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Questions tagged [philosophy]

the use of reason in understanding such things like the nature of the real world and existence, the use and limits of knowledge, and the principles of moral judgment

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55
votes
13answers
71k views

Is history always written by the victors?

The famous "history is written by victors" saying argues that the victors overwhelmingly influence historical accounts. Are there any examples of history written by the(or THE) losers?
15
votes
1answer
4k views

What were the responses to Copernicus' heliocentric theory?

Popular explanations often mention that the "Catholic Church" had a problem with Copernicus and his heliocentric theory, neglecting that even a scientific disagreement at that period would likely have ...
14
votes
4answers
5k views

What is the name of the theory opposite to the Great Man theory?

The Great Man theory is a 19th-century idea according to which history can be largely explained by the impact of "great men", or heroes; highly influential individuals. In nearly every lecture on ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

When did Socrates die?

Question 1: The death of Socrates is usually said to have happened in 399 BC, but I've sometimes seen a question mark after the date. Is there actually a possible uncertainty about the exact year? ...
12
votes
3answers
296 views

What is the origin of the subdivisions of Heaven and Hell?

Isra and Mi'raj is the name of the journey of the prophet Muhammad, where he witnessed heaven and hell, describing their structure as well as the punishment and rewards that lay beyond. Hell and ...
12
votes
1answer
518 views

Republican thought in the Middle Ages

I wonder if there were any books written in the Middle Ages that argued the case for a republic versus a monarchy. On the opposite side we can find Dante's De Monarchia (and probably many others) who ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

Chinese Hundred Schools of Thought and Ancient Greek Philosophy

As a beginning student of Chinese I am also learning a bit more about Chinese history. As such I am more-and-more impressed by the quality of thought that has been left behind by Chinese philosophers ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Did Archimedes have any students?

We know that Archimedes learnt a lot from his father, Phidias (who was an astronomer) and most likely studied in Alexandria, alongside other great contemporaries such as Eratosthenes of Cyrene and ...
10
votes
1answer
300 views

What is the source for Diogenes' quote in Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy?

In The Anatomy of Melancholy, Robert Burton states that "When the son swore, Diogenes struck the father." Where did Burton get this from? I can find no earlier (i.e. Classical) reference to it, ...
9
votes
3answers
600 views

What was the primary motivation for a historical figure like Xenophon to create an extensive collection of written material?

Xenophon of Athens created a large amount of written material even by today's standards. Did he create this work knowing it would be read by future generations, or was it for his own satisfaction? I ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the source for this Leonardo Da Vinci quote?

"Art is the queen of all sciences communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world."  Where exactly does this Leonardo Da Vinci quote come from? Was it part of a larger paragraph - if so ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

What is “Theoretical History”?

This question is highlighting something I have been meaning to ask, but haven't known how to go about it: What is the contemporary knowledge of the theoretical history? I'm particularly interested in ...
9
votes
2answers
368 views

Why did Athenian philosophers praise Spartan culture and laws, which would preclude philosophers like themselves?

Laconophilia was near universal among the important Athenian philosophers: Socrates, Aristotle, Plato and his followers - all praised Spartan culture and its laws, even after Sparta fell from glory ...
9
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1answer
377 views

how did the Cynics of Greece and Rome eat

How did the Ancient Cynics like Diogenes eat during their time? I know they only believed in eating natural foods but don't know how they procured it. If they didn't believe in wealth, they could not ...
8
votes
1answer
678 views

Why did Mozi's philosophy die out in China?

Today in my Social Studies class we learned about Mozi by reading the material he wrote in translation. According to my teacher, despite enormous initial influence Mohism, the philosophy developed by ...
8
votes
1answer
230 views

In Classical Athens, what did the portico of the archon basileus look like?

In Plato's Euthyphro, Socrates and his titular interlocutor meet at the portico of the archon basileus - or chief archon. I've been looking for an image of the portico but had no luck so far, and am ...
8
votes
1answer
585 views

Visit of Greek philosophers to Rome in 155 BCE

In 155 BCE a delegation of three Greek philosophers arrived in Rome on a political mission (to negotiate the settlement of war fines). During their stay they succeeded in raising Greek philosophy to ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

Is it true that Plato travelled till Ganges river?

Plato was the great philosopher and traveler. In "The Story of Philosophy" William Durant has written that: He found his way to the banks of the Ganges, and learned the mystic meditations of the ...
7
votes
2answers
798 views

What literary or philosophical works did the ancient Egyptians have that have influenced ancient civilizations or the modern word?

We all know of the Roman and Greek literary and philosophical works which still resonate to this day and read by many. As a an ancient and long old civilization, what works of equal importance do we ...
6
votes
5answers
269 views

How accurate is Russell on liberalism versus fanaticism in war?

After the second world war, reflecting on the rule of empiricism versus various kinds of dogmatism in political philosophy, Bertrand Russell writes (Philosophy and Politics, 1947; emphasis mine): ...
6
votes
4answers
433 views

Was late-medieval French education recalcitrant to math?

The teaching of mathematics (as we understand the subject today) in France is said to result from Ramus. However, It was his predecessor Oronce Fine who convinced François 1 to include it at the ...
6
votes
1answer
581 views

When did people start saying about the US that “it's a free country”?

Confronted with lack of permission, Americans sometimes reflexively claim that "it's a free country". Obviously, the truth is more nuanced, with degrees of freedom, competing definitions of freedom, ...
6
votes
1answer
702 views

Did Zoroastrianism influence some Ancient Greek Philosophers?

Ancient Greek Philosophy, was never monolithic, that is to say, the diversity of thought represented in the Greek Philosophers is well documented and well chronicled. However, did the Persian ...
6
votes
1answer
205 views

What exactly were the religious beliefs of Gemistus Plethon?

According to wikipedia: [Gemistus Plethon] was a Greek scholar of Neoplatonic philosophy. He was one of the chief pioneers of the revival of Greek learning in Western Europe. In the dying years of ...
6
votes
1answer
333 views

What was the impact of utilitarianism upon the development of psychiatric care in 18th-19th century England?

I'm interested in the impact of utilitarianism upon English psychiatric care by way of the philosophy's influence on social reformers. More tenuously, I want to know whether and in what ways ...
5
votes
2answers
397 views

Why was 17th Century England a particularly supportive place for groundbreaking thought? [closed]

Issac Newton, John Lock, Robert Hooke, Thomas Hobbes, John Milton, Robert Boyle, Francis Bacon...etc. Was 17th century England somehow more conducive to excellent new ideas or was it no more ...
5
votes
2answers
617 views

Were there prominent secular philosophers in the European middle ages? If so, who?

I've only done a small amount of reading on the middle ages, and on the history of Western philosophy, but from what I can glean education and religion were tightly coupled during the period, so most ...
5
votes
1answer
856 views

Tolstoy's view of history

Tolstoy's view of history as propounded in his book "War and Peace" is that the forces that shape historical events are infinitely many and unknowable. He posits that a leader is in no ways more ...
5
votes
0answers
120 views

Was Voltaire actually present at the British Raid on Lorient in 1746, which was attended by David Hume?

Voltaire wrote a satirical account of the raid at which Hume himself was personally in attendance with General St Clair. However, it is difficult to find out if Voltaire was actually an eyewitness ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

In what sense is Socrates considered as the father of Western philosophy?

Socrates is known as the father of western philosophy. But in what sense? Is it because there wasn't any other philosopher who preceded him? Or perhaps that their philosophies were completely ...
4
votes
3answers
349 views

Was there a “literate class” outside the Shi in Zhou-dynasty China?

According to wikipedia, during Zhou dynasty China's ... distinct class system, which lacked an organized clergy but saw the Shang Zi-clan yeomen become masters of ritual and ceremony known as Shi (...
4
votes
2answers
316 views

How much of what we know about ancient philosophers comes from oral literature?

Have any orally-transmitted myths survived​ throughout the centuries in such a form that we could identify any of the ancient philosophers of Classical Greece and Rome in them? I'm interested in ...
4
votes
2answers
350 views

How was financial profit viewed in Medieval Europe?

What was the attitude of people in Medieval Europe towards earning money, making a profit etc. I know that in some places Jews were well established as merchants because, from the point of the view of ...
4
votes
1answer
433 views

What is the other ancient Indian magic trick described by Adi Shankaracharya?

It is well-known that the so-called Indian rope trick is alluded to by the ancient Hindu philosopher Adi Shankaracharya in this section of his commentary on a Hindu scripture called the Mandukya ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Which ancient text claims that everything has been said before?

Someone commented to me that there is an ancient text talking about how everything has been said before. There are of course more recents thoughts along this line, but to me it was very impressive to ...
3
votes
1answer
667 views

What made Cicero so fascinating to Petrarch?

Petrarch was apparently fascinated throughout his whole life by Cicero, in a way that his contemporaries apparently weren't. He even wrote letters to Cicero. But these letters don't mean much to me, ...
3
votes
1answer
303 views

Did John Milton and Baruch Spinoza know of and/or about each other?

In these iTunes U lectures on Milton, John Rogers suggest that Milton was espousing "monism" in Paradise Lost; that the theology of Paradise Lost involved the ideas that the soul and body are one and ...
3
votes
2answers
108 views

Was the French philosopher Pierre Bayle a Calvinist believer or an atheist?

European Enlightenment: The 17th century's most read philosopher produced sharp and honest literature. Yet until today the question seems to be unanswered where he really belonged (Bayle enigma).
2
votes
1answer
114 views

More Scientific Discoveries Outside Academia Past 50 Years? [closed]

I heard someone claim there have been more scientific discoveries outside of academia, in industry, the past 50 years than in academia. Is this true? Has anyone tried to quantify this?
2
votes
2answers
329 views

How was Galileo's approach to mathematics different than Descartes's approach?

According to Galileo "the world is written in the language of mathematics," and a natural philosopher must learn to read it. How did this approach differ from Descartes' notion of a mathematical ...
2
votes
0answers
257 views

Barbara, Celarent, Darii, et Ferio. Whom devised the vowel-consonant designations?

In the history of philosophy & logic there is a taxonomy of syllogisms designated by name. William of Sherwood and Peter of Spain write of a mnemonic to help medieval students of logic memorize ...
2
votes
0answers
337 views

What broad changes to “world thought” happened in the 6th and 5th centuries BC? [closed]

The 6th and 5th centuries BC saw the appearance of a remarkable number of philosophers and thinkers all over Eurasia whose influence continues to this day: Socrates (470 - 399 BC), "father of Western ...
1
vote
2answers
260 views

When is the first recorded instance of someone dying for a principle?

When we think of martyrs, we often go back to the early Christians as the typical examples - dying for the idea that they should worship one God and no other. Another often quoted example is Socrates -...
1
vote
2answers
190 views

What does Deng Xiaoping mean by "Hide your capacities, bide your time '?

I came across this interesting quote by Deng Xiaoping: Hide your capacities and bide your time however I didn't find much about this quote on the Internet explaining the exact context and meaning ...
1
vote
1answer
485 views

Did the people of the past consider plants alive? [closed]

Did the people of the past consider plants alive? If so, how did they come to the idea that plants have something in common with animals?
1
vote
1answer
141 views

How do repeating historical conflicts get resolved? [closed]

History is full of conflicts which persist over generations. Inter-Christian religious wars drive more than a century of conflict that spanned the globe. Inter-Empire wars over colonization rights ...
1
vote
1answer
135 views

What was the name of this medieval philosophical idea?

I remember learning once years ago about a medieval philosophical idea (although I suspect it would be older) that the state of the King was reflected in his lands. A sickly or evil king would have ...
1
vote
0answers
119 views

Do we have any information on what the homes of Aristotle or Plato would have looked like?

I wonder because of how influential and famous they were at their time, immediately following, and effectively forever after that (with the exception of Aristotle's slight dark age of having his ...
1
vote
0answers
77 views

Do we know of any literature before Greek philosophy that discusses the properties of a living thing?

I have been reading up on the first written works of literature leading up to philosophy as we understand it today. I am having a hard time to establish a clear time-line which leads up to the ...
0
votes
2answers
945 views

The allure of totalitarianism/ communism/ fascism [closed]

In the 1930s there was a rise of totalitarianism whether fascism or communism such as Hitler's Germany, Mussolini's Italy, and Stalin's Soviet Union What would've been the allure of totalitarianism ...