Ancient Philosophers on Mental Illness

Exploring how the ancient philosophers from Plato to late antiquity understood mental illness. Abstract This article outlines when, how and in what kind of contexts the phenomenon of mental illness was recognized in the ancient philosophical texts, how mental illness was understood in terms of the body–mind interaction, and how mental disorders of the medical[…]

Philosophy in the Ancient World

Philosophical systems developed first in the East, and a working outline proceeds from Mesopotamia to Rome and on to the present. Introduction The word philosophy comes from the Greek philo (love) and sophia (wisdom) and so is literally defined as “the love of wisdom”. More broadly understood, it is the study of the most basic and profound matters of human existence. The[…]

Finding the Good Argument – Or Why Bother With Logic?

Guidance in revealing the “mystery factor” and naming the qualities of a logical, ethical argument. By Rebecca Jones Introduction The word argument often means something negative.* In Nina Paley’s cartoon (see Figure 1), the argument is literally a cat fight. Rather than envisioning argument as something productive and useful, we imagine intractable sides and use[…]

The Damned Neighbors Problem: Rousseau’s Civil Religion Revisited

We can find important elements of Rousseau’s approach still alive and well in American politics and culture today. Abstract Near the conclusion of The Social Contract, Jean-Jacques Rousseau starkly proclaims that no state has been founded without a religious basis, and thus if he is right, every political community must grapple with the tension between[…]

We, Us, and Our: The History and Philosophy of Communitarianism

The philosophy of communitarianism originated in the 20th century, but the term “communitarian” was coined in 1841. Introduction Communitarianism is a philosophy that emphasizes the connection between the individual and the community. Its overriding philosophy is based upon the belief that a person’s social identity and personality are largely molded by community relationships, with a smaller degree of development being placed[…]

Life Is Flux: Heraclitus, Ancient Greek Presocratic Philosopher

Heraclitus maintained that the very nature of life is flux, is change, and that to resist this change was to resist the essence of our existence. Introduction Heraclitus of Ephesus (l. c. 500 BCE) is probably best known for his oft-misquoted assertion, “You cannot step twice into the same river” (first mis-quoted by Plato in his[…]

Pre-Socratic Philosophers in Ancient Greece

There are over 90 Pre-Socratic philosophers, all of whom contributed something to world knowledge. Introduction The Pre-Socratic Philosophers are defined as the Greek thinkers who developed independent and original schools of thought from the time of Thales of Miletus (l. c. 546 BCE) to that of Socrates of Athens (470/469-399 BCE). They are known as[…]

Philosophical Influences on Contemporary Chinese Law

One must study Chinese Law within the context of Chinese social, cultural, political, and legal history. By Weng LiAssistant Professor, Department of LawHangzhou University Introduction Those unfamiliar with China’s legal system frequently raise two questions: whether “Chinese law” is a meaningful concept[1] and whether there is value in discussing the philosophical influences on China’s legal[…]

Ancient Chinese Philosophy

Confucianism, Taoism, and Legalism would ultimately absorb other concepts and condemn previous schools of thought. Introduction The term Ancient Chinese Philosophy is generally understood to refer to the belief systems developed by various philosophers during the era known as the Hundred Schools of Thought (also The Contention of the Hundred Schools of Thought) when these[…]

Philosophy of the American Revolution

It can be traced, in part, to the Enlightenment and its profound impact on colonial thinking. Political The Revolution generated radical changes in the principles, opinions, and sentiments of the American people. New ideas and issues affected social customs, political ideals, and gender and racial roles as the thirteen colonies evolved into the United States.[…]

‘On the Sublime’: Ancient Greek Rhetoric and Literary Criticism

Given his positive reference to Genesis, Longinus has been assumed to be either a Hellenized Jew or readily familiar with the Jewish culture. Introduction Longinus is the conventional name of the author of the treatise, On the Sublime (Περὶ ὕψους), a work which focuses on the effect of good writing (Russell xlii). Longinus, sometimes referred[…]

Gorgias of Ancient Greece: An Orator with Artistic Prose

Gorgias was a native of Leontini, a Greek colony in Sicily, which is often called the home of Greek rhetoric. Introduction Gorgias (c. 483 – 375 B.C.E.), was one of the most important Greek sophists of the fifth century B.C.E., a philosopher, rhetorician, and a gifted writer of artistic prose. Originally a native of Leontini[…]

Charvaka: Understanding the Material World in the Philosophy of Ancient India

Materialism holds that perceivable matter is all that exists, while supernatural entities or planes of existence are imagined. Introduction Charvaka (also given as Carvaka) was a philosophical school of thought, developed in India c. 600 BCE, stressing materialism as the means by which one understands and lives in the world. Materialism holds that perceivable matter[…]

Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Friends and Influences on and of His ‘Social Contract’

Some of the people he has influenced don’t even realize it. When I was finishing a biography of Jean-Jacques Rousseau some years ago, I was struck by the comment of someone who had known him: “the friends of Rousseau are as though related to each other through his soul, which has joined them across countries,[…]

The Enlightenment, Reason, and Natural Law: Choosing the Beggar Over the Monster

“Enlightenment is the human being’s emancipation from its self-incurred immaturity.” By Santana Juache Introduction The Enlightenment stemmed out of a vast array of political and social changes in Europe. It was a period of radical reformation, of privilege and secular authority. Law and morality were believed to have been bred into the blood of kings[…]

The Concept of the General Will: Writings of Rousseau, Sièyes, and Robespierre

A comparison of the concept of the “general will” in revolutionary France. Introduction The concept of the General Will – as expressed by the French term volonté générale -was developed in the seventeenth century by writers such as Arnauld, Pascal, Malebranche, Fenélon, Bayle, and Leibniz in a theological context to mean the “general will of[…]

History and Theories of Civil Disobedience

Civil disobedience can be distinguished from other active forms of protest, such as rioting, because of its passivity and non-violence. Introduction Civil disobedience encompasses the active refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government or of an occupying power without resorting to physical violence. Based on the position that laws can be[…]

The Philosophy on the Fear of Death by Lucretius in Ancient Rome

Lucretius was worried that our fear of death could lead to irrational beliefs and actions that could harm society. Introduction With the global spread of the new coronavirus, fears about illness and death weigh heavily on the minds of many. Such fears can often result in a disregard for the welfare of others. All over[…]

Comfort for the Grieving in the Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

While we don’t get to decide when we get shipwrecked, we do get to decide what we rebuild out of the debris. ‘When I was a child, when I was an adolescent, books saved me from despair: that convinced me that culture was the highest of values.’ From The Woman Destroyed (1967) by Simone de[…]

“Stoa Poikile”: Zeno of Citium and the Mindset of a Stoic

Understanding through reason, self-discipline in wisdom and virtue. Introduction Stoicism, one of the three major schools of Hellenistic philosphy, was founded in Athens in 308 B.C.E. by Zeno of Citium (334-262 B.C.E.) and further developed by his two successors, Cleanthes (331-232 B.C.E.) and Chrysippus (c. 280-206 B.C.E.). The school got its name from the “stoa[…]

A History of Philosophical Pragmatism

Pragmatism originated as a philosophical movement in the United States in the late 1800s. Introduction Pragmatism is a philosophical movement that originated with Charles Sanders Peirce (1839 – 1914) (who first stated the pragmatic maxim) and came to fruition in the early twentieth-century philosophies of William James and John Dewey. Most of the thinkers who[…]

A History of Ethics since the Ancient World

In the western intellectual tradition, philosophical reflection on ethical codes began with the Greek Sophists of the fifth century BCE. Introduction Any historical overview is necessarily selective. The current article elaborates the central teachings of some of the most important ethical philosophers of the ancient, medieval and modern periods. Roughly speaking, ancient ethical thinking begins[…]

A History of Logic since the Ancient World

The history of logic cannot be separated from general philosophy and the philosophy of logic. Introduction The history of logic documents the development of logic as it occurs in various cultures and traditions in history. While many cultures have employed intricate systems of reasoning, logic as an explicit analysis of the methods of reasoning received[…]

Avicenna and His Medical Influence in Medieval Europe

Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine was used for several centuries in medieval Europe and the Arab world as a major medical textbook. Introduction Ibn Sina (980-1037 C.E.), often referred to by his Latinized name Avicenna, was a Persian physician, philosopher, and scientist. He was one of the major Islamic philosophers and his philosophical writings had a[…]

Empire in the Age of Enlightenment: The Curious Case of Baron Benyowszky

Enlightenment debates about colonialism had very little to do with what actually happened on the ground. While the period between the Seven Years’ War and the French Revolution marked an ebb tide for the fortunes of French imperialism, colonial issues loomed large in the political and philosophical discourse of the age. Statesmen such as the[…]