When considering the course of philosophy history, a feminist philosopher might wish to correct the record of women philosophers in the seventeenth century. She might focus on women like Damaris Masham (1658-1708) and Anne Conway (1631-1679), who did not enjoy equal status with men. While we may never achieve equality with men, we can still learn something new about our shared past. Here are some topics you should research:
Problems of emancipation
Africa is rich in philosophies of emancipation, but literature on this subject is often narrow and largely lacking in historical perspective. This book argues that a more comprehensive approach is needed that integrates philosophical approaches to Africa, focusing on the underlying issues of the continent’s contemporary state. It addresses the problems of reductionism and insufficiency of philosophical coverage by identifying the metaphysical, moral, and logical levels of analysis.
In Marx’s work and in the intellectual tradition of the Young Hegelians, he distinguished between political and human emancipation, which is synonymous with societal freedom. But he did not make this distinction in his book Slavery and Remembrance. This explains why Marx and others were critical of this work. While these two approaches are fundamentally different, the concept of emancipation is not.
Influence of Enlightenment
The Enlightenment is a period of intellectual history, characterized by the emergence of empiricism and epistemological rigor. The Age of Reason is characterized by a strong appreciation for reason, not as a separate source of knowledge, but as a set of cognitive faculties in humans. It contrasts strongly with previous ages of sense experience and religious faith.
The Enlightenment spanned a number of different periods of history, with different sub-themes emerging in different areas of thought. Those who were proponents of the Enlightenment often argued that enlightened thought could apply to any aspect of human life, regardless of culture, time, or place. Although they took differing approaches to the question of what constitutes truth, most of the ideas were broadly similar.
The Enlightenment also gave rise to skepticism towards religious doctrine. Many deists found scientific study to be satisfying their intellectual curiosity and a response to their belief in a transcendental God. In turn, advances in scientific knowledge freed philosophers from the burden of continually intervening with the cosmos. These changes in the history of philosophy were ultimately beneficial for the whole world.
Influence of Greek philosophy
The earliest philosophers in Western history were of Greek descent, with some exceptions. Plato attributed his philosophy to Socrates. This philosophy posited an eternal realm of Truth, from which observable reality derives only a reflection. Plato also argued that the observable world is limited in its understanding by a “true lie” (the “Lie in the Soul”) that leads us to wrongly judge the most important aspects of human life.
The ancient Greeks believed that the observable world was created by immortal gods, who took an interest in human life. They praised the gods for creating the observable world and encouraged praise and worship of these benefactors. Greek philosophy was largely institutionalized through temples, clergy, and ritual. Aristotle and Socrates were the main figures of the early era of philosophy.
Plato’s followers, Anaxagoras and Aristotle, influenced the development of philosophy. Anaxagoras, for example, sought to explain the world as arising from water, and he claimed that it evolved from this primordial substance. However, his followers criticized Anaxagoras’ view and complained that it makes minimal use of the mind. In general, they were not particularly influential, but their influence is arguably the most important in philosophy history.
Influence of Hegel
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a German philosopher who helped define the “zeitgeist” (time’s essence). He was born in Stuttgart, Germany, and was a noted thinker of his time. Born into a family practicing a Protestant faith, Hegel showed an affinity for math and Latin, excelling in both subjects and at the top of his class. Though he initially hoped to become a priest, Hegel eventually chose to study philosophy and Protestant theology in Tubingen.
Hegel’s theory of becoming was first applied to the concept of God. Using the growth cycle of plants as an analogy, he believed that history followed a predetermined logic and dialectic processes of change that consistently brought humanity forward. This theory, derived from the natural philosophy of being, was later applied to the concept of God. His theories gained him few friends within the Catholic Church, but were largely adopted by other philosophers.
Hegel classified world history into three periods: the pre-Greek ‘Oriental’ world, the Greek and Roman worlds, and Germanic cultures. In Hegel’s view, the pre-Greek world represented a tyrannical age where people knew that only the ruler was free. Likewise, Greek and Roman societies had laws and customs that restricted their freedom to certain citizens. However, Germanic societies knew that they were free because they had been influenced by Christianity.
Influence of Locke
The influence of Locke on philosophy history is vast. The English philosopher and physician was known as the “Father of Liberalism.” Locke was an empiricist and was equally influential to the development of social contract theory and epistemology. His work influenced many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as American revolutionaries. It is also important to note that Locke had a profound impact on political thought, including the development of classical republicanism and the theory of government.
The main idea of Locke’s philosophy is that we enter into a civil society to safeguard our natural rights. Rather than relying on a common authority, individuals should resort to an unbiased judge. While Locke’s thought system is laced with contradictions, it is notable that he was not content to push one idea to an extreme. Instead, he sought to explain reality as accurately as possible while still remaining close to common sense. He was also known for his healthy pragmatism.
Locke’s most influential work was the Two Treatises of Government (1689). Published anonymously, the work is divided into two parts. The First Treatise is a refutation of Sir Robert Filmer’s argument that civil society was based on divine patriarchalism. Locke challenged Filmer’s proofs from Scripture, concluding that no government can be justified by appealing to the divine right of kings. The second treatise presents his own theory of civil society.
Influence of Collingwood
The influence of Collingwood on philosophy history is undeniable. Collingwood made major contributions in the areas of metaphysics, political philosophy, and meta-philosophy. Though generally labeled as a British Idealist, Collingwood denied this label in different places. His main book, The Idea of History, is widely cited today. Below is a brief description of Collingwood’s work.
The first major impact of Collingwood’s work was the development of a metaphilosophical position on truth, and his subsequent radical turn away from this position. Collingwood’s metaphilosophical approach was a departure from traditional, positivistic views of reality. He sought to leave behind metaphysics in favor of a more pragmatic view of the world. While he did not formally abandon his earlier stance, he emphasized the unity of his metaphilosophical approach.
Another impact of Collingwood is his use of the inside/outside distinction. The “inside” part is a metaphor, and Collingwood uses it to defend his commitment to explanatory pluralism and the irreducibility of historical to scientific explanations. But in the process of defending his view, Collingwood has been unfairly attacked for advocating a psychological process which cannot be observed. Moreover, he proposes reenactment to establish the meaning of a historical event.
Influence of Jacques Maritain
Jacques Maritain was a French philosopher who began teaching at the College Stanislas in Paris in 1912. His first book, La Philosophie bergsonienne, was published in 1898. Maritain disavowed Bergson’s philosophy and pursued more interdisciplinary studies. While at the Sorbonne, he met Raissa Oumansoff, a Russian Jewish immigrant who had a similar philosophy to his own. The two agreed to commit suicide.
While studying in Heidelberg, Maritain was commissioned to compile a dictionary. After he returned to Paris, he continued his work for a publishing company. While doing research, he began reading Thomas Aquinas’s work. He found Thomism to be an incredibly satisfying system and was committed to introducing it into the culture. His influence on philosophy history was significant.
Maritain’s emphasis on the real, rather than the ideal, is another important feature of his philosophy. While the theory of first principles and intuition are central to his work, Maritain emphasized the real over the abstract and the conceptual. In this way, he was able to approach the problem of being by emphasizing the importance of the real. He also promoted the value of humanity over metaphysics.