In honor of the philosophy (and Latin) final(s) tomorrow, I am going to use this post to study for my philosophy exam. Bear with me. You might actually find this interesting. I did.
Democritus was the first really note-worthy philospher. Of course, he came from Greece, because that's where philosophy really started. The Greeks began to have time to do fun stuff like ponder the origin of life because their culture and government was so secure then, that the people didn't have to fight to survive 24/7. They could stop and smell the roses as it were. Or think. Which is what Democritus did.
Democritus, believe it or not, was the first person to come up with the concept of "atoms". If I'm not mistaken, that word comes from some Greek word that means "uncuttable". Democritus imagined atoms as being sort of like Legos: small (only atoms were obviously WAY smaller), different shapes and colors (as well as textures), and with little hooks and barbs so they could fit together. Democritus figured this was how everything was made. Atoms of different textures and colors hooked together to make things. Democritus was also a materialist, which means he thought that matter is all there is. He believed that humans have no afterlife, and no soul.
The next great Greek philosopher (or really just the next great one period), is Socrates. Hopefully you've at least HEARD of him. You might recognize his name from the idea of the "Socratic Method", which is asking questions to help someone learn. Also "Socratic Irony" which is taking the opposite position from what you believe to help your opponent figure out why he believes something.
Socrates was very enigmatic and got on peoples' nerves. He was also extremely ugly (think pot-bellied with piggish eyes). Socrates believed that "he who knows right will do right." I thought what you are thinking at first, too. You're thinking "That's ridiculous. Murderers know that it's wrong to kill other people, and yet they do it anyway! Little kids know not to eat out of the cookie jar, and they still do."
The way Socrates saw it is this: everyone wants to be happy, right? And you are never happy when you know you've done the wrong thing, correct? So, you will do the right thing FOR YOU, because you want to be happy. Socrates was big on saying that there isn't exactly a "right" and a "wrong." He thought there can be right for you, and right for me, and they don't necissarily have to be the same to both be right for each of us. Make sense? So, I will do ''my right" in order to make myself happy, and you will do "your right" to may yourself happy. So, since we know right, we will do right because that makes us feel good. Does that make sense?
Socrates opposed the leading intellectual people of his time, the Sophists. Sophists were not philosophers because they did not seek new knowledge. They were very stuck in their own ways and extremely uncurious (is that word?). Because Socrates irritated people, mainly the Sophists, they found some little loophole reason for arresting him and condeming him to death by way of drinking hemlock.
Next, we have Plato. Plato was sort of Socrates's apprentice. He somewhat followed Socrates's ideas. Plato believed that somewhere, there is an "idea world" with one of every species in it. One horse, one chicken, one cow, etc. And that "idea horse" is perfect. It's like the average of all the horses on Earth. Sort of like the perfect horse. Plato believed that all the animals here on Earth were imperfect reflections of the perfect animals in the "idea world." This story may help you understand:
Once upon a time (hehe), there were four guys who were chained up in a small cave. They had their backs to the opening of the cave, so they were staring at the back wall, and had been all their lives. The only thing to entertain them were the shadows of creatures flickering on the cave wall. Of course, since the guys had never been able to turn around and see the real creatures, they thought the shadows were the real thing. One day, a guy managed to get lose from his chains. He turned around and saw the real creatures! He was super surprised and very excited. (This free guy would represent Plato.) The real creatures were so much more interesting and colorful and perfect than the dull shadows he had always thought were real. He went back to the cave and tried to tell the others about what the shadows really were, but they wouldn't believe him. He grew so persistent and so irritating that the other guys eventually just killed him.
Some people believe this sad ending was inspired by Socrates's unfair death.
Aristotle was mentored by Plato. He went to his academy for almost twenty years. However, Aristotle did not carry on Plato's idea. Aristotle thought that Plato needed to get his head out of the clouds and look at reality. Aristotle thought that the real world was the physical world. I did my philosophy presentation on Aristotle, so I don't really need to study on him much. And I've already put one post about him here. So I'm not going to say any more, lol!
Now it's time for Jesus. I don't need to study up on him either because I'm a Christian and know quite enough to pass a test on Jesus! But I'll say a few things: Jesus's main idea was taht God provides relationships with God through Christ (Jesus). Jesus said that the two most important things in the world were to love God, and love people. Jesus also stressed the fact that DOING GOOD THINGS DO NOT GET YOU TO HEAVEN. Only trusting and having a relationship with Jesus can do that. Forgivness doesn't come through a priest; it comes from asking Jesus. Jesus also preached that we are all sinners, and none of us deserve to live with God after we die, but Jesus loves us so much that he took the penalty for our sins so we wouldn't have to. Now, if we accept this gift of eternal life, we can live with God when we die!
Next comes Augustine. He basically just Christianized Plato's philosophy. He said that Plato's "idea realm" stuff was absolutely correct, only instead of there being a parallel world of ideas, the "idea realm" was God's mind.
Next we have St. Thomas Aquinas. You've probably heard of him, too. He Christianized Aristotle's philosophy, and thought he could prove the existence of God using that philosophy. He also believed that what we think and what we see go hand in hand in discerning the truth. Kind of like a thunderstorm. We both hear the thunder and see the lightning. The two senses don't contradict one another, but enforce each other. Aquinas thought that we can eventually figure out the truth by just thinking about it or looking around us, but it's better if we use both talents: thinking and experiencing.
I'm sure you've all heard of Martin Luther (not King, just regular Martin Luther). He began the Protestant Reformation. A long time ago, the Bible was only printed in Latin, and only the priests could read Latin. How convenient, right? Well, Luther began to get the idea that the priest were making things up. The priests kept telling people that if the people paid the priests money, the priests would ask God to forgive their sins. Kind of like buying forgiveness. Luther decided to investigate that himself. He learned to read Latin, and read the Bible first-hand. Guess what? He was right! The priests were making stuff up. The Bible clearly says that salvation/forgiveness comes by faith alone. Not by buying forgiveness (indulgences). Each person can be his own priest, Luther thought. Everyone can talk to God themselves, no priest necessary.
Descartes is next. As is obvious from the silence of most of the letters (it's pronounced day-CART), he was French (hehe). He was a rationalist, which means he relied on his thinking rather than the five senses. He believed that our senses can decieve us, so it's better just to ignore them altogether. The more he studied, the more ignorant he saw himself as being. He also believed that philosophies should start out simple and work toward complex. He doubted everything until he could prove to himself that it was true. After all, how can you build a reliable philosophy if you don't make sure everything you're building it on is true?
Spinoza is definitely one of the most confusing philosophers. I barely have any notes on him. All I can really tell you is that he believed that God or nature was the cause of all things. I guess he's saying that the laws of nature are already instilled in everything, so things are kind of on auto-pilot now. Spinoza also thought that the Bible wasn't God-inspired. He thought we should let go of our feelings and passions, because they cloud our judgement. He was a rationalist, using his thinking skills and reason to decide things.
Locke is really cool! I especially like his philosophy, mostly because it makes so much sense to me. He thought that before humans experience things, our mind is a blank slate, or a "tabula rasa", which is "blank slate" in Latin. Locke says that humans have two kinds of ideas: simple, and complex. Let's use an apple for an example. The concept of "an apple" is a complex idea, because within that one idea, there are many smaller pieces: crisp, juicy, green, etc. Those smaller ideas are "simple" ideas. It takes us a long time before we can put together a complex idea. I mean, when you're little, all you have is simple ideas. You don't think, "I am eating an apple." You think, "I am eating something crisp, juicy and green." It takes us many apple-eatings to get to where we bundle those three sensations together and form the complex idea of "apple". Make sense?
Locke also said that there are primary extensions and secondary extensions. Primary extensions are things that everyone can agree on about an object. Its shape, number, weight, and things like that. Secondary extensions are sort of oppinions. Color, taste, smell, and sound are secondary extensions. Your friend might think an orange tastes sour, while you think it's sweet. I might say something is black, but you might insist that it's not; it's only a very dark green.
Hume is possibly one of my favorite philosophers. He built off of Locke a little bit, using the simple and complex theory. Hume also had some original thoughts, though. The first is the idea of "impressions" and "ideas". An impression is an immediate sensation. Let's say you bang your hand on the table. It hurts. That's your "impression". Later, when you're explaining to your mom why your hand has this giant black bruise on it, you remember the pain of hitting the table. This remembering is your "idea". The idea is the recollection of an impression.
Hume was an agnostic, which means he wasn't saying that there isn't a God, he just didn't know that there was either. Kind of an undecided sort of guy. He was big on saying that almost nothing is certain. You can't be sure that every time you drop a rock, it will fall. Why not? Because you haven't dropped it EVERY time. You can't REALLY know until you've done it every time it will ever be done. And that's humanly impossible. Just because you've only ever seen black crows doesn't mean that sometime somewhere there was a white one.
Hume also pointed out that it's no fun for a toddle to see the laws of nature defied, because he doesn't even know the laws yet. If a baby saw a guy floating in midair, he would think, "Oh, how interesting. Moving on." If you or I saw a guy floating in midair, we would think something more like, "OH MY GOSH!! IS HE SERIOUSLY FLOATING??"
Hume also stated that you cannot draw conclusions from "is" sentences to"ought" sentences. Example: "That man is suffering. We ought to help him." Hume argued that that was not good reasoning. It...it's really, really, REALLY hard to explain. It does make sense when it's explained properly. If you're dying to know, I suggest going to page 275-277 in the book Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder.
Alrighty. Now for Berkeley. His philosophy is really very interesting. He suggested that we might all be in God's head. Now, WAIT. Before you freak out and say "THAT IS NOT TRUE! WE'RE REAL! WE'RE REAL!", just listen. This is much easier apparently for writers to understand than non-writers. I'm not trying to be conceited, I'm just saying what I've noticed. If you're a writer, think about your characters. You created them, right? Just like God created us. And the characters aren't exactly real, but they do exist in your head, right? I mean, they might exist on paper or on the computer, too, but they aren't actual flesh and blood. They are flesh and blood in your mind, and they have their families and friends and houses in your head, but not in the actual world. According to Berkeley's philosophy, we are like God's "characters", existing in the mind of God, but not in the actual world. What we hear, see, feel is only real to us because we've never experience real real stuff. Make sense? Okay.
Next comes Kant. His philosophy isn't very complicated I don't think. His main thought was the Categorical Imperative. It's kind of like the Golden Rule. He thought you should act as if everyone in the world would do the same. So, pretty much "Do unto other as you would have them do unto you." Next philosopher.
Hegel. Hegel made up a method for understanding the process of history. It's actually very clear in just these philosophers. Hegel said that someone comes up with an idea (a thesis), then someone else comes up with their own idea, which is the complete opposite of guy #1's theory (an antithesis). Then, along comes Mr. Compromise and he makes up an new theory that takes the good parts from both theories and puts them together (a synthesis). Think about Plato's "idea realm". Aristotle comes along and says, "What a wack-o. The physical world is CLEARLY the real world." Then along comes goold ol' Aquinas who says, "Wait, wait. They're BOTH right. We should think things through like Plato did, but Aristotle was right, too. We need to pay attention to our senses as well." Remember that. The Hegelian Dialect. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis.
Almost done. Only four philosophers to go.
Here comes...SOREN KIERKEGAARD!! Bleck. Sorry, but I really don't like Kierkegaard. Besides his name being so hard to type, I barely understand his philosophy. Pleaseohpleaseohplease don't let me have to know a ton about him on the exam!! Anyway. He reacted agains the idealistic philosophy of Spinoza. (Go figure. I also don't get Spinoza very well.) Kierkegaard thought that truth was subjective. He also believed that there are kind of three ways or stages of living: aesthetic (trying to beautify stuff) (WHAT?! My notes are not helping so much here...); then ethical (when you learn to filter your thoughts and actions and do what's right); and religious (taking your thinking to a deeper spiritual level). Wow. Okay, done with Kierkegaard. (I deserve a medal for typing that correctly like four times!)
Here comes Marx. Who's actually fairly interesting. He saw that there was a struggle between owners and workers. He also thought that capitalism is temporary (that's definitely debatable). As far as I can tell, Marx was a very practical guy. He thought that the material changes are what really affect history, not as much the idealistic changes. He thought the way people think is closely related to what kind of work they do. Which sounds pretty plausible to me. He said that it's mainly the rulers and most influential social class that set the norm for right and wrong.
Next we have Darwin. Now, I KNOW y'all have all heard of Darwin. He believed that life evolves over millions of years through mutations and natural selection without God. He went to the Galapogos Islands once and saw for himself the variations between the different birds and stuff. After doing more research, he figured that animals must change and adapt to their surroundings. This makes sense to me, the only real problem being, where did the very first organism that started this whole thing come from?
LAST PHILOSOPHER! If you're still reading, give me your address and I'll send you a million dollars. Haha, just kidding, but seriously, I'll probably have a heart attack from surprise if any of you made it this far. Tell me if you did, okay? Just so I know. :D
Freud is another one of my favorites. He deals with dreams and stuff. I'm super tired of this, though, and even though it's five-thirty, I have A TON of studying and stuff to do still, so I'm gonna make this tragically brief: He thought we tried to surpress bad thoughts, and so if we try hard enough, we eventually forget bad things. However, he thought that somewhere in our minds are the memories of everything we've ever done. Even as a little kid. And as a psychiatrist, he tried to get people to remember these deeply burried thoughts. He also said that dreams are wish fulfillment. If we can't or shouldn't do something in real life, Freud said our subconsciousness would bring out the desires in a dream.
Freud also had an idea of the three "stages" of being sort of. The id, the ego, and the superego. Newborn babies have almost nothing but id, which is the quest for pleasure and comfort. Then comes the ego, when we learn what's bad and try not to do those things. Then the superego tries to get rid of our bad desires altogether by shoving them into our subconscious, where only dreams and certain mental exercises can bring them out.
Whew! There. I'm done. Now, tell me if you got to the end of this. I will scream in shock.