Contributions Of Past Philosophers

Philosophy
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What are three major contributions the philosophers of the past can make to understanding ideas and issues of the 21st century?

Oct 9th, 2015

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In 21st century, the world is moving greatly towards individualism and rationalism. Democracy is celebrated in a great number of countries. Considering this kind of social and philosophical environment, following incidences of past philosophers are appropriate -

Epicurus advocated the principle of refusing belief in anything that is not tangible, including any god. Such intangible things he considered preconceived notions, which can be manipulated. You may think of Epicureanism as “no matter what happens, enjoy life, because you only get one and it doesn’t last long.

Zeno founded the school of Stoicism. Stoicism is based on the idea that anything which causes us to suffer in life is actually an error in our judgment, and that we should always have absolute control over our emotions. Rage, elation, depression are all simple flaws in a person’s reason, and thus, we are only emotionally weak when we allow ourselves to be. Put another way, the world is what we make of it.

Master Kong Qiu, as his name translates from Chinese, lived from 551 to 479 BC, and remains the most important single philosopher in Eastern history. He espoused significant principles of ethics and politics, in a time when the Greeks were espousing the same things. We think of democracy as a Greek invention, a Western idea, but Confucius wrote in his Analects that “the best government is one that rules through ‘rites’ and the people’s natural morality, rather than by using bribery and coercion. This may sound obvious to us today, but he wrote it in the early 500s to late 400s BC. It is the same principle of democracy that the Greeks argued for and developed: the people’s morality is in charge; therefore, rule by the people.

Rene Descartes lived from 1596 to 1650, and today he is referred to as “the Father of Modern Philosophy”. He advocated dualism, which is very basically defined as the power of the mind over the body: strength is derived by ignoring the weaknesses of the human physique and relying on the infinite power of the human mind. Descartes’s most famous statement, now practically the motto of existentialism: “Je pense donc je suis;” “Cogito, ergo sum;” “I think, therefore I am.”

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Oct 9th, 2015

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