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A philosopher (Greek φιλόσοφος philósophos "friend of wisdom") or, in general , a thinker is a person who strives to find answers to fundamental (meaningful) questions about the world, about people and their relationship to their environment. It is also used to describe someone with practical wisdom, as well as representatives of scientific (or academic) philosophy .

Who or what a philosopher is

Rembrandt van Rijn , "The Philosopher" (1633) - a visualization of the cliché of the unworldly philosopher in the ivory tower - according to a different interpretation: the modern philosopher who instead of the path up, which only leads into the dark, himself from the light of the world illuminates that penetrates to him from outside as empirical knowledge.

The question of who is a philosopher can be answered from different points of view. Whether a philosophy scientist is also to be regarded as a philosopher is at least controversial. Even Arthur Schopenhauer criticized the university philosophy by saying: Few philosophers are professors have been the philosophy, and even fewer professors of philosophy philosopher ... In fact is the Selbstdenker this appointment as university professor in the way other than any. According to this view, as with politicians and political scientists , a distinction must be made between philosophers and philosophers. While some practice politics or philosophy, others examine and systematize the work of “practitioners” on the basis of a corresponding degree. For many metaphysically or idealistically oriented philosophers, the term “philosopher” applies exclusively to thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle and Kant and those philosophers who follow them on their way. If Whitehead is to be followed, this is the majority of philosophers.

The subject area of ​​philosophy is not uniformly determined encyclopedically and has been subject to changes in the history of philosophy . Accordingly, the term “philosopher” is applied variably to thinkers. Using a suggestion by Raoul Richter - in which philosophy is supposed to have started where respect left off - from one of his lectures at the Volkshochschule, it can be said that the philosopher is an unknown. However, this unknown can be calculated out with the help of the two acquaintances, namely all philosophers and the term philosopher . He recommended trying this bill to see what came out.

The ancient Greek history of the term indicates the meaning “philosopher” also with terms such as sophos or sophist or skeptic . All three names applied to people who, since Homer, no longer accepted the world with the fate of their ancestors and wanted to please the gods with the help of religious cults.

Instead, they cared about acquiring knowledge and skills that would improve their lives. They were considered to be the thoughtful people who turned their attention to everything and, when asked, often proved to be knowledgeable about the matter. They developed into masters of handicrafts, music, speeches, arts and sports and also trained others to become masters.

They also provided advice on how to live, which they could e.g. B. found at Homer, heard of the oracle in Delphi or had tried it out for yourself: The wisdom of life in circulation, the sayings ( gnomes ) of the "seven wise men" - such as B. Know yourself - are examples of this.

Since there was no dominant religious dogma, philosophers were allowed to express their wisdom and teachings unhindered as long as they honored the gods in speeches and cultic rituals. Different philosophies were in Olympic competition with each other and no one was forced to agree to the other.

This changed when Plato spread his theory of ideas, which he considered to be the key to a true philosophy and which should put an end to his wish according to the plurality of philosophical opinions in order to counter the uncertainty with security. The sophistic ideas did not match his idea. He therefore referred to sophists as word-twisters who did not conduct discussions for the sake of the matter, but only to demonstrate their rhetorical and dialectical knowledge.

In Plato's dialogues, those concerned with the truth emerged as friends of wisdom . They were honored with the title “philosopher”, that is, assigned to those who wanted to be taught and wise. Thus a tendency towards elitist striving and elitist importance was associated with the pursuit of truth, which also dominated the Pythagoreans . Even Aristotle , Plato followed, called the Sophists, who rejected this effort, philosophers of the bill, which would only be rich and famous, to the truth but were not interested.

As a result of these assertions launched by Plato and Aristotle, the sophists were frowned upon because of their thinking and their actions up into the 20th century because of their thinking and their morals.

It is philologists of the 17th / 18th centuries. Century to thank that this defamation was exposed, so that George Henry Lewes , John Grote and Hegel could allow the known and unknown discredited sophists to correct the facts.

“Before Pericles,” Hegel stated, “the need for education through thought arose; men should be educated in their ideas, that is what the sophists aimed at. You had the office of education. "

Theodor Gomperz tried to save the honor of the sophists by comparing them with two professions at the end of the 19th century: “As scholars, most of them were polymaths, as speakers and writers they had the quick-wittedness and constant readiness to fight of our journalists and writers. Half professor and half journalist - this formula is perhaps the closest we can get to the sophist of the fifth century. "

The skeptics have not received comparable recognition and reparation. Her original philosophical, sensualistic approach is ignored to this day, which kept her from referring to anything other than what was sensually perceptible. From this approach they concluded that ultimate answers are not possible. Arkesilaos and Karneades , Plato's successors in the academy, also established that people have no criteria for the truth and established a tradition of Platonic skepticism.

In the 17th century, the skeptics were also assumed to be doubters and therefore destroyers of the truth. From then on, skepticism was firmly linked with doubt in the public discourse and was largely adopted and passed on in this way. The assertion that skepticism is identical with doubt was never withdrawn, contrary to the philological possibilities, but was even taken to extremes with the made-up word skepticist - which occasionally mutated into a swear word.

The phrase “I am skeptical whether ...” is still used today in the ursceptic sense of “restraint”. You have a good chance of avoiding errors if you decide to only accept what you can clearly imagine, wrote Richard Wahle at the beginning of the 20th century .

Ancient philosophers

Greek philosophers

Statue of Aristotle in the Aristotle Park in Stagira

Pythagoras (570-510 BC) is said to have been the first to call himself a philosopher. Before that it was customary to call wise men σοφοί, σοφισταί (Xenoph., Memor. I, 11th Plat., Gorg. 508 A). The term σοφος (sophos) can be rendered with the knowledgeable or the experienced. Those who were knowledgeable and experienced were those who were familiar with questions of life and the traditions of religious festivals, poetry ( Homer and myths ) and who had a wide range of skills that were useful for the democratic management of the polis , the state. Hippias of Elis , in the 5th century BC BC, was a well-known representative. He often excelled as the best in the fields of crafts, math, literature, and rhetoric . His hometown Elis erected a monument in his honor during his lifetime. Sophists like Protagoras and Gorgias were philosophers of this kind. They were valued by the citizens of the Greek cities for their knowledge and skills. They considered people to be autonomous and responsible. They were specialists in language and public speaking. They were therefore called rhetoricians.

Plato (428 / 7–348 / 7 BC) assigned the philosopher an additional focus. He wanted to find the unchangeable and eternal values . In his symposium he therefore named the one philosopher who loves and desires the truth , the beautiful and the good . For Xenophon (430 / 25–355 BC) philosophers were men who distinguished themselves by thinking about what they had experienced. Isocrates (436–338) called his rhetoric philosophizing.

Mostly sensualistic or skeptical philosophizing spread among the following generations of philosophers. In contrast to Plato, the decision was made to start from variability and to philosophize about action. Plato's conceptions of eternal ideas could not be realized in the Platonic Academy either. There was a tendency towards more and more skeptical views.

The Cynic Antisthenes (approx. 440 – approx. 370) was a skeptical philosopher who preferred action to talk. Cynics (or cynics ), such as Diogenes von Sinope († 323), gave examples of a needless life and turned against the evils of culture. They saw it as their philosophy. Aristippus of Cyrene (435–355) also dealt with the art of action (the art of living). He found that action and ethics depend on the sensory experience and well-being of people. The positive function of pleasure for acting and thinking depends on self-control ( hedonism ). The older Stoics (4th - 2nd centuries BC) also philosophized in the interests of fitness for life. To do this, they made considerations with reference to what is sensually perceptible. The reflections should be associated with pleasant sensations .

Epicurus (342–270 BC) and his community philosophized about extensive concepts on topics such as perception, ethical and scientific questions. Like the Stoics, they assumed nothing but sensual perceptions and the use of pleasant sensations in order to be able to lead a life worth living. Humans are autonomous, mortal and able to shape their lives according to their own standards. You can achieve this by following your own well-being and overcoming your fears. So you can calmly react to the changes and vicissitudes of life.

For the skeptic Pyrrhon von Elis (d. 275) the question arose as to how people can learn to be serene in order to be able to confidently and independently shape their lives on their changeable path. He is said to have recommended not to commit to certain things. Almost two hundred years later, his ideas were taken up again by the Platonic skeptic Ainesidemos and again 200 years later presented by Sextus Empiricus in his skeptical publications as the essence of his own philosophizing.

Roman philosophers

Ancient Greek philosophizing only gradually found supporters among the Romans. First and foremost, that which complied with the prevailing sense of the state, as well as the Roman ideals of virtue and best suited to the Roman popular and state religion. That was the philosophy of the so-called Middle Stoa . One of the first is said to have been Panaitios of Rhodes (around 180-110). He won over the younger Scipio and Laelius to philosophy. This was followed by Poseidonios (d. 51 v. Chr.) And Seneca (d. 65 n. Chr.) As summarized Panaitios all subsequent stoic , the philosophy of virtually pure, namely gave as thoroughly lives.

They philosophized on the basis of their sensory perception. From their point of view, reliable ideas for acting and thinking resulted from repeated perception of things and facts in comparison with their own and others' observations. The result was called evidence . From this evidence the Stoics drew z. B. the conclusion that every person behaves according to his nature from birth. Thinking or reason can support this natural drive or disturb it. The correct use of reason therefore decides whether a person can lead a good, that is, a life worth living.

After the Christian religion became the state religion, Christian philosophies also spread throughout the Roman world. For the defenders of Christianity, the apologists , true philosophers are Christian. They philosophized for the Christian faith against Gnostic teachings, such as B. Irenaeus of Lyons . Like Clement of Alexandria, they discussed Greek philosophy in order to convert educated Hellenes . They replaced the Greek and Neoplatonic cosmology with a comprehensive Christian one, like Origen with his idea of ​​the eternal Logos, which unfolds in the visible world, or Augustine with his theory of the God-state .

Platonic philosophy also revived. It was successfully represented by Plotinus in the 3rd century . Plotinus carried on the concept of ideas and truth proposed by Plato. For him there was one thing, a non-sensual principle that was the cause and center of everything that was there. Man must connect with this one through his lifestyle in order to be able to act perfectly human. Among the Neoplatonists , philosophers have the character of theosophists .

Medieval, modern and modern philosophers

The questions of being ( ontology ) have been part of scientific philosophy with a metaphysical character from the Middle Ages to the present day . The question is how man recognizes the world ( gnoseology or epistemology ), or how man acts morally well ( ethics and pragmatics ). It is also about methods of thinking and how to reason logically correctly. Until well into the 20th century, it was believed that philosophers should lay the foundations for all other sciences. Philosophers wanted to combine all scientific knowledge harmoniously into an overall picture of the world. From a theoretical and practical point of view in Germany, Kant should be mentioned above all . Max Scheler and other representatives of philosophical anthropology are exemplary for the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries . The Philosophical Anthropology project no longer exists today. It was replaced by philosophies dealing with language during the 20th century .

Philosophizing in the Middle Ages

The beginning of the Middle Ages is dated by historians with the end of the Western Roman Empire around 600 AD and lasted about 1000 years. Historians of philosophy (e.g. Kurt Flasch and Frederick Copleston ) advocate not simply ignoring medieval philosophy as theology.

It was believed that medieval philosophy depended on Christian theology in such a way and to such an extent that any philosophical reflection of its own was excluded. "

Kurt Flasch remarks: The Middle Ages were certainly not a time of “blooming freedom of thought”. But it was not thought monotonously: “Diversity of ideas and changes in theories” were not alien to either philosophers or church authorities.

Philosophizing as interpreting texts

Philosophies emerged by looking for answers based on texts and situations in life. Philosophers - who were usually theologians - read texts by ecclesiastically recognized authorities such as B. Boethius, Augustine, Isidore of Seville. Their texts were interpreted, discussed and served to clarify questions of faith and life. In the context of Christian expectations of the afterlife and widespread Neoplatonic ideas, clerics and lay people tended to believe in reality that supported these expectations.

Theories about thought, spirit, nature, world ... were predominant themes in philosophy. These have been edited using familiar Latin language terms. It also expressed individual views. Insofar as the contents of faith and theological statements were concerned, these were non-sensual, i.e. of a metaphysical nature.

Medieval philosophy was above all metaphysics . "

In the first centuries up to the Scholastic period , the texts of Augustine and then those of Thomas Aquinas provided orientation for considerations that were philosophically desired within the framework of Christian teaching. Philosophers were tied to the Christian religion.

Medieval philosophers, like the philosophers of antiquity, were interested in living conditions and questions that arose from people's everyday lives. Theories were put forward about the origin of the plague ; wondered if it was reasonable for Christians to worship images ; asked if it was always a sin to trade; whether the person has to work u. v. a. m. These questions arose in concrete situations and also had consequences in everyday life, for example in the dispute about the interpretation of contradictions in Augustine's doctrine of predestination in the 9th century, in which a young idiosyncratic monk named Gottschalk von Orbais was involved. In the dispute over his interpretation he lost to the other interpretation of Johannes Eriugena and the decision of the church authority, which made their interpretation the valid one. Gottschalk was banished to a monastery for life.

The original doctrine of God by Johannes Eriugena

Within the framework of the authorized texts, it was also possible to link to the reality of pre-Christian philosophies. Always theologians, philosophers developed ideas about the world and people during the first centuries of the Middle Ages that often went well beyond the biblical. One of these philosophers is Johannes Eriugena , who is considered the most important between Augustine in the 5th century and Anselm of Canterbury in the 12th century.

He developed a Christian concept of reality that distinguished between sensually accessible knowledge and religious knowledge. For him, believing knowledge included not only Christian content but also what people suspect when they explain causes or changes to themselves. A view that can be found again in David Hume 900 years later. Correct statements about God, i.e. about non-sensual things, so Eriugena with reference to Plato, are not possible for people and should therefore only be formulated in a "negative" way.

Eriugena's “negative theology” - after it was one of the forbidden texts from the 11th century onwards - is honored today from a church perspective:

The many metaphors he (Eriugena) used to imply this ineffable reality (God) show how much he is aware of the utter inappropriateness of the terms we use to speak about these things. "

Philosophical interpretations and Christian dogmatics

The Greek-Augustinian philosophizing in the style of Eriugena was replaced by another philosophizing in the course of time after him. Representing are here Anselm of Canterbury and Peter Abelard to name. They reflected the relationship between the function of logical thinking and the meaning of words.

It became more and more important to think and talk about faith, truth, people, the world and nature in a certain and determinable way. The practice of interpreting texts continuously produced philosophical variations that had to pass the test in the context of prevailing doctrines and dogmas. Again and again there were heresy accusations and heresy trials against individuals.

Scholastic philosophizing

The scholastic philosophy arose , which was devoted to inventing a systematic-philosophical building of Christian theology . The most famous representative is Thomas Aquinas . Scholastic philosophers developed a philosophizing that was based on terms and their definitions. This understanding of philosophy was effective in the rationalism of the Enlightenment and beyond. In the scholastic disputes, every theory was arguably defended. In disputes, you put forward the best arguments in each case - this should also include fistfights - for your own theory and did everything to make your opponent appear to be a loser.

In a lexicon of the 18th / 19th In the 19th century, the practice of argumentative philosophizing, which has become common practice since the last third of the Middle Ages (12th / 13th century), is presented as follows:

Regardless of the real purpose which is to be achieved by the sciences, they (the scholastic philosophers) put their only glory in the aggregation of a multitude of useless and subtle questions, in the invention of paradoxical sentences, useless definitions and distinctions, and in skill to immediately resolve abandoned doubts for real or apparent reasons, or to embarrass the opponent with artificial word games. "

This widespread judgment could also be worth examining more closely with regard to the constellation of situations in which philosophizing took place. Changes may need to be made here. The importance of laypeople in medieval philosophy is now suspected.

Philosophical training

In addition to the monastery schools, which trained their offspring in Latin, a number of universities emerged after the upheavals of the 11th century. First you studied the seven liberal arts - arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music theory, grammar, logic and rhetoric - then you could move on to law, medicine or theology. The universities remained under regional ecclesiastical leadership until 1400, shaping the development of the sciences and scholastic philosophy. "The medieval university with the facultates artium et theologiae formed an institutional framework and an intellectual space in which the exercise of free thought was possible, and with an extraordinary intensity."

Theology was seen as the "queen of all sciences" at these universities. These had to start from the truths of the Christian religion. Theology included philosophical reflection, which was encouraged by the reception of the writings of Aristotle. Believing students could be offered theological truths to believe, non-believing students had to be convinced by rational, comprehensible truths. Didactic considerations were developed for this purpose, which recommended that teachers offer their material based on the model of mathematical thinking, i.e. by means of evidence.

This method of teaching, based on evidence and argument, was described by Alanus von Lille (died 1203) in his work “On the Art of the Catholic Faith”: “The author begins with definitions of terms, with axioms that are understood as inherently understandable, true presuppositions , and with certain postulates; and then he tries to derive, in a logical order, the truths relating to God, creation, salvation, the sacraments, and the resurrection. ”He admitted, however, that his teaching method is flawed because it does not work with rigorous evidence can. Nevertheless, this method should be followed as perfectly as possible so that the Catholic faith appears to be true. Here Christian apologetics becomes the theory of science and science didactics. This is comparable to Hegel's attempt to "reveal the philosophical content of Christian teaching".

Historical research and philosophizing

In the philosophical stories, which were written at the beginning of the 17th century and later, sources were interpreted independently of the historical context and everyday life in which they were created. In this way, an image of medieval philosophy has developed up to the present day, which for the Middle Ages encompassed a few major themes: including “ nominalism ” or “ realism ”, “ Augustinism ” or “ Aristotelianism ”.

Philosophy historians who follow criteria shaped by the modern age name two features of medieval philosophy: Philosophy contributes to the unity of belief and knowledge and thus acts as a pioneer (maid) of theology. In addition, it was assumed that - in line with religiously motivated ideas - the conviction spread that the spirit was seen as a prominent characteristic of man.

New research from the second half of the 20th century showed that philosophical thinking in the Middle Ages had far more aspects in store. Instead of a few major issues, many were discovered. Historians suggested that in future texts should always be interpreted in their historical and linguistic context instead of overlaying views of the present on the past. It is necessary to “study the conditions in which philosophical ideas and arguments arise” before evaluating them.

Philosophizing in the Renaissance

The scholastic view of the world changed during the Renaissance. Geography shows this in an exemplary manner: old biblical world maps were replaced by ones that were suitable for navigation and belief. Traditional values ​​were questioned and new answers were found for economic ( Fugger ), social (dismantling of feudalism ), scientific ( Copernicus , Kepler , Galilei ) questions.

The philosopher and historian Kurt Flasch states:

Around 1450, a thoughtful observer who could not keep the most radical analyzes at bay, could well recognize that one had to strike new paths in order to understand nature and society. "

The philosophical thinking of the Renaissance - according to Wolfgang Röd in his history of philosophy - presents itself predominantly as the testing of possibilities of thought. Also “the orientation towards authorities is ... disreputable.” Philosophers based their answers more on experience, including their own conclusions, or mainly on the intellect ( spirit ) and its abilities. The ways of thinking seem to be shaped by how strongly the individual philosopher feels bound to scholastic traditions of thought.

Philosophy of intellect

René Descartes (1596–1650), who was experienced in the Thirty Years' War and who, with his beginning from the doubtful , corresponded to the changing zeitgeist and anchored generations of philosophers of the modern age as their own in the intellect , should be mentioned as a representative for intellectual thinking - with a distance to faith Suggested philosophies. The philosophizing of the Renaissance is so intellectually stretched that on the one hand the body-soul dualism - e.g. B. Descartes - asserted, on the other hand was denied - z. B. Petrus Pomponatius (d. 1525) states that soul and body are two inseparable substances. Even before him, Biagio Pelacani da Parma (d. 1416) had explained in his "Questions about the Soul" ( Quaestiones de anima ): "You cannot prove that there is a soul in man that can be separated from matter." The idea of ​​God, which Descartes claimed for his theory , had already become questionable for its value in Descartes' theory due to Biago's statement, 'The existence of God is unprovable' - it is reminiscent of Ockham and Autrecourt . The Cartesian terms, definitions and the system have a life of their own against this historical background and appear one-sided. Contemporaries do not agree on what this one-sidedness consists of. Jacobus Revius (1586-1658), Reformed theologian at the University of Leiden criticized certain elements of Descartes' philosophy during a disputation and his colleague, theology professor Jacobus Trigland (1583-1654), accused him of blasphemy. The Leiden faculty representatives of theology and philosophy therefore urged him to adhere to the Aristotelian philosophy.

Philosophical thinking in art

According to Kurt Flasch, Leonardo da Vinci was important to characterize the situation in philosophy around 1500. Although he was pushed out of the ranks of the philosophers, his tireless thinking and research can be deduced from his diverse activities and interests. The diversity of thought and research is characteristic of philosophers of the Renaissance. Leonardo wants to demonstrate painting with its techniques as a new science after scholastic philosophy and its conceptual constructions had perished. For his aesthetic science he develops sensualistic concepts. He values ​​independent thinking and refuses to follow authorities . He just wants to be a student of his own experience; in other words, he would like to trust his own perceptions in order to come closer to reality in this way than the scholastic philosophers up to now. God is not rejected, but as an explanation for natural phenomena, God is no longer allowed to suppress what can be perceived.

Philosophizing and Causality

Philosophers dealt in a new way with experiences of natural phenomena and causal explanations, which should make recourse to scholastic thinking superfluous. Experience at this time is a far-reaching term that not only means experience through the senses, but also refers to experiences from a wide variety of sources such as magic, alchemy and the occult. Thinking here follows Gnostic ways. This led to an abundance of speculations , some of which claimed secret knowledge and were defended by philosophical means. The "love for mysteries and wisdom, for alchemy , magic , Kabbalistic , for theosophy and for occultism " is typical for many Renaissance philosophers. Neo-Platonic conceptions of the invisible workings of the world soul played a central role. I.e. the importance of the whole, of the all-one for man and nature are included.

Philosophizing without traditional doctrines

The philosopher Agrippa von Nettesheim (1486–1535) is an example of the innovative efforts to create a new worldview. With his work "On the questionability and nullity of the sciences", he had stimulated intensive discussions about the possibilities of a science without traditional doctrines. Nettesheim decided against tradition in favor of magic. This magic is the belief that God is hidden in the workings of nature and the belief that this belief can be explored and thus unraveled through experience of nature.

As a young philosopher, under the title "On the hidden philosophy" ("De occulta philosophia"), he summarized the natural philosophical conceptions known in his time in a compendium that was circulated in manuscripts. In it he described the work of spirits in matter and the natural forces. Likewise the effect of poisons, stones, looks, gestures and the possible predictions from various natural phenomena. Furthermore, the magical influences of the sun, moon and zodiac signs, as well as the world soul connecting heaven and earth. From his point of view, Nettesheim offered appropriate intellectual explanations for these phenomena. He proceeded from the assumption of hidden, causally effective forces in the things that are "to be explored through observation and conjecture". This corresponded to his idea of ​​philosophizing that starts from experience. For his magical view and the magical practices he considered Christian theology as the basis. This work was received intensely for over 3 centuries.

Mystical and magical explanatory models

Other philosophers, such as Paracelsus (1493–1541), relate their explanations for natural phenomena almost exclusively to mystical and magical conceptions of nature that are experimentally researched. For this purpose Paracelsus developed two different philosophies, namely an "earthly and heavenly philosophy". Earthly philosophy investigate the mysteries of nature, heavenly philosophy the mystery of divine work with nature, which teaches man to see with the eyes of God that God is present and active in all things.

Earthly philosophy examines - more precisely - the "spirits of the elements" that act in nature and also in humans. Paracelsus also calls the elements (earth, water, air, sky) the “matrix”, they are makers, the beginning, strength and spirit. According to Paracelsus, all of this is taught by experience. The exploration of the elements leads back to God, who founds all of this and makes it accessible to man. The earthly and heavenly philosophy complement each other in that they establish the interaction and interconnectedness of macrocosm and microcosm. The "big and small world, the cosmos and the human being correspond to one another, and one is understood from the other."

According to Kuno Fischer , this type of magical exploration of nature should be called mystical because the “mysticism is the deeper and lasting form” of this magic: it searches for “a safe path that always leads to new discoveries”. Both magic and mysticism therefore reject any knowledge of books and schools, as is clear from Nettesheim. According to their representatives, magical and mystical sciences are safe methods because they are anchored in faith and thus make experience possible. This can also be found in theosophy . They have a long tradition and have always been accepted by the Church alongside scholastic philosophy. Jakob Böhme (1575–1624) is the most important of these mystics.

Renewal of science

Francis Bacon (1561–1626) criticized the intellectual, magical and religious theories of causality of his contemporaries as a relapse into scholastic thinking. The assertion of causal forces in things is just as useless for him as the scholastic explanations from which they came, as Bacon said. For centuries, scholastics had taught an "inner essence of things" which the philosophers of the Renaissance replaced with the term "forces".

Bacon refers above all to the “narrow empirical basis” from which philosophers “jump to conclusions about general principles in things”, and also blames university education for this: “The lectures and exercises are set up in such a way that it is not easy for anyone it occurs to me to think and consider something other than the conventional. "

Humanistic philosophizing

Philosophers are increasingly ignoring otherworldly questions. God is not denied, but instead of new theologies, human sciences are invented. B. declare the “self-effective man” to be the creator of the world, of science and of his life. Humanistic studies such as B. Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374) had already suggested, research in areas of various social sciences and declare people to be the focus and cause of all philosophizing. This central philosophizing of the Renaissance about the role and abilities of man can also be read in humanists such as Erasmus von Rotterdam (approx. 1466–1536). In his conclusions on the state of the culture of his time, he described the scholars and philosophers as 'fools' and the criticism of Luther (1483–1546), in contrast to the Catholic majority, as correct, without approving the Reformation.

Skeptical philosophizing

There was also a kind of human science that emerged as essayistic philosophy. Montaigne (1533–1592) is one of their most famous representatives. He does not develop a system of teaching, but philosophizes on the basis of the concrete case instead of dogmatic considerations, as had been the norm for centuries.

He read the skeptical writings of the Sextus Empiricus , which were published again for the first time in centuries , and shared the Pyrrhonic skepticism. In essence, there is consensus in research that Montaigne followed the skepticism of the Sextus Empiricus, Pyrrhons and the Platonic Academy. His basic mental mood seems to have been consistently skeptical. His critical views and his non-scientific writing style are rejected in philosophical-historical presentations as skeptical and furthermore as unphilosophical.

In the essays, Montaigne's thinking revolves around the question “How should I live?” Based on life situations, his answers are contributions to an art of life which, in his view, Pyrrhon also considers the central theme of philosophy.

According to Montaigne, people make scientific and everyday judgments depending on their 'lifeworld reference system', i. H. they are based on already existing judgments of culture. This acceptance of existing judgments - also known as prejudices or knowledge - arises from a complex experience. The knowledge therefore turns out to be merely a "pathological" opinion or, as Montaigne puts it: "Knowledge is a human plague." Nevertheless, Montaigne tries to grasp that which is constantly evading, changing again and again. It is a recording in résumés and patterns that are only temporarily valid. Philosophers can only reproduce the preliminary that they have grasped, put it up for discussion and accept concepts that deviate from it. This leads to a dialogue among philosophers that can help shape the life of individuals.

Critical voices

Those professionally involved in the academic discipline of philosophy are now commonly referred to as philosophers . In some cases, however, they do not want to see themselves as such. Prominent examples of this are Hannah Arendt and Michel Foucault , who only described themselves as political theorists and critics, or Jürgen Habermas , who understands his main work more sociologically than philosophically. The "unwilling philosopher" Karl Popper distanced himself several times from a "professional philosophy", the representatives of which he called a " specialist philosopher ".

There were also examples of philosophers who are not involved in academic contexts as such. Historically known examples are David Hume , Sören Kierkegaard , Arthur Schopenhauer , Friedrich Nietzsche , Gottlob Frege and Albert Camus .

See also

Portal: Philosophy  - Overview of Wikipedia content on philosophy


Historically oriented compilations

Web links

Wiktionary: Philosopher  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Philosophers  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Even today it is still emphasized that there are differences between the “original thinkers” and the “follow-up workers” who “summarized and interpreted”, Horst Poller, Die Philosophen und seine Kerngedanken, Munich 2011, page 8, ISBN 978-3 -7892-8371-0
  2. Whitehead says that "the philosophical tradition consists of a series of Platonic footnotes". See Ders .: Process and Reality . From the English by Hans Günter Holl. Frankfurt am Main 1987, p. 91.
  3. See Dietzsch, Steffen; Philosophy begins where respect ends - Raoul Richter's happy skepticism . In: Weimar Contributions 49 (2003) 2; Pp. 219-241.
  4. Cf. Raoul Richter: The essence of philosophy . In: Introduction to Philosophy . First of six lectures, Leipzig 1919, p. 8.
  5. See, inter alia, Wilhelm Pape: Short dictionary of the Greek language. 3rd ed., Braunschweig 1914. - Hans Jörg Sandkühler: Encyclopedia Philosophy. Hamburg 2010.
  6. U. a. read in Plato's early Socratic dialogues.
  7. Bruno Snell : Lives and Opinions of the Seven Wise Men . Greek and Latin sources, explained and translated, 4th improved edition Munich 1971.
  8. Cf. Jacob Burckhardt : Greek cultural history . In: Ders .: Collected Works . Darmstadt 1957, Volume 7, pp. 339-379.
  9. Cf. Aristotle: Sophistic refutations . Heidelberg 1883, p. 3.
  10. ^ According to Hirschberger: The sophists were only concerned with power, without any insight into truth and values. They were seducers. Johannes Hirschberger: Small history of philosophy. Freiburg i. B. 1966, 6th edition, p. 20.
  11. Cf. Friedrich Albert Lange : History of materialism and criticism of its significance in the present . Frankfurt am Main 1974, p. 32.
  12. Hegel: Lectures on the History of Philosophy . Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: Works in twenty volumes . Volume 18, Frankfurt am Main 1979. p. 409.
  13. ^ Theodor Gomperz: Greek thinkers. A history of ancient philosophy , 1st volume Frankfurt. M. 1999 (reprint of the 4th edition 1903), p. 343.
  14. In the discussion with the Stoic Zenon z. B. Arkesilaos sophistically stated - so Cicero reports - that one cannot distinguish true from false ideas if they are of the same nature. Cf. Long / Sedley: The Hellenistic Philosophers . Stuttgart / Weimar 2006, p. 288.
  15. Duden: The dictionary of origin. Etymology of the German Language , 3rd edition. Mannheim / Leipzig / Vienna / Zurich 2006.
  16. Richard Wahle: tragic comedy of wisdom . Vienna / Leipzig 1925, p. 63.
  17. ^ Plato Hippias II. - Karl Vorländer: History of Philosophy. Volume 1, Leipzig 1919, pp. 67-70.
  18. "Philosopher becomes the specific name for intellectuals." Hellmut Flashar: The philosophy of antiquity. Basel 2007, p. 350.
  19. See for the following presentation Karl Vorländer : History of Philosophy. Volume 1, Leipzig 5 1919, pp. 78-168. and the following pages at
  20. See a. Long / Sedley: The Hellenistic Philosophers. Stuttgart 1999/2006, p. 7; Pp. 131-146.
  21. ^ Karl Vorländer: History of Philosophy. Volume 1, Leipzig 1919, pp. 168-171.
  22. Johannes Hirschberger: Small history of philosophy. Freiburg i. Br. 1961, pp. 50-53. - Philip Schmitz: Cato Peripateticus - stoic and peripatetic ethics in dialogue. Berlin / New York 2014, section 3, SX Google book, accessed on October 8, 2016
  23. Cf. Joseph Bautz: Fundamentals of Christian Apologetics. BoD 2013, pp. 4-6.
  24. ^ Rudolf Eisler: Dictionary of Philosophical Terms. Volume 2. Berlin 1904, pp. 104-116.
  25. FCCopleston: History of Philosophy in the Middle Ages. Munich 1976, p. 9.
  26. ^ Kurt Flasch: Middle Ages. Stuttgart 1982, p. 15f.
  27. Kurt Flasch: The philosophical thinking in the Middle Ages. Stuttgart 1986, p. 16.
  28. Cf. Karl Vorländer : History of Philosophy . Volume 1, Leipzig 1919, 5th edition, pp. 207-212. and pp. 237-239.
  29. See Kurt Flasch: The philosophical thinking in the Middle Ages. Stuttgart 1986, pp. 160f.
  30. Cf. Jens Halfwassen: On the trail of one: Studies on metaphysics and its history. Tübingen 2015, p. 346. - Kurt Flasch: Philosophical thinking in the Middle Ages. Stuttgart 1986, pp. 168-176. - Sebastian Florian Weiner: Eruigena's negative ontology. Amsterdam 2007, pp. 10-17.
  31. BENEDICT XVI .: GENERALAUDIENZ, Wednesday, June 10, 2009
  32. See Klaus Jacobi: Philosophy of Language . In: Jeffrey E. Brower & Kevin Guilfoy (ed.): The Cambridge Companion to Abelard . Cambridge (University Press) 2004, pp. 126-157.
  33. cf. Kurt Flasch's contribution on: The New Conception of the World and Christianity - Eriugena. In: Ders .: Philosophical thinking in the Middle Ages. Stuttgart 1986, pp. 168-176.
  34. See Johannes Hirschberger : History of Philosophy. Vol. 1, Frechen, n.d., pp. 317-322.
  35. Brockhaus Conversations-Lexikon Vol. 5. Amsterdam 1809, pp. 126–128 .
  36. Cf. Ruedi Imbach : Laymen in the Philosophy of the Middle Ages. Notes and suggestions on a neglected topic , Amsterdam 1989.
  37. Kurt Flasch: The philosophical thinking in the Middle Ages. Stuttgart 1986, pp. 194-200
  38. ^ Ruedi Imbach: Autonomy of Philosophical Thought? On the historical condition of medieval philosophy. , In: Jan A. Aertsen, Andreas Speer (Eds.) What is philosophy in the Middle Ages? Berlin / New York 1998. pp. 125-137; here p. 130.
  39. FCCopleston: History of Philosophy in the Middle Ages . Munich 1976, p. 101.
  40. See the whole section: FCCopleston: History of Philosophy in the Middle Ages . Munich 1976, pp. 86-102.
  41. Cf. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel : Works in twenty volumes. Volume 19, Frankfurt am Main 1979, pp. 491-514.
  42. See Kurt Flasch: The philosophical thinking in the Middle Ages. Stuttgart 1986, pp. 13-20.
  43. Cf. Ruedi Imbach: Autonomy of Philosophical Thought? On the historical condition of medieval philosophy. In: Jan A. Aertsen, Andreas Speer (Ed.) What is philosophy in the Middle Ages? Berlin / New York 1998. pp. 125-137; P. 134.
  44. See the map by Andreas Walsperger
  45. Kurt Flasch: The philosophical thinking in the Middle Ages. Stuttgart 1986, p. 566.
  46. See Wolfgang Röd: The way of philosophy. Volume I. Munich 1994, pp. 395-404, ibs. Quote p. 403.
  47. See Kurt Flasch: The philosophical thinking in the Middle Ages. Stuttgart 1986, pp. 566-568. - Johannes Hirschberger: History of Philosophy. Volume II. Freiburg i. B. (Komet licensed edition) n.d., p. 25.
  48. Cf. Röd: The way of philosophy. Volume II. Munich 1996, pp. 17-19.
  49. Quoted by Kurt Flasch: The philosophical thinking in the Middle Ages . Stuttgart 1986, p. 510.
  50. See Kurt Flasch: The philosophical thinking in the Middle Ages . Stuttgart 1986, p. 511.
  51. Descartes' pen friend, Princess Liselotte of the Palatinate , already pointed out to him with regard to his idea that the pineal gland acts as a mediator between mind and body, and that this contradicts his own substance-based thinking. See Johannes Hirschberger: History of Philosophy. Volume II . Freiburg i. B. (Komet licensed edition) n.d., pp. 115f.
  52. See Sabrina Ebbersmeyer (ed.): The exchange of letters between Elisabeth von der Pfalz and René Descartes. Paderborn 2015, p. 18.
  53. See Kurt Flasch: The philosophical thinking in the Middle Ages. Stuttgart 1986, pp. 568-574.
  54. See Johannes Hirschberger: Small history of philosophy. Freiburg i. Br. 1961, pp. 102-105.
  55. Cf. Kuno Fischer : History of the modern philosophy. First volume. Munich 187, p. 91f.
  56. Cf. Paul Richard Blum: From Magic to Science. In: Brockhaus - The Library. Arts and Culture. Leipzig / Mannheim 1997.
  57. See Johannes Hirschberger: History of Philosophy. Volume II. Freiburg i. B. (Komet licensed edition) n.d., pp. 24-29; Quote p. 27.
  58. Kuno Fischer: The newer philosophy. Volume I . 1848, pp. 93-96; Quote: p. 93.
  59. Cf. Paul Richard Blum: From Magic to Science . Brockhaus - The library. Arts and Culture. Leipzig / Mannheim 1997.
  60. ^ Francis Bacon: The New Organon . Edited by Manfred Buhr. Berlin 1962, p. 101.
  61. According to Röd ( The Way of Philosophy. Volume I , S, 399.) this humanistic thinking should have no meaning for university philosophy, because it does not deal with ethical and political views.
  62. See Wolfgang Röd: The way of philosophy. Volume I. Munich 1994, pp. 395-404. - See also Hirschberger: Brief Philosophy History . Freiburg i. Br. 1961, 102-105.
  63. Cf. Stefan Groß: Montaigne and common sense. Review of Hans Peter Balmer, Montaigne and the Art of Questioning, Grundzüge der Essais, Tübingen 2008.
  64. Cf. Markus Wild: The anthropological difference: The spirit of the animals in the early modern times in Montaigne, Descartes and Hume . Berlin / New York 2006, p. 50.
  65. Cf. Ulrich Ritter: Montaignes Skepticism and Dramatized Skepticism in Shakespeare . Diss. Bochum 2004, p. 14f.
  66. "Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592), the inventor of the light essay, still today by his compatriots as an outstanding writer, valued by us at least as a witty and amiable chat, is not, however, a philosopher in the strict sense." Karl Vorländer: History of Philosophy. Volume 1, Leipzig 1919, p. 317.
  67. See Rudolf Lüthe: Skepticism, Melancholy, Irony. Facets of a Philosophical Orientation in Postmodern Culture . Berlin 2013. p. 23.
  68. Cf. Fernando Suárez Müller: Skepticism and history: the work of Michel Foucault in the light of absolute idealism . Würzburg 2004, p. 412.
  69. Cf. Tanja Zeeb: The dynamics of friendship: A philosophical investigation of the conceptions of Montaignes, La Rochefoucaulds, Chamforts and Foucaults. Göttingen 2011, pp. 48-64.
  70. Karl R. Popper. Archived from the original on February 22, 2004 ; Retrieved April 25, 2017 .