Philosophy Schools and Traditions
The Cynics of Ancient Greece
A map of Ancient Greek philosophy usually lists four major schools, each of which can be traced back to Socrates: the Platonist, the Aristotelian, the Stoic, and the Epicurean. There is, however, a fifth school, which developed in conversation with Socrates’s teachings – the Cynic. Cynics are often unrecognized as forming a school, primarily because they had no specific place for meeting, but rather practiced their philosophical creeds in city streets, Athens being the first and foremost. Few teachings were transmitted in written form and what we are left with is instead a series of sayings and deeds, often in the form of anecdotes. A good proportion of the information that we have, moreover, is due to sources that looked at the cynics in a rather antagonistic fashion, which renders a reconstruction of the cynic views fated to be uncertain. Despite this, history records a fair number of prominent cynic figures, spanning across several generations; as I am inclined to regard of secondary importance, from a philosophical standpoint, whether a tradition developed within a formally established school or recorded its chief tenets in writing, I will refer to the cynics as forming a school. The reader should however be warned that the appellation is somewhat contentious.
An overview of ancient and modern skepticism.
Consequentialism is perhaps the most developed view of ethics, according to which the ethical worth of an action is proportional to its consequences. In particular, consequentialism holds that among all the possible courses of action, an agent should pursue the one that, overall, brings about the greatest amount of good – or, in jargon, the one...
Rationalism is the philosophical stance according to which reason is the ultimate source of human knowledge. It rivals empiricism according to which the senses suffice in justifying knowledge. In a form or another, rationalism features in most philosophical tradition; in the Western one, it boasts a long and distinguished list of followers,...
We do no know whether Laozi was a real historical figure or whether under that name we actually comprehend a list of different authors who contributed to the development of Taosim. If Laozi was a historical figure, he probably lived during the sixth century A.D. (some argue instead that he lived during the fourth or the fifth century). Leaving such important historical details on a side, we may recognize that the "Tao Te Ching" puts forward one of the most organic philosophical visions in the history of human culture.
The Analytic-Continental Split
The split between analytic and continental philosophers is perhaps one of the most distinctive traits of Western philosophy in the twentieth century. What is this all about and what relevance does it have to this date?
Empiricism is the philosophical stance according to which the senses are the ultimate source of human knowledge. It rivals rationalism according to which reason is the ultimate source of knowledge. In a form or another, empiricism features in most philosophical tradition. In Western philosophy, empiricism boasts a long and distinguished list of...
The term "Renaissance" indicates a movement of rejuvenation of Western society, which – according to the image suggested by those who first employed the term – resurrected the fates of European nations from the dark age of Medieval period. With Renaissance we witness an exceptional intellectual renovation, that subsequently touched all aspects...
First developed in early nineteenth-hundreds in France, from the work of Jean-Paul Sartre, existentialism it has since grown to become one of the most prominent philosophical movements. Owing much to the philosophies of Descartes and Edmund Husserl, existentialism centers on three key concepts: anguish, abandonment, and despair. To date, both...
Epicurus was a defendant of ancient atomism, the view according to which all that there is to spatio-temporal reality are indivisible parts of matter ad void. Those indivisible parts are not perceivable by the eyes and they are in constant movement. Everything that we perceive through the senses is made out of atoms and all body movements and...
Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980)
Jean-Paul Sartre was the founder of the existentialist movement and one of the most prominent philosophers of twentieth century. Born in Paris in 1905, he lived most of his life in France and took active participation in the life of his country.