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The nature of Western philosophy

Beware the barrenness of a busy life. The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants. Make the best use of what's in your power and take the rest as it happens. A good decision is based on knowledge and not numbers. Better a little which is well done, than a great deal imperfectly.

20 Major Philosophers & Their Big Ideas

The beginning is the most important part of the work. Apply yourself both now and in the next life. Without effort, you cannot be prosperous. Though the land be good, you cannot have an abundant crop without cultivation. All things will be produced in superior quantity and quality, and with greater ease, when each man works at a single occupation, in accordance with his natural gifts, and at the right moment, without meddling with anything else.

He who is not a good servant will not be a good master. As the builders say, the larger stones do not lie well without the lesser. Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. When the best leader's work is done the people say, "We did it ourselves.

Hobbes vs Locke: State of Nature

Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power. When you are content to be simply yourself and don't compare or compete, everybody will respect you. Great acts are made up of small deeds. An ant on the move does more than a dozing ox. Anticipate the difficult by managing the easy.


Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. To see things in the seed, that is genius. People in their handling of affairs often fail when they are about to succeed. If one remains as careful at the end as he was at the beginning, there will be no failure.

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Simone de Beauvoir's magnum opus, The Second Sex which hugely influenced me in my youth , demonstrates her hybrid consciousness. It doesn't conform to the strict definition of philosophy because it's an amalgamation of abstract thought and history and anthropology - real facts. The genre problem is probably why both these women are absent from the list. But Plato too was a writer of dramatic fiction--so that it is no basis for dismissing Rand.

The thinker of modern times should be partly abstract and partly practical. Karl Marx, the winner of the Radio 4 poll yesterday, was indeed a truly major thinker. He was not a captive of abstraction and always kept his eye on society and its evolution. But for me his failures emanated from his indifference to the individual and his ruthless privileging of the group. It has become tiresome to constantly blame every blip in women's lives on sexism and discrimination by men.

Today's lack of major female philosophers is not due to lack of talent but to the collapse of philosophy. Philosophy as traditionally practised may be a dead genre. This is the age of the internet in which we are constantly flooded by information in fragments.

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Each person at the computer is embarked on a quest for and fabrication of his or her identity. The web mimics human neurology, and it is fundmentally altering young people's brains. The web, for good or ill, is instantaneous. Philosophy belongs to a vanished age of much slower and rhetorically formal inquiry. German-born Jewish philosopher who studied under Heidegger with whom she also had a brief relationship before being imprisoned by the Gestapo in for her work on anti-Semitic propaganda.

She escaped and fled to Paris; seven years later, following the fall of France, she moved to the US. Initial interests in existentialism and in the thought of St Augustine gave place to a more political awareness. Her justification for capital punishment in Eichmann's case was that, as Eichmann had not wanted to share the earth with the Jews, the Jewish state had no reason to share the earth with him.

The first two volumes of her projected three-volume Life of the Mind were published posthumously, as was her Reflections on Kant's Political Philosophy. Follower of Plotinius who developed neo-Platonism at Alexandria from about to her death in She was so well-known, apparently, that correspondence addressed only to "The Philosopher" is said to have reached her.

Also a leading mathematician and astronomer, she is thought to have taught ideas relating to different levels of reality and humanity's ability to understand them.

20 Major Philosophers & Their Big Ideas | The Quad Magazine

She seems to have believed that everything in the natural world emanates from "the one" - and that human beings lack the mental capacity fully to comprehend ult imate reality. Her subsequent obscurity probably reflects the fact that none of her work survives although letters from a pupil do. It appears, however, that her influence made the city's Christian community feel threatened - perhaps partly because of her emphasis on the value of science.

She was torn to death by a Christian mob including monks armed with oyster shells. Admirers revere her as a philosophical martyr comparable to Socrates. Undeservedly overshadowed by her lover, Jean-Paul Sartre, Beauvoir developed an education in traditional philosophy she wrote a thesis on Leibniz into more radical explorations of feminism and existentialism.

Some of her ideas - about human freedom, for example, and about "being-for-itself" and "being-in-itself" - overlapped with Sartre's, but her best philosophical work, such as The Ethics of Ambiguity , was important in its own right, as was her towering work of feminist ideology, The Second Sex In The Second Sex, Beauvoir argues that women have been held back throughout history by the perception that they are a "deviation" from the male norm - an assumption that must be broken if feminism is to succeed.

Oxbridge-rooted academic principally concerned with defining the actual nature of phenomena such as mind and morality, Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe has been described as the pre-eminent British philosopher of the 20th century. She had intellectual roots not only in classical philosophy but also in Roman Catholicism and in the modern philosophy of Wittgenstein and Frege. A friend of Wittgenstein, she produced the definitive and still unrevised translation of his Philosophical Investigations in , as well theIntroduction to Wittgenstein's Tractatus in Her Intention is considered to be the founding document of modern "action theory".

An analytical philosopher of exceptional rigour, she allegedly once said to A J Ayer: "If you didn't talk so quickly, people wouldn't think you were so clever"; to which the philosopher replied: "If you didn't talk so slowly, people wouldn't think you were so profound. Born Anne Finch, she studied philosophy secondhand - via her brother - under Henry More at Cambridge. Her sex debarred her from studying the subject herself, but she corresponded with More for most of her relatively short life - she died at the age of Preoccupied with the question of substance - she doubted the existence of inert matter - she developed a God-based theory of nature as an integrated mental and material order "life and figure are distinct attributes of one substance" , made up of individual "monads".

In this, she anticipated Leibniz, who acknowledged her as an influence.

Her one surviving work, Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy, was published posthumously and anonymously in Anne Conway suffered from severe migraines and is said to have considered the operation known as trepanning as a possible cure. US-born feminist and champion of transcendental idealism, whose Woman of the Nineteenth Century was America's first major feminist manifesto.

A pupil of Emerson, she taught in Rhode Island and Boston before moving to Europe in and marrying an Italian aristocrat. Together with her husband and son, she drowned off Fire Island, New York, after fleeing the Italian revolution. British-born professor of philosophy and law at the University of Miami. Inhabits the difficult end of the spectrum, propounding an epistemological theory called foundherentism, a kind of Third Way between foundationalism and coherentism.

If you need to ask, you wouldn't understand. English feminist and egalitarian, associated with Thomas Paine and William Godwin her husband. A Vindication of the Rights of Men argued against the slave trade; A Vindication of the Rights of Women did what it said on the jacket.

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Described marriage as "legal prostitution". Opposed monarchy, church and military. Died after giving birth to the future Mary Shelley. Controversial Russian novelist and philosopher, a "radical capitalist" whose works are popular with young Tories and Camille Paglia. Moved to US in and developed a philosophy of individualism she called Objectivism "a philosophy for living on earth".

Best-known works: The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged Appeared in a Tobias Wolff memoir, and was played by Helen Mirren in a film about her life. Mary Warnock has significantly more influence on the way British society thinks of itself than any living male philosopher. She is a champion of a woman's right to philosophise. A veteran of royal commissions and committees of inquiry, she has published among much else The Uses of Philosophy , and Women Philosophers You can find our Community Guidelines in full here.

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