Panorama of Mostly Western Philosophy
Alan Anderson, Curry College, January 1999
This omits many philosophers and most thinkers in related fields. It is adapted from many sources, including E. S. Brightman's "Philosophers: In Outline," as extended by W. S. Sahakian in his Realms of Philosophy,H. E. Cushman's A Beginner's History of Philosophy, and W. P. Montague's Great Visions of Philosophy. Many dates are approximate.
c. 2000 BCE Abraham
c. 1379-1362 BCE Reign of Akhenaton (Ikhnaton), Egyptian alleged monotheist.
13th century BCE Moses
800 BCE Homer: author(s) of the Iliad and Odyssey
753 BCE Traditional date of founding of Rome by Romulus and Remus
750 BCE Hesiod: author of Theogony (account of origin and genealogy of the gods) and Works and Days
587-538 BCE Babylonian exile of Hebrews
551-479 BCE Kung Fu-tzu (Confucius): Confucianism
550-480 BCE Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha ("Enlightened One"): Buddhism
APPROXIMATE LENGTHS OF PERIODS OF WESTERN PHILOSOPHY: (Ancient) Greek (Hellenic) 300 years (600-322); (Ancient) Hellenistic-Roman 800 (322-476), Medieval 1000 (476-1453), Modern 500 (1453-19??), Postmodern ?
W. P. Montague's Great Visions of Philosophy emphasizes four aspects of ancient philosophy (see below for the chronological places of the philosophers referred to by Montague):
1. Naturalism: Democritus and the vision of a world of atoms.
2. Humanism: Socrates: the vision of a free man's ethics.
3. Naturalistic Humanism:
Plato: the vision of eternal things.
Aristotle: the vision of a world of potencies.
The Stoic vision of unconquerable souls.
Epicurus and Lucretius: the anticlerical vision of free and happy mortals in a godless society.
4. Rationalistic Mysticism: Plotinus and the Neoplatonic vision of descending [and ascending] spirit.
Presocratic philosophers began Western philosophy by departing from mythical nonliteral, poetic accounts of reality and moving into literal philosophical/scientific thinking, raising the PROBLEM OF SUBSTANCE (what reality underlies appearances) and going on to the PROBLEM OF IDENTITY AND CHANGE (whether change is real, and, if so, how anything can become something else).
I. PROBLEM OF MATTER: IONIAN PHILOSOPHERS/PHYSICISTS (650-528)
624-546 Thales: abandoned myth, started rational-empirical philosophy, water the arche (the original reality, from which all is derived).
610-546 Anaximander: the boundless the arche.
585-528 Anaximenes: air the arche.
587 Destruction of Hebrew First Temple, Exile to Babylonia
II. PROBLEM OF NUMBER: THE PYTHAGOREANS (from 500)
580-497 Pythagoras: numbers, religious brotherhood, reincarnation
5th century Philolaus: systematizer of Pythagoreanism
There is an important line of influence from Pythagoras to Plato to Neo-Pythagoreanism to Philo and to Neoplatonism to Augustine and other Christian thinkers.
III. PROBLEM OF IDENTITY AND CHANGE (540-370)
Thesis: All is one: The Eleatics (named for Elea, the Italian city in which they lived):
570-475 Xenophanes (the theological Eleatic): critique of concepts of gods
540-470 Parmenides (the metaphysical Eleatic): in reality there is only changelessness (being)
499-430 Zeno of Elea (the dialectical Eleatic): changelessness argued for by paradoxes
Antithesis: All is change:
544-483 Heraclitus: there is change (becoming, process) & Logos (order)
Synthesis: Being is both identity and change: The mediating systems:
499-428 Anaxagoras: "seeds" moved by mental particles
495-435 Empedocles: four "roots" moved by love and strife
460-370 Democritus (and Leucippus, 5th Century BCE): Invisibly tiny atoms, themselves unchanging but allowing change by becoming parts of different patterns. These ancient atomists assumed atoms to be material; Leibniz (1646-1716) interpreted them as nonmaterial substances; Whitehead (1861-1947) interpreted them an nonmaterial processes, experiences.
508 Beginning of democracy in Athens
509-27 Roman Republic; 27 BCE-476 CE Roman Empire; Eastern, Byzantine, Empire 395-1453
After beginning philosophy by concern with nature, philosophers turned to the:
IV. PROBLEM OF HUMANITY, VALUES, ETHICS (450-400):
481-411 The Sophists: Protagoras, Gorgias (483-375), and other sophists: ethical relativism; might makes right. "Man is the measure of all things."
470-399 Socrates: concept (common qualities, universal definition) the answer to ethical relativism (the belief that there are no standards that apply everywhere and always), virtue as insightful knowledge (intuitive aspiration), soul understood as one's full self living forever--naturally immortal (as distinguished from miraculous recreation of oneself by means of resurrection.
Quotations from Socrates, as reported by Plato; page references to Great Dialogues of Plato:
435: [To fear death] is only to think you are wise when you are not. No one knows whether death is really the greatest blessing a man can have, but they fear it is the greatest curse . . .
435: . . . as long as I have breath in me, and remain able to do it, I will never cease being a philosopher.
435: . . . you take every care to be as well off as possible in money, reputation and place--then are you not ashamed not to take every care and thought for understanding, for truth, and for your soul, so that it may be perfect?
436: All I do is go about and try to persuade you, both young and old, not to care for your bodies or your monies first, and to care more exceedingly for the soul, to make it as good as possible; and I tell you that virtue comes not from money, but from virtue comes both money and all other good things for mankind, both in private and in public.
443: The unexamined life is not worth living.
(here translated "life without enquiry is not worth living for a man.")
452: We must value most not living, but living well. . . . Well and beautifully and justly are the same.
454: We must do no wrong in return, or do evil to anyone in the world, however we may be treated by them. . . . I know that only a few do believe it, or ever will. . . . it is never right to do any injustice, or to do injustice in return, or, when one is evilly treated, to defend oneself by doing evil in return . . .
519: In answer to "How are we to bury you?": How you like . . . if you catch me and I don't escape you.
450-400 Age of Pericles: high Athenian culture
431-404 Peloponnesian War: Sparta defeated Athens.
The lesser Socratics (philosophers influenced by contrasting aspects of Socrates):
445-365 Antisthenes: Cynic: rough, unconventional, virtuous living
435-355 Aristippus: founded Cyrenaicism: raw, egoistic hedonism, for my immediate, intense pleasure
450-374 Euclid of Megara (not to be confused with Euclid of Alexandria, 3rd cent. BCE, the founder of Euclidian geometry): founder of Megarian school, combining Socratic insights with Eleatic philosophy, producing an identification of being and goodness.
V. PROBLEM OF SYSTEMATIC PHILOSOPHY (399 [death of Socrates]-322 [death of Aristotle]). All the problems of philosophy were brought together by two of the greatest philosophers of all time.
427-347 Plato: self-moving mind (with the power not simply to change themselves but also others, through the power of influence, implying that all change is the result of psychical process); the real a world (as distinguished from the world revealed to sensory experience) of Forms (patterns, archetypes), suggested in parable of the cave and found in the divided line; Apology, Republic, Symposium, Timaeus, and numerous other dialogues.
Charles Hartshorne says that Plato makes "almost clear" that by soul he means not a thing that underlies experience, but rather the experiences (feeling, thinking, remembering willing, etc.) themselves (a position fundamental to A. N. Whitehead, Hartshorne, and other "process philosophers" of the 20th century).
384-322 Aristotle: developmental, this-worldly, scientific approach; self-realization; isolated God; logic; form real only in matter; Metaphysics, On the Soul, Nicomachean Ethics, Eudemian Ethics, Politics
After the Greek city states declined in importance, in a world of empires, people no longer found their fulfillment in civic activity, so there arose the:
VI. PROBLEM OF PERSONAL SALVATION, IN ITS ETHICAL PERIOD (322-1) AND ITS RELIGIOUS PERIOD (100 BCE-476 CE). The religious period came about as a result an internal cause, skeptical loss of belief in the adequacy of reason, and an external cause, the spread of numerous Eastern religions into the Roman Empire.
ETHICAL PERIOD, marked by decline of metaphysical speculation, growth of science, and central concern with ethics:
A. CYRENAICS: Named for N. African city of Cyrene, they believed in a life of eat, drink, and be merry. See Antisthenes above.
B. CYNICS: Virtue is the only good; amenities of life are to be ignored; Antisthenes, above, traditionally considered its founder, but Diogenes of Sinope (413-327) may deserve the title; Diogenes reputedly lived in a tub and carried a lantern, searching for an honest man.
C. EPICUREANS: Refined pleasure or lack of pain the greatest good.
341-271 Epicurus: founded Epicureanism, a refined hedonism seeking ataraxia, tranquility; materialistic atomistic metaphysics
96-55 Lucretius (Titus Lucretius Carus): Roman Epicurean poet, On the Nature of Things
D. STOICS: Virtue the greatest good; formative, Cynical, or ancient period 294-206; middle or modified period 206-1; New Stoicism or Roman period of popular moral philosophy, practically a religion
336-264 Zeno of Citium: founded Stoicism (virtue the only good, brotherhood of all, peace of mind through conformity to Nature, or God, or Matter, or Fate, or Providence, which are synonymous in this deterministic pantheism)
106-43 Cicero: in the closing period of the Roman Republic, which he hoped would return to its greatness, spread the political philosophy of the eclectic Stoicism of Panaetius, with ideas of a world state, natural justice, and universal citizenship; emphasis on fatherhood of a good God and brotherhood of all people, who therefore are equal
4 BCE-65 Seneca: in the early years of the Roman Empire, no longer hoping for the great days of the Republic, espoused a Stoicism in which one is to render service to the greater commonwealth, which is not a state with legal and political ties, but a society with moral and religious ties; introduced ideas of idyllic state of nature and government as necessary remedy for wickedness.
c. 55-c. 135 Epictetus: Stoic, Discourses, Encheiridion, two handles of each situation, one by which it can be borne, one by which it cannot.
121-180 Marcus Aurelius: Roman Emperor/philosopher; Meditations
Agreements of Epicureanism and Stoicism
1. Both subordinated theory to practice.
2. Both sought to gain peace of mind and independence from the world for the individual.
|1. The individual is supreme.||Universal law is supreme.|
|2. People are feeling beings.||People are thinking beings.|
|3. Independence is obtained by idealizing the feelings.||Independece is obtained by suppressing the feelings.|
|4. The Epicureans were anti-religious.||The Stoics were religious.|
|5. The world is a mechanical order.||The world is a moral order.|
|6. The universal is the result of the functioning of the individual.||The universal determines the individual.|
|7. The world is a combination of atoms.||The world is the expression of an immanent reason.|
E. SKEPTICS: Knowledge is impossible (but practical suspension of judgment is possible; hence, an ethics of toleration)
365-275 Pyrrho (against Aristotelianism): Skeptic; knowledge impossible; we cannot be sure even of our doubting, so we should suspend judgment and remain silent; his thought known as Pyrrhonism, followed by many, including Montaigne (1533-1592)
215-130 Carneades (against Stoicism): we cannot be sure of anything, but there are degrees of probability
2-3 cents. CE Sextus Empiricus: all knowledge is from senses, but even that is unreliable
F. ECLECTICS: Many philosophers from competing schools of thought became skeptical and chose what they considered best from various outlooks. See Cicero above. Eclecticism was congenial to the Roman mind.
The above ethical positions represent perennial competing human tendencies, ranging, on the one hand, in (1) teleological (consequentialist) ethics, from egoistic Cyrenaic hedonism (teaching pleasure for oneself as the greatest good), through Epicurean refined hedonism, to modern universalistic, altruistic Utilitarianism (teaching the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people) of Bentham, J. and J. S. Mill, and current thinkers, and, on the other hand, in (2) a deontological, duty-based ethics of the Cynics and Stoics to the ethics of Kant. Skeptics and eclectics of various sorts remain with us.
NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS PERIOD
1. Non-Christian Introductory Period: (100 BCE-25 CE)
Currents in this religious philosophy: (1) an attempt to combine an Oriental religion, Judaism, with Greek speculation: Jewish-Greek philosophy; (2) an attempt to construct a world-religion upon Pythagorean doctrines: Neopythagoreanism; (3) an attempt to make a religious philosophy of the Platonic teaching: Neoplatonism.
1. Greek-Jewish philosophy of Alexandria:
Philo (or Philo of Alexandria, or Philo Judaeus) (25 BCE-50 AD), (1) Read Greek philosophy, especially Platonism and Stoicism, into the Scriptures by means of the allegorical method which was in common use at Alexandria. Adam stands for spirit or mind, Eve for sensuality, Jacob for asceticism, etc.
(2) Founded "negative theology," which holds that one cannot describe God positively, but can say what God is not. God is Being itself.
(3) Believed in making contact with God through mysticism.
(4) Believed that God relates to the world through an intermediary, the Logos (which goes back to Heraclitus), which proceeded from God, along with the ideas, and intelligible beings. The ideas existed from eternity in the mind of God; and then by emanation, as it were, in their own intelligible realm. The Logos created the world, taking as his model the intelligible ideas.
(5) Mentions a hierarchy of other beings including divine wisdom, the divine Man, the Spirit, and the angels. This and other aspects of Philo's thought have led to his being a forerunner of Neoplatonism."
2. Neo-Pythagoreanism (100 BCE-150 CE)
Interprets the ideas in God's mind as Pythagorean numbers.
As the Pythagoreans had influenced Plato, the neo-Pythagoreans influenced Neoplatonism.
2. Non-Christian Development Period: (250-476)
The final ancient expression of Greek philosophy. Ammonius Saccas taught Plotinus, the most famous Neoplatonist. Neoplatonism had schools in various cities and influenced Christianity through Augustine and Erigena. Neoplatonism also influenced the 15th century Florentine Academy, the 16th century Paracelsus, the 17th century Cambridge Platonists, and 19th century Schelling and Hegel, as well as more recent philosophical and religious thinkers.
Plotinus (205-270) was an Egyptian who taught in Rome. He was a mystic whose system provided both (1) a way for the individual to overcome the world of space and time and (2) an explanation of how the world came from the transcendent deity by an outflowing process known as emanation (cf. Jewish and Christian concept of creation ex nihilo, out of nothing).
(1) The One, the undifferentiated divine emanates (2) the Nous or Intelligence, which emanates (3) the World Soul, which emanates (4) matter which is the closest approach to nonbeing and the source of evil. People combine spirit and matter and seek to return to their divine source.
Charles Hartshorne says that Plotinus carries the Greek bias in favor of being and the abstract "to its bitter end" and fails to see that "the basic form of unity is inclusive of plurality rather than exclusive of it."
SOME MOSTLY CHRISTIAN-RELATED DATES
4? BCE-30 CE Jesus, the Christ (Greek for Hebrew Messiah, "Anointed One")
d. c. 67 St. Paul: interpreted (invented?) and spread Christianity
370-415 Hypatia: Alexandrian Greek woman Neoplatonist philosopher, murdered by a mob of Christians
476 Goths depose last Western Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustus; Middle Ages begin ("A thousand years without a bath")
529 Emperor Justinian closes Academy at Athens, formally ending Greek philosophy
570-632 Muhammad: founder of Islam
1135-1204 Maimonides: Jewish thinker who blended Bible and Aristotle; Guide for the Perplexed
1225-1274 Thomas Aquinas (Thomas of Aquino): accepted much of Aristotle, wrote what became the official philosophy of the Roman Catholic Church
1280-1347 William of Occam: Law of Parsimony or Occam's Razor: accept the simplest explanation
1453 Hundred Years' War ends; fall of Constantinople to Ottoman Turks; traditional date for the end of the Middle Ages and beginning of the Renaissance
PERIODS OF EARLY CHRISTIANITY (30-476)
(150-325 the period of the Patristics, church fathers)
1. Christian Introductory Period (30-200)
(1) Period of Primitive Faith (1st Century)
(2) Period of the Earlier Formulation of Doctrine (2nd Century)
(a) The Apologists (defenders) tried to make the Christian teaching as consistent as possible with the results of Greek philosophy and, at the same time, to read into Greek philosophy Christian meanings. Blended Greek philosophy and Christian faith, equated reason and revelation, identified Logos with Christ, accepted Platonic dualism. The most important Apologists were Justin Martyr (100-166), Athenagoras (d. 180), and among the Romans Minucius Felix (about 200) and Lactantius (d. 320).
To be saved is to become rational, and man can become rational only by divine aid. Revelation has not been limited to Christianity, but God's inspiration has been at work in all mankind.
(b) The Gnostics: Concerned with the revelation of the hidden Gnosis (Greek, "knowledge), the possession of which would free one from the fragmentary and illusory (or evil) material world (bodily existence) and teach one about the origins of the spiritual world to which the Gnostic belonged by nature. The emphasized dualism between good and evil, light and darkness, a material world of evil, and a spiritual world of goodness. Through special knowledge and asceticism one could rise above the world.
(c) The Old Catholic Theologians: Irenaeus (140-200), Tertullian (160-220), and Hippolytus (c. 160-c. 236) resisted the introduction of philosophy into Christianity. Tertullian went so far as to declare, "I believe it because it is absurd," and asked "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?"
The Old Catholic Theologians attacked reincarnation, which was upheld by Plato, Pythagoreans, and Gnostics.
Irenaeus's view of life as a pilgrimage toward realization of a divine ideal for humanity is in sharp contrast to the view, to be propounded by Augustine, that we are the victims of an original sin committed far in the past, and for which death is punishment. The reaction against a systematic theology failed to establish itself, for Greek philosophy was found to be necessary. The result was that a median position was taken by the help of Greek philosophy in the formulation of the dogma of the church. This was provided by the Alexandrian School of Catechists, of which Clement and Origen were the leaders.
2. Christian Development Period (200-476)
(1) The Period of Development of Doctrine (200-325).
Clement (c. 150-215) and his pupil, Origen (c. 185-254), sought to press forward from faith to knowledge; but Clement did not go beyond the general outlines and morals, whereas Origen built a great speculative system.
Origin taught that the world is being created constantly and that all souls are evolving and eventually will be saved, whereupon material existence will disappear. He emphasized will over reason.
(2) The Period of Ecumenical Councils and the Establishment of Dogma (325 to date)
St. Augustine (354-430) Patristic philosophy reached is climax in the system of Augustine, which was the last great product of classical-Christian civilization. In his century, Rome fell and Europe entered what sometimes is called the Dark Ages. He was strongly influenced by Neoplatonism. He emphasized the inner life, and foreshadowed Descartes. He saw history shaped by the competing loyalties of people to the "City of God" and the "City of Man."
THE MIDDLE AGES
Platonic Period: 529 (closing of Plato's Academy by Justinian)-1200)
Aristotelian Period: 1200-1453 (fall of Constantinople)
The time between that of the Greeks, who did not have scripture (Jewish, Christian, Islamic), and that of the moderns, who have scripture but do not acknowledge its authority. Variously dated, perhaps most commonly from the fall of Rome in 476 to the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, which also was the year of publication of the book by Copernicus that advocated the heliocentric theory.
THE EARLY PERIOD OF THE MIDDLE AGES, 476-1000
480-524 Boethius: "the last Neoplatonist, or Aristotelian, and the first precursor of Scholasticism." The last notable Roman scholar who knew Greek.
500 Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite: unknown Neoplatonist, whose writing was mistaken for that of Dionysius the Areogapite mentioned in Acts 17:34
810-877 John Scotus Erigena: pantheistic precursor of Scholasticism, the philosophisizing of the medieval churchmen, whose task was to elaborate into a philosophical system the orthodoxy worked out in the Patristic period of Christianity.
The period of Platonic influence and conceptions. In this stage Platonism, Neoplatonism, and Augustianism were dominant. The Augustinian influence includes Erigena, Anselm, Abelard, and Bonaventure.
In this line of thought, Platonic forms or ideas are real essences (universals) and exist before things (particulars).
Anselm is the leading representative of this Platonic "realism."
The period of Aristotelian influence, beginning in the 13th century, includes Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham. In this line of thought, universals are real in things (not prior to them).
Nominalism (thirteenth century) challenging the theories of Aquinas and asserting the Universals are not the essences of things but concepts in the mind, mere names, hence particular things are real.
John Duns Scotus is the leading representative of this view.
See Hartshorne, Insights and Oversights of Great Thinkers, p. 107, on Ockham on no relative actualities. "The lack of a clear theory of constitutive relations is the origin of the opaque notion of matter; for if the past cannot enter the present then there must be something, not the past itself, that does form part of the present as well as of the past to connect the two." "The continuity of British philosophy from Ockham through Hume and Mill to Russell, Ayer, and the early Wittgenstein is remarkable. It is Ockham's extreme pluralism, more than his famous nominalism or conceptualism, that seems central."
W. P Montague's Great Visions of Philosophy continued:
THE THEOCRATIC INTERLUDE: The Christian vision of damnation, salvation, and divine love.
MODERN VISIONS (four-fold classification)
1. Naturalistic Rationalism:
Bruno and the vision of an infinite God as the soul of an infinite universe.
Descartes and the doubly dualistic vision of mind and body.
Spinoza and the monistic vision of a totalitarian universe.
Leibniz and the pluralistic vision of a universe of atom-souls.
2. Humanistic Empiricism:
Bacon and the pragmatic vision of knowledge as power.
Hobbes and the vision of a mechanistic psychology and a political absolutism.
Locke, prophet of modern liberalism: a vision of the birth and growth of knowledge.
Berkeley and the vision of absolute immaterialism.
Hume's vision of a world of this and that and one thing after another.
3. Humanistic Rationalism:
Kant and the vision of mind as lawgiver to nature.
Hegel and the optimistic vision of the world as objectified reason.
Schopenhauer and the pessimistic vision of the world as objectified will.
Nietzsche and the will to power: a vision of the Anti-Christ.
4. Naturalistic Empiricism and the Bergsonian Reaction:
Herbert Spencer and the vision of materialistic evolution.
Bergson and a world on the march: the vision of ascending spirit.
THE RENAISSANCE (1453 [fall of Constantinople]-1690 [Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding], but many other dates also used): the "rebirth" that began the modern world
1433-1499 Marsilio Ficino: headed Platonic Florentine Academy; stressed common elements of Platonic and Christian love, and of true philosophy and true religion
1463-1494 Pico Della Mirandola: 600 theses on the unity of knowledge
1469-1527 Nicolo Machiavelli: discussed how to get and keep political power; The Prince, Discourses
16TH CENTURY: THE FIRST CENTURY OF MODERN SCIENCE, giving rise to a "new mentality," uniting "passionate interest in the detailed facts with equal devotion to abstract generalisation" (A. N. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, pp. 2-3), "recoil[ing] from the inflexible rationality of medieval thought" (p. 8).
1463-1536 Desiderius Erasmus: humanistic church reformer
1473-1543 Nicolas Copernicus: heliocentric astronomy; Copernican Revolution
1483-1546 Martin Luther: started Protestant Reformation
1509-1564 John Calvin: absolute God, predestination; Institutes of the Christian Religion
1548-1600 Giordano Bruno: infinite living universe, monads; excommunicated and burned
1564-1616 William Shakespeare
17TH CENTURY: THE CENTURY OF GENIUS, which provided the "capital of ideas" on which we have lived into the 20th century (Whitehead, p. 58), provided by such giants as F. Bacon, Harvey, Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, Pascal, Huygens, Boyle, Newton, Locke, Spinoza, and Leibniz. Note that there are some departures from chronological listing, in order to include thinkers in the schools of thought with which they are associated.
1561-1620 Francis Bacon: four idols (misconceptions of cave [individuals], tribe [human race], market place [words], and theater [schools of thought]); inductive method; The New Organon, The New Atlantis
1564-1642 Galileo Galilei: recognized mathematics as the language of nature
1571-1630 Johannes Kepler: worked out laws of planetary motion, with aid of observations of Tycho Brahe
1578-1657 William Harvey: discovered circulation of blood; theorized that both mother and father contribute to form of child, not just father, as had been believed
1623-1662 Blaise Pascal: philosopher, mathematician, mystic; wager on God's existence
1627-1691 Robert Boyle: advanced atomism; The Sceptical Chemist
1642-1727 Isaac Newton: completed Descartes' mechanical portrait of the universe, the "Newtonian World Machine"
THE ENLIGHTENMENT (1690 [Locke's Essay]-1781 [Kant's Critique of Pure Reason]), and some predecessors.
The 18th century rationalist, liberal, humanitarian, and scientific trend, also called the Age of Reason.
18TH CENTURY: "THE AGE OF REASON, . . . but of one-eyed reason, deficient in its vision of depth" (Whitehead, p. 59). "In this century the notion of the mechanical explanation of all the processes of nature finally hardened into a dogma of science" (Whitehead, p. 60).
A. CONTINENTAL RATIONALISM
1596-1650 Rene Descartes: generalized from Galileo's method a universal principle of scientific investigation and an understanding of the universe as a machine (this Cartesian Revolution swept away Aristotelian teleology [purposiveness] so was even more important than the Copernican Revolution), the extended-in-space half of a dualistic reality, the other half of which was thought or mind; Discourse on Method, The Meditations
1632-1677 Benedict (originally Baruch) Spinoza: rationalistic pantheist; Ethics
1644-1716 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: panpsychistic idealist; best of all possible worlds; The Monodology, Essays on Theodicy, New Essays on Human Understanding
B. BRITISH EMPIRICISM AND REACTION TO IT
1561-1626 Francis Bacon: empiricist; knowledge is power
1588-1679 Thomas Hobbes: materialist; ethical egoist; Leviathan, or the Matter, Form and Power of a Commonwealth, Ecclesiastical and Civil
1632-1704 John Locke: empiricist; metaphysical dualist; defender of democratic English revolution; Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Two Treatises on Government, The Letter on Toleration
1685-1753 George Berkeley (pronounced Barkley): idealist; to be is to perceive or to be perceived; Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous
1711-1776 David Hume: skeptic; phenomenalist; Treatise of Human Nature, An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Inquiry Concerning Principles of Morals, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
(Locke - material substance = Berkeley; Berkeley - spiritual substance = Hume)
1671-1713 Earl of Shaftesbury (Anthony Ashley Cooper, Lord Ashley): initiator of Moral Sense theory of ethics: we have a natural moral sense revealing right and wrong, leading to benevolence; reconciles self-interest and social interest; followed by Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746), Adam Ferguson (1723-1816), both related to Reid, below, Adam Smith and Joseph Butler (see both below), and followed, in ethics, by David Hume (see above)
1692-1752 Joseph Butler: emphasized altruism, and conscience as proof that we are not moved exclusively by selfish surrendered to self-love or power of pleasure and pain; defended miracles; opposed deism; Sermons on Human Nature, Analogy of Religion; on conscience: "Had it strength, as it has right; had it power, as it has manifest authority, it would absolutely govern the world."
1709-1751 Julian La Mettrie: materialist; Natural History of the Soul, Man a Machine, The System of Epicurus
1710-1796 Thomas Reid: founder of Scottish Common Sense Realism: real objects in the world known by direct perceptions of them, not through images representing them; followed by Dugald Stewart (1753-1828) and Thomas Brown (1778-1820)
1712 Last execution for witchcraft in England
1712-1778 Jean Jacques Rousseau: romantic political philosopher and educational reformer; Discourse on the Causes of Inequality among Men, New Eloise, The Social Contract, Emile
1723-1790 Adam Smith: ethicist and laissez-faire economist; Theory of Moral Sentiments, Wealth of Nations
1724-1804 Immanuel Kant: concluded that the mind gives order to experience, but cannot penetrate to the nature of things in themselves, so faith in God, freedom, and immortality are needed; deontological ethics founded on categorical imperative of universalizability of rules and treating people as ends, not merely means; inspired by "the starry heavens above and the moral law within"; Critique of Pure Reason, Critique of Practical Reason, Critique of Judgment, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics, Perpetual Peace
1729-1797 Edmund Burke: conservative political philosopher; Reflections on the French Revolution
19TH CENTURY: THE CENTURY OF ROMANTICISM (expressing itself in religious revival, art, and political aspiration), ADVANCING SCIENCE, AND TECHNOLOGY (Whitehead, p. 95)
1748-1832 Jeremy Bentham: founder of Utilitarianism, advocating the greatest happiness for the greatest number; believed that we are governed by pleasure or pain Principles of Morals and Legislation
1762-1814 Johann Gottlieb Fichte: proceeding from Kant's emphasis on moral will, worked out an ethical idealism of a pantheistic nature; The Vocation of Man
1770-1831 Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: absolute idealist; progress by dialectic of opposites; The Phenomenology of Mind, The Science of Logic, Philosophy of Right
1775-1854 Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling: Absolute as an identity devoid of differences
1788-1860 Arthur Schopenhauer: pessimistic idealist; first Western philosopher much influenced by Buddhism The World as Will and Idea (or Representation)
1798-1857 Auguste Comte: founder of positivism; theological, metaphysical, and positive stages of intellectual development; only scientific method can produce knowledge that is real or positive; Course on the Positive Philosophy
1801-1887 Gustav Theodor Fechner: panpsychist; polarity in God; partially anticipated process philosophy
1802-1866 Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: clockmaker, inventor, one-time mesmerist, finally spiritual healer, influenced by Scottish common-sense realism, developed his own form of idealism, discovered the unconscious mind, although he referred to it as "spiritual matter." His work led to Christian Science (of Mary Baker Eddy, 1821-1910) and to the New Thought movement (Unity, Religious Science, etc.) and indirectly to much popular positive thinking teachings.
1803-1882 Ralph Waldo Emerson: transcendentalist influenced by Hinduism and popularized Kantianism; Nature, Essays (2 series), Representative Men
1804-1872 Ludwig Feuerbach: materialist; religion the projection of human qualities onto an object of worship
1806-1873 John Stuart Mill: (son of James Mill, 1773-1836, utilitarian) logician and utilitarian; added quality to quantity in judging pleasure; Utilitarianism, On Liberty, Representative Government, A System of Logic
1809-1882 Charles Darwin: evolutionist; Darwinian Revolution, replacing divine creation with natural selection; Origin of Species, The Descent of Man
1810-1850 Margaret Fuller: philosopher writer sometimes called "the Priestess of Transcendentalism."
1813-1855 Soren Kierkegaard: forerunner of Existentialism
1817-1862 Henry David Thoreau: transcendentalist; Walden, Civil Disobedience
1817-1881 Rudolf Hermann Lotze: combined the monadology of Leibniz with the pantheism of Spinoza, reconciling pluralism with monism, mechanism with teleology, realism with idealism, providing a foundation for personalism; Metaphysics, Microcosmus
1818-1883 Karl Marx: dialectical materialist; Capital, with Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) Manifesto of the Communist Party
1839-1914 Charles Sanders Peirce: originator of pragmatism; "How to Make Our Ideas Clear"
1842-1910 William James: religiously-oriented pragmatist; The Varieties of Religious Experience, Pragmatism, The Will to Believe, The Principles of Psychology, A Pluralistic Universe
1844-1900 Friedrich Nietzsche: the will to power and master morality; the superman; cycles of events; death of God; Genealogy of Morals, Thus Spake Zarathustra
1845-1925 Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege: founder, with George Boole (1815-1864), of modern mathematical logic.
1847-1910 Borden Parker Bowne: founder of American personalism; Personalism, Theism
1855-1916 Josiah Royce: American absolute idealist; The World and the Individual, The Spirit of Modern Philosophy
1858-1947 Max Planck: physicist, father of quantum mechanics
20TH CENTURY: A CENTURY OF TECHNOLOGICAL PROGRESS AND NUMEROUS CONTRASTING OUTLOOKS, PERHAPS TO BE RECOGNIZED AS A PERIOD OF TRANSITION FROM MODERN TO POSTMODERN. Three important outlooks are:
Primordialism (Perennialism) embracing a pre-modern, largely Eastern pantheistic or neutral-monistic vision of identity with a divine Ultimate. Much of New Age falls within this category.
Destructive postmodernism: numerous visions denying the legitimacy of any human claim to literal, communicable knowledge.
Whiteheadian constructive postmodernism: a vision of a world of process, with a growing God co-creating with the many units of reality (including us) an ever-new universe.
1859-1938 Edmund Husserl: father of phenomenology, a study of the essences of phenomena as revealed to consciousness.
1859-1941 Henri Bergson: process philosopher; evolution; intuitionism; real duration; open and closed morality; static and dynamic religion; Creative Evolution, The Two Sources of Religion and Morality
1859-1952 John Dewey: naturalistically-oriented pragmatist; Reconstruction in Philosophy, Experience and Nature, The Quest for Certainty, A Common Faith
1861-1947 Alfred North Whitehead: process philosopher; Process and Reality, Science and the Modern World, Adventures of Ideas, Modes of Thought, with B. Russell Principia Mathematica
1869-1937 Rudolf Otto: applied phemonenology to philosophy of religion; The Idea of the Holy
1869-1948 Mohandas K. Gandhi: Indian religious-political leader, who taught passive resistance
1872-1970 Bertrand Russell: philosopher and social activist
1874-1948 Nicholas Berdyaev: human freedom as self-creation; both we and God developing; The Destiny of Man
1875-1965 Albert Schweitzer: philosopher-theologian-organist-physician; Quest for the Historical Jesus, Philosophy of Culture
1878-1965 Martin Buber: theologian influenced by Kierkegaard and mysticism of the Hasidim; emphasis on I-Thou relationship, rather than I-It; I and Thou, The Eclipse of God, Between Man and Man
1879-1955 Albert Einstein: 1905, 1907, and 1916 theories of (physical, not ethical) relativity
1891-1970 Rudolf Carnap: logical positivist; see Moritz Schlick (1882-1936)
1880-1936 Oswald Spengler: philosopher of history; The Decline of the West
1882-1936 Moritz Schlitz: founder of the Vienna Circle of logical positivists, maintaining that the genuine tasks of philosophy are (1) to explore the structure and logic of science and (2) to analyze philosophical language so as to eliminate traditional metaphysical statements from the field of knowledge. Only statements that can be verified by sensory perception are cognitive.
1883-1973 Karl Jaspers: existentialist; when one finds authenticity, he or she is Existenz, but one can sink back into Dasein (being there)
1884-1953 Edgar S. Brightman: personalist successor to Bowne
1884-1975 Henry N. Wieman: philosophical theologian
1884-1976 Rudolf Bultmann: theologian noted for demythologizing of New Testament, putting its Kerygma (message of salvation) into existential terms of freedom, Angst (dread), and authenticity
1886-1965 Paul Tillich: existentialist theologian; religion as ultimate concern; God being itself; symbols participate in the realities that they reveal; Systematic Theology, Dynamics of Faith, Love, Power, and Justice, Theology of Culture
1886-1968 Karl Barth: theologian; Crisis Theology; God completely unlike world; faith over reason
1889-1966 Emil Brunner: theologian midway between liberal Protestant theology and Barth's theology; we can get some knowledge of God without revelation, by analogy, which Barth rejected
1889-1951 Ludwig Wittgenstein: analytic philosopher whose earlier views (in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus) helped to produce logical positivism, and whose later views (in The Blue and Brown Books and Philosophical Investigations) considered language to have many purposes, each defining a language game
1889-1975 Arnold J. Toynbee: historian who studied cycles of history of many civilizations; A Study of History
1889-1976 Martin Heidegger: existentialist; Being is meaningful only as Dasein
(human Being); authenticity is possible only to one who has Sorge (care), through Angst that reveals one's nothingness; Being and Time
1892-1971 Reinhold Niebuhr: Neo-Orthodox theologian; Moral Man and Immoral Society
1893 World's Parliament of Religions (popularized Eastern Religions in U. S.)
1897 Charles Hartshorne born: process philosopher
1900 Hans-Georg Gadamer born: hermeneutist
1900 Max Planck began quantum theory
1900 Sigmund Freud, psychologist, in Freudian Revolution replacing rationality with irrational drives
1905-1980 Jean-Paul Sartre: atheistic existentialist; freedom, nothingness, anxiety our lot
1908-1986 Simone de Beauvoir: feminist philosopher.
1910-1989 Alfred J. Ayer: defender of logical positivism, which he preferred to call logical empiricism
1910-1989 Peter A. Bertoci: personalist
1911-1960 John L. Austin: linguistic analyst
1926-1984 Michel Foucault: knowledge is enmeshed in power relations.
1930 Jacques Derrida born: founder of deconstruction, a wholesale questioning of the adequacy of language to contain and convey meanings.
1931 Richard Rorty born: deconstructive postmodernist
1939 David Ray Griffin born: process philosopher-theologian
Philosophcal and Other Resources
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