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Reply Tue 19 May, 2009 03:18 pm
The Leiter Reports, a blog by and for philosophy professors, posted their opinions of the 20 most important philosophers of all time. Anyone disagree?

1. Plato (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)

2. Aristotle loses to Plato by 367-364

3. Kant loses to Plato by 411-328, loses to Aristotle by 454-295

4. Hume loses to Plato by 534-166, loses to Kant by 533-176

5. Descartes loses to Plato by 597-117, loses to Hume by 356-269

6. Socrates loses to Plato by 548-101, loses to Descartes by 327-270

7. Wittgenstein loses to Plato by 610-85, loses to Socrates by 385-193

8. Locke loses to Plato by 659-29, loses to Wittgenstein by 311-239

9. Frege loses to Plato by 611-86, loses to Locke by 279-256

10. Aquinas loses to Plato by 642-57, loses to Frege by 289-284

11. Hegel loses to Plato by 615-82, loses to Aquinas by 288-285

12. Leibniz loses to Plato by 650-36, loses to Hegel by 281-266

13. Spinoza loses to Plato by 653-49, loses to Leibniz by 281-207

14. Mill loses to Plato by 645-39, loses to Spinoza by 272-247

15. Hobbes loses to Plato by 647-47, loses to Spinoza by 269-245

16. Augustine loses to Plato by 663-46, loses to Mill by 296-247

17. Marx loses to Plato by 653-52, loses to Augustine by 305-248

18. Nietzsche loses to Plato by 691-63, loses to Marx by 327-269

19. Kierkegaard loses to Plato by 622-106, loses to Nietzsche by 330-256

20. Rousseau loses to Plato by 638-41, loses to Kierkegaard by 280-209
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Tue 19 May, 2009 03:34 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Yes I disagree. I think these professors have a bias against existentialism I'm not fond of.
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Tue 19 May, 2009 04:36 pm
@Holiday20310401,
Holiday20310401 wrote:
Yes I disagree. I think these professors have a bias against existentialism I'm not fond of.

Why would you be bothered by the exclusion of existentialists you're not fond of? :bigsmile:

And Kierkegaard and Nietzsche both made it. I'd say existentialism is possibly over-represented.

---------- Post added at 05:38 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:36 PM ----------

Funny seeing Leibniz and Spinoza so close together in the list. I wonder if it's related to the fact they're usually mentioned in the same breath...?
 
RDanneskjld
 
Reply Tue 19 May, 2009 05:07 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Im not too far out of agreement with the list to be honest, personally I feel Hume is less important than Locke and they should maybe in the opposite positions. And I also object to Hegel gaining 11th place, theres no way in my estimation that he should be that high or even in the top 20. And whether we can have Socrates as seperate from Plato is another thing that slightly err's me due to the diffucultly of where we draw the line between the two.
 
EquesLignite
 
Reply Tue 19 May, 2009 07:16 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Several omission is not fair:

First and foremost - where is Husserl, Heidegger, and Arendt? I think there is no bias against existentialism, but more bias against phenomenology.

Secondly, Schopenhauer, anyone? Nietzsche was indebted to Schopenhauer by a whole lot. And even more important, Duns Scotus? And even then more important to modern society, Adam Smith, Adam Smith. Sigmund Freud may be well qualified to be here, but he wasn't a philosopher so I wouldn't argue that one.
 
Bonaventurian
 
Reply Wed 20 May, 2009 06:40 pm
@Victor Eremita,
St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas should be higher up on the list...especially St. Augustine. Very, very important philosopher.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Wed 20 May, 2009 07:25 pm
@Bonaventurian,
Bonaventurian wrote:
St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas should be higher up on the list...especially St. Augustine. Very, very important philosopher.


I disagree. The only area of philosophy that Augustine really matters is within medieval philosophy and theology. I wouldn't even include him in the list, because medieval philosophy is largely irrelevant, and the idea of original sin is one of the most destructive ideas within Christianity.
 
Bonaventurian
 
Reply Wed 20 May, 2009 07:56 pm
@Victor Eremita,
First and foremost, I'd like to point out that "importance" has nothing whatsoever to do with rightness. Clearly, you and I are going to disagree about whether or not St. Augustine was right with respect to his philosophical/theological viewpoints. This is inevitable.

That said, St. Augustine left both philosophy and Christianity forever changed. The ideas of eternity, creatio ex nihilo (in a philosophical treatment), Divine Illumination (to an extent), free will, and so forth and so on are all issues that St. Augustine tackled mightily. His Confessions is probably one of the most famous philosophy/theology books ever to have been written, and St. Augustine is hands down the most philosopher/theologean both of the Church and of the Middle Ages.

Even, The., if you deny that St. Augustine has ceased to be anything of an authority among mainstream philosophers, you cannot deny his continued importance even today among Catholic philosophers and theologeans.

Whereas St. Thomas Aquinas is probably of less importance than St. Augustine, it's very difficult to understate his importance. Even today, he is considered something of an authority among Catholic theologeans/philosophers. Generally speaking, a Catholic philosopher should disagree with St. Thomas Aquinas only when there are very pressing reasons for him to do so.

Besides, say what you want, but even if we just consider his influence on the philosophy of the Middle Ages, his influence was positively remarkable. He singlehandedly changed Aristotle's writings as being viewed as the greatest work of heresies of all time to having Aristotle considered the authoritative philosopher of the West.

You can't just throw out Mideival Philosophy. We're talking about a period spanning roughly a thousand years.

---------- Post added at 09:08 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:56 PM ----------

In any case, here's my top 20 list...even throwing out my own personal preferences, this is, so far as I can see, the philosophers who really shaped the thinking of the Western World:

1. Parmenides
2. Plato
3. Aristotle
4. St. Augustine
5. St. Anselm
6. St. Thomas Aquinas
7. Descartes
8. Socrates
9. Spinoza
10. Hume
11. Kant
12. Marcus Aurelius (and the other Stoics)
13. Mill
14. Hobbes
15. Locke
16. Hegel
17. Kierkegaard
18. Nietzsche
19. Heidegger
20. Sartre
 
RDanneskjld
 
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 02:53 am
@Bonaventurian,
Bonaventurian wrote:

In any case, here's my top 20 list...even throwing out my own personal preferences, this is, so far as I can see, the philosophers who really shaped the thinking of the Western World:

1. Parmenides
2. Plato
3. Aristotle
4. St. Augustine
5. St. Anselm
6. St. Thomas Aquinas
7. Descartes
8. Socrates
9. Spinoza
10. Hume
11. Kant
12. Marcus Aurelius (and the other Stoics)
13. Mill
14. Hobbes
15. Locke
16. Hegel
17. Kierkegaard
18. Nietzsche
19. Heidegger
20. Sartre

How exactly can you justify giving St.Anselm fifth position. There's no chance that Locke is less important than the Religous philosopher's that you have mentioned and Mill doesnt really deserve his 13th place either over Locke on your list and also were is Wittgenstein??.

My Top 20 List Would Look as Such :
[CENTER]1. Plato
2. Aristotle
3. Kant
4. Locke
5. Hume
6. Descartes
7. Wittgenstein
8. Russell
9. Berkeley
10. Spinoza
11. Marx
12. Leibniz
13. Nietzsche
14. Rousseau
15. Aquinas
16. Hobbes
17. Kierkegaard
18. Hegel
19. James
20. Augustine
[/CENTER]
 
EquesLignite
 
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 09:00 am
@RDanneskjld,
Mine would be:

(Socrates, Parmenides and some others are not here because their writings have been lost or scarcely preserved, so they should be in a separate category)

1. Plato
2. Aristotle
3. Kant
4. Descartes
5. Locke
6. Spinoza
7. Kierkegaard
8. Thomas Aquinas
9. Wittgenstein
10. Husserl
11. William of Ockham
12. Hegel
13. Schopenhauer
14. Berkeley
15. Heidegger
16. Adam Smith
17. J.S. Mill
18. Frege
19. Duns Scotus
20. Hobbes

And there are others who are not philosophers yet had important influence on philosophy, such as Newton, Freud, Kepler, Galileo, etc.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 09:25 am
@Victor Eremita,
I think Ralph Waldo Emerson should be included in the list as well. I realize that he is not just a philosopher, but he was the key transcedentalist and had a major influence on Nietzsche and others.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 02:46 pm
@Theaetetus,
I take it this is excluding Eastern Traditions, and Strictly Religious Traditions. which I think is sad.
 
Bonaventurian
 
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 04:35 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Eastern traditions and strictly religious traditions by definition are not purely philosophical.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 04:43 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Then why are many Christian "philosophers" included?
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 05:33 pm
@Theaetetus,
not purely philosophical?, why? and by what definition?
 
Bonaventurian
 
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 05:53 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Philosophy is the science whereby we find understanding through reason alone. Theologians by definitions are not philosophers, since theology is the science whereby we base our understanding on the data of divine revelation. Granted, theologeans can be philosophers also, insofar as they derive certain truths from reason alone, but insofar as the theologeans do theology, the theology that they are doing is not philosophy.

St. Anselm, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Augustine are all rightly called philosophers.

St. Anselm does not depend on the Bible to prove the existence of God (whether or not you agree with the Ontological Argument), but rather deduces it from the meaning of the words "greater than."

St. Augustine was a Neo-Platonist (with definite Stoic influences), and St. Thomas Aquinas heavily relied on Aristotle.

St. Faustina, on the other hand, can by no means be considered a philosopher. Even though there's a lot of good stuff in St. Faustina's writings, and even though she most likely is entirely right in what she says, reason alone did not led her to writing. Jesus Christ, appearing miraculously to her, led her to writing.

Philosophy is not a what. It's not merely "truth." You can disagree with a philosopher and still call him a philosopher.

Philosophy is a "how."

Wittgenstein boy: the reason I ranked St. Anselm so highly is because of his Ontological Argument. It's one of the most famous proofs of God's existence (whether or not you agree with it) in the entire History of Philosophy. Almost (if not every) every student of philosophy is familiar with St. Anselm, if only because of that proof.

The same is not true of Wittgenstein. Even if we agree that Wittgenstein was a good philosopher (I don't), it can scarcely be denied that Wittgenstein, even if influential, certainly is not more influential than the other 20 that I listed.

I ranked Mill so highly because Utilitarianism is probably one of the biggest (even if wrong) philosophical worldviews out there today.

---------- Post added at 07:00 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:53 PM ----------

Also, I ranked the Mideivals so highly, in large part, because they showed up on the scene earlier, and therefore much of the work that they did was, in a very real sense, seminal.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Fri 22 May, 2009 01:07 am
@Bonaventurian,
Bona:
That is a definition with glaucoma if I ever saw one.
1)Philosophy only using rational thought, pffft, What philosopher can claim that they only use rational thought, that they have never had an epiphany, or stroke of inspiration, not necessarily divine but not remotely rational. Sure they can rationalize the aftermath. Where is the unabashedly rational in Nietzsche? Where is the rational in German Idealism with the countless variations of brain in a vat? Where is the rational in Existentialism? They are rational in the same way the religious is rational. They identify a problem or mystery that has no real axiomatic proof (which makes it the mystery) and they apply a method to get an explanation that suits them and the original axioms.
2) Theology has nothing to do with getting divine revelation, although it studies what claims to be such. It is the "rational" study of religion Theology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
3) Not all Eastern Traditions are religious/spiritual and from what I can see the major ones tend to be quite rational. In terms of people effected by these philosphers at least a couple should be in the top twenty.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Fri 22 May, 2009 06:53 am
@Victor Eremita,
I would say that if nothing else, Confucius should be included on the list.

The definition of a philosopher only using pure rational thought is terrible.
 
Bonaventurian
 
Reply Fri 22 May, 2009 10:07 am
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead wrote:
Bona:
That is a definition with glaucoma if I ever saw one.
1)Philosophy only using rational thought, pffft, What philosopher can claim that they only use rational thought, that they have never had an epiphany, or stroke of inspiration, not necessarily divine but not remotely rational. Sure they can rationalize the aftermath. Where is the unabashedly rational in Nietzsche? Where is the rational in German Idealism with the countless variations of brain in a vat? Where is the rational in Existentialism? They are rational in the same way the religious is rational. They identify a problem or mystery that has no real axiomatic proof (which makes it the mystery) and they apply a method to get an explanation that suits them and the original axioms.
2) Theology has nothing to do with getting divine revelation, although it studies what claims to be such. It is the "rational" study of religion Theology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
3) Not all Eastern Traditions are religious/spiritual and from what I can see the major ones tend to be quite rational. In terms of people effected by these philosphers at least a couple should be in the top twenty.


If it is not grounded in reason, it isn't philosophical.

Existentialism is rightly called philosophical because existential thinkers are reasoning about the human condition.

I'm unfamiliar with German Idealism, but if it's based on "brain in a vat," they are nonetheless -reasoning (albeit not very well)- based on certain epistemological claims.

I suppose this is my question when it comes to whether or not something is philosophy.

Does it involve the relation of truth values purely syntactically? Then it's not philosophy...it's logic.

Does the reasoning find its origin in some source other than what is common to the reason/intuitions of all men, such as in Divine Revelation? Then it's not philosophy. It's some other science. It's either biology, theology, physics, etc.

Does it find its origin in reason, but remain uncritical of its foundations? Then it's mathematics.

This is not my definition. This is the understanding of philosophy that's been around since the Greeks.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Fri 22 May, 2009 11:49 am
@Bonaventurian,
Bonaventurian wrote:
Eastern traditions and strictly religious traditions by definition are not purely philosophical.


To include Christian theologians like Augustine and categorically exclude eastern thinkers like Confucius and Nagarjuna is a remarkable double standard. Confucius' philosophy was secular: he referred spiritual questions to the Taoists. Nagarjuna, like Augustine and your other theologians, is also rightly called a philosopher because he, like the Christians, practiced philosophy in the context of a particular spiritual tradition.

To define philosophy as a science is a mistake. Gosh and others have mentioned plenty of reasons why this is so. I will leave that to them.

But I am also interested in this by definition separation of philosophy and theology. Is divine revelation any less a human experience than those experiences which inform philosophy?

As for the original list: no serious objection if we take it to be a list of western philosophers exclusively. Avicenna should probably get a spot. If we take the list to be a top 20 of world philosophers, I can only shake my head at those academics who feel such cultural superiority.
 
 

 
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