Wednesday, June 08, 2011

120 Influences, Part 8: Philosophers

  1. Thomas Aquinas: He reconciled Christianity with the wisdom of the Ancients in his masterwork, Summa Theologica.

  2. Aristotle: He covered every topic and even invented some: astrology, botany, ethics, logic, metaphysics, poetics, politics, psychology, rhetoric, zoology. And he has influenced how we all think.

  3. Confucius: His work on our oneness with nature, obligation toward morality, and imperative for self-development in the Analects remain standards nearly for more than two thousand years.

  4. Rene Descartes: His quest for absolute certainty and clarity through the Cartesian method in Meditations on First Philosophy and Discourse on Method can serve as an introduction to formal philosophy.

  5. Immanuel Kant: He had so much to say about the duality of human nature, and his categorical imperative remains the last resort of much reasoned argument today.

  6. Soren Kierkegaard: His Fear and Trembling and The Sickness Unto Death ushered in existentialism, which has influenced a lot of my own writing.

  7. Friedrich Nietzsche: Just reading the maxims of the philosopher of nihilism is a pleasure. What he says about the will and the conscience in its encounter with aesthetics despair is still relevant. Beyond Good and Evil, The Genealogy of Morals, and The Birth of Tragedy are good starting points.

  8. Plato: His Republic may be the most quoted philosophical text, and his Dialogues on beauty, wisdom, truth, valor, honor, and many other attributes are the foundation of Western thinking.

  9. Jean-Jacques Rousseau: He shed light on humans in their natural state corrupted by human conduct in Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, The Social Contract, and Emile.

  10. Jean Paul Sartre: We are thrust into this world. We encounter nothingness. We are despair. Yet we are doomed to act. His philosophy (Being and Nothingness), drama (No Exit), fiction (Nausea), and essays (Situations, Parts 1-10) made him the household name of existentialism.