Philosophy for Beginners

Philosophy for Beginners

by Stephanie Hughes
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Philosophy is something that everyone practices without giving much thought to. Here are a few ways philosophy takes a huge part in our society and why it is very important.

Philosophy has different schools that have left an impact on the world

Outside of the schools of philosophy that inspired general beliefs that people still hold to this day, there are many other modern fields that were directly inspired by ancient philosophers. Take, for instance, the field of physics. Now, when we think of physics, we usually think of long, complicated formulas that help us design engines for vehicles or create power grids across entire cities. But none of this would be possible if it were not for Aristotle and his thoughts on matter and what materials constructed the universe. His belief was that matter was made up of the “classical elements” like earth, fire, water, and air. Of course, our knowledge of the field is more complicated now than it was before, but without that initial study, there would not be a history of inspired scientists studying physics. The same is true for psychology, general medical studies, economics, as well as different forms of theism or atheism.

There are many prominent philosophers who have changed the world

We’ve mentioned Aristotle and his work that helped forge the modern state of philosophy as well as many other fields. Here are a few other philosophers you will want to get to know who have had lasting impacts in the field:

Plato: Active in the times of Ancient Greece around 400-300 AD, this philosopher was credited for laying the foundation of modern Western philosophy. His biggest contributions involved introducing the world to metaphysics (the study of what we know to be real and what we can’t know to be real), epistemology (which explores where knowledge came from), and a governing state (which is what makes up Western democracy).

Niccolo Machiavelli: Well-known during the Italian Renaissance, Machiavelli’s biggest philosophical advice was to stay in power at all costs. This came as the opposite to what most people believed that rules should be: good and generous.

Voltaire: He was a French philosopher who often mocked high members of government and religious groups and tried to bring more attention to the suffering of others.

Thomas Hobbes: As an English philosopher during a time of civil war, it was his idea that authority should be obeyed at all times to avoid conflict.

Simone de Beauvoir: She was a French intellectual who was a strong voice for feminism and had many ideas of existentialism (the idea that people are responsible for giving their own life meaning, not in taking that idea from another person’s philosophy.

These ideas are still relevant today

If these teachings from these prominent philosophers seem familiar, it’s probably because many of them are still relevant today. You probably think of the meaning of your own life, have seen politicians cling to power at all costs, live in a governed province, and have wondered what is truly real and make-believe. With this introduction to philosophy, you should go out and see what other great minds think and determine whether or not you agree with them.

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