The History of Philosophy
The history of philosophy is not merely the list of authors and thinkers followed by their works and studies. To be frank, I used to have such an opinion before starting the course. As it is now more evident, the philosophy developed with the aspiration of human beings to find the answers to the questions which interested them.
In many respects, the life approach of the ancient India and China was the primary source of the philosophical attitudes, which was for me a revelation. That is why it is rather obvious to me that the search of knowledge and wisdom has always accompanied the history of the mankind. In re-examining my view, I noted that the history of the East has the peculiar philosophy which has developed into major religions in China such as Confucianism or Taoism.
I would draw an analogy with the medieval philosophy, which overviewed the doctrines of Catholicism. It challenges my understanding of scholasticism as the cause and effect of the flourishing Christianity in medieval Europe. I consider that there was an attempt to justify the existence of human beings as a believer, and it was quite relevant then.
The Axial Age was the time when another, more rational or even philosophical approach, substituted mythology (Stamatellos, 2012). It was the most interesting for me to find the starting point of the whole discipline. Therefore, the VII century was crucial for the humanity because that was the age when, the transition of natural philosophy to a period of high classic started in the Greek practice.
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The first group tried to interpret the nature through the experience of human or through receiving the knowledge of the basic sciences. Now, Arithmetics, Mathematics and other sciences owe to Pythagoras, Thales, and Heraclitus. The second school, in contrast, it seems to me is peering deeper not only into the surroundings, but also into the human nature. In such a way, I understand the transition to the so-called discursive thinking, the philosophy in the modern sense.
My observations demonstrate that the culture was a matter of great importance. The understanding of Greek philosophers differed from the modern one as they stated that the culture was not only a means of pleasure but a tool to manufacture a person. I also understand that the use of culture is educational.
I would like to note that such sphere as policy was of interest to Greek philosophy, especially to Socrates and Plato. Socrates, who lived in the V century BC in the Age of Pericles was interested in how to bring specialists to government. In his opinion, only educated people can be in power. For this reason, he worked on ethic education of Greek citizens. It seems to be a vicious circle because Socrates shared his philosophical views only with the selected number of compatriots.
These were people of high birth, in other words, those who have money. It is these educated and rich rulers whom the people should obey as the influence of leaders shall not be questioned. The relationship between the Greek government and citizens resembles the relationship of parents and children, which is similar, in my opinion, in the East and Socratic philosophy.
It amazes me that according to Luchte, one of the central figures in Greek philosophy, Socrates, is known to us not by reliable primary sources but the stories and descriptions of students and people who belonged to the same circle (Luchte, 2011). I used to think that his influence and way of thinking might have influenced the people who were in contact with him; thus, they could not judge objectively or could exaggerate. However, the rebuttal of my theory is that the real contribution of Socrates may be even less appreciated: he formed a special Socrates method, invented dialectical approach, became a teacher and mentor to a generation of philosophers and the father of the Western philosophy.
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Earlier, I used to think that there can be no enduring ideas. Therefore, since we started learning the history of philosophy, my beliefs have changed. The experience of the history shows that the philosophical standpoints cannot die. When the Hellenistic - Roman period came, the ancient philosophy, in turn, dilapidated. It existed in the muted form of the Neo-Platonism and Stoicism. Nevertheless, the desire for wisdom reincarnated then with even greater force in Renaissance philosophy.
Within the history of philosophy, I discovered German schools of VIII-XIX centuries. Hegelian justification of the reason and order seems to me overly critical. Logic, compared for example, with Aristotle’s approach is exaggerated by Hegel, too. I believe that empirical and emotional knowledge affect no less. Moreover, I have never known that left-wing Hegelians gave rise to Marxism.
The interesting part of the philosophy was the "Philosophy of Life" that emerged in the late XIX century. I was genuinely amazed and delighted that the philosophical schools may arise as an opposition to each other. As I knew before, the ideas of Nietzsche were borrowed by some of the totalitarian regimes. Nietzsche was the ideological mentor of the Nazi party because the model of an “ Übermensch” was regarded as the role of Aryan race. However, in a more detailed study, I learned that the approach to Nietzsche is unfair. Wilczek explains that the idea of the philosopher was processed and highlighted in the key Nietzsche himself would have never mentioned (Wilczek, 2010).
To sum up, the main conclusion that I have made by the end of the course is that the whole philosophy throughout the historical development left space for a free dialogue. This became possible in relation to the ideas of the philosophers of one era and the views of the predecessors and ancestors from diverse communities.