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.
These 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.