The brilliance of these Italian, German and Greek sophist and theorist could very easily be implemented into our modern way of thinking, solving problems and overall, living. The magnificent work of arts that is their legacy, provides us with the powerful knowledge which serves us in our everyday growth, not to mention the impact it will have on future generations. In the following article we will enlist some of the most influential and prominent philosopher’s works of all time:
Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason
“I do not mean by this a critique of books and systems, but of the faculty of reason in general, in respect of all knowledge after which it may strive independently of all experience”, Kant asserts in the beginning of this marvelous 18th century edition.
Kant mainly states that everything written and said must be previously present in the subject, for when and if that subject is attempted to be denied or opposed, which Kant named simply a priori, would implicate a contradiction. Kant’s strong opinion opposed the view of a great empiricist before his age, David Hume, constantly pointing out that some of the Hume’s analytic allegations, were in fact synthetic, which subsequently led to a big contradictions in the writing, reasoning and interpretations of that time.
Friedrich Nietzsche, On the advantage and disadvantage of history
This prominent 19th century philosopher, cultural critic and poet wrote several remarkable extracts on religion, morality, culture and science, always including a unique dose of irony and metaphor.
Further beyond the obvious state of criticism on historical culture misuse, Nietzsche wrote about the ubiquitously in the political culture crisis in Germany after the Franco-Prussian war. In his own words, he advised that “the power of the past to enforce its claims on the future always forms a threat to the project of modernism”. In other words, what is done in the present will one day be far in the past, but will still have an immense influence on the future turn of events. He strongly opposes the historical education of the modern youth, simply referring that the headline should be put on the line between where history ends and the present begins, subsequently showing that the history should serve as a guide, not as the entire subject of the matter.
Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince
This magnificent work of art was brought to us by one of the brightest Italian diplomats of all time in the early 16th century, the age best known for its uniquely strict and rigid beliefs fueled by religious ethics of Rome and Europe.
By far the most innovative exposition yet, “The Prince” spoke firmly and unshakably about truth as the single most important principle and ideal to follow in politics. Later on, however, the short treatise is most used to justify the misapplications of immoral means in order to achieve any goal.
Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation
Based on the work of his fellow countryman Immanuel Kant, Arthur Schopenhauer went even further in his theories claiming that the world and our lives are driven by the undying desire for satisfaction. His admirers were certain that his entire life’s work was presumably based on the Eastern philosophy and culture, particularly on principles of Buddhism.
Initially criticizing Kant for ignoring inner experiences in his thesis, he claimed that all things truthful come from within, formed by a unique connection between the human body and mind.
A very innovative way of creating theories by combining works of first philosophers such as Plato and modernists like Kant, is precisely the reason why Schopenhauer leaves his readers fascinated long after his time.
Daniel Dennett, Consciousness Explained
Accordingly to the topic of this article, it is necessary to point out one of the true revolutionaries in cognitive science, professor Daniel Dennett III. As a devoted secularist influenced by some of the greatest minds of all age from evolutionist Charles Darwin, to the most profound philosophical icons such as Friedrich Nietszche, David Hume and William James, essentially, he suggested that, instead of conscious experiences occurring in one, central part of the brain, they could actually develop in the various places, and at the same time.
As expected, Dennett’s approach has stumbled upon same judgments and oppositions, but despite of that, this thesis has and still is raising interest of behaviorists, both modern and classical.
Plato, The Apology
This speech which was held in about 400 years B.C. against the charges on corrupted beliefs of Socrates, is still considered one of the finest examples of dialogue from Ancient Greeks, as well as the most reliable one on Socrates.
Even with his first sentence, Plato implies that one of the most important principles in philosophy is a very sincere admission of ignorance, through the form of his famous assertions – “I know that I know nothing”. Through his unique uses of parody and imitation, Plato proves us he is one of the best orators of all time.
St. Augustine, Confessions
Saint Augustine of Hippo was a prominent Christian theologian and philosopher who had an enormous impact on the Western philosophy. Under the great influence of Plato, he wrote a very authoritative thesis on the original sin. Later on, he gave a marvelous contribution to theology with his concept on the Catholic Church. In this ground-breaking piece, Augustine outlines his troubled youth and conversion to Christianity. Giving us an insight in the deepest thoughts and self-doubts, we are exposed to the marvelous and life-changing testimony on the importance of morality, with which every reader can relate to.
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
As one of the most profound liberals of the 17th century, Hobbes made a great impact on today’s view on political philosophy and science.
Highly flattering, this work is often compared to Machiavelli’s “The Prince”. Writing it during the English Civil War, Hobbes argued for a social contract being a matter that addresses questions of legitimacy of authority over the individuals, as opposed to Greek philosophy and Roman law approach.
He also stated that the human interaction in every form could be understood on the level of development of their natural rights and consciousness.
Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy
This British liberal and pacifist brought to us a profound and thorough study on the philosophy basics. Bringing up a distinction between the knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by description, he questioned various of theories by Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Hume and Hegel. As a prominent anti-war activist, Russell devoted his life’s research to creating a balance between logic and reason through the combined usage of mathematics, linguistics, cognitive science and metaphysics, while his critics of totalitarianism and fight for nuclear disarmament awarded him with a Nobel Prize.