Influenced - PhilosophyMoriah

Zeno of Elea
Influenced by:
~490 – 430BC Influenced: Plato,
The reason we have two
ears and only one mouth
is that we may hear more
and speak less
All things are parts of one
single system, which is
called Nature; the
individual life is good when
it is in harmony with
Key Works & Ideas:
•He said that reality was simple and unchanging
•Famous for his paradoxes, many of which were
discussed for centuries after his death
•The arrow – if time is a series of points on a
line and an arrow travels along that line, what
can be said about its movement in an instant? It
can’t move in an instant as an instant has no
duration, therefore it must be at rest…so is it
moving at all?
•Achilles and the tortoise – Achilles gives the
tortoise a 10 m start, by the time he reaches the
10 m, the tortoise will have moved on a little, by
the time he reaches the second spot, the tortoise
will have moved on, and so on infinitum. So
Achilles can never catch the tortoise.
Key personal characteristics:
•All reports of the resistance
against Elea say he was
courageous even though stories
are different, even whether he
met his death or not
Life History
•Very little known about him, only
fragments of his work survive. Most
of what is known is through Plato and
•Visited Athens – Plato said he met
Socrates but this is not thought to be
•When he returned home one report
says he smuggled weapons to rebels
who wanted to oppose the tyrant
ruling Elea (where he was born)
Summary: Was interested in time, motion, space and change which
he said were all in the mind.
~ 580 - 500 BC Influenced: Plato,
Influenced by:
Anaximander, Thales
Socrates, Aristotle, and
later, Galileo
The soul of man is divided
into three parts,
intelligence, reason, and
passion. Intelligence and
passion are possessed by
other animals, but reason
by man alone
Key Works & Ideas:
•Pythagoras's Theorem – formula to calculate
the length of the hypotenuse of a right-angled
triangle form the length of its sides, a2 + b2 = c2
•Helped show that music had a mathematical
structure i.e. different length of strings produce
notes with precise ratios that match intervals of
the music scale
•Is credited with discovering that the evening and
morning star was the same heavenly body i.e.
As long as man
continues to be the
ruthless destroyer of
lower beings he will
never know health or
peace. For as long as
men massacre animals,
they will kill each other.
Life History
•Fled Samos to live in Italy where he
founded a religious sect with strict
diet (vegetarian and no beans!)
•No written works survive
•Many of his followers took the
ideas of numbers explaining
everything too far and developed
a kind of numbers-mysticism that
blocked the truth to many
unexplained phenomenon at the
time, such as the orbit of
heavenly bodies.
Summary: One of the earliest known Greek philosophers. Showed
how reality could be explained by numbers such as in music,
mathematics and science
Influenced by:
I am the gadfly which God
has attached to the state,
and all day long and in all
places am always
fastening upon you,
arousing and persuading
and reproaching you
(from Plato’s dialgoues)
~ 470 – 399 BC
Influenced: Plato (his
student, who called him
the best of all men I
have ever known) and
many that came after
The only thing I know is
that I don’t know anything
Key personal characteristics:
•Was thought to be good
humoured with a passion for
knowledge and drink
•Loved a public debate
•Loved challenging people on their
•Seemed more satisfied with the
act of examining than the
outcomes of the examination
Key Works & Ideas:
•Would strike up a dialogue with
someone and ask them questions such
as ‘what is piety? what is justice? what
is courage?’ and would then analyse
their response.
•Elenchus – his technique of raising a
topic for discussion, challenging the
responses of others until they
contradicted themselves. Like a cross
examination. Became known as the
Life History
Socratic Method.
•Didn’t write things down, if he did, nothing
•Debates never really concluded and
Socrates views not clear.
•Father a sculptor, mother a mid-wife
•He featured in Plato’s dialogues which
•Started life as a sculptor, fought in Athenian
are used as a key source of his ideas.
wars, took part in running the city
3 striking examples are Apology
•Tried and sentenced to death for ‘corrupting
(Socrates response to his charge),
the youth’ and ‘not believing in the city
Crito (Socrates ethical views discussed
with his friend Crito)and Phaedo (an
•Could have fled but chose to die. After
emotional account of his final hours)
drinking the lethal poison hemlock he
•One of his viewpoints that no-one
continued with a philosophical debate.
does wrong voluntarily or deliberately
•Died in poverty.
became known as The Socratic
•Athenian authority critical of his continual questioning
Summary: Established the importance of argumentation.
~427 – 347 BC Influenced: Aristotle
Influenced by:
Socrates (his teacher)
(his student)
There will be no end to
the troubles of states, or
of humanity itself till
philosophers become
kings in this world, or till
those we now call kings
and rulers really and truly
become philosophers.
Key Works & Ideas:
•Epistemology: We cannot have genuine
knowledge of the temporary and changing world
of our everyday lives e.g. When does green
cease to be green (when in the dark, when
faded? What makes a dog a dog? Is a bald dog
that loses a leg and a tail still a dog?). We can
have true beliefs which are useful to use.
Genuiune knowledge is recollected from a
previous incarnation which a teacher helps us
remember. Said we forget knowledge during the
trauma of birth.
•Metaphysics: Theory of Ideal Forms – said
there are unchanging, ideal entities of which
other things are merely shadowy copies. I.e.
there is an ideal colour green and an ideal dog
•Politics: Republic - his greatest work. Main
theme is that the ideal state is ruled over by a
philosopher king as he would be most able to
achieve true knowledge and wisdom. Did not
believe in democracy, instead argued for an
“aristocracy of merit,” that could be ruled by the
best and the wisest people.
•Thought that most ideas were innate
•Platonic relationships are ones that are based
on intellectual exchanges.
•Meno deals with virtue and knowledge.
•Used metaphor such as in Myth of the Cave.
Key personal characteristics:
•Almost all his writings in
dialogue form
•Paid homage to his mentor
Socrates by writing him in to his
philosophical dialogues where
Socrates seldom met his match
Life History
•Very little know about his life but his works
remarkably well preserved.
•‘Plato’ a nickname meaning ‘the broad one’
a reference to his shoulders!
•Real name was Aristolces.
•From an aristocratic family.
•?father died when he was young
•Left Greece for over 10 yrs when Socrates
was executed.
•When he returned he started a school
called the Academy that stayed open for
over 900 years. Closed by Roman Emperor
Justinian for being pagan.
•Some reports say Academy could have
been his house where he took pupils (rather
than a Uni.)
Summary: Recognised as the father
of Western Philosophy by some, his well
preserved writing remain amongst the
most interesting, rich, subtle, broad and
beautiful in philosophy and will probably
still be read in another 2,000 yrs.
Influenced by: Plato
(was Plato’s student),
Pythagoras, Socrates
384 – 322 BC
A likely possibility is
always preferable to an
unconvincing possibility.
Influenced: everyone
who came after him
including Arab
Come, let us get on with
the inquiry.
Key Works & Ideas:
•Suggested that the pursuit of knowledge can be divided
into 2 groups, Natural Philosophy (now called Science)
and Metaphysics (now called philosophy)
•Insisted on data collection and true experimentation –
Empirical enquiry – as a kind of scientific method.
•Examined hundreds of species of animals, designed
classification system for animals that is similar to the one
used today.
•Thought observation and reason was important to find
•Famous works; Nichomachean Ethics (important treaty on
morality), Politics (discussed the ideal state), Physics
(matter, form, space, time.)
•Doctrine of the Mean explained that things existed
because they had a function. Mans function was to
reason. A virtuous human is one that behaves well by
avoiding excess and inappropriate moderation when
responding to what comforts them.
•Not a great deal of his work exists, possibly some draft
lecture notes that many others have edited.
•Formalized the rules of reasoning.
•Devised 4 questions of nature: What is it made of? What
is it? What brought it into being? What is it for?
Life History
•Father was court physician who
died when Aristotle was young.
•Was educated by a guardian
who sent him to Athens to study.
•Entered Plato’s Academy where
he stayed for 20 years both as
student and then as a teacher.
•Left Athens when Plato died and
travelled for a few years. Not
known if he left through loyalty to
Plato or in disgust for not being
ask to run Academy.
•While away from Athens he
tutored a young boy who would
later become Alexander the
•Later returned to start his own
school called the Lyceum which ,
like Plato’s Academy taught
using discussion instead of blind
acceptance of teachers views.
•Taught there for 13 years before
returning to home town where he
died the year after returning.
Summary: Worked in logic, poetry, metaphysics, politics, ethics, biology and
psychology (memory & dreams). First to promote ‘scientific’ approach to finding
new knowledge by using experimentation, observation and gathering data.
St Augustine
Influenced by: Plato
354 - 430
What is time? If no one
asks me, I know: if they
ask and I try to explain, I
do not know.
Key Works & Ideas:
•Man is corrupt through and through due to
inheriting original sin and cannot complain if we
go to eternal hell because we deserve it. Only a
chosen few will go to heaven but no-one can do
anything to earn a place in heaven.
Key personal characteristics:
Life History
•Early life as a scholar, his family
making financial sacrifices to keep
him at school.
•Moved to Rome and then to Milan
•Baptized in 387
•391 became a priest
•396 became a Bishop of Hippo
•Died in a seize of Hippo
•Russell notes that cruelty and
superstition was at its greatest
in the history of humanity and
questions the influence of
Augustine and his intellectual
equals of the time
Summary: Significant father of the Christian church, known as a
Roger Bacon
Influenced by:
Aristotle, Augustine
1214 - 1292
…experimental science is
the mistress of the
speculative sciences, it
alone gives us important
truths…which those
sciences can learn in no
other way…
Key Works & Ideas:
•Was interested in discussing primary
vision, perception, as a way of
observing in order to gain knowledge.
•Argued for the use of mathematics in
science to give science clarity and
because mathematics is innate – a
priori knowledge – so can be used to
build science understanding.
•Was credited with inventing
gunpowder and spectacles but may
have simply expanded on Arabic
knowledge and use of these.
•Works include Opus Maius, Opus
Minus Opus Tertius, Compedium of
experimental science
Key personal characteristics:
•Believed in empirical science but
was also swayed by myths,
common tales about him tell of his
magical powers.
•Was very well read in Arab
philosophy where he probably
enhanced his knowledge of
gunpowder and lenses
Life History
•Not much is known of early life, family was
wealthy but lost land in war, was educated at
Oxford then went to Paris to take a second degree
and teach.
•Taught Socrates when his work was banned.
•On return to England joined the Franciscan monks
where he interest in science grew. He taught there
for a while but after a dispute was forbidden to
publish his work and ended up under house arrest
back in Paris.
•Wrote while in Paris and was later allowed to
return to Oxford.
•Franciscan order were upset at his attitude
towards religion and some of his mythological
beliefs such as the Philosophers Stone.
Summary: First great Oxford philosopher. Probably could have been more
influential if he hadn’t had personal issues with the church but certainly helped
develop epistemological philosophy and empirical science.
William of Ockham
Influenced by:
1285 - 1359
Influenced: Descartes,
Locke, Berkeley, Hume
Only individuals exist
Key Works & Ideas:
•Ockham’s Razor is the idea that the simplest
explanation for something is probably the most
•Promoted Nominalism, which denies the
existence of universals. This means he
believed that only individual things existed and
that any groups they were put in was an
abstract concept. For example, bananas and
apples existed, but not fruit. ‘Fruit’ does not
exist because ‘fruit’ is simply a name and has
no real meaning.
Key personal characteristics:
Life History
•Became a Franciscan monk before
going to study at Oxford and Paris but
failed to gain his qualifications to teach
due to begin outspoken about the
•A Franciscan minister who came to
investigate his case and ended up sided
with him. They escaped together to Pisa
in Italy.
•From here travelled to Munchen where
he wrote philosophy and papers
supporting the separation of the church
and state.
•Was accused by church of ‘erroneous
teaching’ and later disputed the church.
•The realists said that universals are
necessary to understand the world
Niccolò Machiavelli
Influenced by:
‘…a prince…cannot
observe all those things
that are good in men,
being obliged, in order to
maintain the state, to act
against faith, against
charity, against
1469 - 1527
Influenced: Hobbs
Successful political
leaders need to posses
the strength of a lion and
the cunning of a fox.
Early Modern
Key Works & Ideas:
•In The Prince he shows how leaders have to
learn not to be good and put aside moral
considerations to rule effectively. Did not believe
in cruelty for cruelty sake though.
•Wanted Italy united
•If someone is said to be Machiavellian they
would be thought to be lacking in moral
sensibility and not suitable for a position of
authority such as in Government.
Key personal characteristics:
Life History
•Little known of his early life
•Well educated like his father who
was a scholar
•Political career involved a position of
secretary to the council responsible
for Florence’s military and diplomatic
•When leadership changed in
Florence he was accused of plotting
against it and tortured and put in jail.
•When released he wrote The Prince,
which was published 7 years after his
death to popular acclaim.
•Was accused of being an amoralist
with no concern as to whether
leaders behave morally or not.
Summary: Promoted the birth of Political Science by considering the
efficiency of government.
Sir Francis Bacon
Influenced by: Plato
1561 - 1626
Science is for teams in
laboratories, not
individuals in armchairs
Knowledge is power
Key Works & Ideas:
•Although he had a political career,
philosophically he was mostly
interested in science.
•In the New Organon (unfinished) he
published his ideas about how the
process of science should build our
knowledge by collecting data from
experiments. He wrote about how to
carry out correct scientific procedure.
•He was an Empiricist that used
Inductive Logic to build knowledge
•His four idols were false notions or
tendencies which distort the truth. Idols
of the Tribe relate to the uncritical way
way we accept information from our
senses; Idols of the Den /Cave are
the false notions particular to an
individual and come from their
education and upbringing; Idols of the
Marketplace come from the misuse of
language and social interaction; and
Idols of the Theatre from the abuse of
•He spoke about a cooperative
scientific research institution that lay
foundation for the Royal Society that
was established 100 years later.
Influenced: Hobbs,
Hume, Locke
Key personal characteristics:
•Highly intelligent
Life History
•Youngest child in a powerful and well educated
family. Both parents lives were independently
linked to Royal circles
•Educated at home until he entered Cambridge
University at the age of 12.
•When his father died when he was 18 he was
forced to work and finished his legal studies
before becoming a lawyer and then an MP at 23.
Argued against the Queen Elizabeth’s tax policy
so did not reach high office.
•When James 1 came to the throne, he rose
rapidly through the ranks to Lord Chancellor.
•Spent his final years writing and conducting
science experiments.
•Died from bronchitis after stuffing a dead
chicken with snow to try to preserve it.
•At 60 he was arrested for accepting bribes
so was fined , imprisoned and banned from
public office.
Summary: An empiricist who introduced scientific method and
inductive reasoning after rejecting earlier Greek models of scientific
Thomas Hobbs
Influenced by:
Aristotle, Machiavelli,
Francis Bacon,
1588 - 1679
Influenced: Spinoza,
Locke, Leibniz,
Rousseau, Mill, Marx,
We agree to be ruled over
in return for protection
against each other
It is not wisdom but
Authority that makes a law.
Early Modern
Key Works & Ideas:
•His masterwork Leviathn has a very pessimistic
view of human nature which he called the state
of nature
•In the State of Nature nothing curbs a persons
absolute freedom – everyone has absolute
liberty, therefore conflicts and crime are
inevitable due to no desire to cooperate. People
fear each other and there is no order, only chaos.
It is not a state that once existed, but a constant
state one needs to move away from
•The Social Contract Theory of the State
describes a situation where people give up
absolute freedom of the State of Nature to be
content with as much liberty as they would allow
others to have towards them. Therefore those
that want to avoid a State of Nature sign up for a
social contract which transfers absolute freedom
from the individual to a group that aims for
security for all.
•Was also interested in language and said that
many problems of communication arose from the
mis-use of language.
Key personal characteristics:
•Seemed to have the habit of
rubbing people up the wrong
way by objecting to their idea
and making false claims
Life History
•Vicars son, educated at oxford.
Travelled Europe with his pupil where
he met Galileo and Descartes.
•Worked with Francis Bacon and
Charles 11
• Locke warned of the choice of who
wielded the power i.e. don’t defend
your self from foxes with lions
Summary: An Empiricist that used inductive logic and believed in
social contracts. Has been called the father of modern analytical
René Descartes
Influenced by: Plato,
Aristotle, Ockham,
1596 - 1650
Influenced: Everyone
who came after him.
Nowhere in the world was
there any knowledge
professed of the kind I
had been encouraged to
I am thinking, therefore,
I exist
Early Modern
Key Works & Ideas:
•Meditations on First Philosophy describe his
ideas on radical doubt with only one thing being
certain – that is, because he is doubting
everything he must exist . This led to his famous:
Cogito ergo sum
•Cartesian dualism established that the mind is
different to the body, but could not provide a
reasonable explanation as to how they might
•Thought that much knowledge (such as that of
God) was innate
•Published The World which was a scientific
treatise on astronomy, geometry, mathematics,
optics, meteorology
•Four rules for rational enquiry; 1) accept nothing
as true unless it is so clearly and distinctly
presented there is no reason to doubt it, 2) break
problems down into as many smaller problems
as possible, 3) begin with what is most simply
and easily understood and build on this to larger
issues, 4) review entire chain of thinking so
ensure nothing is omitted.
Key personal characteristics:
•Was a mathematical prodigy
•Was deeply concerned with
the debate between the churc h
and science over whether the
Earth moved and what the
planets were doing
Life History
•Started studies in law but ended up
in a Military career.
•Spent most of his life in the
Netherlands studying and writing
•In his mid-fifties was invited to
Sweden by the Queen. He wasn’t
there long before he died.
Summary: A scientist and mathematician who described one of the
most famous arguments in philosophy, that is our senses can be
deceived to the point where we actually don’t know what is real or true.
Benedict/Baruch Spinoza
Influenced by:
Men are deceived in they
think themselves free, an
opinion which consists
only in this, that they are
conscious of their actions
and ignorant of the
causes by which they are
1632 - 1677
Leibniz (also
believed our ignorance of
ultimate reality precludued us
from seeing true evil)
Be not astonished at new
ideas; for it is well known
to you that a thing does
not therefore cease to be
true because it is not
accepted by many.
Early Modern
Do not weep; do not wax
Key Works & Ideas:
indignant. Understand.
•Ethica describes a reality that is conceived and controlled
by one entity whether it be God or Nature that determines
what happens so there is no free will. His belief in
determinism was absolute as he says we are not aware Key personal characteristics:
we do not have free will even though we might be aware of •Reasonable and courteous
what we are doing.
•Built his theories in his work on Ethics by examining
Life History
•Was rejected from the orthodox
•Said we should strive to see reality from the perspective
Jewish community in
of eternity – this can be helpful when suffering i.e. to see
Amsterdam for his writings.
our place in the whole and beyond our own misery.
•Tutored influential men, worked
•There is no absolute good or bad. Behaviour is relative to
a lens grinder.
the endeavors & conceptions of various individuals. If
•Suffered from Tuberculosis.
viewed from God’s perspective there is no evil in sin due
•Died calmly and without
to there being a total perspective which the individual does
not have.
•Believed human’s task was to see thing from the point of
Ethics difficult to read. Russell
view of eternity so that we see our small place in a larger
suggests reading the
world and therefore free ourselves from our personal
comments in the margins are
more informative to
•Said the miracles in the bible were natural phenomenon
understanding his ideas.
misunderstood by the books writers.
Summary: Ethica considered one of the greatest philosophical
works. He made room for religious freedom. Was more famous when
alive for his metaphysics than his ethics.
John Locke
Influenced by:
Aristotle, Descartes
1632 - 1704
Our incomes are like our
shoes; if too small, they
gall and pinch us; but if
too large, they cause us
to stumble and to trip.
New opinions are always
suspected, and usually
opposed, without any
other reason but because
they are not already
Reading furnishes the
mind only with materials of
knowledge; it is thinking
that makes what we read
Influenced: Hume,
Berkeley, Kant
Early Modern
Key Works & Ideas:
•In his Essay Concerning Human
Understanding he spoke against innate
understanding saying that we are all blank slates
(tabula rasa) which are then written on by
experience. Said there was no evidence of
innate ideas.
•His idea of primary and secondary properties of
objects states that the primary properties cannot
be separated from the object, such as its state,
figure, bulk, motion. Secondary properties are
the ones that produce sensations such as taste,
sound, smell, touch. i.e. the shape of a lemon
tells us about the world, but not its taste.
•States that ideas are simple and complex.
Simple ideas cannot be broken down into other
ideas and are a single conception in the mind.
Complex ideas are composed of the shifting and
sorting of simple ideas.
Parents wonder why the
streams are bitter, when
they themselves have
poisoned the fountain.
Life History
•Home schooled until he was 14 then
went to Westminster University and then
on to Oxford where he stayed for 30 years.
•In 1667 moved to London where he first
became physician to Lord Ashley and then
general advisor.
•As Ashley moved up in rank Locke took
on more responsibility. Began writing
political documents.
•Fled to the court of James 2 in Holland
when his patron Earl of Shaftesbury was
tried of treason. Was 10 years in exile.
•By the end of his life was back in the
British courts writing on a broard range of
topics from education, philosophy, politics,
and religion.
•Evolutionary psychology & sociobiology
show that some behaviours/knowledge
is innate (particularly those related to
Summary: An empiricist saying that all knowledge comes from
experience and interactions with the world so that we are born with a
mind that is a ‘blank slate’
George Berkeley
Influenced by: Locke
1685 - 1753
Influenced: Hume
Many things, for aught I
know, may exist,
whereof neither I nor
any other man hath or
can have any idea or
notion whatsoever.
Others indeed may talk,
and write, and fight about
liberty, and make an
outward pretence to it;
but the free-thinker alone
is truly free.
Early Modern
Key Works & Ideas:
•As an immaterialist /idealist he believed that we
see is not the world itself but a representation of it
•Put one hand in hot and the other in cold water
and then both hands in luke warm water. It will
seem hot to one hand and cold to the other but
cannot be both.
•He denied the existence of objects without human
perception. Said that something still existed out of
sight only because it was perceived by God.
•His Principles of Human Knowledge presented
many of his argument.
•Distinguished between minds and ideas.
•Said that all objects of human knowledge are
ideas through immediate experience such as; taste
of food, cool of ice, visual stimulus of trees out the
window, or ideas we have of our emotional states
through imagination and memory, such as the taste
of a lemon can exist only by remembering it.
Key personal characteristics:
Easy going and engaging
Life History
•Born in Kilkenny and educated in
Trinity College Dublin.
•Was later welcomed into
intellectual life in London.
•Travelled around Europe later in life
before returning to Ireland to
become Dean of Derry.
•Locke said that heat and cold are
examples of secondary qualities
which are mind-dependent and we
should not ignore the primary
qualities that exist outside the mind.
•Most did not believe Berkeley’s
idea that material objects only
existed through our perception as
the world goes on even when we
take our eyes off it.
Summary: An empiricist and immaterialist/idelaist who believed that
things only existed through being perceived
David Hume
Influenced by:
Locke, Berkely
When men are most sure
and arrogant they are
commonly most mistaken,
giving views to passion
without that proper
deliberation which alone
can secure them from the
grossest absurdities
1711 - 1776
Influenced: Thomas
Reid, Kant
What a peculiar privilege
has this little agitation of
the brain which we call
Early Modern
Key Works & Ideas:
•Rejects the idea of personal identity and believes that
we change over time. Has no evidence that any part of
our self endures in order to define who we are, even
though we may have perceptions of enduring identity.
•Didn’t believe in causal relationships, just because
something happens 100 times doesn’t mean we should
expect it to happen 101 times.
•Many of his writings need to understand 3 distinctions;
1) impressions (something that happens in real time
during an experience) and ideas, (copies of
impressions in memory of them), 2) Simple ideas
(can’t be broken down and formed from impressions)
and complex ideas (made up of simple ideas and don’t
necessarily need impressions ,3) Facts and Ideas.
Ideas can come into being by thinking alone whereas
facts need a truth from the world. From all this he
concluded that reason has no hand in our beliefs of our
self, the external world or inductive inference.
•On causality - because we have only limited sense
experience we need to employ causal thinking. When
we read about things we can say the ‘report’ is caused
by the thing we are reading about.
Life History
•Born in Edinburgh into an
influential family on both sides.
•Studied at University of
Edinburgh was pushed towards
Law but loved philosophy,
literature and history so took up
self directed studies.
•After a nervous breakdown
worked as a clerk for a while
before being dismissed and
recommencing his studies.
•Moved to France to write before
returning to England. His writings
were all ignored.
•Returned to France as assistant
to England’s ambassador and
became a popular social figure.
•The History of England was his
most popular book in his day,
many of his philosophical works
published posthumously.
•People found him difficult to
understand h. Mostly other
philosophers read him during his
life. Was read more after his
Summary: Greatest and most radical of modern Empiricists.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Influenced by: Hobbs
1712 - 1778
Man is born free; and
everywhere he is in
Individual freedom is more
important than state
Early Modern
Key Works & Ideas:
•His most important work The Social Contract
discusses how humans used to live peaceful
solitary lives meeting their basic needs. When
man decided to claim a piece of land as his own
and enclose it, civilisation began. From this man
had to justify and maintain his property which led
to inequalities and moral depravity.
•Once people start to live in social groups their
individual needs and freedoms are blocked
unless they represent themselves as part of the
groups Sovereign Body.
•His Discourse on the Science and Arts
questioned whether their advancements had
improved morals as the idea was that once we
were comfortable through technology and the
arts, we became decadent.
Life History
•Born in Geneva.
•Father was watchmaker, mother
died when he was young. Was raised
by his father until he was 10 when he
was sent to a cousin due to his father
fleeing at the threat of imprisonment
after a fight. After 2 years went to live
with an Uncle and then with Madame
de Waren where he developed his
thinking and a passion for music.
•Moved to Paris in 1742 where he
developed a reputation in intellectual
circles and wrote.
•People in a sovereign body do not
necessarily put aside their personal
interests for the common good as
common good is not always their
political interests i.e. Hitler/tyranny of
the majority.
•Was accused of being antienlightenment due to ideas in his
Science and Arts discourse.
(enlightenment says the best hope for
humankind is the progress through
science and arts out of superstition
and myth.
Summary: An Enlightenment thinker that inspired the French
Immanuel Kant
Influenced by:
1724 - 1804
Early Modern
Key Works & Ideas:
•In Critique of Pure Reason he distinguished
between a noumenal world of things themselves
which we cannot know and a phenomenal world
of appearances that we can know something
about by sorting and organising to find meaning.
Key personal characteristics:
Life History
•Some philosophers find the
idea of a noumenal world that
is out of our reach disturbing.
•Others point out that different
minds will sort and organise
the phenomenal world
differently so the meaning
Summary: Some consider him the greatest modern philosopher.
Worked in ethics, metaphysics, aesthetics, free will and causality
Georg Hegel
Influenced by:
1770 - 1831
Key Works & Ideas:
•In The Phenomenology of Spirit he attempts to
map the unfolding of Being across history.
•Described a system where a phenomenon
(thesis) has a contradictory element (antithesis)
that provides conflict and must be resolved by
movement to a new system (synthesis). The new
system becomes the thesis with its own
antithesis and so the cycle continues.
Key personal characteristics:
Life History
Summary: considered the last of the great metaphysician
Mary Woolstonecraft
Influenced by: the
enlightenment view
1759 - 1797
Early Modern
Key Works & Ideas:
•Believed that the artificial distinctions of rank
prevented the flourishing of human potential
•In A Vindication of the Rights of Women she
argued that the docile role women were forced
into affected the men as much as the women. If
they were educated like men
Key personal characteristics:
Life History
Summary: Considered the first feminist as she was a radical thinker
and social reformer promoting the rights of women. Envisioned a new
social order where person would be able to develop their own
capabilities free from superstition and false authority.
John Stuart Mill
Influenced by: his
wife Harriet (who
shared his work)
1806 - 1873
Key Works & Ideas:
Key personal characteristics:
Life History
•In the 1860s was briefly a member
of parliament and was involved in
many radical causes such as
women’s rights.
Summary: Famous first for his system of logic, then for moral
philosophy then to politics
George Santayana
Influenced by:
Aristotle, Spinoza
1863 - 1952
Beauty is an emotional
element, a pleasure of
ours, which nevertheless
we regard as a quality of
Key Works & Ideas:
• In The sense of Beauty (1896) he discusses
why, when and how beauty appear, what
conditions an object must fulfill to be beautiful,
how our natures make us sensitive to beauty and
how an object can capture our attention. Said
that beauty is the pleasure of contemplating an
•Advocated that beauty does not have a negative
•Was also a poet, novelist and literary critic.
Key personal characteristics:
Life History
•Moved to the UA when he was 9 .
•In 1912 resigned his Harvard
professorship and lived in Europe,
mostly in hotels in Rome.
•Wrote and published only in English.
•By seeing beauty as an
experience he takes
focus off the object
Summary: Rejected European idealism for a naturalistic view of the
world and the place of humankind in it.
Karl Marx
Influenced by: Hegel
1818 - 1883
Philosophers have
hitherto only interpreted
the world in various ways;
the point, however, is to
change it
Key Works & Ideas:
•Believed that human nature naturally
cooperates their labour for a common good.
•Adopted Hegel’s theory of the process of
historical development, but gave matter the main
focus rather than spirit
Key personal characteristics:
Life History
Summary: Inspired socialist revolutions in Russia and China.
John Dewey
Influenced by:
Since education is not a
means to living, but is
identical with the
operation of living a life
which is fruitful…the only
ultimate value which can
be set up is just the
process of living itself
1859 - 1952
Key Works & Ideas:
•Advocates that truth is what works. People have
socially sanctioned habit that allow them to live
their lives. When habits break down (or new
scientific data does not fit with scientific thinking)
we have genuine doubt and have to reconcile the
situation. We do this by isolating the significant
problem, provide a number of hypotheses and
then systematically test them. New beliefs must
then be incorporated into the existing framework.
All this requires sophisticated and flexible
Key personal characteristics:
Life History
Summary: Empiricist. Very influential thinker who worked in
pedagogy, philosophy of mind, epistemology, logic, philosophy of
science, social and political theory, ethics, aesthetics, and religion.
Represented a no-nonsense naturalism
Bertrand Russell
Influenced by:
Most men would rather die
than think. Many do.
1872 - 1970
Key Works & Ideas:
•The Russell Paradox asks if the set of all sets
which doesn’t include themselves as members,
include itself as a member? E.g. Mayors can live
in the towns they work in (set 1), or not (set 2). If
the Mayors that don’t live in the town they work
in live together in a town, where should their
Mayor live?
Key personal characteristics:
Life History
Summary: Laid the foundations of modern logic. The most widely
read British philosopher of the C20.
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Influenced by:
Augustine, Leibniz,
Kierkegaard, Frege &
Bertrand Russell who
mentored him at
Philosophical problems
arise when language goes
on holiday that is, when
we mistake nonsense for
something meaningful
1889 - 1951
Influenced: almost
everyone that followed,
particularly Popper
‘Philosophy is a battle
against the bewitchment
of our intelligence by
means of language’
Key Works & Ideas:
•Tractatus Logico philosophicus
•Language is a determinate system that can be
specified in precise logical terms
•Picture Theory of Meaning states that we use
words to represent reality
•A name is a linguistic unit standing for a thing
•For a while he thought it solved all the problems
of philosophy
•Philosophical Investigations
•Language is a lived practice which can be
employed in an almost limitless number of
contexts for a variety of different purposes
•Meaning is linked to the behaviour of language
users and the context they use speech ie ‘I love
•We can use language to speculate, give orders,
hypothesize, curse, story tell, joke tell, report.
•Questioned the idea of the possibility of a
private language that only one person could use.
Key personal characteristics:
•Intense & demanding
•Precise and exact
Life History
•Last of 8 children, extreme wealth as
child, cultured home (Brahms
visited), home schooled
•Considered becoming a monk but
went to engineering school in Berlin
•Went on to study doctorate in
Aeronautical engineering in UK
•Went to Norway to stay in a remote
cabin to write Tractatus
•Enlisted in Army, ended up in POW
camp in Italy where he pursued his
interest in philosophy
•Gave his sibling his fortune and
became a primary school teacher, a
gardner , a hospital porter, a lab
•Went to Cambridge to further his
study, became professor
Summary: Interested in Maths, Language, Logic, Metaphysics, Epistemology.
Believed that philosophical confusions resulted from the misuse of language so
spent his time analysing language and its meaning. Not an academic – Russell
called him a great intellect.
Influenced by: Rudolf
Carnap (his mentor)
1889 - 1951
Key Works & Ideas:
Key personal characteristics:
Life History
Summary: took the view that philosophy sould be pursued as part of
natural science
Richard Hare
Influenced by:
1889 - 1951
Key Works & Ideas:
Key personal characteristics:
Life History
Sir Peter Strawson
Influenced by: Kant
1919 - 2006
Key Works & Ideas:
Key personal characteristics:
Life History
Summary: Metaphysics questions
John Rawls
Influenced by:
1921 - 2002
Key Works & Ideas:
•A Theory of Justice writetn in the 1970s was a
careful elaboration of an original approach to the
problem of accommodating egalitarianism and
Key personal characteristics:
Life History
Thomas Kuhn
Influenced by:
1889 - 1951
Key Works & Ideas:
Key personal characteristics:
Life History
Sir Karl Popper
Influenced by:
1902 - 1994
Key Works & Ideas:
Key personal characteristics:
Life History
Summary: argued that a good scientific theory is open to falsification
and a good society, social institution or government is open to
change by people
Peter Singer
Influenced by:
The notion that human life
is sacred just because it is
human life is medieval.
Key Works & Ideas:
•The Ethics of Food
Key personal characteristics:
Life History
Summary: Currently one of the worlds leading moral philosophers.