalties to friends and strangers. but also to the Here. society can be this is the closest he gets to changed by example. xiao reinforced the relationship it becomes brilliant. Younger Brother An elder sibling is to be xiao is connected to the traditional From being apparent. then family and clan loyalties. central to his thinking. Changed by It is in his insistence on li— it. and between friends. they are changed by it. and the simple. all. siblings respectful. As he writes: Elder Br B otthe h r— religious ideas in the Analects. which was affects others. zhong (faithfulness) also has an . Only he ritual propriety—that Confucius who is possessed of the most is at his most conservative. Confucius is at his least Older friends are to social norms that underpinned conservative. For Confucius. Ritual and tradition.” Friend—Friend ancestor worship. From being manifest. In fact. can transform. brother. Confucius uses zhong—the virtue of loyalty—as a guiding principle. this hierarchy according to Confucius. Affecting others. and wives understanding. for Confucius. but he also believes in Relationships the power of benevolence—arguing that ruling by example rather than by fear would inspire the people to follow a similarly virtuous life. should govern personal relationships. Chinese life.

12th century. Fostering these revitalized the movement in the 9th What you know.” The difference is subtle but crucial: Confucius does not prescribe what to do. remaining silent about the humility—values traditionally held gods. inspiring conventions. . politics and philosophy. from administration to years the People’s Republic of China in accepting that he knew nothing). if they are inferior. appears in Confucianism as a negative: “what you do not desire for yourself.” Dynasty. almost every aspect of Chinese officially frowned upon. and which for Confucius express A Neo-Confucian school our true nature. century. only what not to do. reciprocity. or “self-reflection”. which translations of his work appeared survived the repressive Qin in the late 17th century. try to become had also been flourishing in with both modern Chinese thought their equal. including Meng Zi was alien to European thought (Mencius). replacing and Western philosophy. Confucius had little success in missionaries brought back Kong Confucius persuading contemporary rulers to Fuzi’s ideas to Europe (and adopt his ideas in government. Confucianism His disciples. and reached its peak in the you know. he nevertheless influenced in high regard in Chinese society. and another kind of sincerity. The major has shown a renewed interest in and then by watching other people: religions of Daoism and Buddhism Confucius. “do as you would be done by”. This implies modesty and them. Confucius’s time. THE ANCIENT WORLD 39 action. integrating his ideas if they show virtue. the impact of Confucius’s many Chinese moral and social (an idea echoed a century later by ideas was profound. values is a form of loyalty to oneself. which should govern our actions toward others. emphasizing restraint rather than Confucius’s devotion to the idea of establishing a humane society led him to travel the Chinese empire for 12 years. Confucianism Korea and Japan. continued to anthologize and had limited influence until and expand on his writings. was felt across Southeast Asia into you don’t know. and inspired a revival of Despite the fall of imperial He took the view that one can learn Confucianism in the Han Dynasty China in 1911.” ■ Self-reflection This notion of zhong as a regard for others is also tied to the last of the Confucian values of de: shu. traditional beliefs. From continued to form the basis of recognizing what one does not know then on. do not do to others. Although Jesuit This is true wisdom. The so-called Golden Rule. creating be their guide. and Latinized his name to Confucius) turned his attention to teaching. in the 16th century. and although a hybrid philosophy known as Confucius offered no opinion on “New Confucianism. even if they were the Greek philosopher Socrates. Confucian ideas to become a superior man by first of the early Common Era. when its influence what you don’t know. teaching the virtues of faithfulness and sincerity. In recent who claimed that his wisdom lay society. aspects of both new faiths. implication of “regard for others.

Day. or change. and by instance. ■ Hegel bases his dialectic system of philosophy on the See also: Thales of Miletus 22–23 ■ Anaximenes of Miletus 330 ■ integration of opposites. who define all Early 19th century Georg things by their quintessentially unchanging essence. according to which all state of flux.40 EVERYTHING IS FLUX HERACLITUS (C. and yet the river Parmenides uses logical itself is always described as one deduction to prove change The road up and fixed and unchanging thing.” By this. and Anaximenes. fresh waters will immediately AFTER replace those into which you initially Early 5th century BCE placed your foot. such as Thales Heraclitus as contradictory. the universe are held in balance. specific substance. Heraclitus sees it as monism. everything must be in a permanent 6th century BCE The Milesian cosmic law. Pythagoras 26–29 ■ Parmenides 41 ■ Plato 50–55 ■ Georg Hegel 178–85 . he means that an underlying structure that at the very moment you step into a can be defined mathematically. which cosmos is made up of a single which all the material elements of in turn changes back again to day. river. object in the universe is in a state Late 4th century BCE Plato of constant flux runs counter to the describes the world as being Heraclitus thinking of the philosophers of the in a state of flux. of a river to illustrate his theory: such as day and night and hot and “You can never step into the same states that the universe has cold. IN CONTEXT philosophers seek to or the idea everything is part of a uncover scientific single fundamental process or BRANCH explanations for the physical nature substance—the central tenet of Metaphysics of the cosmos. tension is constantly generated Monism Sometimes interpreted to mean between these pairs of opposites. Heraclitus and he therefore concludes that BEFORE considers the logos to be a universal. “reason” or “argument”. the road down are Heraclitus’s belief that every one and the same. changes into night. but dismisses Milesian school. which Heraclitus believes river twice. But he also states that APPROACH being governed by a divine logos. is impossible. for philosophers claim that the things come into being.535–475 BCE) W here other early Greek leads to the unity of the universe. Heraclitus offers the example 6th century BCE Pythagoras It is the balancing of opposites.

Zeno of Elea 331 ■ Plato 50–55 ■ Martin Heidegger 252–255 .400 BCE Democritus and because something that is perception of the world is faulty and Leucippus say the cosmos is permanent cannot change into full of contradictions. scientific thinking of APPROACH Pythagoras. rather than a substance. This philosophers. Parmenides employs Monism deductive reasoning in an attempt to uncover the true physical nature BEFORE of the world. Fundamental reason tells us that change is presents his theory of Forms. and must have an of Elea presents his paradoxes Something cannot then come from indivisible unity—“all is one. In the that it cannot also not exist (“It is 20th century. pattern of thought that everything never rely on the experience that that is real must be eternal and is delivered to us by our senses. his process of reasoning that our c. Parmenides shows by permanent form cannot change. His investigations lead 6th century BCE Pythagoras him to take the opposite view to sees mathematical structure. unchanging. contradiction. Parmenides deduces the oldest philosophical quests. and yet our Late 4th century BCE Plato to be permanent. that of Heraclitus. as From the premise that something Understanding the cosmos is one of the foundation of the cosmos.515–445 BCE) T he ideas put forward by IN CONTEXT Parmenides mark a key turning point in Greek BRANCH philosophy. existed in some form. THE ANCIENT WORLD 41 ALL IS ONE PARMENIDES (C. something else without it ceasing experience change.” to demonstrate the illusory nothing.500 BCE Heraclitus says that physics emerged to support ideas that not”). ■ 1927 Martin Heidegger writes Being and Time. impossible. as this would involve a logical everything is in a state of flux. and so must always have More importantly for subsequent nature of our experience. Parmenides reached by reason alone. It follows therefore AFTER that a state of nothing existing is Late 5th century BCE Zeno impossible—there can be no void. We seem to composed of atoms in a void. exists (“It is”). reviving the See also: Pythagoras 26–29 ■ Heraclitus 40 ■ Democritus and Leucippus 45 ■ question of the sense of being. change is therefore impossible. evidence from quantum c. The only conclusion claiming that abstract ideas Parmenides concludes from this we can come to is that we can are the highest form of reality. Influenced by the Metaphysics logical.

and for those Protagoras lectured in law and 2005 Benedict XVI warns who knew and could interpret the rhetoric to anybody who could “we are moving towards a law. BEFORE Early 5th century BCE Parmenides argues that we can rely more on reason than Both people are the evidence of our senses. with an arguing to win a civil case rather established legal system. all things. speaking the truth. important and prosperous advocates. Anyone than to prove a point. to show that any text contains a “Golden Age” of scholarship and irreconcilable contradictions. ideal forms of everything. AFTER Early 4th century BCE The truth depends on Man is the Plato’s theory of Forms states perspective and is measure of that there are “absolutes” or therefore relative. Among his technique of deconstruction of Pericles (445–429 BCE) it entered this group was Protagoras.490–420 BCE) IN CONTEXT It is a spring day in Athens. culture. His teachings were dictatorship of relativism” in had. and under the leadership of advisors soon evolved. BRANCH Ethics APPROACH Relativism A visitor from Sweden says A visitor from Egypt the weather is warm. there were rich pickings to be afford him. This attracted people from Everything is relative all parts of Greece.42 MAN IS THE MEASURE OF ALL THINGS PROTAGORAS (C. there were no behavior in his Essays. but a recognized class 1967–72 Jacques Derrida uses city-state. The city was run on broadly essentially about practical matters. taken to court was required to Athens evolved into an plead his own case. says the weather is cold. democratic principles. but he could . 1580 French writer Michel de Montaigne espouses a form of D relativism to describe human uring the 5th century BCE. his first public address as pope.

such this way. By placing human of a group of itinerant teachers of beings at its center. What is worse case the better”. and it Greek sophia. ■ the cosmos or about the existence of the gods seem pointless to him. In also applies to moral values. or virtue. significant step in ethics toward brevity of human life. but the another. and Truth legend has it that he was later On Being tried for impiety. including speculations on the substance of moral judgements. On Mathematics Only fragments of his writings On the State survive. holding the view or opinion that is good in itself. and that his The Art of Controversy books were publicly burned. where he became advisor to the ruler of the city-state. but his widely as an itinerant teacher. Key works who commissioned him to write the constitution for the colony of 5th century BCE Thurii in 444 BCE. Something is ethical. Protagoras Protagoras was born in Abdera. it continued law and rhetoric that became a tradition of taking religion out known as the Sophists (from the of philosophical argument. nothing is inherently uncovered by these two philosophers. he claims. This style or right. proving not true for one person may be false for the worth of the argument. use of rhetoric and their debating skill. Protagoras was On the Gods a proponent of agnosticism. Pericles. every argument has two sides. but traveled lived to the age of 70. are subjective. depicted on a 5th-century BCE Greek the measure of its worth. although Plato discusses On Ambition the views of Protagoras at length On Virtues in his dialogues. was new to Protagoras was the most influential philosophy. Protagoras is believed to have in northeast Greece. THE ANCIENT WORLD 43 See also: Parmenides 41 ■ Socrates 46–49 ■ Plato 50–55 ■ Michel de Montaigne 108–09 ■ Jacques Derrida 308–13 politics at that time. as he considers such things to be ultimately unknowable. common in law and society judges it to be so. any “truth” is subjective. he recognizes that belief as what is right and what is wrong. On the Original State of Things . he moved to Athens. justice. Many things prevent also shifted the focus of philosophy Socrates and Plato derided the knowledge. For Protagoras. are unknown. the obscurity of the nature of the universe to an but with Protagoras there was a the subject and the examination of human behavior. At exact date and place of death some stage. will depend on their of reasoning. only because a person or drinking vessel. belief is subjective and relative. According to Protagoras. This leads Protagoras to reject the and both may be equally valid. Philosophical and that all judgements. Protagoras is mainly interested in the view that there are no absolutes Protagoras practical questions. including away from an understanding of Sophists as mere rhetoricians. The main implication of “man see the philosophical implications is the measure of all things” is that of what he taught. and it is the man To Protagoras. existence of absolute definitions He claims that he can “make the of truth. This relativism persuasiveness of its proponent. meaning wisdom).


( .470–391 )

orn in 479 BCE, shortly after
Chinese philosophy
B the death of Confucius,
Mozi had a traditional
Chinese education based on the
classic texts. Later, however, he
APPROACH came to dislike the emphasis on
Mohism clan relationships that runs through
Confucianism, and this led him
BEFORE to set up his own school of thought,
6th century BCE Laozi states advocating universal love or jian ai.
that to live according to the By jian ai, Mozi means that we
dao means acting intuitively should care for all people equally,
and in accordance with nature. regardless of their status or their
Late 6th century BCE relationship to us. He regards this
philosophy, which became known
Confucius’s moral philosophy
as Mohism and which “nourishes
stresses the importance of
and sustains all life”, as being
family ties and traditions. fundamentally benevolent and in Mao Zedong regarded Mozi as the
AFTER accordance with the way of heaven. true philosopher of the people, because
Mozi believes that there is of his humble origins. Mozi’s view that
Mid-4th century BCE everyone should be treated equally has
The Confucian philosophy always reciprocity in our actions.
been encouraged in modern China.
of Mencius stresses man’s By treating others as we would
innate goodness. wish to be treated ourselves, we
will receive similar treatment in and war; when the same principle
Mid-4th century BCE Daoist return. This is the meaning behind is practiced by everyone, it leads to
philosopher Zhuangzi criticizes “when one throws to me a peach, I a more harmonious and therefore
Confucianism and Mohism. return to him a plum.” When this more productive society. This idea
3rd century BCE Legalism is principle of caring for everyone is similar in spirit to that of the
adopted by the Qin dynasty. It impartially is applied by rulers, Utilitarianism proposed by Western
Mozi states that it avoids conflict philosophers of the 19th century. ■
opposes Mohism, advocating
strong laws to keep man’s
See also: Laozi 24–25 ■ Siddhartha Gautama 30–33 ■ Confucius 34–39 ■
essentially evil nature in check. Wang Bi 331 ■ Jeremy Bentham 174 ■ Hajime Tanabe 244–45


DEMOCRITUS ( . 460–371 )

rom the 6th century BCE exist. The atoms that make up our
IN CONTEXT onward, philosophers began bodies, for example, do not decay
to consider whether the and disappear when we die, but are
universe was made from a single dispersed and can be reconstituted.
fundamental substance. During the Known as atomism, the theory
APPROACH 5th century BCE, two philosophers that Democritus and Leucippus
Atomism from Abderra in Greece, named devised offered the first complete
Democritus and Leucippus, mechanistic view of the universe,
BEFORE suggested that everything was without any recourse to the notion
Early 6th century BCE Thales made up of tiny, indivisible, and of a god or gods. It also identified
says that the cosmos is made unchangeable particles, which they fundamental properties of matter
of one fundamental substance. called atoms (atomos is Greek for that have proved critical to the
c.500 BCE Heraclitus declares uncuttable). development of the physical
that everything is in a state of sciences, particularly from the 17th
constant flux, or change.
First atomic theory century onward, right up to the
Democritus and Leucippus also atomic theories that revolutionized
AFTER claim that a void or empty space science in the 20th century.■
c.300 BCE The Epicurians separates atoms, allowing them to
conclude that there is no move around freely. As the atoms
afterlife, as the body’s atoms move, they may collide with each
disperse after death. other to form new arrangements of
atoms, so that objects in the world
1805 British chemist John will appear to change. The two
Dalton proposes that all pure
Man is a microcosm
thinkers consider that there are of the universe.
substances contain atoms of an infinite number of these eternal
a single type that combine
atoms, but that the number of
to form compounds. different combinations they can
1897 The British physicist arrange themselves into is finite.
J.J. Thomson discovers that This explains the apparent fixed
number of different substances that
atoms can be divided into
even smaller particles.
See also: Thales of Miletus 22–23 ■ Heraclitus 40 ■ Epicurus 64–65



Dialectical method
c.600–450 BCE Pre-Socratic

philosophers in Ionia and Italy
attempt to explain the nature
of the cosmos.

Early 5th century BCE
Parmenides states that we
can only understand the
universe through reasoning.

SOCRATES (469–399 BCE)
c.450 BCE Protagoras and the
Sophists apply rhetoric to
philosophical questions.
c.399–355 BCE Plato portrays
the character of Socrates in
the Apology and numerous
other dialogues.
4th century BCE Aristotle
acknowledges his debt to
Socrates’ method.

ocrates is often referred to
as one of the founders of
Western philosophy, and
yet he wrote nothing, established
no school, and held no particular
theories of his own. What he did do,
however, was persistently ask the
questions that interested him, and
in doing so evolved a new way of
thinking, or a new way of examining
what we think. This has been called
the Socratic, or dialectical, method
(“dialectical” because it proceeds
as a dialogue between opposing
views), and it earned him many
enemies in Athens, where he lived.
He was vilified as a Sophist
(someone who argues for the sake
of deception), and was sentenced to

See also: Thales of Miletus 22–23 ■ Pythagoras 26–29 ■ Heraclitus 40 ■

Parmenides 41 ■ Protagoras 42–43 ■ Plato 50–55 ■ Aristotle 56–63

The only life worth
living is a good life.

I can only live a good “Good” and “evil” are not
life if I really know what relative; they are absolutes
“good” and “evil” are. that can only be found by
a process of questioning Socrates
and reasoning.
Born in Athens in 469 BCE,
Socrates was the son of a
stonemason and a midwife.
It is likely that he pursued his
father’s profession, and had
An unquestioning life In this way, morality the opportunity to study
is one of ignorance, and knowledge are philosophy, before he was
without morality. bound together. called up for military service.
After distinguishing himself
during the Peloponnesian War,
he returned to Athens, and for
a while involved himself in
The life which is politics. However, when his
unexamined is not father died he inherited
worth living. enough money to live with
his wife Xanthippe without
having to work.
From then on, Socrates
became a familiar sight around
death on charges of corrupting the have studied natural philosophy,
Athens, involving himself in
young with ideas that undermined looking at the various explanations philosophical discussions with
tradition. But he also had many of the nature of the universe, but fellow citizens and gaining a
followers, and among them was then became involved in the politics following of young students.
Plato, who recorded Socrates’ ideas of the city-state and concerned He was eventually accused of
in a series of written works, called with more down-to-earth ethical corrupting the minds of young
dialogues, in which Socrates sets issues, such as the nature of justice. Athenians, and was sentenced
about examining various ideas. It is However, he was not interested in to death. Although he was
largely thanks to these dialogues— winning arguments, or arguing offered the choice of exile, he
which include the Apology, Phaedo, for the sake of making money—a accepted the guilty verdict
and the Symposium—that Socrates’ charge that was leveled at many of and was given a fatal dose
thought survived at all, and that it his contemporaries. Nor was he of hemlock in 399 BCE.
went on to guide the course of seeking answers or explanations—
Key works
Western philosophy. he was simply examining the
basis of the concepts we apply to
4th–3rd century BCE
The purpose of life ourselves (such as “good”, “bad”, Plato’s record of Socrates’ life
Socrates lived in Athens in the and “just”), for he believed that and philosophy in the Apology
second half of the 5th century BCE. understanding what we are is and numerous dialogues.
As a young man he is believed to the first task of philosophy. ❯❯

Socrates’ central concern, then, But what exactly is involved in this
was the examination of life, and it examination of life? For Socrates it
was his ruthless questioning of was a process of questioning the
people’s most cherished beliefs meaning of essential concepts that
(largely about themselves) that we use every day but have never
I am a citizen earned him his enemies—but he really thought about, thereby
of the world. remained committed to his task revealing their real meaning and
Socrates until the very end. According to the our own knowledge or ignorance.
account of his defence at his trial, Socrates was one of the first
recorded by Plato, Socrates chose philosophers to consider what it
death rather than face a life of was that constituted a “good” life;
ignorance: “The life which is for him it meant achieving peace of
unexamined is not worth living.” mind as a result of doing the right
thing, rather than living according to
the moral codes of society. And the
Socrates’ dialectical method
was a simple method of questioning
“right thing” can only be determined
that brought to light the often false through rigorous examination.
assumptions on which particular Socrates rejected the notion
Q. So you think claims to knowledge are based. that concepts such as virtue were
that the gods relative, insisting instead that they
know everything? were absolutes, applicable not just to
citizens of Athens, or Greece, but to
A. Yes, because all people in the world. He believed
they are gods. that virtue (areté in Greek, which at
the time implied excellence and
Q. Do some gods fulfilment) was “the most valuable
disagree with others? of possessions”, and that no-one
actually desires to do evil. Anyone
performing evil actions would be
A. Yes, of course
acting against their conscience and
they do. They are
always fighting. would therefore feel uncomfortable;
Q. So gods disagree and as we all strive for peace of
about what is mind it is not something we would
true and right? do willingly. Evil, he thought, was
done because of lack of wisdom and
knowledge. From this he concluded
A. I suppose that “there is only one good:
they must do. knowledge; and one evil: ignorance.”
Q. So some gods Knowledge is inextricably bound to
can be wrong morality—it is the “only one
sometimes? good”—and for this reason we must
continually “examine” our lives.

A. I suppose Care of the soul
that is true. For Socrates, knowledge may also
play a part in life after death. In the
Therefore the gods Apology, Plato’s Socrates prefaces
cannot know his famous quote about the
everything! unexamined life by saying: “I tell
you that to let no day pass without
discussing goodness and all the

other subjects about which you to gradually elicit insights. He
hear me talking, and that examining likened the process to his mother’s
both myself and others is really the profession of midwife, assisting
very best thing a man can do.” in the birth of ideas.
This gaining of knowledge, rather Through these discussions,
than wealth or high status, is the Socrates came to realize that the I know nothing except
ultimate goal of life. It is not a matter Delphic oracle had been right – the fact of my ignorance.
of entertainment or curiosity—it is he was the wisest man in Athens, Socrates
the reason why we exist. Moreover, not because of his knowledge but
all knowledge is ultimately self- because he professed to know
knowledge, for it creates the person nothing. He also saw that the
you are within this world, and inscription on the entrance to the
fosters the care of the immortal soul. temple at Delphi, gnothi seauton
In Phaedo, Socrates says that an (“know thyself”), was just as
unexamined life leads the soul to significant. To gain knowledge then exposed the contradictions
be “confused and dizzy, as if it of the world and oneself it was within them and brought them to
were drunk”, while the wise soul necessary to realize the limits of agree to a new set of conclusions.
achieves stability, its straying one’s own ignorance and to remove This method of examining an
finally brought to an end. all preconceptions. Only then could argument by rational discussion
one hope to determine the truth. from a position of ignorance marked
Dialectical method Socrates set about engaging the a complete change in philosophical
Socrates quickly became a well- people of Athens in discussion on thinking. It was the first known
known figure in Athens, with a topics such as the nature of love, use of inductive argument, in
reputation for an enquiring mind. justice, and loyalty. His mission, which a set of premises based
A friend of his, so the story goes, misunderstood at the time as a on experience is first established
asked the priestess of Apollo at dangerous form of Sophistry—or to be true, and then shown to lead
Delphi who the wisest man in the cleverness for the sake of it—was to a universal truth in conclusion.
world was: the oracular reply was not to instruct the people, nor even This powerful form of argument
that there was no-one wiser than simply to learn what they knew, but was developed by Aristotle, and
Socrates. When Socrates heard to explore the ideas that they had. later by Francis Bacon, who used
about this, he was astounded, and It was the conversation itself, with it as the starting point of his
went to the most knowledgeable Socrates guiding it, that provided scientific method. It became,
people he could find to try to him with insights. Through a series therefore, the foundation not
disprove it. What he discovered of questions, he revealed the ideas only of Western philosophy, but
was that these people only thought and assumptions his opponent held, of all the empirical sciences. ■
they knew a great deal; under
examination, their knowledge was
proved to be either limited or false.
What was more important,
however, was the method he used
to question their knowledge. He
took the standpoint of someone who
knew nothing, and merely asked
questions, exposing contradictions
in arguments and gaps in knowledge

Socrates was put to death in 399 BCE,
ultimately for questioning the basis of
Athenian morality. Here he accepts the
bowl of hemlock that will kill him, and
gestures defiantly at the heavens.

PLATO (C.427–347 BCE)

the original thoughts of Plato. virtue. Christian doctrine. in a character in a series of dialogues. or moral concepts. substance of the cosmos. Plato’s mentor Initially Plato’s concerns were very his predecessors. and Plato took it upon values such as “justice” and morals and society. Plato concluded Socrates was condemned to much those of his mentor: to search that the “unchanging” in nature is death. Like earlier Greek famously said that “virtue is Socrates’ thoughts and which are thinkers. Socrates had left no for definitions of abstract moral the same as the “unchanging” in writings.335 BCE Aristotle teaches that we can find truth by observing the world around us. and to refute Protagoras’s learnt from his master for notion that right and wrong are Seeking the Ideal posterity—first in the Apology. Socrates had difficult to untangle which are philosophy. a religious take on Plato’s ideas. unlike our thinking or reasoning. Plato describes retelling of Socrates’ defense at his Plato set out his vision of the ideal Socrates posing questions about trial. Augustine of Hippo a “shadow” of its Ideal Form integrates Plato’s theories into in the world of Ideas. In the Republic. But in the process. I n 399 BCE. you must first ask what picture emerges of Plato using the explored how the immutable and justice is.450 BCE Protagoras says We recognize things in the world.250 CE Plotinus founds the Neo-Platonist school. changing world. himself to preserve what he had “virtue”. c. c.500 BCE Heraclitus argues that everything is constantly in a state of flux or change. and later by using Socrates as city-state and explored aspects of the virtues. he also order to establish clear and precise In these dialogues. but a and substance of the cosmos. APPROACH Rationalism BEFORE 6th century BCE The Milesian We are born The illusory world in which philosophers propose theories with the concepts of we live—the world of the these Ideal Forms senses—contains imperfect to explain the nature and in our minds. c. and that to act justly. In the Republic. his relative terms. Plato decides that before methods of his master to explore eternal could exist in a seemingly referring to any moral concept in and explain his own ideas. However. and for example. we must . which contains Epistemology the Ideal Forms of everything. because we recognize they are imperfect copies of the AFTER concepts in our minds. c. it is sometimes tackled subjects outside moral definitions of them. Everything in this world is 386 St. copies of the Ideal Forms.52 PLATO IN CONTEXT world BRANCH of Ideas. he questioned the nature knowledge”. that truth is relative. such as dogs.

there implying that he thinks some kind our reason. Plato. He concludes that human straight ahead. such as beds. and that the world around people walk and hold up various argues that it is not just that a us is merely modelled upon it. Reasoning brings Plato to only one Plato talks about objects in the conclusion—that there must be a world around us. THE ANCIENT WORLD 53 See also: Thales of Miletus 22–23 ■ Heraclitus 40 ■ Protagoras 42–43 ■ Socrates 46–49 ■ Aristotle 56–63 ■ Plotinus 331 ■ St. or anywhere in the natural world. rather than through our senses. which casts shadows the characteristic of “dogginess”. or Forms. these statements. Plato is line or circle—in our minds. is used by Plato to explain his idea of a world of perfect Forms. . directly—it is only perceptible to us onto the wall they are facing.” He are all the prisoners know of the ❯❯ dog. We know the truth of precisely the kind of thing that it is. world of Ideas. using have meaning. Idea of the perfect “bed” and “dog” in the darkness. or that the sum of the three interior The Allegory of the Cave. along with the birth. form of anything—a form we are able to perceive the perfect If particulars are to that is true for all societies and for triangle—or the perfect straight all time. yet all dogs share senses cannot perceive this place is a bright fire. Plato the shadows of these objects are exists. and that allows us to to state that this realm of Ideas is and the prisoners along which say we know what a dog is. even though perfect “triangle”. Taking a mathematical example to further his argument. are moral concepts or physical objects—must actually exist. but that we all have in our presents what has become known cast on the wall. he states. of World of Ideas which we are in some way aware. They can only face Dogs in their many species are exists. tied up facing the back wall they may differ in numerous ways. There which is something we can through reason. Augustine of Hippo 72–73 first explore both what we mean by angles of any triangle is always that concept and what makes it 180 degrees. Plato “reality”. Behind the prisoners even more varied. even though the He raises the question of how we perfect triangle does not exist would recognize the correct. It is there that the Idea of the people have been imprisoned since recognize all beds. asks must be universals. of ideal form of things in the world whether such perfect forms can Plato we inhabit—whether those things exist anywhere. in which knowledge of the world is limited to mere shadows of reality and truth. These shadows minds an idea of an ideal bed or as the “Allegory of the Cave. so that shared “dogginess” or “bedness” To illustrate his theory. we totally separate from the material asks us to imagine a cave in which know that it is a bed and we can world. which we use to recognize any particular instance. therefore. Plato even goes on is also a rampart between the fire recognize. objects from time to time. He states that we can work out in logical steps that the square of the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. or Ideas. By doing so. which is When we see a bed. Plato shows that true knowledge is reached by reasoning. Yet perfect.

which of the prisoners manages to untie “Form” (or “Idea”)—an eternal and is immortal and eternal. and will most incomplete “shadows” of reality. The material world their ability to reason. may be subject to change. Plato applies his theory not just to concrete things. even if we are not aware of this. he perceive via our senses is based is likely to be confused. But world of Ideas. but genuine knowledge and imperishable. there is an Idea of justice. and that can only ever be on the cave wall.54 PLATO According to Plato’s theory of Forms. but Plato’s world of Ideas is eternal and immutable. and all the instances of justice in the material world around us are models. The world d of ideas Innate knowledge The problem remains of how we can come to know these Ideas. The same is true of the concept of goodness. as well as on an experience of imperfect or dazzled by the fire. which Plato considers to be the ultimate Idea—and the goal of all philosophical enquiry. also solves the problem of a lesser version of an “ideal”. while the soul possesses the reason with which world. of his theory of Forms. which is that This separation of two distinct for every earthly thing that we have worlds. but also to abstract concepts. Our bodies possess the senses. which is true justice. Plato argues that our conception of Ideal Forms must be innate. He believes that human beings are divided into two parts: the body and the soul. every other of what Plato considers to be horse that we encounter in the world around us is reality. so that we have the ability to recognize the imperfect instances of them in the world we inhabit. such as beds and dogs. the . those things. merely shadows achieved through reason. This belief is the basis than through our deceptive senses. through which we are able to perceive the The world of the senses material world. he will perfect reality of that thing—in the see the objects themselves. that our senses perceive in the can only come from study of the Plato material world is like the images Ideas. we may have man is immortal Plato believes that everything opinions. In Plato’s world of Ideas. rather of reality. must have himself and turn around. one of appearance. there is a corresponding Plato concludes that our soul. Because what we after a lifetime of entrapment. or perfect. If one senses. horse that finding constants in an apparently exists in a world of Forms or Ideas—a realm that humans can only access through changing world. actual objects themselves. of it. likely turn back toward the wall we can have no real knowledge of The soul of and the only reality he knows. or lesser variants. At best. they have no concept of the the power to perceive with our we can perceive the realm of Ideas.

of his ideal. Recalling the innate fundamentally disagreed about the set of footnotes to Plato. we itself. Plato of medieval Islamic and Christian often found it difficult to convince thinkers. including St. and left the city. of recollection. with those of the Church. who should be the ruling class. to have become disillusioned with Republic. However. He Plato also laid the foundations of argued on questions of ethics that 17th-century rationalism. Meno. he was a noted scholar Unsurpassed legacy reason. In the Republic. spending some c. is and thinker—a realization of Plato’s idea Plato himself was the embodiment the only way to acquire knowledge. Although probably destined for a life in c. little is known (from which the word “academic” about his life. remaining its head until noble family in Athens in around his death in 347 BCE. Here he founded a writings attributed to Plato that school known as the Academy have survived. Plato is said c. but acquired the nickname “Plato” Key works (meaning “broad”). Plato This is because only the true philosopher can understand the exact nature of the world and the truth of moral values. Plato’s inhabited the world of Ideas before had been raised previously by the influence can still be felt today— our birth. Sophist.399–387 BCE Apology. Symposium (middle Athens. time in southern Italy and Sicily.380–360 BCE Phaedo. just like a prisoner in the “Allegory of the Cave” who sees the real objects rather than their shadows. or rather those who is only a process are true to the philosopher’s calling. he became a pupil of Giorgias. he also argues that it is What we call learning philosophers. many theory of Forms. 427 BCE and named Aristocles. Hippias Major. the broad range of subjects he to that realm after our death. from 161 to 180 CE. Phaedrus. was not just a By proposing that the use of powerful ruler. When Socrates was Protagoras (early dialogues) condemned to death. THE ANCIENT WORLD 55 memories of these Ideas requires reason—an attribute of the soul. For Plato. He was a profound influence Whitehead to say that subsequent recognize them as a sort of on his pupil Aristotle—even if they Western philosophy “consists of a recollection. Socrates. Plato’s ideas later will just turn back to the only world found their way into the philosophy they feel comfortable with. who combined Plato’s ideas Marcus Aurelius. philosopher. he explored for wrote about led the 20th-century when we see variations of the Ideas the first time the path to knowledge British logician Alfred North in the world with our senses. that philosophers should lead society. rather than observation.360–355 BCE Parmenides. Augustine of his fellow philosophers of the true Hippo. So but in the process. Theaetetus (late before returning to Athens around dialogues) . Roman Emperor nature of their calling. and still yearns to return followers of Protagoras and Socrates. He was born into a comes). politics. He dialogues) travelled widely. Crito. or true. the philosopher’s job is to use reason to discover the Ideal Forms or Ideas.” ■ Plato Despite the large proportion of 385 BCE.



He realized that it prove to be a fruitful trip to Ionia. We find the truth We recognize the from evidence common characteristics gained in the world of dogs in the world. The break from teaching gave can already be seen here on Earth. . when the reality of things taxonomy in Systema Naturae. makes a dog a dog. Where Plato have to be based on a Form of the 9th century CE Aristotle’s was brilliant and intuitive. Form of Man on which earthly men dialogue. are argument. who BRANCH under the great philosopher Plato. that all earthly phenomena. this Form. The Republic. This virtue is wisdom. Perhaps because his father which intensified his feeling that had been a physician. scientific interests lay in what we different Using our senses and our instances of “dog” in reason. exists in a realm of Forms a perfect theory of Forms in his Socratic Aristotle was a studious type. certain. 13th century Translations at the Academy. we understand what the world around us.58 ARISTOTLE A ristotle was 17 years old It is tempting to imagine that IN CONTEXT when he arrived in Athens Aristotle’s arguments had already to study at the Academy had some influence on Plato.380 BCE Plato presents his models their particular identities. Surprisingly. there was an obvious on which the Forms of the Forms mutual respect. APPROACH and had already devised his theory but it is impossible to know for Empiricism of Forms. some flaws in his earlier theories. in his later dialogues admitted Epistemology Plato himself was 60 at the time. to have his master. such as Plato was aware of the Third Man BEFORE justice and the color green. based on Aristotle’s system Aristotle the opportunity to indulge inherent in everyday things. Aristotle’s Plato’s theory of Forms was wrong. called refute his theory of Forms. both as a student Aristotle’s later argument of Aristotle’s works appear and a teacher. Nevertheless. until Plato died 20 against the theory of Forms was in Latin. and so on ad infinitum. which Aristotle used to 399 BCE Socrates argues that shadows of ideal counterparts. would AFTER different temperament. was simply unnecessary to assume 1735 Zoologist Carl Linnaeus that there is a hypothetical realm lays the foundations of modern Plato’s theory questioned of Forms. which give their earthly argument runs as follows: if there c. and more 1690 John Locke establishes chosen as Plato’s successor. he left Athens and took what would natural world. and Aristotle stayed are based. have to be based on a higher Form into Arabic. Forms. Aristotle Form of Man—and this too would writings are translated was scholarly and methodical. though. around us. his passion for studying wildlife. We do know. and no doubt learnt a great deal from are modelled. and so directly related to his studies of the a school of British empiricism. he was not more straightforward. years later. of biological classification. According to this theory. but he was also of a very any conceivable content.

but Aristotle found that a dog. world was that by observing the essential form of a thing is actually This difference in background characteristics of every example inherent in each instance of that helps to explain the difference in of a particular plant or animal that thing. THE ANCIENT WORLD 59 See also: Socrates 46–49 ■ Plato 50–55 ■ Avicenna 76–79 ■ Averroes 82–83 ■ René Descartes 116–123 ■ John Locke 130–33 ■ Gottfried Leibniz 134–37 ■ George Berkeley 138–41 ■ David Hume 148–53 ■ Immanuel Kant 164–71 Plato and Aristotle differed in their opinion of the nature of universal qualities. common with other dogs. whereas biology is very much makes it what it is. a complete picture of what it was of dogs—it is something that is deals with abstract concepts that that distinguished it from other inherent in each and every dog. Aristotle believes that things in the material world are not now call the biological sciences. The evidence is here in the world around us. especially geometry. Aristotle is concerned with finding some kind of immutable and eternal bedrock in a world characterized by change. he could build up is not just a shared characteristic Mathematics. they reside in the higher realm of the Forms. ❯❯ are far removed from the everyday plants or animals. we learn from our experience . and deduce what world. What he imperfect copies of some ideal whereas Plato’s background had learnt from studying the natural Form of themselves. and is confirmed what he already based almost solely on observation. but that the been firmly based in mathematics. of a dog. perceptible through the senses. For example. The child now has an idea Plato’s theory on its head. he came across. to back up his theories. believed—that we are not born Plato sought confirmation of a realm with an innate ability to recognize of Forms from notions such as the Forms. The essential form of things Like Plato. of the world what the shared characteristics are that make things what they are—and the only way of experiencing the world is through our senses. so that as good as it can be. for example. then. “dogginess” approach between the two men. but for Aristotle they reside here on Earth. but he concludes that there is no need to look for this anchor in a world of Forms that are only perceptible to the soul. His own studies about the world around us. as Plato maintained. Far from of “dogginess”. For Plato. it notes what it depends on the action certain constants can be discovered is about that animal that it has in of nature is by nature by examining the natural world. or the “form”. as mistrusting our senses. perfect circle (which cannot exist Each time a child comes across Everything that in nature). it can eventually recognize the Aristotle Trusting the senses things that make something a What Aristotle proposed turned dog. Aristotle Aristotle puts it. In this relied on them for the evidence way.

we can then recognize them we are born our minds are like Leibniz). using confirmed again and again. however. By contrast. their universal. ethics. “justice”. academic language. Aristotle’s theory is much more to Aristotle as he classified the then. Plato’s theory of Forms is grand and things. politics. and David Hume). and is presented in natural world is that the “form” qualities exist. Aristotle reasons. All men by nature For this biological classification. and classified them according to their characteristics. natural world. Aristotle arrive at their theories tells at all. is in the shared features is also true of concepts relating we arrive at universal truths that of either category. underpins his theory of universal qualities: we may be able to By studying particular things. and biology. in each and every instance. this fact is can come to know the eternal. Aristotle devised a hierarchical Aristotle system—the first of its kind. when Immanuel Kant. His next division is between different strands of knowledge and plants and animals. and separate camps: the rationalists share the form “animal. poetics. throughout our lives. As comes from experience. In order to classify a have no innate ideas. is by highly imaginative fictionalized observing how it is manifested dialogues between Socrates and Teleological explanation in the world around us. the way he argues his case. by which we come to know them distinguish between a plant and therefore. from the simplest organisms In other words. such the same kind of thinking that as physics. then he turns his attention to classifying the living Aristotle classified many of the world. for example. which is reflected in to human beings. we Biological classification can be known through experience learn to recognize the qualities that The manner in which Plato and and requires no innate knowledge these instances have in common. quesion of “epistemology”. who believe in a priori. but by questioning more prosaic. that he set about collecting specimens of flora and fauna. As Aristotle builds up a and slowly build and refine our us much about their temperaments. “beauty”. such . “unscribed tablets”. All plants share to human beings. or the but how do we know how to make What is true of examples in the theory of knowledge). Notions such later divided philosophers into two the form “plant”. and the This fact becomes more apparent that we gain can only be received empiricists (including John Locke. for natural world. so convinced was Aristotle of its physical characteristics. again. desire to know. have to recognize what it is that we encounter instances of justice makes a fish a fish—which. we George Berkeley. knowledge. his contemporaries. we understand the nature of those the same way. we can gain insight into (the latter being the fundamental an animal almost without thinking. the more Aristotle subdivides the through our senses. and any ideas or innate.60 ARISTOTLE that the truth of the world is to be found here on Earth. and not in some higher dimension. logic. And it was that distinction? The answer. At birth. As he sees it. and so beautifully constructed that it forms the basis of the taxonomy still in use today. metaphysics. not by denying that universal down to earth. so we can who claim that all knowledge specimen as a fish. of a creature is not just a matter both their nature and the means Indeed. First. this difference of opinion on how Aristotle. immutable nature.” And once “good” can be examined in exactly (including René Descartes. the only way we otherworldly. and all animals as “virtue”. which involves learning that we have today. complete classification of all living understanding of what justice is. and Gottfried forms. Another fact that became obvious Aristotle departs from Plato. we have no idea of right or wrong. he divides the natural world into living and nonliving things. immutable idea of justice.

is wisdom. or fulfill our purpose. and word that gives us “teleology”. has ethical implications. The syllogism In the process of classification. of the eye—telos is a Greek but also a matter of what it does. is therefore an account of a thing’s ethics. And it is this teleological explanation of a thing To understand the link with last type of cause. and then and can only be happy by using all subdivides into ever more precise categories. of an eye—its function—is to see. or how telos. A person can be Aristotle’s classification of living things is the first detailed examination of the natural world. life is therefore one in which we or the arrangement or shape of a This function is the purpose. but rather a logical “good” or a “bad” version of a thing causes that fully account for a extension of biology. for the final cause. and to know the purpose that for Aristotle everything in which. or use all the characteristics that make us human to the full. again. thing. purpose of a thing. but they were mere schoolboys to old Aristotle. characteristics shared by all animals. the efficient cause. Charles Darwin . Which brings us full circle back to the question of how we can recognize the thing that we call virtue—and for Aristotle. are: the material cause. a thing is brought into being. A Aristotle. THE ANCIENT WORLD 61 as its skin. or what a is that of an eye: the final cause In the case of humans. the answer is by observation. or the function or the study of purpose in nature. the “final cause”. or and how it behaves—which. considered “good” if he uses the It proceeds from general observations about the characteristics he was born with. for Aristotle. or scales. for Aristotle. we need first to appreciate that relates to ethics—a subject purpose. is one thing’s existence. the formal cause. a “good” thing is made of. We understand the nature of the “good life” by seeing it in the people around us. his capabilities in the pursuit of virtue—the highest form of which. feather. Yes No Yes No though in very different ways. is not separate of a thing is also to know what a the world is fully explained by four from science. Does it fly? Aristotle formulates a systematic form of logic which he applies to each specimen to determine ❯❯ Yes No Does it have feathers? Does it have scales? Linnaeus and Cuvier have been my two gods. These four causes An example that Aristotle gives that sees well. fur. is—a good eye for example.

if this As a result of this neglect. Aristotle’s works natural world. than it did during his lifetime. it will suckle Decline of Classical Greece of Aristotle’s writings were lost. By using analytical amounted to a revolution both were translated into Arabic and reasoning in the form of logic.62 ARISTOTLE “Socrates is mortal” is the undeniable conclusion to the most famous syllogism in history. Aristotle sees a pattern The sheer scope of Aristotle’s ideas. and his logic was Aristotle’s legacy simply a by-product of Aristotle’s incomplete by modern standards. and there is enough formal system of logic ever devised. or appetite. Luckily for posterity. considered women to be inferior But the syllogism was more than human beings. The “syllogism”. is believed that he wrote several in this way of thinking—that of and the revolutionary way in which hundred treatises and dialogues three propositions consisting of he overturns Plato’s theory of Forms. example in the form: if As are Xs. philosophy had a far greater impact mainly in the form of lectures and and B is an A. and the category. for should have ensured that his remain are fragments of his work. and placed us at continued to operate. Likewise. spread throughout the Islamic world. however. compulsion. anger. Alexander the Great. That teacher’s notes. one of the for us to learn from experience. then B is an X. hierarchical system. philosophy it adopted from Greece characteristics common to all And as he applied this fact to his was that of the Stoics. but they common to all mammals is that the top of the hierarchy. seven causes: chance. due to one or other of Socrates is a man. his ethics contained in them to give a picture and it remained the basic model for supported the use of slaves and of the full range of his work. habit. whether it belongs to a certain innate faculty. Every action must be All men are mortal. It its young. In Western it must therefore be an innate and so began the Hellenistic period Europe. they suckle their young. Aristotle Therefore Socrates is mortal. died shortly before him. so. we do possess this Empire was becoming the dominant remained the only work of Aristotle’s . is the first without fault—his geography and followers. For example. logic up until the 19th century. in philosophy and in science. which is necessary power in the Mediterranean. but all that two premises and a conclusion. reasoning. what he got right 7th century CE. if this particular specimen is the innate power of reason is what Plato’s Academy and the Lyceum warm-blooded. nature. The Roman logic (made in the 6th century CE) innate ideas. Aristotle’s syllogism—a simple deduction from two premises to a conclusion—was the first formal system of logic. Boethius’s Latin characteristic—part of what it is of Greek history which saw a decline translation of Aristotle’s treatise on to be human. and that he taught. he saw that schools of Plato and Aristotle— so. as this form of is not to say that his work was these were preserved by his reasoning is known. astronomy were flawed. then it cannot be a distinguishes us from all other Aristotle founded in Athens— reptile. The rival reptiles is that they are cold-blooded. many specimen is a mammal. With the emergence of Islam in the systematic classification of the However. whom Middle Eastern scholars such as not rely on the senses. had lost their former eminence. a characteristic living creatures. Aristotle realized that the power But Aristotle lived at the end of becoming essential reading for of reason was something that did an era. explaining his theories. Avicenna and Averroes. Although we have no in Athens’ influence.

and Hume lined a key to understanding the way Physics. Descartes. book form in the 9th century). and spent anti-Macedonian feeling flared almost 20 years there both as a up in Athens. reached its zenith after René a reappraisal of his significance. in In 335 BCE he returned to Athens. THE ANCIENT WORLD 63 and the Organon. and been of great appeal to modern Latin. his classification of living things dominated Western thinking throughout the Middle Ages. and Greece. a medieval Renaissance. This temperament as they were about depicted the whole of creation substance—the Continental versus The influence of Aristotle on the dominated by man. And during the academic. When fled to Chalcis. It was here that of Macedon. Athens at the age of 17. Augustine had adopted Plato. chose philosophers. up as the empiricist opposition. and was educated as he did most of his writing. philosophers were as much about or the Great Chain of Being. In the 13th century. the poetic versus the history of thought can be seen in second only to God. the Platonic versus the the Great Chain of Being. Aristotle’s empirical Aristotelian. Physics (as compiled in Great and continued his studies. the debate there has been a revival of interest between empiricists and rationalists in Aristotle in recent times. Aristotle left Athens of Euboea. when all of Aristotle’s works began Descartes published his Discourse His ethics in particular have to be translated from Arabic into on the Method. ■ Aristotle Born in Stagira. who stood the English. the northeast region of modern encouraged by Alexander. There is nothing in and Plato and Aristotle came to lock horns again. He formalized his ideas. a school to a physician to the royal family rival Plato’s. After was sent to Plato’s Academy in Alexander died in 323 BCE. studying the wildlife of the area. we use ethical language. in response. and a member of the aristocracy. in which with God presides over all. becoming the Christian scala Again. Although the debate Christian depiction of life as a hierarchy method of enquiry held sway. The Nicomachean Ethics. on the island Plato died. Chalcidice. Thomas Aquinas braved a ban on Aristotle’s work and integrated it into Christian philosophy. and available until the 9th century CE. who have seen in his ideas were collected into the the rationalist route. where he died for Ionia. in the same way that St. out in the Organon) remained the John Locke standard text on logic until the emergence of mathematical logic in the 19th century. Aristotle was the son of set up the Lyceum. died down in the 19th century. Likewise. and spent several years the following year. It was also at this time that Leibniz and Kant after him. the differences between the naturae (the “ladder of nature”). . Berkeley. the mind except was Aristotle’s notes on logic (laid first in the senses. In the 17th century. where he taught the young Alexander the Organon. He was then appointed tutor at Key works the Macedonian court. his functional definition of “good” the books we know today—such as Locke. and Aristotle student and a teacher.

Lucretius writes De rerum natura. is the fear of death. Greeks might incur for their sins. He starts by proposing that when . moving in empty space. Epicurus. as “it is impossible to BEFORE personal ethics. the the cosmos consists solely of greatest pleasure is only attainable atoms. knowledge and truth is the philosophers. The main focus pleasure and pain are the roots of APPROACH of philosophical thinking was good and evil. a poem exploring Fear of death Epicurus’s ideas. honorably. He argues that Ethics Plato and Aristotle. AFTER and a temperate life.” Epicurianism is often c. mistakenly interpreted as simply being about the pursuit of sensual Leucippus conclude that pleasures. and justly without living key to a worthwhile life. with freedom c.50 BCE Roman philosopher from fear and pain. through knowledge and friendship. and justly. however. you will be 1861 John Stuart Mill argues severely punished in the afterlife. Epicurus 1789 Jeremy Bentham reasons.400 BCE Democritus and human concepts and values. live a pleasant life without living Late 5th century BCE found the seeds of a new school of wisely. and Socrates states that seeking thought in the quests of earlier it is impossible to live wisely. such as Socrates’ honorably.” the wrath of the gods. when they died and in the afterlife. For Epicurus. and qualities such Epicureanism shifting from metaphysics toward as virtue and justice derive from ethics—and also from political to these roots.64 DEATH IS NOTHING TO US EPICURUS (341–270 BCE) E picurus grew up in a time Central to the philosophy that IN CONTEXT when the philosophy of Epicurus developed is the view ancient Greece had already that peace of mind. and advocates the utilitarian idea this fear is increased by the of “the greatest happiness for religious belief that if you incur the greatest number. BRANCH reached a pinnacle in the ideas of is the goal of life. Epicurus tries to than physical pleasures. or tranquillity. One of the obstacles to enjoying the peace of a tranquil mind. But rather than countering this fear that intellectual and spiritual Terrifying images of the merciless god of death Thanatos were used to by proposing an alternative state pleasures have more value depict the pain and torment ancient of immortality. examination of the truth of basic pleasantly. both explain the nature of death itself.

Epicurus Born to Athenian parents on Our unhappiness the Aegean island of Samos. so it must be made up of the ideas of Jeremy Bentham and Key works atoms. Plato. in great detail the philosophy Epicurus takes the view that the Epicurus attracted a small but that was to become known entire universe consists of either devoted following in his lifetime. Death is Epicurus was first taught and our main nothing philosophy by a disciple of fear is of death. it is of a community of friends and (our soul) ceases to exist at the foolish to let the fear of death cause followers. to fear. as argued but he was perceived as being Despite frequent ill health. but it described the last day of his it operates dynamically with the resurfaced in the 18th century. him unpopular. of death. body. which made and often being in great pain. before moving to Athens in 306 BCE. in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos. you pain while you are still alive. He describes these atoms John Stuart Mill. If you the pursuit of happiness. He founded a school. we are unaware of our are unable to feel anything. since our consciousness or physically. and in Lampsacus on the Greek mainland. In 323 BCE. There he set down point of death. liberty. when you die. mentally as the The Garden. physically emotionally painful. of consciousness. and so we are no longer Independence: “life. the tenets of Epicureanism Early 3rd century BCE around the body.” ■ . because philosophy for centuries. is caused by fear. His thinking was Epicurus lived to the age Epicurus then reasons that the soul largely ignored by mainstream of 72. The goal of life so cannot be so cannot be is happiness. known we die. atoms or empty space. There he continued his studies If we can with Nausiphanes. a follower overcome fear of Democritus. Democritus and Leucippus. we die. and Vatican Sayings capable of sensing anything. in life as a truly happy day. To explain this. Alexander the Great died and. painful. True to his beliefs. in the political conflicts that followed. he could not be empty space. by the atomist philosophers dismissive of religion. as Epicureanism. THE ANCIENT WORLD 65 See: Democritus and Leucippus 45 ■ Socrates 46–49 ■ Plato 50–55 ■ Aristotle 56–63 ■ Jeremy Bentham 174 ■ John Stuart Mill 190–93 Death is the end Death is the end of sensation. consisting death. In revolutionary of the soul as being distributed politics. we Epicurus taught briefly can be happy. but as being so are echoed in the words of the On Nature fragile that they dissolve when United States’ Declaration of Prinicipal Doctrines. Epicurus and his family were forced to move to Colophon (now in Turkey).

” Although this BRANCH was meant as an insult. “has the most”. can be achieved. Diogenes search of truth. Diogenes. he states. Socrates teaches that the it is necessary to free oneself from ideal life is one spent in the external restrictions imposed Rejecting worldly values. governed by reason and natural can do this. of Hippo denounces the often Greek kunikos. He flouted discontentment that is caused convention. of thinkers who became known as The happiest person. and instead the conventions and values of Christian orders.404–323 ) C BCE P lato once described IN CONTEXT Diogenes as “a Socrates gone mad. This Socrates’ pupil Antisthenes bothered to do so—in filthy rags. Zeno of Citium the desire for property and comfort. rejecting conventions did by living a life of poverty with c. free from the model for several ascetic custom and etiquette. or one that is worth living. and “content They asserted that the more one with the least.” is therefore someone who lives shameless behavior of the It reflects the determination of the in accordance with the rhythms Cynics. a term taken from the Diogenes’ phrase. Augustine the Cynics. as Diogenes himself AFTER impulses. and fear. although they become Cynics to spurn all forms of social of the natural world. live in as natural a state as possible. it is not Ethics far from the truth. meaning “dog-like. Diogenes shares APPROACH Socrates’ passion for virtue and Cynicism rejection of material comfort. Diogenes was the first of a group the ideal life.” ■ 1882 Friedrich Nietzsche refers to Diogenes and his See also: Socrates 46–49 ■ Plato 50–55 ■ Zeno of Citium 67 ■ ideas in The Gay Science. but takes these ideas to the extreme. by society. the nearer one will be to leading founds a school of Stoics. by eating only discarded Early 4th century BCE scraps and dressing—when he actually by desire. Augustine of Hippo 72–73 ■ Friedrich Nietzsche 214–21 . BEFORE He argues that in order to lead a Late 5th century BCE good life.301 BCE Influenced by without shame. lived being content to live a simple life.66 HE HAS THE MOST WHO IS MOST CONTENT WITH THE LEAST DIOGENES OF SINOPE ( . who in 4th century CE St. emotion. and from the internal chose to live on the streets. St. in harmony with nature. and renouncing only an abandoned tub for shelter. civilized society. by advocates an ascetic life.

Marcus Aurelius writes his man has been given a rational soul Zeno of Citium 12-volume Meditations on with which to exercise free will. poverty and riches. tradition in his Dialogues. Free will Happiness is a good c. No one is forced to pursue a “good” 1584 Flemish humanist life. c. THE ANCIENT WORLD 67 THE GOAL OF LIFE IS LIVING IN AGREEMENT WITH NATURE ZENO OF CITIUM ( . BEFORE Zeno studied with a disciple of Stoicism was to find favor across c. the 6th century. Stoic philosophy. good or bad. he declares. and the more in all its aspects. He had little patience with expanding Roman empire. But it thoughts on ethics and the shared his no-nonsense approach drew in even more followers in the city-state in The Republic. which life that is in harmony with nature APPROACH had limited appeal.380 BCE Plato states his Diogenes of Sinope. man also has to Younger continues the Stoic accept its cruelty and injustice. It is up to the individual to Justus Lipsius writes De choose whether to put aside the things over which he has little or no Constantia.40–45 CE Roman statesman and in addition to enjoying its and philosopher Seneca the many benefits. of the supreme lawgiver. These were the hedonistic.332–265 ) C BCE T wo main schools of control. is completely AFTER powerless to change this reality. to life. and Stoicism popular and longer-lasting Stoicism live in accordance with the rulings of Zeno of Citium. the Cynic. Zeno also declares that flow of life. and much of Hellenistic Greece. Man.150–180 Roman emperor However. Zeno is BRANCH death. and be indifferent to pain IN CONTEXT philosophical thought and pleasure. combining Stoicism with Christianity to See also: Plato 50–55 ■ Aristotle 56–63 ■ Epicurus 64–65 ■ Diogenes of Sinope 66 found a school of Neo-Stoicism. ■ Cynic principles. where it 4th century BCE Diogenes metaphysical speculation and came flourished as a basis for ethics— of Sinope lives in extreme to believe that the cosmos was both personal and political—until it governed by natural laws that were was supplanted by Christianity in poverty to demonstrate his ordained by a supreme lawgiver. . emerged after Aristotle’s But if a person does so. convinced that he will achieve a Ethics godless ethic of Epicurus.

THE MED WORLD 250–1500 .


Augustine of Hippo sought and the only true philosophy that in the 3rd century CE. dialectical reasoning. work on logic. China and Japan in assimilated into the Roman culture. The Greek idea have an immortal soul?” as a search was admired by the Romans for of philosophy as rational examination for a rational justification for the its emphasis on virtuous conduct independent of religious doctrine belief in God and an immortal soul. the Muslim era. lead to the division of the performs the Hejira. Philosophy continued to be they were not considered subjects it had inherited from Greece and taught in Athens. “Dark Ages” and most of the culture Empire. P hilosophy did not play a became the dominant authority in exploration of questions such as large part in Roman culture. Christianity became and was renowned for its rigorous thrived. The western empire translate Aristotle’s marking the beginning of the writings of Plato. Western Europe. remaining so for “Is there a God?” or “Does man other than Stoicism. both politically and stemmed from the monastic schools Elsewhere. but its influence for philosophical discussion. This process deemed compatible with During the first millennium of was the main task of scholasticism. Christianity. the Church Augustine was not so much an eastern philosophies coexisted . of cultural development. his a school of mystical Roman Empire into east and Boethius begins to journey from Mecca to Medina. bringing a Golden Age (now Spain and Edict of Milan. while traditional the 5th century.510 622 313 397–98 618 711 Constantine I proclaims St. also waned. and doing one’s duty. who founded to integrate Greek philosophy into survived was a form of Platonism an important Neo-Platonist school. Roman influence a philosophical approach that translation of Aristotle’s Logic. culture culturally. the Christian religion. philosophy based on west. and no significant Early Christian philosophers such held the monopoly on learning. falls within a century. and Boethius’s the Common Era.260 395 C. Questions about the The Dark Ages been established by the Classical nature of the universe and what As the Roman Empire shrank and Greeks was therefore effectively constitutes a virtuous life were held eventually fell. philosophers emerged until Plotinus as St. however. Europe sank into the marginalized under the Roman to be answered in the scriptures. C. Augustine of The Tang dynasty is Conquest of religious freedom within Hippo writes his established in China.000 years. The broader sat uncomfortably with the rise of philosophical tradition that had Christianity. Rome disappeared. Christian Iberia the Roman Empire in the Confessions. Portugal) by Muslim invaders. which almost 1.70 INTRODUCTION Crises brought on by both Plotinus founds internal and external forces The prophet Muhammad Neo-Platonism. The work of particular enjoyed a “Golden Age” and after the fall of the empire in scholastic philosophers such as of poetry and art. The Church dwindled.

By the 12th century. when its capital the world to share writes the more than a third of the Constantinople is captured and translate ideas. 832 1077–78 1347 1453 C. as humanists such as scholars started to rediscover Erasmus provoked the Reformation. the lands that had been part of Christian Church. and William of Ockham mood as people began to look more felt in Europe. by the Ottoman Turks. enthusiastically embraced the new toward reason rather than faith to news of ideas and inventions from Aristotelianism and eventually provide them with answers. killing Empire. Church. incorporating human soul. ■ . authorities. Christian thinking and the new ideas that led As Islam spread eastward into philosophers including Roger to Europe’s Renaissance in the late Asia and across north Africa and Bacon. continent’s population. its influence began to be Scotus. attracting The Black Death remnant of the Roman scholars from around St. and particularly Persian scholars preserved and provided rational justification for astronomy undermined the authority translated the works of the Classical belief in God and the immortal of the Church when they arrived Greek philosophers. Proslogion. Greek mathematics and philosophy A new rationality Philosophers themselves turned through Islamic sources. and they world also introduced a wealth of toward the problems posed by sparked a resurgence of philosophical technological and scientific science and the natural world. Nevertheless. West Indies. happily with their religions. and advances in chemistry. In thinking within the medieval knowledge to medieval Europe. Aristotle was treated in Europe. respect than in Europe. The works Along with the philosophy that their attention away from questions of Aristotle in particular came as revitalized the Church.1014–20 1099 1445 1492 Avicenna (Ibn Sina) Christian crusaders Johannes Gutenberg Christopher writes his Kitab al-Shifa capture the holy city of Germany invents the Columbus crosses (The Book of Healing). medicine. Thomas Aquinas. the Islamic of God and the immortal soul something of a revelation. THE MEDIEVAL WORLD 71 The “House of Wisdom” is Fall of the Byzantine established in Empire. But whereas Aristotle’s scientific methods had Alexander the Great’s empire. allowing the Atlantic and for a greater dissemination reaches the of knowledge. There the Islamic world were reaching as convinced the Church of its was dissent even within the far north as Britain. the Plato’s philosophy had been been refined to sophisticated levels Greek legacy commanded more comparatively easy to assimilate in Persia. and European compatibility with Christian faith. Anselm reaches Europe. the eastern Baghdad. Arabic and into Christian thought. printing press. Duns 15th century sparked a change of into Spain. because it physics. their ideas into Islamic culture from with suspicion by the Church The re-introduction of Greek the 6th century onward. of Jerusalem.

God is not the evils. revolves around the idea that humans are rational beings. Plato and his followers. of evil. why is there Ethics evil in the world? For Christians APPROACH such as Augustine. the evil The Consolation of Philosophy. or deficiencies. Humans can therefore 1525 Martin Luther. the act badly or well. the evil in a thief is c. as well as for Christian Platonism adherents of Judaism and Islam.1130 Pierre Abelard rejects that he lacks honesty. because evil is c. His answer parent of evils. German priest who inspired An essential freedom the Protestant reformation. But Augustine still needs to explain publishes On the Bondage why God should have created the of the Will. For example. a central question. AFTER be able to choose he did not create evil. 3rd century CE Plotinus Augustine is able to answer revives Plato’s view of one aspect of the problem quite easily. but a lack or deficiency Augustinian theory of evil in of something. arguing that the world in such a way as to allow there to be these natural and moral human will is not free. suffered by a blind man is that he is without sight. contains evil—into an argument but an absence of something. He argues that in order for God to . not a thing. and remains. AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO (354–430 CE) A ugustine was especially IN CONTEXT interested in the problem Humans are rational beings. If God is entirely BRANCH good and all-powerful. have free will.520 Boethius uses an between good or evil. BEFORE In order to be This is because it makes an obvious c. Augustine the idea that there are not borrowed this way of thinking from evil things. against the existence of God.72 GOD IS NOT THE PARENT OF EVILS ST. humans must fact about the world—that it argues that evil is not a thing. Plato rational.400 BCE In Gorgias. He believes that although good and evil. this was. This means they must God created everything that exists.

when the town was beseiged and sacked by the Vandals. solution to the problem. including the freedom to earthquakes and plagues. Key works A world without evil. Augustine of Hippo command not to eat fruit from the to their weaknesses as arguments Tree of Knowledge. to a Christian mother the Bible. where he occupied Augustine also suggests a third in God might still argue that the a prestigious position. ■ the universe—but under the influence of Archbishop Ambrose of Milan. In 395 he became him able to sin. have pointed St. many capable of obeying God’s of a highly philosophical commands also made nature. The process is sick person is real enough. he had to give them discords in music can make a freedom of will. happened. against Christianity. But for those who do religion that sees good and in the universe. THE MEDIEVAL WORLD 73 See also: Plato 50–55 ■ Plotinus 331 ■ Boethius 74–75 ■ Pierre Abelard 333 ■ David Hume 148–53 create rational creatures. According the problem of evil using one of his to the Bible this is exactly what approaches.397–401 Confessions Just as for Adam and Eve. Rationality is the ability illness may be due to a deficiency of and a pagan father. He was to evaluate choices through the something. Someone without a prior belief Milan. aged 75.388–95 On Free Will beings able to choose their actions. . as Adam broke God’s such as David Hume. Calling sickness. He died in Hippo. and choose to do wrong. he suffered a spiritual crisis and underwent a conversion. add to the beauty of a picture. Adam. such as could be without evil—just as human beings. he became attracted to Christianity. it contributes to an already believe in God. an absence of health in 354 CE in Thagaste. would choose Christian philosophers have tackled evil rather than good. Bishop of Hippo. would be a world without us—rational c.413–27 On the City of God choices allow for the possibility of evil. such as rhetoric in his home town. For this reason God had Explaining natural evils to leave open the possibility that Since Augustine’s time. And and he went on to teach only possible where there is freedom how are natural evils. Augustine of Hippo Africa. in North St. In 386. asking us presence of evil in the world proves For a while Augustine to see the world as a thing of beauty. Augustine’s evil as dual forces that rule overall good that is greater than it arguments might hold the answer. Augustine’s argument for instance. and he held this post for the rest of his life. but the suffering of the educated to be a rhetorician. or dark patches will means being able to choose. explained? and at Carthage. that there is no all-powerful and followed Manichaeism—a He says that although there is evil benevolent God. our moral c. Rome. of choice. including choosing between good and evil. c. Aurelius Augustine was born In fact. while their opponents. most the first man. Augustine says. He abandoned his career and devoted himself to What made Adam writing Christian works. a small provincial town in North holds even without referring to seems to be just playing with words: Africa. process of reasoning. Having freedom of harmony more lovely.

300 BCE Syrian philosopher Iamblichus says that what can be known depends upon the knower’s capacity. That c. how can the choice of spending the afternoon unchanging—but free—will. Boethius was trained in or I might spend time writing. we be said to have free will? writing. But if it is true now.74 GOD FORSEES OUR FREE THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS BOETHIUS ( . and so T is transcendent and beyond he Roman philosopher afternoon I might go to the cinema. c. As it the Platonist tradition of turns out. God foresees our free AFTER thoughts and actions. it is true now (before that human freedom rests on He is famous for his solution to a the event) that I will go the cinema God’s own freedom to act. I go to the cinema. he seems to everyday life.350 BCE Aristotle outlines the problems of claiming as true any statement about the I am free not to go God knows that I will outcome of a future event. go to the cinema today. APPROACH Christian Platonism BEFORE c. and was also a Christian.1300 John Duns Scotus says philosophy. free if God already knows what we are then it seems that I do not really have actions by knowing his own. going to do in the future. and problem that predates Aristotle: this afternoon. c. but his answer dilemma is to imagine a situation in to it is not very clear. being the case. that God knows our future. this have thought that a sentence such . For instance.480–525 ) C CE IN CONTEXT BRANCH God lives in the God knows the future Epistemology eternal present. as if it were the present. Aristotle was the first to The best way to understand the define this problem.1250–70 Thomas Aquinas agrees with Boethius that God exists outside of time. human understanding. to the cinema today.

therefore. and so on. or future (if they will come to pass). speaking fluent Greek and having an extensive Key works knowledge of Latin and Greek literature and philosophy. As we live in Lady Philosophy and Boethius discuss the flow of time. And just as my afternoon. God category of thing the sun is. and sentenced to ruled Italy. “I went to the cinema yesterday. So if I am going to go however. so too God’s knowledge of cannot. not according to uncertain future events. well educated. Some five years later Roman aristocrat. there is simply nothing knowledge that you are sitting now to be known about it. The Consolation of Philosophy. its distance from Earth. but also sense—by sight and touch. c. know if I shall go or not. knows the sun only as that God knows everything. but according to the contrast. determinism. and Some thinkers today argue that Boethius knows what to us are past. may know which elements it is made that I am not really free to choose of. of the eternal present in his influential present (if they are happening now). and knows it now. ■ Boethius Anicius Boethius was a Christian Theoderic. He lives in an eternal present. THE MEDIEVAL WORLD 75 See also: Aristotle 56–63 ■ Thomas Aquinas 88–95 ■ John Duns Scotus 333 ■ Benedictus Spinoza 126–29 ■ Immanuel Kant 164–71 as “I shall go to the cinema this to spend the afternoon writing. so even a God does not interfere with your freedom who is all-knowing does not. capacity of the knower. until he was made chief c. A person. present. He was extremely awaiting execution. as if they were known.523–26 The Consolation of adviser to the Ostrogothic king Philosophy . since I have not yet decided whether and future in the same way that we I shall go to the cinema this know the present. My dog.513–16 Commentaries on especially Aristotle’s works on Aristotle’s “On Interpretation” logic. God. Boethius considers time in a similar kind of way. He c. The Consolation brought up by an aristocratic of Philosophy. does not stop them from itself. the future.” Boethius solves the problem by arguing that the same thing can be A God beyond time known in different ways. being free. while in prison family in Rome. born at a time he became a victim of court when the Roman Empire was intrigue. He wrote his most at the age of seven and was famous work. It seems. He believed for instance. by present. and God’s vision events as past (if they have occurred). depending Boethius faced a harder version on the nature of the knower. Everything is We cannot know the outcome of our future actions.510 Commentaries on devoted his life to translating Aristotle’s “Categories” and commenting on Greek texts. of the same problem. was wrongly accused disintegrating and the Ostrogoths of treason. book. not only something with qualities he can the past and the present. since afternoon” is neither true nor false. can also reason about the to the cinema this afternoon. is not in the flow of time. that would conflict with what God or at least not in the same way as already knows. we can only know free will. He became an orphan death. and to stop.

4th century BCE Aristotle argues that mind is the “form” of the body.400 BCE Plato argues that mind and body are distinct FROM substances. and his successor. A vicenna. Like his predecessors. AFTER 1250s–60s Thomas Aquinas AVICENNA (980–1037) adapts Aristotle’s account of the mind and body. and one of the world’s greatest thinkers.76 IN CONTEXT THE SOUL BRANCH Metaphysics APPROACH IS DISTINCT Arabic Aristotelianism BEFORE c. 1640 René Descartes argues for dualism in his Meditations. also known as Ibn Sînâ. he saw himself as a follower of Aristotle. these works explain Aristotle’s philosophy as re-thought and synthesized by Avicenna. In particular. Averroes. al-Kindî and al-Fârâbî.800–950 CE Aristotle’s works are translated into Arabic for the first time. THE BODY c. and his main writings are encyclopedias of Aristotelian philosophy. Avicenna self-consciously marked himself out as a philosopher rather than an Islamic theologian. is the most important philosopher in the Arabic tradition. However. 1949 Gilbert Ryle describes dualism as a “category mistake” in The Concept of Mind. choosing to follow Greek wisdom and the path of reasoning and proof. On .

Avicenna So my soul is not But I would know a body. This ❯❯ . Europeans called him. both as physician and Avicenna kept to the Aristotelian survive the death of the body. predecessor in this view was Plato. Avicenna is one of writing at the age of 21. Plato believed that at maliciously. rapidly surpassing his teachers not distinct from only in logic and philosophy. touching nothing… that I have a body. but something that I—my “self” Ibn Sînâ. the mind is the “form” of the human In seeking to prove the divided c. but in other the most famous “dualists” in the went on to write more than areas he felt free to depart radically history of philosophy—he thinks 200 texts. but also in medicine. While still in his teens. As such. He started view despite the fact that it clashed By contrast. and was given the use of his magnificent library. think it possible for anything to princes.1015 Canon of Medicine all the activities a human being can devised a thought-experiment c. political adviser. the body. now in Uzbekhistan. such as the idea reason Aristotle does not seem to in the service of various that the universe has always existed. he was a native Persian speaker. Avicenna The soul is was a child prodigy. and that later reincarnated in another body. mechanics between mind (self or soul) and body. THE MEDIEVAL WORLD 77 See also: Plato 50–55 ■ Aristotle 56–63 ■ Al-Kindî 332 ■ Al-Fârâbî 332 ■ Thomas Aquinas 88–95 ■ René Descartes 116–23 ■ Gilbert Ryle 337 If I were blindfolded and suspended in the …I would not know air. His great animal physiology. on subjects as from Aristotle. is his explanation of the relationship distinct substances. of solids. are not two different things (or be released from its prison. including thinking. One striking example that the body and the mind are two diverse as metaphysics.1014–20 Book of Healing body. and Arabic syntax. to be Key works “substances”). it is responsible for nature of mind and body. Avicenna c. Avicenna’s life was spent some doctrines. and with Islamic orthodoxy. while on campaign mind of humans (and other animals) the point of death. who thought of the mind as a He died when his medications Mind and body are distinct distinct thing that was imprisoned for colic were altered. was born in 980 in a village near Bukhara.1030 Pointers and Reminders perform. but one unit. Although he wrote mainly in Arabic. For this known as the “Flying Man”. or Avicenna as the different. he became known to the Samanid ruler Nuh ibn Mansur as a brilliant physician. possibly Aristotle claims that the body and in the body. or “soul”—exists. the language of learning throughout the Islamic world. the mind would with his patron Alâ al-Dawla.

body and mind. The immortal soul Avicenna goes on to draw the conclusion that the mind is not destroyed when the body dies. that I am based on the fact that the type of what it grasps are definitions. together. Both Avicenna or physicality. The self that I affirm as between God and the soul. and my limbs are separated can grasp cannot not be contained The parts of this phrase need to be grasped at once. The mind therefore cannot be in any way like or part of the body. too. a hand. who believe that the whole person. that the mind or self exists because I would not think that it belonged it knows it exists. intelligence. Suppose I am entirely aims to strip away any knowledge without any sensations. Most are But the mind is not a sense organ. None the that can possibly be disproved. This did not help to make his thinking more palatable to orthodox Muslims. and it nothing. material constraints. Avicenna was attacked in the 12th century by the great Islamic theologian al-Ghazâlî. . leave us only with absolute truths. the body. But what is this self. so I can touch within his Book of Healing. because I do not know that I is a direct encounter dualist of the 17th century. shaped we can know if we are effectively reminding oneself of the existence things fit with the parts of a physical. The Flying Man experiment. each of its parts suppose I have just come into to show that the mind cannot be corresponding to a part of the lens. In the Flying Man experiment. know for certain. the wall that I see is stretched over He asks us each to imagine this: Avicenna also has other ways the lens of my eye. It follows from this that the human self—what I am—is distinct The Flying Man from my body. It has no extension. for instance. On the Soul. existence. His Canon of Medicine influenced European schools of medicine until the mid-17th century. such blindfolded and that I am floating in intellectual knowledge the mind as “Man is a rational. distinct from the human body. is resurrected and enjoys the afterlife. and cannot of the mind as something other shaped sense organ: the image of depend on them for information. which is me? It remarkably anticipates the much It cannot be any of the parts of my The secret conversation later work of Descartes. mortal animal”. who called him a heretic Avicenna’s medical knowledge was so vast that it won him royal patronage. is a way of alerting and see how the parts of physical. than. the air. It is easy to Avicenna wants to examine what Avicenna. and distinct from. who also have any. I will be sure that I myself exist. if I were able Avicenna and Descartes want to demonstrate to imagine. and less. and that it is to this self which I know exists. says by anything material. robbed of our senses. Consequently. but I have all my normal something material. And. Suppose.78 AVICENNA appears as a treatise. decided to believe nothing at all existing does not have length or abstracted from all except that which he himself could breadth or depth. from each other. the famous body. or anything physical. and that it is immortal.

Avicenna continental European thinkers. The one Philip Pullman’s tale. can explain thinking without Like Avicenna. But what is it conclude that the “I”. is An influential 20th-century British that I am? completely distinct from the body. he realizes. Gilbert Ryle. and that it must be immortal. is that he exists. and tenet of the resurrection of the dead. still and Descartes were both very accept the results of Avicenna’s The indubitable self interested in physiology and they thought experiment in one central Some 200 years later. and his views were widely accepted by the theologians of the 16th and 17th centuries. The pain belongs to me as much as of the brain. For instance. THE MEDIEVAL WORLD 79 thing that he cannot be deceived times. quite precisely how thinking goes This self is exactly the self which on in different areas of the brain— Avicenna’s Flying Man is sure of. though whether this means that we when he has no other knowledge. a pain in my leg. It shows. They liked the way his Most contemporary philosophers the neurons. Northern Lights. philosopher. knowledge of the brain. states of the brain (the gray matter. in which the mind and rational thinking was inexplicable accommodated by the objective body are much more closely tied with the scientific tools of their view of scientific theories. a larger number of thinkers who say for abandoning the central Islamic I do not just observe that there is that the mind is simply a brain. largely thinking which derives from them. being separate to the body. the dualists’ self as “a ghost in the René Descartes machine”. We are now able to explain about. caricatured A thinking thing. ■ together. or self. made them easily compatible with because of the increasing scientific Many philosophers. but still insist there is and his dualism became popular my thoughts about philosophy. in the 1250s. or daimon. by presenting it as an entirely separate animal. He says that the self which thinks Today philosophers are divided is the same as the self which feels between a small number of dualists. theologians. is the result of the physical activity work was also translated into Latin. who agree that thinking But in the same century Avicenna’s sailor might notice a hole in his ship. such as a cat. in the way that a the majority. they say. or a distinction between the physical among Christian philosophers and what I might have for lunch. picks up on the ancient Greek idea of a person’s soul. Descartes imagines that there is a demon who is trying to deceive him about everything on which he might possibly be deceived. Descartes can then reference to a self is not so clear. and tried to show that The ghost in the machine we can explain how human beings One very strong objection to the perceive and function within the dualism of Avicenna or Descartes world without resorting to this is the argument used by Aquinas. and so on). that we each Thomas Aquinas championed a activities such as movement and have a self with a first-person view more faithful interpretation of sensation. sensations in the body. produced scientific accounts of way. But the process of of the world (the “I”) that cannot be Aristotle. But in 1640 Descartes returned to a dualism that was nearer to Plato’s than Aristotle’s. . “ghost” of a self. especially the idea of an immortal soul. and the interpretations of Aristotle’s texts reject mind-body dualism. and his argument for it was very like Avicenna’s.

reality as well as in the mind is using a form of modal logic St. Platonic-Aristotelian The Ontological Argument invented The argument has been accepted by Anselm—an 11th-century Italian by many great philosophers. that God is can be thought. 1979 American philosopher You [God] are that Kant holds that Anselm is also Alvin Plantinga reformulates than which nothing wrong to say that what exists in Anselm’s Ontological Argument greater can be thought. position or admit that God exists. such as BEFORE philosopher who worked on the René Descartes and Baruch Spinoza. Anselm imagines himself of Marmoutiers. The there exists somewhere a marvellous Anselm develops Augustine’s argument rests on an acceptance island. and it 1640 René Descartes uses a exists. contemporary of Anselm’s. We believe that be no jacket to be green or tweed. IN CONTEXT believe as a matter of faith that existence is superior to that God exists. arguing with a Fool. Platonic But there have been many others Hippo argues for God’s thinking.” Existing is not like being form of Anselm’s Ontological green: if it did not exist.400 CE St. c. but other philosophers to establish its truth. In the 18th century AFTER “that than which nothing greater Immanuel Kant objected that the 1260s Thomas Aquinas argument treats existence as if it rejects Anselm’s Ontological were an attribute of things—as if I Argument. Augustine of basis of Aristotelian logic. Gaunilo of unchanging truths. might describe my jacket like this: “it’s green. of two things: first. One existence through our grasp probably the most famous of all. Is there not a sense in which a real painting is greater than the mental concept the painter has before he starts work? ■ .80 JUST BY THINKING ABOUT GOD WE CAN KNOW HE EXISTS ST. greater than any island that proof of God’s existence. said that we could 1075 In his Monologion. and his own genius—is who took up the Fool’s side. By the end of the BRANCH Middle Ages they were keen to argument the Fool is forced to Philosophy of religion show that God’s existence could either take up a self-contradictory APPROACH also be proved by rational argument. there would Argument in his Meditations. disagree. Anselm greater than what exists in the mind alone. ANSELM (1033–1109) A lthough Christian thinkers can be thought”. in the non-existence. and second. made of tweed. who denies use the same argument to prove that that God exists (see opposite).

ill-health and lack of political skills. under an eminent logician. This position put him in So if “that than which conflict with the Anglo-Norman nothing greater can be thought” kings William II and Henry I. He traveled to England. and Biblical commentator named But would you agree Lanfranc. during which he be greater. Church against royal power. exists only in the mind. Key works Exactly. then reality as well as in the mind is prior. I suppose so— exists in the mind alone? and in 1093 was made an ice cream in my hand is better than Archbishop of Canterbury. Anselm of Canterbury was than which nothing greater can be born in Aosta in Italy in 1033. even make sense. Anselm And do you agree that “that St. in 1077–78. in my mind— study at the monastery of Bec. and eventually abbot in greater than something that 1078. grammarian. St. That’s true. but acquired 1080–86 On the Fall of its title from the German the Devil philosopher Kant in 1781. it is less great as he tried to uphold the than if it existed also in reality. in France. visited the pope to plead the So now you are saying case for the English Church that there is something greater and his own removal from than “that than which nothing office. And the only 1075–76 Monologion way around this contradiction 1077–78 Proslogion is to admit that God (“that than which Anselm’s Ontological 1095–98 Why did God nothing greater exists”) does exist— Argument was written become Man? both in thought and reality. Anselm That doesn’t died in Canterbury aged 76. Anselm became a that something that exists in monk of Bec in 1060. Yes. Augustine of Hippo 72–73 ■ Thomas Aquinas 88–95 ■ René Descartes 116–23 ■ Benedictus Spinoza 126–29 Anselm The Fool Do you agree that if God existed he would be the greatest thing that there could be— “that than which nothing greater can be thought?” Yes. but not in reality. thought” exists in your mind? He left home in his twenties to Yes. . These disputes led to two The being that periods of exile from England really exists would for Anselm. one that’s just in despite his protestations of my imagination. Ultimately reconciled greater exists?” with King Henry I. THE MEDIEVAL WORLD 81 See also: Plato 50–55 ■ St.

. Whenever reasoning establishes Aristotelian theory of society. Yet he spent his nights read in this literal way. AFTER 1270 Thomas Aquinas criticizes the Averroists for accepting conflicting truths true. Averroes reconciles religion and obligation to use philosophical 1120s Ibn Bâjja (Avempace) philosophy through a hierarchical reasoning. Abû Yacqûb Yûsuf. 1340s Moses of Narbonne publishes commentaries on But some parts of it are Averroes’ work. on the basis of which he becomes an Philosophy and The text is a poetic truth. from Christianity and Aristotelian philosophy. he was a qâdî accept the teaching of the Qur’an (an Islamic judge) who literally. 1852 French philosopher Ernest Renan publishes a study of Averroes. He thinks that shows the literal meaning of the only the educated elite are capable Qur’an to be false. Averroes believes that launches an attack on Islamic Almohad ruler. truth. and this is the most that the BEFORE Aristotle—and one of Averroes’ avid uneducated can grasp. Averroes does not think BRANCH worked under the Almohads. Averroes says philosophy in Islamic Spain. 1090s Abû Hâmid al-Ghazâlî readers was none other than the However.82 PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION ARE NOT INCOMPATIBLE AVERROES (1126–1198) A verroes worked in the legal everyone else should be obliged to IN CONTEXT profession. educated people have a religious Aristotelian philosophers. but says that Arabic Aristotelian writing commentaries on the work it is a poetic approximation of the of an ancient pagan philosopher. of thinking philosophically. demonstrably false. philosophical reasoning. incompatible. one of that the Qur’an provides a completely Philosophy of religion the strictest Islamic regimes in the accurate account of the universe if APPROACH Middle Ages. and that the text must be “interpreted”. important influence on modern religion are not and must be interpreted using Islamic political thought.

and they tenet of Islam. led Averroes returned to Cordoba to an introduction to the Caliph but died the following year. translated into Hebrew as a legitimate subject for study in the but Averroes agrees with Aristotle and Latin. and the scientific theory Averroes seems to be saying that demonstrated by Aristotelian there are truths discoverable by philosophy accepted in its place. the of Aristotle and Averroes became resurrection of the dead. Reprieved two years later. who appointed Averroes chief judge and later Key works court physician. but their view Averroes’ interpretation. For philosophy (if only for the elite) was instance. it was essential to engage with religion that there is nothing in the Qur’an Scholars who supported the opinions critically and philosophically. Aristotle’s ‘On the Soul’ . However. Averroes is willing to sacrifice some widely-held Islamic doctrines in Later Averroists order to maintain the compatibility Averroes’ advocacy of Aristotelian of philosophy and religion.” They have not state that individual humans been described as advocating a have immortal souls. and philosophy. and Siger of Brabant. science. ■ of the words should be disregarded only through a shared intellect. But Some Muslims did not view philosophy that the universe has a beginning. but Averroes argued that that it has always existed. He belonged to a family of unorthodox philosophy. Abû Yacqûb also shared Averroes’ interest in 1179–80 Decisive Treatise Aristotle. a basic known as Averroists. the Cordoba. and distinguished lawyers and trained public pressure led to a banning in law. and says in the 13th and 14th centuries. as Moses of Narbonne. Ibn Tufayl. THE MEDIEVAL WORLD 83 See also: Plato 50–55 ■ Aristotle 56–63 ■ Al-Ghazâlî 332 ■ Ibn Bâjja 333 ■ Thomas Aquinas 88–95 ■ Moses of Narbonne 334 to contradict this view. According to “double truth” theory. was born in 1126 in views of the Almohads. designed for c. but that you and I as individuals will The immortal intellect perish when our bodies die. The Latin that religious laws are and that anyone who denies this is Averroists acccepted Aristotle as necessary political arts. had enormous influence 12th century. his works. and commissioned him 1179–80 The Incoherence of the to write a series of paraphrases of Incoherence all Aristotle’s works. of his books and personal exile in His friendship with another doctor 1195. and Latin Averroes accepts that we must scholars such as Anicius Boethius Philosophers believe believe in personal immortality. then part of Islamic public disapproved of Averroes’ Spain.1186 Great Commentary on non-specialists such as himself. Averroes Ibn Rushd. humans that hold good for ever. and philosopher. is harder to include included Jewish scholars such within an Aristotelian universe. Aristotle is rather that truth is relative to the that is to say the obvious meaning claims that humanity is immortal context of enquiry. interpreted by Averroes as the truth Averroes But he takes a different position according to reason—despite also from his predecessors by saying that affirming an apparently conflicting Aristotle’s treatise On the Soul does set of Christian “truths. almost all Muslims believe shunned by his fellow Muslims. known in Europe as Despite the increasingly liberal Averroes. a heretic who should be executed. Abû Yacqûb Yûsuf.

For Maimonides. 1260s Thomas Aquinas moderates Maimonides’ negative theology in his Summa Theologiae. and to think attributes. is indefinable. . develops his negative theology.” This already about God in the same way as a existed in Christian theology. Pseudo-Dionysius establishes Torah (the first part of the Hebrew God. and BEFORE human being. developing APPROACH against anthropomorphizing God. which that God is a bodily thing. a strand of thought known as Jewish Aristotelian which is the tendency to think “negative theology. But God has Essential attributes Early 1300s Meister Eckhart no accidents. In both areas. AFTER …accidental. should IN CONTEXT Jewish law (in Hebrew) be excluded from the Jewish and Aristotelian thought community. has no the tradition of Christian Bible) as literal truth. We cannot rightly say negative theology. he says. But in the Guide of the BRANCH (in Arabic). but more than being. Maimonides pushes this Philosophy of religion central concerns was to guard idea to its farthest extent.400 CE The philosopher worst mistake of all is to take the in terms of what God is not. Anyone that God is “good” or “powerful.84 GOD HAS NO ATTRIBUTES MOSES MAIMONIDES (1135–1204) M aimonides wrote on both who thinks this.” states that God is not being. …essential. define. no attributes. 860s John Scotus Eriugena suggests that God creates Attributes are either… the universe from the nothing which is himself. the it focuses on describing God only c. 1840–50s Søren Kierkegaard claims that it is impossible to provide any form of external God has But God description of God. Maimonides says. one of his Perplexed.

I were standing. ■ Key works The Mishneh Torah was a complete 1168 Commentary on the restatement of Jewish Oral Law. “God is powerful”: should be taken but this was an activity for to mean that God is not powerless. But I would When the intellects still be what I essentially am even if contemplate God’s essence. being a rational. The family’s not tell us anything about him. for example. The writing has been first in Fez (now in Morocco) brought about by John but it does and then Cairo.. others are that I have gray hair and a long nose. financial problems led Maimonides to train as a Maimonides also accepts that physician. into incapacity. The difference Cairo in 1191. it is not red. it is generally agreed. which he thought it wrong Imagine a game in which I think of to accept any payment. and his skill led to statements which seem to attribute a royal appointment within qualities to God can be understood only a few years. One of my accidental attributes. God cannot have a Jewish family. His family fled Spain things about God. has no accidental attributes. God. taught him Jewish law Speaking about God consider the sentence “John is a within the context of Islamic Maimondes claims that we can say writer”..) until the Jewish community of you guess what it is. He a thing and tell you what it is not was recognized as head of (it is not large. influences: he was educated and God cannot be defined. and lived nomadically Most discussions in the Torah should done: in this instance John has for 10 years until they settled be understood in this way. mortal animal—is Maimonides my essential attribute: it defines Moses Maimonides me. known as Rambam) was born in 1135 in Cordoba. So when written words. red-haired. . But Maimonides asks us dynasty came to power in actions. and had their apprehension turns a snub-nose. Spain. rather than the and his father. what God does. but they must be to mean that being a writer is John’s when the Berber Almohad understood as telling us about God’s profession. because Moses Maimonides (also God is unchanging. Being human—that is. So God we must understand this as stating in both Hebrew and Arabic. worked as a rabbinic judge. has no attributes at all. If we were to judge. rather than God’s being. we might normally take it Spain. we are told that “God is a creator”. In addition. He also if they are taken as double negatives. was rich in cross-cultural because they would be defining. which Mishna Maimonides wrote in plain Hebrew so 1168–78 Mishneh Torah that “young and old” could know and 1190 Guide of the Perplexed understand all the Jewish observances. to consider only what has been 1148. into says Maimonides. cannot say what God is. is that I am sitting. and after his in the case of God is that we have death his tomb became a only the negations to guide us: we place of Jewish pilgrimage. His childhood any essential attributes either. a rabbinic sort of thing God is. THE MEDIEVAL WORLD 85 See also: Johannes Scotus Eriugena 332 ■ Thomas Aquinas 88–95 ■ Meister Eckhart 333 ■ Søren Kierkegaard 194–95 This is because an attribute is either accidental (capable of change) or essential.

orthodox Islam. ANYTHING YOU LOSE COMES ROUND IN ANOTHER FORM JALAL AD-DIN MUHAMMAD RUMI (1207–1273) in one form t IN CONTEXT is a o exis lw st BRANCH a se y a E e Islamic philosophy sr endl ess conti tc v nu eb e e um on th a APPROACH r o in . the mystical and family moved from the eastern the Mawlawi Order is banned aesthetic interpretation of edges of Persia to Anatolia in the in Turkey. ufism. is art of an p the Mawlawi Order of Sufism. had been part mid-13th century. ive .i becomes the basis for Sufism. was brought up in Rumi became a teacher in a Sufi languages around the world. when it receives of Islam since its foundation in the of uniting with God through love the right to perform on 7th century. Jalal ad-Din Sufism that sought to explain the Today Rumi’s works continue Muhammad Rumi. 1925 After the founding of a S secular Republic of Turkey. It remains illegal the Qur’an. ythi rn i e Sufism ur ng present to the fut n Anythi ng in the un BEFORE another fo 610 Islam is founded by the Prophet Mohammed. but had not always caught his imagination. becomes Caliph. and as such he believed he contact with Sufism when his was a medium between God and . and first came into order. Mohammed’s cousin and rm the of l successor. been accepted by mainstream this he developed a version of Islamic scholars. ife. cl ked to the p ss n ud e ing dl AFTER en 1273 Rumi’s followers found m an. and from certain occasions. 644 Ali ibn Abi Talib. The Sufi concept until 1954. better known relationship of man with the divine. he d an T 10th century Ali’s mystical w r p nt se ast flo interpretation of the Qur’an is lin r ese . to be translated into many simply as Rumi.86 DON’T GRIEVE.

and so he wrote the 20th century was the poet the shaykh (Master) of a Sufi them down in the form of poetry. where Rumi practice. emotional interpretation of the Qur’an and the importance of is the idea that the universe and who campaigned for an Islamic music and dance in religious everything in it is an endless flow state of Pakistan in the 1930s. In the 20th century. song. it is reborn in another. In order to ensure our growth from one form to another. But invasions threatened the this aspect of his thinking did not region. but in a Key works rose to animal. universe. in a province the spiritual journey of man from in converting much of Turkey from of Persia. but as The Works of Shams of Tabriz something ceases to exist in one What is Within is Within form. I died as progression from one form to another animal and I was Man. he believes. THE MEDIEVAL WORLD 87 See also: Siddhartha Gautama 30–33 ■ Avicenna 76–79 ■ Averroes 82–83 ■ Hajime Tanabe 244–45 ■ Arne Naess 282–83 death. and Shams al-Din Tabrizi. task to communicate the visions Perhaps his greatest admirer in In 1244 Rumi became he experienced. After his death. and Rumi seeks to Whirling Dervishes who explain our place within it. He believed it was his New Age values of the 1960s. mainly because his to Sufism. of Persian and Arabic poetry. Orthodox Christianity to Islam. They were also pivotal Guide) or simply Rumi. is a link I died as a mineral in the Sema ceremony—a form between the past and future in a and became a plant. and in the West. however. of life. perform a distinctive dance Man. In contrast to general Islamic hold much sway in Europe. ■ ceremony. he placed much emphasis rationalism was the order of the met the Persian poets Attar on dhikr—ritual prayer or litany— day. where Anatolia. order. and I died as a plant and rebirth—not as a cycle. we should strive for spiritual growth and an understanding of the divine–human relationship. Man. or Whirling also known as Mawlana (Our Dervishes. The dance represents born in Balkh. and dance. death. Death and Early–mid-13th century Jalal ad-Din Rumi Rhyming Couplets of Profound decay are inevitable and part of Spiritual Meaning this endless flow of life. is also a part of this which is famous for its continuum. When the Mongol ignorance to perfection through love. however. and taught his mystical- Central to his visionary philosophy advisor to Muhammad Ali Jinnah. continual process of life. his family settled in man. The Mawlawi Order. Rumi believes that this understanding comes from emotion rather than from reason—emotion enhanced by music. and politician Muhammed Iqbal. and nor should we grieve a loss. Turkey. was Sema ceremony. in which God is an eternal his followers founded the presence. dance as part of the Sufi Sufism. we should have no fear of . of dhikr unique to the sect. rather than rational analysis of the his ideas became very popular He decided to devote himself Qur’an for divine guidance. and influenced mainstream Islam too. stretching into eternity. Jalal ad-Din Rumi’s legacy Muhammad Rumi The mystical elements of Rumi’s ideas were inspirational within Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi. as part of the Mawlawi Order of Sufism. and went on to became known for his ecstatic message of love chimed with the write thousands of verses revelations. Because Seven Sessions of this.



a Greek Henry of Ghent criticizes Aristotle’s influence Christian writer of the 6th century. The even though it put them at odds c. and that thinkers. Aristotle was certain that His reasoning was copied and it has not always existed. saying the universe The central figure in Aquinas’s believed that he had found an cannot have always existed. Aristotelian theologian. Aquinas. Jewish and Christian thinkers. he said that all Dominican order (a new. according to the Bible.540 CE John Philoponus the most famous of all medieval however. the ancient argument to show that Aristotle 1781 Immanuel Kant claims Greek philosopher whose work was must be wrong. intellectual order of friars) against and he never wrote again. is especially held that. could it be refuted by reasoning? 1290s French philosopher John Philoponus. to living species. c. and changing for ever. Truth Unusually. after it. Christian Aristotelian and astronomy for an answer. Aristotle must be wrong: the 1250s–60s French theologians and it also tells us a great deal about universe has not always existed. It is still a plausible the universe has a beginning. have a beginning. As a died at the age of 49.90 THOMAS AQUINAS T he opinions of people today can only be caused by change and IN CONTEXT are still divided into those motion. He has been considered both some studied at the University of sort of vision and a possible Naples and then joined the stroke. In 1273 he Universe . and that the he can show that the universe intensively studied by medieval universe had not always existed. before leaving to travel 1256–59 Disputed Questions on around Italy teaching for 10 years. They argues that the universe must Christian philosophers. how Aquinas combined his faith But was this view something that with his philosophical reasoning. struggled to do so. and those that universe must have been moving Metaphysics hold that it has always existed. interesting. the Church. were in the past this was a question for willing to accept Aristotle’s view. and philosopher Thomas Aquinas. has always existed. APPROACH Today we tend to look to physics The great Arabic philosophers. developed by a number of thinkers and that it has always been home in the 13th century. Albert the Great. because it changing and moving. and this took Aristotle’s own ideas about Thomas Aquinas Thomas Aquinas was born in experienced something that 1225 at Roccasecca in Italy. thinking is Aristotle. but Avicenna and Averroes. BEFORE philosophers and theologians. in order to protect the teachings of proposes the “Big Bang” theory such as humans.340 BCE Aristotle says that answer given by the Catholic priest with Islamic orthodoxy. and was novitiate he studied in Paris and recognized as a saint by the then in Cologne under the German Catholic Church in 1323. adopt Philoponus’s argument. so way of thinking about the problem. the universe has always existed. Aquinas was then c. dogs. Returning to Paris. he Key works became Master (professor) of theology. He argued that the universe is was especially clever. and horses. He the wishes of his family. had to be accepted on faith. Medieval the universe is eternal. who needed to 1931 Belgian priest and to different things. from inanimate find a flaw in Aristotle’s reasoning scientist Georges Lemaître objects like rocks. or AFTER despite their apparent contradictions. So there could never have that hold that the universe been a first change or motion: the BRANCH had a beginning. highly he had done was “mere straw”.1265–74 Summa Theologica offered a second period of tenure 1271 On the Eternity of the as Master at Paris. Their line of argument of the origins of the universe.

because for each is so. But no number can and his followers can be avoided. an actual infinity of souls. however. the universe has existed human souls are immortal. was not motion. many more humans have been humans and other animals might An infinity of humans born. there Aristotle’s opinion. and so the number of humans have had a beginning. as these days souls in existence now. . always existed. Aristotle Philoponus and his 13th-century using Aristotle’s own principles as followers. For instance. If this universe is not eternal. Aquinas is flanked by Aristotle and Plato in The Triumph of Thomas the types of living beings in the Aristotle was therefore wrong. however. and this fits philosophy was considered greater than were true. they the universe could have existed for the universe as eternal. THE MEDIEVAL WORLD 91 See also: Aristotle 56–63 ■ Avicenna 76–79 ■ Averroes 82–83 ■ John Philoponus 332 ■ John Duns Scotus 333 ■ Pierre Abélard 333 ■ William of Ockham 334 ■ Immanuel Kant 164–71 Aristotle says that The Bible says that the universe has the universe has not always existed. that there were already an infinite doctrine that God created the world. the sequence of numbers is infinite. be greater than infinity. So there is do not coexist at the same time. reasoning. He points out that turned them against his view of if they have always existed. With these two arguments. and so the According to Aristotle. think that this a starting point. Philoponus and his argument presents problems that followers were confident they had Aristotle had not noticed. His understanding of ancient universe have always existed. but time Socrates was born—because line of reasoning. If this for an infinite time. who lies at his feet. But since Socrates’ ever but that species such as time. this is must be an infinite number of human a “potential” infinity. the Aquinas. Despite his defence of Aristotle’s because for each number. the infinite born up until now must be greater difficulties raised by Philoponus is what has no limit. existed then. at the same time—is impossible. number of human beings by the Aquinas has little time for this infinity as a point of departure. but God could have created it in such a way that it existed eternally. and Aristotle has a time when there infinite number of things all exist said actual infinity is impossible. The world did have a beginning. it would mean perfectly with the Christian that of Averroes. they say. Aquinas does not ❯❯ another higher number that follows. there is In addition. there is a preceding day. They point demonstrated that the universe to the fact that he believes that all cannot always have existed. Christian thinkers believe that Similarly. these writers add. not a There never was an “actual” infinity—in which an potential infinity. than infinity. In humans has already existed. and an infinite number of day.

If something is created by God. because the although it is true. Thomas Aquinas Aristotle’s position—that the Aquinas gives an example of universe has always existed— how this might work. in the sand and it had been there for ever. for Aquinas—as for most Christians—the teachings of the Church must all be accepted. Although there would Creating the eternal never have been a moment before Aquinas steps away from Philoponus the footprint was made. had Aquinas believed the creation story on faith. God created the universe Historians sometimes say that to show that the universe had a with a beginning. properly understood. . set out to prove that in fact created by God. but claimed that some elements of Christian belief could be rationally demonstrated. not having access to Christian revelation. as the Bible says. but he was not wrong in principle. but that does not mean that have confused two different points: there must have been a time when God could have the first is that God created the it did not exist at all. foot. Aquinas was unusual. he doesn’t think that Aristotle’s this is not a necessary (undeniable) position is illogical. Suppose could be true. It is therefore made the universe universe. but he could just Aquinas “synthesized” Christianity and Aristotelian philosophy. the Bible and reason need never conflict. however. Aquinas wants agree. Aristotle did not contradict Christian teaching.92 THOMAS AQUINAS beginning—but he also wants as easily have created an eternal to show that there is no flaw in one. but that the universe had a beginning. and the second is that the quite possible to believe in an without humans and universe had a beginning. or in his reasoning. For Aquinas. He claims then it owes its whole existence to that his Christian contemporaries God. we would accept Aristotle’s assertion that the and his followers by insisting that still recognize the foot as the cause universe is eternal. In this particular case Aquinas thinks that Aristotle was wrong. as far as the ancient philosophers knew. The universe really might have existed for ever. without exception or compromise. The question of whether the universe always existed is the exception that proves the rule. even if it is also true there was a foot making a footprint that God created the universe. Aquinas eternal universe that had been then made them. Aristotle’s reasoning. Like Philoponus truth on logical grounds. of the footprint: if it were not for the Christian faith says otherwise. As they all Aquinas and synthesis and his followers. as if he took the parts he wanted from each and made them into a smooth mixture. It was just that Aristotle. there would not be a footprint. In fact. because he thought that.

the reality that the belief that God is a Trinity Aquinas keeps to these principles lies behind them. but his respect for Aristotle’s philosophy led him to argue that Aristotle could have been correct. from where John sits. forest. he clarifies and elaborates upon ❯❯ source—God—and so they can and taste. no way of knowing that it had not. accused his fellow scholars of But as human beings we are able to accepting certain positions on go beyond them and grasp what a faith—for example. the position tree is in a rational way. For example. because we gain it to Christianity that the ancient to be wrong. could never conflict with Christian which is green and brown. particularly clear in two central capacity. although teaching come from the same senses: sight. touch. According to on this intellectual knowledge. however. am standing next to the there is a contradiction conflict with some of his academic tree. they cannot come to any treatment of the relation between understanding of the world is based conclusion which contradicts mind and body. Aquinas calls this “intellectual a number of other doctrines central these positions could be shown knowledge”. Aquinas disagreed. THE MEDIEVAL WORLD 93 Aristotle believed that the universe was infinite. All of our scientific correctly. and its who specialized in the sciences. on the We should see whether doctrine often placed him in fierce other hand. and universities in France and Italy. whenever humans reason of how we gain knowledge and his the senses. But in Aquinas’s areas of his thought: his account knowledge cannot stretch beyond opinion. he has a visual and the idea that human reason impression of a tree-shaped object. especially those its bark and smell the scent of the created by God. the Son. which at the time were derived knowledge of the tree would be Thomas Aquinas from the work of Aristotle. This is because Aquinas. defining it that we each have an immortal and distinguishing it from other . soul—but of saying at the same types of plants and of living things. on the basis of could not have known—such as How we gain knowledge sense-impressions. our existing forever. hearing. but they are than humans lack this inborn one person of the Trinity. If John and I were dogs. Christian doctrine. which is why their became a human. believing that the universe had a beginning. Animals other made up of three persons. Aquinas believes that there are time that according to reason. only tell us what things Aquinas taught in convents are like superficially. and can feel the roughness of between something being contemporaries. by using the innate power of our philosophers did not know and intellect to seize. never contradict each other. and that throughout his work. smell. These sense-impressions. Aquinas limited to these sense-impressions. as each hour and day is succeed by another. I. human beings acquire Aquinas’s theory of knowledge both human reason and Christian knowledge through using their owes much to Aristotle.

Aristotle supposed that God set the universe into motion. which makes the human soul. they cut the even when it did not fit neatly with their capacity for different levels of connection Aristotle had made Christian doctrine. This life-activities. This made it afterlife. For Aquinas. These other that it is. Once again Aquinas so long as it animates a body. But does the existence of the universe itself have a cause? ? . Within the human body. Aquinas follows Aristotle’s the Catholic Church. and philosopher. teaching about living things and time. the intellect his or her intellect. angels. but added that the caused this newton’s cradle “Prime Mover”—God—must itself be uncaused. He always The laws of cause and effect lead us to look for the cause of any event. aspect of Aquinas’s theory has tied to the body. a soul. the life-soul survives only Since the Middle Ages. Christian teaching that the human sorts of beings that are capable of and avoiding. sensing. human beings as growing and reproducing. however. and Aquinas agreed. moving. when translations of Greek their souls. for so they could accommodate the are only one type of the various plants. even the beginning of the universe.94 THOMAS AQUINAS the latter’s thinking. official orthodox philosopher of without contradicting Aristotle. which explains Aristotle’s view. he was one of the is the life-principle or “soul” of a 13th. to swing. They can directly grasp it is by giving it a particular set of Aristotelian. a Christian thinker. while the definitions of things. seeking. knowing things intellectually: souls thinking for humans. All living things have also adopted the main lines of train of philosophical reasoning. Aquinas principles. refuses to distort separated from their bodies in the Aristotle believes that “form” is Aristotle’s position. and has come to be regarded as the is able to hold Christian beliefs at death it perishes. In his own but going beyond him. complete with Arabic According to Aristotle. even in the case of After Aquinas coherent development of Aristotle’s humans. as what he calls “life-activity”. in yet another to acquire knowledge through the the body into the living thing that example of his resolve to be a good senses. Although other commentaries. As such. for animals. Aquinas. and soul survives death.and 14th-century thinkers thinkers keenest to follow Aristotle’s human being. he believes. as he did—for the immortality of knowing beings do not have this form is the soul. and God himself what makes matter into the thing far more difficult for him to argue— can also do this. and he insists that a philosophy were being made from The human soul human being has just one form: Arabic. the soul is remaining a faithful Christian. and so Aristotle no parallel in Aristotle. but it is a thinks that. such between the intellect and the body.

in the sense the relation between philosophy “Big Bang” proposed by modern that earlier times simply and Christian doctrine. If it Aquinas’s constant endeavor to what is impossible. particular treatment of the eternity physicist and cosmologist Stephen Stephen Hawking of the universe. reasoning. but we can still argue. than he did with his has always existed. ■ meant that he had more in common with the greatest philosopher of The role of philosophy the previous century. there develop a philosophically coherent intelligible questions to ask. as Aquinas and other medieval philosophers One may say that Coherent belief did. God or the immortality of the soul. and his scientists. we do not look to philosophy philosopher and theologian Pierre to tell us whether or not the universe Abélard. and so God would not on to his Christian beliefs. and the Franciscans John Duns Scotus and William of Ockham. but what is possible and universe that always exists. such as the existence of density at a particular point in time. while holding is it not coherent to believe that the existing. remained faithful to the Church’s teachings. remain relevant Hawking. Henry of Ghent less rational or coherent than those intelligent enquiry. he argued. The great thinkers and teachers of the following century. do not turn to the Bible. and Ockham rejected hold certain doctrines as a matter the subject. He demonstrates how Aristotle’s account of knowledge of faith. Is it or would be no possibility of its not system of thought. This view investigate not what happens to be that God could have created a is an extension and development of the case. But what some claim for the universe began. Though most of us now turn to . Reading universe had a beginning? This is have been free to create or not Aquinas’s works is a lesson in still a question for philosophers. Today few the universe expanded from a state philosophers believe that religious of extremely high temperature and positions. is often mistaken. for Christians and no amount of theoretical physics confidence in the power of reason non-Christians alike. such as the secular philosopher Henry of Ghent. Instead we look to physics. were all far more willing to say that purely philosophical reasoning. the arguments Scotus thought that Aquinas’s philosophy is that it can demonstrate of Aquinas show that philosophy is Aristotelian view of the soul was that although religious believers still relevant to how we think about inadequate. allowing us to explicitly criticized Aquinas’s view of agnostics or atheists. including the British would not be defined. and what are always existed. their overall views are no philosophy can provide the tools for almost entirely. Aquinas’s supreme tolerance. This theory states that in the 21st century. will be able to answer it. and most of us contemporaries and successors. and create it. but this did not prevent his thought from almost being condemned as heretical shortly after his death. the French Today. like Aquinas. THE MEDIEVAL WORLD 95 Cosmic background radiation provides evidence of the “Big Bang” that started the universe. time had a beginning at Both Aquinas’s general view on in particular to the theory of the the Big Bang. as best represented by Aristotle’s can be proved by philosophical science for an explanation of how arguments. that this was not the only possible way for it to exist.

he deduces that we must try for something to come into being the ultimate source of reason. Giovanni Pico della Mirandola 334 . knowledge. Yet reason tells us the begins with the idea that we gain possibility of any phenomenon BEFORE knowledge by using our reason to existing must come before its 380–360 BCE Plato writes on define things. and something that is said to do this The Greek theologian and must be described as “Not-other. therefore. Nikolaus von Kues things in such a way that “they Mirandola’s On Being and are not subsequent to it.” Von medieval philosophers Kues. closer to a definition of God than any other term.96 GOD IS THE NOT-OTHER NIKOLAUS VON KUES (1401–1464) N ikolaus von Kues belongs some early Christian theologians IN CONTEXT to a long tradition of talk of God as “above being. stressing how God is unlike comes before everything. Plato describes “the Good” or The conclusion that von Kues Late 5th century CE “the One” as the ultimate source of comes to. ■ 1991 French philosopher Jean-Luc Marion explores the See also: Plato 50–55 ■ Johannes Scotus Eriugena 332 ■ Meister Eckhart 333 ■ theme of God as not a being. “beyond AFTER apprehension”. according to von Kues. It is impossible “the Good” or “the One” as God. goes BRANCH who attempt to describe the nature further.” philosopher Dionysius the Areopagite describes God Beyond apprehension as “above being.” However.860 Johannes Scotus “thing” in the line of reasoning that Eriugena promotes the ideas Whatever-I-know von Kues adopts is misleading. to define the basic nature of God. is not God and the “Not-other” has no substance. whatever-I-conceive It is. So in order to know actual existence. point in Renaissance von Kues thinks “Not-other” comes thinking about God. and all existence. stating that God is what Philosophy of religion of God. is that all other forms and knowledge. as of Dionysius the Areopagite. Von Kues existing.” For this reason too. and is before all 1492 Giovanni Pico della is not like God. the use of the word c. but exist the One marks a turning through it. writing around 1440. before the possibility of it arises. even APPROACH anything that the human mind is before the possibility of something Christian Platonism capable of grasping.

However. René Descartes 116–23 ■ John Locke 130–33 . IN CONTEXT of Folly. putting human beings at the never on reason. He AFTER goes on to claim that knowledge. c. Happiness is clerical abuses. it also what he sees as the true spirit of into Christianity. It relationship with God. Philosophy of religion beginning to flood across Europe Instead. such as St. stating that the Scriptures—simplicity. which Erasmus as theological intellectualizing. Humanism Renaissance. It triggers the reached when a start of the Reformation. 1517 Theologian Martin on the other hand. Faith and folly person is ready to Religion is a form of folly too. ■ Christian philosophy in his ultimately brings us the most Summa Theologica. Augustine and doctrinal wranglings of the Erasmus advises us to embrace of Hippo integrates Platonism Catholic Church. has a serious message. in that true belief Discourse on the Method. and is what hold the key to a happy life. Augustine of Hippo 72–73 ■ Thomas Aquinas 88–95 ■ Concerning Toleration. reflects claiming that it is the root cause BRANCH the Humanist ideas that were of the corruption of religious faith. can be a burden Luther writes The Ninety-Five and can lead to complications that Theses. he says. THE MEDIEVAL WORLD 97 TO KNOW NOTHING IS THE HAPPIEST DESIDERIUS ERASMUS (1466–1536) LIFE T he treatise In Praise of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas. Erasmus advocates a APPROACH during the early years of the return to simple heartfelt beliefs.1265–1274 Thomas Aquinas folly—by which Erasmus meant and humility. Augustine for separation of government and religion in A Letter See also: St. naivety. Desiderius Erasmus can only ever be based on faith. wrote in 1509. 354–430 CE St. happiness and contentment. are combines Aristotelian and naive ignorance—is an essential the fundamental human traits that part of being human. These. 1637 René Descartes writes Erasmus states. He dismisses the center of philosophy. and were to play with individuals forming a personal a key role in the Reformation. and not one BEFORE is a witty satire on the corruption prescribed by Catholic doctrine. be what he is. mixing of ancient Greek rationalism 1689 John Locke argues with Christian theology by medieval philosophers. protesting against may make for a troublesome life.



the 17th century. a purely secular astronomy. First Nicolaus Copernicus. It was to the Church’s monopoly of learning. center of the universe. overturned centuries of Christian spread across Europe. Ptolemaic model of the universe “rebirth” of extraordinary Renaissance ideas had spread with Earth at its center was creativity in Europe—began across Europe and virtually eclipsed mistaken. excommunicated by the dynasty of Castle Church in granting Protestants rights Church and imprisoned China. by medieval Scholasticism—it was Florentine – Niccolò Machiavelli – The victory of rational. investigating nature. of a period that became known as commerce flourished alongside then Johannes Kepler. which produced the new scientific discoveries. scientific a movement that viewed humans. the first truly the universe. art and then the political and social notably Francis Bacon and Thomas structure of Italian society. 17th century. triggering within Catholic France. providing alternative whole of Greek and Latin Classical philosophy had yet to emerge. and it is now such as Erasmus and Thomas More ultimately imprisoning Galileo for viewed as the bridge between the had contributed to the arguments heresy. writes his Meditations. The Church fought back. and a basis for a new and mathematical texts assimilated Renaissance philosopher was a kind of philosophy. New Organon is Machiavelli in opposition to the Christian published. 1513 1543 1620 1641 1517 1593 1633 1644 Martin Luther nails his The Edict of Nantes Galileo Galilei is The last ruling 95 Theses to the door of is issued by Henri IV. and their demonstrations in 14th-century Florence. but advances in all the medieval and modern periods. and his philosophy marked a discovery over Christian dogma not God. the Qing Wittenberg. proposing publishes view that Earth lies at the a new approach to René Descartes The Prince.100 INTRODUCTION Nicolaus Copernicus proposes Francis Bacon’s Niccolò that Earth orbits the Sun. and finally the Age of Reason. revolves around the Sun. for life. took the lead in integrating such as Florence and Venice soon The final nail in the coffin of the scientific and philosophical abandoned medieval feudalism Church’s authority came from reasoning. for upholding (Manchu) dynasty. It was the beginning in favor of plutocracies where science. at its center. the theory that Earth takes power. This new definitive movement from the epitomized the thinking of the humanism was reflected first in the theological to the political. British philosophers. the Reformation. T he Renaissance—a cultural By the end of the 15th century. within the Church that had sparked sciences soon followed those in Marked by a renewed interest in the the Reformation. lasting until Although Christian philosophers teaching. republics The Age of Reason Hobbes. explanations for the workings of culture—not just the philosophical Unsurprisingly. Galileo Galilei showed that the the first great “modern” philosophers .

Hobbes and Locke of the question “What can I know?” at their centers: it is this being had laid the foundations for led him to a position of rationalism. but experience. In France. as this period came They believed that its reasoning empiricism (the same division that to be known. both had in society was to replace them? the world. so the Descartes and Blaise Pascal made during the 17th and 18th centuries. aristocracies and monarchies were major contributions to mathematics. Despite the division between threatened by the new ideas of the as did Gottfried Leibniz in Germany. Just as the Church’s Europe were also accomplished This view.” Human Understanding. continental rationalism and British Enlightenment. that dated back to was being established in Britain. Following the scientific reasoning and they now began to investigate espoused by Francis Bacon. but it was comes from reason alone. Philosophers on both turbulent 17th century. authority had been undermined by mathematicians. This sides of the Channel had moved another 100 years before a became the predominant belief in from asking questions about the questioning of the status quo continental Europe for the next nature of the universe—which were began in earnest elsewhere. Human Understanding. what sort of how to acquire all our knowledge of Plato and Aristotle). posthumously. At the same time. Questions. 1649 1664 1690 1710 1651 1670 1704 1721 Thomas Hobbes’ great Blaise Pascal’s Gottfried Leibniz Britain’s first factory political work. If the old rulers were process provided the best model for had separated the philosophies of removed from power. how we can know what we know. especially different philosophical tradition as Isaac Newton—to questioning mathematics. implications. whose reason or experience leads democratic thinking during the which is the belief that knowledge to knowledge. a very being answered by scientists such philosophy and science. Pensées are published writes New Essays on opens. accelerating is published. the Industrial Revolution. and revived the connection between century. John the nature of the human mind and The birth of rationalism Locke came to the conclusion that self. many of the our knowledge of the world comes strands had moral and political most significant philosophers in not from reason. RENAISSANCE AND THE AGE OF REASON 101 Isaac Newton The execution of King begins compiling his George Berkeley Charles I brings an notes on “Certain John Locke publishes publishes A Treatise end to the English Philosophical An Essay concerning Concerning the Principles Civil War. Descartes’s investigation common the placing of the human In Britain. But these new philosophical In the 17th century. pre-Socratic Greece. René characterized British philosophy the ideas of the Renaissance. Leviathan. known as empiricism. of Human Knowledge. ■ .



his or her own glory. 1928 Italian dictator Benito Mussolini describes The The end justifies Prince as “the statesman’s the means. but after fought over by various foreign in Florence. and in 1492 by his son Piero (known as Savonarola was eventually arrested the Holy Roman Empire. Machiavelli was born in Piero was forced to surrender and second Chancery in 1498. which at the Machiavelli’s birth saw Lorenzo de’ Savonarola.” I n order fully to understand Piero the Unfortunate). the papacy.. and the year of San Marco monastery. succeed his father as ruler. Florence.104 NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI IN CONTEXT BRANCH The success of a state Political philosophy or nation is paramount.. Venice. then came to dominate time was divided into five powers: Medici (Lorenzo the Magnificent) Florentine political life. Spain. ushering state entered a democratic period and Florence. APPROACH Realism BEFORE 1st century BCE Plato argues Whoever governs the in his Republic that the state state or nation must should be governed by a strive to secure. during a time of then flee the city. AFTER 16th century Machiavelli’s peers begin to use the adjective “Machiavellian” to describe acts of devious cunning. In order to do this. The invasion by Charles VIII in unofficial control of the city-state The Dominican prior of the 1494 had sparked a turbulent period for some 35 years. . The rebelled against him. whose and burnt as a heretic. This led Machiavelli’s views on power. The country was in a period of great artistic activity under his guidance. 1st century BCE The Roman writer Cicero argues that the Roman Republic is the best form of government. the background to his political considerable force in 1494. . The French to Machiavelli’s first known it is necessary to understand under Charles VIII invaded Italy in involvement in Florentine politics. Milan.. they cannot be bound by morality. mainly France. Italy. Naples. as the citizens almost constant upheaval. Girolamo in the history of Italy..the success of the state. Florence was Career and influences Medici family had been in open but declared a republic that same year. reign was short-lived. philosopher-king. supreme guide. and and he became Secretary to the concerns. Lorenzo was succeeded accusing the pope of corruption powers.. Florence . 1762 Jean-Jacques Rousseau argues that people should hold on to their liberty and resist the rule of princes.. The city.

intelligence. The Prince Machiavelli’s book The Prince was witty and cynical. the illegitimate son of Pope Florence with them. Machiavelli met Cesare the Spanish. The Prince. but his chances of re-employment were slim. February 1513 he was falsely Pope Alexander VI died in 1503. His political preserve their liberty! ability. but in work. Though he ruled as a despot. Machiavelli wanted to ❯❯ In the course of his diplomatic against the pope and his allies. and showed a great understanding of Italy in general and Florence in particular. Machiavelli—despite his installed. and his attempts to find a new political position came to nothing. man who impressed Machiavelli justify the means used to obtain and Machiavelli spent 14 years with both his military ability and them. The French lost. so Machiavelli changed the dedication to Giuliano’s successor. was another strong and successful fined. In 1512 the Alexander VI. government. RENAISSANCE AND THE AGE OF REASON 105 See also: Plato 50–55 ■ Francis Bacon 110–11 ■ Jean-Jacques Rousseau 154–59 ■ Karl Marx 196–203 Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449–1492) effectively ruled Florence from the death of his father in 1469 until his death. activities. implicated in a plot against the and his successor Pope Julius II family. . In it. The pope was a Spanish dissolved the city-state’s powerful figure in northern Italy. But tension between from other books of its type in its on diplomatic missions. with a book. and a significant threat to Florence. Here we see one of the career might have revived under Niccolò Machiavelli sources for Machiavelli’s famous the rule of the Medicis. He decided to present the head of the de’ Medici family in Florence. Machiavelli was fired for a people accustomed republican views—was impressed from his political office and exiled to live under a prince to by his vigor. and imprisoned. The Prince differed markedly travelling between various cities his cunning. Lorenzo. Machiavelli was released from prison within a month. Giuliano. the republic flourished under his guidance. By the time it was ready Giuliano had died. The book was of a type popular at the time: advice to a prince. and he was tortured. and Borgia. trying to France and the papacy led to resolute setting aside of Christian shore up the struggling republic. the Medicis returned. Florence fighting with the French morality. and to his farm in Florence. Machiavelli sets out his argument that the goals of a ruler was weak in the face of their armies. and what was in effect a tyranny Although Cesare was Florence’s under Cardinal de’ Medici was How difficult it is enemy.

Christian Part of Machiavelli’s point is to rebellion. and that it It must be understood that a prince cannot observe all those things which are considered good in men. morality. This might involve the modern notion of moral virtue. The Latin root The main means to be avoided citizens of the state is not at all the of virtù also relates it to manliness consist of those that would make same as that of the prince. But Machiavelli to achieve general social order.106 NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI give ruthlessly practical advice to a sometimes virtù is used to mean prince to be feared than to be prince and. Christian morality as being weak himself and to the state—where though it is more important for a and unsuitable for a strong city. But even (as in “virile”). Machiavelli what Machiavelli has to say in may love him. as the healing powers of plants or certain means that a wise prince In cases where Machiavelli minerals. medieval notion of virtues as the does not argue that the end justifies which benefits more people in powers or functions of things. Also. a prince who values should be cast aside if they that a ruler cannot be bound by mistreats his people unnecessarily got in the way. hate him. . Perhaps the most important is the disparity between the ideas it contains and those expressed in his other main work. Machiavelli is writing must avoid. and achieve the desired ends. to princes. In the Discourses Machiavelli argues that a republic is the ideal regime. Machiavelli’s own views. they may fear him— generally disdains conventional its application both to the prince preferably both. on the notion of virtù. as his experience with “success”. for this is likely to lead cardinals had shown him. this rule applies only these were the powers and functions him open to future dangers. The proper conduct of that concerned rule. but this is not success of the state over which he not for cruelty. and must imitate the qualities The Prince does not represent of the fox as well as the lion. for though they might does think that the end justifies about the virtues of princes. rules—an approach that became harsh punishment of a few in order It shares more similarities with the known as realism. A ruler must have the A ruler must have the Niccolò Machiavelli ferocity of the lion to cunning of the fox frighten those who seek to recognize snares to depose him. They for ordinary citizens. but must do what it takes will be despised—a prince should Machiavelli’s approach centers to secure his own glory and the have a reputation for compassion. and traps. Machiavelli says in The There are reasons to suspect that Prince. they lay the means. Machiavelli says. But the people must not extremely successful popes and that is to be admired and imitated. and describes a state loved. Prince or republic A ruler needs to know how to act like a beast. and this feeds into the people hate their prince. There are the long run. such the means in all cases. Discourses on the Ten Books of Titus Livy.

without achieving his By 1498. the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini used a mixture of fear and princedom is only suitable when love to hold on to power in Italy. after though. the language of the people. However. equality does not exist in a state. it can be argued that The Prince represents Machiavelli’s genuine ideas about how the ruler should rule in such cases. However. it could own beliefs. become a politician and diplomat of the Florentine Republic. Machiavelli had ambition to return to public life. The Prince at times reads also dedicated the Discourses to divide them according to how well satirically. contents with caution. the language of the elite. he and which are not. as though the audience members of Florence’s republican they fit with the intended reader’s is expected to conclude: “if that is government. believe that Florence was in such Bertrand Russell political turmoil that it needed a strong ruler to get it into shape. Machiavelli. however. Moreover. book was finished in 1525. contains Machiavelli was attempting satire. as well Books of Titus Livy . Little is known of the first to the political arena. and cannot be introduced. From his writings. purpose of this small. Machiavelli did like that of Machiavelli. be argued. such as the republicans. not the ruling elite. but that is unlikely to how a good prince should behave. it is clear that he received the cardinal had become Pope a good education. but is another reason to treat its which parts are his actual beliefs in Italian. in 1527. we should at all costs avoid being what the dedicatee wanted to read. then the have genuinely believed. Eventually 28 years of his life. It is tempting to Certainly. A 20th century. the first direct de’ Medici commissioned him to evidence is a business letter write a history of Florence. he devoted himself to 1517 Discourses on the Ten various literary activities. After Key works his enforced retirement on the return of the Medicis to Florence 1513 The Prince in 1512. Machiavelli died University of Florence. It has also been suggested that ruled by one!” If Machiavelli was The Prince. In the exists or can be established. it is best that they be ruled as well as The world has become more possible. The written in 1497. if princedoms are sometimes a necessary evil. and Cardinal Giulio father’s diary. ■ Niccolò Machiavelli Machiavelli was born in Florence as persistent attempts to return in 1469. perhaps at the Clement VII. deceptively the need for a citizens’ militia This idea is supported by the fact simple book is far more intriguing rather than reliance on mercenaries. apart from a he regained the trust of the few inconclusive mentions in his Medicis. that Machiavelli did not write it in than one might originally assume. also satirizing the idea that “the much that Machiavelli is thought to and his real intended audience was end justifies the means”. RENAISSANCE AND THE AGE OF REASON 107 should be instituted whenever a Ruthlessness has been a virtue of reasonable degree of equality leadership throughout history. Pleasing the readers The fact that The Prince was written by Machiavelli in order to ingratiate himself with the Medicis The problem lies in discerning Latin. would have written give an accurate result.

He . benefit from them—but we will not Late 19th century Friedrich become emotionally enslaved to Nietzsche describes solitude them. or devastated if we lose them. resist the temptation to mindlessly argues that to be virtuous. Montaigne never be bedfellows. tranquillity can glory as a worthy goal. or claims can alone free humans fame. but 4th century BCE Aristotle. “On Solitude” then considers as necessary to the task of how our desire for mass approval self-examination. but he does not conclude Late 18th century Anglican that we should relinquish either. Montaigne takes up a BRANCH upon detachment theme that has been popular since Ethics from the opinion of others. ancient times: the intellectual and APPROACH moral dangers of living among Humanism others.” reach detachment. only a bestial man or to being overly attached to material a god can flourish alone. Both passions diminish us. By doing so. “Solitude shows If we seek fame detachment from them. Montaigne AFTER claims. He compares our desire form close relationships with others—we must seek for the approval of our fellow humans their good opinion. believes that constant striving for fame is the greatest barrier to peace of mind. and the value of solitude. wealth and possessions. rather of developing the ability to in his Nicomachean Ethics. a If we seek fame—which fall in with the opinion and actions person must be sociable and is glory in the eyes of of the mob. who see thoughtlessly follow the mob. which he is linked to the pursuit of glory. society we cannot we may enjoy them—and even shows us what we are.108 FAME AND TRANQUILLITY CAN NEVER BE BEDFELLOWS MICHEL DE MONTAIGNE (1533–1592) I n his essay “On Solitude” IN CONTEXT (from the first volume of his Tranquillity depends Essays). evangelical clergyman Richard only that we should cultivate a Cecil states. others. us what we should be. Montaigne is not stressing the BEFORE importance of physical solitude. or tranquility. Contrary to thinkers such from the temptation just to Fame and as Niccolò Machiavelli.

He also points peasant family until the age constantly with us.” we lose our reason. French was effectively manner. and often a long way was sent to live with a poor truly great and noble being is ahead. their souls. on inheriting the family estates. He would hide their failings. (3 volumes) Bartholomew Day Massacre of 1572. Montaigne is not concerned with whether or not we achieve Glory’s pitfalls glory. he us. merely teaches them never received all his education at this. and was allowed to and objectively and behave in a an approving audience is on hand.” he writes. their wills. he also set out must either imitate the on an extensive tour of Europe. speak only Latin until the age more thoughtful and rational ready and eager to bear witness to of six. Key works 1569 In Defence of Montaigne experienced the results Raymond Sebond of mindless mob violence during the 1580–1581 Travel Journal French Wars of Religion (1562–98). RENAISSANCE AND THE AGE OF REASON 109 See also: Aristotle 56–63 ■ Niccolò Machiavelli 102–07 ■ Friedrich Nietzsche 214–21 says of those who present glory as a of those around us will corrupt us. His point is that we should Montaigne returns to his attack shake off the desire for glory in the on the pursuit of glory in his later eyes of other people—that we writings. are consumed by hatred for them that more engaged with it than ever. By doing does. He returned to politics in 1581. 1595 Essays including the atrocities of the St. vicious or hate them. pointing out that the should not always think of other acquisition of glory is often so Michel de Montaigne people’s approval and admiration much a matter of mere chance as being valuable. desirable goal that they “only have either because we end up imitating their arms and legs out of the those who are evil. when he was elected Mayor of Bordeaux. However. a being and political leaders to value glory familiar with the life led by in whose presence even the mad above all things. . 1588. In 1580. or become so crowd. 1580. we will learn to think clearly to attempt any endeavor unless home. Montaigne claims that the remarkable nature of their his second language. we should imagine that some of merit. ■ From 1557. You 1592. “Many times I’ve was born and brought up in his wealthy family’s chateau for the approbation of those around seen [fortune] stepping out ahead near Bordeaux. Montaigne spent 13 years as a member of his local parliament. He goes on to that it makes little sense to hold it Michel Eyquem de Montaigne recommend that instead of looking in such reverence. an office he held until 1585. but resigned in 1571. partly to seek a cure for kidney Michel de Montaigne stones. as Machiavelli the ordinary workers. Montaigne published his first volume of Essays in 1580. caring too much about the opinion powers and achievements. going on to write two more Contagion is very volumes before his death in dangerous in crowds. able to observe out that encouraging statesmen of three. so that he would be our most private thoughts.

1934 Karl Popper states that falsification. and Isaac Newton. There had already been some had complained that the Church 13th century English scholars innovative work by Renaissance had been too lax in countering scientists such as the astronomer scientific challenges to accounts Robert Grosseteste and Roger Nicolaus Copernicus and the of the world based on the Bible. reformers. APPROACH must come ultimately from sensory Although the Church had been Empiricism experience. Several religious reasoning at the center of scientific approach to knowledge. BRANCH empiricism. which is characterized William Harvey. AFTER 1739 David Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature argues It advances steadily and against the rationality of Scientific knowledge cumulatively. Bacon add experimentation to anatomist Andreas Vesalius. power. but In response. He was born at a time broadly welcoming to science for when there was a shift from the much of the medieval period. builds upon itself. this BEFORE Renaissance preoccupation with was halted by the rise of opposition 4th century BCE Aristotle the rediscovered achievements of to the Vatican’s authority during sets observation and inductive the ancient world toward a more the Renaissance. could not be done. discovering inductive thinking.110 KNOWLEDGE IS POWER FRANCIS BACON (1561–1626) B acon is often credited with the Scientific Revolution—produced IN CONTEXT being the first in a tradition an astonishing number of scientific of thought known as British thinkers. new laws and making new inventions possible. the Catholic Church. Robert Boyle. not induction. scientific thinking. Aristotle’s inductive approach this new period—sometimes called which had already lost adherents to to scientific knowledge. Philosophy of science by the view that all knowledge Robert Hooke. 1843 John Stuart Mill’s System of Logic outlines the five inductive principles that together regulate the sciences. such as Martin Luther. Knowledge is It enables people to do things that otherwise defines the scientific method. . including Galileo Galilei.

He was. stresses this transforming role for scientific progress. as metals not expanding when Earl of Essex held back his But he also argues that science they are heated. This 1598 formulating laws of ever-increasing Cambridge. and the “idols of the theater”. RENAISSANCE AND THE AGE OF REASON 111 See also: Aristotle 56–63 ■ Robert Grosseteste 333 ■ David Hume 148–53 ■ John Stuart Mill 190–93 ■ Karl Popper 262–65 preconceptions on nature rather than to see what is really there. contracted while stuffing a chicken with been ignored. but this approach. in favor of a focus on snow. political career until the must be separated from religion. He proposes a scientific After graduation. however. Bacon the imaginative leaps that drive all convicted of accepting bribes. but his Bacon claims to accept the look for negative instances—such friendship with the treasonous teachings of the Christian Church. but was dismissed that it can be used to improve the for neglecting the importance of two years later. the “idols of the marketplace”. when he was quality of people’s lives. was regarded increasingly as the key to knowledge advancement of science depends on being sent to Trinity College. method that includes a variation of training as a lawyer. in order to make the acquisition of on practical experimentation in In 1618. Key works he calls collectively the “idols of Francis Bacon 1597 Essays the mind.” These are the “idols of 1605 The Advancement the tribe”. must battle against all these handicaps to gain knowledge of the world. a series of observations. Francis Bacon Scientific method Born in London. from the 16th century onward. so science. hampered the expand. test a new theory by going on to parliament in 1584. and then concluding 1579 left him impoverished. our tendency to let social conventions distort our experience. This when heated. not religion. the “idols of the cave”. ■ Bacon spent the rest of his science. The scientist. Instead of making abandoned his studies to Luther’s new form of Christianity. as part of an experiment academic and personal glory. according to Bacon. from both sides of the that heat must cause all metals to legal profession. 1624 Nova Atlantis the human tendency to impose . he was appointed Lord knowledge quicker and easier. He died human existence had previously from bronchitis. he started astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546–1601). Bacon’s influence led to a focus accession of James I in 1603. One of his complaints is life writing and carrying out that science’s ability to enhance his scientific work. he stresses the need to Bacon was elected to development of the sciences. forcing him to return to the opposition. Francis Bacon Bacon goes on to argue that the was educated privately. criticized Chancellor. the distorting influence of prevailing philosophical and scientific dogma. print depicts the observatory of Danish generality. Bacon presents a list of the psychological barriers to pursuing By far the best proof scientific knowledge in terms that is experience. at the age of 12. before Science. the tendency of human of Learning beings as a species (or “tribe”) to 1620 Novum Organum generalize. such as take up a diplomatic post in changed its stance and turned instances of metals that expand France. religious divide. in food preservation. His father’s death in against scientific endeavor.

including humans. The kind of metaphysical theory that Hobbes favors was becoming increasingly popular at the time of his writing. According to Hobbes. 1641 René Descartes publishes his Meditations on First Philosophy.” A lthough he is best known for his political philosophy. or for supernatural beings. Thomas Hobbes wrote on a wide range of subjects. such as the mind. all animals. 1949 Gilbert Ryle states that Descartes’ idea that mind and body are separate “substances” is a “category mistake. in the mid-17th century. AFTER 1748 Julien Offray de la Mettrie’s The Man Machine presents a mechanistic view of human beings.112 IN CONTEXT MAN IS A BRANCH Metaphysics APPROACH MACHINE Physicalism BEFORE 4th century BCE Aristotle disagrees with Plato’s theory of a distinct human soul and THOMAS HOBBES (1588–1679) argues that the soul is a form or function of the body. arguing that mind and body are completely different and distinct entities. not least his defence of physicalism—the theory that everything in the world is exclusively physical in nature. Many of his views are controversial. Knowledge in the physical sciences . are nothing more than flesh-and-blood machines. allowing no room for the existence of other natural entities.

Thomas Man is a Hobbes was fortunately taken being is therefore machine. and had been everything is purely physical. believed there was no limit to what that made him famous. are Civil War. whose thinking had helped this physicality everything can be and René Descartes. In 1640. of the universe. science could achieve. A degree from the University of Oxford earned him the post of tutor to the sons of the Earl of Devonshire. Hobbes had met “that which is not body is no part scientists and thinkers. RENAISSANCE AND THE AGE OF REASON 113 See also: Aristotle 56–63 ■ Francis Bacon 110–11 ■ René Descartes 116–23 ■ Julien Offray de la Mettrie 335 ■ Gilbert Ryle 337 Nothing without So everything in the substance can exist. Hobbes proclaims: “The 1656 De Corpore universe—that is. His first book. Hobbes fled to to revolutionize scientific practice. objects. Pierre Gassendi. This job gave was growing rapidly.” He goes on to Hobbes the opportunity to clearer explanations of phenomena say that each of these bodies has travel widely throughout that had long been obscure or “length.” Although Hobbes as the Italian astronomer frequently regarded as the “father is stating that the nature of Galileo Galilei as well as the of modern science”. Hobbes declares. and depth”. such the Italian astronomer Galileo. body. Bacon. politics. formulated explanation. taking it as Also respected as a skilled a matter of fact that any question translator and mathematician. he state. But it was his ideas on apparent contradictions between calls “spirits. he French philosophers Marin closely associated with Francis is not claiming that because of Mersenne. These. in by a wealthy uncle. set out in Leviathan. In common with functions of society and the many thinkers of his time. his major political 1651 Leviathan work. the whole mass 1658 De Homine of things that are—is corporeal. Some bodies or France to escape the English In science and mathematics. universe is physical. was published in Paris in that had sought to reconcile the physical dimensions. bringing that is to say. Thomas Hobbes A human Orphaned in infancy.” Some of them. staying there for Hobbes saw the perfect counter to imperceptible. breadth. and the reason and faith. entirely physical. . a motion of limbs. perceived by us. and Europe. Thomas Hobbes Key works Hobbes’ theory 1642 De Cive In Leviathan. even though they 11 years. De the medieval Scholastic philosophy occupy physical space and have Cive. where he met noted misunderstood. he 1642. who offered him a good education. ❯❯ morality. about the nature of the world could Hobbes continued to write until be answered with a scientifically Life is but his death at the age of 91.

activity. such as angels. the divine nature of God’s general and rather sketchy account heart. will remain Chalmers calls “the hard problem of . unknowable substance of God. but so many the human mind is capable of fully eventually reveal to be the case. he only covers the but so many wheels. and that physicalist philosophers have been offering variants of this approach for centuries. not science. “incorporeal” is the only one that mental activities such as voluntary giving motion to the recognizes and also honors the motion. However. first-person experience of consciousness remains unsolved by them. but a spring. that he is the first cause. the harder problem of explaining the nature of subjective.114 THOMAS HOBBES Hobbes believed that “spirits” carried information needed to function around the body. or creator. does not seem to be aware of. the nervous system doing. makes no attempt to give an but not other physical spirits. He he does state that God himself. carrying with them and offers very little argument for his passing on information.” Chalmers points out that certain functions of consciousness—such as the use of language and the processing of information—can be explained relatively easily in terms of the mechanisms that perform those functions. and other—something that Hobbes and especially human. in much What is consciousness? conviction that everything in the the same way as we now think of Because Hobbes considers that world. should account of how the mind can be be described as “incorporeal.” For explained. however. human beings are purely physical. These animal spirits move around of everything in the universe. Hobbes’ account of his belief the body. he is then to God and other entities found in faced with the problem of how to religion. There seems to be a built-in mismatch between the objects of the physical sciences labelled “animal spirits” (in line beyond our comprehension. He appears not Sometimes. Hobbes seems to and are therefore no more than to notice that his grounds for the apply his concept of physical spirits biological machines. and the joints. in particular. However. Hobbes has nothing nature of all religious entities are to say about what the modern-day matters for faith. therefore the term Even then. about God is that he exists. consciousness. All it is on the one hand and the subjects with a common view at the time) possible for human beings to know of conscious experience on the are responsible for most animal. travelling along the neurons of the nervous system. account for our mental nature. is wholly physical. and aversion—all whole body. He simply offers a For what is the Hobbes. appetite. understanding. and attributes is not something that of what he thought science would the nerves. strings. We now know that this is done by electrical signals. and explained from a mechanistic Thomas Hobbes that he believes the existence and point of view. and Australian philosopher David that God. including human beings. phenomena that can be studied Hobbes does make clear.

so what Hobbes appears to present as an While Hobbes was formulating his mechanistic ideas. with the spirit of an age that was utterly distinct sorts of substance. in fact depends upon his inaccurate To most people. In addition. But his mechanistic Descartes argues for the “Real For example. As Hobbes’ definition of physical other motion. as well as those Hobbes makes no comment on this in the world can be explained in concerned with the substance and distinction. his theories about the theories about the nature of our Distinction” between mind and nature of the world would rule out world were very much in keeping body—the notion that they are the science of sub-atomic physics. However. If it was meant to be simply Descartes’ dualism anything that had three spatial Hobbes also had to contend with dimensions. Hobbes’ insistence that everything and social order. thoughts. because things existing at all. and concept. ■ seems to be a muddled form of part of Descartes’ argument. might regard as being “physical. principle. and that there with a mental than with a physical is no possibility of incorporeal Besides sense. and the train Hobbes’ material spirits can only of thoughts. 14 years later. . prevailing views on human nature that he expressed at the time. a belief in nonmaterial substances. they fail to offer any assistance spirits indicates. then he would be the very different thinking about excluding much of what we. It was this revolution in a passage in his book De Corpore. at mind and body that Descartes set the beginning of the 21st century. something being assumption that the only form of imperceptible is more consistent substance is body. Hobbes takes it to mean “a body without body”. this definition must be based upon his own view that all substances are bodies. unphilosophical—prejudice against out in his Meditations of 1641. physical terms begins to look less workings of the universe that we he addressed the problem again in and less like a statement of scientific inhabit. it starts to appear thinking that laid the foundations presenting and criticizing what to be merely an unscientific—and of our modern world. Instead. it is ultimately Thomas Hobbes toward an explanation of the unclear exactly what he took mental nature of human beings.” the mental. However. the mind ever possess the same properties A simple prejudice of man has no as other types of physical thing. scientists such as the physician William Harvey were using empirical techniques to explore the workings of the human body. Here he rejects the conclusion Descartes came to—that mind and body are two distinct substances—on the basis that Descartes’ use of the phrase “incorporeal substance” is an example of insignificant or empty language. RENAISSANCE AND THE AGE OF REASON 115 existence of imperceptible material argument for his position that spirits could equally be grounds for there can be no incorporeal minds. In the absence of any truly clear to radically challenge most of the In objections to Descartes’ ideas notion of what his key term means. “physical” or “corporeal” to mean. which appears to be nonsense.



as his work has Descartes’ book De Homine Figuris and starting point of his takes a biological look at the causes become known. In it. Immanuel Kant argues this view continued to exert an against Descartes. this itself proves and understanding of the world. The perform any action. rid the sciences of the annoyance the pineal gland is the link between of skepticism once and for all. I cannot be things that are false. Descartes that we perform it. considered the practical applications of scientific discoveries to be their c. an era on metaphysics (the study of being Epistemology of rapid advances in the sciences. because if he the project of extending knowledge is mistaken. wrong about this. An evil demon may There is nothing But when I say “I am. and in shared his excitement and optimism. and his methodologies foundation for the sciences.118 RENE DESCARTES R ené Descartes lived in the In the Meditations on First IN CONTEXT early 17th century. be certain. this way we are conscious but for different reasons. his existence—in order to be During the Renaissance—the mistaken. one must exist. he seeks to demonstrate new method for conducting scientific the possibility of knowledge even BEFORE experiments.420 CE St. and Reason. only if I really do exist. during Philosophy. Descartes’ most a period sometimes called accomplished and rigorous work BRANCH the Scientific Revolution. vision and conscious action. Bacon that we exist. including had provided a new framework for thinking. So a the First Certainty—“I think major motivation of his “project of therefore I exist”—as the heart pure enquiry”. be making me believe of which I can I exist”. whereas in The City of God that he is Descartes was more fascinated by certain he exists. was the desire to of knowledge. to establish a firm argues that whenever we reasoning. he suggests that idealist philosophy. and reality) and epistemology (the APPROACH The British scientist and philosopher study of the nature and limits of Rationalism Francis Bacon had established a knowledge). we are conscious investigating the world. try to make me believe this therefore I exist. 4th century BCE Aristotle observations and deductive and from this. An evil demon could I am thinking. but adopts influence in Descartes’ time. preceding historical era—people AFTER had become more skeptical about 1781 In his Critique of Pure science and the possibility of genuine knowledge in general. based on detailed from the most skeptical of positions. . Augustine writes whole purpose and point.

marks of knowledge. But even so. even if we start from the strongest possible skeptical position. Descartes thinks In order to establish that his beliefs we must accept nothing as true or given. in which the God. could be you doubt. thinking as mathematical axioms. he says. Even person’s understanding rather than though we believe that God is presenting it already packaged and good. Descartes’ aim is to show that. because the Socratic method. Augustine of Hippo 72–73 ■ Thomas Hobbes 112–15 ■ Blaise Pascal 124–25 ■ Benedictus Spinoza 126–29 ■ John Locke 130–33 ■ Gottfried Leibniz 134–37 ■ Immanuel Kant 164–71 Meditations is written in the first. which instead strip away all preconceptions before we can Descartes takes to be two important proceed to a position of knowledge. and so we cannot rely on them as a sure footing for .” Descartes starts by subjecting his beliefs to a series of increasingly rigorous skeptical arguments. and used only as a philosophical tool. he uses what is known as “the method of doubt. such at least once in your life standpoint of the meditator. but must have stability and endurance. Could it be that the world we know is just an illusion? We cannot trust our senses. truth just as Descartes had done. knowledge. But even these “truths” René Descartes This approach is reminiscent of might not in fact be true. we person form—“I think…”—because are dreaming. senses. It is necessary that he himself has taken. we can still reach knowledge. could philosopher gradually draws out a deceive us even at this level. Perhaps. and the apparently he is not presenting arguments in real world is no more than a dream order to prove or disprove certain world. all things. In this way this situation would leave open the the reader is forced to adopt the possibility that some truths. An optical illusion of parallel lines that are made The illusory world to look bent can fool our senses. who is all-powerful. He notes that this is possible. as far as things through and discovering the known. as Descartes points out: “no sane person has ever seriously doubted these things. statements. but instead wishes to as there are no sure signs between lead the reader along the path that being awake or asleep. though not through the possible. as we have all been “deceived” by them at one time or another. The doubt is “hyperbolic” (exaggerated).” This starts with the meditator setting aside any belief whose truth can be doubted. RENAISSANCE AND THE AGE OF REASON 119 See also: Aristotle 56–63 ■ St. questioning how we can be sure of the existence of anything at all. it is possible that he made ❯❯ ready to take away. doubting everything. whether slightly or completely.

Descartes wants the are even more likely to be imperfect solid ground on which to stand. his own existence. Despite Descartes’ move to a to help him to avoid slipping back clearer expression of his position. how can he doubt his existence unless he exists in order to do the doubting? This axiom—“I am. and to this day the First him about anything. humankind about everything cannot making me believe this even In his earlier work. unable true. this only confirms it. When Descartes tries to apply the evil demon test to this belief. the belief as open to doubt. so he has no conclusion. René Descartes think or say: “I am. but he own existence. and while we are thinking or saying it we cannot be wrong about it. he presented it tries. When he he surely cannot doubt: his belief in Certainty is generally known as finds himself considering a belief. Descartes then devises a vivid tool back to knowledge and truth. I exist”. Skepticism The realization that I exist is a which there seems to be nothing seems to have made it impossible direct intuition. for him even to begin his journey of an argument. it seems as though he wrote the Meditations. he realizes that the demon could only make him believe that he exists if he does in fact exist. I exist”— An evil demon capable of deceiving he can ask: “Could the demon be forms Descartes’ First Certainty. I know it to be deceived all the time. not the conclusion at all of which he can be certain. from the Latin cogito . and I am forced to question my answer is “yes” he must set aside as: “I think therefore I am”. abandoned this wording when At this point. the Discourse make me doubt my existence. if he though it was false?” and if the on the Method. Having reached a position in to find his footing. Or perhaps impossible position—nothing statement read like a premise and there is no God—in which case we seems beyond doubt. into preconceived opinion: he The First Certainty the earlier formulation was so supposes that there is a powerful It is at this point that Descartes catchy that it stuck in people’s and evil demon who can deceive realizes that there is one belief that minds. whirlpool of universal doubt. reader—the meditating “I”—to beings (having arisen only by He describes himself as feeling realize that as soon as I consider chance) that are capable of being helplessly tumbled around by a the fact that I exist.120 RENE DESCARTES I shall suppose that some malicious demon of the utmost power and cunning has employed all his energies in order to deceive me. as the us in such a way that we are prone Descartes has put himself into an inclusion of “therefore” makes the to errors in our reasoning. This truth is instantly grasped. Each of us can “the cogito”.

be thinking. RENAISSANCE AND THE AGE OF REASON 121 What use. meaning that if he did not the foundation of his epistemology. He cannot prove the existence of his body or of the external world. I to his project of enquiry. It is crucial as he has no way of knowing what he said: “For if I am mistaken. something that he use of this in his thinking. is a single belief? Descartes realizes that we might The simplest logical argument is a also be able to gain knowledge syllogism. for by me or conceived belief. looking to reach these kinds of to doubt that I am thinking is to René Descartes conclusions from his First Certainty. but it is not more he might be. though. then he—and every immovable point in order to shift other meditator—also knows the entire Earth. certainty of his own existence gives Descartes makes clear. This is and a conclusion—such as: all because the knowledge that I am birds have wings. physical thing that also has the exist. So I exist. he could not be mistaken. therefore all robins have wings. As Descartes now As he explained: “Archimedes knows that he exists and that he used to demand just one firm and is thinking.” For Descartes. thinking is bound up with the This proposition. ability to think. or he might be Augustine. meditations he knows only that ❯❯ KI N G ? The only question that Descartes is definitely H AVE A BO HI N I DY IT DO able to answer using his method of doubt is whether ? AM he is thinking. and Despite the fact that the First has not even conceived yet. IS THERE AN OUTSIDE WORLD? . which has two premises from the certainty itself. him the equivalent. however. He is therefore I am. Augustine of him a firm foothold. He might be a exist”.” St. so in my mind. when skepticism to knowledge. The certainly did not reach it in the Certainty’s main function is to point is that at this stage of his way that Descartes did. made little What is this “I”? something else. gives from the First Certainty. is necessarily true surely cannot get anywhere from “thinking” is also something that whenever it is put forward the starting point of just one true I cannot rationally doubt. meaning “I think from that whirlpool of doubt. it saves him that this is as far as he can reason ergo sum. We knowledge of my existence. though. and so allows certainly not entitled to say that he Hippo had used a very similar him to start on the journey back from is only a thinking thing—a mind— argument in The City of God. a robin is a bird. provide a firm footing for knowledge. the that he is a thinking thing. I am. But Descartes was not doubting is a kind of thinking.

During this time he found his philosophical calling. as we have approach to skepticism is doomed a particular way. I exist. anything beyond the thoughts? On in order for reason to be possible René Descartes the other hand. he knows only that he is. and Descartes’ project fails target of criticism from many be impossible. Doubting Descartes of thoughts floating around with For this reason nothing can follow This First Certainty has been the no thinker is that reasoning would from it. Descartes it. And since he is a thinking thing. if seen. From the age Swedish climate—caused him of 16 he concentrated on studying to contract pneumonia. if one were to disagree. solid ground he needed. Descartes would not be denied that Descartes’ certainty of Meditations. as he puts However. The problem with this notion it is simply pointing at the subject. breaking off his he died a year later. In order to reason. where he spent 1644 Principles of Philosophy most of the rest of his life. Due to ill-health. at the beginning. and Descartes anything other than a thinker argues that it is impossible to (for example.122 RENE DESCARTES from the start. to a place or to a conceive of such a state of affairs. For example. how does he can conclude that “Socrates is ‘I am thinking. The existence of exist” has no content. He believed the mornings. France. cannot be wrong in saying that But if Paula has both thoughts. This seems to writers who hold that Descartes’ it is necessary to relate ideas in miss Descartes’ point. of the mind. the strict sense only” a thinking with no thinkers is genuinely Some modern philosophers have thing. One of the main Patrick has the thought “all men arguments against it takes issue are mortal” and Patricia has the with the very use of the term “I” in thought “Socrates is a man”. and he formed the that this new regime—and the habit of meditating. of which mathematics. they argue that “I different sorts of thing—that they First Certainty. In 1649 1662 De Homine Fuguris . “I am. much against allowed to stay in bed until late in his normal practice. she When someone says thinking is occurring. therefore know that there is “a thinker”—a mortal. making thoughts relative to coherent thoughts. in philosophy. Later. he was get up very early. It turns out that It is difficult to imagine detached. his own existence can do the job he argument that mind and body are and would thus fail to reach his requires of it.” Although Descartes neither can conclude anything. and was educated Queen Christina to discuss at the Jesuit Collège Royale. he recognizes single. can we make sense we need to make these thoughts of the notion of thoughts floating relative to one another. as it merely are distinct substances—but he is thoughts would not give him the refers to its subject but says nothing not yet in a position to do so. 1637 Discourse on the Method and after leaving the army.” Merely having the thoughts I am’. “in and believe that a world of thoughts can conclude that there is a thinker. studies for four years to volunteer as a soldier in Europe’s Thirty Key works Years War. in the sixth book of the possible. he 1641 Meditations on First settled first in Paris and then in Philosophy the Netherlands. he was expected to La Flèche. to link them around without a thinker? in the right way. he does not use the First René Descartes René Descartes was born near he was invited to Sweden by Tours. Descartes presents an entitled to the belief that he exists. time) fails to do the job. reasoning is possible. meaningful or important about it. unified consciousness doing “all men are mortal” and “Socrates it as something self-evident that thinking? What gives him the is a man” floating around is like by a simple intuition right to assert the existence of two separate people having them.

and the reasons for premise is not actually stated in an Descartes’ use of the “I” throughout argument. premise is not at all obvious. a logical argument. became Descartes to have been offering world. so it is not true that anything foundation for knowledge. but it is Modern philosophy In the “Preface to the Reader” of the Meditations. but he also (the body) and the other immaterial from the whirlpool of doubt. RENAISSANCE AND THE AGE OF REASON 123 Certainty as a premise from which also clearly true that he did not and to establish a firm. example. Why. in this he was much mistaken. I might be unsure whether Hamlet But some of Descartes’ critics was thinking. then he has an escape fictional world of a play. we prove that a robot is not conscious? .” On before we set about the other hand. is not enough to prove Thomas Hobbes. this person exists in the real world. knowledge human reason but merely try to carp at individual is capable of attaining. he did not capable of interaction. Descartes accurately predicted that many readers would approach his work in such a way that most would “not bother to grasp We ought to enquire the proper order of my arguments as to what sort of and the connection between them. Benedictus that is. complain that this suppressed in a fictional world or the real world. he also wrote that acquiring knowledge “I do not expect any popular approval. Hamlet. Knowing that something or who took as their main task the inference “I am thinking. sentences. though. the apparent world. in so (the mind)—which are nonetheless far as he did not exist. we should have to know dominated by philosophers who had been offering an argument? that he was thinking in the real either developed his ideas or those As it stands. and therefore existed. therefore I someone—like Descartes—is refutation of his thoughts. such as exist” is missing a major premise. also well known for proposing that him to point to. But Descartes’ critics might known as Cartesian dualism. rational to derive further knowledge—all exist. or indeed any wide audience”. and of things in particular. not than this—does not assure us that perhaps his most important legacy. which he explains in For those who have misunderstood and thinking are linked to the same the Sixth Meditation. The answer to this dilemma lies such as “anything that is thinking in the first-person nature of the exists. He René Descartes is often described as the father of The separation of mind and body modern philosophy. he thought in the distinct substances—one material meditator. in which case it is now becomes clear. For I cannot be unsure about myself. This famous An unreal thinker exist in the real world. So even if “I exist” We might say that in so far as the mind and the body are two only succeeds in pointing to the Hamlet thought. point: knowing that someone called Descartes’ thought and his rejection we can point out that the First Hamlet was thinking—and no more of any reliance on authority that are Certainty is a direct intuition. thought a great deal. He sought to theorized by Descartes leaves open the give philosophy the certainty of following question: since all we can see mathematics without recourse to of ourselves is our bodies. Because while known as a suppressed premise. in order for the argument to their reality in this world. thinking. ■ work it needs another premise. Spinoza.” Sometimes an obvious Meditations. in Shakespeare’s play. it is the rigor of thinking to the fact of his existence. an argument from the fact of his respond that that is precisely the However. as is the fashion. existed in that fictional world. The centuries after his death were would it be a problem if Descartes for that. His “reality” distinction. He is he needs is that there be a self for that thinks exists. and Gottfried Leibniz. how could any kind of dogma or authority.

Rather. being concerned merely to set down his thoughts on the matter. we tend to that “nothing we imagine is happiness where it does not absolutely impossible.” claims. us astray. and though it usually leads to falsehood. For example. 1641 René Descartes claims But it can lead either to Pascal’s point is that imagination that the philosopher must truths or falsehoods. He “the soul never thinks without offers little or no argument for his a mental image. David Hume argues because lawyers and doctors dress We may see beauty.” trust them more. is not primarily a Imagination is a philosophical work. if it were always false. IN CONTEXT Pensées. Conversely. . his notes for a projected book on APPROACH Christian theology. is the most powerful force in human train his imagination for the beings. is presented to us. even if he is that we synthesize the talking good sense. “imagination is the process by skeptical writers such as Montaigne. he says. BRANCH powerful force in it is a compilation of fragments from Philosophy of mind human beings. Imagination. incoherent messages from What makes things worse is that. then into concepts. AFTER causes us to trust people despite 1740 In his Treatise of Human what reason tells us. then we could use it as a source of certainty by simply accepting its negation. and one of our chief sources sake of gaining knowledge. which we say that an image In one of the longer fragments. Nature. using Imagination leads imagination occasionally leads to the imagination.124 IMAGINATION DECIDES EVERYTHING BLAISE PASCAL (1623–1662) P ascal’s best-known book.350 BCE Aristotle says that of free thinking encouraged by It can override our reason. we really exist. His ideas were Voluntarism aimed primarily at what he called libertins—ex-Catholics who had BEFORE left religion as a result of the sort c. of error. or up in special clothes.” and that Pascal discusses imagination. pay less attention to someone who 1787 Immanuel Kant claims looks shabby or odd. our senses into images. truth. justice.

with until his death in 1662. we are the famous argument known as constantly tricked by the imagination Pascal’s Wager. to believe in God. He was the son and then to Christianity proper. it might seem that he is chosen is not what they think it is. Ferrand. but Heaven). first to Jansenism 1657 Lettres Provinciales (an approach to Christian teaching 1670 Pensées . He also poor. which is the aim is to show the libertins that greatest thing in the world. France. we can see that his justice. passage that his intention is very they have in fact been misled by different. including the Pensées. Key works Pascal underwent two religious conversions. published his first mathematical In 1660–62 he instituted the paper at the age of 16. leads to error. Pascal writings. and had world’s first public transport invented the first digital calculator service. and it is a good example of “voluntarism”. According to Pascal. then the beauty. not possible to give good rational a great deal (infinite happiness in Blaise Pascal grounds for religious belief. It is more rational. this world)—but betting that God These consist of weighing up exists risks little while gaining a the possible profit and loss of great deal. This view is relevant to one of the most complete notes in the Pensées. RENAISSANCE AND THE AGE OF REASON 125 See also: Aristotle 56–63 ■ Michel de Montaigne 108–09 ■ René Descartes 116–23 ■ David Hume 148–53 ■ Immanuel Kant 164–71 After presenting the case against In the wider context of a work of imagination in some detail. but we can Although they believe that they see from what preceded this have chosen the path of reason. religious belief. Man is but a reed. and happiness. on making a bet on the existence this basis. whom he laid the foundations of probability theory. and especially suddenly ends his discussion of it in light of Pascal’s emphasis on the by writing: “Imagination decides use of reason to bring people to everything: it produces beauty. praising imagination. giving all profits to the by the time he was 18. justice. decision. despite suffering from corresponded with the famous severe ill health from the 1650s mathematician Pierre Fermat. Pascal argues that betting the weakest nature. The wager was into making the wrong judgments— including judgements about people designed to give the libertins a based on how they are dressed. ■ Blaise Pascal Blaise Pascal was born in Clermont. of a government functionary who This led him to abandon his had a keen interest in science and mathematical and scientific mathematics and who educated work in favor of religious Pascal and his two sisters. while only gaining a little tries to offer rational grounds for (a finite sense of independence in wanting to have such beliefs. reason to return to the Church. the idea that belief is a matter of of God. and happiness that it Pascal’s Wager produces will usually be false. As imagination usually the power of the imagination. that was later declared heretical). Pascal accepts that it is that God does not exist risks losing yet he is a thinking reed. Pascal Christian theology.” Out of the life of pleasure that they have context.

126 IN CONTEXT GOD IS THE CAUSE BRANCH Metaphysics OF ALL THINGS.” More . for example. L ike most philosophies of the 17th century. Spinoza’s philosophical system has the notion of “substance” at its heart. smell. size. Donald Davidson. APPROACH Substance monism WHICH ARE IN HIM BEFORE c.1190 Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides invents a demythologized version BENEDICTUS SPINOZA (1632–1677) of religion which later inspires Spinoza. and Thomas Nagel all develop approaches to the philosophy of mind that have similarities to Spinoza’s monist thought. color. prompting the question: what are we referring to when we speak of “the wax”? Since it can change in every way that we can perceive. 16th century Italian scientist Giordano Bruno develops a form of pantheism. who asked “What is it about an object that stays the same when it undergoes change?” Wax. AFTER Late 20th century Philosophers Stuart Hampshire. the wax must also be something beyond its perceptible properties. 1640 René Descartes publishes his Meditations. another of Spinoza’s influences. and texture. can melt and change its shape. and yet still remain “wax”. and for Aristotle this unchanging thing is the wax’s “substance. This concept can be traced back to Aristotle.

For nature alone. Substance as God or nature “nature” (Deus sive natura)—that understanding one would entail For Spinoza. has. . at least.. defining it as that which everything else is in some sense a two—namely. the universe. in understanding its relationship with underlies our experience. only be understood with reference ultimately two kinds of things in and so must be included in any to other concepts. as opposed to “substance dualism”. claims that these two attributes For example. attributes. and so on. In these four ways. then. sees itself under the the other. and its matter. ❯❯ . the attribute of is self-explanatory—or that which part of it. for defined as “mind” and “matter.” one substance. in fact. there can only be one such that we are right to call it “God” or substance. there can. . God “causes” everything. and beings. since there is only one how many attributes substance underlies the world of appearance. the concept “cart” can which claims that there are cannot be explained by each other.process of formation. He does not specify that has properties—or that which he argues. for if there were two..” for substance itself. as opposed to all other which claims that all things are this reason. Spinoza’s position is extension (physicality) and the can be understood by knowing its known as “substance monism”. It provides everything in our universe with its… . generally. Spinoza is also known things that can be known only by ultimately aspects of a single thing. . RENAISSANCE AND THE AGE OF REASON 127 See also: Aristotle 56–63 ■ Moses Maimonides 84–85 ■ René Descartes 116–23 ■ Donald Davidson 338 There is only Everything that This substance is one substance.. which contradicts the can also be known by its various attributes of body and mind. such substance.. Spinoza says Spinoza. As “transport”. but he says that human Spinoza employs “substance” in a be nothing but that substance.. can conceive of similar way. such as “motion”. as an “attribute dualist”. and he their relationships with other things.. its purpose. substance self-explaining thing which.. but it human form. Furthermore. Moreover. attribute of thought (mentality).. substance is anything definition of substance. most commonly complete account of the world. its shape. exists is made of this “God” or “nature.

from Spinoza’s teachings. For in Spinoza’s The things that we experience as This aspect of Spinoza’s theory is system. who argue that of the one substance under the it is little more than atheism by At the level of individual things. Treatise the Ethics. However. in 1632. rocks. and the modification is both a physical Spinoza’s theory. Spinoza’s theory All changes. and the human brain is the same modification of substance Mind and body conceived under the attribute of are one. At the age numerous lucrative teaching of 23 he was excommunicated positions for the sake of his by the synagogue of Portuguese intellectual freedom. In this way. are not what we should call minds. are. the moral man who turned down Netherlands. the world of material things is a substance as conceived under form of God as conceived under one of the attributes. fact modifications of the single accept or to understand. Therefore the Benedictus Spinoza Benedictus (or Baruch) Spinoza Spinoza was a modest. although their panentheism—the view that the part to deal with the question of mentality is very simple and they world is God. another name. than the world. trees—all of these are modifications believe in God). from a change of mood commits him to the view that it is to a change in a candle’s shape. Instead Jews in Amsterdam. and that the for Spinoza. a human mind is a modification of substance conceived under the attribute of thought. 1674—a fate that had already befallen the work of the French Key works philosopher René Descartes. who probably he lived a frugal life in various wished to distance themselves places in the Netherlands. extension. intensely was born in Amsterdam. they are all both physical and theory is in fact much closer to attribute dualism is intended in mental things. Spinoza’s making a living by private Theological-Political Treatise philosophy teaching and as was later attacked by Christian a lens grinder. Tables. which he explains world of mental things is that same thing (in so far as it is conceived fully in Ethics. not only human beings that are that God is the world. but world is God. attributes of thought and extension. Spinoza Benedictus Spinoza avoids any question about the interaction between mind and body: there is no interaction. Each The world is God the attribute of extension. is often referred to form of God as conceived under the under the attribute of extension) as a form of pantheism—the belief attribute of thought. only a one-to-one correspondence. but that God is more how minds and bodies interact. Pantheism is often a single substance that has both everything else too. However. alterations that occur to minds as well as bodies.128 BENEDICTUS SPINOZA and a mental thing (in so far as it is conceived under the attribute of thought). The furore caused him to withhold 1670 Theological-Political publication of his greatest work. criticized by theists (people who mental and physical attributes. In particular. Spinoza’s So. 1677 Ethics . Spinoza’s including human beings. until after his death. He died from theologians and banned in tuberculosis in 1677. the world is not a mass of individual bodies or minds are in difficult for many people either to material and mental stuff—rather.

and then bring it into existence. God. or mineral. However. explanation in God. generating. which the world. This means that God is in that originates in Aristotle’s thing—unlike today’s usage. in common with most the desire for money. and salvation possible—a state of (the bronze. Spinoza’s God does not exist alone before creation. nature be causal? or the purpose for which a thing God. tends to relate to the “efficient” and that the existence and essence These are (using a statue as an or “final” causes only. it cannot be regarded as being the creator of the world in the sense found in the Book of Genesis. Therefore. we should note that exists (the creation of a work of art. vegetable. is the “substance” that underlies reality. then. relationship between a thing’s substance being “self-caused” he to fully appreciate this fact is to parts (its shape or form). and so on). even a rock. that the world is in God. and God is the “immanent” cause of the sense than we do now—a sense provide a complete explanation of a world. different from the God of standard in whom all is Judaeo-Christian theology. or the when Spinoza speaks of God or existence and essence. God as the cause What can Spinoza mean. he make up our world. but the world itself is entirely substance or God. only is it not a person. brings the world into being. is not what First. are attributes of substance. who is greater than all the world’s physical and mental attributes. a material means that it is self-explanatory. all objects. how can the brings a thing into being (the means that all things find their relationship between God and sculpting process). RENAISSANCE AND THE AGE OF REASON 129 According to Spinoza. therefore. definition of four types of cause.” ■ . have a mentality. whether animal. and so on). Spinoza calls a “transitive” cause of Spinoza. the word “cause” in a much richer these together define “cause”. Rather. or that which being the cause of all things. and a final cause. The human mind is part of the infinite intellect of God. has a body Body and mind and a mind. when he says that God is the cause of everything? The one substance is “God or nature”—so even if there is more to God than those modifications of substance that an efficient cause. Not explained. or the matter a thing is made rather than that it is simply self. of the world are explained by God’s example): a formal cause. marble. Benedictus Spinoza Every object in the universe. the world—something external that philosophers before him. For Spinoza. When he talks of God he calls “blessedness. attain the highest state of freedom cause. for Spinoza. Spinoza’s God is clearly Substance is God. Both their bodies and their mentalities are a part of God. uses For Aristotle and Spinoza. one substance or God is more than the world.

1966 Noam Chomsky. Plato argues that we HIS EXPERIENCE remember knowledge from previous lives. sets out his theory of innate grammar. J ohn Locke is traditionally included in the group of philosophers known as the British Empiricists. such as René Descartes.380 BCE In his dialogue. it is possible to acquire knowledge solely through the use of reason. George Berkeley and David Hume. which experience gradually uncovers. The empiricists are generally thought to hold the view that all human knowledge must come directly or indirectly from the experience of the world that we acquire through the use of our senses alone. . Benedictus Spinoza. who hold that in principle. in Cartesian Linguistics. but contains innate. Meno. at least. This contrasts with the thinking of the rationalist philosophers. together with two later philosophers.” AFTER Late 17th century Gottfried Leibniz argues that the mind may seem to be a tabula rasa at birth. Mid-13th century Thomas Aquinas puts forward the JOHN LOCKE (1632–1704) principle that “whatever is in our intellect must have previously been in the senses. underlying knowledge. and Gottfried Leibniz.130 IN CONTEXT NO MAN’S BRANCH Epistemology KNOWLEDGE HERE APPROACH Empiricism CAN GO BEYOND BEFORE c.

there are no truths .. but which. proposing sensory experience. to the best explanation from the Innate ideas However. but that when knowledge of the world ultimately phenomena that would otherwise we die our souls are reincarnated stems from our experience. many later thinkers available evidence) to the facts of The claim that man’s knowledge countered Plato’s theory. such everything in the world is made in his Essay Concerning Human as an equilateral triangle. cannot go beyond his experience that all knowledge cannot be innate Locke sets out to demonstrate that may therefore seem inappropriate. the world with them. This is the theory of innate ideas. dates back to the dawn In fact.there are no universal that are found in ideas found in people of everyone at birth. and the educator later known as abduction (inference is not a teacher but a midwife. or of philosophy. John Locke . These include the as we experience it is corpuscular attributed to Locke. into new bodies and the shock of most notably from scientific enquiry. the division between these up of submicroscopic particles. This ❯❯ . “unforgetting”. when concepts can be.. and that only a limited number of the best explanation of the world or at least an exaggeration. against the theory proposed by the rationalists to explain how knowledge could be accessed without experience. However.. by genuine knowledge is essentially all accept that in practice our their very existence.. independently of anything we may experience. according to which all is often assumed. Corpuscular theory was becoming birth causes us to forget it all. and be difficult or impossible to explain. we shall have little reason to think that they bring many ideas into But this is not borne out by the fact that. and that experience. RENAISSANCE AND THE AGE OF REASON 131 See also: Plato 50–55 ■ Thomas Aquinas 88–95 ■ René Descartes 116–23 ■ Benedictus Spinoza 126–29 ■ Gottfried Leibniz 134–37 ■ George Berkeley 138–41 ■ David Hume 148–53 ■ Noam Chomsky 304–05 Rationalists believe that we are born with some ideas and concepts. that they are “innate. This is the theory that Locke does argue at some length.” If we attentively consider newborn children. The rationalists direct knowledge of. but about by applying a process of reasoning Locke’s view of the physical world. Everything we The concept that human beings know is gained from are born with innate ideas. these can give us knowledge about the nature of the world around us. all cultures at all times... For example. concept of God and also that of a theory. make sense of located within us. Understanding. perfect geometric structure. which we can have no a concept. Locke reaches his distinctive views popular in 17th-century scientific Education is therefore not about concerning the nature of the world thinking and is fundamental to learning new facts. Plato had developed two groups is not as clear-cut as corpuscles.

and so is not must be by nature universal. as Locke human beings possess any kind points out. stating that “they have not the least near contradiction to for example. or tabula rasa.” say that there are truths he believes that we all have an idea Locke.132 JOHN LOCKE type of knowledge. at body of knowledge. they must be universal. we bring nothing to the impossible to recall. René Descartes. declares that although apprehension or thought of them. conveyed to us by our slaves and freemen. In through a process of reasoning. It seems to me a reason and logic. understands not. declares that any imprinted on the soul. he states that it has to have Locke’s objections been present at some point in Locke was against the idea that somebody’s mind. Locke accepts bringing them into consciousness. that an idea may exist so of innate ideas often also argue way that light can create images deep in a person’s memory that that as such ideas are present in on photographic film. as God is not capable of being so unfair as to hand them out only to a select group of people. Locke counters the argument Experience for universal ideas by once again bringing to our attention that a simple examination of the world around us will readily show that Tabula Rasa they do no exist. But. We can then rationalize this in Locke’s time. He argues that there is can be gained without any direct not the slightest empirical evidence sensory experience. of God imprinted in us—like the doctrine supporting the existence which it perceives or mark that a craftsman makes in of innate ideas must be false. Plato. the clay of a pot—this knowledge Locke also goes on to attack John Locke of God’s existence can only be the very notion of innate ideas by brought into our conscious mind arguing that it is incoherent. Theory frequently put forward that because innate ideas can only be placed in us by God. which absolutely every human being in . which means that they are found ability to apply reason to the Innate ideas. before the presence of innate knowledge. senses. denying any birth. in their view. and mathematical formula by using adds that this is also true of the nothing more than the powers of minds of the mentally deficient. as Gottfried Leibniz The supporters of the existence experience writes. claims that everyone potentially has access to the same basic Locke believed the human mind is like a blank canvas. therefore. or between experience. in the way to suggest that the minds of infants that it is possible to devise a are other than blank at birth. a new sheet of paper upon which that it is true. Similarly. According for a time it is difficult or even all human beings at birth. in all human societies at all points information that we gather through are believed to somehow exist in history. or ideas. He takes to be truly innate must also be of any sort of mechanism that is the view that the mind at birth claiming to precede any form of capable of conceiving them and is a tabula rasa—a blank tablet or human experience. they to Locke. Even if there were concepts. our senses. process except the basic human accessible to the conscious mind. on the other hand. for example. any idea that claims somewhere. He states that all our knowledge difference in that respect between of the world can only come from our men and women. the theory was knowledge to formulate new ideas. in the same states. order for something to be an idea at all.

after the received a good education. and he both promoted Boyle’s ideas and Key works assisted in his experimental work. he does tabula rasa. the American man’s understanding of the world it would always be possible to philosophy Noam Chomsky took was expanding at an unprecedented discover other explanations for this idea further when he put rate. twice. without any what they perceive through their ideas. Indeed. He was impressed in England. writing as well as with the empirical approach to holding various government science adopted by the pioneering positions. as a political exile. He 1690 An Essay Concerning proposed a social-contract theory of Human Understanding the legitimacy of government and 1690 Two Treatises of the idea of natural rights to private Government . He declares that 20th century. limits of what is knowable. void of all beings can know anything beyond characters. But Locke took must share. He remained then at Oxford. how comes it five basic senses continues. or doctrine of innate ideas. RENAISSANCE AND THE AGE OF REASON 133 the Human Understanding. Though Locke’s empiricist ideas 1689 A Letter Concerning are important. rational thought and individual talents. Leibniz declares that innate ideas are the one clear way that we can gain knowledge that is not based upon sensory experience. Chomsky the human mind. the mind to be white The debate about whether human paper. he returned in 1688. until his death in 1704. the property. which is capable concluded that some aspects of experiences the world around him. Locke believes not reject the concept that human that anybody can be transformed by a good education. ■ John Locke John Locke was born in 1632. Locke are central to his accounts of the Locke played an important role in argues that we would have no firm mechanism of human knowledge questioning how human beings grounds for concluding that they and understanding. chemist Robert Boyle. Earlier philosophers—notably their universality. but Thanks to wealthy patrons. to be furnished? John Locke Language as innate Although Locke may reject the As the mind is a blank canvas. at birth. first accession to the throne of at Westminster School in London. it was his political Toleration writing that made him famous. one that encourages beings have innate capacities. In the late acquire knowledge. at a time when were also innate. Locke fled England son of an English country lawyer. believes that regardless of their this a stage further. analysis of man’s mental faculties. and that Locke Let us then suppose is wrong to deny their possibility. of generating a universal “deep reality were beyond the grasp of which is something that we all structure” of language. the possession of capacities such as perception and reasoning the world held in common. such as the fact forward his theory that there is an the medieval Scholastic thinkers that they stem from the most basic innate process of thinking in every such as Thomas Aquinas—had ways in which a human being human mind. By detailed In 1704. a rebuttal of Locke’s empiricist all human languages have been he sought to set down the exact arguments in his New Essays on generated from this common basis. William and Mary. Gottfried Leibniz wrote apparent structural differences.

and Immanuel Kant) and that of the empiricists (including John Locke. 1927 Alfred North Whitehead postulates “actual entities”. or known innately (being GOTTFRIED LEIBNIZ (1646–1716) created in the mind by God). each being like and unlike each of the others in complex and overlapping ways. E arly modern philosophy is often presented as being divided into two schools— that of the rationalists (including René Descartes. . however. which reflect the whole universe in themselves. 1600s René Descartes claims TRUTHS OF FACT that ideas come to us in three ways. The essential difference between the two schools. was epistemological—that is. drawn from reason. they can be derived from experience. they differed in their opinions about what we can know. Benedictus Spinoza. the various philosophers did not easily fall into two clear groups. Put simply. and how we know what we know. AFTER 1748 David Hume explores the distinction between necessary and contingent truths. George Berkeley. and David Hume).134 IN CONTEXT THERE ARE TWO BRANCH Epistemology KINDS OF TRUTHS: APPROACH Rationalism TRUTHS OF BEFORE 1340 Nicolaus of Autrecourt argues that there are no REASONING AND necessary truths about the world. similar to Leibniz’s monads. In fact. only contingent truths.

Leibniz was a rationalist. is that in principle 1695 The New System all knowledge can be accessed by 1710 Theodicy rational reflection. Leibniz is famous in mathematics for his invention of the so-called “infinitesimal calculus” and the argument the empiricists held that knowledge that followed this. including its connections to other things. has a distinct notion. We can analyze these Gottfried Leibniz connections through rational reflection. we cannot reach the finite. during which time he When the analysis is When the analysis is concentrated mainly on infinite. After a final truth through reasoning— the final truth. Gottfried Leibniz was a German philosopher and mathematician. It was during this last period of his life that he did most of the work on These are truths These are truths the development of his unique of reasoning. However. due 1714 Monadology to shortcomings in our rational ❯❯ . in Hanover. and after university he took public service with the Elector of Mainz for five years. and most things is still used today. His claim. few things more usable notation which of reasoning and truths of fact a priori. fact reached it independently. he only through experience. RENAISSANCE AND THE AGE OF REASON 135 See also: Nicolaus of Autrecourt 334 ■ René Descartes 116–23 ■ David Hume 148–53 ■ Immanuel Kant 164–71 ■ Alfred North Whitehead 336 This notion contains every Every thing in the world truth about that thing. It knowledge can be gained through seems clear that they had in rational reflection alone. took up the post of librarian to the Duke of Brunswick. and We know hardly anything but Leibniz developed a much his distinction between truths adequately. He was born in Leipzig. period spent travelling. which he Leibniz 1673 A Philosopher’s Creed makes in most famous work. while Leibniz and Newton claimed the rationalists claimed that the discovery as their own. philosophical system. marks an interesting twist in the through experience. the 1685 Discourse on Metaphysics Monadology. Key works debate between rationalism and Gottfried Wilhelm empiricism. as both is derived from experience. of fact. and remained there until his death. we can reach political writings.

Simply by analyzing my notion of the star Betelgeuse. It is therefore possible in principle for us to learn everything that there is to know about our world and beyond simply by exploring our own minds. we need to understand rely on experience. monads. Leibniz’s theory of monads suggests that all our minds are similarly connected. the analysis that is required for me reach this information is impossibly complex—Leibniz calls it “infinite” —and because I cannot complete faculties. every individual for example. part of the world. of reasoning. and so contains a complete representation of the universe. including its relations to other simple substances called “monads. Such it. to knowing what will thing. the only way that I can discover also rely on experience as a reflection leads to Leibniz’s “truths the temperature of Betelgeuse is by means of acquiring knowledge. and that other side of the world? For Leibniz. and so it is possible—at least present. human beings must rational reflection alone. However. whole universe in its past.” However. and each contains a Gottfried Wilhelm it follows that every notion is complete representation of the Leibniz connected to every other notion. A universe in our minds of such truths (such as those of Is the temperature of the surface To see how Leibniz arrives at this mathematics). He holds that every from knowing that it is snowing. According to Leibniz. and so it has to of Betelgeuse a truth of reasoning conclusion. has a distinct concept or happen tomorrow somewhere on the “notion” associated with it. universe is connected. in practice.” expresses the whole things. which yields or a truth of fact? It may be true a little of his metaphysics—his “truths of fact. he argues. Because everything in the Each monad is isolated from other universe in its own way. this is how God created things—in a state of “pre-established harmony.” that I had to resort to empirical view of how the universe is So how is it possible to progress constructed.136 GOTTFRIED LEIBNIZ A map of the internet shows the innumerable connections between internet users. so that about the entire universe through each one has the same content. for example. This in principle—to follow these representation is synchronized connections and to discover truths between all the monads.” Leibniz claims that every human mind is a monad. and future states. every such notion contains within the answer lies in the fact that the it everything that is true about universe is composed of individual. . I will eventually be able to determine the temperature on the surface of the actual star Betelgeuse. the human measuring it empirically using mind can grasp only a small number astronomical equipment. Each singular substance itself.

and just as much part of the world is set by an omniscient denying it does not involve a the monad that is my mind—so and benevolent god. the whole universe at once. RENAISSANCE AND THE AGE OF REASON 137 methods to discover the answer. since he does not the universe. The difference between a In spite of the difficulties inherent not clear that his arguments truth of reasoning and a truth of fact. and so but also a metaphysical one (about for him all truths are neccessary Leibniz’s legacy the nature of the world). because as true. Betelgeuse’s temperature and can see. faces the problem of accounting for for its metaphysical extravagance. while truths of fact are “contingent”. truths of reasoning and truths of whereas no-one can reach the end of because as limited human beings fact is not simply an epistemological an infinite analysis. and it is truths. of reasoning. does seem to be a matter on to shape the work of numerous Leibniz’s theory of monads seems of how one comes to know it—and philosophers. But truths whose necessity only God the meanings of its own terms. because triangles. who therefore contradiction in terms—although why should one be considered has created the best of all possible it may still be factually incorrect. however. and was criticized need experience. God can grasp we cannot see its content. But we call the future Leibniz’s distinction between Moreover. we end up with which he was a great innovator. Leibniz inevitably fared less well. one (about the limits of knowledge). Kant refined the former should always be seen Leibniz’s truths of reasoning and to be necessarily true. omniscient God creates Liebniz’s theory of monads truth. everything through eternal omnipotent. A mathematical simply by reflecting on the idea of distinction between truths whose truth is a necessary truth. for the latter The trouble for Leibniz is that he is simply a logical contradiction. or undetermined.401 Kelvin rather than 2. The mechanical calculator was holds that truths of reasoning are Likewise. in it is a truth of reasoning or a truth what way is it impossible for the of fact. and denying its conclusions contradicts must be a truth of reasoning. seems to depend temperature on Betelgeuse to be on how I arrive at the answer—but 2. Its “necessary”. if we follow Leibniz one of Leibniz’s many inventions. meaning that it is and separate neccesary and creation is a testament to his interest in mathematics and logic—fields in impossible to contradict them. including David Hume to suggest that all truths are truths in that case it is difficult to see why and Immanuel Kant. Gottfried Wilhelm the notion of freedom of will. the following problem: I can they can be denied without logical discover Pythagoras’s theorem contradiction. in Leibniz’s theory. contingent and the other necessary? worlds. ■ . than the absolutes of traditional Leibniz’s theory only allows for a Newtonian physics. How In the 20th century. therefore. therefore. contingent truths. while the truths of fact into the distinction latter may or may not be true. which we would have but had my rational faculties been access to if we could finish our better I could also have discovered it rational analysis. rather for genuine contingency at all. But as a truth of through rational reflection. his ideas went support his metaphysical claim. We know (if we accept But the proposition “it is raining Pythagoras’s theorem are both just Leibniz’s theory) that the future of in Spain” is contingent. Whether reasoning is a necessary truth.400 is this what Leibniz is claiming? Kelvin? Certainly not impossible in the sense that the proposition Necessary truths 2 + 2 = 5 is impossible. between “analytic” and “synthetic” statements—a division that has An uncertain future remained central to European God understands In setting out a scheme in which an philosophy ever since. so Pythagoras’s theorem necessity we can discover. Leibniz tells us that contingent. the can I choose to act in a certain way idea was rediscovered by scientists Leibniz if God already knows how I am who were intrigued by Leibniz’s going to act? But the problem runs description of space and time as deeper—there seems to be no room a system of relationships.

1982 In his book The Case for Idealism. according to which the world that we experience is only appearance. it still allowed for the existence of a world independent of the senses. According to Berkeley. Plato presents his theory of Forms. which states that the GEORGE BERKELEY (1685–1753) world of our experience is an imperfect shadow of reality. all knowledge can be gained through rational reflection alone. but reached very different conclusions.380 BCE In The Republic. George Berkeley was an empiricist. This view. stands in contrast to the rationalist view that. Locke’s empiricism was moderate. meaning that he saw experience as the primary source of knowledge. 1807 Georg Hegel replaces Kant’s idealism with “absolute idealism”—the theory that absolute reality is Spirit. the British philosopher John Foster argues for a version of Berkeley’s idealism. and followed René Descartes in . in principle.138 IN CONTEXT TO BE IS TO BRANCH Metaphysics APPROACH BE PERCEIVED Idealism BEFORE c. AFTER 1781 Immanuel Kant develops Berkeley’s theory into “transcendental idealism”. Berkeley shared the same assumptions as Locke. which can be traced back to Aristotle. L ike John Locke before him.

In 1714. when it other hand. rather than matter. the rest of his life. and an idealist. or thought. and spent three years namely mind and body.. Anne up of two distinct substances. trying to raise money for the Berkeley’s empiricism. with his wife. He was educated first at Kilkenny College. Ireland. In 1707 he was elected a Fellow of Trinity. was far more extreme. believing that there is only one what philosophers call Dublin. Dublin. such thing as he became Bishop of Cloyne. on the seminary. but it is perhaps ❯❯ . had become a project to found a seminary college in Bermuda. spending most . where he lived for kind of substance in the universe. so far as it perceives When he returned to or is perceived.. material substance.. consists only itself must lie near the town of Kilkenny.” This There is no to London. In 1731. believing that George Berkeley Key works this single substance is mind. of ideas. perceive those ideas. outside experience.. and minds that of his time in London. George Berkeley George Berkeley was born and So the world A thing in brought up at Dysart Castle. His main concern. Three years later means that he was a monist. became clear that funds were and led him to a position known not forthcoming. he returned as “immaterialist idealism. however. in themselves. In 1728 he sailed to Newport. and was ordained an Anglican priest. not things from perception. he left Ireland to travel around A thing only exists in Europe. Ireland he became Dean of Derry. RENAISSANCE AND THE AGE OF REASON 139 See also: Plato 50–55 ■ Aristotle 56–63 ■ René Descartes 116–23 ■ John Locke 130–33 ■ Immanuel Kant 164–71 ■ Georg Hegel 178–85 What we perceive are ideas. then at Trinity College. 1710 Treatise Concerning the Berkeley’s position is often Principles of Human Knowledge summarized by the Latin phrase 1713 Three Dialogues Between esse est percipi (“to be is to be Hylas and Philonous perceived”). Foster. Rhode seeing humans as being made Island. having written all his major philosophical works.

for they are no according to Berkeley. God’s involvement perceptions. by God. it is still perceived the external world. Boyle. For understanding of causality (the fact on all cease to exist. And as our only experience of the world comes through our ideas. however. is precisely view of the world as elaborated the volitional kind of cause that is by Locke and the scientist Robert the exercise of the will. perciperi aut percipi (“to be is to this view. therefore. they cannot resemble whose nature and interactions give physical entities. Berkeley’s consists only of perceiving minds events) is based entirely on our response to this is that nothing is and their ideas. ever have access to are our say that the world causes us to For Berkeley. books. then. can only resemble other ideas. The only type Causation and volition of cause that there is in the world. the world that certain events cause other longer being perceived. entities.140 GEORGE BERKELEY mistake it for a physical thing itself. and so perceive or to be perceived”). not it is in any way different from what His point is not simply that it is only depends on the existence we perceive. of ideas that could possibly be the cause of our ideas. different properties. for when I am that he denies the existence of way we cause events to happen not in my room. A painting or a Optical illusions are impossible. Berkeley’s target was Descartes’ according to Berkeley. His claim is rather wrong for us to project our own of God. it is but an idea. And since these have ideas about the world. external bodies. a color or What we are really understanding impossible we should figure can be like nothing are mental things. but have no grounds for believing that because there is no such thing as anything exists other than ideas a physical world beyond the world and the perceivers of ideas. More controversially. . His theory. The cause of perception If things that are not perceivers only exist in so far as they are perceived. for this view also maintains that the photograph can resemble a physical Berkeley. for example. really is bent. because the two rise to the world as we understand types of thing have completely it. First. it interacts with our senses. computer. This is not to say experience of our own volitions (the ever unperceived. there are no physical causes. resembling a physical object is to and a magnified object really is larger. any claim that we can even understand the notion If there were An idea can be like nothing of “physical things” is mistaken. In this view. and that all we the world—which we do when we involved in the world. His in the world runs deeper than this. he claims that (or mental representations). Ideas. this seems to better represented by esse est aut Berkeley has two main objections to mean that when I leave the room. he argues that our my desk. we such thing as a “physical cause”. the physical Berkeley’s second objection is world is made up of a vast number that because ideas are mental of physical particles. since an object is always as world causes the perceptual object because it is itself a physical it appears to be. perceptions are simply “ideas” point is that there is in fact no As we have seen. and George Berkeley George Berkeley whatever is not itself perceiving. but another color or figure. or “corpuscles”. for Berkeley. A straw submerged ideas we have of it by the way thing. exists only as one of our perceptions. but to think of an idea as in water. or claims that through the action of our wills). but of a particular type of that all knowledge must come experience of volitional action onto God—one who is constantly from experience. The world is ever come to know it. constructed purely of thought.

if bent at the same time. in error. God caused rising. However. three different ideas. therefore. but unless empirical certainty. RENAISSANCE AND THE AGE OF REASON 141 only “volitions”. seems to be that “real” hand being lifted—the most we never perceive the same things. Therefore. And since is no single. according to Berkeley. they are God’s. presents itself to me the way it does. the tree about the world. God not only creates us as perceivers. however. and Can a tree fall over if there is nobody it follows that only an act of will can present to observe it? Objects only exist produce the ideas that we have while they are perceived. Even more One possible solution to bent—where I go wrong is thinking problematic for Berkeley. and that where we go wrong is in the judgements we make about the oar cannot be both straight and possibility that the only thing I what we perceive. The fact that God has person’s. must compose the frame of the an idea of an oar cannot help us still rely on God to supply me with world—have not any here. therefore. solipsism runs as follows: since I that it only appears to be bent. and my idea of another person’s hand subsistence without a mind. upon our faith in a God to the problem of solipsism—the that would never deceive us. I am not can fall over—because the in control of my experience of the tree. I can that their perceptions converge on. he is the cause and constant generator of all our perceptions. is always experience—the world simply perceived by God. for there since I notice similar changes in certainly feels straight. This leads us minds. though. The problem for An inescapable fact of Berkeley’s Berkeley. therefore a third oar. so there are and of the existence of other three different oars. infer that those bodies are also changed by a “consciousness” The problem of solipsism inside them. and the rest of the world. in fact. for that is a third idea. ■ . whether I like it or not. and cannot choose what I world. is that there is no system. Far from supplying us with George Berkeley my idea and your idea. there must can be certain of existing—or an oar half-submerged in water in fact be two oars—one that I that may in fact exist—is myself. However. or acts of will. in other words. is the fact that two different people can cause changes in the world. world. However. what happens if I reach seeing the same oar must in fact be such as raising my own hand. and into the water and feel the oar? It seeing two different oars. This raises a number of questions. the volitions that cause my ideas about the world are not mine. the most urgent being: how is it that we sometimes perceive things incorrectly? Why would God want to deceive us? Berkeley tries to answer this question by claiming that our perceptions are never. then it really is see and one that I feel. cut off from the worlds of and only their idea. “real” oar “out there” the bodies of other people. I. a person can do is be the cause of All the choir of heaven and Each of us is locked in his own the idea of his own hand rising— furniture of earth—in a word. there are still for our knowledge of the world. So for Berkeley. looks bent to me. For example. not another all those bodies which other people. we share a single mind with each Berkeley leaves us depending other and with God.

THE AGE REVOLU 1750–1900 .


1751 1762 1776 1781 1759 1763 1780 1789 Voltaire publishes Candide. empiricism reached a peak of liberté. revolution had already come and society governed on the principles During the Age of Reason there gone. refined the utilitarianism of Jeremy people. The was less stable. growing urban middle-class with The situation in France. as Rousseau believed that civilization to center on France and Britain. as thinkers such as John Stuart Mill was a corrupting influence on the Enlightenment period unfolded. who are instinctively good. D uring the Renaissance. Spain.144 INTRODUCTION Volume one of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s The American Denis Diderot’s groundbreaking political Declaration of Immanuel Kant Encyclopédie work. and has British philosophers. egalité. Old values and feudal systems Bentham and helped to establish and it was this part of his thinking crumbled as the new nations both a liberal democracy and a set the tone for Romanticism. the founded on trade gave rise to a framework for modern civil rights. The Treaty of Paris Jeremy Bentham develops The storming of a novel that satirizes Liebniz’s makes Britain the the theory of utilitarianism the Bastille in Paris notion that “all is for the best in main colonial power in his Introduction to the marks the start the best of all possible worlds. eventually Revolution. movement that followed. and the generation of philosophes. 18th century philosophy continued that had started in the 1730s. They included the distinctive national cultures formed. while (liberty. but could also be social and political issues. France and Britain literary satirist Voltaire and the which were most obvious in arts Philosophy increasingly focused on encyclopedist Denis Diderot. Portugal. having previously France. is signed. of René Descartes gave way to a nation states. Principles of Morals and of the French Legislation. where a Jacques Rousseau. and fraternity) the rationalism of continental the new utilitarianism dominated provided the battle cry of the Europe and the empiricism of political philosophy. . but and literature. of Pure Reason. The rationalism a collection of separate richest nations. equality. and fraternité was a very clear difference between in the works of David Hume. popularize the new scientific way devolved to separate countries. In Britain. The Social Contract. Europe had evolved into unprecedented prosperity. His vision of a emerged during the 17th century. Independence publishes his Critique is published. radical been a continent unified under the Netherlands. is published. As power and empires around the world. of thinking. This evolved French Revolution in 1789.” in North America. also along the most revolutionary was Jean- seen in the philosophical styles that national lines. such as Britain. published in 1789. however. and in the alongside the Industrial Revolution inspired radical thinkers ever since. established colonies political philosophers who were to control of the Church.

in marked written after their deaths. continuing until the end of Kant’s followers included Fichte. which claimed that we can never know rigid Idealism was Karl Marx. largely of Kant’s philosophy incorporated end of the 19th century it had due to the work of Immanuel Kant. ■ . pragmatism. by the dominate the 19th century. European than Hume and Rousseau. well suited to the culture of Although only a few years younger and British economic theory. but also Schopenhauer. had overthrown British colonial rule Europe. and established a republic based the 19th century. who examines the nature of truth. feeling and intuition above reason. French country’s democratic roots and the course of philosophical thought. Fear and Trembling. Schelling. of its European roots began to German philosophy came to whose idiosyncratic interpretation develop. painting. Within decades of his death. and our knowledge of it managed countries across the world had set Perhaps the key difference was the to integrate the approaches of up revolutionary states on the way in which the Romantics valued rationalism and empiricism in a way principles that he had proposed. and music belonged to the next generation: with Friedrich Engels. which Among the followers of Hegel’s of philosophy. an became known as the German American culture independent German Idealism Idealists. arguably one of the most idealized view of nature. William James sweep across Europe. revolutionary political philosophy. African continent. more suited both to Romanticism Meanwhile in the US. Kant writing the Communist Manifesto literature. explaining his colonization of the Emperor of France. At first Romantic. and Hegel. After the new century. radically altered philosophical methods. which The movement took hold throughout and to Germanic culture. produced a homegrown strand His idealist philosophy. elegance of the Enlightenment. Communist Manifesto. theory of evolution. anything about things that exist brilliantly brought together German This was in keeping with the beyond our selves. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 145 Napoleon Charles Darwin European powers Bonaparte Søren Kierkegaard publishes the Origin of begin large-scale proclaims himself writes Either/Or and Species. he wrote Das became preoccupied with an his major philosophical works were Kapital. ideas from Eastern philosophy. In the Romantic period. and his influential philosophical works of all contrast to the sophisticated urban new explanation of the universe time. publishes The Principles of Psychology. who together on Enlightenment values. 1802 1843–46 1859 188OS 1807 1848 1861 1890 Georg Hegel publishes Karl Marx publishes his John Stuart Mill The leading Phenomenology of Spirit. publishes pragmatist Revolutionary movements Utilitarianism.

revised at some point. as a tabula rasa. His 350 BCE Aristotle makes and state—to question their validity argument was given further weight the first reference to a child’s and their ideas. why. and that all ideas BEFORE authorities—such as the Church arise from experience alone. while also searching by scientist Isaac Newton whose mind as a “blank slate”. philosophers had begun to BRANCH This period was characterized by demonstrate different approaches Epistemology an intense questioning of the world to establishing the truth. Doubt is not a pleasant condition. Every idea and theory 1900S Hans-Georg Gadamer can be challenged. and how things IN CONTEXT intellectual who lived in existed. . European the philosopher John Locke had Scepticism philosophers and writers turned argued that no ideas were innate their attention to the acknowledged (known at birth). Until the 17th experiments provided new ways of which later became known century. already in our heads.146 DOUBT IS NOT A PLEASANT CONDITION. for new perspectives. BUT CERTAINTY IS ABSURD VOLTAIRE (1694–1778) V oltaire was a French of what. AFTER 1859 John Stuart Mill argues against assuming our own infallibility in On Liberty. even that gained through empirical (sense-based) information. but both scientists and the Age of Enlightenment. Europeans had largely discovering truths about the world. and the postmodernists apply sceptical reasoning to all forms of knowledge. accepted the Church’s explanations It was against this background of 1690S John Locke argues that sense experience allows both children and adults to acquire reliable knowledge about the Every fact and theory We are not born with in history has been ideas and concepts external world. but certainty is absurd. In 1690 APPROACH and how people live in it.

Voltaire education lead to material and Revolutionary doubt hints at how much easier it is moral progress. But Voltaire believes there is no such thing as an innate endless disagreement is therefore it is vitally important to doubt idea. and was Key works once exiled from France. where he fell 1733 Philosophical Letters under the influence of English 1734 Treatise on Metaphysics philosophy and science. Voltaire refutes the idea of certainty in two ways. and was thereafter able to François Marie Arouet. Voltaire says that it is every “fact” and to challenge all seem to know as true from birth important to develop a system. So what appears to be “fact” is actually little more than a working hypothesis. and by 1715 was famous for legal reform and against as a great literary wit. In claiming that certainty is uncensored. based on empirical evidence and unabashed curiosity. rebellion against the accepted traditions that Voltaire pronounced that certainty is absurd. He born into a middle-class family in had several long and scandalous Paris. and points out that ideas we inevitable. After 1759 Candide returning to France he became 1764 Philosophical Dictionary . he points out that apart from a few necessary truths of mathematics and logic. He studied law throughout Europe. and was the youngest of affairs. but he sees statements—such as those issued Enlightenment and the French no means of reaching them. and travelled widely three children. which took place this reason he thinks doubt is the it is to challenge them and think 11 years after Voltaire’s death. In later life at university. and that science and more pleasant than doubt. This led to a stay in England. as these as science. First. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 147 See also: Aristotle 56–63 ■ John Locke 130–33 ■ David Hume 148–53 ■ John Stuart Mill 190–93 ■ Hans-Georg Gadamer 260–61 ■ Karl Popper 262–65 Scientific experiments during the Age of Enlightenment seemed to Voltaire to lead the way toward a better world. he was imprisoned several times for insulting nobility. should be limited but speech change from country to country. such authority. These were Voltaire does not assert that there simply to accept authoritative fundamental ideals of both the are no absolute truths. to establish agreement. but always preferred Voltaire campaigned vigorously writing. the French writer and thinker. nearly every fact and theory in history has been revised at some point in time. he agrees with Locke that only logical standpoint. Second. His satirical religious intolerance. He was devote himself to writing. For by the monarchy or Church—than Revolution. ■ Voltaire Voltaire was the pseudonym of wealthy through speculation. Given that for yourself. in France writing often landed him in trouble: and further afield. He holds that government may be only cultural.



1748 An Enquiry Concerning In 1763 he was appointed to Human Understanding the Embassy in Paris. inspired by Hume to write But it was Hume. which Hume calls Empiricism philosophy in his Discourse on the the “sensations. and argues forcibly against the to observation and induction. his own version of empiricism. espouses rationalism in his arrived at by rational reflection and imaginings. Scotland. the third of the his Critique of Pure Reason. because of what he which truth might be established”. John Locke had analyzing this distinction that 1690 John Locke sets out the countered this with his empiricist Hume draws an unsettling case for empiricism in An argument that knowledge can only conclusion—one that calls into be derived from experience. alone. AFTER according to which the world only 1781 Immanuel Kant is exists in so far as it is perceived. passions. there are acknowledges his debt to Treatise of Human Nature. all imaginable degrees Hume in The World as Will of assurance. and philosophy was dominated then asking how these relate to BRANCH by a debate about the nature of each other. The controversial of Edinburgh at the age of 12. He does so by first David Hume Born in Edinburgh. Hume was a precocious became more widely known as child who entered the University a philosopher. called his “abundant caution”. 1637 René Descartes claimed that knowledge can be such as thoughts. setting out virtually all his philosophical ideas before 1739 A Treatise of Human Nature returning to Edinburgh. George question our most cherished Essay Concerning Human Berkeley had followed. which BEFORE of rationalism in Europe. where he 1779 Dialogues Concerning befriended the philosopher Natural Religion . The two phenomena Epistemology knowledge. Here he wrote A Treatise of Human Key works Nature. in Jean-Jacques Rousseau and 1711. as opposed eye to the problem of knowledge. Hume turns a sceptical David Hume scientific method. and Method. instigating a movement emotions”—and “ideas”. A wise man and Representation. And it is while Discourse on the Method. which are faint copies of our impressions. René Descartes had are “impressions”—or direct APPROACH in effect set the stage for modern perceptions. major British empiricists. who dealt the biggest blow to rationalism in In our reasonings 1844 Arthur Schopenhauer an argument presented in his concerning fact. La Flèche in Anjou. reflections. France.150 DAVID HUME D avid Hume was born at dividing the contents of our minds IN CONTEXT a time when European into two kinds of phenomena. formulating Understanding. In Britain. and after working himself into a were only published after his nervous breakdown he moved to death in Edinburgh in 1776. notion that we are born with “innate ideas” (a central tenet of rationalism). Hume’s fork therefore proportions his 1934 Karl Popper proposes With a remarkable clarity of belief to the evidence. Dialogues Concerning Natural Around 1729 he devoted his time Religion occupied Hume’s final to finding “some medium by years and. falsification as the basis for the language.

Custom is the great guide of life. and Hume concerns himself with finding the extent to which this is the case. I get into The problem. is that I see the sun rise a habit of expecting very often we have ideas that cannot every morning. because claim that 2 + 2 does not equal 4 the sun not rising (however I cannot observe future is to fail to grasp the meanings of unlikely that seems to us) risings of the sun. the statement 2 + 2 = 4. Take. and deductive reasoning are known to be true or false a priori. A demonstrative statement is one whose truth or falsity is self- evident. the sun to rise be supported by our impressions.” we somehow confuse the two types of knowledge that these express. not only about logic and science. to be a truth of logic. Denying this statement involves a logical This judgment cannot This judgment cannot contradiction—in other words. but about the nature of the world around us. mathematics. because be empirical. every morning. we need to note that for Hume there are only two kinds of statement—namely “demonstrative” and “probable” statements—and he I refine this into the judgment “the sun rises claims that in everyday experience every morning. meaning “prior to experience. Demonstrative statements in logic. for example. the terms “2” or “4” (or “+” or “=”). is conceivable. To understand what he means. Mathematics and logic yield what Hume calls “demonstrative” truths. for Hume. which cannot be denied without contradiction. .” The truth of a ❯❯ I have no rational grounds for my belief. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 151 See also: Plato 50–55 ■ Aristotle 56–63 ■ René Descartes 116–23 ■ John Locke 130–33 ■ George Berkeley 138–41 ■ Immanuel Kant 164–71 ■ Ludwig Wittgenstein 246–51 ■ Karl Popper 262–65 beliefs. but custom tells me that it is probable. These are the only certainties in Hume’s philosophy.

then what justification do we have for making that connection? Hume explains this simply as “human nature”—a mental habit that reads uniformity into regular repetition. is Inductive reasoning logical contradiction. For logical contradiction involved in these. If it is neither of to behave in a uniform way. then we cannot know it to example. But is our claim so it cannot be a demonstrative division of all statements into two that nature follows this uniform statement. for Hume. The fact that. If there is never any rational basis for inferring cause and effect. are not logical. but things take experience the sun’s future risings. The statement “event of experiment—such as by going from past evidence. as example. or that by B. which teaches us believing that A will always be that tomorrow the world will be followed by B.” not a demonstrative statement. but again. we can ask of it will continue in the future. or that A causes B. in a faucet. and infer that it will rise would be in denying that 2 + 2 = 4). the same as it is today. we see the sun rise every denying that A causes B (as there be true or false. so it is not a probable water rather than fruit will flow from statement either. since we cannot observe every event A to see if it is followed The grounds for our belief that the sun will rise tomorrow. They are simply the result of follows A is no rational ground for our conditioning. this does not any statement whether it is probable assuming that nature will continue stand up to scrutiny. as we cannot requires empirical evidence for it reasoning so far. is not possible kinds. any statement about the claiming the opposite involves no world such as “Jim is upstairs”. however. by an absolute and uncontrollable necessity. There is no or demonstrative. morning. to be known to be true or false. In a strange turn when he applies The same problem occurs if we other words. its truth or falsity can this line of argument to inductive apply Hume’s fork to the evidence only be known through some kind inference—our ability to infer things for causality. and infer that face of it to be one that we can In light of this. has determined us to judge as well as to breathe and feel. as if forming the pattern really justifiable? Claiming self-evident. For to as “Hume’s fork. This again tomorrow. is often referred that the sun will rise tomorrow is matters of empirical fact. and a causal connection into what Nature. David Hume . tacitly verify. B invariably Hume. We observe an A causes event B” seems on the upstairs to see if Jim is there. according to our limited experience. Nor is it a a probable statement because it There are no surprises in Hume’s probable statement. it is a meaningless statement. unchanging pattern. Nor can it be proved empirically. for it is concerned with horns of a dilemma. and so.152 DAVID HUME probable statement.

science deals with theories only. despite is a necessary connection between being the high-point of British Hume was perfectly them. ■ “mental habit” should be applied with caution. Before inferring cause A revolutionary idea and effect between two events.” he calls the “constant conjunction” of events. that lies at the heart of our claims to knowledge rather than reason. beliefs are “as satisfactory to the claim that a theory can only be Hume adds. however. be verifiable. the significance connection between letting go of of his epistemology had more the object and its falling. who used it to back up his inference. who .. as the demonstrative kind. Custom as our guide another—but since there is no remained a significant influence Hume goes on to acknowledge that obvious connection between them. custom is a good guide. and tempts us to interpret our inferences as “laws” of nature—but despite what we may think. Hume was better right in pointing out that when we let go of an object it known in his own country for being that induction cannot be will fall to the ground. and can never yield a “law of nature. However. the conclusions drawn by our Popper. however. according to Hume. In saying this. on German philosophers of the 19th although inductive inferences are we should not infer that one clock’s century and the logical positivists of not provable. this does not mean chiming is the cause of the other’s. this practice cannot be justified by rational argument. guided by custom. Indeed. As he and resurfaced in the work of Karl rational justification for inductive says. because this the author of a History of Great logically justified. We can reasonably predict empiricism.” deemed scientific if it is falsifiable. as this became known. Hume’s account of to expect something to happen. After all. who believed that that they are not useful. On the impact. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 153 Science supplies us with ever more detailed information about the world. the 20th century. it is this kind of inductive reasoning that is the basis of science. that this mind. is what has always happened in Britain than for his philosophy. In the absence of a belief and custom in our lives. and there is an obvious Germany.. both undermines the claims of the problem of induction remained judging from past observation and rationalism and elevates the role of unchallenged throughout this period. experience. two clocks set a few to being woken from his “dogmatic seconds apart will chime one after slumbers” by reading Hume. Hume’s treatment of the “problem only meaningful statements could we still have a reasonable claim of induction”. for he is saying that it is belief (which he defines as “a lively idea related to or associated with a present impression”). Hume makes his strongest case against rationalism. The brilliantly argued and innovative we should have evidence both that ideas in the Treatise of Human this succession of events has been Nature were virtually ignored when invariable in the past. and that there they were published in 1739. Immanuel Kant admitted other hand. in Karl Popper the past.



His thinking was Enlightenment” thinking. R ousseau was very much a begun to question the status quo. embodiment of the continental as Voltaire continually fell foul of But he took such a radically European philosophy of the time. fundamentally good. the philosophy. and an and advocates of social reform such actually live in a civil society. interested in philosophy. . undermining the authority of both idea of humanity in a hypothetical 18th-century period known the Church and the aristocracy. Rousseau’s main by society. Unsurprisingly in state and the way it is affected his name as both a musician and this context. Man is born free. society had to develop APPROACH a system to protect it.” those without property AFTER 1791 Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man argues that government’s only purpose is to safeguard the rights of the individual. Like them. but in 1740 he met Denis area of interest became political considered a form of “counter- Diderot and Jean d’Alembert. and became contemporaries. It held philosopher compilers of the new influenced not only by his French within it the seeds of the next Encyclopédie. The work of English philosophers—and political mood in France at this in particular the idea of a social Science and art corrupt time was uneasy. yet everywhere 1971 John Rawls develops the he is in chains. those with property onto or possessions. Romanticism. Rousseau compared an product of the mid. 1689 John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government This system evolved asserts a human’s natural right These laws bind as laws imposed by to defend “life. liberty. that it could be composer. “natural state” with how people as the Enlightenment. but also by the great movement. people in unjust late. Enlightenment contract as proposed by Thomas Hobbes had envisaged life in the thinkers in France and England had Hobbes and refined by John Locke. the overbearing censorship of the different view of this natural As a young man he tried to make establishment. poor.156 JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU IN CONTEXT BRANCH Man in a When the idea of Political philosophy “state of nature” is private property developed. Social contract theory BEFORE 1651 Thomas Hobbes puts forward the idea of a social contract in his book Leviathan. 1848 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels publish The Communist Manifesto. health. idea of “Justice as Fairness” in his book A Theory of Justice. natural state as “solitary.

answering the Origin and Foundations of Inequality born to a Calvinist family in Geneva. and sees civil society as a much less The inequality of laws benevolent force. Having broken with established The idea that society might be thinking in his prize-winning and a harmful influence first occurred publicly acclaimed essay. brutish. but ❯❯ him in the care of an uncle. that the arts and sciences corrupt interested and self-serving. and especially from a Aged 16. and warrants being issued for his arrest. arts and sciences decrease human Rousseau. the time. He was forced to accept David Hume’s invitation to live in England for a short time. 18th and early 19th centuries reflected as a composer. however. His controversial views led to his books being banned in Switzerland and France. his father fled home following to refining moral practices?” The echoing the calls for social reform a duel a few years later. as one of beauty. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 157 See also: Thomas Hobbes 112–15 ■ John Locke 130–33 ■ Edmund Burke 172–73 ■ John Stuart Mill 190–93 ■ Karl Marx 196–203 ■ John Rawls 294–95 nasty. the restrictions on these instincts. He argues that far that civilization is necessary to place from improving minds and lives. but on his return he began to write philosophy. and and erode morals. His mother died only question: “Has the restoration of the among Men. but after they quarrelled he returned to France under a false name. was an and converted to Catholicism. and virtue. the Discourse on the Jean-Jacques Rousseau was Academy of Dijon. The Romantic movement in art enthusiastic affirmative. where he lived until his death at the age of 66. he worked as a His Discourse on the Sciences and Rousseau’s vision of the state of nature civil servant and was posted to Arts. which won him first prize. he left for France musician such as Rousseau. and short. Venice for two years.” In his controversially puts forward the idea view humanity is instinctively self. but in fact and literature that dominated the late While trying to make his name Rousseau argued the opposite case. leaving expected answer from thinkers of from writers such as Voltaire. innocence. Rousseau Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Rousseau when he wrote an essay took the idea a stage further in a for a competition organized by the second essay. looks more virtue and happiness. and sciences and the arts contributed chimed with the mood of the time. Key works 1750 Discourse on the Sciences and Arts 1755 Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality among Men 1755 Discourse on Political Economy 1762 The Social Contract . He was later allowed to return to Paris. The subject matter a few days after his birth. kindly on human nature.

imposes laws that are not just. and the power of reason analysis. Rousseau went on to and. who laws imposed by society condemn participate in the business of him to a life “in chains. are corrupted by knowledge. He said that we. but by all citizens. in what is seen as of compassion and empathy. In fact the state of nature therefore entails in dungeons. emerging Romantic movement in the social contract envisaged by becoming ever more selfish and unhappy. and they are the challenging declaration “Man is inflicted on the poor by the rich. where process began. They are designed to Rousseau opens his book with protect property. but selfish. the monarchy. and from idyllic happiness desirable places to live in? Humanity’s natural state. As groups analysis of modern society as full of of natural man as a “noble savage”. is innocent. and so perhaps his most influential work. for Rousseau. but French Revolution 27 years later. but is that he claims that it is civil society a move away from virtue toward enough to make them that induces this savage state. because it resulted from The state of nature that Rousseau the human capacity for reason. so introducing “back to nature!” and his pessimistic wrongly interpreted Rousseau’s idea the notion of property. the the Church. and begins to separate humankind from unjust state of nature depicted the rest of nature. Rousseau then sets out his vision of Although humanity is naturally an alternative civil society. of people began to live side by side inequalities and injustices sat well but this was due to a mistranslation like this. happy. a detached from their natural virtues. yet everywhere he is in The move from a natural to a chains”. The imposition of civil society on Tranquility is found also but of “civilized man”. with the growing social unrest of of the French sauvage. also from innocence and freedom Having issued his challenge. (The English of land for himself. quite a following. The selfish. he toward misery. people become by Hobbes is. Rousseau’s rallying cry of Locke. In contrast with like them. especially in France. including empathy.” legislation. The describes is a pastoral idyll.158 JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU once again Rousseau contradicted once this state of innocence is conventional thinking with his disrupted. Modelled on Classical republican ideas of democracy. he thought. literature. not brutish. by aristocrats. But virtues. state of nature and the establishment of civil society as regrettable but Society corrupts inevitable. prescribing laws according to the but it gained him a reputation and volonté générale. to injustice and enslavement. it is corrupted by society.) People though a system of laws. which was considered such civilized state therefore brought a call for radical change that it was about a move not only from virtue adopted as a slogan during the to vice. born free. or general will. and and although man is born free. run not virtuous. the attributes loses touch with humanity’s natural offer a solution. His portrayal of The laws would arise from all and Adam and Eve represent the kind of perfect “natural” humans that Rousseau the state of nature as desirable and apply to all—everyone would be thought predated society. which means which could only be maintained the 1750s. The Social Contract Rousseau imagines the citizen Rousseau’s second Discourse ruffled body operating as a unit. Jean-Jacques argues. more importantly. simply “natural”. even more feathers than his first. But Not content with merely stating are endowed with innate virtue Rousseau claims that every society the problem. The Social Contract. savage. the first people in their natural state are time that a man enclosed a piece fundamentally good. they formed societies. which was designed to . vice. Rousseau points out. not brutal formed a vital part of the considered equal. description not of “natural man”. and Rousseau sees the fall from a Rousseau independent: man is born free.

Unlike Robespierre. Georg should come from all Hegel integrated Rousseau’s ideas to apply to all. Rousseau advocates offered the revolutionaries a viable understood and developed giving legislative power to the alternative to the corrupt system as Rousseau’s analysis of capitalist people as a whole. was inspired by his claim that it was unjust for the rich few to rule over the effectively voiceless. administered by the general odds with contemporary thinking. Rousseau expanded on his theme. fraternity) that became the motto of the new French Republic. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 159 reason threatens human innocence Rousseau’s political influence was and. he proposes an education his death. In other books and essays he concentrated on the adverse effects of both conventional religion and atheism. more importantly. égalité. ■ it would promote a feeling of belonging to society—that it would inevitably lead to the liberté. extent in the 19th century. one of and elsewhere was imminent. or On Education. means of replacing it. fraternité (liberty. He believes that the freedom to and his insistence that a state of Communist Manifesto ends with take part in the legislative process nature was superior to civilization a nod to Rousseau. At the center of all his works lay the idea that The French Revolution. for the benefit it stood. “nothing to lose but their chains”. and that reformers such as Voltaire and Hume. emerged to a greater The general will by the heart. encouraging would lead to an elimination of led him to fall out with fellow the proletarians (workers) have inequality and injustice. . his idea of a social contract in which who had appropriated Rousseau’s the general will of the citizen body philosophy for his own ends during protect the rights and property of controlled the legislative process the Reign of Terror. Karl Marx was gaining him both notoriety and a particularly struck by some of large following. Marx’s will. freedom and happiness. explaining that education was responsible for corrupting the state of nature and perpetuating the evils of modern society. in turn. The evils of education In another book written in the same year. equality. and he suggests that philosophy. powerless poor. entitled Emile. But his philosophy was at society and the revolutionary of all. which began 11 years after Rousseau’s death. and the leaders of the French Revolution. Marx fully individuals. and political philosophy our religious faith should be guided in particular. Later and Rousseau immediately banned in France. By the time of his Rousseau’s work on inequality and death in 1778. Political influence of social contract into his own Jean-Jacques Most of Rousseau’s writings were philosophical system. not the head. revolution in France injustice. felt most strongly during the period Instead of the education of the of revolution immediately after intellect. but his influence on of the senses.

Early 1700s Dutch thinker Bernard Mandeville argues BARGAINS that selfish actions can lead indirectly to socially desirable consequences. and the possibility of different types of agreements and interests—such as “the common interest”—are of recurring appeal to philosophers. Smith assumes that the motives of human beings are partly benevolent and . 1940s onward Philosophers apply the idea of bargaining throughout the social sciences as a model for explaining human behavior. Like his Swiss contemporary. The concepts of bargaining and self-interest that he explored. Jean-Jacques Rousseau.160 IN CONTEXT MAN IS AN BRANCH Political philosophy APPROACH ANIMAL THAT Classical economics BEFORE c. His writings are also important because they give a more general and abstract form to the idea of the “commercial” society that was developed by his friend David Hume. AFTER 1850s British writer John ADAM SMITH (1723–1790) Ruskin argues that Smith’s views are too materialistic and therefore anti-Christian.350 BCE Aristotle emphasizes the importance of domestic MAKES production (“economy”) and explains the role of money. S cottish writer Adam Smith is often considered the most important economist the world has ever known.

“we address of Customs. but that they need help. Smith argues economic policies. he spent a one party to urge the other—“the the bargain is struck by proposing decade writing The Wealth of best way for you to get what you a deal that appears to be in the Nations. On his opening gambit in a bargain is for animal that makes bargains”—and return to Scotland. or offer a single service. because life requires the 1760s. and or at least every family. to young Scottish aristocrat. In partly self-interested.” In other words. not to [another’s] The division of labor allowed him to advise the humanity. good. he the psychology of bargaining. he the exchange of useful objects is a that our ability to make bargains rejoined Glasgow University. Adam Smith We must therefore Man is agree to exchange an animal The “father of modern goods or money between that makes economics” was born in us in a way that benefits Kirkcaldy. public service as Commissioner want. behavior. He believes that this can stay comfortably at an inn for a Henry Scott. In 1787. academic prodigy. Already acquainted with approach is an empirical one. broadly speaking. it became possible 1759 The Theory of Moral can do so is to “gain the favor of for us to concentrate on producing Sentiments those whose service it requires”. For this reason. with whom he be confirmed by social observation. became a professor first at Edinburgh University. An bargains.” In his account of the emergence of British government on various Smith goes on to claim that market economies. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 161 See also: David Hume 148–53 ■ Jean-Jacques Rousseau 154–59 ■ Edmund Burke 172–73 ■ Karl Marx 196–203 ■ Noam Chomsky 304–05 People act out We often require of self-interest.” For example. night we require the input of many visited France and Switzerland. be that should an animal wish to economically self-sufficient. Smith both parties. observed exchanging bones. goods and services that others provide. before returning to want is for you to give me what I self-interest of both parties. In one to prepare the room and so on— David Hume and other Scottish of his most famous discussions of none of whose services can be Enlightenment thinkers. then at Glasgow University where he became a professor in 1750. “man is an Enlightenment as well. the only way it to bargaining. distinctively human characteristic. his people—to cook and serve the food. but to their self-love. he took a lucrative self-interest is the stronger trait “the cooperation and assistance of job as a personal tutor to a and so is a better guide to human great multitudes. Thanks Key works obtain something. and Subjects but they cannot resort to it whenever to exchange this for everything ❯❯ . of his life as its rector. Fife. in 1723. a position that ourselves. put an end to the once universal and spent the last three years He notes that dogs are never requirement that every person. fewer and fewer goods. and 1776 The Wealth of Nations Humans may also depend on this ultimately to produce just a single 1795 Essays on Philosophical sort of “fawning or servile attention”. he depended on through good will seized the chance to meet leading figures of the European contends that the most frequent alone. and so.

This is Smith illustrates the importance of it. radically improved by adopting the the great improvements in the factory system. improvements that saw workers With the freedom provided by the a group of 10 men. in Smith’s view. and then to what Smith calls a “division of labor” among workers. Where one man productivity of labor that took place working alone would find it hard during the Industrial Revolution— The market is the key to establishing an equitable society. charged with provided with much better buying and selling of goods. and often saw can enjoy lives of “natural liberty. The greatest improvement Civilized society stands Everyone else could come to the in the productive at all times in need of marketplace to exchange their powers of labor seem the cooperation labor—or the money they earned to have been the effects and assistance through labor—for the products of the division of labor.162 ADAM SMITH else we required. Adam Smith Adam Smith This elimination of the need to provide everything for ourselves led to the emergence of people with particular sets of skills (such as the baker and the carpenter). by showing how the 48. which abolished the need to barter. to produce 20 perfect pins in a day. performs only a single task in a job making of a humble metal pin is Smith was impressed by that is shared by several people. cutting machines replacing workers.” the wire. of great multitudes. This process was revolutionized by the invention of money. pointing it. to produce over pursues a single type of work. straightening it. The Wealth of in Smith’s time. but Nations. . to Smith’s phrase for specialization. individuals different tasks—from drawing out equipment. in Smith’s view. of other people’s labor. From then on. and grinding it. specialization at the beginning of joining it to a pinhead—were able. only those who were unable to work had to depend on charity.000 pins a day. whereby an individual not only his masterpiece.

and even can flourish across them. such as logic. is not against all economic thinking in domestic labor. and taxes and duties sympathetic toward the victims of technology. Smith economic benefits. but the market. true is that even though Smith was advent of telecommunications and education. Critics have argued that Smith was and as such can exist anywhere— the only way of guaranteeing it. and to describe The Wealth of Nations saw a revival of Smith’s ideas. when pursue his own interests in his own The Wealth of Nations was first way. far claim—that a market is more than from being incompatible with an Smith’s legacy just a place. but also because of its divided by competitiveness. world in Smith’s time. equitable society. it wealth in a well-ordered society. repetitive work argues that it can lead to universal is not only boring for the worker. is. For the “invisible hand” of of society that followed the French Smith’s reputation declined. but to equality of its attack on established commercial warns against the dehumanizing effects it can have on workers if it condition. performed mainly that people should have freedom just Europe at the time. is the creation of a society not monopolies. its doctrine of free and laws of justice. What is that only became possible with the providing defense. epistemology. book that has ever been written. interests. His point is Smith’s reputation for being a society running efficiently. and metaphysics. therefore. that helped to keep because they deserve it. only today can we fully any government could. his goal and agricultural privileges and is used without regulation. not only because of money-creating machine. This foreshadows can limit itself to performing just a are the same. criminal justice. can destroy a human being—and Indeed. Today’s financial can be reduced accordingly. he says that in conditions for this reason he proposed that of perfect liberty.T. ethics. the market can governments should restrict the lead to a state of perfect equality— extent to which the production one in which everyone is free to line is used. a government interest” and “consumer interest” as a town square. such as market is beneficial to all. A market is a concept. and that the free the kind of “virtual” marketplace few essential functions. so long as it accords with the published. by women. Buckle economics in the late 20th century of goods that are available. regulates the amount mid-Victorian historian H. he never fully succeeded in markets and online trading bear just as bargaining can flourish balancing the interests of producers witness to Smith’s great vision. prompting the renewed interest in free market and demand. He also possible for everyone to be eligible acknowledged that while the for some kind of work (since it frees division of labor had huge us from training in a craft). Smith recognized that there were problems with the notion of The free market a free market—in particular with Because the division of labor the increasingly common bargain increases productivity and makes it of wages for working time. but Smith of opportunity. but on its labor—a view that went model. but argument that a nation’s wealth drawn together by bargaining depends not on its gold reserves. prices them far more efficiently than as “probably the most important Indeed. and with the individuals pursuing their own the long debate about the nature rise of socialism in the 19th century. in Smith’s view.” appreciate his most visionary the pursuit of self-interest. wrong to assume that the “general not only in a designated place such In such a society. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 163 The jack-of-all-trades could not within national boundaries. ■ . so it survive in such a system. and consumers within his social based on mutual self-interest. In other words. leading to philosophers began to specialize international trade—a phenomenon in the various branches of their that was spreading across the subject. Nevertheless. or integrating into it the Smith’s point. And by equality unregulated trade was seen as The production line is an incredible Smith is not referring to equality revolutionary. Put simply. And poverty. that society as a whole benefits from revolutionary was bolstered during For these reasons. with its laws of supply Revolution of 1789.



time—that is. argued that there there is an external world. we can only have any external existence outside experience time through things in the 1739 David Hume publishes our own minds.166 IMMANUEL KANT went on to counter this sceptical IN CONTEXT point of view with an argument that claims to prove the existence BRANCH of God. it must be determinable in a determinate point in time. such as empiricists. Kant also looked at how science 2. the But how does this work in the case time takes place. Time and consciousness on how the human mind Kant wants to demonstrate that perceives reality. rather. we can use the word which Descartes believed was “now” to refer to what is currently absolutely certain. constantly moving wondered what was suddenly being At the start of his Meditations. ancient times until that point. the hands of a clock. BEFORE Berkeley. and response to Kant’s philosophy. for believing that these experiences According to Kant. He particularly had cannot experience time itself. on the other hand. existing outside world in which develops phenomenology. in turn. Saying that I exist requires idealist movement develops in exist. the existence of an external world. such as his Treatise of Human Nature. Descartes argued that we must are useless for determining time on The answer given by many thinkers doubt all knowledge except that their own—they need something of the period was empiricism. compared with the relative in mind the theories of René directly. His argument begins as space (including my own physical follows: in order for something to body). Every time I say “now”. external to us. we experience time stagnation in the subject from Descartes and George Berkeley. The moving hands done correctly in scientific research. hands of a clock.000 years of philosophical consciousness is different. The of our own existence as thinking against which they change. I mmanuel Kant thought it was But “now” is not a determinate time The problem of science “scandalous” that in more than or date. many APPROACH philosophers (including Kant) have Transcendental idealism not found Descartes’ proof of God to be valid in its reasoning. change. slowly around. and therefore the reality of Metaphysics an outside world. world that move or change. “when” of my own existence? We over the previous two centuries. Every and David Hume. nobody had been able to Here lies the problem: what admired the awesome progress produce an argument to prove that makes it possible to specify the that the natural sciences had made there really is a world out there. He then resource I have for measuring my is no knowledge except that which . in possible—but that it comes from which he doubts all knowledge experiences our consciousness apart from the knowledge of perceives. 1641 René Descartes argued that knowledge is indeed publishes his Meditations. Kant. Consider the along with other philosophers. there is an external. of my own consciousness? certainty about the existence of the using Kant’s understanding Although consciousness seems external world is thus precisely the of consciousness. So time is only which suggests limitations ever experienced by us indirectly. My level of study of objects of experience. However. to be constantly changing with a same as my level of certainty about continuous flow of sensations and the existence of consciousness. thoughts. happening in our consciousness. He thought. constantly changing “now” is found AFTER and that its existence cannot be in material objects outside me in 19th century The German doubted. material world. understood the exterior world. requires an actually 1900s Edmund Husserl say when it exists and for how long. such as John Locke beings—even the knowledge that the numbers on a clock face. who both entertained doubts about or stay the same. we must be able to this. We have no justification his own consciousness. through things that move.

time. it asserts that concepts such as force or movement can be perfectly described by mathematics. about things. and making fewer of the mind. of the world than they had been they are intuitions previously. mind’s ability to reason and deal with concepts is more important for knowledge than experience. It is precisely in knowing its limits that There are two philosophy exists. unjustified assumptions based on reason alone. is insofar as it is sensed as they are sensed that a new scientific method arose by our minds. . as it is simply false to say that there was no detailed and careful empirical observation in So a thing appears Concepts only apply science before the 16th century. This method involves two elements. the world as it is in itself. it tests its own conceptions of the world by asking specific questions about A “thing-in-itself” nature and observing the answers. They opposed the views of rationalist philosophers. The empiricists claimed that the recent success of science Space and time was due to scientists being much cannot be learned more careful in their observations about through experience. worlds: the world of Immanuel Kant experience sensed “Things-in-themselves” by our bodies and are unknowable. Second. who argued that the in the world. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 167 See also: René Descartes 116–23 ■ John Locke 130–33 ■ George Berkeley 138–41 ■ David Hume 148–53 ■ Johann Gottlieb Fichte 176 ■ Georg Hegel 178–85 ■ Friedrich Schelling 335 ■ Arthur Schopenhauer 186–88 comes to us through our experience of the world. ❯❯ (something considered exterior to our minds) may have nothing to do with space. Kant argues. by our minds. in space and time only to things insofar The real issue. it could not be the whole answer. or any of our concepts. First. Kant argues that although this is no doubt partly true. that made empirical observations valuable. Our sensibility is the Our understanding such as Descartes or Gottfried ability to sense things is the ability to think Leibniz.

Critique of Pure Reason. such as this book you are reading now. his investigations do not particular book stop there. gained Key He designed an experiment to test from direct sensibility of the world. But my intuition of space and time Each of these elements has. Kant split knowledge into intuitions. our as such (substance). in and the concept of substance are turn. there a priori. know our intuition was of a book. Kant argues that our experience of the world involves two elements. They of different weights will nevertheless fall through the air at the same rate. A priori of the hypothesis. In understanding. In sensibility. the experimental as such (my acquaintance with against Kant that all acquaintances physicist Galileo Galilei wanted to what space and time are like in come from experience—in other test the hypothesis that two things general). My intuition without concepts are as the concept of “book” in general. knowledge Kant identifies the nature and importance of the scientific method. for how could I know union can cognition arise. and concepts. there is words. nothing is a priori. His next question is: “Why is our experience of the world such that the scientific method works?” In other words. a concept is an indirect it means to be a thing in general Thoughts without content acquaintance with things as rather than defining some type are empty. this in such a way that the only Empirical which come indirectly from our understanding. meaning that they are is my intuition of a particular thing known before or independently in space and time (like the book) of any experience. intuitions examples of a type of thing. possible explanation of the observed knowledge Some of our knowledge—both of sensibility and result would be the truth or falsity understanding—comes from empirical evidence. such of thing like a book.” Second is what (books) and my concept of a “thing” Kant calls the “understanding”. the concept “book” He believes that this method had put physics and other subjects on the “secure road of a science. the concept of substance . why is our experience of the world always mathematical in nature. while some is known a priori. and how is it always possible for human reason to put questions to nature? Intuitions and concepts In his most famous work. and my intuition of space and time A true empiricist would argue For example. anything about books unless I had Immanuel Kant without intuitions we would never come across them in the world? know that there were books at all.” intuition of a However. such as substance defines what For Kant. two sides. of a book and the concept of a book blind… only from their Without concepts we would not are empirical.168 IMMANUEL KANT These direct acquaintances he my concept of some type of thing calls “intuitions. A concept ability to have and use concepts. The first is what he intuition of calls “sensibility”—our ability to be space and time directly acquainted with particular things in space and time.

the separately from sensibility. and tree (as substance) changes. two. brown. the tree with green and reliable. then we would be experiencing we speak of space. it demonstrated that the concept of does not belong to things in the substance is absolutely essential world. and as trees undergo change presupposes an tree’s leaves may be green or certain concepts are features of a priori grasp of the concept “substance”. alteration: variation and change. Since this Immanuel Kant extraordinary consequence. such of the mind is prior to and more as substance. Space and time make leaves is annihilated at the same our experience mathematical in Space and substance time that the tree with brown nature. then we cannot and negative consequences. If we do not accept knowledge have both positive of things change without the this distinction. rather. The underlying thing itself changing. is absurd.” He Our understanding that entities such that things have: for instance. and that any time there is alteration. Such concepts are does: the same tree changes its Kant called the phenomenal world) the preconditions of our experience. on leaves begins to exist from nothing. A philosophical position that Kant then turns to proving the asserts that some state or activity existence of a priori concepts. known values. space is an a priori Kant needs to prove that such a such as substance make it possible intuition. and concept of substance could not therefore exterior to our minds— be empirical: it is rather a priori. A priori concepts the contrary. I need to is time determination. And. we experience time learn about space in this way: how through things that alter or do not can I locate something outside of alter. as Kant has already shown. since it is . Change is what the tree the world we experience (what according to Kant. We would be saying a priori nature of space. but noumenal world). If me without already knowing what we experienced time through the “outside of me” means? Some tree with green leaves and also knowledge of space has to be experienced time through the tree assumed before I can ever study with brown leaves without there Only from the space empirically. certain concepts is what makes our eventually fall from the tree. accept the validity of the concept positive consequence is that the For instance. though a tree’s leaves of substance. may have nothing to do with space. we can measure it against Kant’s arguments show that. A thing-in-itself—Kant’s through that experience that we term for a thing that is considered learn anything empirical. To rather than features of the world make this distinction is already to itself considered separately from might say that we learn what space use the notion of substance: the experience (what Kant called the is by observing things in space. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 169 sensibility. and turn from green to brown. a insists that space. In order to learn about view is impossible. He asks us first to fundamental than things we distinguish between two types of experience is called idealism. But our experience of things before we can gain any experience in space is a feature of our of the world. This argument has an two separate real times. and Kant calls his own position Variation concerns the properties “transcendental idealism. time. existence. We must be being any connection between the human standpoint can familiar with space a priori. we learn what substance is from the leaves (as the properties of Kant’s claims about a priori our observation that the features substance) vary. be directly experienced (it is not a “What properties does it exhibit ❯❯ But that shows that I could not thing). Kant used similar arguments to The limits of knowledge prove the same thing of time. Time cannot such as “Is that a substance?” and know that they are outside of me. it is something “pops” into or out of experience of the world possible still the same tree. Kant believes he has Because space itself is a priori. time. leaves from green to brown. The key to this to address questions about nature things outside of me.

of its own. . troubled by questions that into that which it but fail utterly. and can never be known as a thing-in-itself. For Kant. On the other hand. and things-in-themselves.170 IMMANUEL KANT and according to what laws?” In other words. these types of thinking are a constant temptation to us. and to all the experienced world. my body as a material thing is a part of the external world. a priori concepts that make my experience of the world possible). then. On the negative side. that Kant Kant's philosophy. or books. which is precisely not experienced and so not in any sense known. but produces after a plan they apply to things-in-themselves also cannot answer. but not for limits of knowledge. world. but cause something that could be known. usually is. For example. what is external to us is external to space and time also. intuitions about space and time. and also includes experience of material things such as my body. is to place me in space. as a being independent understanding the distinction we might wish to claim that God is of the experienced world) is not between ourselves and the external the cause of the world. What is external to me is and effect is another of the a priori The negative consequence of interpreted as not just external to concepts. as it us a much more radical way of without realizing it. and which we must constantly strive to avoid fooling ourselves about. and indeed is the medium through which we encounter other things The Flammarion woodcut depicts a man looking outside of space and time. Kant’s transcendental idealism is what makes it possible for our experience to be considered useful to science. So the Transcendental idealism gives are a trap that many fall into existence of God (considered. but have no validity with respect to things-in- themselves. Immanuel Kant Immanuel Kant or concepts such as substance— which according to Kant must be valid for experience. like substance. which includes both my thoughts and feelings. And there are two worlds: the “world” of experience. but external to space believes is entirely valid for our quite severe restrictions on the itself (and to time. Because they resemble science. and the “world” of things-in-themselves. On the one hand. Our bodies have a curious role to play in all this. the body is a part of us. This is because it cannot dismiss. certain Human reason is Reason only has insight types of thinking call themselves science and even resemble science.

so it is philosophers today. and everything that 20th-century phenomenologists man. and he lived and experience were necessary and worked his whole life in to understand the world. rather than experience. from romanticism to Marxism. the or logically verified. he became an internationally (using our skin. the medium of my sensations is and. leads to knowledge of objects in the world. to which he returned Kant’s book Critique of Pure Reason important in positivism. one way of understanding the idealists Johann Fichte. and mathematics at the external world: the body as Kant’s thought in new directions the University of Konigsberg. and epistemology. best known for the series of whole subject of philosophy is often The fact that Kant locates the ground-breaking works he divided by many modern thinkers a priori even within our intuitions produced in his 50s and 60s. Empiricism The empiricists believed that knowledge comes from our experience of objects in the world. the cosmopolitan Baltic port city of Konigsberg. especially Reason frequently said that Kant combined in the branches of metaphysics 1790 Critique of Judgement rationalism and empiricism. and has happened since. Kant published single work in the history of is capable of being scientifically throughout his career. This provides us with particular progressed rapidly. After Kant. Kant work also remains an important Metaphysics of Morals argues that our experience of the reference point for contemporary 1788 Critique of Practical world always involves both. In 1792 his unorthodox views led King Friedrich Kant's sophisticated critique of Wilhelm II to ban him from Lasting influence metaphysical thought was also teaching. rather than our reason. years. German philosophy in famous philosopher within and so on). eyes. institution for the next 27 material things. then part of Prussia. ears. nerves. but rationalists independently of any assumptions such as Descartes tended to we may have about them. empiricists such as Martin Heidegger. but is modern philosophy. ■ . into everything that happened of the world was important for Though a bright and sociable before Kant. distinction between bodies and Schelling. Indeed. who sought to John Locke emphasized what Kant examine objects of experience Key works termed sensibility. such as Edmund Husserl and died at the age of 80. he never married. Kant’s 1781 Critique of Pure Reason 1785 Foundations of the emphasize understanding. in their turn. The his own lifetime. influenced the and taught at the same different from other external and whole of 19th-century thought. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 171 Rationalism The rationalists believed that the use of reason. Before Kant. Friedrich Kant studied philosophy. Immanuel Kant Transcendental Idealism Immanuel Kant was born into a Kant’s theory of transcendental family of financially struggling idealism stated that both reason artisans in 1724. and Georg Hegel all took physics. Though he never left his native province. which after the king’s death five is arguably the most significant held that every justifiable assertion years later.

” 17th century Thomas Hobbes They cannot meet all these and John Locke develop the needs through their own efforts. wherever possible. scientific. and moral needs. is a form of punishment for “original sin.. a contract. is only the material things in life Conservatism when the Irish philosopher and that matter. and their lives through science. However.” AFTER 19th century French philosopher Joseph de Maistre They refer to the They agree to help points out the antidemocratic customs and religion each other since this legacy of Burke since the of their ancestors is the best way to meet French Revolution. this Political philosophy not entirely clear. Europe was becoming us that human beings also enrich c. .350 BCE Aristotle argues that increasingly commercialized. their mutual needs. Burke attempts to statesman Edmund Burke was redress the balance by reminding BEFORE writing. Human beings have 5th century St. During the 18th century. Augustine of material. art. idea of the “social contract. and that man is by nature a political animal.. 20th century British philosopher Michael Oakeshott develops a more liberal form Society is indeed of conservatism. and it has changed point of view also implies that it APPROACH over time. society is like an organism. agreement between its members— blame society!” But the like a commercial company—was BRANCH meaning of the word “society” is readily understood. Hippo argues that government artistic.172 SOCIETY IS INDEED A CONTRACT EDMUND BURKE (1729–1797) M any a disaffected person the idea that society is a mutual IN CONTEXT cries “It’s not my fault.

Burke of “the great primeval contract of was a great defender of private The Anglo-Irish politician eternal society”. For this reason he opposed the French 1756 A Vindication of Natural Society Revolution of 1789. who than just the people living now— applauded the French Revolution it also includes our ancestors and and pilloried the idea of original sin. Burke believed life. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 173 See also: John Locke 130–33 ■ David Hume 148–53 ■ Jean-Jacques Rousseau 154–59 ■ Adam Smith 160–63 ■ John Rawls 294–95 and virtue. and was optimistic about Edmund Burke was born and educated in Dublin. but would disagree English MP from 1766 until can be perfected by education—as with him about its value. For this reason. The Social Contract. Moreover. the common good (our agreement Another regular target for Burke on customs. For Burke. He believed that change 1790 Reflections on the of Terror. and that while society Jacques Rousseau. Today. and in the 1750s little sympathy for anyone seeking tradition. because Despite his scepticism about Edmund Burke every political constitution is part modern commercial society. He remained Because society is an organic a scathing critic of colonial structure with roots stretching malpractice for the rest of his deep into the past. so he has values both economic freedom and politics. animal existence. opposed the idea of sweeping or abrupt political changes that cut Key works through this natural process. God himself is property. “gross the state can be broken at any time.” impeachment trial of Warren Hastings. 1794. or. He the British Empire. norms. as he puts it. property is a fundamental social of society. He served as an proposed by John Locke. became central to modern conservatism. is indeed a contract or partnership. whose book. and he was a prominent though we are born innocent and ecologically-minded philosophers member of the Whig party— merely need to be given the correct share his belief in the duties of one the more liberal of the two influences. and earned a reputation its political organization should for being the conscience of develop naturally over time. that we institution. he dismisses the idea. but was the English philosopher and for Burke “society” means more scientist Joseph Priestley. but with aristocratic parties of the day. descendants. who justified. he was Burke’s view has the doctrine often hailed as the “father of modern convinced that philosophy of original sin (the idea that we are conservatism”—a philosophy that was useful training for born sinful) at its core. Likewise. and values). the fallibility generation to the next. It also prompted him on should occur gradually—an idea that Revolution in France several occasions to criticize Jean. . he is his youth onward. in his view—and claimed that “custom is the great later became involved in the guide to human life. of individual judgment is why we the new agenda of creating a Burke was sympathetic need tradition.” ■ toward the cause of American independence—which sparked bearings we need—an argument a revolution that was entirely that echoes David Hume. the Governor- Tradition and change General of India.” Society embodies depending on the will of the people. foreseeing its Burke condemned the French 1770 Thoughts on the Present dangers long before the execution Revolution for its wholesale rejection Discontents of the king and the year-long Reign of the past. to give us the moral “sustainable society. even socialists he wrote notable essays on to blame society for their conduct. argued that it is not simply concerned with the contract between citizens and economics. would agree with Burke that private aesthetics and the origins Likewise. From society’s ultimate guarantor. the free market.

misinterpretations of more complex was convinced that all political systems that can often BRANCH human activity was driven by lead to injustices and grievances. leads this “utilitarian” approach. or being made in favor of the view Hobbes argues that a strong efficiency. Bentham believes that an objective platform for resolving Early 17th century Thomas the moral worth of such decisions ethical disputes. such as engaging in Mid-19th century John much the better. in generating happiness that is calculated to produce the legal system. with complete happiness Late 19th century Henry proposed system. In a society driven by highest measure of pleasure. he Bentham also insists that all to a stable and happier society. This means that Bentham for all. ■ Sidgwick says that how moral an action is equates directly to See also: Epicurus 64–65 ■ Thomas Hobbes 112–15 ■ David Hume 148–53 ■ the degree of pleasure it brings. of people. with severe or pleasure. you avoid the confusions and IN CONTEXT reformer and philosopher. a legal ideas. Ethics only two motivating forces—the APPROACH avoidance of pain and the pursuit Calculating pleasure Utilitarianism of pleasure. guided solely by the from a good meal or close friendship governs our moral judgement. with decisions relates directly to their utility. penalties for criminals. Bentham Morals and Legislation (1789). principle of creating the broadest is equal to that derived from an possible spread of contentment. By adopting his of social class or ability. provides pursuit of happiness. it is always preferable poetry. Using this goal of life should be the happiness for the greatest number precise method. assumes a fundamental human improve general happiness. claims that conflicts of interest sources of pleasure are of equal Mid-18th century David between individuals can be settled value.174 THE GREATEST HAPPINESS FOR THE GREATEST NUMBER JEREMY BENTHAM (1748–1832) J eremy Bentham. but if a choice is philosophical debate or reading Stuart Mill advocates education necessary. regardless is its simplicity. being accessible to all. In The Principles of More controversially. John Stuart Mill 190–93 ■ Henry Sidgwick 336 . so education. he proposes a “felicific calculus” that BEFORE argues that all social and political can express mathematically the Late 4th century BCE decisions should be made with degree of happiness experienced Epicurus states that the main the aim of achieving the greatest by each individual. One of the main benefits of his equality. arguing that it would to favor the many over the few. so that the happiness derived Hume claims that emotion by legislators. he states. If activity that may require effort or AFTER everyone can be made happy. Bentham states.

which recommends that girls Political philosophy of this arrangement began to be be educated differently to boys. because they have feminist activism begins to fundamentally similar brains and minds. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 175 MIND HAS NO GENDER MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT (1759–1797) F or most of recorded history. in the light of movements that were to flourish in new ideas that had been formulated the 19th and 20th centuries. social. John Locke’s view that nearly all 1790 In Letters on Education. published IN CONTEXT women have been seen as in 1792. knowledge was acquired through British historian Catherine experience and education. the justice (1762). by their miseducation. 4th century BCE Plato advises Many previous thinkers had and political rights—was still that girls should have a similar cited the physical differences largely treated with derision in the education to boys. teaches in during the 17th century. to men—with equal legal. But Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Emile BRANCH during the 18th century. Her book. Let woman share Equal education the rights and she will AFTER Wollstonecraft argues that if men emulate the virtues of man. was partly a response to subordinate to men. and APPROACH openly challenged. same good character and rational Late 20th century A surge of approach to life. But it did sow the 4th century CE Hypatia. the Rights of Woman. A Vindication of overturn most of the social and political inequalities between See also: Plato 50–55 ■ Hypatia of Alexandria 331 ■ John Stuart Mill 190–93 ■ the sexes in Western society. between the sexes to justify the late 18th century. a social inequality between women seeds of the suffragette and feminist noted female mathematician and men. such as Alexandria. Egypt. Simone de Beauvoir 276–77 ■ Luce Irigaray 320 ■ Hélène Cixous 322 . 1869 John Stuart Mill’s The and women are given the same Mary Wollstonecraft Subjection of Women argues education they will acquire the for equality of the sexes. Among the that they learn deference to them. ■ and philosopher. Feminism most prominent voices of dissent Wollstonecraft’s demand that was that of the English radical women be treated as equal citizens BEFORE Mary Wollstonecraft. the Macaulay claims the apparent validity of such reasoning was weakness of women is caused being called into question. However.

and neither can be used to that it is impossible to doubt and conditions. This is an Kant develops a philosophy of idea that gained ground in the idealism and the transcendental Enlightenment period. he asks. but depending selves and independent of us. They can never be Idealism living in a world that appears to be “mixed” into one philosophical causally determined. thing of which we can be sure. BRANCH Immanuel Kant. beyond our rational reasons. will. can only “choose” which philosophy therefore the one and only The idea that there is a world one believes in.” The self is unvarying laws of nature. In this regime in Germany. AFTER determined by something else and observe what is 20th century Fichte’s that exists outside of ourselves? involved in doing this. the “I” that synthesizes thinks that it leaves no room for information. not for objective. that is to say. system. This forms the moral values or choice. the self is an active 1950S Isaiah Berlin holds entity or essence that exists Fichte’s idea of true freedom of the self as responsible for See also: René Descartes 116–23 ■ Benedictus Spinoza 126–29 ■ modern authoritarianism. nationalist ideas become Fichte argues instead for a Johann Gottlieb Fichte version of idealism similar to Kant’s.” ■ 18th century Immanuel known as dogmatism.176 WHAT SORT OF PHILOSOPHY ONE CHOOSES DEPENDS ON WHAT SORT OF PERSON ONE IS JOHANN GOTTLIEB FICHTE (1762–1814) J ohann Gottlieb Fichte was outside of causal influences. if everything is Think the I. is upon “what sort of person one is. How can basis of Fichte’s idealism and people be considered to have free notion of the self. but Fichte ego. and spontaneously. like this “out there”. while starting points. associated with Martin in which our own minds create all Heidegger and the Nazi that we think of as reality. For this reason one that “I exist. idealist world. Immanuel Kant 164–71 ■ Martin Heidegger 252–55 ■ Isaiah Berlin 280–81 . He examined how Fichte understands idealism and Epistemology it is possible for us to exist as dogmatism to be entirely different APPROACH ethical beings with free will. according to refute the other. and IN CONTEXT an 18th-century German is able to think and choose freely. he says. there is no way of BEFORE in a world where every event follows proving philosophically which is 1641 René Descartes discovers on necessarily from previous events correct. philosopher and student of independently.

therefore I am. Metaphilosophy (short. These IN CONTEXT poet. “man is assumption that a linear type of the measure of all things. 1641 René Descartes claims Schlegel disagrees with the approaches of Aristotle and René to have found a first principle Descartes. ambiguous sayings) into While his charge against earlier APPROACH later modern philosophy. 1967 Jacques Derrida claims philosophy as a whole—fits within Western and Eastern philosophies use the broader context of his Romantic very different approaches. Georg Hegel 178–85 ■ Martin Heidegger 252–55 ■ Jacques Derrida 308–13 . Friedrich Schlegel. and the path to recognizing matter of our relationship with Philosophy is the art of thinking.450 BCE Protagoras says that should question both how Western applying philosophical methods to there are no first principles philosophy functions and its the subject of philosophy itself. in contrast BRANCH introducing the use of aphorisms to most Enlightenment thinking.” argument is the best approach.” Schlegel points out that its methods our own existence. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 177 ABOUT NO SUBJECT IS THERE LESS PHILOSOPHIZING THAN ABOUT PHILOSOPHY FRIEDRICH SCHLEGEL (1772-1829) T he German historian and theories about art and life. In 1798 philosophy was not necessarily Reflexivity he observed that there was little correct his contemporary. took up the cause for BEFORE (metaphilosophy). implying that we reflexivity—the modern name for C. resembles a circle of circles. 1830 Georg Hegel says that because every conclusion of an “the whole of philosophy argument can be endlessly perfected. that philosophical analysis can only be made at the level of See also: Protagoras 42–43 ■ Aristotle 56–63 ■ René Descartes 116–23 ■ language and texts. and it is no straight line but a circle.” Describing his own approach. saying they are wrong on which to build beliefs about to assume that there are solid “first existence when he states that principles” that can form a starting “I think. He also thinks that it is not AFTER possible to reach any final answers. value individual human emotion is generally credited with above rational thought. Georg philosophizing about philosophy Hegel.” point. Schlegel says philosophy must 1920S Martin Heidegger always “start in the middle… it is a argues that philosophy is a whole. Schlegel’s holistic view—seeing affect the kind of answers it can find. ■ or absolute truths.

GEORG HEGEL (1770–1831)


egel was the single most
IN CONTEXT famous philosopher in
Germany during the first
half of the 19th century. His central
idea was that all phenomena,
APPROACH from consciousness to political
Idealism institutions, are aspects of a single
Spirit (by which he means “mind” or
BEFORE “idea”) that over the course of time
6th century BCE Heraclitus is reintegrating these aspects into
claims that all things pass into itself. This process of reintegration
their opposites, an important is what Hegel calls the “dialectic”,
factor in Hegel’s dialectic. and it is one that we (who are all
1781 Immanuel Kant publishes aspects of Spirit) understand as
“history.” Hegel is therefore a
his Critique of Pure Reason,
monist, for he believes that all
which shows the limits of
things are aspects of a single thing,
human knowledge. and an idealist, for he believes that Certain changes, such those brought
1790s The works of Johann reality is ultimately something about by the American Revolution,
that is not material (in this case are explained by Hegel as the progress
Fichte and Friedrich Schelling of Spirit from a lesser stage of its
lay the foundations for the Spirit). Hegel’s idea radically
development to a higher stage.
school of German Idealism. altered the philosophical landscape,
and to fully grasp its implications
AFTER we need to take a look at the is something that we learn and
1846 Karl Marx writes The background to his thought. change as we use it, and the same
German Ideology, which uses is true of science—scientists start
Hegel’s dialectical method. History and consciousness with a body of theory, and then go
Few philosophers would deny that on either to confirm or to disconfirm
1943 Jean-Paul Sartre’s
human beings are, to a great it. The same is also true of social
existentialist work Being and extent, historical—that we inherit institutions, such as the family, the
Nothingness relies upon things from the past, change them, state, banks, churches, and so on—
Hegel’s notion of the dialectic. and then pass them on to future most of which are modified forms
generations. Language, for example, of earlier practices or institutions.

Georg Hegel Georg Hegel was born in 1770 in became a newspaper editor and
Stuttgart, Germany, and studied then a school headmaster before
theology at Tübingen where he being appointed to the chair of
met and became friends with the philosophy first in Heidelberg
poet Friedrich Hölderlin and the and then at the prestigious
philosopher Friedrich Schelling. University of Berlin. At the age
He spent several years working of 41 he married Marie von
as a tutor before an inheritance Tucher, with whom he had
allowed him to join Schelling at three children. Hegel died in
the University of Jena. Hegel 1831 during a cholera epidemic.
was forced to leave Jena when
Napoleon’s troops occupied the Key works
town, and just managed to rescue
his major work, Phenomenology 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit
of Spirit, which catapulted him to 1812–16 Science of Logic
a dominant position in German 1817 Encyclopedia of the
philosophy. In need of funds, he Philosophical Sciences

See also: Heraclitus 40 ■ Johann Gottlieb Fichte 176 ■ Friedrich Schelling 335 ■ Arthur Schopenhauer 186–88 ■

Karl Marx 196–203 ■ Jean-Paul Sartre 268–71

Human beings, therefore, never may give us knowledge about the
begin their existence from scratch, outside world, but nothing within
but always within some kind of experience itself teaches us that
context—a context that changes, the outside world actually contains,
sometimes radically within a single for example, causes and effects.
generation. Some things, however, For Kant, knowledge of the basic
To comprehend what is
do not immediately appear to be structure of the outside world is a
historical, or subject to change. priori knowledge. It is only possible
is the task of philosophy,
An example of such a thing is because we are all born with for what is, is reason.
consciousness. We know for certain categories that supply us with a Georg Hegel
that what we are conscious of will framework for experience—part of
change, but what it means to be which is the assumption that there
conscious—what kind of a thing it is an external world. However, Kant
is to be awake, to be aware, to be continues, this a priori framework
capable of thinking and making means that the world as it appears ❯❯
decisions—is something that we
tend to believe has always been
the same for everyone. Likewise,
it seems plausible to claim that Philosophy must begin
the structures of thought are not by making no assumptions.
historical—that the kind of activity
that thinking is, and what mental
faculties it relies on (memory,
perception, understanding, and so
on), has always been the same for We must not assume We must not assume that
everyone throughout history. This that the structures of the whole of reality is divided
was certainly what Hegel’s great thought and consciousness into thoughts and the
idealist predecessor, Immanuel never change. objects of thought.
Kant, believed—and to understand
Hegel, we need to know what he
thought about Kant’s work.

Kant’s categories
For Kant, the basic ways in which These structures themselves Thoughts and objects are
thought works, and the basic are aspects of spirit. both aspects of spirit.
structures of consciousness, are a
priori—that is, they exist prior to
(and so are not are not derived from)
experience. This means that they All reality is spirit, and
are independent not only of what we all spirit undergoes
are thinking about, or are conscious historical development.
of, but are independent of any
historical influence or development.
Kant calls these structures
of thought “categories”, and these
include the concepts “cause”, All reality is a
“substance”, “existence”, and historical process.
“reality.” For example, experience

Hegel’s dialectic shows how opposites find resolution. they are “dialectical”—meaning
A state of tyranny, for example, generates a need for that they are always subject to
freedom—but once freedom has been achieved there change. Where Kant believes in
can only be anarchy until an element of tyranny is
an unchanging framework of
combined with freedom, creating the synthesis “law.”
experience, Hegel believes that
THESIS ANTITHESIS the framework of experience itself
is subject to change—as much,
indeed, as the world that we
experience. Consciousness,
therefore, and not merely what
we are conscious of, is part of an
evolving process. This process is
“dialectical”—a concept that has a
very specific meaning in Hegel’s
TYRANNY FREEDOM philosophical thought.

Hegel’s dialectic
The notion of dialectic is central
to what Hegel calls his immanent
(internal) account of the development
of things. He declares that his
account will guarantee four things.
First, that no assumptions are made.
Second, that only the broadest
LAW notions possible are employed, the
better to avoid asserting anything
without justification. Third, that it
shows how a general notion gives
is dependent upon the nature of two respects to be sufficiently rise to other, more specific, notions.
the human mind, and does not thorough in his analysis. First of Fourth, that this process happens
represent the world as it really is— all, Hegel regards Kant’s notion of entirely from “within” the notion
in other words, the world as it is “in the “world in itself” as an empty itself. This fourth requirement
itself.” This “world as it is in itself” abstraction that means nothing. reveals the core of Hegel’s logic—
is what Kant calls the noumenal For Hegel, what exists is whatever namely that every notion, or
world, and he claims that it is comes to be manifested in “thesis”, contains within itself a
unknowable. All that we can consciousness—for example, as contradiction, or “antithesis”, which
know, according to Kant, is the something sensed or as something is only resolved by the emergence
world as it appears to us through thought. Kant’s second failure, Hegel of a newer, richer notion, called a
the framework of the categories— argues, is that he makes too many “synthesis”, from the original notion
and this is what Kant calls the assumptions about the nature and itself. One consequence of this
“phenomenal” world, or the world origin of the categories. immanent process is that when we
of our everyday experience. Hegel’s task is to understand become aware of the synthesis,
these categories without making we realize that what we saw as the
Hegel’s critique of Kant any assumptions whatsoever, earlier contradiction in the thesis
Hegel believes that Kant made and the worst assumption that was only an apparent contradiction,
great strides forward in eliminating Hegel sees in Kant concerns the one that was caused by some
naivety in philosophy, but that his relationships of the categories to limitation in our understanding
accounts of the “world in itself” each other. Kant assumes that the of the original notion.
and the categories still betray categories are original and distinct, An example of this logical
uncritical assumptions. Hegel and that they are totally separate progression appears at the
argues that Kant fails in at least from each other—but for Hegel beginning of Hegel’s Science of

between two aspects of a single, beginning of the dialectical process,
higher concept in which they find which goes on to repeat itself at
resolution. In the case of “being” a higher level. That is, any new
and “not-being”, the concept that synthesis turns out, on further
resolves them is “becoming.” When analysis, to involve its own
Each of the parts of we say that something “becomes”, contradiction, and this in turn
philosophy is a philosophical we mean that it moves from a state is overcome by a still richer or
whole, a circle rounded and of not-being to a state of being—so “higher” notion. All ideas, according
complete in itself. it turns out that the concept of to Hegel, are interconnected in this
Georg Hegel “being” that we started off with way, and the process of revealing
was not really a single concept at those connections is what Hegel
all, but merely one aspect of the calls his “dialectical method.”
three-part notion of “becoming.” In saying that the structures of
The vital point here is that the thought are dialectical, therefore,
concept of “becoming” is not Hegel means that they are not
introduced from “outside”, as it distinct and irreducible, as Kant
Logic, where he introduces the were, to resolve the contradiction maintained, but that they emerge
most general and all-inclusive between “being” and “not-being.” from the broadest, emptiest notions
notion of “pure being”—meaning On the contrary, Hegel’s analysis by means of this movement of self-
anything that in any sense could be shows that “becoming” was always contradiction and resolution.
said to be. He then shows that this the meaning of “being” and “not-
concept contains a contradiction— being”, and that all we had to do Dialectic and the world
namely, that it requires the opposite was analyze these concepts to see The discussion of Hegel’s dialectic
concept of “nothingness” or “not- their underlying logic. above uses terms such as “emerge”,
being” for it to be fully understood. This resolution of a thesis (being) “development”, and “movement.”
Hegel then shows that this with its antithesis (not-being) in a On the one hand, these terms
contradiction is simply a conflict synthesis (becoming) is just the reflect something important ❯❯

In Hegel’s view, a synthesis emerging from
an antagonism of thesis and antithesis itself
becomes a new thesis, which generates its
own antithesis—which finally gives birth
to another synthesis. This dialectical
process is one in which Spirit comes to
ever more accurate understandings
of itself—culminating in
the philosophy of Hegel,
in which it achieves
complete understanding.

T1 A1

S1 / T2 A2

KEY S2 / T3 A3

about this method of philosophy— development of these forms of
that it starts without assumptions consciousness. He starts with the
and from the least controversial types of consciousness that an
point, and allows ever richer and individual human being might
truer concepts to reveal themselves possess, and works up to collective
through the process of dialectical forms of consciousness. He does so
Each stage of
unfolding. On the other hand, in such a way as to show that these
however, Hegel clearly argues that types of consciousness are to be
world-history is a necessary
these developments are not simply found externalized in particular
moment in the Idea of
interesting facts of logic, but are real historical periods or events—most the World Spirit.
developments that can be seen at famously, for example, in the Georg Hegel
work in history. For example, a man American and French revolutions.
from ancient Greece and a man Indeed, Hegel even argues that
living in the modern world will at certain times in history, Spirit’s
obviously think about different next revolutionary change may
things, but Hegel claims that their manifest itself as an individual
very ways of thinking are different, (such as Napoleon Bonaparte) who,
and represent different kinds of as an individual consciousness, is of oppression —of overcoming
consciousness—or different stages completely unaware of his or her tyrannies that may themselves be
in the historical development of role in the history of Spirit. And the the result of the overcoming of
thought and consciousness. progress that these individuals previous tyrannies.
Hegel’s first major work, make is always characterized by This extraordinary idea—that
Phenomenology of Spirit, gives the freeing of aspects of Spirit (in the nature of consciousness has
an account of the dialectical human form) from recurring states changed through time, and changed
in accordance with a pattern that is
visible in history—means that
there is nothing about human
beings that is not historical in
character. Moreover, this historical
development of consciousness
cannot simply have happened at
random. Since it is a dialectical
process, it must in some sense
contain both a particular sense of
direction and an end point. Hegel
calls this end point “Absolute
Spirit”—and by this he means a
future stage of consciousness
which no longer even belongs to
individuals, but which instead
belongs to reality as a whole.
At this point in its development,
knowledge is complete—as it must
be, according to Hegel, since Spirit
encompasses, through dialectical

Napoleon Bonaparte, according to
Hegel, perfectly embodied the zeitgeist
(spirit of the age) and was able, through
his actions, to move history into the
next stage of its development.

” Hegel argues that all versions of this distinction are mistakes. However. and occupying a Spirit develops—or how it “empties separate space to that of matter or itself out into time. as insufficiently analyzed aspects Georg Hegel realization. are no But the Whole is nothing other what is known. namely that of of Hegel’s dialectic. For regarded as a system of stages. or At this stage of nature. however. Furthermore. This to Hegel. As exist in the physical world and Hegel writes in The Phenomenology thoughts about those things— of Spirit. that only in the that Absolute Spirit takes in its behind. Later stages of writes.” other than its own completed and so the dialectic continues. be said that it is essentially consciousness itself—of the forms the preceding stages are not left a result. according results. but are revealed end is it what it truly is. . what of this progression begins with we think of as an individual person consciousness first thinking of is not a separate constituent of itself as an individual thing among reality. when we see that there is personified by the figure of Germania. when properly understood. as it were.” He goes on to claim that revealed as aspects of Spirit. The “Whole of Spirit”. a different “Absolute Spirit”. In other words. reality—it comes to be aware of there was a dominant philosophical itself as having always been nothing view that there are two kinds of other than the movement toward entities in the world—things that this encompassing of reality. Spirit longer those of individuals. Spirit Spirit and mind does not simply come to encompass At the time Hegel was writing. to that which has “existence as which knows and reflects on Spirit” (the whole of nature now itself. but is an aspect of how other individuals. “The True is the Whole. and which seems to go its things are both absolutely different way quite separately from human (things and thoughts). Hegel the natural world. what we Hegel argues that it only seems ordinarily call “nature” or “the world” as though the objects of thought are is also Spirit. however historical development. “Nature is to be different from thought itself. “History is a conscious. the illusion of difference and writes. both the knower and consciousness. Spirit).” he Hegel. and undergoes a process of always parts of itself. but also history? What does it mean to say somehow similar (because the that reality itself is historical? thoughts are images of things). “one arising necessarily from separation between these two the other and being the proximate apparent “worlds” is shown as such German history had reached its end truth of the stage from which it when both thought and nature are point in the Prussian state. but are than the essence consummating grasps this knowledge as nothing those of social or political groups— itself through its development. Spirit emptied out into time. However. these latter being something like self-mediating process—[it is] pictures or images of the things. and is both thought and revealed as always having been. Hegel’s account of Spirit as a whole. what is thought about. dialectical progression toward self. ■ unknowingly. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 185 “only Life” (nature as a living whole) only one reality—that of Spirit. Reality is Spirit—both thought essence—the full assimilation of refining itself until it reaches the and what is known by thought— all forms of “otherness” that were stage of Absolute Spirit. is the end point Of the Absolute it must dialectic begins. there was a strong one of the stages of nature is the illusion is overcome in Absolute feeling in favor of a united Germany. synthesis. Indeed.” Thus. and Spirit and nature involve committing ourselves to the But what about the world in which ridiculous scenario in which two we live. According to Hegel. as progression from that which is Spirit.

THE LIMITS OF 1781 Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason introduces the concept of a “thing in itself”. Most of all he detested the idealist Georg Hegel for his dry writing style and optimistic philosophy. but dismissed the idealists of his own generation. THE WORLD which Schopenhauer used as a starting point for his ideas. Using Kant’s metaphysics as his starting point. which he expressed in clear. explaining how all our knowledge comes from experience. as a major influence. He took Kant’s view that the world is divided into what we perceive through our . Schopenhauer developed his own view of the world. who held that reality ultimately consists of something nonmaterial. Early 20th century Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud explores what lies behind our basic human urges. AFTER ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER (1788–1860) Late 19th century Friedrich Nietzsche puts forward the notion of a “Will to power” to explain human motivations. whom he idolized. literary language. He acknowledged Immanuel Kant. A rthur Schopenhauer was not part of the mainstream of early 19th-century German philosophy.186 IN CONTEXT EVERY MAN TAKES BRANCH Metaphysics THE LIMITS OF APPROACH Idealism HIS OWN FIELD BEFORE 1690 John Locke publishes An Essay Concerning Human OF VISION FOR Understanding.

universal Will. He attained themselves” (noumena). that “each man believes only his and was once convicted of Interpreting Kant experience”. philosopher Empedocles had said affairs and avoided marriage. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 187 See also: Empedocles 330 ■ John Locke 130–33 ■ Immanuel Kant 164–71 ■ Georg Hegel 178–85 ■ Friedrich Nietzsche 214–21 My version of the world is limited by… …the limited …my limited observations I can experience of a vast make of a vast universe. nor the universal England before his family Will I have not experienced. Schopenhauer was expected to become a My version of the world does merchant like his father. Paralipomena for the limits of the world. but he limited to our experience was not a reputation as a philanderer wanted to explain the nature of the an entirely new one. have a limited vision of the world. Schopenhauer taught senses (phenomena). of which my will is just a part.” So we each comes from his interpretation of Butz (German for hobgoblin). the Will and Representation adds to this that “every man takes phenomenal and noumenal are 1851 Parerga and the limits of his own field of vision not two different realities or worlds. After completing his studies. he had several phenomenal and noumenal worlds. He not include things I have travelled through France and not perceived. and it Hinduism and Buddhism) or world as it is “in itself. I take the limits of my own field of He maintained an uneasy vision for the limits of the world. where he studied philosophy and psychology. we each century John Locke had asserted he moved to Frankfurt. who constantly criticized his achievements. where construct a version of the world that “no man’s knowledge here can he lived until his death with a from our perceptions—the go beyond his experience.” but the same world. Kant’s phenomenal and noumenal as our perceptions are built from worlds. In 1831 According to Kant. and “things in The idea of knowledge being at Berlin University. settled in Hamburg in 1793.” But the succession of poodles called phenomenal world—but we can reason Schopenhauer gives for this either Atman (“soul” in never experience the noumenal limitation is quite new. relationship with his mother. In 1805. and in the 17th assaulting a woman. experienced ❯❯ . The important difference Key works information acquired through a between Kant and Schopenhauer 1818 and 1844 The World as limited set of senses. after his father’s death— possibly by suicide—he felt able to stop working and go to university. Schopenhauer is that for Schopenhauer. Arthur Schopenhauer Born into a wealthy and cosmopolitan family in Danzig (now Gdansk). the ancient and misogynist.

the especially in music. not aspects: Will and Representation. but Schopenhauer’s thinking reflects responsible for everything that meaningless. It lies behind our our individual wills and the Will of outer and inner existences. This means it must be (Representations). his otherwise misanthropic and Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. at least a loss of will for gratification. the same event experienced in two different ways. where his ideas Schopenhauer studied the Hindu Bhagavad Gita. He had to his analysis of the world as Will. the end of the 19th century. like Kant. most basic urges. in which Krishna the Will. manifests itself in the phenomenal struggle to find happiness achieve world. Schopenhauer develops a about our basic urges and their charioteer tells Arjuna that a man is moral philosophy that may be frustration influenced the a slave to his desires unless he can somewhat surprising. which all our knowledge Schopenhauer says that an act then. no driving direction. though he did have an influence He proposes that relief can be found on writers and musicians. the world as a whole at the mercy of a mindless. One is experienced Eastern influence from inside. he insists. and experience timeless and indivisible. He believes. considering psychoanalytic theories of both free himself from his cravings. and the resulting movement. again. When we look at Schopenhauer’s pessimism shows things outside ourselves. and Schopenhauer uses the word “will” frustration as we attempt to relieve moral goodness can arise from a to express a pure energy that has our cravings. Friedrich Nietzsche in particular Schopenhauer’s philosophy here acknowledged his influence. studied Eastern thinkers and Perhaps Schopenhauer’s greatest religions in great detail. It is one world. with two concepts within our minds. aimless essentially an illusion—because all still has the same simultaneous universal Will. represent the phenomenal world. such as wishing to raise my and individual will are one and the is the inexplicable. Here. and the universe are one and the same is what causes us to live lives of thing—we can learn empathy with A universal Will constant disappointment and everyone and everything else. Toward through aesthetic contemplation. that at best gratification and at worst Lasting legacy space and time belong in the pain and suffering. which is the primacy he gave to Will became one art that does not attempt to a theme in philosophy once more. same thing. Schopenhauer sees humanity separateness from the universe is reality or Will. and humans who the ideals of Eastern philosophy. was in the field From his idea of one universal of psychology. things outside of them—so the This is most easily evidenced by our Will of the world does not mark bodies.188 ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER differently. or follow causal or spatial ways: we perceive them as objects laws. that the Will of the universe and learning rests of will. not their inner force. motiveless Will. is nonexistence or overshadowed by those of Hegel. and yet is world is neither good nor bad. He realizes we see only their objective such as Hegel saw will as a positive that if we can recognize that our Representation. the other observed At this point in his argument. For Schopenhauer. influence. arm. Where contemporaries pessimistic character. ■ . noumenal and phenomenal—but timeless. which we experience in two time. Schopenhauer was largely ignored phenomenal world—they are The only escape from this by other German philosophers in miserable condition. It follows. and the phenomenal Arthur Schopenhauer are not in two different worlds—the world is controlled by this vast. the universal compassion. although through. must our individual wills. and echoes the Buddhist concept of Henri Bergson and the American nirvana (a transcendent state free pragmatists also owe something from desire or suffering). and so The fundament upon them from within (as Will). and his ideas were Schopenhauer. however. according to his lifetime. from outside.

which inspired also forgotten or forsaken what we APPROACH revolutionary thinkers such as Karl are ourselves. all of these qualities in the highest need for certainty and reassurance. Feuerbach sees no reason in this life. possible degree. but the as Carvaka is established. in their of political revolution. Feuerbach argues that all psychoanalyst Sigmund God) is therefore nothing more gods are created in the same way.600 BCE Thales is the first Hegel. Imagining God Feuerbach suggests that in our AFTER yearning for all that is best in Mid-19th century Karl humankind—love. but where Hegel saw an heavenly righteousness and more Western philosopher to deny Absolute Spirit as the guiding force on human justice—it is people that the universe owes its in nature. we have Philosophy of religion Christianity (1841). The the fact that these virtues actually book incorporates much of the exist in humans. For Feuerbach. from our philosopher Diagoras of Melos own longings and desires. on this Earth. and so on—we have reasoning in his philosophy imagined a being that incorporates The Israelites of the Bible. humans are not an externalized of atheistic philosophy known form of an Absolute Spirit. We have lost sight of Atheism Marx and Friedrich Engels.400 BCE The ancient Greek of a great spirit. to look beyond our experience to deserve our attention. that existence to a god. not gods. Marx uses Feuerbach’s kindness. puts forward arguments in defense of atheism. ■ C. a god. Freud argues that religion is a projection of human wishes. For this BEFORE philosophical thinking of Georg reason we should focus less on C. compassion. Not only have we Feuerbach is best known deceived ourselves into thinking BRANCH for his book The Essence of that a divine being exists. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 189 THEOLOGY IS ANTHROPOLOGY LUDWIG ANDREAS FEUERBACH (1804–1872) T he 19th-century German than anthropology (the study of IN CONTEXT philosopher Ludwig humanity).500 BCE The Indian school explain existence. See also: Thales of Miletus 22–23 ■ Georg Hegel 178–85 ■ Karl Marx 196–203 . opposite: we have created the idea C.” Theology (the study of to worship. and then called created a false god—the golden calf— Late 19th century The it “God.

J ohn Stuart Mill was born into an intellectually privileged family. Romantic ideas from Europe began to influence British moral and political philosophy. and he was aware from an early age of the British traditions of philosophy that had emerged during the Enlightenment of the 18th century. 1689 John Locke’s book. looks JOHN STUART MILL (1806–1873) at social contract theory in the context of empiricism.M. Thomas Hobbes says that people IS SOVEREIGN are “brutish” and must be controlled by a social contract. based on the idea that laws should be those everyone would accept.” AFTER 1930s Economist J. APPROACH Utilitarianism THE INDIVIDUAL BEFORE 1651 In Leviathan. which was a very British interpretation of the political philosophy that had . influenced by Mill. Two Treatises of Government. 1789 Jeremy Bentham advocates the “greatest happiness principle. The most obvious product of this influence was utilitarianism. But during the late 18th century.190 IN CONTEXT OVER HIS OWN BRANCH Political philosophy BODY AND MIND. 1971 John Rawls publishes A Theory of Justice. develops liberal economic theories. Keynes. John Locke and David Hume had established a philosophy whose new empiricism stood in stark contrast to the rationalism of continental European philosophers.

John was educated at home by his father. Mill suffered a breakdown Over his own at the age of 20. whose demanding program began with teaching Greek to John when he was only three years old. His father was the Scottish philosopher Individuals can choose …but they are and historian James Mill. advocate of women’s rights. During this period he met Harriet Taylor. 1843 System of Logic the task of synthesizing a valuable aiming for reform rather than 1848 Principles of Political Economy intellectual heritage with the new revolution. influenced John’s home education. He left body and mind. Its and less dogmatic than Bentham of Parliament from 1865 to originator. where he is sovereign. Jeremy Bentham. putting into practice his a friend of the Mill family. but their moral and political philosophy. Jeremy Bentham. and he judged on its usefulness). Mill served as a Member of both Europe and America. harm others. and it formed the basis 1859 On Liberty 19th-century Romanticism. stayed until his retirement in 1857. 1861 Utilitarianism approach is less sceptical than After completing his first 1869 The Subjection of Women that of Hume (who argued that all philosophical work. the exhaustive 1874 On Nature knowledge comes from sense six-volume System of Logic. but not things that could “philosophical radicals” with that of someone else. who—after a relationship of 20 years—eventually became his shaped the 18th-century revolutions experience. Mill’s moral Key works Victorian liberalism and political philosophy is less As a philosopher Mill sets himself extreme than his predecessors’. it could harm them… John Stuart Mill John Stuart Mill was born in London in 1806. His of British Victorian liberalism. Mill ❯❯ . was (who insisted that everything be 1868. and nothing is certain) wife. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 191 See also: Thomas Hobbes 112–15 ■ John Locke 130–33 ■ Jeremy Bentham 174 ■ Bertrand Russell 236–39 ■ Karl Popper 262–65 ■ John Rawls 294–95 Decisions should be Individuals should be made on the principle free to do whatever gives of the greatest good for them pleasure. who to do things that affect not entitled to do founded the movement of their own body. as it gave him a living and time to write. university to work for the East the individual India Company. even if the greatest number. empiricism and utilitarianism informed his thinking. After years of intense study.

By this. There is. he says that this practicality. but Mill everyone. He describes his ”greatest happiness of the greatest dissatisfied than interpretation of how utilitarianism number” actually affect the a fool satisfied. people Furthermore. He concludes that society individual’s freedom to pursue personal goals. and that is where one person’s action impinges on the happiness of others. enacting a kind of majority you would be done by. He believed this would raise society’s overall level of happiness. and that legislation “felicific calculus” (an algorithm for happiness. from achieving happiness? constitutes “the ideal perfection of Mill thinks that the solution utilitarian morality. might be applied as similar to Jesus individual? Might laws that sought John Stuart Mill of Nazareth’s “golden rule”: do as to do this. This. but he thinks it lacks good of society.” He underlines this by pointing out that in these cases. and was a firm believer in would legislation promoting the to be Socrates its usefulness. theories of utilitarianism. actually prevent some people neighbor as yourself.” is for education and public opinion to work together to establish an Legislating for liberty “indissoluble association” between should therefore allow all individuals Mill supports Bentham’s happiness an individual’s happiness and the the freedom to pursue happiness. How It is better number”. As a result. Bentham had seen the would always be motivated to act right should be protected by the idea as depending upon an abstract not only for their own good or government. and happiness gained The good samaritan helps his enemy in a biblical parable that demonstrates Mill’s golden rule: do as you would be done by.192 JOHN STUART MILL turned his attention to moral wants to find out how it might philosophy. particularly Bentham’s be implemented in the real world. however.” Quantifying happiness Mill then turns his attention to how best to measure happiness. of Bentham’s principle of “the rather than merely its use in greatest happiness for the greatest making moral decisions. but Mill thinks it is also important to consider the quality of pleasure. a person’s “own good. This is known as the “harm principle. . but toward that of should be drawn up to protect the calculating happiness). is not a sufficient warrant. Bentham had considered the duration and intensity of pleasures in his felicific calculus. either physical or moral. he is referring to the difference between a simple satisfaction of desires and sensual pleasures. He had He is interested in the social and been struck by the elegant simplicity political implications of the principle. he says. Mill says. one situation in which this freedom should be curtailed. and love your rule. principle.

” His ideas came to pursuits. even if what they do is In his time as a Member of harmful to them. that individuals are free to think John Stuart Mill and to protect the rights of the and act as they please. whether intervention is kept to a minimum. at the center of his utilitarian equal to 99 who have practical measures to restrict the philosophy. Mill then tries to pin by authority. This. for Mill. amendment to the 1867 Reform Act. want that will give us pleasure) and about until much later. Strongly notably by the British economist influenced by his wife Harriet John Maynard Keynes. and combining them with In line with his empiricist the idea of freedom from interference background. His utilitarian-inspired often against our immediate philosophy to the attention of a philosophy had a direct influence on inclination. which is felt only when were obvious practical applications of utilitarianism to the free market. America. that ultimately bring wide public. as the rather unsatisfactory explanation. His liberalist philosophy took Mill as their starting point. he was the first British of ethics. philosophers such as Mill was not a purely academic parliamentarian to propose votes Bertrand Russell. but his and he is now considered by many conscientious actions (the things speeches brought the liberal to be the architect of Victorian we do out a sense of duty or charity. This actually desire it. He therefore suggested society. a year after Mill tried to secure their achievements of individual talents legal right to vote by arguing for an but he goes on to distinguish contribute to the good of all. In the “happiness embody Victorian liberalism. equation” he gives more weight softening the radical ideas that had to higher. and John Rawls all ideas should be put into practice. interference. He saw any restriction theories. political. philosophical. What is important is only interests. and us pleasure). and mean in terms of government and contrary to his father’s economic legislation. without individual to free expression. in turn benefits society. What causes happiness? He He believes that if society leaves decides that “the sole evidence it is individuals to live in a way that possible to produce that anything makes them happy. Modern economics happiness. for the 20th century. but in the second we promotion of basic human rights. Every individual. he advocated a free- of the individual’s freedom to pursue market economy where government happiness as a tyranny. In the first case. physical ones. rather than is a social power despot. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 193 through intellectual and cultural and mind. power of society over the individual. ■ so he considered what this might also encompassed economics. has been shaped from various desire it as a means to our and against slavery—all of which interpretations of his application happiness. reforms which were not to come is “sovereign over his own body . and he believed his for women as part of his government William James. the act reaches its virtuous end.” This seems a Suffrage was set up in Britain in 1868. intellectual pleasures led to revolutions in Europe and than to baser. As a philosopher and social. is the down the essence of happiness. of his utilitarianism. he argued strongly in economic thinking well into the desire something as a part of our defense of free speech. is that people do The National Society for Women’s to achieve their potential. which individual is striving to achieve? was an important Victorian ideal. between two different desires: In his own lifetime Mill was unmotivated desires (the things we regarded as a significant philosopher. Karl Popper. we politician. he asks. philosopher. reforms. this was the collective tyranny of the majority (through democratic A softer revolution One person with a belief election) or the singular rule of a Mill places the individual. that each means to social progress. In the field Practical utilitarianism Taylor-Mill. it enables them is desirable. basis for just governance and the What is it. Parliament. applications of his utilitarian liberalism. Mill proposed many says Mill in his essay On Liberty.

BRANCH we have absolute Metaphysics freedom of choice. dizziness of freedom. so how we make . particularly great philosophical system. or Geist. which defined humankind as which are themselves determined part of an inevitable historical by our choices. Critique of Practical Reason. AFTER 1927 Martin Heidegger explores the concepts of Angst and existential guilt in his S book Being and Time. lives are determined by our actions. by arguing for a more developed in reaction to the subjective approach. but as that of Georg Hegel.194 ANXIETY IS THE DIZZINESS OF FREEDOM SØREN KIERKEGAARD (1813–1855) IN CONTEXT When making decisions. Kierkegaard a self-determining individual. in the mid-19th century. the thought. Existentialism or anything. 1807–22 Georg Hegel suggests A feeling of dread or anxiety accompanies a historical consciousness. establishing a relationship between human consciousness and the world Anxiety is the in which it lives. øren Kierkegaard’s philosophy development. not as part of some existentialist philosophy. He wants to 1938 Jean-Paul Sartre lays German idealist thinking examine what “it means to be a down the foundations of his that dominated continental Europe human being”. 1946 Ludwig Wittgenstein wanted to refute Hegel’s idea of Kierkegaard believes that our acknowledges Kierkegaard’s a complete philosophical system. We realize that we can APPROACH choose to do nothing. BEFORE 1788 Immanuel Kant stresses Our minds reel at the importance of freedom the thought of this in moral philosophy in his absolute freedom. work in Culture and Value.

rejected by his contemporaries. made him unsuitable for married a wealthy tradesman. and fear brought on by the to provide the framework for impulse to throw himself off the existentialism. he continually son inherited these traits. The father of existentialism Kierkegaard explains this feeling Kierkegaard’s ideas were largely in his book. was falling. was later Kierkegaard did not abandon his that he has absolute freedom to fully defined by Jean-Paul Sartre. saying that his melancholy Golden Age of culture. However. faith in God. Shakespeare’s play demonstrates the over the edge. we experience the same anxiety Like Hegel. If this man looks importance and freedom of our or leave his father’s death unavenged. except the act of our own edge. different kinds of fear: the fear of for meaning and purpose. and 1844 The Concept of Anxiety three years later they became 1847 Works of Love . he decided to devote his life to 1843 Fear and Trembling philosophy. But to make even the most terrifying where Hegel thought this choice was decisions. Kierkegaard suggests that universe. he asks us to proved highly influential to later Hamlet is caught on the edge of a consider a man standing on a cliff generations. Unlike these later thinkers. In 1837 he met and fell 1843 Either/Or in love with Regine Olsen. in what off the engagement the following became known as the Danish year. In this way it he says. he sees moral decisions in all our moral choices. and our continual search anxiety of true freedom of choice. which criticized the Danish national were to greatly influence his church for hypocrisy. The Concept of Anxiety. His insistence on the terrible choice: whether to kill his uncle or tall building. this complete sense of personal responsibility. freedom of choice provokes in us a feeling of anxiety or dread. ■ Søren Kierkegaard Søren Kierkegaard was born in engaged. This philosophy. theology at the University of and died just over a month later. This second type of fear. but Kierkegaard broke Copenhagen in 1813. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 195 See also: Immanuel Kant 164–71 ■ Georg Hegel 178–85 ■ Friedrich Nietzsche 214–21 ■ Martin Heidegger 252–55 ■ Jean-Paul Sartre 268–71 ■ Simone De Beauvoir 276–77 ■ Albert Camus 284–85 those choices is critical to our lives. Kierkegaard believes that induces despair. far from being a increases our self-awareness and reason for happiness. choice. His father. In 1855 he philosophy. where every act is a or fear of absolute freedom. but attended lectures in philosophy. When he Key works came into a sizeable inheritance. or developed by Friedrich Nietzsche birth. Though he never lost his pious and melancholic. anxiety. and and environmental conditions of our goes on to explain that although it times. and his faith in God. but he was the first to choose whether to jump or not. He describes this anxiety largely determined by the historical as “the dizziness of freedom”. it can also shake moral choices are absolutely free. It is our will by making us more aware of the alone that determines our judgement. Copenhagen. was both life. us from our unthinking responses and above all subjective. arises from the realization and Martin Heidegger. Kierkegaard studied fell unconscious in the street. when we as a choice between the hedonistic realize that we have the freedom (self-gratifying) and the ethical. available choices. he experiences two choices. It explores the ways in which we acknowledge the realization of self- and this fear is as dizzying as his can live meaningfully in a godless consciousness and the “dizziness” vertigo. but As an example.



60s Marx refined his ideas in many rapid development of commerce short documents. As the Manifesto One of the greatest thinkers of the communism—a new belief system relates.198 KARL MARX through the ages. whom he had met when arguments about revolution. worth into exchange value.” Moral. the and the increase in the commodities whole point of their activities was that could be exchanged had. and even sentimental insight into the nature of society above the general populace to own values had been cast aside. but the of this conflict lie in economics. Karl Marx. medieval lords BEFORE and serfs. the opening 1930s Marxism becomes previous philosophers had only of the Indian and Chinese markets.’” People were once social classes. believed put forward by a small and relatively demand ever rising. he claimed. 1789 The French Revolution The Communist Manifesto Marx wrote the Manifesto with provides the template for most the German philosopher Friedrich 19th-century philosophical Engels. ‘cash payment. to develop Marx’s theories into In their private manuscripts and run his own business. It was conflicts discusses class struggles in between these classes. derived from the French word bourgeoisie “has resolved personal Marx believed that he had burgeis. or burgher: a property. and Engels emphasized that while colonization of America. 19th century. than callous (upper) and subordinate (lower) working class). Political philosophy but Marx focused on a long APPROACH succession of group conflicts.1513 Niccolò Machiavelli and their employees. they were both studying academic 1800s Georg Hegel develops philosophy in Germany during the Intellectual debate was widespread in a theory of historical change late 1830s. Engels offered financial Germany at the time Marx was writing. Marx a fully-fledged philosophy of from the early and mid-1840s. and that the roots The word “bourgeoisie” is valued for who they were. but Marx was acknowledged AFTER ideas. socialists. or BRANCH stressed the role played by ideas. but to bring about real change. Italy in Discourses on Livy. During the 1850s and the mid-19th century. by Soviet Union and many other to change it. and modern employers c. ideas. including The and industry. The Manifesto claims Values of the bourgeoisie The Communist Manifesto. Marx describes how the discovery and historical materialism.” that it could. with that society had simplified into Marx claims that the bourgeoisie. had left comes about as the result of an bourgeoisie (the capital-owning no link between people other “than ongoing conflict between dominant class) and the proletariat (the naked self-interest. as . led to the communist countries. the claim that all historical change two classes in direct conflict: the who controlled all this trade. “the markets kept growing. as the real genius behind their 1880s Friedrich Engels tries combined publications. Craftsmen no longer Communist Manifesto. gained a uniquely important owning tradesman who had risen religious. a pamphlet produced enough goods for the C an the complex history of about 40 pages. the official philosophy of the sought to interpret the world. and superior writing though he himself believed that it was the task of philosophy not to discuss skills. support. He opened the first new group of radical German chapter of his most famous work. ancient Rome and Renaissance that caused revolutionary change. through intellectual conflict. Communism including those between ancient masters and slaves. and of the human species be The Manifesto seeks to explain so the manufacturing system had reduced to a single formula? the values and political plans of taken their place. Earlier approaches IN CONTEXT to history had emphasized the role of individual heroes and leaders. growing needs of new markets.

tools. Georg Hegel.. according to Marx.with others who . Dialectical change The philosophy behind Marx’s The proletariat The bourgeois or reasoning on the process of change owns little property ruling class owns most came largely from his predecessor. The change was caused. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 199 See also: Niccolò Machiavelli 102–07 ■ Jean-Jacques Rousseau 154–59 ■ Adam Smith 160–63 ■ Georg Hegel 178–85 ■ Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach 189 ■ Friedrich Nietzsche 214–21 everyone—from scientists and lawyers to priests and poets—had been transformed into nothing but People align into groups. who had described and businesses.. direct.. the bourgeoisie had “substituted naked. Marx writes. raw materials.” Charters that had once protected people’s freedom had been .against those in cast aside for one “unconscionable share their social conflict with their social freedom—Free Trade. The only solution. Karl Marx History is a The ruling class is displaced and a new record of these one is created. was for all the instruments of economic production (such as land. of each group is defined by its and consume according to their relationship to property and needs. but as a process of continual change.. reality not as a state of affairs. This was the only way to the means of production. by the fact that every idea or state of affairs (known as the “thesis”) ❯❯ When the means of production changes. so that every member of society could The socio-economic status work according to their capacities. and economic interests. such as from agricultural to industrial. prevent the rich from living at the expense of the poor. In place of religious and political “illusions”. to each according to his needs.. there are revolutions and wars. of a country’s property or business.” and economic interests. shameless. class struggles and displacements . a paid laborer.. brutal exploitation. and factories) to become common property. From each according to his abilities. he said.

conflict-free state that lies at the end shared interests. as entirely responsible for producing ownership: the original tribal one ruling class is displaced by everything they needed—such as system of common property. stages represents a different form works harmoniously toward the locked into conflict. we can acquire the key to understanding its social relations. person’s specialization or job. the another. affairs (the “synthesis”). so too do its “superstructures”—such as its politics. of economic system. making” described by the Scottish Hegel believed that we can never economist and philosopher Adam The ruling ideas of each experience things in the world as Smith. Marx agrees with Smith ideas of its ruling class. come to define them. art. Marx insists that the landowner. and The wealthy bourgeoisie enjoyed the luxuries of life in the late 18th and 19th centuries. and with whom the feudal or estate system of of the process is not the spiritual their interests lay in conflict. food. but only as they appear to or labor. us. Marx claims that the final. and what they wore. . dictated with whom in society they slavery and private property began). humans had been four different forms of property such as wars and revolutions. Rise of cultural institutions Marx also believes that an analysis of the economic basis of any society allows us to see that as its system of property alters. existence primarily that this system of exchange led Karl Marx consists of mind or spirit. religions. but the time. where everyone distinct socio-economic classes. laws. This This led to the form of “bargain process is known as the dialectic. or “mode of good of a greater whole. In earlier ages. people leading to a new idea or state of came to rely more on one another. Whatever a toward a state of absolute harmony. there have production”. is essentially specialization (or “job”) had also the progress of spirit. while the workers in their companies and on their estates endured terrible poverty. and the modern system of bliss that Hegel predicted. societies began to form. The Communist Manifesto popularized the idea that through understanding the system of property ownership in any one society. it had come to dictate process is not a journey of spiritual where he or she lived. be it But it is here that Hegel and Marx agricultural laborer or hereditary part company. Over property.200 KARL MARX contains within it an internal clothing. or Geist. through countless but he points out that this new cycles of the dialectic. According to Marx. what they ancient communal and state development. this led to the formation of capitalist production. but of real historical ate. as people exchanged goods age have ever been the they are. journey of history. in any particular era. but as the early eventually forces a change to occur. Each of these perfect society. For him. and the transitions been four major stages in human between them are marked in The formation of classes history. and habitation— conflict (the “antithesis”) that for themselves. it also system of ownership (where both change. which he sees as based on history by stormy political events. so the people to specialize in their labor.

and A Marxist utopia controlled the means of production. facts in their actual. Marx sees it as defined by classes. but to material lead to increasing unemployment. society. molding it into a particular shape. People become alienated the proletariat as the one genuinely from themselves. away from political realities. that the capitalist system is not He claimed that people make merely exploitative. . preferring their “dreams” to the real workforce. but also gods in their own image from inherently financially unstable. Marx predicted that class. But where Hegel saw In addition to its general account Following the rules of the dialectic. determining events or in the end of religion. this revolutionary selves to a god that they have class would represent the vast forgotten they created. These develop to a place in which the self is not complex nature of the process of serve the interests of the ruling despised or alienated. majority of humanity. and the emergence of Karl Marx world. This would ❯❯ the social and economic relations of an era. made up of those with similar socio-economic status. Ludwig Feuerbach. it would interests. even this ruling class is The answer for Marx lies not only from the means of production. the large numbers of impoverished every age is held in the sway of the people and the few who owned and Zeitgeist. people do not make a stamp on their era. Marx’s revision of Hegel’s philosophy from a journey of spirit to one of social and economic modes of production was also influenced by another German philosopher. the growing poverty of the for real happiness. Marx agrees. and diverting attention authoritarian god. the Zeitgeist as determined by an of human history leading to the rise this conflict would result in a violent Absolute Spirit developing over of the bourgeois and proletarian revolution to establish a new. The abolition of religion an amalgamation of humanity’s leading to the recurrence of as the illusory happiness greatest virtues. and reasoning—and that it contributes economics. In Marx’s view. Marx agrees that people cling These developments are seen to religion because they long for as underpinned by the increasingly philosophies. it argues to the general sum of human misery. time. Feuerbach believed that traditional The Industrial Revolution saw the formalization of specialized skills into paid employment. the era defines the people. or classes. and then cling to increasingly severe commercial of the people is required these gods and invented religions. but he says production. This not. in fact. The Communist Manifesto classless society. alienating more and more people However. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 201 religion is intellectually false—it is makes a variety of other claims not corroborated in any way by about politics. People then formed into groups. through an revolutionary class. crises. These define the ideas or “consciousness” of individuals and societies. but in total would split society in two. For the first unfavorable comparison of their time in history. For example. promoting its values and that this is not due to some as technology improved. between institutions. or spirit of the age. Hegel had said that social and political change. daily lives.

there would be no good reason for affairs of the bourgeois class”. because a “committee for managing the of communism. and communism would the air when Marx composed the any specific organization). His system uses insights from German idealist philosophers. and from British political be the utopian. Marx did not expect before a succession of revolutions called the “dictatorship of the the opponents of communism to proletariat”) people would enjoy give up their privileges easily. he said. conflict-free society and the wage-earning working economists. but become property-less and were first half of the 19th century. and the law as a way of reinforcing Marx predicted. rather than thought. found expression. from this Marx derives several be carried out by the leaders of the The juxtaposition of poverty with insights about property. class would become evident only Smith.202 KARL MARX Socialist-inspired revolutions swept through Europe just after the publication of The Communist Manifesto. and only administration. from French political theorists. was actually Europe—the specter would come to an end. It was written just this new kind of state (which Marx However. Socialism had become a Marx thought this perfect society when the great mass of people had recognized political doctrine in the would not require government. and commercial crises. he Class conflict was certainly in adhered to the cause. and Karl Marx political dissent or criminality. especially Georg Hegel and Ludwig Feuerbach. which were forced to appear as though they were acting in the general interest in order to gain and maintain power. (by which he means those who become increasingly obvious. Manifesto. revolution: the communist “party” the great wealth of the few would exploitation. The A specter is haunting it had previously been understood modern state. Marx saw political interests and parties as merely vehicles for the economic interests of the ruling classes. particularly Adam that marked the end of the dialectic. Shortly after class has enjoyed the advantage of this final change in the mode of controlling both the government production to a perfect society. The road to revolution Marx’s originality lies in his combination of pre-existing ideas rather than the creation of new ones. struggles by excluded groups to have their own interests taken into Political power account—such as the battle to Marx predicted that the outcome extend the right to vote—were of the intense class struggles in simply short-term ways in which the Europe between the bourgeoisie more fundamental economic conflict . and this would obliged to sell their labor for wages. class. the ruling ownership of wealth. These included the February Revolution of 1848 in Paris. Within become increasingly attractive. In genuine democracy and social every period of history. such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau. political power as their economic dominance.

and in Pol Pot’s Cambodia. his personality cults in virtually every Marx returned to Germany country in which communists during the 1848–49 revolutions. Marx’s theories have provoked. but after they were quashed he lived in exile in London for Lasting influence the rest of his life. proletariat would be different from of Trier. He never explained how The most famous revolutionary were defeated and led to little the dictatorship of this perfect thinker of the 19th century was born in the German city permanent change. as human creativity in search of work. This was the essential number of people had migrated part of the dialectic. that the The Communist 1867 Das Kapital: Volume 1 of their happy. but it is clearly from the countryside to the towns too simplistic. He and his Despite the criticism and crises that wife lived in extreme poverty. inspiring revolutions in corrupting effects of power. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 203 against the monarchies of many ideas are nevertheless still open to continental European countries a variety of criticisms. In the always argued for the inevitability preceding decades. Manifesto is “a work of genius.” ■ . China. the Manifesto acquired earlier. and the dialectic fails seen the industrial development to allow for the possibility of that had taken place in Britain. A wave of discontent felt by the Second. First. a significant of revolution. and communist society would give rise Karl Marx revolutions rippled across Europe. Jenny von countries. the 20th-century communism in collaboration communism being implemented communist movement was to with his German compatriot in such a barbaric manner in these produce immensely powerful Friedrich Engels. newly liberated citizens. where he Russia. During this time he developed a unique theory of Although Marx did not foresee politics. improvement by gradual reform. in Mao Zedong’s that poverty was the only real cause The favor he bestowed on China. and to suggest that a and nationalist politicians. royal family. In fact. Marx rarely discussed met his future wife. came to power. his and when Marx died stateless ideas have been hugely influential. practice: the extent of repression in successful revolution. at the age of 64. Many would Marxist states of the 20th century 1847 The Poverty of Philosophy promoted themselves as utopias. lawyer who had converted to an iconic status during the 20th nor how it would avoid the Christianity. understand the forces of nationalism. of criminality. somehow to a new type of human although ultimately these uprisings being. primarily agricultural societies. there were As a powerful critic of commercial only 11 mourners at his funeral. brutal forms of dictatorship. capitalism. They agree with the 20th-century 1848 The Communist produced a proliferation of paintings Russian-British philosopher. Marx broke out in 1848 and 1849. His critics have also democracy in his writing led has widely discredited his political alleged that he did not sufficiently to censorship by the Prussian and historical theories. The son of a Jewish However. Stalinist Russia. he assumed before working as a journalist. The brilliance of Marx’s the possibility that new threats Westphalen. Marx tended to invest poor against the status quo was the proletariat with wholly good exploited by a variety of liberal attributes. Marx studied law century. although is always able to produce a variety continental Europe had not yet of choices. He then studied theories has been proved wrong in to liberty might emerge after a at the University of Berlin. Isaiah Manifesto and statues glorifying the achievements Berlin. and as an economic and socialist theorist. Marx is still Key works considered relevant to politics and 1846 The German Ideology economics today. and many other Third. at Bonn University. and he was forced and that he gave no proper account into exile in France and Criticism of Marxism of the role of personal leadership in Belgium.

He Martin Luther King. Burke 172–73 ■ Karl Marx 196–203 ■ Isaiah Berlin 280–81 ■ John Rawls 294–95 . ■ c. the laws of man suppress rather such as Mahatma Gandhi and BEFORE than protect civil liberties. and that leaders of resistance movements. that society without strong he believed it was the individual’s duty to protest against unjust laws. objection through non-cooperation Mahatma Gandhi’s campaign of civil and non-violent resistance—which 1964 Martin Luther King is disobedience against British rule in he put into practice by refusing to India included the Salt March of 1930. and argued that passively allowing 1762 In The Social Contract. Thoreau’s ideas contrasted sharply IN CONTEXT Jacques Rousseau claimed with those of his contemporary Karl that nature was essentially Marx. But they APPROACH further. and with the revolutionary BRANCH benign.” as he said about English grammar. mind it. arguing that “all good were later adopted by numerous Non-conformism things are wild and free”. American philosopher spirit in Europe at the time. but the principle runs AFTER through his political philosophy too. and that than the individual. Thoreau proposes his campaign of passive a citizen’s right to conscientious resistance in South Africa. laws controlling salt production. their policies often ran contrary to 1651 Thomas Hobbes says our moral beliefs. end racial discrimination through civil disobedience See also: Jean-Jacques Rousseau 154–59 ■ Adam Smith 160–63 ■ Edmund and noncooperation. awarded the Nobel Peace pay taxes that supported the war in undertaken in protest against unjust Prize for his campaign to Mexico and perpetuated slavery. and any fool will the will of the people.340 BCE Aristotle claims that saw that political parties were the city-state is more important necessarily one-sided.204 MUST THE CITIZEN EVER RESIGN HIS CONSCIENCE TO THE LEGISLATOR? HENRY DAVID THOREAU (1817–1862) A lmost a century after Jean. which Political philosophy Henry Thoreau developed the idea called for violent action. “Any fool proposes government by can make a rule. 1907 Mahatma Gandhi cites In his essay Civil Disobedience. government reverts to anarchy. such laws to be enacted effectively Jean-Jacques Rousseau gave them justification. Thoreau as an influence on written in 1849. For this reason.

and theology are tracing the origin of our diamond is actually soft. principle of pragmatism—the belief APPROACH Deeply sceptical of metaphysical that the “truth” is the account of Pragmatism ideas—such as the idea that there reality that works best for us. the first 1980 S Richard Rorty’s version theory is far more difficult to work with. and so is of less value to us. and can be used in exactly by which it is verified. However. the same way. He claimed that they ideas to sense impressions. is known as the pragmatic BRANCH who pioneered the philosophical maxim. the senses can be specified. senses. Under both Charles Sanders Peirce verification—that the meaning theories the diamond feels the of a statement is the method same. challenges rationalism by with the following theory: a philosophy. and concept is the sensory effect of its philosopher of science object. nothing can be. of pragmatism argues that the very notion of truth can be See also: John Locke 130–33 ■ Immanuel Kant 164–71 ■ William James 206–09 ■ dispensed with. ■ about what lies beyond our he claimed that the meaning of a experience is meaningless. Whether we think of the diamond as “soft until touched” or Nothing is vital for 1920 S Logical positivists in “always hard” before our experience. that the meaning of a IN CONTEXT the scientist. is irrelevant. science. However. and only meaningless. John Dewey 228–31 ■ Richard Rorty 314–19 . are often debates about words. logician. concept (such as “diamond” or AFTER “hard”) is derived from the object 1890 S William James and or quality that the concept relates John Dewey take up the to—and the effects it has on our philosophy of pragmatism. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 205 CONSIDER WHAT EFFECTS THINGS HAVE CHARLES SANDERS PEIRCE (1839–1914) C harles Sanders Peirce was This idea. Vienna formulate the theory of therefore. and it became the founding Epistemology movement known as pragmatism. is a “real” world beyond the world One of the key things Peirce BEFORE we experience—he once asked his was trying to accomplish was to 17th century John Locke readers to consider what is wrong show that many debates in science. for there are debates in which no effect on Kant argues that speculation is no way of disproving it. because they falsity” in such thinking. 18th century Immanuel Peirce argued that there is “no rather than reality. becomes hard when it is touched.

it fell to his lifelong friend . The first of these. But it was the following generation of philosophers. AFTER 1907 Henri Bergson’s Creative Evolution describes reality as a WILLIAM JAMES (1842–1910) flow rather than a state. O ver the course of the 19th century. 1870s Charles Sanders Peirce describes his new pragmatist DIFFERENCE philosophy in How to Make Our Ideas Clear. as the United States began to find its feet as an independent nation. but his work was hardly noticed at the time. that came up with something truly original. philosophers from New England such as Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson gave a recognizably American slant to European Romantic ideas. proposed a theory of knowledge he called pragmatism. known as “instrumentalism”. who lived almost a century after the Declaration of Independence. 1921 Bertrand Russell explores reality as pure experience in The Analysis of Mind. Charles Sanders Peirce. 1925 John Dewey develops a personal version of pragmatism.206 IN CONTEXT ACT AS IF BRANCH Epistemology APPROACH WHAT YOU Pragmatism BEFORE 1843 John Stuart Mill’s A System of Logic studies the DO MAKES A ways in which we come to believe something is true. in Experience and Nature.

Act as if what you do makes a difference. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 207 See also: John Stuart Mill 190–93 ■ Charles Sanders Peirce 205 ■ Henri Bergson 226–27 ■ John Dewey 228–31 ■ Bertrand Russell 236–39 ■ Ludwig Wittgenstein 246–51 ■ Richard Rorty 314–19 If I am lost in a …that it leads forest and see a path. William James—godson to Ralph ideas about the world have changed Emerson—to champion Peirce’s constantly. yet they are not true. to realizing that it is Central to Peirce’s pragmatism was just one planet in a vast cosmos. is flat to knowing it to be round. ❯❯ . So I follow it and So I do nothing.. adequately as explanations in their is but a way of but by doing. from thinking that Earth ideas and develop them further. useful. Peirce examined the explanations make it redundant. My action has made my beliefs come true. or better from facts.. . particular purpose. from assuming that Earth is the center of Truth and usefulness the universe. we can see but James was to apply this by looking back in history how our reasoning to the notion of truth. When it no as an explanatory tool is different longer fulfils that function. in the sense that it adequately This demonstrates how knowledge William James explains things for us.that it leads to nowhere. to safety. The Every way of the theory that we do not acquire older assumptions worked perfectly classifying a thing knowledge simply by observing. replace it. It does. and that we rely on time. of the forest and die. find a way out stay lost. I can believe… food and shelter. we nature of knowledge in this way. starve. For example. and the handling it for some that knowledge only so long as it is universe itself has not changed.

the age of 19 he abandoned this to study science. if acted upon. but also and terminate among them. but at there until his retirement in 1907. But in much of life we do same way that Peirce considered be true by the action we take. James claims that an idea’s usefulness determines its truthfulness. it would be useful if we things accurately enough for our true.208 WILLIAM JAMES The idea of a flat Earth served well as a “truth” for several thousand years. and he was awarded During his childhood he lived for a professorship in philosophy several years in Europe. 1902 The Varieties of Religious but he eventually graduated and Experience in 1872 took a teaching post in 1907 Pragmatism . a process. James was brought up in a His increasing interest in the wealthy and intellectual family.” is required of it. Truth is the depends on how useful it is. Its had all the available evidence and purposes. he is careful to distinguish these from facts. my belief in a particular idea will lead to a particular course of action and so contribute to its success. Again. either there knowledge as a useful tool putting the idea into practice is the is not enough time to examine the William James Born in New York City. His studies at Key works Harvard Medical School were interrupted by the ill health and 1890 The Principles of Psychology depression that were to prevent 1896 The Will to Believe him from ever practicing medicine. If an idea does not leads James to propose that “the contradict the known facts—such truth of an idea is not a stagnant The right to believe as laws of science—and it does property inherent in it. subjects of psychology and his father was a famously eccentric philosophy led him to write theologian. If I am faced with a difficult decision. in the Any idea. This They simply are.” the time to make a considered reason not to consider it true. despite the fact that Earth is a sphere. which he says “are not true. process by which it becomes true. is made true by events. is found to decision. William physiology at Harvard University. James also thinks that belief in an idea is an important factor in choosing to act upon it. It becomes new belief. whether or not it does what distinguishes it from fact. the truth of an idea irrespective of the facts. Truth Every time we try to establish a provide a means of predicting happens to an idea. and in this way belief is a part of the process that makes an idea true. not have that luxury. It is because of this that James defines “true beliefs” as those that prove useful to the believer. and his brother Henry acclaimed publications in these became a well-known author. fields. he says there can be no verity is in fact an event. For James. that is interpretation of truth not only function of the beliefs that start to say. where he at Harvard in 1880. He taught pursued a love of painting.

he does not believe it. When he sees a considered a justifiable belief. THE AGE OF REVOLUTION 209 known facts. proposed by Peirce and useful to its believer if it allows him expounded by James. approach implications of his ideas in terms act of observing it affects the truth this idea with caution: a shallow of human psychology as much as of the analysis. active work in psychology was equally process. and outlandish. he believes. or there is not enough interpretation of what James is evidence.” This approach takes to James’s metaphysics. He empiricism. is why James asserts “act as if what This “stream” of reality. that the path will lead him out of the its favor. he will not In the process of acting upon the take the path. beliefs. and the idea must be William James forest and to habitation. of thought in America that includes Along with his pragmatic notion philosophers such as Richard Rorty. and often intimately is a process. could become true by James says that we have “the right acting upon it—which of course to believe” in these cases. and will remain lost belief. because if sufficient to withstand criticism. in the same way that truth influential. Religious belief can bring about extraordinary changes in people’s lives. results. belief in a god is Pragmatism. it must continually justify and starving. “it does. of truth. Like the traditional connected with his philosophy. but he also went further to Woolf and James Joyce. they happen as the the philosophy of John Dewey. This through our acting upon it. established or her to lead a more fulfilled life. empiricists before him. no matter how beliefs to guide our actions. as truth is belief in an idea become true. he will itself by its usefulness in increasing save himself. and the decisions spawned a “neopragmatist” school and actions based upon it. Bertrand Russell and metaphysics that he calls “radical Ludwig Wittgenstein were indebted empiricism. And even then. We have to rely on our that any belief. which in turn of pilgrimage. you do makes a difference”—to Reality as a process is not susceptible to empirical which he adds the typically concise James was a psychologist as well analysis either. however. and he sees the in continual flux and because the We must. constantly being made to happen. is not what he meant. James’s pragmatic fearless confrontation of death— interpretation of truth influenced become true.” as a philosopher. The principles and looking path. the ultimate necessity for humans to hold certain stuff of reality is pure experience. In James’s radical in the theory of knowledge. or America as a significant center to overcome the fear of death. James thinks that while it is not Continuing influence justifiable as a fact. James proposes a type of In Europe. from which both mind recognized the psychological and matter are formed. There are The pragmatic method James explains this by taking certain conditions that an idea the example of a man lost and must fulfil before it can be means looking away from starving in a forest. ■ . particularly religious ones. and we are forced to a saying could give the impression decision. But if he does. unreal. James notably his concept of the “stream such as the healing of the sick at places rejected the rationalist notion that of consciousness”. it is important for him to believe available evidence must weigh in towards consequences. These for philosophical thought in the things—a more fulfilled life and a 20th century. and result of a belief. it is only in it becomes true. By acting on his idea our understanding or predicting that the path will lead him to safety. [reality] actions and decisions make our that the belief has become true is still in the making”. This occurs regardless the changing world is in some way influenced writers such as Virginia of whether or not a god actually exists. In this way our retrospect that we can safely say state that “for pragmatism. both because it is and good-humored rider. His reality to be a dynamic.

THE MOD WORLD 1900–1950 .


with Karl Marx nature of the universe. and Sigmund in the Principia Mathematica. philosophy agenda for much of the philosophy as analytic philosophy—was the once again reached a of the 20th century. philosophers turned thinking—he applied the same philosophy. Science. but . one that involved logic and linguistic analysis. T oward the end of the traditions. Ludwig meaning in life.” of Phenomenology. set philosophers leading to the creation that “God is dead. a radical new approach to finding to the more abstract business of One of Russell’s pupils. he set the analysis—which became known 19th century. declaring religion “the opiate of the Freud’s psychoanalytic theories which he wrote with Alfred North people. He proposed province of professional academics. In doing so. developed Russell’s casting aside old values and vanguard of this movement of logical work on logic and language. whose Edmund Husserl co-author The Principles of takes place in Russia. Austro-Hungarian empires. the traditional were enthusiastically received thrown into doubt the idea of the concerns of philosophy—such as by a British philosopher and universe as God’s creation. Friedrich into the workings of the mind. had To some extent. Tractatus Logico- Philosophicus. of the Soviet Union. Ottoman. 20th century British philosophy. work of Gottlob Frege. Bertrand Russell. with asking what exists—were answered mathematician. who linked turning point.212 INTRODUCTION Bertrand Russell and Death of Friedrich Alfred North Whitehead The October Revolution Nietzsche. Wittgenstein of relativity. 1900 1907 1910–13 1917 1906 1908 1914–18 1921 Albert Einstein Henry Ford produces World War I leads to the Ludwig introduces his theory the Model T Ford— collapse of the Russian. philosophy proposed publishes The Idea Mathematics. The process and Judaeo-Christian traditions. the world’s first German. His ideas theory of evolution (1859). and then—in a move of Arthur Schopenhauer. humankind as the peak of his by science in the early 20th century. At the Wittgenstein. of linguistic analysis was to was ill-equipped to explain this since philosophy had become the become the major theme in modern world view. on a new analytical path. and publishes his mass-produced car. with its roots in Greek their attention to questions of principles to language. Russell applied the principles creative genius. that revolutionized philosophical Nietzsche believed that Western As a result.” Following in the footsteps gave people a radically new insight Whitehead. and the philosophical process of logic particularly Charles Darwin’s A new analytical tradition with mathematics. Moral and political Albert Einstein’s theories offered of logic that Frege had outlined to philosophy had become entirely a more detailed explanation of the a thorough analysis of mathematics human-centered. moral and political philosophy or.

19th-century political philosophy. slightly existentialism. and Nothingness. It was also fundamental philosopher. becoming during World War II. publishes Being and Time. ■ . politics in reaction to the oppression and strengthened the link between Wars and revolutions they experienced under totalitarian scientific thinking and philosophy. the The Communists Sigmund Freud Crash leads to global deadliest war in under Mao publishes The Ego economic depression. connections with the Nazi party during the 1930s were threatened ethics. who was also globally than any single religion. in Germany. more than Zedong proclaim and the Id. Philosophy was as affected by the regimes. forcing many thinkers one of the greatest thinkers of the were key to the development of to flee from the continent to Britain 20th century. World War II and the Cold Meanwhile. observations to theories. but his works by fascism. Philosophers turned younger Viennese philosopher. Edmund formed the Soviet Union in the Sartre. novelists. decades of the 20th century. and Husserl’s phenomenology (the study 1920s had its roots in Marxism. and aesthetics. Søren Kierkegaard. Karl to late 20th-century culture. massive political upheavals of the War that followed it colored the philosophers rose to the challenge 20th century as any other cultural moral philosophy of the second posed by Nietzsche’s ideas with a activity. and replacing traditional philosophy was to take in the last 1920s and 30s. 1922 1927 1934 1943 1923 1929 1939–45 1949 Psychoanalyst The Wall Street In World War II. existentialism was of the individual in a godless modern world. THE MODERN WORLD 213 Karl Popper publishes Jean-Paul Sartre The Logic of Scientific becomes one of the most Josef Stalin is made Discovery. Another. produced in the 1982. as part of an essentially literary greatly influenced by the Danish dominating the policy of China’s culture. This trend was in keeping and this was carried forward by This theory became more prevalent with the French view of philosophy Martin Heidegger. but it also contributed to half of the 20th century. challenging the important continental General Secretary idea that science always philosophers with the of the Communist Martin Heidegger proceeds from repeated existentialist work Being Party in Russia. Communist Party until around to the direction that continental Heidegger’s work. took his cue from Einstein. a Albert Camus. the People’s Republic of China. philosophy based on the experience the ideologies that shaped the In France. history. Simone de Beauvoir. also made key contributions in in the mid-20th century due to his Liberal democracies in Europe areas as diverse as perception. who were all of experience) laid the groundwork. their attention to left-wing or liberal Popper. The revolution that made fashionable by Jean-Paul universe: existentialism. and were important and the US. was largely rejected philosophies across Asia. 60 million people die.



turning away from this world to the greater reality of the world to come. his most famous book. It was views of the Western philosophical written in three parts in 1883–84. Even so. or ethics. but one and third. Order of Things discusses the overcoming of “man. The German philosopher used it style that is astonishingly hot-headed Zarathustra.” AFTER 1930s Nietzsche’s work is used to help construct the But in doing this Christianity’s mythology of Nazism. people have perhaps come to weary of the wisdom he has .216 FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE IN CONTEXT BRANCH Christianity says Ethics that everything in this world is less important APPROACH than that of the “next” Existentialism after death. the idea we with Part I taking him only a few Zarathustra goes to live in the have of “man” or human nature. 1781 Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason argues that we And besides. is an alternative name to launch a sustained attack on and fevered. For ten years he second.” N ietzsche’s idea that man Elsewhere Nietzsche writes about expect of philosophical works. in Matthew’s limiting idea. the ideas we have about have the calm. the is something to be philosophizing “with a hammer”. perhaps shatter many of the most cherished challenging vision. advocates to transcend it. undermines us. particular: first. he wakes to find that he is morality. especially in relation to Zarathustra descends with a fourth part added in 1885. It was written quickly. book seems closer to prophecy than Zoroaster. days to set down on paper. He does so in a The name of Nietzsche’s prophet. author still succeeds in setting out surpassed appears in and here he certainly attempts to a remarkably consistent and hugely Thus Spoke Zarathustra. so that at times the for the ancient Persian prophet the history of Western thought. and try gospel in the Bible. this life. analytical tone that dawn. the idea we have of God. tradition. telling us that at the age of 30. It says we should turn away from what We must 1st century CE The Sermon surpass this seems important in on the Mount. while Nietzsche’s book does not delights in the solitude. mountains. these three things. The Republic. idea of “man” we turn away from 1966 Michel Foucault’s The life itself. The book begins by He targets three linked ideas in philosophy. can never know how the world God is dead! is “in itself. BEFORE 380 BCE Plato explores the distinction between reality and appearance in his dialogue.

and for father. he is carrying fire. story continues. as he descends. His Europe. “Behold! question: what does the hermit do I teach you the Superman!” He in the mountains? The hermit continues by telling the crowd the replies that he sings. he meets with The idea of the death of God may an old hermit. On the way down to the town. “How So he decides to descend to the can it be possible! This old hermit market place to share this wisdom has not yet heard that God is dead. The hermit sees that to be surpassed and to Nietzsche’s Zarathustra has changed during distinctive understanding of the past decade: when he climbed morality. It message. Then he wishes the hermit speech. 1872 The Birth of Tragedy In 1870 he contracted diphtheria 1883–85 Thus Spoke Zarathustra and dysentery.” Friedrich Nietzsche Nietzsche was born in Prussia in was forced to resign his 1844 to a religious family. weeps. Zarathustra then asks a is at this point that he says. and thereafter 1886 Beyond Good and Evil suffered continual ill health. Then the hermit asks Zarathustra Zarathustra sees that there is a a question: why are you going to crowd gathered around a tightrope the trouble of sharing your wisdom? walker who is about to perform. When he reaches the town. ten years before. and two aunts. but now. these things becomes clear as the Zarathustra carried ashes. good and evil. The prophet Zoroaster (c. At form of mental breakdown from the age of 24 he became a professor which he never recovered. real point he wishes to convey: mumbles. The two men have be the most famous of all Nietzsche’s already met. when ideas. hearing this.” with the rest of humankind. where he met died in 1900 aged 56. and grandfathers the next ten years traveled in were all Lutheran ministers. He advises Zarathustra to stay in and he joins them. the composer Richard Wagner. Zarathustra himself Zarathustra follows this with a long also known as Zarathustra. and praises God. On “Man is something to surpassed. the hermit says. and suffered some grandmother. founded a laughs. uncle. THE MODERN WORLD 217 See also: Plato 50–55 ■ Immanuel Kant 164–71 ■ Søren Kierkegaard 194–95 ■ Albert Camus 284–85 ■ Michel Foucault 302–03 ■ Jacques Derrida 308–13 accumulated alone on the mountain. imagining that the prophet is ❯❯ places himself “beyond good and evil. As he goes. Zarathustra says to himself. and prevent a horse from being he was brought up by his mother. laughs. The relationship between the mountain. and it is closely related both Zarathustra first ascended the to the idea that man is something mountain. the crowd only laughs. but when he gets to the religion based on the struggle between well and continues on his way end. Behold the Superman at the foot of the hill. who influenced him strongly until Key works Wagner’s anti-semitism forced Nietzsche to end their friendship.628–551 BCE). In 1889 he collapsed in father and younger brother died the street while attempting to when he was a young child. Zarathustra stands up. whipped. He at Basel University.. Nietzsche’s Zarathustra down the mountain.”. his professorship in 1879.. Before the the mountains. warning him that acrobat has a chance to walk across nobody will understand his his rope. He 1888 Twilight of the Idols .

nevertheless seeks to away from the world. When his character turning away from.” . Nietzsche wants In opening his book in this the death of all the so-called higher to put an end to such life-denying unusual way. human life. it means the sum when they arise. is “a dangerous wayfaring. or loss of faith in our higher Zarathustra says that God is dead. which. in fact. but actually understand what Nietzsche that in doing so he is setting out a now the greatest blasphemy is to is saying. he was sinning against life. The death of God is not we need to. If we want to avoid making to thinking about ethics and the moves to condemn religion. How the “Real World” at last Became attack upon religion. We may stay in condensed one-page history of Man is a rope tied between the animal and the Superman— a rope over an abyss. He claims that many of up prayers to a God who is not concepts have become inextricably the things that we think are “good” there. and in offering Nietzsche believes that certain affirm life. We may think it is not “good” to values. the reception that his philosophy Nietzsche’s philosophy is what he will receive. life. “God” here joyfully in the street. are.218 FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE just another showman. so that humankind be betraying his own unease with One of the central purposes of can see itself in a different way. which was published in something much bolder. or perhaps total of the higher values that we mind-numbing jobs. Nietzsche says. The essay does not only mean the god that believe that the desires of the flesh carries the subtitle “History of an philosophers talk about or the are sinful. and Nietzsche repeatedly maintains was to blaspheme against God. and it is an extraordinarily religious pray to. it is necessary to explore philosophy of cheerfulness. We may Twilight of the Idols. Nietzsche seems to values that we have inherited. but because we feel it is tightrope-walker. a dangerous trembling and halting. Friedrich Nietzsche Existing between the levels of animal and Superman. past. just the death of a deity. or of The history behind this death and God. although it overturns everything we the error that Zarathustra believes have thought up until now about he made upon the hillside: in turning Overturning old values good and evil. This is some of Nietzsche’s core beliefs. of God. philosophies. and so punish ourselves Error”. not because even a warm-up performer for the might hold. morality. he is not simply launching an make a fool of ourselves in public. In the the same mistake as the crowd meanings and purposes of life. Blaspheming against life will be seen as a philosophical an attempt to call into question all After Zarathustra proclaims the showman without anything real of the ways that we are accustomed coming of the Superman. it is also our duty to do so. he says. but doing and so resist the urge to dance a Myth. is told in Nietzsche’s essay. he swiftly to say. the greatest blasphemy gathered around Zarathustra. entangled: humankind. a dangerous looking-back. as if he is afraid that he calls the “revaluation of all values”. blaspheme against life itself. ways of limiting.

is eternal and can be grasped by the intellect. with the important “real world” exists elsewhere. a future world “apparent” one have profoundly reaching consequences for our of heaven that is promised to the affected our thoughts about understanding of the world. albeit after death and on intellect can gain access to a makes the “apparent world” of the condition that we follow Christian whole world of Ideal Forms. THE MODERN WORLD 219 Western philosophy. We know that a triangle is a three-sided. even beauty. is us through our senses. makes the “real world” of the heaven. Nietzsche believes that ourselves. except whereas the senses have access insofar as it acts as a stepping stone only to the world of appearances. of which the appears within Christian thought. Nietzsche says. The form or idea of a triangle. Christianity views the world we live are reflections of this idea or form this way of dividing up the world in now as somehow less real than of the triangle. two-dimensional figure whose angles add up to 180º. for example. The real world Plato divided the world into an “apparent” world that appears to this world. and triangular shapes drawn on a chalkboard). but in this version of the Influenced by mathematics in intellect the place where everything “two worlds” idea the “real world” is this way. speaking. For Plato. permanent “real world” that can be attained with the help of the intellect. which senses a world that is. relatively rules in this life.” in the world (such as sandwiches. and that this will always be true. This idea comes from Plato’s study of mathematics. Forms. it attainable. Plato suggests that there is also an unchanging. Christian values to the world beyond. are triangular only insofar as they because. Christianity substitutes an is divided into a “real” and an This is an idea that has had far. this as a myth that tragically prevents us from living fully now. Plato proposed that the of value resides. as Nietzsche points out. the intellect. Nietzsche sees Greek philosopher Plato. not least virtuous. pyramids. The story Some religions and philosophies insist that a more begins. whether anyone is thinking about it or not Christianity sees this and however many triangles exist life as merely a forerunner in the world. and a “real” only a “shadow” of Forms world that we can grasp through in another world. if we want to know Nietzsche traces the fortunes of claims that Christianity asks us to about goodness. the world we perceive through the senses is not “real” because it is changeable and subject to decay. we need to have this tendency to split the world into deny the present life in favor of the an intellectual appreciation of the two and finds that the same idea promise of a life to come. is devalued. Both the Platonic and Christian various examples of goodness in In place of the “real world” of Plato’s versions of the idea that the world the world are only reflections. for example. unimportant. Nietzsche So. The suggestion that ❯❯ . in this world. In contrast. The present world is permanent and unchanging. On the other hand. alternative “real world”. Form of Goodness. as it is with Plato. to the more important the triangular things that do exist “life after death.

but named Napoleon. but it is forever out of we suddenly see the error that had death”. because their teachings reach. And when we is dead? To answer this. it is an idea that we need to do away with. in this world or the next—then it is “an idea grown useless. as Plato believed. we must that. It is at this point—in an should turn away. if the real world is said to be see through these philosophical . what world is left? The apparent world. and from life to death.” everything of value in the world is look to the work of the 18th-century Nietzsche now sees the beginning somehow “beyond” the reach of this German philosopher Immanuel of the end of philosophy’s “longest world leads to a way of thinking Kant. he argued that we essay written six years after Thus certainly not enjoy. transcend.” We cannot attain it with the writes “Zarathustra begins. the long- held distinction between the “real world” and the “apparent world” begins to break down. is the zenith of world that we should resent and Kant was interested in the limits mankind—the high point of all disdain. If God is dead. and of Pure Reason. absolutely unattainable—even to the wise or the virtuous. superfluous. and the idea of two Christian heritage. priests of all religions “preachers of assume).” in favor of a myth or an invention. The end of this error. perhaps? … But no! With the real world we have also abolished the apparent world. In his book Critique humanity. The reasons that Kant uses put all values beyond this world. a world from which we of knowledge.” As a result. Nietzsche is perhaps the person who stumbles across the corpse. nor is it This is a key moment for an imagined “real world” that is promised to us after death as in Nietzsche because when we grasp situated elsewhere. it is Kant whose fingerprints are all over the murder weapon. and “reality”. Nietzsche denied any had existed. but what is important all our values and even what it why does Nietzsche insist that God from Nietzsche’s point of view is means to be human. Shakespeare. Nietzsche calls the Christian view. Nietzsche goes on to explain this as follows: “We have abolished the real world. nevertheless. whose ideas are critical to error”: its infatuation with the that is fundamentally life-denying. we have come worlds. It exists (we the fact that there is only one world. understanding the philosophy distinction between “appearance” As a result of this Platonic and behind Nietzsche’s work. and Socrates as models. In How the “Real World” at last Became a Myth. intellect.220 FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE The Superman is someone of enormous strength and independence in mind and body. cannot know the world as it is “in Spake Zarathustra—that Nietzsche we have turned away from life itself itself. to see the world we live in as a A world beyond reach Nietzsche writes. Philosophy’s longest error Once we have dispensed with the idea of the “real world”. encourage us to turn from this to come up with this conclusion are We are then forced to reconsider world. But complex. But in doing so.

. Like and censored by his anti-semitic sister seemed to be searching for a return Nietzsche’s Superman. about religion and the importance on to influence countless artists Christian morality that held sway of self-evaluation can be traced and writers in the 20th century. and they went for an eradication of the Jewish. But where Nietzsche philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. ■ throughout Europe would have been especially in the work of succeeding attractive to Hitler as validation for existentialists such as the French Nietzsche’s writings were edited his own aims. “there begins the human 1900. but also on European Superman. Nietzsche had never been Nietzsche was one of the few achieved by anyone. the idea of the Superman fed being who is not superfluous”. Writing in The degree of but here. His ideas and world culture.” Zarathustra around 30 years after his death in says. Creating ourselves thinkers to call these assumptions Sigmund Freud Nietzsche’s writings did not reach into question. But where the state ends. Hitler meaning of our own existence. life-affirming that we must each define the after he became insane. This allowed values of pagan Europe. Nietzsche’s damning criticisms of into the rhetoric of Nazism through Nietzsche’s open-ended idea of the Western philosophical tradition Hitler’s readings of Nietzsche’s human possibility was important have had a huge impact not only on work. At one point in Thus a large audience in his lifetime. The consensus life-affirming way of being. Superman is “the an era of extraordinary nationalism. the Nazis to wilfully misinterpret them. the old idea of “man” can took his writings as an excuse for be surpassed. introspection achieved by meaning of the Earth. “Only Spoke Zarathustra himself.” patriotism. It is one amongst scholars is that Nietzsche that can become the bearer of himself would have been horrified meaning not in the world beyond. Nietzsche’s ideas about the to many philosophers in the period philosophy. THE MODERN WORLD 221 illusions. by this turn of events. and particularly his call following World War II. Sartre says Elizabeth. and colonial expansion. The Superman is unbridled violence and transgression Nietzsche’s vision of a fundamentally on a grand scale. who controlled his archive to the more rustic. so Spoke Zarathustra he makes it much so that he had to pay for the clear that he considers nationalism publication of the final part of Thus a form of alienation or failure.

1711 The English poet when reading him we should However. but we win through to praise foolish behavior. the kind of self-confidence that can writes about founding faith occasionally be seen in acts of folly. this does Alexander Pope writes that remember that this is a suggestion not make our prior foolishness in “Fools rush in where angels that is meant half-seriously and any way commendable. simply results. when the BEFORE self-confidence matters more. the wise are Ha’am was fond of quoting an and an admission of his those who hold back. effectiveness in the world. we must always AFTER Although in his original essay temper this self-confidence with 1961 Michel Foucault writes Ha’am seemed to celebrate the wisdom. without fully understanding wise) it is the self-confident who the difficulties of the task we are satirical work which appears forge ahead. fear to tread. Meanwhile (and of folly. difficulties of an undertaking are 5th century BCE Socrates In any difficult or dangerous fully understood and evaluated. says Ha’am. he later made clear. In 1890 he high-minded seriousness. ■ philosophical study of the history of folly. Søren Kierkegaard goes along with it. he says. a potential advantages of foolishness. and often win the day. it may indeed be the case 1843 In his book Fear and because of the self-confidence that that we need to develop and use Trembling.” Wisdom and confidence At the same time. that although we worship wisdom.222 MEN WITH SELF-CONFIDENCE COME AND SEE AND CONQUER AHAD HA’AM (1856–1927) A had Ha’am was the pen this was a view from which he IN CONTEXT name of the Ukrainian. Self- Cultural Zionism claimed in a semi-satirical essay confidence is only warranted. undertaking. a leading Zionist was essentially an exercise in Ethics thinker who advocated a Jewish satire as if it were written with APPROACH spiritual renaissance. Ha’am wants to suggest—and because luck is on our side.” On some occasions we act writes The Praise of Folly. a greatly to the disapproval of the foolishly. weighing up old Yiddish proverb: “an act of folly own foolishness. the advantages and disadvantages which turns out well is still an act 1511 Desiderius Erasmus of any action. combines both confidence situation. perhaps born Jewish philosopher afraid that others might read what BRANCH Asher Ginzberg. later distanced himself. or our acts will lack true Madness and Civilization. “on the strength of the absurd. See also: Socrates 46–49 ■ Søren Kierkegaard 194–95 ■ Michel Foucault 302–03 ■ Luce Irigaray 320 .” half-satirically—that individual folly If we want our actions to bring can often yield a result.

“image” we have of the sound. AFTER Here Saussure turns his back on a In the lives of individuals 1950s Saussure’s analysis of long tradition that says language is and of societies. This means that it is a IN CONTEXT Swiss philosopher who saw system of relationships between language as made up of sound-images and concepts. See also: Plato 50–55 ■ Charles Sanders Peirce 205 ■ Ludwig Wittgenstein 246–51 ■ Roland Barthes 290–91 ■ Julia Kristeva 323 . but the mental Treatise on Signs. with the signs However.” philosophers and literary theorists. up of two things. and influenced many develop an early theory of is made of signs. the sound “dog”). Secondly. or concept. BEFORE was developed by other philosophers which is why the word can be c.400 BCE Plato explores the during the 20th century such as chien in French. This new theory of signs “doggy” about the sound “dog”. ■ Saussure said that a sign is made linguistic signs. BRANCH systems of “signs”. Firstly. a “signifier”. because he is importance than any other. summed up the semiotic approach became the basis of modern c. saying that both aspects of a sign Ferdinand de Saussure which aims to expose the rules are mental (our concept of a “dog” of a language that govern its for example. relationship between names Russia’s Roman Jakobson. Saussure claims 1960s Roland Barthes explores that any message—for example the literary implications of “my dog is called Fred”—is a system signs and semiotics. and a sound-image of possible word combinations. 1632 Portuguese philosopher which is a sound-image. THE MODERN WORLD 223 EVERY MESSAGE IS MADE OF SIGNS FERDINAND DE SAUSSURE (1857–1913) S aussure was a 19th-century of signs. His studies formed the and the signifier is arbitrary—so Semiotics basis of a new theory.250 BCE Stoic philosophers when he said that “every message linguistics. This is not John Poinsot writes his the actual sound. Saussure states that the Philosophy of language acting as the basic units of the relationship between the signified APPROACH language. known as there is nothing particularly semiotics. who Saussure’s work on language and things. language the structures of language about the relationships between is a factor of greater influences Noam Chomsky’s words and things. theory of generative grammar. or gou in Chinese. the “signified”.

“how many olives are uses argument to try to there in this jar?”). . From 1920s Martin He dreamed that problems such as Heidegger. it depends upon as “what is justice?” or “what is experience. Phenomenology the problem was this: although we easily reach agreement on questions BEFORE about things we can measure (for 5th century BCE Socrates example. Greek philosopher Socrates: the APPROACH dream of certainty. For Socrates. and physics to ethics and politics – on a completely secure footing. The problem of certainty Experience is subject to Husserl was a philosopher who AFTER started life as a mathematician. leading to with which we are able to solve the birth of existentialism.224 EXPERIENCE BY ITSELF IS NOT SCIENCE EDMUND HUSSERL (1859–1938) H usserl was a philosopher IN CONTEXT haunted by a dream that has preoccupied thinkers BRANCH Science aspires to since the time of the ancient Ontology certainty about the world. beauty?”. it seems that there is no 17th century René Descartes clear way of reaching agreement. from math. uses doubt as a starting point And if we cannot know for certain for his philosophical method. Husserl’s student. Husserl’s say anything about it at all? teacher. then how can we 1874 Franz Brentano. mathematical problems such as From 1930s Husserl’s “how many olives are in the jar?” In phenomenology reaches other words. assumptions and biases. and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. activity. chemistry. what justice is. claims that philosophy needs a new scientific method. when it comes answer philosophical But science is empirical: to philosophical questions such questions with certainty. “what is justice?” might be solved develops his teacher’s method with the same degree of certainty of phenomenology. influencing thinkers by itself is branches of human knowledge and such as Emmanuel Levinas not science. he hoped to put all the So experience sciences—by which he meant all France.

Husserl was suspended However. laying aside every single assumption assumptions. Like Husserl was born in 1859 Husserl. career. experience is full of all kinds of assumptions. Husserl doctorate in mathematics he doubt that he was doubting. Descartes wrote mathematics and astronomy. Edmund Husserl To do this. it nevertheless 1913 Ideas toward a Pure Husserl wanted to put all science (and gave birth to one of the richest Phenomenology all knowledge) on a similar foundation. scientific attitude. ■ . and there was decision in which Heidegger little agreement as to what the was implicated. or how one continued to write until his carried it out. we professorship at the University assumption that an external world can build a secure foundation of of Göttingen. And if we look He then accepted an associate that we have (even including the carefully and patiently enough. Husserl a rational science wanted to drive out all of these of man and of the uncertainties to give science human community. 1933. then we can knowledge that might help us deal a professor of philosophy at the University of Freiburg in with the philosophical problems 1916. Husserl wrote that the dream of putting the sciences on Key works firm foundations was over. Descartes wanted to free in Moravia. which is full of or to solve philosophy’s most Rigorous Science assumptions. biases. where Martin Heidegger that have been with us since the was among his students. traditions in 20th-century thought. THE MODERN WORLD 225 See also: René Descartes 116–23 ■ Franz Brentano 336 ■ Martin Heidegger 252–55 ■ Emmanuel Levinas 273 ■ Maurice Merleau-Ponty 274–75 Scientific theories are based on experience. he could not free of all assumptions. before becoming exists outside of us). because as any scientist knows. with Husserl takes up a similar approach need to look at experience with a whom he had three children. But Husserl believed that experience alone did not add up to science. In very beginnings of philosophy. calls this approach phenomenology: decided to take up philosophy. started his career studying biases. a to different results. then a part of the Austrian empire. but uses it differently. He philosophy from all assumptions. enduring problems. But although Husserl’s phenomenology 1901 Logical Investigations failed to provide philosophers with 1907 The Idea of Phenomenology a scientific approach to experience. Mathematics does not rely on 1911 Philosophy as a empirical evidence. absolutely certain foundations. and doubts. laying to one He also became Privatdozent He suggests that if we adopt a side (or “bracketing out” as Husserl (private lecturer) at Halle. We Malvine Steinschneider. Husserl method actually was. to reach its conclusions. calls it) every single one of our where he remained until 1901. scientific attitude to experience. a philosophical investigation of In 1887 Husserl married Phenomenology the phenomena of experience. We entirely lack and misconceptions. Toward the end of his death in 1938. different philosophers from the university on account following Husserl’s method came of his Jewish background. Husserl made use of Edmund Husserl the philosophy of the 19th-century philosopher René Descartes. but after finishing his could be doubted. that although almost everything start philosophy with a clean slate. to Descartes.

form of knowledge. 1927 Alfred North Whitehead writes Process philosophy. suggesting that the existence Intuition goes of the natural world should be in the very understood in terms of process direction of life. they actually are. of everyday experience. and change. popularizing pragmatism. claiming that absolute knowledge is impossible. particular perspective. This is gained by using This is acquired AFTER our intellect and reason. APPROACH Vitalism BEFORE 13th century John Duns Relative knowledge: Absolute knowledge: Scotus distinguishes between knowing objects knowing objects in in the world from a the world as intuitive and abstract thought. not things or fixed stabilities. it is a very direct to explore the philosophy the thing itself.226 INTUITION GOES IN THE VERY DIRECTION OF HENRI BERGSON (1859–1941) LIFE IN CONTEXT BRANCH Epistemology kinds of knowledge. and claims that intuitive thought takes precedence. through an intuitive grasp 1890s William James begins we are distanced from of the truth. . 1781 Immanuel Kant publishes Critique of Pure Reason.

If. Born in France in 1859. He early intellectual interests lay in was awarded the Nobel Prize mathematics. Our intuition is many philosophers have claimed linked to what Bergson called our that it is impossible for us to know élan vital. through the city. While walking Bergson. on the other hand. for Literature in 1928. which involves way. he says. Bergson says we ourselves. a life-force (vitalism) that things as they actually are. for Bergson. In it. at which he excelled. we have. which allows us to grasp Immanuel Kant published The an object’s uniqueness through Critique of Pure Reason in 1781. Bergson believes. This times overlap. not analysis. or theory of first through analysis or intellect. paying attention in the right have an inner sense of the various relative knowledge. he was elected to the 1896 Matter and Memory Collège de France and became 1903 An Introduction to a university lecturer. He also had Metaphysics a successful political career. initially teaching in schools. Bergson wanted to discover and the second through intuition. something—not just to know about is that he does not recognize the it. given the kinds of minds a city. His including William James. This is interprets the flux of experience in Capturing the essence of a city. however. of the city as it actually is. ■ Henri Bergson Henri Bergson was one of the most League of Nations in 1913. full importance of our faculty of Ever since the philosopher intuition.” these images to give some idea of Essentially. mother and a Polish father. and influenced many other he was the son of an English philosophers and psychologists. but we can never step record of it by taking photographs outside of ourselves to achieve an of every part. As these unique particular perspective. Bergson believes that these are Creative Evolution explored reached by different methods. Bergson believes that and absolute knowledge. with the essence of life itself. and died Despite this. or object may only be possible know how things are relative to we Suppose you want to get to know through direct knowledge gained from intuition. you might acquire knowledge unfolding times of the city through knowing something from our own of the city itself—a direct knowledge which we are walking. and we also two different kinds of knowledge: streets. life. he took up philosophy in 1941 at the age of 81. which is direct knowledge. from every possible absolute view of the world’s actual perspective. direct connection. does not agree a living city. When his book Matter Key works and Memory was published in 1896. But you would the world in terms of our sense of Two forms of knowledge be grasping it at one remove. You could compile a underestimate the value of our intuition. THE MODERN WORLD 227 See also: John Duns Scotus 333 ■ Immanuel Kant 164–71 ■ William James 206–09 ■ Alfred North Whitehead 336 ■ Gilles Deleuze 338 H enri Bergson’s 1910 book are. as a career. His influential French philosophers work was widely translated of his time. and 1910 Creative Evolution represented the French government 1932 The Two Sources of during the establishment of the Morality and Religion . but to know it as it actually is. He says that there are you were simply to stroll around the of our own inner time. is we can make a direct connection knowing things as they actually knowledge of the essence of the city. person. it is a matter of seeing the city as a whole. before reconstructing But how do we practice intuition? “things-in-themselves. whether it is possible to really know Kant’s mistake. not as unfolding time. the his vitalism. we have a sense with Kant. because Kant showed that we can terms of time rather than space.

” AFTER From 1970 Jürgen Habermas applies pragmatic principles to social theory. we should not be asking “is this the . which arose in the US in the late 19th century. but to help us to act more effectively within it. If we are taking a pragmatic perspective. The founder is generally considered to be the philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce.228 IN CONTEXT WE ONLY THINK BRANCH Epistemology WHEN WE ARE APPROACH Pragmatism CONFRONTED BEFORE 1859 Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species puts WITH PROBLEMS human beings in a new. naturalistic perspective. popularizing the philosophical term “pragmatism. Pragmatism starts from the position that the purpose of philosophy. is not to provide us with a true picture of the world. 1907 William James publishes Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking. 1878 Charles Sanders Peirce’s essay How to Make our Ideas JOHN DEWEY (1859–1952) Clear lays the foundations of the pragmatist movement. or “thinking”. who wrote a groundbreaking essay in 1878 called How to Make our Ideas Clear. J ohn Dewey belongs to the philosophical school known as pragmatism. 1979 Richard Rorty combines pragmatism with analytic philosophy in Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature.

He wrote because humans are living beings Evolving creatures about philosophy and social trying to make sense of their Dewey was strongly influenced issues until he died in 1952 at world. Dewey’s broad range of adopting this perspective?” philosophizing is not about being interests. struggling to decide how by the evolutionary thought of the the age of 92. life to extend far beyond the sees them as problems that occur Laboratory Schools. He We only think studied at the University of when we are Vermont. he set up problem solving. gaining a true picture of and art. Philosophy naturalist Charles Darwin. and from in 1859. In addition to his the world. “what practical responses to these institution is still running are the practical implications of problems. He engaging in the problems of life. This way things are?” but rather. but about practical work as a scholar. in 1859. and …the traditions wrote extensively on a broad we have inherited. allowed his problems are not abstract problems world from afar. an educational institution— the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools—which put into practice his educational philosophy of learning by doing. from education Philosophy is not about to democracy. This being the of the natural world. and his abilities as a For Dewey. who starts from our everyday human published On The Origin of Species Key works hopes and aspirations. but about actively influence on American public divorced from people’s lives. philosophical a “spectator” who looks at the communicator. He taught at various leading universities for the remainder of his life. range of topics. Like the other 1929 The Quest for Certainty case. John Dewey John Dewey was born in Vermont. before returning to undertake further study in psychology and philosophy. He believes that today. USA. Darwin described humans 1910 How We Think the problems that arise in the as living creatures who are a part 1925 Experience and Nature course of our lives. and then worked as confronted with a schoolteacher for three years problems. best to act within it. THE MODERN WORLD 229 See also: Heraclitus 40 ■ Charles Sanders Peirce 205 ■ William James 206–09 ■ Jürgen Habermas 306–07 ■ Richard Rorty 314–19 Problems arise because we are trying to make sense of… …the challenges of living in a changing world. humans have evolved in 1934 Art as Experience should also be a way of finding response to their changing ❯❯ . psychology. Dewey thinks that philosophy animals.

or we can seek many people find themselves offering up a silent promise to be good in return Dewey comes to think about what to understand the world and gain for help from some higher being. shelter ourselves from its extremes. wheat. and they have given rise to mastering the world. but think of human beings not as fixed these environments do not change essences created by God. promising to be good if For much of human history. but then the non-material world. or a gamble. but philosopher Heraclitus. for instance. and then disease strikes us when Everything changes we least expect it. but where they made John Dewey sacrifices. Existence is a In the story that Dewey tells. only to find that best to survive in a world of which a storm suddenly blows up out of we are inescapably a part. but in a predictable fashion. the same way. idea that nature as a whole is a Dewey says that there are two system that is in a constant state of different strategies we can adopt.230 JOHN DEWEY environments. an idea that itself echoes We can either appeal to higher We no longer employ sacrifice as a the philosophy of the ancient Greek beings and hidden forces in the way to ask for help from the gods. philosophical problems are. he says. and the world our ancestors worshipped gods and works. so that we two different kinds of knowledge: . writes. but dispense fortune. how they arise. In says.” This scenario is important to realize that we can played out in stories from around the never completely control our world. Dewey they spare us from harm. in myths and legends such as environment or transform it to those about unfortunate seafarers such an extent that we can drive who pray to gods or saints to calm out all uncertainty. ceremonies. For several instead as natural beings. but evolved harvest fails. This approach to the and so on. We can Dewey discusses the idea that The first of these strategies involves learn the art of forecasting the we only think when confronted attempting to affect the world by weather. we get over them. we strike bargains with A luminous philosophy the gods. strategy involves finding ways of change and flux. change. one of the many environments in which the implications of Darwin’s we find ourselves are themselves thought is that it requires us to always changing. We are. forms the basis of both powers of the universe. and then working out how is fundamentally unstable. and control of our environment. and build houses to with problems in an essay entitled means of magical rites. we can modify the risky. depend upon our environment to themselves with the “powers that Dewey points out that it is be able to survive and thrive. We are healthy for years. At best. revealing how our environment risk. Dewey also takes from Darwin the In the face of this uncertainty. uncertain nature of the world in We do not solve ethics arises out of the attempts which we find ourselves. Appeasing the gods can live in it more easily. A sailor may set sail organisms who are trying to do our under fine weather. Kant and the Philosophic Method and sacrifices. Not only this. this to a world that is subject to constant religion and ethics. organisms uncertainty of the world. We are years there may be a good crop of not souls who belong in some other. hidden forces. our ancestors made to appease is inescapably risky. these two approaches to The alternative response to the dealing with the riskiness of life uncertainties of our changing world have existed in tension with each is to develop various techniques of other. When universe for help. Rather than attempting (1884). he takes this insight as a starting point. For Dewey. Dewey believes. But life philosophical problems. We spirits as a way of trying to ally to transform it to our benefit. Dewey to ally ourselves with the hidden that find ourselves having to respond believes. and thereby survive. he the storm. nowhere.

ethics and religion. These contradictions are not more intelligible. For example. Given that Dewey places such an overriding emphasis on responding to the practical problems of life. it is perhaps unsurprising that much of his influence has been on the one hand. for instance. Nevertheless. Dewey’s philosophy has been enormously influential in America. and make it “more opaque”? Here what constitutes a “good life”. such as those performed by Benjamin Franklin in the 1740s. He is critical of any philosophical approaches that ultimately make our experience more puzzling. but Dewey is agreeing with Peirce that I may find that these beliefs are in philosophy’s purpose is to make our tension with the knowledge and ideas and our everyday experience understanding that I have gained clearer and easier to understand. Dewey asks. First. ■ technologies. such as in and on the other hand. from studying the sciences. Or. arts and context philosophy can be seen as education and in politics. we should ask response to the problems in our whether it has made the world Education is not an affair lives. meaning. such as Bertrand Russell. in our everyday lives? Does it. or the world more mysterious. or does it John Dewey beliefs about ethics. just theoretical. and practical responses to these in Dewey’s view. Second. Philosophy. the art of finding both theoretical tradition and science. they are also particular philosophical theory but an active and practical. THE MODERN WORLD 231 Scientific experiments. Does this of telling and being told. In this in practical realms. more simply. Dewey thought philosophical theories should be equally useful. inherited innumerable traditional luminous”. I may have make our experience “more constructive process. is the process by problems and contradictions. help us gain control over the world. means of which we try to work There are two ways in which to through the contradictions between judge whether a form of philosophy these two different kinds of is successful. have criticized pragmatism by claiming that it has simply given up on the long philosophical quest for truth. “yield the enrichment and increase of power” that we have come to expect from new scientific theories? A practical influence A number of philosophers. Is it useful to us. . he thinks we should judge a philosophical theory by asking to what extent it succeeds in addressing the problems of living.

always 1807–22 Georg Hegel writes building on what has gone before. French with a sense of possible alternatives. philosopher Paul Ricoeur The AT&T Building. Santayana three stages: the age of the believes. the age of artistocrats of revolution as of adaptation. but also of forgetting the past. remember past atrocities. uses explores the necessity not old architectural patterns in new ways. explores the origins of environment. order of causes and effects”. But APPROACH Santayana’s naturalistic approach Santayana is actually making a Naturalism means that he sees knowledge and point about progress. an understanding of the past coupled History. Memory. and this is George Santayana wrote that sometimes understood to mean BRANCH those who cannot remember the that we must do our best to Philosophy of history past are condemned to repeat it. taking and heroes. Santayana is often see different ways of doing things. the who do not remember the past are IN CONTEXT Spanish-American philosopher condemned to repeat it. civilizations pass through Real progress. what we have learned from the past This is due to “an uninterrupted and using it to build the future. a Roman our minds and the material also be able to learn from them. For progress belief as arising not from reasoning. to be possible. and this is Giovanni Vico claims that all how we prevent ourselves from repeating mistakes. ■ AFTER Progress is only possible through 2004 In his book. and democracy. societies and civilizations. we must not only BEFORE but through interaction between remember past experiences. to poet. builds note by note into a whole. Forgetting. New York. but 55 BCE Lucretius. Civilization is cumulative.232 THOSE WHO CANNOT REMEMBER THE PAST ARE CONDEMNED TO REPEAT IT GEORGE SANTAYANA (1863–1952) I n The Life of Reason (1905). only of remembering. of history as the continual in the same way that a symphony progress of mind or spirit. misquoted as saying that those The psyche structures new beliefs 1730s The Italian philosopher through experiences. See also: Georg Hegel 178–85 ■ Karl Marx 196–203 ■ William James 206–09 ■ Bertrand Russell 236–39 . is not so much a matter gods.

it may seem He claims that it is essential to Eightfold Path as a route to as if this idea is close to that of acknowledge our pain. second choice is more difficult. The philosophy of suffering and suffering. with a stark choice. by suffering and offers the At first glance. we scholar C. In this he from what makes us human. and the British author Graham Greene. On the other hand. influences other Spanish and if consciousness is what but it is one that opens the way writers such as Federico makes us distinctively human.400 CE Saint Augustine asks inescapable part of all human life. we APPROACH writes that all consciousness is are also turning away from Existentialism consciousness of death (we are consciousness itself. human being. we can choose happiness AFTER a problem to be overcome through and do our best to turn away from 1940 The Irish author and practicing detachment. our lives a kind of weight and IN CONTEXT novelist. because release from its causes. his book The Problem of Pain. the Buddha. to Unamuno’s ideas on suffering. Love or happiness c.500 BCE The Buddha What makes us human is the There is also an ethical dimension claims that all life is marked fact that we suffer. Unlike the Buddha. If we turn away from BRANCH best known for his book The Tragic it. Sidhartha Gautama. as Unamuno claims. THE MODERN WORLD 233 IT IS ONLY SUFFERING THAT MAKES US PERSONS MIGUEL DE UNAMUNO (1864–1936) T he Spanish philosopher. and a vital experience. it is only when we face the fact of who also said that suffering is an our own suffering that we become c. This presents us a world created by a good and is very different. capable of truly loving other how there can be suffering in But Unamuno’s response to suffering suffering beings. See also: Siddhartha Gautama 30–33 ■ St Augustine of Hippo 72–73 ■ Martin Heidegger 252–55 ■ Albert Camus 284–85 ■ Jean-Paul Sartre 268–71 . Lewis explores argues that suffering is an essential can choose suffering and love. but it is a choice that ultimately If all consciousness amounts to limits us – indeed. the question of suffering in part of what it means to exist as a The first choice may be easier. On the one all-powerful God. Instead he suffering. is perhaps suffering. ■ Jiménez. Miguel substance is to embrace this de Unamuno. we are not only turning away Ontology Sense of Life (1913). severs us from 20th century Unamuno’s consciousness of human mortality an essential part of ourselves. and poet. to the possibility of a life of depth García Lorca and Juan Ramón then the only way we can lend and significance.S. painfully aware of our lack of BEFORE immortality) and of suffering. Unamuno does not see suffering as hand.

Charles Sanders Peirce and fuller life. In this message. William James. or not just our thoughts and beliefs. wrote what has become than a statement of fact. in life. may be taken up by but also the practical implications of the Life of Frederick others to be bettered or completed. without growth. leader of the To attain this If we lose this belief. AFTER 1950s and 1960s Martin Luther King Jr. close to the end of “Always. In this 4th century BCE Aristotle funeral. It is as if APPROACH known as his last message to the Du Bois is saying that we must Pragmatism world. and that which claims that what matters is 1845 Publication of Narrative those things he has left undone. or in the possibility of progress. enough to justify his life. address social segregation. Du Bois idea. such as a broader and …believe So we must.” Du Bois writes. Knowing that he did not believe in the possibility of a fuller have much longer to live.234 BELIEVE IN LIFE WILLIAM DU BOIS (1868–1963) I n 1957. and fuller life.” BRANCH and civil rights activist. . argue that we should judge the value of ideas in terms of their usefulness... an American Slave boosts support for the abolition of slavery in the United States. political radical. BEFORE a short passage to be read at his to be able to progress at all. William This is a statement of belief rather Ethics Du Bois. greater. Late 19th and early 20th We aspire to century Pragmatists. or “human flourishing”.. Douglass. he penned life. adopts a policy of in the possibility of death: existence non-violent direct action to of progress. has done badly. broader. of these thoughts and beliefs. Du Bois shows the influence explores the ancient Greek expresses his hope that any good of the American philosophical ethical concept of eudaimonia he has done will survive long movement known as Pragmatism. African-American Civil Rights we need to believe we suffer a form movement. the American beings will live and progress to a academic. “human IN CONTEXT his long life.

He was the first African. contribute to the fulfilment of to be racism and social inequality. philosopher Aristotle. one that can be addressed high levels of criminal activity. He won a scholarship to Fisk Nevertheless. claiming that lack of education and “human flourishing. 1903 The Souls of Black Folk Du Bois was involved in the Civil 1915 The Negro Rights movement and in radical 1924 The Gift of Black Folk politics. Du Bois is tireless in his search of bringing about a more just society for solutions to the problem of all is still incomplete. this involved only by committed political and In his final message to the world. of deeper philosophical roots here. William Du Bois Du Bois goes on to say that the He rejects scientific racism—the Martin Luther King Jr. for the problem. But there are also hints was prevalent throughout most of and establish social equality in the US. As racial inequality has going all the way back to the no basis in biological science. and spent two years in a key figure in the struggle for Germany studying in Berlin before racial equality. age. cited Du “only possible death” is to lose one’s idea that black people are inferior Bois’ writings as a key influence in his belief in the prospects for human genetically to white people—that decision to become actively involved in the battle to demolish racial divisions progress. forms of injustice”. His political judgement 1940 Dusk of Dawn: An Essay has sometimes been called into Toward an Autobiography of question: he famously wrote a a Race Concept . ancient Greek idea of eudaimonia he regards it as a purely social employment are correlated with or “human flourishing”. Du Bois reminds us that the task upon virtue and reason. He states that it Political activist forms of social inequality. American to graduate from Harvard with a doctorate. He is up to future generations to believe Du Bois considers two of the major argues that social inequality is in life. Du Bois remains University. THE MODERN WORLD 235 See also: Aristotle 56–63 ■ Charles Sanders Peirce 205 ■ William James 206–09 ■ John Dewey 228–31 The problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line. his life.” ■ William Du Bois Du Bois showed exceptional glowing eulogy on the death of academic promise from an early the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. thanks to what attending Harvard. called his wrote a dissertation on the slave “divine dissatisfaction with all trade. so that we can continue to impediments to a life of excellence one of the major causes of crime. living a life of excellence based social activism. where he Martin Luther King Jr. Key works Alongside an active career as a university teacher and writer.

T he British philosopher Bertrand Russell was no stranger to hard work. 2005 Tom Hodgkinson. editor of the British magazine The Idler. he was responsible for some of the most important developments in 20th-century philosophy. in the middle of the Great . promoting fewer working hours. German sociologist Max OF WORK Weber argues that the Protestant work ethic was partly responsible for the growth of capitalism. So why is this most active of thinkers suggesting that we should work less? Russell’s essay In Praise of Idleness was first published in 1932. BERTRAND RUSSELL (1872–1970) AFTER 1990s Growth of the trend of “downshifting”. publishes his leisure- praising book How To Be Idle.236 IN CONTEXT THE ROAD TO BRANCH Ethics HAPPINESS LIES APPROACH Analytic philosophy IN AN ORGANIZED BEFORE 1867 Karl Marx publishes the first volume of Capital. His collected writings fill countless volumes. and throughout his long life—he died aged 97—he was a tireless social activist. DIMINUTION 1905 In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. including the founding of the school of analytic philosophy. 2009 British philosopher Alain de Botton explores our working lives in The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work.

but others can be employed to supervise the supervisors. while still more can be These attitudes lead employed to manage the people to unhappiness. And it is always these critique of capitalism and a re-evaluation beneficiaries of the system. happiness. For Russell. when who avoids all work. earth’s surface relative to other such matter. THE MODERN WORLD 237 See also: Jean-Jacques Rousseau 154–59 ■ Adam Smith 160–163 ■ Edmund Burke 172–73 ■ Jeremy Bentham 174 ■ John Stuart Mill 190–93 ■ Karl Marx 196–203 ■ Henry David Thoreau 204 ■ Isaiah Berlin 280–81 ■ John Rawls 294–95 Depression. and so on. he says. superstitions. First. and only do this. Street Crash of 1929. says ❯❯ of the ethics of work. tends to be unpleasant and badly paid.” This second We value different We assume that work kind of work. Indeed. extended indefinitely—not only differently. which should be priests. and who unemployment was rising to a third depends on the labor of others of the working population in some to support his or her idleness.” This is the most fundamental sense of work—that of manual labor. But to economic crisis following the Wall these Russell adds a third class. The second kind of work is “telling other people to alter the position of matter relative to other such matter. there is work aimed at “altering the Our attitudes to work position of matter at or near the are irrational. According to Russell. What is work? Russell begins by defining work. These So we should recognize Working less will two types of work define two types of worker—the laborer and the what work is genuinely increase human supervisor—and these in turn relate valuable. classes. can you have people employed to supervise people who move matter. who give advice on how to employ people. Russell says. while the second tends to be more pleasant. parts of the world. it highlighted the need for a swept away by rigorous thinking. or give advice on how to employ other people. while any surplus they The Great Depression was the worst about work are little more than produce is appropriated by warriors. to two social classes—the working . which he says is of two kinds. history is however. It might seem who he claims has a lot to answer distasteful to promote the virtues for—that of the leisured landowner of idleness at such a time. the economic chaos of littered with examples of people the time was itself the result of a working hard all their lives and set of deep-rooted and mistaken being allowed to keep just enough attitudes about work. can be types of work is good in itself. and better paid. a period of global class and the middle class. he for themselves and their families claims that many of our ideas to survive. and the leisured ruling For Russell. The first kind of work. economic depression of the 20th century.

then. while another rich and meaningful life. with whom he later collaborated on the Key works Principia Mathematica. works of philosophy. He was 1927 The Analysis of Matter a social activist. reward people in accordance with writes. Russell asks. first published in 1905. and so also miserable. done? Russell’s suggestion is that Bertrand Russell with its emphasis on the struggle we look at work not in terms of between classes. This. and went on to the author of numerous popular study the subject at Cambridge. for by embracing “honest more it seems that our attitudes is caused by toil” we comply with and even toward work are both complex and the belief that promote our own oppression. It might our attitudes to work—claims that part can be totally unemployed. 1912. who are heard extolling this perceived virtue rather than the virtues of “honest toil”. the Principia Mathematica philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. He had an early interest against nuclear arms. it know what to do with their time For example. a pacifist. and we tend to “Moving matter about.” Manual work is generally considered working hours would free us to suggesting that our capacity for less virtuous than more skilled or pursue more creative interests. does not benefit anyone.238 BERTRAND RUSSELL Russell. “is emphatically not one of A society that took leisure seriously. giving for what they produce.” Russell eclipsed by the cult of efficiency. the Immense harm of work. we also see different types of work The importance of play If this is true. if they worked only for four hours work as a duty and an obligation. although terms of what makes for a full and Russell was always uneasy with satisfying human life.” If we allow of capitalist states. Russell believes. What. owes something these curious moral ideas that to the thought of the 19th-century are a relic of earlier times. but in philosopher Karl Marx. and a campaigner family. present system is such that part of something known only to the particularly Weber’s examination the population can be overworked. privileged few. 1914 Our Knowledge of the Russell wanted philosophy to External World speak to ordinary people. 1970. “it is a as occupying a hierarchy of virtue. play and light-heartedness has been intellectual work. be objected that nobody would Russell insists should be challenged. incoherent. It Mathematics was also at Cambridge that he 1910. Russell The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit day were only four hours long? Our believes that leisure. and his essay is as we do this. a day. if the working we are not living fully. His view also we should all simply work less. we tend to see alone. can be work is virtuous. he says. Alfred North Whitehead. And given a moral gloss to a system that is that we consider work itself to be manifestly unjust. it is critical of Marxist states as it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the ends of human life. Russell’s account of society. And this fact inherently virtuous. but Russell regrets this. owes much to Max Weber’s book What. should the unemployed as lacking in virtue. is necessary for a of the moral claims that underlie and so miserable. And when Marxism. Bertrand Russell Bertrand Russell was born in educationalist. He died of There he met the philosopher influenza in February. work to occupy every waking hour. and 1913 (3 vols) met. previously of Capitalism. and deeply influenced. according to Russell. an advocate of Wales in 1872 to an aristocratic atheism. an 1956 Logic and Knowledge . Russell’s view is that reducing our condemnation of our civilization. as well as in mathematics. a book that established him as one of the 1903 The Principles of leading philosophers of his era. prompt us to re-evaluate the ethics The more we think about it. not only do we see seems.

Moreover. Russell believes that such a society would be one in which we would lose the taste for war because. should no longer be spent merely recovering from work. all of which depends only do we need to scrutinize our the morality of slaves. Russell’s reminder that virtue and a usefulness to lounging. The raw work nor our leisure are as fulfilling materials for industrial production as we believe they could be. it would be one that took the need for enjoyment seriously. no need of slavery. even if it were possible to reduce the working day to four hours. Nor is Russell’s faith in the idea that industrialization can ultimately free us from manual Leisure time. . We take as to be as energetic as we were “natural” the length of the working before there were machines. It would be one that took the arts seriously. For many of us. Indeed. it should constitute the largest part of our lives and be a source of play and creativity. Despite these working lives. and on manual labor. for Russell. and at still need to come from somewhere. neither our foolish forever. would be one that took education seriously—because education is surely about more than training for the workplace. this change would lead to the social revolution that Russell claims. the same time we cannot help They need to be mined and refined feeling that idleness is a vice.” ■ Russell believes. in week and the fact that some kinds this we have been foolish. we need to look more closely at loafing. but of work are rewarded more than there is no reason to go on being others. THE MODERN WORLD 239 labor entirely convincing. and idling. As Russell Bertrand Russell our attitudes to work is one that says: “Hitherto we have continued remains relevant today. On the contrary. because there would be time to produce works of quality without the struggle that artists have for economic independence. but that there is a the modern world has problems. It is not entirely clear how.” The balanced life Russell’s essay may appear to present something of a Utopian vision of a world in which work is reduced to a minimum. if nothing else. war would involve “long and severe work for all. and exported to the place of Russell’s idea reminds us that not The morality of work is production.

Scheler believes. ■ 17th century Blaise Pascal fundamental: the experience of love. a bridge from poorer to richer Early 20th century Edmund knowledge in an essay entitled Husserl develops his new Love and Knowledge (1923). Ethics attempts to investigate all the both knowledge of ourselves and APPROACH phenomena of our inner experience. Max Scheler Wojtyza (later Pope John Paul II) writes his PhD thesis on A spiritual midwife Scheler. knowledge of the world.380 BCE Plato writes his has tended to focus too exclusively be human is not to be a “thinking Symposium. He writes of the logic of the introduces the idea that love forms human heart. in Scheler’s view.240 LOVE IS A BRIDGE FROM POORER TO RICHER KNOWLEDGE MAX SCHELER (1874–1928) T he German philosopher knowledge possible. and has overlooked something but a being who loves. This logic is different of all possibles. possibilities. Scheler writes IN CONTEXT Max Scheler belongs to the that love is “a kind of spiritual philosophical movement midwife” that is capable of BRANCH known as phenomenology. 1954 Polish philosopher Karol from the logic of the intellect. phenomenological method Scheler’s starting point. BEFORE Scheler says that phenomenology At root. It is the Phenomenology it is the study of our consciousness “primary determinant” of a person’s and its structures. Descartes said in the 17th century. love and knowledge. This drawing us toward knowledge. ethics. that philosopher’s influence on makes things apparent to our Roman Catholicism. and fate. experience and that makes See also: Plato 50–55 ■ Blaise Pascal 124–25 ■ Edmund Husserl 224–25 . is that participation in there is a specific logic to the the essential reality AFTER human heart. philosopher Blaise Pascal. a philosophical on the intellect in examining thing” as the French philosopher exploration of the nature of the structures of consciousness. which is Philosophy is a love- for studying the experience taken from the 17th-century French determined movement toward of the human mind. or of the human heart. acknowledging the It is love. to C.

struggling to realize From 1950 Hans-Georg truth. “ready-made truth”. individual struggle. Jaspers considers 1920s Martin Heidegger his own philosophy “true” only so far as it aids communication with claims that philosophy is a others. Strongly influenced by A community of individuals the philosophers Kierkegaard and Although in this sense truth is BEFORE Nietzsche. philosophers act as signposts towards Gadamer explores the idea potential paths to understanding. We cannot turn to anybody else to BRANCH For German philosopher and tell us the truth. philosophy is a personal Existentialism struggle. by our own efforts. we IN CONTEXT way to discover objective can philosophize only as individuals. 1800s Søren Kierkegaard who suggests that philosophy is it is in communication with others writes of philosophy as a a matter of our own attempts to that we realize the fruits of our matter of the individual’s realize truth. For says that “God is dead”. each individual’s search are no absolute truths. Heidegger 252–55 ■ Hans-Georg Gadamer 260–61 ■ Hannah Arendt 272 . on the it for ourselves. we must discover Epistemology psychiatrist Karl Jaspers. truths about the world. realm of the spirit. THE MODERN WORLD 241 ONLY AS AN INDIVIDUAL CAN MAN BECOME AKARLPHILOSOPHER JASPERS (1883–1969) F or some. with all those “companions in thought” who have undergone AFTER the same personal struggle. APPROACH other hand. ■ From 1940 Hannah Arendt’s ideas of freedom are influenced The philosopher lives in the invisible by Jaspers’ philosophy. and we for truth is carried out in community must rethink all our values. Since philosophy is an efforts and raise our consciousness struggle with truth. philosophy is a 1941 book On my Philosophy. there Jaspers. that philosophy progresses through a fusion of individual See also: Søren Kierkegaard 194–95 ■ Friedrich Nietzsche 214–21 ■ Martin perspectives. And while other people matter of our relationship with cannot provide us with a form of our own existence. Jaspers is an existentialist something that we realize alone. he writes in his beyond its limits. companion. philosophy 1920s Friedrich Nietzsche remains a collective endeavor. The thoughts of other.

Ignacio Ellacuría. AFTER 1920s Martin Heidegger explores questions about what our existence means for us. We can accept or reject these The new possibilities circumstances. and yet to doubt the Existentialism with life. collisions with the future. putting particular circumstances. to see that we are always immersed Early 1900s Edmund Husserl establishes phenomenology. Ortega writes: interested in analyzing the “I am myself and my circumstances. he wants to explore how to imagine ourselves as thinking APPROACH philosophy can engage creatively beings. IN CONTEXT is about life. what we do. If we want to think are two worlds: the world of ourselves. and María Life is a series of Zambrano. José Gaos. we have mind and the world of matter. by imagining collide with our current 1930s onward Ortega’s new possibilities. as where we live.” BRANCH world in a cool and detached fashion. our lives for the better. and allows us to change seriously about ourselves. philosophy becomes popular in Spain and Latin America. existence of the external world. and things we assume. citing Ortega as an influence. among others. . is not something passive. such all preconceptions aside. circumstances. Descartes said that it was possible Ontology Instead. Ortega believes.242 LIFE IS A SERIES OF COLLISIONS WITH THE FUTURE JOSE ORTEGA Y GASSET (1883–1955) O rtega y Gasset’s philosophy In his Meditations on Quixote. Reason. influencing philosophers Xavier Zubiri. He claims that philosophers must We are always immersed in look at the world anew. He is not published in 1914. René allows us to get to grips with the to see ourselves as separate from Descartes argues that there circumstances in which we find the world. but including our own bodies. But BEFORE something active—something that Ortega says that it makes no sense 1641 In his Meditations.

but his involvement reconsider our beliefs and prejudices. War in 1936. circumstances. Indeed. he claims in Madrid. and even though our attempts Institute of Humanities. and that to live by majority rule—to Key works live “like everyone else”—is to live without a personal vision or moral 1914 Meditations on Quixote 1925 The Dehumanization code. THE MODERN WORLD 243 See also: René Descartes 116–23 ■ Immanuel Kant 164–71 ■ Edmund Husserl 224–25 ■ Martin Heidegger 252–55 ■ Jean-Paul Sartre 268–71 in particular circumstances— circumstances that are often oppressive and limiting. which I am myself and is shaped by habit. my circumstances. This means not only looking always collide with the reality of actively engaged in Spanish anew at our external circumstances. In order to transform the world and and new futures. Ortega says that José Ortega y Gasset philosophers should not only strive to understand their circumstances José Ortega y Gasset was better. For reason is vital—it holds the energy 1957 What is Philosophy? Ortega. but also of our thoughts. which contain prejudices. philosopher but as a journalist must look at our lives with fresh The futures that we imagine will and essayist. It reminds us that we have with politics. Unless we engage creatively Every act of hope. He was also eyes. He studied philosophy first to change them. and even if we free ourselves Kant—before settling in Spain The energy of life enough to imagine new possibilities as a university professor. the circumstances in which we politics in the 1920s and but also looking inside ourselves to find ourselves. While many people live without José Ortega y Gasset reflecting on the nature of their circumstances. such as celebrating of Art Christmas on the front line in World with our own lives. Ortega then we be able to commit ourselves to Ortega’s idea is challenging went into exile in Argentina. Ortega to engage creatively with our own circumstances may stand in the earned a living not only as a existence. our external Throughout his life. disillusioned level. we are hardly 1930 The Revolt of the Masses War I. he warns that philosopher and journalist democracy carries within it the for the remainder of his life. In The continued working as a Revolt of the Masses. This is why Ortega 1930s. until 1945. in 1883. is a testament to our ability living at all. Our habitual thinking runs philosophy of Immanuel deep. of life itself. sees life as a series of collisions came to an end with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil Only when we have done this will with the future. on both a personal and a political where he stayed. This is why for Ortega. These limitations are not only those of our physical surroundings. ■ . this is “vital reason” in action. world. Ortega says that we way of realizing these possibilities. they should actively seek born in Madrid. even though we he returned to Madrid in may encounter difficulties in doing 1948. He may not always succeed. Spain. then at various that the philosopher’s duty is to However. threat of tyranny by the majority. and our behavior. creating new possibilities. there is a limit to the German universities—where expose the assumptions that amount that we can change the he became influenced by the lie behind all our beliefs. where he founded the so. 1935 History as a System to overcome our circumstances. a duty to attempt to change our After three years in Portugal.

we cannot do so without back to the Greek philosopher making a confession. In terms of its European APPROACH If we want to philosophize.we do not know .” we need to 1920s Martin Heidegger admit that… writes that philosophy is a matter of our relationship .. FIRST ONE MUST CONFESS HAJIME TANABE (1885–1962) B efore you read on. to philosophize. and why? century BCE. 4th century St. AFTER 1990s Jacques Derrida. Early 13th century Buddhist monk Shinran claims that salvation is only possible To do this. philosophy. through “other power. Augustine asking of Hippo writes Confessions. explores themes such as first one must confession and forgiveness.. confess.. In order influenced by phenomenology. but it is one philosophy in both the European BRANCH that Japanese philosopher Tanabe and the Japanese traditions of Ethics Hajime wants us to take seriously. confess! To answer these questions. we IN CONTEXT This may seem like a need to look at the roots of Tanabe’s strange idea. But what is it Socrates who lived in the 5th BEFORE that we should confess. Socrates is important 5th century BCE Socrates claims that he is wise because he knows he is ignorant. . Tanabe roots. deeper questions about life.244 TO PHILOSOPHIZE. reason are limited. which is both an autobiography and a work of philosophy..our powers of with our own being. Tanabe traces his thought Phenomenology believes. the answers.

This death and oracle at Delphi said that Socrates not about discussing the finer resurrection is the rebirth of the was the wisest man in Athens. However. and limitations. to which Shinran belonged. who belonged to what is known as the Pure Land school of Buddhism. After War II. who was certain of his or debating anything—it is not. an “intellectual” discipline. Instead. limitations drives us. In the 1920s. 1945 he retired from teaching letting go of the self—a phenomenon he was appointed associate philosophy. After innumerable For Tanabe. its passing from the limited view own ignorance. in 1885. According to the story.” In the context of Pure Land Buddhism. rediscover our true being—a to Tanabe because of the way he process he describes in directly frankly confessed that he knew Forsaking ourselves religious terms as a form of death nothing. and when it ended in gain access to our true selves by studying at Tokyo University. where he was an published a year later. then. but to re-evaluate the very nature of philosophy. Japan. but something Hajime Tanabe was born in was deeply affected by World that happens through us when we Tokyo. because he alone could idea that is partly shaped by his which is rooted in scepticism and accept that he knew nothing. and points of logic. or about arguing mind through “other power”.” Philosophy. In other he spent time in Germany words. He that we engage in. Tanabe active member of what became After his retirement. leads to a recognition of “absolute It is only through confessing. confession of the Pure Land school of Buddhism. the For Tanabe. Augustine of Hippo 72–73 ■ Edmund Husserl 224–25 ■ Martin Heidegger 252–55 ■ Jacques Derrida 308–13 The Japanese roots of Tanabe’s idea go back to the thought of the Buddhist monk Shinran. or “other power. more fundamental—a process of is not simply a preparation for he came to the conclusion that he relating. ■ . the “forsaking of ourselves to the grace of other power. Tanabe asks us not to find studying with the philosophers Key works Edmund Husserl and Martin new answers to old philosophical Heidegger. Continual confession is. set out to prove the in fact. Tanabe writes. “the ultimate conclusion” known as the Kyoto School dedicated the remainder of his to which the recognition of our of philosophy. is the principal buddha of Tanabe’s philosophy. in 1946. and Socrates. Tanabe’s book that Tanabe calls “action without professor of philosophy at Kyoto Philosophy as Metanoetics was an acting subject. In the context Seishi (Wisdom). we rely on our own power. philosophy is and resurrection. of the “self” to the perspective of oracle wrong. in the deepest possible philosophy—on the contrary. it is something much enlightenment. here shown this other power is that of the between Kannon (Compassion) and Buddha Amitabha. life to meditation and writing. that we can self-awakening and wisdom. there must be something we must confess our own ignorance inconceivable in it. to our very own being—an the very work of philosophy itself. and after his return 1946 Philosophy as Metanoetics questions. THE MODERN WORLD 245 See also: Siddharta Gautama 30–33 ■ Socrates 46–49 ■ St. is not an activity the post of full professor. Shinran’s innovation was his claim For a problem that enlightenment is impossible if to belong to philosophy. it is was indeed the wisest person in sense. the city. Hajime Tanabe to Japan he was appointed to in other words.” University. The Buddha Amitabha. so that we are open Hajime Tanabe to what both Shinran and Tanabe call tariki. nothingness”. reading of Martin Heidegger. this shift conversations with people in Athens. and ultimately to Tanabe believes.



Early 20th century Bertrand Russell develops notation that translates natural language into logical propositions. nearly all of the most forbidding texts in the history The Critique of Pure Reason. Schlick and Rudolf Carnap. and. W ittgenstein’s Tractatus philosophical tradition that stems necessary limits of our knowledge. In perhaps dissolve. but does translation. to develop Logical Positivism. of human understanding?” One setting out to make clear what can In order to appreciate the full reason that Kant asked such be meaningfully said. Kant philosophical problems of the past. Only set out to explore the limits of The Tractatus tackles the same around 70 pages long in its English knowledge by posing questions kind of task that Kant did. APPROACH which may be true or false.” about the world. and begins to explore very different ways The limits of my language of viewing language. Logico-Philosophicus from the 18th-century German we can then either resolve. a series of highly condensed and “What things will lie forever outside Wittgenstein states that he is technical numbered remarks. it questions was that he believed same way that Kant strives to set is important to set it within its many problems in philosophy arose the limits of reason. maps are pictures of the world. things are a certain way. are the limits of my world. such as Moritz example “killing is bad. AFTER Any proposition that My language is 1920s Ideas in the Tractatus does not picture facts therefore limited are used by philosophers of the is meaningless—for to statements of facts Vienna Circle. In much the significance of the Tractatus.248 LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN IN CONTEXT Language is BRANCH The world is made up of propositions: Philosophy of language made up of facts: assertions about things. Late 19th century Gottlob Propositions are “pictures” Frege develops the foundations of facts. of 20th-century philosophy. by implication. From 1930 Wittgenstein rejects the ideas expressed in the Tractatus. the “limits” of my language and my By turning our attention back onto He does this because he suspects world sets him firmly within the ourselves and asking about the that a great deal of philosophical . or even is perhaps one of the philosopher Immanuel Kant. The fact because we fail to recognize the wants to set the limits of language that Wittgenstein is talking about limitations of human understanding. in the same way that of modern logic. Wittgenstein philosophical context. of all thought. Logic BEFORE 4th century BCE Aristotle sets the foundations of logic. the book is made up of such as “What can I know?” and so in a far more radical fashion.

and that these structures can be broken down into their component parts. so this statement. to consider as being either true or an elephant in the room. He goes on to write he developed a way of translating that “the world is the totality of discussion and disagreement is everyday language into what he facts. For example. for example. it is not entirely was a “perfect language”. but the word “elephant” become clear how the structure both language and the world are is not. THE MODERN WORLD 249 See also: Aristotle 56–63 ■ Immanuel Kant 164–71 ■ Gottlob Frege 336 ■ Bertrand Russell 236–39 ■ Rudolf Carnap 257 “world” and “language”. he attempts to draw a number of wide-reaching philosophical conclusions. According to Wittgenstein’s of language and that of the world ❯❯ formally structured. everyday sense we might expect. the Tractatus are essentially based “the elephant is very angry” is a From this point. “The totality of propositions. writes. known as hieroglyphs. we need to ask what he means by the words The ancient Egyptians arranged symbols and stylized images of objects in the world. He believed that logic taken on its own. not of things. . who was an important by “the world. which clear what Wittgenstein means by excluded all traces of ambiguity. the problem of life is Russell becomes apparent. If we are to understand what Wittgenstein means when he says that limits of my language are the limits of my world.” Here we can based on some fundamental errors considered a logical form. but an Wittgenstein’s central ideas in false. Having done this. meaningful language he does not use these words in the must consist solely of propositions.” the debt Wittgenstein owes to Knowing a little about what The solution of the British philosopher Bertrand Wittgenstein means by language.” The Tractatus of the problem. into logically structured sequences to create a form of written language. and then to show the way they relate to each other. it begins to on a fairly simple principle. figure in the development of begins with the claim that “the Ludwig Wittgenstein philosophical logic. known in philosophy as propositions. or that there is For all of their apparent complexity. see a parallel between the way that in how we go about thinking and Logic is concerned with what are Wittgenstein treats language and talking about the world. that proposition. but the world. For we can now explore what he means seen in the vanishing Russell. the statement elephant just by itself is not a fact. the way he is treating the world. “is language. that the Logical structure assertions that it is possible for us elephant is angry. Wittgenstein attempts to lay bare the structures both of the world and of language. because Tractatus.” This language was inadequate for might appear to be straightforward talking clearly and precisely about and robustly matter-of-fact.” he When he talks about language. It We can think of propositions as may be a fact. everyday world is all that is the case.

It may not agree with ethical values is. limits of our language. should give half of your salary to He formulated this idea during the score of that symphony. our picture may be Discussion about religious and The model cars and the model incorrect. Wittgenstein presents a can see why Wittgenstein is on. Wittgenstein the “totality of true propositions”— re-enacted for those present in states. But pictures. Because the their counterparts. writes. “It is clear that ethics cannot related to each other in exactly pictures also are either true or false. natural sciences. because they show that the elephant is not angry things that we are attempting to were related to each other in when the elephant is. very talk about when we discuss such exactly the same way as the real angry. might be related.” the same way as they are in the Language and the world.” Words only represent reality for Wittgenstein if. landscape that the map represents. then. or the pedestrians to represent the cars it can depict the world. be put into language. although not the same sort of object as the one it depicts. and at this point. and the events were the same logical form. for example. is a logical form. and not about visual interesting. There is no middle ground topics are beyond the limits of the cars and real pedestrians involved here for Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein says means. Ludwig Wittgenstein A digital image. in fact.” In this way things that are the case. all the starts with propositions that are. by a performance of a symphony. Wittgenstein elements depicted on a map are by their very nature. both have a logical form. pedestrians were able to depict reality. claim that he is a says. and the like. “A picture is laid against is merely the sum of all those court using model cars and model reality like a measure. both have the same logical form. which it is depicting. It is at this point that out vague concepts involved in talk that we are talking about logical Wittgenstein’s idea gets really of ethics. has the same “logical form. and the charity. true or false.250 LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN Logic is not a body of doctrine but a mirror-image of the world. again. The case concerned a symphony all share between them be said—what Wittgenstein calls car accident. The sound waves generated Consider the following idea: “You that language “pictures” the world. driving It is important here to realize with reality. Of course. that the “problems of life” are . they also lie beyond the in the accident. What can Paris. and Beyond words What a picture shares with that language can speak about the Some readers of Wittgenstein. and it is here that we something more complex is going pictures. by appearing to strictly meaningless. picturing it in a fashion that agrees champion of the sciences. Wittgenstein does not think useful example to show what he interested in the limits of language. Similarly. for Wittgenstein. religion. Wittgenstein world by picturing the world. and pedestrians in the real world.” This is not picturing World War I. Because he world. when he read in a pattern formed by the grooves on anything in the world in the sense newspaper about a court case in a gramophone recording of the meant by Wittgenstein.

to cajoling. Instead. Wittgenstein now does not say anything about the compelling works of Western embarked on an itinerant world. Key works 1921 Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus 1953 Philosophical Investigations 1958 The Blue and + = Brown Books 1977 Remarks on Colour . However. be clearly divided into their component parts. abandoned the discipline. Manchester. the Tractatus remains resolved all the problems of one of Wittgenstein’s major tools. even though we cannot its fiercest critics. 1930s. has serious ignores much of what we do in our taken prisoner. Around this repercussions for the propositions everyday speech—from telling time. therefore. speak of them. Is the Tractatus. In particular. despite all of its was published in 1921. these are not propositions Nevertheless. It is simply that problems left to resolve. jokes. he claims. adding that belief that language consists served on the Russian front “they are what is mystical. Even logic. ultimately recognizing that the answer to such a question must be yes. problems. They over in silence. are like the steps of a philosophical Ludwig Wittgenstein ladder that helps us to climb altogether beyond the problems of philosophy. a view that and in Italy. or statements 1929. which can there in 1939. he themselves manifest. he soon and because of this. THE MODERN WORLD 251 was fearless in following his argument to its conclusion. He died in 1951.” solely of propositions. but which we can kick away once we have ascended. he resumed language. and so to continue his education in they cannot be put into words. he believes Wittgenstein concluded that family in 1889. Wittgenstein concludes. becoming a professor of fact. ■ gardener. Born into a wealthy Viennese nonsensical. Logico-Philosophicus. he began the Tractatus that lie within the Tractatus itself. nonsense? Wittgenstein himself of the most mysterious. he began to question his and by 1911 had moved to Wittgenstein writes that these earlier thinking. nevertheless make questioned his once firmly held During World War I. Wittgenstein first studied engineering and that these are the most important there were no more philosophical in 1908 traveled to England problems of all. one of the most challenging and philosophy. which After all. and architect. he philosopher Bertrand Russell. become a part of philosophy. however. Ludwig Wittgenstein Change of direction After completing the Tractatus. will speak about we eventually see that the propositions must pass used in it are nonsense. But after developing criticisms of Philosophy demands logical. that it his work at Cambridge in can only be made up of propositions. they cannot over the course of the 1920s and developed an interest in logic. However. Believing that the Tractatus that picture the world. where he was All of this. Anybody who understands the What we cannot Tractatus properly. to scolding. such as “the cat sat on the mat”. too. unambiguous his earlier ideas. becoming one of Cambridge to study under the things. philosophy—and ultimately one career as a schoolteacher. therefore.

I t is said that in ancient Athens the followers of Plato gathered one day to ask themselves the following question: “What is a human being?” After a great deal of thought. 1960 Hans-Georg Gadamer’s Truth and Method. “Behold! I present you with a human being. shouting. A human being. they said. explores the nature of human understanding.” 1900–13 Edmund Husserl proposes his phenomenological theories and method in Logical Investigations and Ideas I. . inspired by Heidegger. which looks at the connection between “being” and human freedom. AFTER 1940s Jean-Paul Sartre publishes Being and Nothingness. is a featherless biped with broad nails. the philosophers reconvened and refined their definition.252 IN CONTEXT WE ARE OURSELVES BRANCH Ontology THE ENTITIES APPROACH Phenomenology TO BE ANALYZED BEFORE c. they came up with the following answer: “a human being is a featherless biped.” After the commotion had died down.” Everybody seemed content with this definition until Diogenes the Cynic burst into the lecture hall with a live plucked chicken.350 BCE Diogenes of Sinope uses a plucked chicken to parody Plato’s followers’ claim MARTIN HEIDEGGER (1889–1976) that a human being is a “featherless biped.

This approaches that are too abstract philosopher Martin Heidegger. want to understand what it is to be in general. which looks at of early philosophy shows the kinds many of his predecessors. he did so in a way appear—through examining our exists. and he followed Husserl’s questions. THE MODERN WORLD 253 See also: Plato 50–55 ■ Diogenes of Sinope 66 ■ Edmund Husserl 224–25 ■ Hans-Georg Gadamer 260–61 ■ Ernst Cassirer 337 ■ Jean-Paul Sartre 268–71 ■ Hannah Arendt 272 ■ Richard Rorty 314–19 Philosophy has always asked deep questions about “Being. much more concrete analysis of are the different kinds of things Even without the intervention “being” from what could be called that exist?” Heidegger wanted use of Diogenes. The human existence For Heidegger. If we want to know When Heidegger came to answer looks at phenomena—how things what it means to say that something the question. general outside. we need to start looking ❯❯ . experience of them. of difficulties philosophers have of attempting an abstract definition Examples of ontological questions sometimes been faced with when that looks at human life from the might be: “what does it mean to say attempting to give abstract. Being and Time. Instead questions about being or existence. He says that the question “what is it like to be describing ourselves as featherless since we exist in the thick of human?” as a way of answering bipeds does not really capture much things—in the midst of life—if we deeper questions about existence of what it means to be human. we have to do so by looking In his book. He was most interested in the philosophical subject of ontology (from the Greek word ontos. it seems clear that an insider’s position. they have tended to use human—that concerned the method of phenomenology.” The question of existence never gets straightened out except through existing itself. An insider’s perspective at human life from within this life. phenomenology would not look directly at the question “what is a human being?” but would instead We ourselves are look at the question “what is it like the entities to to be human?” be analyzed. For example. Heidegger claims that when other It is this question—how we might Heidegger was a student of philosophers have asked ontological go about analyzing what it is to be Husserl. human. this constitutes the fundamental question of philosophy. he attempts to provide a that something exists?” and “what definitions of what it is to be human. This curious story from the history that was strikingly different from meaning “being”). is a philosophical approach that and shallow. Martin Heidegger We need to ask these questions by looking at Us! the being for whom Being is an issue.

and spiritual environment. about their being: they do not fret asking about abstract ideas. we might learn Latin. We attempt to make sense of this world by engaging in various pastimes— for example. although cats. material. or attempt to find true love. we define our existence. Death. a by engaging with projects and tasks In saying that we are ourselves the point at which everything we plan that lend life a unity. we find ourselves in the world as if we had been thrown here on a trajectory we have not chosen. Through these time-consuming projects we literally project ourselves toward different possible futures. they do not wonder the meaning of being. and toadstools When Heidegger asks about Heidegger’s technical vocabulary are beings. outermost limit to all our projects. When we are born. Heidegger points out. We can assume that Being and time horizon. means to be immersed in the day-to-day world. one being of our being must be tied up with relate to our actual experience. we are essentially temporal say that “the furthest horizon of our . he says that the meaning or non-abstract way. However. Being human. he is not is famously difficult to understand. he wants to is. We simply find that we have come to exist. or decide to build ourselves a house. Martin Heidegger beings. To that does wonder about these time. entities to be analyzed. In the opening pages of philosophical questions in a concrete that something exists?” But there his book.254 MARTIN HEIDEGGER We should raise anew the question of the meaning of being. sometimes we become aware that there is an We try to make sense of the world things. Heidegger is will come to an end. but but this is largely because he is over ontological questions. in an ongoing world that pre-existed us. saying that if we want to explore or unfinished. whether finished Heidegger says. being: everything we can do or see of those beings for whom being is or think takes place within this an issue. is the outermost horizon of our at the question from the perspective it means for us to exist. they do about something very direct and attempting to explore complex not ask “what does it mean to say immediate. we have to start point of our death. Heidegger with ourselves. by looking at what says. We cannot see beyond it. dogs. This point is the questions of being. so that at our birth we are presented with a particular historical. and that is the human being.

and how one might live an Werner Heisenberg. In order to ask questions the Nazi party. ■ . ourselves changing our priorities be one of the most important philosophers of the 20th we miss a more fundamental and projecting ourselves toward century. and For example. and it is only once means to be a human being 1955–57 Identity and we realize this that we can live a within a world under threat of Difference meaningful and authentic life. aged 86. we continues to tackle questions of up philosophy instead. and Martin Heidegger forget about death. it is a phenomenon to be understood existentially. and that extent. Living authentically Martin Heidegger It is to Heidegger that we owe the philosophical distinction between authentic and inauthentic existence. and it captures some idea of what we are in a way that many philosophical definitions— “featherless biped” or “political Dying is not an event. when a good friend a more poetic look at the same was nicknamed “the magician dies. thinking has also had 1927 Being and Time a powerful influence on ecological 1936–53 Overcoming Metaphyics philosophers. exchange of information. He was born in 1889 dimension of our existence. Germany. Heidegger spent the last Heidegger was one of the 30 years of his life traveling 20th century’s most influential and writing. earlier. and to different futures. But in seeing our life purely in terms of the missing. His early attempt to with friends such as Hannah analyze what it means to be Arendt and the physicist human. we may look at our own lives kinds of questions. When we A deeper language priest. we must nature of his involvement with Nazism remains controversial. we are had early aspirations to be a existing inauthentically. animal”. exacting approach to take an inspirational lecturer. and contributed to the Key works birth of existentialism. but it turns away from his quickly became well known as of what it means to exist. deeper language of as is the question of how far poetry. and Gadamer. exchanging ideas philosophers. Heidegger says. His later. more poetic. environmental destruction. use the richer. He start to reach a deeper understanding being. he of Messkirch. for example—overlook. which engages us in a way his philosophy is implicated in that goes far beyond the mere the ideologies of Nazism. Levinas.” In the 1930s he and realize that the various projects comes to suspect. and that there is being. And so we may find Heidegger is acknowledged to projects in which we are engaged. such as Sartre. inspired philosophers in Freiburg in 1976. 1955–56 The Principle but only humans recognize this. in Messkirch. Most of the time we are wrapped up in various ongoing projects. but after coming across become aware of death as the Heidegger’s later philosophy the writings of Husserl he took ultimate limit of our possibilities. Our a way of thinking about what it of Reason lives are temporal. The extent and a deeper dimension to life that is about human existence. Philosophy. THE MODERN WORLD 255 being is death” is to say something about what it is like to live a human life. He died authentic life. simply cannot became rector of Freiburg which absorb us from day to day reflect this deeply on our own University and a member of feel meaningless. who believe it offers All being is a “being-towards-death”.

and self-negation that Watsuji called kenshin. and so also to ethics. so that the Existentialism Europe.” Forgetting the self favor following World War II. He explores his ideas on “climate”. Late 19th century Friedrich Watsuji’s studies of Western although he later distanced himself Nietzsche writes about the approaches to ethics convinced him from these views. Watsuji goes on to rethink and social contexts. Watsuji calls in Japan in the early part this “betweenness. which together Heidegger’s book in the light of constitute a “climate”. in an act of extreme loyalty ethics of community. ■ that thinkers in the West tend to influence of “climate” on take an individualistic approach to philosophy. or “absolute self-sacrifice.” See also: Søren Kierkegaard 194–95 ■ Friedrich Nietzsche 214–21 ■ Nishida Kitaro 336–37 ■ Hajime Tanabe 244–45 ■ Martin Heidegger 252–55 . important to Watsuji’s thought. But for Watsuji.256 THE INDIVIDUAL’S ONLY TRUE MORAL CHOICE IS THROUGH SELF-SACRIFICE FOR THE COMMUNITY TETSURO WATSUJI (1889–1960) T etsuro Watsuji was one of community. this idea becomes human nature. and like many Japanese individual can work for the benefit philosophers of his time. the idea of human nature in terms of our relationships with the wider AFTER Late 20th century Japanese Samurai warriors often sacrificed philosopher Yuasa Yasuo their own lives in battle in order to save further develops Watsuji’s the state. relationships. his work of the wider community. but of the forgetting or APPROACH philosophy. and he wrote ethics is a matter not of individual Ethics on both Eastern and Western action. insistence on the superiority of the philosopher Dogen ¯ writes Japanese race led to his fall from about “forgetting the self.” For Watsuji BRANCH of the 20th century. which form a network IN CONTEXT the leading philosophers within which we exist. BEFORE shows a creative synthesis of these Watsuji’s nationalist ethics and 13th century Japanese two very different traditions. He studied in Japan and sacrifice of one’s self. individuals can only 1927 Martin Heidegger be understood as expressions of publishes Being and Time. their particular times.

argued that Carnap’s standards for one negative result confirms what can be said meaningfully are that a theory is incorrect. Logical positivism there are no morals. such as positive proofs can prove caused by logical confusions in the Willard Quine and Karl Popper. For Nevertheless. This is one of the APPROACH main concerns of German-born Rudolf Carnap in The Physical In logic. ■ See also: Gottlob Frege 336 ■ Ludwig Wittgenstein 246–51 ■ Karl Popper 262–65 ■ Willard Van Orman Quine 278–79 ■ Thomas Kuhn 293 . meaningless). Carnap. AFTER ones—are meaningless. because strictly speaking. of falsifiability: no amount of they are also in fact pseudo-problems Some philosophers. He adds that unambiguously about the sciences. the social dimensions of can be empirically verified. language (in order to discover and there is an important one. have something to be true. Logical language too exacting and present an idealized Logical positivism accepts as true view of how science operates. writes that philosophy is the Carnap claims that many apparently deep philosophical study of the limits of language. science—is the analysis and 1921 Ludwig Wittgenstein clarification of scientific concepts. and 1930s Karl Popper proposes they cannot be proved or disproved to find ways of talking clearly and that science works by means through experience. which suggests Rudolf Carnap 1890 Gottlob Frege starts to that philosophy’s proper function— explore the logical structures and its primary contribution to of language. Language as the Universal Language BEFORE of Science (1934). THE MODERN WORLD 257 LOGIC IS THE LAST SCIENTIFIC INGREDIENT OF PHILOSOPHY RUDOLF CARNAP (1891–1970) O ne of the problems for IN CONTEXT 20th-century philosophy is determining a role for BRANCH philosophy given the success of the Philosophy of science natural sciences. 1960s Thomas Kuhn explores only strictly logical statements that which is not reflected in practice. problems—such as metaphysical rule out those questions that are. philosophy’s real task is that language can fool us into undermining some of the therefore the logical analysis of seeing problems that are not really tenets of logical positivism. Carnap’s reminder scientific progress. whereas way we use language.



he German philosopher In the essay Benjamin does not
IN CONTEXT Walter Benjamin was an set out a grand theory. Instead
affiliate of the Frankfurt he wants to surprise us with ideas,
School, a group of neo-Marxist in the same way that we might be
social theorists who explored the surprised by something catching
APPROACH significance of mass culture and our eye while on a walk. Toward
Frankfurt School communication. Benjamin was also the end of the essay, he says that
fascinated by the techniques of film “Quotations in my work are like
BEFORE and literature, and his 1926 essay wayside robbers who leap out,
c.380 BCE Plato writes his One-Way Street is an experiment in brandishing weapons, and relieve
Symposium, considered the literary construction. It is a the idler of his certainty.”
first sustained philosophical collection of observations—
account of love. intellectual and empirical—that Illuminating love
1863 The French writer apparently occur to him as he walks The idea that the only way of
down an imaginary city street. knowing a person is to love them
Charles Baudelaire explores
hopelessly appears in the middle of
the idea of the flâneur, the
the essay, under the heading “Arc
“person who walks the city to Lamp.” In a flare of light, Benjamin
experience it.” pauses and thinks just this, and no
AFTER more—the essay moves immediately
1955 Guy Debord establishes The construction of life afterward to a new section. We are
psychogeography, the study currently lies far more in forced to guess what he means. Is
of the effects of geography the hands of facts than he saying that knowledge arises
on an individual’s emotions of convictions. out of love? Or that it is only when
and behavior. Walter Benjamin we stop hoping for some outcome
that we can clearly see the beloved?
1971 Italian novelist We cannot know. All we can do is
Italo Calvino explores the walk down the street alongside
relationships between Benjamin, experiencing the flare of
cities and signs in his book light of these passing thoughts. ■
Invisible Cities.
See also: Plato 50–55 ■ Karl Marx 196–203 ■ Theodor Adorno 266–67 ■

Roland Barthes 290–91



t first glance, nothing harmony of freedom and oppression,
IN CONTEXT seems to be more irrational productivity and destruction,
than Marcuse’s claim that growth and regression.” We assume
“that which is” cannot be true, that the societies we live in are
Political philosophy
which appears in his 1941 book, based upon reason and justice,
APPROACH Reason and Revolution. If that but when we look more closely, we
Frankfurt School which is cannot be true, the reader may find that they are neither as
is tempted to ask, then what is? But just nor as reasonable as we believe.
BEFORE Marcuse’s idea is partly an attempt Marcuse is not discounting
1820 Georg Hegel writes in to overturn the claim made by the reason, but trying to point out that
his Philosophy of Right that German philosopher Hegel that reason is subversive, and that we
what is actual is rational and what is rational is actual, and also can use it to call into question the
what is rational is actual. that what is actual is rational. society in which we live. The aim
1867 Karl Marx publishes Marcuse believes this is a of philosophy, for Marcuse, is a
dangerous idea because it leads us “rationalist theory of society.” ■
the first volume of Das Kapital,
to think that what is actually the
setting out his view of the
case—such as our existing political
“laws of motion” within system—is necessarily rational.
capitalist societies, and He reminds us that those things
asserting that capitalism is we take as reasonable may be far
guilty of exploiting humans. more unreasonable than we like to
1940s Martin Heidegger admit. He also wants to shake us
begins to explore the problems up into realizing the irrational
of technology. nature of many of the things that
we -take for granted.
2000 Slavoj Žižek explores Fast cars are the kind of consumables
Subversive reason that Marcuse accuses us of using to
the relationship between In particular, Marcuse is deeply recognize ourselves; he says we find
technology, capitalist society, uneasy with capitalist societies and “our soul” in these items, becoming
and totalitarianism. with what he calls their “terrifying mere extensions of the things we create.

See also: Georg Hegel 178–85 ■ Karl Marx 196–203 ■ Martin Heidegger
252–55 ■ Slavoj Žižek 326



adamer is associated in by reading it carefully in the light
IN CONTEXT particular with one form of of our present understanding. If
philosophy: “hermeneutics”. we come to a line that seems strange
Derived from the Greek word or particularly striking, we might
Philosophy of history
hermeneuo, meaning “interpret”, need to reach for a deeper level of
APPROACH this is the study of how humans understanding. As we interpret
Hermeneutics interpret the world. individual lines, our sense of the
Gadamer studied philosophy poem as a whole might begin to
BEFORE under Martin Heidegger, who said change; and as our sense of the
Early 19th century German that the task of philosophy is to poem as a whole changes, so might
philosopher Friedrich interpret our existence. This our understanding of individual
Schleiermacher lays the interpretation is always a process lines. This is known as the
groundwork for hermeneutics. of deepening our understanding by “hermeneutic circle.”
1890s Wilhelm Dilthey, a starting from what we already Heidegger’s approach to
know. The process is similar to how philosophy moved in this circular
German philosopher, describes
we might interpret a poem. We start fashion, and this was the approach
interpretation as taking place
in the “hermeneutic circle.”
1927 Martin Heidegger
explores the interpretation This always takes place within
We understand
of being, in Being and Time. a particular historical era,
the world through
interpretation. which gives us particular
prejudices and biases.
1979 Richard Rorty uses
a hermeneutic approach in
his book Philosophy and the
Mirror of Nature.
1983–85 French philosopher
Paul Ricoeur writes Time History does
not belong We cannot understand
and Narrative, examining things outside of these
the capacity of narrative to to us, but we prejudices and biases.
represent our feeling of time. belong to it.

See also: Immanuel Kant 164–71 ■ Georg Hegel 178–85 ■ Martin Heidegger 252–55 ■ Jürgen Habermas 306–07 ■

Jacques Derrida 308–13 ■ Richard Rorty 314–19

think are worth asking, and the and deepen our understanding
kinds of answers with which we of our own lives in the present.
are satisfied are all the product For instance, if I pick up a book by
of our history. We cannot stand Plato, and read it carefully, I might
outside of history and culture, so find not only that I am deepening
we can never reach an absolutely my understanding of Plato, but also
objective perspective. that my own prejudices and biases
But these prejudices should not become clear, and perhaps begin to
be seen as a bad thing. They are, shift. Not only am I reading Plato,
after all, our starting point, and our but Plato is reading me. Through
current understanding and sense this dialogue, or what Gadamer
of meaning are based upon these calls “the fusion of horizons”, my
prejudices and biases. Even if it understanding of the world reaches
were possible to get rid of all our a deeper, richer level. ■
prejudices, we would not find that
we would then see things clearly.
Without any given framework for
When viewing historical objects interpretation, we would not be
we should not view time as a gulf to able to see anything at all.
be bridged, says Gadamer. Its distance
is filled with the continuity of tradition,
Conversing with history Because an experience
which sheds light on our understanding. is itself within the whole
Gadamer sees the process of
understanding our lives and our of life, the whole of life
that Gadamer later explored in his selves as similar to having a is present in it too.
book Truth and Method. Gadamer “conversation with history.” As Hans-Georg Gadamer
goes on to point out that our we read historical texts that have
understanding is always from the existed for centuries, the differences
point of view of a particular point in in their traditions and assumptions
history. Our prejudices and beliefs, reveal our own cultural norms and
the kinds of questions that we prejudices, leading us to broaden

Hans-Georg Gadamer Gadamer was born in Marburg Method, was published when
in 1900, but grew up in Breslau, he was 60. It attacked the idea
Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland). that science offered the only
He studied philosophy first in route to truth and its publication
Breslau and then in Marburg, brought him wider international
where he wrote a second doctoral fame. A sociable and lively man,
dissertation under the tutelage of Gadamer remained active right
the philosopher Martin Heidegger, up until his death in Heidelberg
who was an enormous influence at the age of 102.
on his work. He became an
associate professor at Marburg, Key works
beginning a long academic career
which eventually included 1960 Truth and Method
succeeding the philosopher Karl 1976 Philosophical Hermeneutics
Jaspers as Professor of Philosophy 1980 Dialogue and Dialectic
in Heidelberg in 1949. His most 1981 Reason in the Age of
important book, Truth and Science


Philosophy of science

Analytic philosophy

4th century BCE Aristotle
stresses the importance of

observation and measurement
to understanding the world.
1620 Francis Bacon sets

out the inductive methods of
science in Novum Organum.

1748 David Hume’s
Enquiry concerning Human
Understanding raises the
problem of induction.
1962 Thomas Kuhn criticizes
Popper in The Structure of
Scientific Revolutions.
1978 Paul Feyerabend, in
Against Method, questions the
very idea of scientific method.

e often think that science
works by “proving”
truths about the world.
We might imagine that a good
scientific theory is one that we
can prove conclusively to be true.
The philosopher Karl Popper,
however, insists that this is not the
case. Instead, he says that what
makes a theory scientific is that it
is capable of being falsified, or being
shown to be wrong by experience.
Popper is interested in the
method by which science finds out
about the world. Science depends
on experiment and experience, and
if we want to do science well, we
need to pay close attention to what
philosopher David Hume called

See also: Socrates 46–49 ■ Aristotle 56–63 ■ Francis Bacon 110–11 ■ David Hume 148–53 ■ Rudolf Carnap 257 ■

Thomas Kuhn 293 ■ Paul Feyerabend 297

This means working from
Scientific understanding
S particular observations
works by induction. (such as “every swan
I see is white”)...

But these principles
... and moving to general
can’t be proved, only
principles (such as “all
disproved (such as by the Black swans were first encountered
swans are white”).
sighting of a black swan). by Europeans in the 17th century.
This falsified the idea that all swans
are white, which at the time was held
to be universally true.

calculate the speed at which the
In so far as ball will fall. Nothing about the
a scientific statement event is even remotely mysterious.
speaks about reality, it Nevertheless, the question
must be falsifiable. remains: can we be certain that the
next time we drop the ball it will
fall to the ground? No matter how
often we conduct the experiment,
and no matter how confident we
the “regularities” of nature—the fact fall to the ground?” But how do we become about its outcome, we can
that events unfold in the world in know that this is what will happen never prove that the result will be
particular patterns and sequences when we drop the tennis ball? the same in the future.
that can be systematically explored. What kind of knowledge is this?
Science, in other words, is empirical, The short answer is that we Inductive reasoning
or based on experience, and to know it will fall because that is This inability to speak with any
understand how it works we need what it always does. Leaving aside certainty about the future is called
to understand how experience in chance events, no-one has ever the problem of induction, and it
general leads to knowledge. found that a tennis ball hovers or was first recognized by Hume
Consider the following statement: rises upward when it is released. in the 18th century. So what is
“If you drop a tennis ball from a We know it falls to the ground inductive reasoning?
second-floor window, it will fall to because experience has shown us Induction is the process of
the ground.” Leaving aside any that this will happen. And not only moving from a set of observed facts
chance events (such as the ball can we be sure that the ball will fall about the world to more general
being snatched away by a passing to the ground, we can also be sure conclusions about the world. We
eagle), we can be fairly sure that about how it will fall to the ground. expect that if we drop the ball it
this claim is a reasonable one. It For example, if we know the force of will fall to the ground because, at
would be a strange person who gravity, and how high the window least according to Hume, we are
said, “Hold on, are you sure it will is above the ground, we can generalizing from innumerable ❯❯

experiences of similar occasions “It is a fruit.” Given the starting
on which we have found things points “If P then Q” and “P”, then
like balls to fall to the ground the conclusion “Q” is necessary, or
when we release them. unavoidably true. Another example
would be: “If it is raining, the cat
Deductive reasoning will meow (since all cats meow Every solution to a
Another form of reasoning, in the rain). It is raining, therefore problem creates new
which philosophers contrast with the cat will meow.” unsolved problems.
induction, is deductive reasoning. All arguments of this kind are Karl Popper
While induction moves from the considered by philosophers to be
particular case to the general, valid arguments, because their
deduction moves from the general conclusions follow inevitably from
case to the particular. For instance, their premises. However, the fact
a piece of deductive reasoning might that an argument is valid does not
start from two premises, such as: mean that its conclusions are true.
“If it is an apple, then it is a fruit For example, the argument “If it is untrue, even though the argument
(since all apples are fruit)” and a cat, then it is banana-flavored; itself is valid, the conclusion is
“This is an apple.” Given the nature this is a cat, therefore it is banana- also untrue. Other worlds can be
of these premises, the statement flavored” is valid, because it follows imagined in which cats are in fact
“This is an apple” leads inescapably a valid form. But most people would banana-flavored, and for this reason
to the conclusion “It is a fruit.” agree that the conclusion is false. the statement that cats
Philosophers like to simplify And a closer look shows that there are not banana-flavored is said to
deductive arguments by writing is a problem, from an empirical be contingently true, rather than
them out in notation. So the general perspective, with the premise “If it logically or necessarily true, which
form of the argument above would is a cat, then it is banana-flavored”, would demand that it be true in
be “If P then Q; since P, therefore because cats, in our world at least, all possible worlds. Nevertheless,
Q.” In our example, “P” stands for are not banana-flavored. In other arguments that are valid and have
“It is an apple”, and “Q” stands for words, because the premise is true premises are called “sound”

An example of the
Experiment A Experiment B Experiment C
problem of induction is
that no matter how reliably
a tennis ball behaves in
the present, we can never
know for certain how it
will behave in the future.

48° 48°
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66° 66°

where he lived Discovery until the end of World War II. the argument about apples and created the universe) are not part fruit is both valid and sound. But Popper claims that no experiment can ever verify a theory. and so science is lumbered with the problem of induction. best theories are always open to Popper remains perhaps the most then that is the case. Austria. ■ Karl Popper Karl Popper was born in Vienna. It taken to be reliable. he emigrated 1934 The Logic of Scientific to New Zealand. what over-simplification. of the 20th century. Although he retired in years as a schoolteacher. In 1946. after which he spent six of his life. Beliefs that stand up to suggests. Deductive reasoning has falsified. in 1902. then Scientific Knowledge . we still have to rely on induction for our premises. But even the and non-scientific claims. Nevertheless. according to Science may be described Popper. that we each have an nature. and that resist idea of falsifiability is still used in sciences. example. 1945 The Open Society and Its and where he wrote his study of Enemies totalitarianism. For this reason. it cannot our attempts at falsification. The Open Society 1957 The Poverty of Historicism and Its Enemies. The Logic of Scientific Discovery. Popper’s work has not been without Falsifiability only that they are not the kinds of its critics. He studied He was knighted in 1965. is valid but not sound—whereas invisible spirit guide. and can only say “If this is the case. he continued to write and during this time that he published publish until his death in 1994. that he presents an idealized view to be like computer programs—the The idea of falsifiability does not of how they go about their work. and philosophy at the University of remained in England for the rest Vienna. which established him as one Key works of the foremost philosophers of science. This does not mean that they are worthless. conclusions they reach are only as mean we are unjustified in having and that science is practiced very good as the data that is fed into a belief in theories that cannot be differently from how Popper them. first at the Refutations: The Growth of London School of Economics. In 1937. THE MODERN WORLD 265 sciences. In other words. makes a theory scientific is not that Karl Popper it can be proved at all. It was 1969. can be distinguishing between scientific say anything about the world. Experiments can show that certain arguments. as we have seen. we cannot prove our as the art of systematic theories to be true. he moved 1963 Conjectures and to England to teach. or that God or even show that it is probable. but that it can be tested against reality and shown to be potentially false.” And if we the possibility that a new result important philosopher of science want to use such arguments in the will show them to be false. The banana-flavored Theories that are untestable (for phenomena reliably follow others in cat argument. at the University of London. a falsifiable theory is not a theory that is false. of the natural sciences. Moreover. but on its own. his an important role to play in the repeated testing. but one that can only be shown to be false by observation. Some scientists claim Deductive arguments could be said theories that the sciences deal with.

moral category. is that Frankfurt School the Middle Ages this idea was it divides us into different parts. social. 21st century Slavoj Žižek explores the political. Reason. but also failures of alternative view of the world. AFTER Both are needed for me 1994 Portuguese neuroscientist to make judgements about Antonio Damasio publishes what is right and wrong.” Throughout the holy fool. he puts it) “absolve and beatify the intelligence and understanding. developed into the popular cultural and in doing so makes us incapable BEFORE figure of the saint or sage who was of acting judiciously at all. So to act morally I need to and ethical dimensions of be able to use my intelligence Intelligence is a popular culture. extent to which we manage to for Christ. 1st century CE Saint Paul foolish or lacked intelligence.” In his book Minima Moralia.266 INTELLIGENCE IS A MORAL CATEGORY THEODOR ADORNO (1903–1969) T he idea of the holy fool has blockhead”. becomes popular throughout Medieval Europe. Ethics in which he asks his followers to be The problem with the idea of APPROACH “fools for Christ’s sake. Descartes’ Error: Emotion. Adorno’s view implies that “holy fool”. Adorno says. In reality. 20th century The global rise of differing forms of Intelligence Emotion mass-media communication raises new ethical questions. and wants to make the IN CONTEXT a long tradition in the West. as well as my emotions. evil acts are not just failures of He is suspicious of attempts to (as feeling. but judgement is measured by the writes about being a “fool who was morally good or pure. both our feeling and BRANCH Saint Paul’s letter to the Corinthians our understanding. and the Human Brain. the make feeling and understanding 500–1450 The idea of the German philosopher Theodor Adorno cohere. . who represents an calls into question this long tradition. case that goodness involves our dating all the way back to entire being.

we are left with in which Adorno’s interests is imagining that we can judge on nothing to think about. more make wise judgements by graduating in 1924. toward philosophy. like popular culture. during the rise of to one side. which In 1938. that intelligence might benefit “from of the industry surrounding This might happen in a court of the decay of the emotions” is simply popular culture. without emotion. He condemned forms of mass communication such as television and radio. makes us unable to act morally. where he taught at the Unexpectedly. ■ . and to a decline in the ability to make moral choices and judgements. scientists such as Antonio Damasio have Switzerland in 1969. claiming that these have led to the erosion of both intelligence and feeling. this is a moral choice. it may in fact be University of California. providing increasing evidence of Key works the many mechanisms by which 1949 Philosophy of New Music emotions guide decision-making. and Adorno’s central concerns about took up a professorship at the severing of intelligence and Frankfurt. judges have been known to mistaken. Adorno died at the The power of judgement age of 66 while on holiday in is measured by the feeling. had a then moved to Los Angeles. and have. dangerous. Adorno to a cool and measured decision. but setbacks in his musical Adorno believes that the opposite When the last trace of emotion career led him increasingly error to that of imagining that there has been driven out of our thinking. says Adorno. demonstrated in his notorious essay On law. 1951 Minima Moralia So if we are to judge wisely or even 1966 Negative Dialectics to judge at all. we can no musicology and philosophy. conditions in which we live). dehumanizing effect upon us. Adorno. THE MODERN WORLD 267 See also: René Descartes 116–23 ■ Georg Hegel 178–85 ■ Karl Marx 196–203 ■ Slavoj Žižek 326 Adorno was a member of the Frankfurt School. he believes. for his mother and aunt were to take on as our own. He had abandoning emotion than we can ambitions to be a composer. (insofar as we can choose at all. He the sciences that will ultimately returned to Germany after demonstrate the wisdom of the end of World War II. both accomplished musicians. emigrated to New York. it also But in Adorno’s view. Since the 1990s. we must employ both 1970 Aesthetic Theory emotion and intelligence. cohesion of self. so that they can come are a form of knowledge that do not Nazism in Germany. a group of philosophers who were interested in the development of capitalism. make reference to our emotions. published in 1936. Essential emotions by abandoning intelligence. because it Theodor Adorno’s two distorts the world and imbues us with passions from an early age given the prevailing cultural stereotypes and biases that we begin were philosophy and music. instruct the jury to put all emotion believes that the sciences. and the idea converged was in his criticism intelligence alone. If we Theodor Adorno choose to switch off our brains by watching blockbuster movies Lighthearted television is inherently Born in 1903 in Frankfurt. For this reason Adorno Jazz. not At university Adorno studied only makes us stupid. Theodor Adorno studied emotions and the brain. One area might be such a thing as a holy fool Adorno writes. Popular culture.

or an essence of what it is to be human. or will ever exist. exploring the role played by choice in shaping our lives. S ince ancient times. JEAN-PAUL SARTRE (1905–1980) 1920S Martin Heidegger says that what is important is our relationship with our own existence. Their approach to the question assumes that there is such a thing as human nature. It also tends to assume that this human nature is fixed across time and space. publishes The Second Sex. which applies Sartre’s ideas to the question of the relationship between men and women. In other words. regardless of their . Simone de Beauvoir. all human beings. the question of what it is to be human and what makes us so distinct from all other types of being has been one of the main preoccupations of philosophers. According to this view. AFTER 1945 Sartre’s friend and companion. and that this essence can be found in every single human that has ever existed.268 IN CONTEXT EXISTENCE BRANCH Ethics APPROACH PRECEDES Existentialism BEFORE 4th century BCE Aristotle asks the question “How should ESSENCE we live?” 1840S Søren Kierkegaard writes Either/Or. it assumes that there is a universal essence of what it is to be human.

illustration. possess the same through paper. he joined the resistance movement. Jean-Paul Sartre before its existence. It paper-knives. however. Therefore the essence of a a paper-knife—the kind of knife paper-knife—or all of the things Key works that might be used to open an that make it a paper-knife and not envelope. but not so sharp as After 1945. or feathers—and fashioned declined. circumstances. This knife has been made a steak knife or a paper airplane— 1938 Nausea 1943 Being and Nothingness by a craftsman who has had the comes before the existence of any 1945 Existentialism and idea of creating such a tool. Born in Paris. but missing what is most important wax. Sartre was just 15 months old when his father died. of course. bamboo. he proved a We are not made gifted student. He was offered. and particular paper-knife. his influence and popularity To clarify what he means by knife to exist without its maker that more than 50. Brought up by his mother and grandfather. thinking about substance—metal. perhaps. or and political journal Modern human nature in this way risks wood. and that is to function efficiently. Philosophy at the University essence. Humanism who had a clear understanding of Humans. For Sartre. After his release in 1941. and gained for any purpose… entry to the prestigious École Normale Supérieure. Sartre says Literature in 1964. The purpose (or essence) We are not of a made thing comes made by God. Sartre was drafted into the army and briefly imprisoned. but not butter. he worked as a teacher and …so our existence We have to create our was appointed Professor of precedes our purpose for ourselves. of Le Havre in 1931. There he met his lifelong companion and fellow philosopher Simone de Beauvoir. It needs to be easy became increasingly political guided by the same basic values. After graduation. to wield. THE MODERN WORLD 269 See also: Aristotle 56–63 ■ Søren Kierkegaard 194–95 ■ Martin Heidegger 252–55 ■ Simone de Beauvoir 276–77 ■ Albert Camus 284–85 When we make something we do so for a purpose. made of an appropriate and he founded the literary For Sartre. the Nobel Prize for about human beings. that it is inconceivable for a paper.000 people this. there is Reason needs to be sharp enough