Recent Modern Philosophy: Immanuel Kant

By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages Life and Works Immanuel Kant was born in the East Prussian city of Königsberg, studied at its university, and worked there as a tutor and professor for more than forty years, never travelling more than fifty miles from home. Although his outward life was[…]

Recent Modern Philosophy: The Enlightenment

An example of a French salon, by Anicet Charles Gabriel Lemonnier, 1812 / Musée national du Château de Malmaison, Paris By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages The Enlightenment: British The major philosophers with whose work we are primarily occupied represent only a portion of the eighteenth century’s great cultural upheaval, often known as the Enlightenment. A[…]

Early Modern Philosophy: David Hume

Painting of David Hume, by Allan Ramsay, 1754 / Scottish National Portrait Gallery By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages Life and Works Soon after completing his studies at Edinburgh, Scottish philosopher David Hume began writing his comprehensive statement of the views he believed would contribute to philosophy no less than[…]

Early Modern Philosophy: Bayle and Berkeley

Waldseemüller map (Martin Waldseemüller) from 1507 is the first map to include the name “America” and the first to depict the Americas as separate from Asia. There is only one surviving copy of the map, which was purchased by the Library of Congress in 2001 By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages Pierre Bayle:[…]

Early Modern Philosophy: Spinoza and Leibniz

Waldseemüller map (Martin Waldseemüller) from 1507 is the first map to include the name “America” and the first to depict the Americas as separate from Asia. There is only one surviving copy of the map, which was purchased by the Library of Congress in 2001 By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages Baruch Spinoza:[…]

Early Modern Philosophy: René Descartes

By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages Life and Works After receiving a sound education in mathematics, classics, and law at La Flèche and Poitiers, René Descartes embarked on a brief career in military service with Prince Maurice in Holland and Bavaria. Unsatisfied with scholastic philosophy and troubled by skepticismof the sort expounded by Montaigne,[…]

Early Modern Philosophy: The Renaissance

Waldseemüller map (Martin Waldseemüller) from 1507 is the first map to include the name “America” and the first to depict the Americas as separate from Asia. There is only one surviving copy of the map, which was purchased by the Library of Congress in 2001 By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages Humanism and[…]

Ancient and Medieval Philosophy: The Origin of Western Thought – Late Scholasticism

Henricus de Alemannia with students in a medieval university, by Laurentius de Voltolina, second half 14th century / Kupferstichkabinett Berlin By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages Bonaventure and Aquinas St. Bonaventure receives the envoys of the Byzantine Emperor at the Second Council of Lyon, by Francisco de Zurbarán / Louvre Museum, Paris Reviving the West[…]

Ancient and Medieval Philosophy: The Origin of Western Thought – Medieval Philosophy and Religion

Henricus de Alemannia with students in a medieval university, by Laurentius de Voltolina, second half 14th century / Kupferstichkabinett Berlin By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages Augustine Saint Augustine, by Phillipe de Champaigne, c.1650 / Los Angeles County Museum of Art Having devoted extensive attention to the development of philosophy among[…]

Ancient and Medieval Philosophy: The Origin of Western Thought – Hellenistic Philosophy

A line drawing of Epictetus writing at a table with a crutch draped across his lap and shoulder. Frontispiece drawn by “Sonnem” and engraved by “MB”. / Boston Public Library By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages The Hellenistic World The great golden age of Athenian philosophy, encompassing Socrates,Plato, and Aristotle only lasted for about[…]

Stoicism and “Truth”

Philosopher of science Imre Lakatos By Dr. Massimo Pigliucci / 05.24.2017 Professor of Philosophy City University of New York I recently wrote about the remarkable similarities between Stoicism and Buddhism, referring to a recent book by Bob Wright, Why Buddhism Is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment. With all due respect to Bob, and acknowledging (from[…]

Ancient and Medieval Philosophy: The Origin of Western Thought – Aristotle

By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages Logical Methods The greatest and most influential of Plato’s students was Aristotle, who established his own school at Athens. Although his writing career probably began with the production of quasi-Platonic dialogues, none of them have survived. Instead, our knowledge of Aristotle’s doctrines must be derived from[…]

Ancient and Medieval Philosophy: The Origin of Western Thought – Plato

Plato statue / Photo by lentina_x, Creative Commons By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages Plato: Immortality and the Forms William Blake, The Spirit of Plato unfolds his Worlds to Milton in Contemplation / Pushkin State Museum of Fine Art A Faithful Student The most illustrious student Socrates had in philosophy was Plato, whose beautifully written dialogues not only offered[…]

Why Study Chinese Philosophy?

Plato, Confucius and Aristotle. Ancient Greek philosophy is widely taught in American universities, but classes in Chinese philosophy are few and far between. Public domain By Dr. Bryan W. Van Norden / 07.19.2017 Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple Professor of Philosophy Yale-NUS College Part of what U.S. diplomats and informed citizens need to know is[…]

Ancient and Medieval Philosophy: The Origin of Western Thought – Presocratics and Socrates

Presocratic Natural Philosophers from History of Science – Science in Ancient Egypt and the Aegean By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages Philosophical Thinking Philosophy as a discipline isn’t easy to define precisely. Issuing from a sense of wonderment about life and the world, it often involves a keen interest in major questions[…]

Imagination is a Powerful Tool: Why is Philosophy Afraid of It?

Two Men Contemplating the Moon by Caspar David Friedrich. 1825-30. / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Amy Kind / 09.01.2017 Professor of Philosophy Claremont McKenna College Philosophers have a love-hate relationship with the imagination. René Descartes, for one, disparaged it as ‘more of a hindrance than a help’ in answering the most profound questions about the nature[…]

The Revolutionary Figure of the Beautiful, Self-Improved Soul

Goethe by Georg Melchior Kraus. Courtesy Goethe Museum By Justine Kolata / 07.24.2017 PhD Candidate in Modern Languages University of Cambridge In a global culture that appears increasingly obsessed with radical individualism, narcissistic presentations of self, and incendiary political rhetoric, it is hard to imagine that society once cared about the beauty of the soul. But,[…]

Nature in John Locke’s ‘Essay Concerning Human Understanding’

Portrait of John Locke, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1697 / State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages In addition to the vital awareness of God and morality that guides proper action, practical human knowledge requires some familiarity with the physical world whose features so clearly[…]

The Art of Philosophy: Visualizing Aristotle in Early 17th-Century Paris

Meurisse and Gaultier’s Artificiosa totius logices descriptio, 1614 / IBF Gallica With their elaborate interplay of image and text, the several large-scale prints designed by the French friar Martin Meurisse to communicate Aristotelian thought are wonderfully impressive creations. Susanna Berger explores the function of these complex works, and how such visual commentaries not only served to[…]

Moral Agents in John Locke’s ‘Essay Concerning Human Understanding’

Portrait of John Locke, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1697 / State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages Three years after the Essay was published, Locke’s friend William Molyneux wrote from Ireland with several suggestions. Although he greatly admired Locke’s achievment, Molyneux proposed recasting it as a scholastic[…]

Action in John Locke’s ‘Essay Concerning Human Understanding’

Portrait of John Locke, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1697 / State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages The first edition of the Essay included a brief chapter, “Of Power,” dealing with the nature of human volition. Despite the admiration of his friends, Locke expressed both surprise at[…]

Philosophical Discussion of Immortality Technology

Detail from The Fountain of Youth (1546) by Lucas Cranach the Elder. Courtesy Wikipedia    By Francesca Minverva and Adrian Rorheim / 08.08.2017 Minverva: Philosophy postdoc, University of Ghent Rorheim: Researcher and editor, Effective Altruism Foundation, Berlin Immortality has gone secular. Unhooked from the realm of gods and angels, it’s now the subject of serious investment – both intellectual[…]

God and Morality in John Locke’s ‘Essay Concerning Human Understanding’

Portrait of John Locke, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1697 / State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages God Like many of his English contemporaries, Locke was deeply interested in matters of faith and religion. Keenly aware of the theological controversies of the day, he developed[…]

The Limits of Knowledge in John Locke’s ‘Essay Concerning Human Understanding’

Portrait of John Locke, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1697 / State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages One of the most basic themes of Locke’s epistemology is that since we cannot know everything, we would be well-advised to observe and respect the extent and limitations[…]

Exploring Knowledge in John Locke’s ‘Essay Concerning Human Understanding’

Portrait of John Locke, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1697 / State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages Having explained the origin of our ideas and the use of words to signify them, Locke was prepared to consider the nature of human knowledge. He began with[…]

The Use of Language in John Locke’s ‘Essay Concerning Human Understanding’

Portrait of John Locke, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1697 / State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages Since the significatory function of words is especially vital for the achievement and expression of human knowledge, Locke devoted an entire Book of the Essay to his careful examination of[…]

Complex Ideas in John Locke’s ‘Essay Concerning Human Understanding’

Portrait of John Locke, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1697 / State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages Although he granted that some groups of simple ideas naturally occur together in our experience, Locke supposed that most of our complex ideas are manufactured in the human[…]

Simple Ideas in John Locke’s ‘Essay Concerning Human Understanding’

Portrait of John Locke, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1697 / State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages Locke used the word “idea” for the most basic unit of human thought, subsuming under this term every kind of mental content from concrete sensory impressions to abstract[…]

An Introduction to John Locke’s ‘Essay Concerning Human Understanding’

Portrait of John Locke, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1697 / State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia By Dr. Garth Kemerling / 11.12.2011 Professor of Philosophy Capella University Philosophy Pages John Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding is a classic statement of empiricist epistemology. Written in a straightforward, uncomplicated style, the Essay attempts nothing less than a fundamental account of human knowledge—its origin[…]

Is a Copy of Me Still Me?

Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Charlie Huenemann / 08.01.2017 Professor of Philosophy Utah State University I am stranded on Mars. The fuel tanks on my return vessel ruptured, and no rescue team can possibly reach me before I run out of food. (And, unlike Matt Damon, I have no potatoes.) Luckily, my ship features a teleporter.[…]