A Flummox of Philosophers!


An ongoing series of short posts about schools of philosophy and individual thinkers through the ages. Some of them I briefly studied during my psychology degree, others I have considered more recently in retirement and old age. This is NOT a rigorous or academic treatise ….. but it might make you think! And remember, philosophy needs comment ….. not merely “like”! And why not help a fellow blogger by reblogging this post as a guest blog on your own site, just press the Reblog button below and write your own introduction.

1. Philosophy through the ages

From Thales of Miletus to AC Grayling, and from The Presocratics to The New Scientists, these are the people who have asked unanswerable questions, or at the very least asked questions where the answers and assumptions could not be agreed upon. This is what separates philosophy from science, something I wrestled with academically after achieving my PhD in Chemistry in the 1970s and my degree in Psychology in the 1980s. The initial challenge was in grasping the difference between brain and mind, the first explained via biology, electrochemistry, synapses, axons, dendrites …… all “a piece of cake” to someone with a doctorate in analytical chemistry. But the second, mind, was a mystery but a “wonder” and leads to one considering the issues of perception, memory, thinking …. and ultimately the concept of agency and free will.

enlight56These are the intangibles considered by philosophers such as Plato, Descartes, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer with others such as Epicurus and Epictetus focused on leading a good life, up to modern day with AC Grayling considering questions such as “what is good?”. 

But despite the intangible nature of philosophical enquiry there is a growing crossover point with science; the discoveries in and use of genetic engineering, artificial intelligence and biotechnology lead us to ask questions about what sort of society we want to be, what sort of lives we want to lead and how we perceive ourselves as human beings.

However……. and this is the point of these posts, the questions asked by philosophy through the ages are worth considering by each of us as individuals, for example the “art of living” from Epictetus, understanding “the good life” of Epicurus, the “existence before essence” of Sartre, and most latterly for myself avoiding “the forever young brigade” of Erickson. Philosophy can be our compass or satnav for life and morality.

The next post in the series will describe the “fathers of modern western philosophy, The Pre-Socratics. And …. remember the Reblog button.

14 thoughts on “A Flummox of Philosophers!

    1. Thanks for your kind comment. My reblog button is switched on, but strangely it often doesn’t show up if you view a post in the WordPress App or Reader. Try viewing the blog in your browser instead, please let me know if that works. Thanks again 👍

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  1. As you know you already challenged me to read about this philosophical mumbo-jumbo (I will reblog your posts too, still have to find the right widget to do that on my posts…I’ll get that soon!) which I’m very thankful for. I’m feeling much appreciation for the Travels with Epicurus book and that take on life ever since reading it. If you could give one piece of advice about the 50’s in life, what would that be? Oh…and, I don’t see on your reading list the book I asked you to read, so now, I’ll suggest one that combines science and philosophy that I’d love to hear your thoughts on. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33840605-the-nature-fix. You might just find me in the woods (when it warms up)…wrting blog posts on paper.

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    1. That reading list of mine on the blog is less than half of what I have stored and ready to read on my Kindle! I have 13 books lined up from philosophy, tea, time, European politics, in non fiction, and novels by JD Davies, and David McDine in fiction.
      Advice? At 55+ take some real time out to reassess yourself, full spectrum of likes and dislikes, good at not good at, always wanted to do, always wanted to see or visit, then reinvent yourself. Personally I got into some very serious mountaineering and ice climbing in the Himalayas, created an education charity in Nepal with Dr C, bought a holiday home back where I was born and reconnected with my old school, …..

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Was challenging your over-achiever tendencies on the list in your 50’s or was that the start of it?? 😉 All kidding aside (briefly) taking time to reassess is right where I’m at, so I’m on target with your suggestions!

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        1. Sorry Shelley, just seen this …. it had gone into my spam box for some strange reason! At a personal level I challenged everything internally as my 22 year old son died from cancer when I was 50. For two years I was a zombie and had to snap out of it! Dr C and I reassessed our whole lives, but you never get over something like that.

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  2. Yes, we must have a compass as we gather “the facts.” I’m a theologian who has rejected religion so I’m in the category of no knowing what the hell I think. So I’m asking questions, too.

    I love your blog.

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  3. As Andrew eluded to, you’re on a much higher level than I. I will tell you, I really like the thought of the difference between “mind” and “brain.” That is something I’m going to really think about over the next couple of days. Thank you for the food for thought!

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    1. Not a problem Andrew, I think you DID just comment 😂 but it’ll be a while before I get to the Existentialists, maybe you could write it as a guest post?

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