Topic: Philosophy/Ancient philosophy
Abū al-ʿAlāʾ al-Maʿarrī (Arabic: أبو العلاء المعري, full name أبو العلاء أحمد بن عبد الله بن سليمان التنوخي المعري Abū al-ʿAlāʾ Aḥmad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sulaymān al-Tanūkhī al-Maʿarrī; December 973 – May 1057) was a blind Arab philosopher, poet, and writer. Despite holding a controversially irreligious worldview, he is regarded as one of the greatest classical Arabic poets.
Born in the city of Ma'arra during the Abbasid era, he studied in nearby Aleppo, then in Tripoli and Antioch. Producing popular poems in Baghdad, he nevertheless refused to sell his texts. In 1010, he returned to Syria after his mother began declining in health, and continued writing which gained him local respect.
Described as a "pessimistic freethinker", al-Ma'arri was a controversial rationalist of his time, citing reason as the chief source of truth and divine revelation. He was pessimistic about life, describing himself as "a double prisoner" of blindness and isolation. He attacked religious dogmas and practices, was equally critical and sarcastic about Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism, and became a Deist.
He advocated social justice and lived a secluded, ascetic lifestyle. He was a vegan, known in his time as moral vegetarianism, entreating: "do not desire as food the flesh of slaughtered animals / Or the white milk of mothers who intended its pure draught / for their young". Al-Ma'arri held an antinatalist outlook, in line with his general pessimism, suggesting that children should not be born to spare them of the pains and suffering of life.
Al-Ma'arri wrote three main works that were popular in his time. Among his works are The Tinder Spark, Unnecessary Necessity, and The Epistle of Forgiveness. Al-Ma'arri never married and died at the age of 83 in the city where he was born, Ma'arrat al-Nu'man. In 2013, a statue of al-Ma'arri located in his Syrian hometown was beheaded by jihadists from the al-Nusra Front.
- "Al-Maʿarri" | 2019-06-20 | 103 Upvotes 55 Comments
Mohism or Moism (Chinese: 墨家; pinyin: Mòjiā; literally: 'School of Mo') was an ancient Chinese philosophy of logic, rational thought and science developed by the academic scholars who studied under the ancient Chinese philosopher Mozi (c. 470 BC – c. 391 BC) and embodied in an eponymous book: the Mozi. It evolved at about the same time as Confucianism, Taoism and Legalism, and was one of the four main philosophic schools from around 770–221 BC (during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods). During that time, Mohism was seen as a major rival to Confucianism. Although its influence endured, Mohism all but disappeared as an independent school of thought.
- "Mohism" | 2018-07-13 | 10 Upvotes 1 Comments
In the metaphysics of identity, the ship of Theseus is a thought experiment that raises the question of whether an object that has had all of its components replaced remains fundamentally the same object. The concept is one of the oldest in Western philosophy, having been discussed by the likes of Heraclitus and Plato by ca. 500-400 BC.
The Tetrapharmakos (τετραφάρμακος) "four-part remedy" is a summary of the first four of the Κύριαι Δόξαι (Kuriai Doxai, the forty Epicurean Principal Doctrines given by Diogenes Laërtius in his Life of Epicurus) in Epicureanism, a recipe for leading the happiest possible life. They are recommendations to avoid anxiety or existential dread.
The "tetrapharmakos" was originally a compound of four drugs (wax, tallow, pitch and resin); the word has been used metaphorically by Roman-era Epicureans. to refer to the four remedies for healing the soul.
- "Tetrapharmakos - Epicurus's remedy for leading the happiest possible life." | 2009-12-16 | 32 Upvotes 11 Comments
The Nicomachean Ethics (; Ancient Greek: Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια, Ēthika Nikomacheia) is the name normally given to Aristotle's best-known work on ethics. The work, which plays a pre-eminent role in defining Aristotelian ethics, consists of ten books, originally separate scrolls, and is understood to be based on notes from his lectures at the Lyceum. The title is often assumed to refer to his son Nicomachus, to whom the work was dedicated or who may have edited it (although his young age makes this less likely). Alternatively, the work may have been dedicated to his father, who was also called Nicomachus.
The theme of the work is a Socratic question previously explored in the works of Plato, Aristotle's friend and teacher, of how men should best live. In his Metaphysics, Aristotle described how Socrates, the friend and teacher of Plato, had turned philosophy to human questions, whereas pre-Socratic philosophy had only been theoretical. Ethics, as now separated out for discussion by Aristotle, is practical rather than theoretical, in the original Aristotelian senses of these terms. In other words, it is not only a contemplation about good living, because it also aims to create good living. It is therefore connected to Aristotle's other practical work, the Politics, which similarly aims at people becoming good. Ethics is about how individuals should best live, while the study of politics is from the perspective of a law-giver, looking at the good of a whole community.
The Nicomachean Ethics is widely considered one of the most important historical philosophical works, and had an important impact upon the European Middle Ages, becoming one of the core works of medieval philosophy. It therefore indirectly became critical in the development of all modern philosophy as well as European law and theology. Many parts of the Nicomachean Ethics are well known in their own right, within different fields. In the Middle Ages, a synthesis between Aristotelian ethics and Christian theology became widespread, in Europe as introduced by Albertus Magnus. While various philosophers had influenced Christendom since its earliest times, in Western Europe Aristotle became "the Philosopher". The most important version of this synthesis was that of Thomas Aquinas. Other more "Averroist" Aristotelians such as Marsilius of Padua were controversial but also influential. (Marsilius is for example sometimes said to have influenced the controversial English political reformer Thomas Cromwell.)
A critical period in the history of this work's influence is at the end of the Middle Ages, and beginning of modernity, when several authors such as Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes, argued forcefully and largely successfully that the medieval Aristotelian tradition in practical thinking had become a great impediment to philosophy in their time. However, in more recent generations, Aristotle's original works (if not those of his medieval followers) have once again become an important source. More recent authors influenced by this work include Alasdair MacIntyre, G. E. M. Anscombe, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Martha Nussbaum and Avital Ronell.
- "Nicomachean Ethics" | 2020-04-24 | 282 Upvotes 158 Comments
Chanakya (IAST: Cāṇakya, pronunciation ) was an ancient Indian teacher, philosopher, economist, jurist and royal advisor. He is traditionally identified as Kauṭilya or Vishnugupta, who authored the ancient Indian political treatise, the Arthashastra, a text dated to roughly between the 3rd century BCE and the 3rd century CE. As such, he is considered the pioneer of the field of political science and economics in India, and his work is thought of as an important precursor to classical economics. His works were lost near the end of the Gupta Empire in the 6th century CE and not rediscovered until the early 20th century.
Chanakya assisted the first Mauryan emperor Chandragupta in his rise to power. He is widely credited for having played an important role in the establishment of the Maurya Empire. Chanakya served as the chief advisor to both emperors Chandragupta and his son Bindusara.
- "Chanakya" | 2020-09-05 | 118 Upvotes 64 Comments
Aristotle's views on women influenced later Western thinkers, as well as Islamic thinkers, who quoted him as an authority until the end of the Middle Ages, influencing women's history.
In his Politics, Aristotle saw women as subject to men, but as higher than slaves, and lacking authority; he believed the husband should exert political rule over the wife. Among women's differences from men were that they were, in his view, more impulsive, more compassionate, more complaining, and more deceptive. He gave the same weight to women's happiness as to men's, and in his Rhetoric stated that society could not be happy unless women were happy too. Whereas Plato was open to the potential equality of men and women, stating both that women were not equal to men in terms of strength and virtue, but were equal to men in terms of rational and occupational capacity, and hence in the ideal Republic should be educated and allowed to work alongside men without differentiation, Aristotle appears to have disagreed.
In his theory of inheritance, Aristotle considered the mother to provide a passive material element to the child, while the father provided an active, ensouling element with the form of the human species.
- "Aristotle's Views on Women" | 2020-09-28 | 10 Upvotes 4 Comments
"I know that I know nothing" is a saying derived from Plato's account of the Greek philosopher Socrates. Socrates himself was never recorded as having said this phrase, and scholars generally agree that Socrates only ever asserted that he believed that he knew nothing, having never claimed that he knew that he knew nothing. It is also sometimes called the Socratic paradox, although this name is often instead used to refer to other seemingly paradoxical claims made by Socrates in Plato's dialogues (most notably, Socratic intellectualism and the Socratic fallacy).
This saying is also connected or conflated with the answer to a question Socrates (according to Xenophon) or Chaerephon (according to Plato) is said to have posed to the Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi, in which the oracle stated something to the effect of "Socrates is the wisest person in Athens." Socrates, believing the oracle but also completely convinced that he knew nothing, was said to have concluded that nobody knew anything, and that he was only wiser than others because he was the only person who recognized his own ignorance.
- "I know that I know nothing" | 2022-03-15 | 11 Upvotes 1 Comments
Pyrrhonism is an Ancient Greek school of philosophical skepticism which rejects dogma and advocates the suspension of judgement over the truth of all beliefs. It was founded by Aenesidemus in the first century BCE, and said to have been inspired by the teachings of Pyrrho and Timon of Phlius in the fourth century BCE. Pyrrhonism is best known today through the surviving works of Sextus Empiricus, writing in the late second century or early third century CE. The publication of Sextus' works in the Renaissance ignited a revival of interest in Skepticism and played a major role in Reformation thought and the development of early modern philosophy.
- "Pyrrhonism" | 2023-02-21 | 58 Upvotes 27 Comments
Akrasia (; Greek ἀκρασία, "lacking command" or "weakness", occasionally transliterated as acrasia or Anglicised as acrasy or acracy) is a lack of self-control, or acting against one's better judgment. Beginning with Plato, a variety of philosophers have attempted to determine whether or not akrasia exists and how to best define it.