The Jewish philosopher Maimonides also attempted the same reconciliation of Aristotle with the Hebrew scriptures around the same time. The Medieval Christian philosophers were all part of a movement called Scholasticism which tried to combine Logic , Metaphysics , Epistemology and semantics the theory of meaning into one discipline, and to reconcile the philosophy of the ancient classical philosophers particularly Aristotle with Christian theology.
The Scholastic method was to thoroughly and critically read the works of renowned scholars, note down any disagreements and points of contention , and then resolve them by the use of formal Logic and analysis of language.
Scholasticism in general is often criticized for spending too much time discussing infinitesimal and pedantic details like how many angels could dance on the tip of a needle, etc. Anselm best known as the originator of the Ontological Argument for the existence of God by abstract reasoning alone is often regarded as the first of the Scholastics , and St. Thomas Aquinas known for his five rational proofs for the existence of God, and his definition of the cardinal virtues and the theological virtues is generally considered the greatest , and certainly had the greatest influence on the theology of the Catholic Church.
Each contributed slight variations to the same general beliefs - Abelard introduced the doctrine of limbo for unbaptized babies; Scotus rejected the distinction between essence and existence that Aquinas had insisted on; Ockham introduced the important methodological principle known as Ockham's Razor , that one should not multiply arguments beyond the necessary; etc. Roger Bacon was something of an exception, and actually criticized the prevailing Scholastic system, based as it was on tradition and scriptural authority.
He is sometimes credited as one of the earliest European advocates of Empiricism the theory that the origin of all knowledge is sense experience and of the modern scientific method. The revival of classical civilization and learning in the 15th and 16th Century known as the Renaissance brought the Medieval period to a close. It was marked by a movement away from religion and medieval Scholasticism and towards Humanism the belief that humans can solve their own problems through reliance on reason and the scientific method and a new sense of critical inquiry.
Among the major philosophical figures of the Renaissance were: Erasmus who attacked many of the traditions of the Catholic Church and popular superstitions, and became the intellectual father of the European Reformation ; Machiavelli whose cynical and devious Political Philosophy has become notorious ; Thomas More the Christian Humanist whose book "Utopia" influenced generations of politicians and planners and even the early development of Socialist ideas ; and Francis Bacon whose empiricist belief that truth requires evidence from the real world , and whose application of inductive reasoning - generalizations based on individual instances - were both influential in the development of modern scientific methodology.
The Age of Reason of the 17th Century and the Age of Enlightenment of the 18th Century very roughly speaking , along with the advances in science , the growth of religious tolerance and the rise of liberalism which went with them, mark the real beginnings of modern philosophy. In large part, the period can be seen as an ongoing battle between two opposing doctrines , Rationalism the belief that all knowledge arises from intellectual and deductive reason , rather than from the senses and Empiricism the belief that the origin of all knowledge is sense experience.
His method known as methodological skepticism , although its aim was actually to dispel Skepticism and arrive at certain knowledge , was to shuck off everything about which there could be even a suspicion of doubt including the unreliable senses , even his own body which could be merely an illusion to arrive at the single indubitable principle that he possessed consciousness and was able to think "I think, therefore I am".
He then argued rather unsatisfactorily, some would say that our perception of the world around us must be created for us by God. He saw the human body as a kind of machine that follows the mechanical laws of physics, while the mind or consciousness was a quite separate entity , not subject to the laws of physics, which is only able to influence the body and deal with the outside world by a kind of mysterious two-way interaction.
This idea, known as Dualism or, more specifically, Cartesian Dualism , set the agenda for philosophical discussion of the "mind-body problem" for centuries after. Despite Descartes ' innovation and boldness, he was a product of his times and never abandoned the traditional idea of a God , which he saw as the one true substance from which everything else was made. The second great figure of Rationalism was the Dutchman Baruch Spinoza , although his conception of the world was quite different from that of Descartes. He built up a strikingly original self-contained metaphysical system in which he rejected Descartes ' Dualism in favor of a kind of Monism where mind and body were just two different aspects of a single underlying substance which might be called Nature and which he also equated with a God of infinitely many attributes, effectively a kind of Pantheism.
Spinoza was a thoroughgoing Determinist who believed that absolutely everything even human behavior occurs through the operation of necessity , leaving absolutely no room for free will and spontaneity. He also took the Moral Relativist position that nothing can be in itself either good or bad, except to the extent that it is subjectively perceived to be so by the individual and, anyway, in an ordered deterministic world, the very concepts of Good and Evil can have little or no absolute meaning. The third great Rationalist was the German Gottfried Leibniz.
In order to overcome what he saw as drawbacks and inconsistencies in the theories of Descartes and Spinoza , he devised a rather eccentric metaphysical theory of monads operating according to a pre-established divine harmony. According to Leibniz 's theory, the real world is actually composed of eternal, non-material and mutually-independent elements he called monads , and the material world that we see and touch is actually just phenomena appearances or by-products of the underlying real world.
The apparent harmony prevailing among monads arises because of the will of God the supreme monad who arranges everything in the world in a deterministic manner.
Leibniz also saw this as overcoming the problematic interaction between mind and matter arising in Descartes ' system, and he declared that this must be the best possible world , simply because it was created and determined by a perfect God. He is also considered perhaps the most important logician between Aristotle and the midth Century developments in modern formal Logic.
Another important 17th Century French Rationalist although perhaps of the second order was Nicolas Malebranche , who was a follower of Descartes in that he believed that humans attain knowledge through ideas or immaterial representations in the mind. However, Malebranche argued more or less following St. Augustine that all ideas actually exist only in God , and that God was the only active power. Thus, he believed that what appears to be "interaction" between body and mind is actually caused by God , but in such a way that similar movements in the body will "occasion" similar ideas in the mind, an idea he called Occasionalism.
In opposition to the continental European Rationalism movement was the equally loose movement of British Empiricism , which was also represented by three main proponents. The first of the British Empiricists was John Locke. He argued that all of our ideas, whether simple or complex, are ultimately derived from experience , so that the knowledge of which we are capable is therefore severely limited both in its scope and in its certainty a kind of modified Skepticism , especially given that the real inner natures of things derive from what he called their primary qualities which we can never experience and so never know.
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Locke , like Avicenna before him, believed that the mind was a tabula rasa or blank slate and that people are born without innate ideas , although he did believe that humans have absolute natural rights which are inherent in the nature of Ethics. Along with Hobbes and Rousseau , he was one of the originators of Contractarianism or Social Contract Theory , which formed the theoretical underpinning for democracy , republicanism , Liberalism and Libertarianism , and his political views influenced both the American and French Revolutions.
The next of the British Empiricists chronologically was Bishop George Berkeley , although his Empiricism was of a much more radical kind, mixed with a twist of Idealism. Using dense but cogent arguments, he developed the rather counter-intuitive system known as Immaterialism or sometimes as Subjective Idealism , which held that underlying reality consists exclusively of minds and their ideas , and that individuals can only directly know these ideas or perceptions although not the objects themselves through experience.
Thus, according to Berkeley 's theory, an object only really exists if someone is there to see or sense it "to be is to be perceived" , although, he added, the infinite mind of God perceives everything all the time, and so in this respect the objects continue to exist. The third, and perhaps greatest , of the British Empiricists was David Hume. He believed strongly that human experience is as close are we are ever going to get to the truth , and that experience and observation must be the foundations of any logical argument.
Hume argued that, although we may form beliefs and make inductive inferences about things outside our experience by means of instinct, imagination and custom , they cannot be conclusively established by reason and we should not make any claims to certain knowledge about them a hard-line attitude verging on complete Skepticism. Although he never openly declared himself an atheist , he found the idea of a God effectively nonsensical , given that there is no way of arriving at the idea through sensory data.
He attacked many of the basic assumptions of religion , and gave many of the classic criticisms of some of the arguments for the existence of God particularly the teleological argument. In his Political Philosophy , Hume stressed the importance of moderation , and his work contains elements of both Conservatism and Liberalism. Among the "non-aligned" philosophers of the period many of whom were most active in the area of Political Philosophy were the following:. Towards the end of the Age of Enlightenment , the German philosopher Immanuel Kant caused another paradigm shift as important as that of Descartes years earlier, and in many ways this marks the shift to Modern philosophy.
He sought to move philosophy beyond the debate between Rationalism and Empiricism , and he attempted to combine those two apparently contradictory doctrines into one overarching system. A whole movement Kantianism developed in the wake of his work, and most of the subsequent history of philosophy can be seen as responses , in one way or another, to his ideas. Kant showed that Empiricism and Rationalism could be combined and that statements were possible that were both synthetic a posteriori knowledge from experience alone, as in Empiricism but also a priori from reason alone, as in Rationalism.
Thus, without the senses we could not become aware of any object, but without understanding and reason we could not form any conception of it. However, our senses can only tell us about the appearance of a thing phenomenon and not the "thing-in-itself" noumenon , which Kant believed was essentially unknowable , although we have certain innate predispositions as to what exists Transcendental Idealism. Kant 's major contribution to Ethics was the theory of the Categorical Imperative , that we should act only in such a way that we would want our actions to become a universal law , applicable to everyone in a similar situation Moral Universalism and that we should treat other individuals as ends in themselves , not as mere means Moral Absolutism , even if that means sacrificing the greater good.
Kant believed that any attempts to prove God's existence are just a waste of time , because our concepts only work properly in the empirical world which God is above and beyond , although he also argued that it was not irrational to believe in something that clearly cannot be proven either way Fideism. In the Modern period, Kantianism gave rise to the German Idealists , each of whom had their own interpretations of Kant 's ideas. Fichte 's later Political Philosophy also contributed to the rise of German Nationalism.
Friedrich Schelling developed a unique form of Idealism known as Aesthetic Idealism in which he argued that only art was able to harmonize and sublimate the contradictions between subjectivity and objectivity, freedom and necessity, etc , and also tried to establish a connection or synthesis between his conceptions of nature and spirit.
Arthur Schopenhauer is also usually considered part of the German Idealism and Romanticism movements, although his philosophy was very singular. He was a thorough-going pessimist who believed that the "will-to-life" the drive to survive and to reproduce was the underlying driving force of the world, and that the pursuit of happiness, love and intellectual satisfaction was very much secondary and essentially futile.
Aristotle still used deduction for building up his view of the universe, believing that every phenomenon could be explained through reason, as long as the first principles were sound. The split is why Aristotle is referred to as the Father of Science and Plato as the Father of Philosophy, with Aristotle credited as the initiator of the scientific method. Throughout the history of the philosophy of science has, science has built slowly knowledge upon what is already known, measuring phenomena and trying to uncover the rules governing them.
In this way, humanity undergoes a gradual accumulation of knowledge. Aristotle believed in observational science , and performed many measurements and observations, including describing the hydrological cycle and undertaking taxonomic work, separating many animals into families according to shared characteristics. This is not to say that Plato has no place in science; for example, physicists generating beautiful and elegant mathematical theories to explain the cosmos are far closer to Plato than Aristotle.
They generate theories and empirical scientists follow behind, attempting to prove or disprove them.
The Romans were the next to take the burgeoning science, developing the scientific method of the Greeks. The Romans, as their architecture and engineering shows, were far more interested in the empirical applied side of science, using mathematics and practical knowledge to create some great technological advances. They did not, however, have too much of a contribution to the philosophical side, simply building upon the methods used by Aristotle and Ptolemy. Their contribution to practical science was immense, but they had a minimal effect upon the history of the philosophy of science, leaving the field largely devoid of momentum for hundreds of years.
The Islamic world took up the baton and preserved the philosophical knowledge of the Ancient Greek philosophers, adding to it techniques and philosophies learned from the Vedics in India. Whilst there were many Islamic scholars generating and developing ideas, there were a few whose names became enshrined within the history of the philosophy of science.
The great scientist and polymath, Ibn-Sina - , also known as Avicenna, built upon the scientific processes postulated by Aristotle, but was one of the first philosophers to bring the metaphysical issue of God into the picture.
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He believed that general and universal questions were the first stage, and experiments uncovered the truth. Ibn al-Haytham is commonly regarded as the first scholar to define the modern scientific method, laying down the steps of the scientific process and attempting to unite the induction of predictions and generalizations with the deduction of experiments.
He also pointed out that scientists should not regard themselves as infallible , and that they should be open to criticism. The other great contributor to the history of the philosophy of science during the Islamic Golden Age was Al-Biruni, who was the first philosopher to understand the importance of errors within scientific experimentation.
He understood that any experiment would contain small and random fluctuations, and that repeated experimentation was the only way to neutralize these inaccuracies. As the Islamic 'Houses of Learning' became less influential, and the Muslim stronghold of Al-Andalus, in Spain, declined, much of this knowledge was taken to Europe, where it formed the basis of the first Renaissance. Here, during a time of great philosophical and theological discovery, the collaboration of science and religion continued, in an attempt to understand the nature of reality. Roger Grosseteste and Roger Bacon, in the 13th century, further refined the scientific method, but the history of the philosophy of science began to take shape with the meticulous and innovative work of Francis Bacon.
In , the great philosopher Francis Bacon - made great leaps in determining the course of modern science by making a great leap in the process of scientific reasoning and method. He believed that Aristotle's work, whilst broadly true, needed to be adapted to fit the reality of science, and he set out a new philosophy and scientific method to address the issues. His main criticism of Aristotle was that deduction from first principles was impossible in reality - the Greeks had a belief in the perfection of the cosmos, and so deduction could find answers to fit their view of the universe.
In the many centuries since, the view of the world had changed, and Bacon believed that the universe was much too complicated to explain by deduction alone. He redesigned the scientific method to utilize a largely induction based philosophy, where a series of observations could be applied to the universe as a whole. Bacon was the first philosopher in the history of the philosophy of science to realize that pure Aristotelian methods taught scientists nothing about the universe, finding answers for observed phenomena, but lacking the great leaps made by Platonist thought.
He realized that whilst deduction allowed the application of a general rule to a particular and specific circumstance, induction was needed to allow observations of small or specific circumstances to a larger population, or the wider universe. Cleverly, he also stated that induction did need to be used with caution, and that to try to explain the universe by inductive reasoning alone was inherently dangerous. Francis Bacon believed that pure empiricists gathered important information, but had little idea how to use their knowledge or advance science.
There was no goal or ultimate aim to the patient gathering of data. Rationalists, on the other hand, made great leaps and generated ideas but, without careful measurement, there was no method for determining which were correct, or how accurate any theory was. This process is still apparent in modern science. Theoretical physicists like Einstein, Hawking and Feynman generate beautiful mathematical formulas and models to explain the unknown areas of quantum physics and cosmology.
However, they understand that actual experimental and empirical evidence always takes precedence, potentially leading to the adjustment or abandonment of one of these theories, if proved incorrect. The other major addition to the scientific method made by Bacon, possibly his biggest contribution to the history of the philosophy of science, was the idea of experimental science , the basis of induction. He believed research could be used to test the validity of real world observations, with inductive postulations made to generalize the findings to the population as a whole.
He also developed the practice that he called the Instance of the Fingerpost,' where he proposed that an experiment should be designed around two discrete hypotheses ; the researcher should aim to find in favor of one and refute the other. Whilst there was no split between science and philosophy during this Early Modern period, Bacon laid the foundation stone for the divergence of the two disciplines.
As a side effect, his work also planted the seed of the first divisions between science and theology, a shift in the focus of the history of the philosophy of science. Previously, science was very much seen as attempting to explain the perfection of creation, with God as the initial first principle, but science began to shift towards different principles.
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Descartes - famously attempted to explain the cosmos and epistemology by deduction from Aristotelian first principles, based around the divine, but, at the end of his life, even he realized that the cosmos was simply too complex to be derived from first principles alone. Galileo - , whilst most famous as a scientist, was also a highly respected philosopher. He took the Baconian views of science to another level, further emphasizing the need for both empiricism and rationalist thinking. Whilst he was a great proponent of carefully designed experiments, he believed that, in physics especially, mathematics and geometry were essential to idealize concepts.
This was the first example of using modeling as a foundation of the scientific method. Deduction, as shown by Bacon and later admitted by Descartes, could not explain the complexities of the universe, and so a simplified and idealized model would give the scientist another tool of discovery. Empiricists argued that his idealized concepts could not be adapted to the real universe, but the idea of mixing mathematical theory with empirical 'proof' was set.
The 18th century history of the philosophy of science began to see the first real development in a specific scientific method that would distinguish it from non-sciences. It is difficult, even now, to give a definition of science , and it is perhaps more fruitful to define what it is not, a process started by the philosopher Christian Huygens - He argued that science and mathematics were actually different fields, and could not be treated the same way. The distinction he made between the two was the idea of proof. He stated that mathematics and geometry could prove something beyond doubt, whereas science can never prove something emphatically; merely give a probability that a certain finding is true.
Huygens was the first proponent of the hypothetico-deductive method , where a scientist proposes a hypothesis and then tries to deduce the probability that it is correct, through observational and empirical observation. This built upon the work of Bacon, but also developed the idea that scientists could approach the truth by constantly refining experiments and increasing the probability of their hypothesis being correct.
This period saw the first divergence of the history of the philosophy of science from metaphysical philosophy. At this time, Newton also entered the fray, initially possessing a divergent view from Huygens, possibly because of his differing viewpoint as a mathematician. He did not advocate hypotheses, believing that any research using a hypothesis could not be scientific. Newton argued that any scientific undertaking should begin with analysis, where a scholar performed observations and experiments and then made conclusions depending upon he results. His viewpoint was christened synthesis, where these inductive conclusions should be applied to the universe as a whole, to build up a model of the universe.
He saw his works as uncovering the laws of the universe behind creation. Huygens and Newton did both agree that science could not give definite answers, only a probability that something was correct, because humanity could not possibly understand or comprehend the complexities lying behind the universe. The other main contributor of this period, to the history of the philosophy of science, was David Hume , who first highlighted the problem of induction, in that any inductively derived 'proof' could be undone by a single contrary observation.
This idea was elaborated upon by the Twentieth century philosopher Hempel, in his Raven Paradox. During the nineteenth century, the history of the philosophy of science took on a form recognizable to modern science, and the debate took a new turn. Philosophers were now satisfied that science needed to be largely empirical, albeit with a deductive aspect for generating new ideas and theories. The debate now addressed the link between science and theology , with the growing schism started during the Galileo debate beginning to widen.
The Catholic Church felt that science was undermining the teachings of religious scripture, and philosophers began to address this issue. John Herschel - published a groundbreaking book, A Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy, in , which addressed this very issue, and attempted to breach the growing divide, possibly realizing the damage that this widening rift could cause.
Herschel argued that science was not questioning religious beliefs, such as the existence of God or the immortality of the soul. He stated that rather than attempting to doubt the existence of God, science should be used as a tool to undermine the burgeoning trend of atheism. Herodotus , considered by some as the first systematic historian, and, later, Plutarch freely invented speeches for their historical figures and chose their historical subjects with an eye toward morally improving the reader, for the purpose of history was to relate moral truths.
In the fourteenth century, Ibn Khaldun , who is considered as one of the forerunners of modern historiography, discussed his philosophy of history and society in detail in his Muqaddimah. His work was a culmination of earlier works by Muslim thinkers in the spheres of ethics , political science, and historiography , such as those of al-Farabi , Ibn Miskawayh, al-Dawwani, and Nasir al-Din al-Tusi.
By the eighteenth century, historians had turned toward a more positivist approach focusing on fact as much as possible, but still with an eye on telling histories that could instruct and improve. Starting with Fustel de Coullanges and Theodor Mommsen , historical studies began to progress towards a more modern scientific form.
In the Victorian era , the debate in historiography thus was not so much whether history was intended to improve the reader, but what causes turned history and how historical change could be understood. Most ancient cultures held a mythical conception of history and time that was not linear. They believed that history was cyclical with alternating Dark and Golden Ages. Plato called this the Great Year, and other Greeks called it an aeon or eon.
Examples are the ancient doctrine of eternal return, which existed in Ancient Egypt , the Indian religions, or the Greek Pythagoreans ' and the Stoics ' conceptions. Other scholars suggest there were just four ages, corresponding to the four metals, and the Heroic age was a description of the Bronze Age. The Greeks believed that just as mankind went through four stages of character during each rise and fall of history so did government.
They considered democracy and monarchy as the healthy regimes of the higher ages; and oligarchy and tyranny as corrupted regimes common to the lower ages. In the East cyclical theories of history were developed in China as a theory of dynastic cycle and in the Islamic world by Ibn Khaldun. Judaism and Christianity substituted the myth of the Fall of Man from the Garden of Eden to it, which would give the basis for theodicies , which attempts to reconcile the existence of evil in the world with the existence of God creating a global explanation of history with the belief in a Messianic Age.
Theodicies claimed that history had a progressive direction leading to an eschatological end, such as the Apocalypse, given by a superior power. Augustine of Hippo , Thomas Aquinas or Bossuet in his Discourse On Universal History formulated such theodicies, but Leibniz , who coined the term, was the most famous philosopher who created a theodicy. Leibniz based his explanation on the principle of sufficient reason , which states that anything that happens, does happen for a specific reason.
Thus, what man saw as evil, such as wars, epidemia and natural disasters, was in fact only an effect of his perception; if one adopted God's view, this evil event in fact only took place in the larger divine plan. Hence, theodicies explained the necessity of evil as a relative element which forms part of a larger plan of history. Leibniz's principle of sufficient reason was not, however, a gesture of fatalism.
Confronted with the Antique problem of the future contingents, Leibniz invented the theory of "compossible worlds," distinguishing two types of necessity, to cope with the problem of determinism. During the Renaissance , cyclical conceptions of history would become common, illustrated by the decline of the Roman Empire. Machiavelli 's Discourses on Livy are an example.
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Cyclical conceptions were maintained in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by authors such as Oswald Spengler, Nikolay Danilevsky , and Paul Kennedy, who conceived the human past as a series of repetitive rises and falls. Spengler, like Butterfield was writing in reaction to the carnage of the first World War , believed that a civilization enters upon an era of Caesarism after its soul dies.
He thought that the soul of the West was dead and Caesarism was about to begin. The recent development of mathematical models of long-term secular sociodemographic cycles has revived interest in cyclical theories of history . Condorcet's interpretations of the various "stages of humanity" or Auguste Comte 's positivism were one of the most important formulations of such conceptions of history, which trusted social progress.
In What is Enlightenment? Immaturity and dependence are the inability to use one's own intellect without the direction of another. One is responsible for this immaturity and dependence, if its cause is not a lack of intelligence or education , but a lack of determination and courage to think without the direction of another. Sapere aude!
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Dare to know! In a paradoxical way, Kant supported enlightened despotism as a way of leading humanity towards its autonomy. On one hand, enlightened despotism was to lead nations toward their liberation, and progress was thus inscribed in the scheme of history; on the other hand, liberation could only be acquired by a singular gesture, Sapere Aude!
Thus, autonomy ultimately relied on the individual's "determination and courage to think without the direction of another. After Kant, Hegel developed a complex theodicy in the Phenomenology of Spirit , which based its conception of history on dialectics; the negative wars, etc. Hegel argued that history is a constant process of dialectic conflict, with each thesis encountering an opposing idea or event antithesis. The clash of both was "superated" in the synthesis , a conjunction which conserved the contradiction between thesis and its antithesis while sublating it.
As Marx would famously explain afterwards, concretely that meant that if Louis XVI's monarchic rule in France was seen as the thesis, the French Revolution could be seen as its antithesis. Hegel thought that reason accomplished itself, through this dialectical scheme, in History. Through labor, man transformed nature in order to be able to recognize himself in it; he made it his "home. Roads, fields, fences, and all the modern infrastructure in which we live is the result of this spiritualization of nature.
Hegel thus explained social progress as the result of the labor of reason in history. However, this dialectical reading of history involved, of course, contradiction, so history was also conceived of as constantly conflicting; Hegel theorized this in his famous dialectic of the lord and the bondsman. One more word about giving instruction as to what the world ought to be. Philosophy in any case always comes on the scene too late to give it When philosophy paints its gray in gray, then has a shape of life grown old.