'top Ten Philosophers'-a horrible List

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Nitish
 
Reply Sat 15 Mar, 2008 06:09 am
THIS HORRIBLE LIST I FOUND ON ASKMEN.COM.THIS IS REALLY A HORRIBLE LIST.THIS LIST WAS NOT MADE BY ME.

TOP TEN PHILOSOPHERS OF ALL TIME

Number 10
Niccolo Machiavelli (1469 -- 1527)
Contrary to the other entries on the list, Machiavelli wasn't in search of the Ultimate Truth. An Italian political theorist and statesman, he was more interested in the practical side of things. In 1512, there was a coup in the Florence Republic and the Medici family returned to power.

In order to ingratiate himself with the ruler, which had him branded as a traitor, Machiavelli wrote The Prince in 1513. It was basically a how-to guidebook about how to use absolute power to achieve political strength. Fundamentally, Machiavelli, who like many Renaissance thinkers believed that man was free to choose his own destiny, advocated the fact that the end justifies the means, moral consequences be damned. He also wrote The Art of War (not to be confused with Sun Tzu's book of the same name) and The Life of Castruccio Castracani .

Famed quote: "There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others."
Number 9
Jean-Paul Sartre (1905 -- 1980)
Some philosophers exist on an elitist plane where it takes a Ph.D. to understand what they're talking about. Sartre was different in that he wrote a series of works, most notably stage plays, such as No Exit , which were targeted at the general public. His main area of study was existentialism (he was one of the founders of the philosophy), as Being and Nothingness clearly indicates.

Sartre always wondered what the difference between being and being a human being is. Very close to the ideas proposed by Karl Marx, he believed that man is "condemned to be free" and that making free choices is a great responsibility. However, the experience of World War II taught him to be more optimistic about the future of mankind.

Famed quote: "Hell is other people."
Number 8
Michel Foucault (1926 -- 1984)
Like all great philosophers, Foucault didn't pretend to know all the answers. This Frenchman was an academic who constantly questioned the nature of things. With interests in human nature, he rejected common assumptions and chose instead to study how humans and science functioned in society, using history and sociology to reach his conclusions.

He believed that the concept of madness is purely an invention of the Age of Reason. In books like Madness and Civilization and The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences , he theorized that there exist multiple reasons for anything that happens in life, in any given historical society. Moreover, one of his most famous hypotheses is that man, because of the incredible advancement made in all fields of knowledge in the past two centuries, is soon bound to be extinct.

Famed quote: "In its function, the power to punish is not essentially different from that of curing or educating."

Don't let Confucius confuse you and check out what Socrates believed...

Number 7
Confucius (551 -- 479 B.C.)
A wise and learned man, Confucius taught children at an early age before getting a job at the ministry of justice. His presence there made the Chinese city-state morally honorable but internal struggles forced him away. Although he returned to politics later on, he spent most of his life traveling across China with some disciples, teaching about the art of government.

He wrote a series of works about what is now known as Confucianism but it's in the piece called The Analects that his teachings are the most palpable. He believed that a ruler's first objective should be to ensure the welfare of his people. Being morally upright and living life according to strict guidelines favoring harmony is still the backbone of Confucianism today.

Famed quote #1: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
Famed quote #2: "Worry not that no one knows of you; seek to be worth knowing."
Number 6
Socrates (469 -- 399 B.C.)
Socrates is responsible for laying the groundwork of Western thought. One of the original Greek philosophers, his core contribution is the development of what is now known as the Socratic Method. This process consists of asking for definitions of abstract concepts and then finding contradictions in the answers.

This dialectic method allowed him to deduce that all transgression, which is always unintentional, is based on lack of knowledge. Interestingly, Socrates never wrote any of his beliefs; Plato is the source of most of his wisdom. Accused of corrupting the youth of Athens, Socrates was sentenced to death by drinking poison.

Famed quote #1: "The unexamined life is not worth living."
Famed quote #2: "The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance."
Number 5
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 -- 1778)
Rousseau was a man for whom freedom was paramount. Born in Switzerland, he worked in France and later in England. Acquainted with both Voltaire (they disagreed with each other's works and apparently hated each other) and Diderot (a friend of Rousseau's), philosopher Rousseau was one of the most important figures of the French Enlightenment with works like The Social Contract and L'Emile . In the field of education, he theorized that parents should only aid their children in their natural growth.

But it's politics that truly made Rousseau famous. He saw governments as people's desire for balance and common good, "people's general will," as he called it. His major philosophical statement is that man is born inherently good but it's society that corrupts him.

Famed quote: "Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains."
Number 4
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 -- 1900)
German philologist and philosopher, he is universally regarded as one of the most controversial figures in his field. His distinguishing mark was his rejection of Christian morality and Western bourgeoisie. His solution was the creation of an bermensch , a person who would live celebrating life and upholding its values.

This superman would live beyond any known conception of good and evil because his own morality, or "will to power," would establish him above other inferior humans. Although Nietzsche's objective wasn't political, Nazi Germany used his writings, such as The Birth of Tragedy, The Will to Power and The Antichrist , to justify their Third Reich.

Famed quote: "The higher we soar the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly."

The father of Marxism and the dude who coined "I think, therefore I am"...

Number 3
Karl Marx (1818 -- 1883)
Karl Marx was a German philosopher who lived in England for a great part of his life. Early on, he was inspired by the idealist philosophy of Hegel and his theory that the world is governed by the Absolute Spirit. However, Marx revolutionized this premise by saying that it's actually money that makes the world go around.

The forefather of economic sociology, his Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital served as the basis for political revolutions around the world, like in the Soviet Union and Cuba. Marx believed that capitalism is a society's last phase before the proletariat is bound to take over, winning the class struggle. The problem is that Marx never explained how such a utopia could be ruled under proletarian dictatorship.

Famed quote: "The philosophers have already perceived the world in various ways; the point is to change it."
Number 2
Rene Descartes (1596 -- 1650)
A French philosopher of the 17th century, he began his career as a mathematician scholar. While serving in the Bavarian army, he found his life's ambition: to redefine human wisdom without skepticism. Always rational, not only did he develop the Cartesian coordinate system in mathematics, but he also sought a new method of understanding life, mostly with books like Meditations on First Philosophy and Discourse on Method .

His new principal was to accept nothing except the fact that one's own existence is the only thing that can't be doubted. His universal doubt theory led to the belief that one's thinking is the only dependable element. In essence, he teaches us to believe in ourselves and make our own deductions.

Famed quote: "I think, therefore I am." ("Cogito, ergo sum.")
Number 1
Aristotle (384 -- 322 B.C.)
The mack daddy of Greek philosophers, Aristotle studied under Plato in Athens before becoming the private tutor of Alexander the Great. Aristotle then founded his own school, the Lyceum, where he taught and made significant advancements in all fields such as psychology, biology, poetry, politics, and physics. His works include Nicomachean Ethics, De Anima, Poetics, Metaphysics, Politics , and Rhetoric .

He is famous for having observed nature and all its phenomena, using logic to explain them. Being the foremost inspiration for Western thought, he greatly inspired medieval thinkers with his championing of reason, logic and causation. For Aristotle, virtue is located between extremes, and using the intellect should be man's main purpose in life.

Famed quote: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."
honorable mention
Plato (427 -- 347 B.C.)
There's something almost royal about Greek philosophy; Socrates was the teacher of Plato who in turn taught Aristotle. Hailing from a noble Athenian family, Plato was educated in all fields of knowledge. After teaching at the Gymnasium Academe, he established his own Academy, which remained until the 6th century A.D.

Like Socrates and Aristotle, Plato was searching for the great Truth. He believed that because the soul is immortal, it has thus already passed different spheres of consciousness. Accordingly, humans never learn anything new, they simply remember. Although an important figure in philosophy in his own right, recording the discussions of others has made him quite famous. His own works include Cratylus, Theaetetus, Menexenus , and Republic .

Famed quote: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
 
Aristoddler
 
Reply Sat 15 Mar, 2008 10:54 am
@Nitish,
Plato got an honorable mention?!

Where're Kant and Russel?
Descartes is ahead of Socrates and Nietzsche?

This is a bad list, my friend.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sat 15 Mar, 2008 04:17 pm
@Nitish,
Hume and Locke are nowhere to be found?
 
Justin
 
Reply Sat 15 Mar, 2008 04:26 pm
@Nitish,
This list does not belong in Creative Writing. Moving it to Philosophers.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Mon 17 Mar, 2008 04:18 pm
@Nitish,
Strange list.

I'm not sure Socrates belongs on a list of great philosophers. Very little of his actual philosophy is known, and it's difficult to distinguish it from Plato's philosophy.

I'd put Descartes in the top 3 or 4, though -- not because he's so relevant now, but he singlehandedly killed both scholasticism and the long, tired, endless Aristotle-worship that had been happening for more than 1500 years. While I personally find Nietzsche incredibly insightful, I think Descartes did more for philosophy than Nietzsche did. Nietzsche was part of a huge movement, whereas Descartes ended one era and began a new one.

Kant belongs in the top 5, and probably so does Spinoza.

As for Russell, do you mean Bertrand or Walter? Bertrand Russell does belong at least among the greatest of the 20th century, with incredibly meaningful contributions to the philosophy of language, mathematics, and logic.

Walter Russell, well... I don't really count him as a philosopher at all, let alone a great one -- reading his work is what I'd imagine my college chemistry class would have been like had I been taking high doses of hallucinogenic mushrooms at the time.
 
dancinginchains
 
Reply Thu 3 Apr, 2008 12:43 am
@Nitish,
What about Aquinas? Simone de Bouvoir? Kierkegaard? Husserl?

IMHO at least one of those ought to be on any true top 10 list. Though I have to say in all honesty it's probably impossible to make a good top ten philosophers list; maybe a top 25 or something.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 3 Apr, 2008 01:01 am
@Nitish,
Quote:
I'm not sure Socrates belongs on a list of great philosophers. Very little of his actual philosophy is known, and it's difficult to distinguish it from Plato's philosophy.


We do have Xenophon's dialogs. And I thought scholars could, to some degree, distinguish between Plato writing about Socrates and Plato using Socrates as a character.

Quote:
Walter Russell, well... I don't really count him as a philosopher at all, let alone a great one -- reading his work is what I'd imagine my college chemistry class would have been like had I been taking high doses of hallucinogenic mushrooms at the time.


His writing reads like psychonautic revelation.

This really is a poor list. Rousseau was a shock to see, and on top of that they included Machiavelli. Eliminating these names would make room for Locke and Hume, and already the list improves immensely.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 3 Apr, 2008 04:26 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
We do have Xenophon's dialogs. And I thought scholars could, to some degree, distinguish between Plato writing about Socrates and Plato using Socrates as a character.
Even so, I don't really count Socrates as a great philosopher. He was foundational, of course, but he wasn't like Plato or Aristotle, who came up with massive, comprehensive philosophical systems that touched almost every relevant area of philosophical thought. Those two were greats.

Hume should absolutely be on there; I'd take him over Locke or Berkely if I had to choose only one Empiricist.

I have a hard time putting any type of Scholastic philosopher, including Aquinas, on a list of greats. Aquinas was a great Christian theologian, but not a great philosopher.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Fri 4 Apr, 2008 01:42 am
@Nitish,
Quote:
Even so, I don't really count Socrates as a great philosopher. He was foundational, of course, but he wasn't like Plato or Aristotle, who came up with massive, comprehensive philosophical systems that touched almost every relevant area of philosophical thought. Those two were greats.


I guess this depends on our conception of the ideal philosopher. "To organize is to destroy", and, as you point out, Plato and Aristotle came up with massive philosophical systems.

Quote:
Hume should absolutely be on there; I'd take him over Locke or Berkely if I had to choose only one Empiricist.


Absolutely. I mentioned Locke because the list had Rosseau, and I think that Locke's political thought was more influential than Rosseaus and that Locke stands prominently as a philosopher even without his political reputation.

Quote:

I have a hard time putting any type of Scholastic philosopher, including Aquinas, on a list of greats. Aquinas was a great Christian theologian, but not a great philosopher.


Peter Abelard might be a worthy name to add, if only because he signaled the beginning of the end of scholasticism.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Fri 4 Apr, 2008 06:27 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
I guess this depends on our conception of the ideal philosopher. "To organize is to destroy", and, as you point out, Plato and Aristotle came up with massive philosophical systems.
Well, if Socrates in that sense is the ideal philosopher, then we could probably fill up a top ten list with other people with great and profound ideas who weren't professional philosophers in the manner of Plato and Aristotle. Probably a lot of artists and novelists.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Fri 4 Apr, 2008 02:24 pm
@Nitish,
But Socrates was not an artist or novelist. He was someone who sought wisdom. I think what separates Socrates from the artists and novelists you mention is methodology. Maybe he was blessed by being so early in our history that he could give us the Socratic method, but none the less, he did. He also fanned the flame, we could say, of Athenian philosophy, beginning the heritage that spawned of course Plato and Aristotle, but really, almost every scrap of western philosophy until Descartes.

But you're right, I wouldn't call him a professional philosopher. Plato and Aristotle founded schools to teach their philosophy and other related subjects.
 
as0l0
 
Reply Sun 1 Jun, 2008 12:23 am
@Didymos Thomas,
excuse my ignorance, I'm new to philosophy...

Nobody think Heidegger is all that important? I ask, because I'm currently immersed in his thinking. His thoughts seem crucially important to me.
 
midas77
 
Reply Sat 21 Jun, 2008 01:56 pm
@as0l0,
I think we should first list some criteria what makes a philosopher great.

1. INSIGHT = The philosopher must have a clear view of reality. Not some deform view like Descartes (so my bet is he must be out).

2. Comprehensiveness = allows a non-limiting view of reality.

here is just two, its debatable I know. But at least its a starting point
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sat 21 Jun, 2008 05:25 pm
@midas77,
But who is to say what insight is best, or deepest? Some have thought Descartes to be some sort of messiah.

While I'm tempted to embrace the second criteria, I also worry that this might be just a matter of perspective bias.

While the list provided seems erroneous, I doubt that any satisfying list can be produced.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Sat 21 Jun, 2008 05:53 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
First we should note the source of the list (askmen.com)? So its a given that the more controversial Philosophers are on there.... Nietzsche, Machiavelli. This would also exclude people like Kant and one of my personal favorites, Hume. Their arguments are too abstract for the practicality desired by most readers of askmen.com. Second it seems that whoever made this list was using a political filter. "Who was most obviously important on shaping the world economy and molding the base for what would later become the world's super powers?" It's not a bad list in any sense as it would be entirely too difficult to pick ten influential philosophers without using some criteria about what they influenced. Maybe some good lists could be made in the philosopher section could have specifically defined criteria.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Sun 22 Jun, 2008 06:00 am
@GoshisDead,
What struck me the most about this list was: Of the quotes whose works I've read completely, they referred to a specific condition, place, time or set of circumstances. If this be the case, perhaps they should have been stated as such by the original authors.

But any written work (to include the bulk of our pontificating here on the Forum) can have single statements extracted that'll sound sweeping and silly on their own.
 
midas77
 
Reply Sun 22 Jun, 2008 08:34 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
But who is to say what insight is best, or deepest? Some have thought Descartes to be some sort of messiah.

While I'm tempted to embrace the second criteria, I also worry that this might be just a matter of perspective bias.

While the list provided seems erroneous, I doubt that any satisfying list can be produced.


Exactly my point Thomas, All list shall be biased and therefore can never be satisfactory.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sun 22 Jun, 2008 09:26 pm
@Aedes,
Mephistopheles wrote:
The OP sounds like some moron who believes the Nazi perversion of Nietzsche is the correct one... Sorry to be harsh but I definitely will defend Nietzsche from unwarranted attacks. ^_^
Having a portrait of Hitler in your photo gallery here doesn't exactly help your argument.

Nietzsche was certainly misappropriated by people including the Nazis (but also including his own sister) who spun his work into an antisemitic agenda. Nietzsche certainly does not deserve the blame for things that happened afterwards in Germany, the currents of which were already moving swiftly during the late 19th century. No more so than Marx deserves blame for the Gulags.

But let's not give him too much credit. He was a vicious misogynist, he was brash and arrogant, and he left enough ambiguity about his moral Ubermensch and enough specificity about his untermenschen that he was easily incorporated into Naziism.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Mon 30 Jun, 2008 05:43 pm
@Aedes,
That list is terrible. To only place Plato on it as honorable mention is ludicrous. I forgot who said it, but someone once said "All Western philosophy is footnotes to Plato. Not to mention, the criteria for rating what philosophy is good or not is wide open to interpretation. Most of the time, people use philosophy towards unjustified ends. Does that make the philosopher a "bad" philosopher or the interpreter a bull****ter or ignorant fool?
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Mon 30 Jun, 2008 11:11 pm
@Aedes,
Is Demosthenes a philosopher? or am I thinking of something completely different?:rolleyes: And what about Asimov, you could sort of define him as a philosopher.
Who's work should I read that would have the most influence on a high school student, besides aristotle?
 
 

 
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