Category: philosophy

ARISTOTLE: 

ARISTOTLE of Stagira (l. 384-322 BCE) was a Greek philosopher who pioneered systematic, scientific examination in literally every area of human knowledge and was known, in his time, as “the man who knew everything” and later simply as “The Philosopher”, needing no further qualification as his fame was so widespread. He literally invented the concept of metaphysics single-handedly when he (or one of his scribes) placed his book on abstract philosophical speculation after his book on physics (metaphysics literally means “after physics”) and standardized in learning – how information is collected, assimilated and interpreted, and then communicated – across numerous disciplines.  

During the later Middle Ages (c. 1300-1500 CE), he was referred to as "The Master”, most notably in Dante’s Inferno where the author did not need to even identify Aristotle by name for him to be recognized. This particular epithet is apt in that Aristotle wrote on, and was considered a master in, disciplines as diverse as biology, politics, metaphysics, agriculture, literature, botany, medicine, mathematics, physics, ethics, logic, and the theatre. He is traditionally linked in sequence with Socrates and Plato in the triad of the three greatest Greek philosophers.

He was hired by Philip II, King of Macedon (r. 359-336 BCE) as tutor for his son Alexander the Great (l. 356-323 BCE) and made such an impression on the youth that Alexander carried Aristotle’s works with him on campaign and introduced his philosophy to the east when he conquered the Persian Empire. Through Alexander, Aristotle’s works were spread throughout the known world of the time, influencing other philosophies and providing a foundation for the development of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim theology.  

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We erect monuments so that we shall always remember, and build memorials so that we shall never forget.

We erect monuments so that we shall always remember, and build memorials so that we shall never forget.

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.‘

One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion.

YIN AND YANG: 

THE principle of Yin and Yang is that all things exist as inseparable and contradictory opposites, for example, female-male, dark-light and old-young. The principle, dating from the 3rd century BCE or even earlier, is a fundamental concept in Chinese philosophy and culture in general. The two opposites of Yin and Yang attract and complement each other and, as their symbol illustrates, each side has at its core an element of the other (represented by the small dots). Neither pole is superior to the other and, as an increase in one brings a corresponding decrease in the other, a correct balance between the two poles must be reached in order to achieve harmony.

The concept of Yin and Yang became popular with the work of the Chinese school of Yinyang which studied philosophy and cosmology in the 3rd century BCE. The principal proponent of the theory was the cosmologist Zou Yan (or Tsou Yen) who believed that life went through five phases (wuxing) – fire, water, metal, wood, earth – which continuously interchanged according to the principle of Yin and Yang.

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To read good books is like holding a conversation with the most eminent minds of past centuries and, moreover, a studied conversation in which these authors reveal to us only the best of their thoughts.

MARCUS AURELIUS: PLATO’S PHILOSOPHER KING: 

MARCUS Aurelius Antoninus (r. 161-180 CE), last of the “good emperors” of the Roman Empire, has been hailed as “the noblest of all the men who, by sheer intelligence and force of character, have prized and achieved goodness for its own sake and not for any reward” (Grant, 139). His reign was characterized by a devotion to his people and this, as well as his enduring philosophical work, Meditations, attests to the truth of Grant’s praise.

Scholar Michael Grant, however, is hardly the first to express such sentiments. Aurelius was highly respected in his lifetime and is referred to as “the philosopher” by later ancient sources such as Cassius Dio (c. 155-235 CE) and the author (or authors) of the Historia Augusta (4th century CE), a history of Roman emperors. It is clear from both these sources that Aurelius’ Meditations was known to them but the authors focus, not only on the written work – which Aurelius never intended for publication – but on how he lived his philosophy throughout his reign.

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The gifts of nature are infinite in their variety, and mind differs from mind almost as much as body differs from body.

If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, each of us will have two ideas.