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NAME: Socrates OCCUPATION: Philosopher BIRTH DATE: c. 470 BCE DEATH DATE: c. 399 BCE PLACE OF BIRTH: Athens, Greece PLACE OF DEATH: Athens, Greece Full Name: Socrates

Best Known For Socrates was a Greek philosopher and the main source of Western thought. Little is known of his life except what was recorded by his students, including Plato.

Background Socrates was born circa 470 BC, in Athens, Greece. We know of his life through the writings of his students, including Plato and Xenophon. His "Socratic method," laid the groundwork for Western systems of logic and philosophy. When the political climate of Greece turned, Socrates was sentenced to death by hemlock poisoning in 399 BC. He accepted this judgment rather than fleeing into exile. Philosophy Socrates' contributions to philosophy were a new method of approaching knowledge, a conception of the soul as the seat both of normal waking consciousness and of moral character, and a sense of the universe as purposively mind-ordered. His method, called dialectic, consisted in examining statements by pursuing their implications, on the assumption that if a statement were true it could not lead to false consequences. The method may have been suggested by Zeno of Elea, but Socrates refined it and applied it to ethical problems. His doctrine of the soul led him to the belief that all virtues converge into one, which is the good, or knowledge of one's true self and purposes through the course of a lifetime. Knowledge in turn depends on the nature or essence of things as they really are, for the underlying forms of things are more real than their experienced exemplifications. This conception leads to a teleological view of the world that all the forms participate in and lead to the highest form, the form of the good. Plato later elaborated this doctrine as central to his own philosophy. Socrates' view is often described as holding virtue and knowledge to be identical, so that no man knowingly does wrong. Since virtue is identical with knowledge, it can be taught, but not as a professional specialty as the Sophists had pretended to teach it. However, Socrates himself gave no final answer to how virtue can be learned.

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NAME: Immanuel Kant OCCUPATION: Philosopher BIRTH DATE: April 22, 1724 DEATH DATE: February 12, 1804 PLACE OF BIRTH: Kaliningrad (now Konigsburg), Russia PLACE OF DEATH: Kaliningrad (now Konigsburg), Russia

Best Known For Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher during the Enlightenment era of the late 18th century. His best known work is the Critique of Pure Reason.

Background Immanuel Kant was born on April 22, 1724, in Kaliningrad (now Konigsburg), Russia. While tutoring, he published science papers, including "General Natural History and Theory of the Heavens" in 1755. He spent the next 15 years as a metaphysics lecturer. In 1781, he published the first part of Critique of Pure Reason. He published more critiques in the years preceding his death, on February 12, 1804, in Kaliningrad. Philosophy Philosophy, according to Kant, is the outcome of the use of human reason, which undertakes investigations a priori, or independently of experience. Reason also has both a theoretical and a practical employment. Reason is theoretical when it is concerned with the way things really are, and it is practical when it considers how things ought to be. Thus the two main branches of philosophy are metaphysics , the investigation a priori of the nature of reality, and ethics , which seeks a priori for rules governing the way in which beings with free will ought to decide what to do. An important difference between the traditional practice of metaphysics and ethics illustrates Kant's fundamental orientation toward philosophy. He believed that traditional metaphysics attempts to describe objects that are completely beyond the scope of the senses. It divides objects into a sensible world and an intelligible world and claims that human reason has insight into the nature of purely intelligible objects. Ethics, on the contrary, treats the practical use of reason as if it were concerned only with sensible objects, most importantly with their relation to pleasure and pain. Kant maintained that metaphysics must be confined solely to the discovery of those rules which govern the sensible world, while ethics has nothing to do with anything sensible. Kant considered himself to be a revolutionary thinker. He believed that he brought to philosophy a new method, which he called criticism. Other philosophers had brought forth their systems without having examined beforehand the power of human reason to think objects a priori. Criticism reveals the inherent limitations of reason in its theoretical employment, and as a result it repudiates transcendent metaphysics. But it also reveals the power of reason over its own domain of objects, objects of experience. It further reveals that reason dictates to itself the moral law.

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NAME: Confucius OCCUPATION: Philosopher BIRTH DATE: 551 BCE DEATH DATE: 479 BCE PLACE OF BIRTH: Qufu, Zhou Dynasty, China PLACE OF DEATH: Qufu, Zhou Dynasty, China

Best Known For Confucius was an influential Chinese philosopher, teacher and political figure known for his popular aphorisms and for his models of social interaction.

Background Kong Qui, better known as Confucius, was born in 551 B.C. in the Lu state of China. His teachings, preserved in the Analects, focused on creating ethical models of family and public interaction, and setting educational standards. He died in 479 B.C. Confucianism later became the official imperial philosophy of China, and was extremely influential during the Han, Tang and Song dynasties. Philosophy 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 peoples 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 peoples morality is in charge; therefore, rule by the people. Confucius defended the idea of an Emperor, but also advocated limitations to the emperors power. The emperor must be honest and his subjects must respect him, but he must also deserve that respect. If he makes a mistake, his subjects must offer suggestions to correct him, and he must consider them. Any ruler who acted contrary to these principles was a tyrant, and thus a thief more than a ruler. Confucius also devised his own, independent version of the Golden Rule, which had existed for at least a century in Greece before him. His phrasing was almost identical, but then furthered the idea: What one does not wish for oneself, one ought not to do to anyone else; what one recognizes as desirable for oneself, one ought to be willing to grant to others. The first statement is in the negative, and constitutes a passive desire not to harm others. The second statement is much more important, constituting an active desire to help others. The only other philosopher of antiquity to advocate the Golden Rule in the positive form is Jesus of Nazareth.

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NAME: St. Thomas Aquinas OCCUPATION: Philosopher, Priest, Saint, Theologian BIRTH DATE: c. 1225 DEATH DATE: March 07, 1274 EDUCATION: University of Naples PLACE OF BIRTH: Roccasecca, Italy PLACE OF DEATH: Fossanova, Italy Nickname: "The Universal Teacher" & "The Christian Apostle"

Best Known For Italian Dominican theologian St. Thomas Aquinas was one of the most influential medieval thinkers of Scholasticism and the father of the Thomistic school of theology.

Background Philosopher and theologian St. Thomas Aquinas was born circa 1225 in Roccasecca, Italy. Combining the theological principles of faith with the philosophical principles of reason, he ranked among the most influential thinkers of medieval Scholasticism. An authority of the Roman Catholic Church and a prolific writer, Aquinas died on March 7, 1274, at the Cistercian monastery of Fossanova, near Terracina, Latium, Papal States, Italy. Philosophy Thomas will forever be remembered as the guy who supposedly proved the existence of God by arguing that the Universe had to have been created by something, since everything in existence has a beginning and an end. This is now referred to as the First Cause argument, and all philosophers after Thomas have wrestled with proving or disproving the theory. He actually based it on the notion of , of #1. The Greek means one who moves while not moving or the unmoved mover. Thomas founded everything he postulated firmly in Christianity, and for this reason, he is not universally popular, today. Even Christians consider that, since he derived all his ethical teachings from the Bible, Thomas is not independently authoritative of any of those teachings. But his job, in teaching the common people around him, was to get them to understand ethics without all the abstract philosophy. He expounded on #2s principles of what we now call cardinal virtues: justice, courage, prudence and temperance. He was able to reach the masses with this simple, four-part instruction. He made five famous arguments for the existence of God, which are still discussed hotly on both sides: theist and atheist. Of those five, which he intended to define the nature of God, one is called the unity of God, which is to say that God is not divisible. He has essence and existence, and these two qualities cannot be separated. Thus, if we are able to express something as possessing two or more qualities, and cannot separate the qualities, then the statement itself proves that there is a God, and Thomass example is the statement, God exists, in which statement subject and predicate are identical.

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NAME: John Locke OCCUPATION: Philosopher BIRTH DATE: August 29, 1632 DEATH DATE: October 28, 1704 EDUCATION: Westminster School, University of Oxford PLACE OF BIRTH: Wrington, United Kingdom PLACE OF DEATH: Essex, United Kingdom AKA: John Locke

Best Known For English philosopher John Locke's works lie at the foundation of modern philosophical empiricism and political liberalism.

Background John Locke, born on August 29, 1632, in Wrington, Somerset, England, went to Westminster school and then Christ Church, University of Oxford. At Oxford he studied medicine, which would play a central role in his life. He became a highly influential philosopher, writing about such topics as political philosophy, epistemology, and education. Locke's writings helped found modern Western philosophy. Philosophy In the Essay Concerning Human Understanding Locke examines the nature of the human mind and the process by which it knows the world. Repudiating the traditional doctrine of innate ideas, Locke believed that the mind is born blank, a tabula rasa upon which the world describes itself through the experience of the five senses. Knowledge arising from sensation is perfected by reflection, thus enabling humans to arrive at such ideas as space, time, and infinity. Locke distinguished the primary qualities of things (e.g., solidity, extension, number) from their secondary qualities (e.g., color, sound). These latter qualities he held to be produced by the impact of the world on the sense organs. Behind this curtain of sensation the world itself is colorless and silent. Science is possible, Locke maintained, because the primary world affects the sense organs mechanically, thus producing ideas that faithfully represent reality. The clear, common-sense style of the Essay concealed many unexplored assumptions that the later empiricists George Berkeley and David Hume would contest, but the problems that Locke set forth have occupied philosophy in one way or another ever since.

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NAME: Karl Marx OCCUPATION: Historian, Economist, Journalist BIRTH DATE: May 05, 1818 DEATH DATE: March 14, 1883 EDUCATION: University of Bonn, University of Berlin PLACE OF BIRTH: Trier, Germany PLACE OF DEATH: London, England Full Name: Karl Heinrich Marx

Best Known For German philosopher and revolutionary socialist Karl Marx published The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital, anticapitalist works that form the basis of Marxism.

Background Born in Prussia on May 5, 1818, Karl Marx began exploring sociopolitical theories at university among the Young Hegelians. He became a journalist, and his socialist writings would get him expelled from Germany and France. In 1848, he published The Communist Manifesto with Friedrich Engels and was exiled to London, where he wrote the first volume of Das Kapital and lived the remainder of his life. Philosophy Karl Marx's philosophical views influenced much of recent thought. Three of his most important ideas are his theory of economic value, historical determinism, and his notion of alienation. His idea of alienation is the state of workers when they are disconnected from the product of their labor. Workers are not alienated from their labor when they engage it freely and autonomously. Communism is supposed to prevent the alienation of workers from work. Marx thought that under the capitalist system, everyone, even the capitalists, is subject to alien forces beyond their control. He thought that everyone loses under capitalism.

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NAME: Jean-Jacques Rousseau OCCUPATION: Philosopher, Songwriter BIRTH DATE: June 28, 1712 DEATH DATE: July 02, 1778 PLACE OF BIRTH: Geneva, Switzerland PLACE OF DEATH: Ermenonville, France

Best Known For Jean-Jacques Rousseau is best known as an influential 18th-century philosopher who wrote the acclaimed work A Discourse on the Arts and Sciences.

Background Jean-Jacques Rousseau, known as one of the most influential thinkers during the 18th-century European Enlightenment period, was born on June 28, 1712, in Geneva, Switzerland. His first philosophical work, A Discourse on the Arts and Sciences, discussed how science and arts had caused the corruption of virtue and morality. Rousseau was also a composer and music theorist. Philosophy It is difficult to overestimate Rousseaus influence, both in the Western philosophical tradition, and historically. Perhaps his greatest directly philosophical influence is on the ethical thought of Immanuel Kant. This may seem puzzling at first glance. For Kant, the moral law is based on rationality, whereas in Rousseau, there is a constant theme of nature and even the emotional faculty of pity described in the Second Discourse. This theme in Rousseaus thought is not to be ignored, and it would be a mistake to understand Rousseaus ethics merely as a precursor to Kant; certainly Rousseau is unique and significant in his own respect. But despite these differences, the influence on Kant is undeniable. The Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar is one text in particular that illustrates this influence. The Vicar claims that the correct view of the universe is to see oneself not at the center of things, but rather on the circumference, with all people realizing that we have a common center. This same notion is expressed in the Rousseaus political theory, particularly in the concept of the general will. In Kants ethics, one of the major themes is the claim that moral actions are those that can be universalized. Morality is something separate from individual happiness: a view that Rousseau undoubtedly expresses as well. A second major influence is Rousseaus political thought. Not only is he one of the most important figures in the history of political philosophy, later influencing Karl Marx among others, but his works were also championed by the leaders of the French Revolution. And finally, his philosophy was largely instrumental in the late eighteenth century Romantic Naturalism movement in Europe thanks in large part to Julie or the New Heloise and the Reveries of the Solitary Walker. Contemporary Rousseau scholarship continues to discuss many of the same issues that were debated in the eighteenth century. The tension in his political thought between individual liberty and totalitarianism continues to be an issue of controversy among scholars. Another aspect of Rousseaus philosophy that has proven to be influential is his view of the family, particularly as it pertains to the roles of men and women.

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NAME: Ren Descartes OCCUPATION: Philosopher, Mathematician, Scientist, Academic Author BIRTH DATE: March 31, 1596 DEATH DATE: February 11, 1650 EDUCATION: Jesuit College of Henri IV, University of Poitiers PLACE OF BIRTH: La Haye, Touraine, France PLACE OF DEATH: Stockholm, Sweden

Best Known For Philosopher and mathematician Ren Descartes is regarded as the father of modern philosophy for defining a starting point for existence, I think; therefore I am.

Background Ren Descartes was born was born on March 31, 1596, in La Haye, France. He was extensively educated, first at a Jesuit college at age 8, then earning a law degree at 22, but an influential teacher set him on a course to apply mathematics and logic to understanding the natural world. This approach incorporated the contemplation of the nature of existence and of knowledge itself, hence his most famous observation, I think; therefore I am. Philosophy Descartes lived from 1596 to 1650, and today he is referred to as the Father of Modern Philosophy. He created analytical geometry, based on his now immortal Cartesian coordinate system, immortal in the sense that we are all taught it in school, and that it is still perfectly up-todate in almost all branches of mathematics. Analytical geometry is the study of geometry using algebra and the Cartesian coordinate system. He discovered the laws of refraction and reflection. He also invented the superscript notation still used today to indicate the powers of exponents. 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. Descartess most famous statement, now practically the motto of existentialism: Je pense donc je suis; Cogito, ergo sum; I think, therefore I am. This is not meant to prove the existence of ones body. Quite the opposite, it is meant to prove the existence of ones mind. He rejected perception as unreliable, and considered deduction the only reliable method for examining, proving and disproving anything. He also adhered to the Ontological Argument for the Existence of a Christian God, stating that, because God is benevolent, Descartes can have some faith in the account of reality his senses provide him, for God has provided him with a working mind and sensory system and does not desire to deceive him. From this supposition, however, Descartes finally establishes the possibility of acquiring knowledge about the world based on deduction and perception. In terms of the study of knowledge therefore, he can be said to have contributed such ideas as a rigorous conception of foundationalism (basic beliefs) and the possibility that reason is the only reliable method of attaining knowledge.

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NAME: Plato OCCUPATION: Philosopher, Writer BIRTH DATE: c. 424 BCE DEATH DATE: c. 347 BCE PLACE OF BIRTH: Athens, Greece PLACE OF DEATH: Athens, Greece AKA: Aristocles AKA: Platon

Best Known For Ancient Greek philosopher Plato founded the Academy and is the author of philosophical works of unparalleled influence in Western thought.

Background Ancient Greek philosopher Plato was the student of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle. His writings explored justice, beauty and equality, and also contained discussions in aesthetics, political philosophy, theology, cosmology, epistemology and the philosophy of language. Plato was the founder of the Academy in Athens, one of the first institutions of higher learning in the Western world. Philosophy One of Platos most famous quotations concerns politics, Until philosophers rule as kings or those who are now called kings and leading men genuinely and adequately philosophize, that is, until political power and philosophy entirely coincide, while the many natures who at present pursue either one exclusively are forcibly prevented from doing so, cities will have no rest from evilsnor, I think, will the human race. What he means is that any person(s) in control of a nation or city or city-state must be wise, and that if they are not, then they are ineffectual rulers. It is only through philosophy that the world can be free of evils. Platos preferred government was one of benevolent aristrocrats, those born of nobility, who are well educated and good, who help the common people to live better lives. He argued against democracy proper, rule by the people themselves, since in his view, a democracy had murdered his teacher, Socrates. Platos most enduring theory, if not his political theories, is that of The Forms. Plato wrote about these forms throughout many of his works, and asserted, by means of them, that immaterial abstractions possess the highest, most fundamental kind of reality. All things of the material world can change, and our perception of them also, which means that the reality of the material world is weaker, less defined than that of the immaterial abstractions. Plato argued that something must have created the Universe. Whatever it is, the Universe is its offspring, and we, living on Earth, our bodies and everything that we see and hear and touch around us, are less real than the creator of the Universe, and the Universe itself. This is a foundation on which #4 based his understanding of existentialism.

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NAME: Aristotle OCCUPATION: Philosopher BIRTH DATE: c. 384 BCE DEATH DATE: c. 322 BCE EDUCATION: Plato's Academy, Lyceum PLACE OF BIRTH: Stagira, Chalcidice, Greece PLACE OF DEATH: Chalcis, Euboea, Greece Full Name: Aristotle

Best Known For Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, together with Socrates and Plato, laid much of the groundwork for western philosophy.

Background Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle was born circa 384 B.C. in Stagira, Greece. When he turned 17, he enrolled in Platos Academy. In 338, he began tutoring Alexander the Great. In 335, Aristotle founded his own school, the Lyceum, in Athens, where he spent most of the rest of his life studying, teaching and writing. Aristotle died in 322 B.C., after he left Athens and fled to Chalcis. Philosophy Aristotle is the first to have written systems by which to understand and criticize everything from pure logic to ethics, politics, literature, even science. He theorized that there are four causes, or qualities, of any thing in existence: the material cause, which is what the subject is made of; the formal cause, or the arrangement of the subjects material; the effective cause, the creator of the thing; and the final cause, which is the purpose for which a subject exists. That all may sound perfectly obvious and not worth arguing over, but since it would take far too long for the purpose of a top ten list to expound on classical causality, suffice to say that all philosophers since Aristotle have had something to say on the matter, and absolutely everything that has been said, and perhaps can be said, is, or must be, based on Aristotles system of it: it is impossible to discuss causality without using or trying to debunk Aristotles ideas. Aristotle is also the first person in Western history to argue that there is a hierarchy to all life in the Universe; that because Nature never did anything unnecessary as he observed, then in the same way, this animal is in charge of that animal and likewise with plants and animals together. His socalled ladder of life has eleven rungs, at the top of which are humans. The Medieval Christian theorists ran with this idea, extrapolating it to the hierarchy of God with Man, including angels. Thus, the angelic hierarchy of Catholicism, usually thought as a purely Catholic notion, stems from Aristotle, who lived and died before Jesus was born. Aristotle was, in fact, at the very heart of the classical education system used through the medieval western world. Aristotle had something to say on just about every subject, whether abstract or concrete, and modern philosophy almost always bases every single principle, idea, notion or discovery on a teaching of Aristotle. His principles of ethics were founded on the concept of doing good, rather than merely being good. A person may be kind, merciful, charitable, etc., but until he proves this by helping others, his goodness means precisely nothing to the world, in which case it means nothing to himself. We could go on about Aristotle, of course, but this list has gone on long enough. Honorable mentions are very many, so list them as you like.