History of Philosophy
History of philosophy is the history of the development of the philosophical thought, as well as emergence and formation of the major philosophical trends. The word philosophy means love of wisdom. It was formed as a worldview – a complex of natural phenomena, views on the world, a man, and society. Philosophical thought first originated in Babylon and Egypt. It was inextricably connected with religious beliefs. In its essence, it had a religious-mythological nature. A ruling slave ideology completely justified the need for economic and socio-political inequality; people worshiped and sanctified the cult of kings and pharaohs. Similar thoughts were reflected, for example, in Code of Hammurabi. These were rather proto-philosophical views that can be called philosophical or close to the philosophical position. They became a reality for the ancient Indian, Chinese, and Greek philosophical thoughts. It was a period of transition from the religious and mythological worldview to the knowledge-based outlook. The VI century BC is an especially important period, as this time has seen the transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age with the appearance of commodity-money relations and first powers, the weakening of tribal structures, the opposition to traditional religions with new moral attitudes and ideologues, and the appearance of scientific knowledge.
Philosophers of Ancient Greece made a special contribution to the development of philosophical thought. It was the time when an idealist interpretation of human being was made by the Pythagoras school with Pythagoras being the brightest representative. The interest in numbers and love for mathematics were reflected in his philosophical views. It resulted in mysticism and absolutization of numbers proclaimed as objects, which existed independently. Pythagoras considered morality and religion to be the major attributes of ordering of the society. His doctrine of the immortality of the soul was grounded on the principles of the complete subordination of a person to gods. His philosophical beliefs were reflected in the works of other philosophers.
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Pythagoras’ beliefs were reflected in the views of Socrates who believed that education of the person was his vocation, the content of which ought to be expressed in the conversation and discussion. According to Socrates, the most important philosophical task included rational justification of the moral and religious outlook. However, knowledge of natural philosophy was a godless and unnecessary thing for the philosopher. At that time, Socrates was the first one to outline and present different forms of government. Among democracy, monarchy, aristocracy, tyranny, and plutocracy, he approved and distinguished only aristocracy that was the most correct form of government in his opinion.
Plato and Aristotle also made a significant contribution to the development of philosophy. Plato’s philosophy is based on objective idealism. According to Plato, the soul is immortal and inert. It does not occur simultaneously with the body but exists forever and the body is only a subject to the soul. The philosopher believed that the state appears because a man as an individual cannot meet the basic needs. Plato recognized unconditionally the superiority of general and social interests over personal ones. His views are rather different from Aristotle’s philosophical beliefs. Aristotle belongs to the group of philosophers whose importance for the European culture is enormous. He believed that there were three correct forms of government – democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy, the lack of which consisted in the tendency to degenerate into incorrect forms, where social abuses and imperfect social order would dominate. A category of essence is in the center of Aristotle’s teaching that was defined by him as the foundation on which other properties are grounded. The development of the doctrine of syllogisms is another great merit of the philosopher. In such a way, ancient philosophy played a significant role in the cultural development of people. Progressive ideas of ancient philosophers had a positive effect on the development of philosophy and science over the millennia and were the basis for the formation of modern philosophical thought.
Niccolo Machiavelli was a diplomat, politician, and philosopher. He was born in Florence in 1469. The boy grew up in the atmosphere of the golden age of Florence under the regime of Lorenzo de ‘Medici. When Machiavelli was seven years old, he entered the school of Master Matteo and then started to attend the municipal school. Niccolo knew Latin and attended a course in Latin stylistics until the end of his studies. The Machiavelli family did not allow Niccolo to enter the university because of the lack of money. Thus, he started to read many books on his own and his teachers became the ancient philosophers such as Tit Livy, Cicero, Tacitus, Virgil, Caesar, and others. Machiavelli was taught legal science and practice by his father, and later became a secretary of the second chancery. In 1512, the Florentine Republic ceased to exist. This fact put an end to the political activity of Niccolo Machiavelli. It was a reason for Machiavelli to engage in creative activity.
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During Machiavelli’s stay in service, the state experienced a hard fate. There was a coup in the country, which overturned the authority of the Medici. Niccolo Machiavelli was suspected of conspiracy and betrayal. He was released from all positions and lived the rest of his life in the estate near Florence. For him, it was an impetus to write. During this period, Niccolo Machiavelli wrote the majority of his famous works.
Researchers emphasize the indisputable popularity of Machiavelli’s works among political leaders of the later period. W. Churchill, O. Bismarck, and A. Hitler used to study his works. The majority of Machiavelli’s works are devoted to the study of the human nature. Niccolo Machiavelli thought that a nature of the man is rather controversial and complex. It is grounded on natural selfishness conditioned by material interests. In turn, selfishness pushes a person to commit sins. To avoid this, a person must be brought up accordingly and the state is regarded the most efficient method of proper upbringing. A true meaning and purpose of human existence consists in serving the state and strengthening its positions. According to Niccolo Machiavelli, it was a key to the realization of human happiness.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a French philosopher and a writer known for his pedagogical theories and various philosophical works. He is known as the founder of romanticism in philosophical science. Some researchers believe that to some extent, Jean-Jacques Rousseau provoked the Great French Revolution. The future philosopher was born on June 28, 1712 in Geneva. He enjoyed reading since childhood. His mother died at childbirth and when his father married again, Jean-Jacques started to be taught by a notary and later engraver. When he was sixteen, he travelled to France and Geneva. During this period, he met Ms. de Varan who became his patroness for some time. With her help, Rousseau went to the Turin Monastery, where he became a Catholic and consequently lost his citizenship. Then, he became a tutor of the famous judge from Lyon and later worked as a secretary at the French Embassy in Venice. He returned to France soon after that. In several years, Rousseau won the Prize of the Dijon Academy. This event marked the beginning of the most fruitful period in his activity that lasted for a decade.
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Since childhood, Rousseau had been sympathetic to the common people and he could not bear the oppression of poor people. Later, the indolent life of the nobles in France, where he lived for a long time, shocked him. Rousseau condemned extravagance and debauchery of the rich and called for moderation, simplicity, and closeness to nature. Therefore, he reflected moods and interests of the wide masses including artisans and peasants in his works. For a long time, revolutionary views matured in France and Rousseau’s ideas pushed people to revolt.
Above all, Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a philosopher. In his works, he tried to explain the ground of social inequality. Rousseau was the first to determine whether there was a contractual way of creating statehood. Rousseau believed that the law is an expression of the general will. It should protect representatives of society from the government. Rousseau suggested that people should independently adopt the law thus controlling the activity of the authorities. Due to his works, a referendum was created and people’s legislative initiative and mandatory mandate were introduced. In such a way, Jean-Jacques Rousseau made a significant contribution to the philosophical thought and policy.
Thomas Hobbes is an English philosopher-materialist, who was one of the founders of the theory of state sovereignty and the theory of social contract. He was born on April 5, 1588 in the English town of Malmesbury. He was raised by his uncle who had a considerable fortune and, thus, received a decent education. By the time he was fourteen, he had been fluent in Greek and Latin. He received a bachelor’s degree in one of the colleges of Oxford University. In 1608, Hobbes took the place of an educator in the family of William Cavendish, earl of Devonshire. By accompanying young Cavendish in travels across Europe, Thomas visited Italy and France. It served as a great impetus for the formation and development of his philosophical worldview.
Thomas Hobbes lived in one of the most important periods of English history. He studied at school when the reign of Elizabeth I ended. He was a graduate of the university, an expert in ancient languages, and a mentor in the era of James I, and studied philosophy in the reign of Charles I. Hobbes became famous under the rule of Cromwell and became a well-known poet and historian in the era of Restoration. All these events in the world history had an effect on Thomas Hobbes’ philosophical worldview.
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Thomas Hobbes acquired fame as an author of philosophical treatises. Nonetheless, the aptitude for philosophy appeared when he was more than forty years old. According to Hobbes, optics developed by him in the theory of the state are his major contribution to philosophy. In 1640, he distributed the treatise The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic where he argued for the necessity for an indivisible and unified sovereign power. However, his later work, Leviathan became the most well known and significant writing that fully reflected his philosophical views. On the one hand, in Leviathan, it was proved that sovereigns are authorized to rule on behalf of their subjects without God’s permission. On the other hand, Thomas Hobbes used a theory of a social contract to prove that a logical result of the state grounded on social harmony should be an absolute sovereign power. Leviathan is considered a cult work of Thomas Hobbes that is still being studied by modern philosophers.
Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher-irrationalist. He was one of the most famous thinkers of irrationalism. He called the existing world the worst of possible worlds, for which he received a nickname “a philosopher of pessimism”. Arthur Schopenhauer was born on February 22, 1788 in Gdansk. He came from a wealthy merchant family. In childhood, Arthur did not receive any systematic education. After a short stay at the Hamburg private school, the boy went on the European tour for educational purposes. In 1805, Arthur’s father sent him to a big Hamburg firm to be trained in business. Nonetheless, after the death of his father, his mother allowed Arthur to receive university education. In 1809, Arthur Schopenhauer became a medical student but six months later, he was transferred to the philosophical faculty. Several years after that, he wrote his first treatise that became the starting point in his philosophical activity.
As a young man, Schopenhauer visited many countries. In his travels, he constantly observed people. He saw that life of ordinary people was completely devoid of happiness. Therefore, Schopenhauer made a conclusion that suffering is a constant form of manifestation of life and a man can get rid of suffering only in a definite way. In such a way, ineradicable evil reigns in the world. Suffering is inevitable and happiness is illusory. Suffering is grounded on the will to live. For Arthur Schopenhauer, optimism represents a mockery of the suffering of a man.
Considering himself a Kant’s disciple, Schopenhauer believed that experience is given to a person as the representation. The object and the subject are correlative moments of the world as representation. Schopenhauer perceived the world as a baseless will that could be found both in the deliberate activity of the man and in the blindly operating force of nature. According to the philosopher, mind serves as an instrument of the human will. In the society and living nature, will is manifested as a volition to life being a source of animal instincts and the endless egoism of people. The views and philosophy of Schopenhauer made a strong influence on a big number of people, including numerous philosophers.
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Adam Smith was a Scottish philosopher, political economist, and one of the founders of modern economic theory. He was born in June 1723 in the Scottish district of Fife. At the age of fourteen, Adam entered the University of Glasgow. He studied ethical foundations of philosophy under the guidance of Francis Hutcheson. Besides, he studied logic, moral philosophy, ancient languages, astronomy, and mathematics. In several years, he continued his education in Oxford. However, Adam Smith spoke critically about the quality of education in Oxford. After graduation, he returned to his native town where he engaged in self-education. Later, Smith started reading lectures at the University of Edinburgh. The basis of the scientific theory of Adam Smith consisted in the desire to look at the man from three perspectives – economic, state, and moral. Adam Smith died in summer 1790 in Edinburgh. He was 67 years old.
Preparation of lectures for students at the University of Edinburgh was the impetus to the formulation of Adam Smith’s ideas on the economic problems. In addition, another economist made a great impact on Adam Smith; it was David Hume. The similarity of their views was reflected in their writings on economics, history, religion, philosophy, and politics showing that they formed an intellectual alliance, which was of considerable value in the period of Scottish Enlightenment. In such a way, David Hume influenced Adam Smith’s philosophical thought.
Adam Smith gave lectures on rhetoric and on the subject of achieving wealth, where he presented the economic philosophy of a simple and obvious system of natural freedom reflected in his most famous work The Wealth of Nations. Adam Smith analyzed ethical standards of behavior, which ensure social stability. Moreover, he opposed the church morality founded on the promises of paradise and fear of the afterlife. As the basis of moral assessments, he proposed a principle of sympathy. According to this principle, a moral thing provokes approval of shrewd and impartial observers. Smith also spoke in favor of the ethical equality of people reflected in the applicability of similar moral norms to all people.
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Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan
Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was born in 1916 or 1918, as nobody knows for sure. Besides, the date and month of his birth are also not known. Although his father was the emir of Abu Dhabi, he was a Bedouin who did not record the exact date of the child’s birth. The majority of sources claim that the youngest son of the future emir was born in a small town of Al Ain. By the time Zayed was born, the Nahyan family had ruled the emirate for about 150 years. Zayed’s father became the emir of Abu Dhabi in 1922. Nonetheless, one of his stepbrothers killed him five years after that. Together with his mother, Zayed under the threat of death ran to the desert. The next year, Zayed’s elder brother killed the usurper and became the new emir. Therefore, the family returned to Al Ain. Zayed never went to school, as there was not a single school in the district. Despite this fact, he received proper home education and the mullah taught him to count, read, and write. In addition, the mullah taught his disciple wisdom reflected in the Qur’an.
At the end of 1937, British geologists started searching for gas and oil on the territory of the Treaty of Oman. The emir assigned his 21-year-old brother to be a conductor of the British expedition. The search was successful and geologists found huge deposits of gas and oil. In the following years, industrial production was started. However, the inception of World War II ruined the plans. In 1946, the emir appointed Zayed as a governor of the eastern province of the emirate of Abu Dhabi with a residence in Al Ain. Zayed strived for improving the life of Bedouins. He ruled Al Ain and the surrounding desert for two decades years.
In 1964, the Emirates received a chance to gain independence and modernize the country. Therefore, Sheikh Zayed released his brother from rule and headed Abu Dhabi and all Emirates later on. Zayed bin Sultan’s ideas formed the basis of the state structure. Since the moment when the country gained independence, he began to rule the state. His reign lasted 33 years until 2004, and in the course of his rule, Zayed bin Sultan made impressive changes in the country.
People living on the territory of modern United Arab Emirates were the major impetus for Zayed bin Sultan. Since his birth, Zayed was surrounded by Bedouins who lived in extremely poor conditions. Their code of honor did not allow them to cultivate land and build the foundation for their habitation. After becoming the emir, Zayed bin Sultan tried to change this. He wanted to teach the Bedouins to cultivate the land so that they could live a better life. All transformations in the country were connected with the fact that Zayed wanted a better life for his people.
The structure of the state founded by Zayed bin Sultan is unique in the world practice. It represents a combination of republican and monarchical principles. The president heads the country but he is not elected; he always remains the emir of Abu Dhabi. The throne in the emirate is inherited. Before Zayed came to power, the oldest man among the members of the ruling dynasty had legally inherited the throne after the emir’s death. Since Muslims can have several wives, they have many sons. Thus, his younger brother became the heir to the emir. One of the first Zayed’s decisions in the position of power was a new order of succession – the throne ought to pass to the eldest son of the late ruler. According to the agreements reached by the emirs during the creation of the federation, revenues from the sale of oil and gas produced on their territory remain at the disposal of every emirate. However, deposits of mineral raw materials in various emirates differ and in some emirates, there are no minerals at all. Sheikh Zayed’s wisdom consisted in the fact that despite the largest reserves of hydrocarbon resources in Abu Dhabi, he insisted on the absolute equality of citizens of all emirates from the perspective of social benefits. His philosophy led to the fact that today, the United Arab Emirates are considered one of the richest countries in the world.
What is philosophy? It is a discipline studying the fundamental principles and most general substantial characteristics of cognition and reality, the relation between a person and the world, and the aspects of human existence. In such a way, philosophy is a science. Several years ago, my recognition of philosophy did not go beyond the frames of this definition. However, when I was acquainted with the work of Martin Heidegger, the German philosopher, it made me think that a question “What is philosophy?” is rather philosophical. Although, philosophy is similar to science, it is impossible to study it as a science. I believe that philosophy does not represent a system of knowledge that a person can easily study. The formation of philosophical knowledge represents an internal act, which flares up and mediates other actions.
People of different spheres of activity, nationalities, and ages tried to define this phenomenon. For example, Plato believed that philosophy is the assimilation to the God to the measure of human strength. He considered that God is not a philosopher and does not philosophize but rather knows everything. Unlike Him, people do not know anything for sure and this is where a process of philosophizing is launched. German philosopher, Immanuel Kant believed that when a person starts philosophizing, he/she exits in the state of spiritual minority and starts living by his/her own mind. In such a way, philosophy represents a kind of enlightenment. According to Kant, a philosopher is a man who thinks independently, is responsible for the choice, and is able to dispose of life. Therefore, if a man is psychologically mature, he/she is able to philosophize.
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I believe that a person turns to philosophy for knowledge. Searching for the truth, a man starts philosophizing. Whether it is a moral aspect or a question of the world creation, a way to finding the truth starts with philosophy. For instance, psychology, biology, and physics were all originated from philosophy. Historically, philosophy appeared after art and before natural sciences. Thus, it incorporates the features of both becoming an intermediate link between them. Every person has his/her own way. Every spiritually mature man is a man with his/her own individuality. Therefore, every person who philosophizes forms his/her individual worldview grounded on a personal system of values. In other words, every person shapes his/her own philosophy.
In such a way, there is no single philosophy. There are as many worldviews as there are personalities in this world. Every philosopher that lived in the past had a different opinion about a spiritual world, reality, and the human existence. All of them made a valuable contribution to the philosophical study. Some of them had a completely different opinion. Nevertheless, it cannot be said that some of them were right while the others were not. The most important thing in philosophy is the ability to reason and perform actions in accordance with one’s personal reflections and concepts. Through reasoning, a person creates freedom of mind, which results in personal freedom. In such a way, philosophy for me is an instrument for the formation of free personality.