Siger of Brabant

Siger of Brabant
Siger of Brabant

Of Siger’s life, we know very few facts for certain. His exact place of birth remains unknown, as well as the locale and circumstances of his death. (Did he die peacefully in Liege, Belgium, or was he assassinated in Italy at the Roman curia?) Even the chronology of his works is uncertain. Although they are thought to have been written between 1265 and 1277, the precise dates remain conjectural.

Concerning his university career, facts are again unclear. Although it is certain that he never left the faculty of arts for one of the higher faculties (theology, medicine, law), his role in the debates that shook the University of Paris and led to the statutes of 1272 remains the subject of discussion (Putallaz and Imbach 1997 versus Bianchi 1999). At the beginning of his career, he was one of Thomas Aquinas’s most outspoken adversaries, but the question as to what degree he would have abandoned Averroism to adopt Thomist views remains open.

Certain passages seem to support the view that he would have abandoned Averroism, while others are incompatible with this hypothesis (Van Steenberghen and Maurer defend the developmental interpretation, whereas Mandonnet and Bukowski defend the idea that Siger never changed his mind and was the strictest Averroist of his time, a philosopher who could without any guilt subscribe to heretical propositions).

Georg Simmel

Georg Simmel
Georg Simmel

Georg Simmel, the German philosopher and sociologist, was born in Berlin and resided there except for the last four years of his life. He was educated there, and in 1881 he received his doctorate from the University of Berlin.

Three years later he began to teach at that university as a Privatdozent and from 1900 he was associate professor without faculty status. Although successful as a lecturer and a writer, he was never promoted to a full professorship at Berlin, nor was he able to secure such a position at any other leading German university.

Only in 1914, when his career was almost ended, was he offered a chair in philosophy at the provincial University of Strasbourg. However, World War I disrupted university life there, so that Strasbourg benefited little from Simmel’s teaching. Just before the end of the war, Simmel died of cancer.

Simplicius

Simplicius
Simplicius

Simplicius of Cilicia (in Asia Minor) tells us that he studied Platonic philosophy in Alexandria under Ammonius the son of Hermias (fl. c. 550). Afterward, he attended the lectures of Damascius, probably in Athens at the original and still flourishing school founded by Plato himself, the Academy. (An earlier scholarly opinion that there were doctrinal differences between the teachings on Plato in Alexandria and Athens is no longer held.)

All these figures were active neoplatonists, and Hermias and Damascius did in fact publish commentaries on various dialogues of Plato. But Ammonius and Simplicius (and to a lesser extent Damascius as well) devoted most of their writings to the explication of Aristotle’s works.

Simplicius, in addition to a commentary on Epictetus’s Handbook (Enchiridion), wrote extensive commentaries on five of those works of Aristotle that most challenge philosophers: Metaphysics (no longer extant, although fragments are known), Physics, Categories, De Anima, and De Caelo, with the four extant commentaries totaling over 2,800 sizable pages in the series Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca. (References in some modern books to a commentary by Simplicius on Sophistici Elenchi are mistaken.)

John Smith

John Smith
John Smith

John Smith, the moral and religious philosopher of the Cambridge Platonist school, was born at Achurch, near Oundle, in Northamptonshire. Very little is known with certainty about his origins.

It would seem that his father was a locally respected small farmer, that both of his parents were elderly when he was born, that he lost his mother in his early childhood and his father soon after. His short life was a continual struggle against poverty and ill health. In 1636 he was somehow enabled to enter Emmanuel College, where he came under the influence of Benjamin Whichcote.

Although he was about the same age as his fellow Platonist Ralph Cudworth, Cudworth was already a fellow of Emmanuel before Smith took his BA in 1640; Smith was very likely his pupil and certainly came under his influence. The influence may have been in some measure reciprocal.

John Jamieson Carswell Smart

John Jamieson Carswell Smart - 永井里菜 Rina Nagai
John Jamieson Carswell Smart

John Jamieson Carswell Smart was born into an academic Scottish family on September 16, 1920. His father, W. M. Smart, was an astronomer in Cambridge until 1937 when the family moved to Glasgow. J. J. C. Smart entered the University of Glasgow in 1938.

War service interrupted Smart’s education from 1940 to 1945, after which he rapidly completed his degrees at Glasgow, then proceeded to the University of Oxford, where he read for the newly established BPhil degree and came under the influence of Gilbert Ryle. After a short period at Corpus Christi College, he accepted, at the age of twenty-nine, the Hughes Professorship of Philosophy at the University of Adelaide.

John Jamieson Carswell Smart spent twenty-two years at the University of Adelaide, moving to La Trobe University in Melbourne in 1972. In 1976 he was appointed to a Chair in the Research School of Social Sciences of the Australian National University, which he held until his retirement in 1985. Since then he has continued to be active in philosophy at the Australian National University and in Melbourne.

Social and Political Philosophy

Social and Political Philosophy
Social and Political Philosophy

It is generally agreed that the central task of social and political philosophy is to provide a justification for coercive institutions. Coercive institutions range in size from the family to the nation-state and world organizations, like the United Nations, with their narrower and broader agendas for action. Yet essentially, they are institutions that at least sometimes employ force or the threat of force to control the behavior of their members to achieve either minimal or wide-ranging goals.

To justify such coercive institutions, we need to show that the authorities within these institutions have a right to be obeyed and that their members have a corresponding duty to obey them. In other words, we need to show that these institutions have legitimate authority over their members.

In philosophical debate at the beginning of the twenty-first century, a number of competing justifications for coercive institutions have been defended:

Peter Singer

Peter Singer
Peter Singer

Peter Singer is one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century. While other philosophers have been more important in the development of the discipline, none has changed more lives. Newsweek magazine observed that the modern animal rights movement may be dated from the publication of Animal Liberation.

This book has sold more than 500,000 copies in sixteen languages thus far. Altogether Peter Singer is responsible in whole or part for producing thirty-six books, and a vast number of articles and reviews in journals ranging from The Philosophical Review to the New York Times.

Peter Singer was born in Melbourne, Australia, on July 6th, 1946. His parents were Viennese Jews who escaped in 1938, shortly after the Anschluss incorporated Austria into the German Reich. He went on to Melbourne University, where as an undergraduate he studied law, history, and philosophy.

History of Skepticism

History of Skepticism
History of Skepticism

Skepticism (also spelled “Scepticism”) is the philosophical attitude of doubting knowledge claims set forth in various areas. Skeptics have challenged the adequacy or reliability of these claims by asking what they are based upon or what they actually establish. They have raised the question whether such claims about the world are either indubitable or necessarily true, and they have challenged the alleged grounds of accepted assumptions.

Practically everyone is skeptical about some knowledge claims; but the skeptics have raised doubts about any knowledge beyond the contents of directly felt experience. The original Greek meaning of skeptikos was “an inquirer,” someone who was unsatisfied and still looking for truth.

From ancient times onward skeptics have developed arguments to undermine the contentions of dogmatic philosophers, scientists, and theologians. The skeptical arguments and their employment against various forms of dogmatism have played an important role in shaping both the problems and the solutions offered in the course of western philosophy.

Simulation Theory

Simulation Theory
Simulation Theory

A prominent part of everyday thought is thought about mental states. We ascribe states like desire, belief, intention, hope, thirst, fear, and disgust both to ourselves and to others. We also use these ascribed mental states to predict how others will behave. Ability to use the language of mental states is normally acquired early in childhood, without special training.

This naïve use of mental state concepts is variously called folk psychology, theory of mind, mentalizing,or mindreading and is studied in both philosophy and the cognitive sciences, including developmental psychology, social psychology, and cognitive neuroscience.

One approach to mindreading holds that mental-state attributors use a naïve psychological “theory” to infer mental states in others from their behavior, the environment, or their other mental states, and to predict their behavior from their mental states.

Jan Christiaan Smuts

Jan Christiaan Smuts
Jan Christiaan Smuts

Jan Christiaan Smuts, the South African statesman, soldier, and scholar, introduced the concept of “holism” into philosophy. Smuts was born on a farm near Riebeek West, Cape Colony (now Western Cape Province). He was graduated from Victoria College, Stellenbosch, in 1891 and from Cambridge in 1894, where he studied law.

At both places his record was brilliant, but he had the reputation of being a bookish recluse who made few friends. Returning home in 1895, he was admitted to the bar, entered political life, and during the Boer War commanded a force against the British with the rank of general.

However, when World War I broke out in 1914 he became a staunch defender of the Allied cause. In 1918 he published a pamphlet titled The League of Nations: A Practical Suggestion, which helped to form President Woodrow Wilson’s ideas.

Social Constructionism

Social Constructionism
Social Constructionism

Social constructionism (sometimes “constructivism”) is a version of constructivism. The idea that human beings in some measure construct the reality they perceive can be found in many philosophical traditions.

The pre-Socratic philosopher Xenophones, for instance, argued that humans construct gods in their own image (Fragment 16), a possibility that is also criticized in the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religious traditions (among others). But the idea that human beings epistemologically construct the reality they perceive is first given extended philosophical articulation in the work of Immanuel Kant (1724–1804).

In the nineteenth century a constructivism of sorts emerged as political theory in the work of Karl Marx (1818–1883) and others. Then, in the twentieth century, constructivism took new forms in psychology, in sociology, and in science, technology, and society (STS) studies.

B. F. Skinner

B. F. Skinner
B. F. Skinner

The name of B. F. (Burrhus Frederic) Skinner has become virtually synonymous with behaviorism. By introducing the concept of “operant conditioning” (in the late 1930s), B. F. Skinner fundamentally transformed behaviorist approaches to experimental psychology. Operant conditioning is based on the fact that the behavior of organisms (including people) typically has environmental consequences and is explained in important part by reference to them.

Its fundamental principle is that the probability of occurrence of a specified kind of behavior is a function of the environmental consequences of previous occurrences of behavior of the same type, most notably, that the probability increases if the previous occurrences have been followed by “reinforcement.”

B. F. Skinner, surpassing older behaviorist “stimulus-response” approaches, inaugurated an experimental research program aiming to discover the laws of operant conditioning and, thus, generalizations concerning the three-term relation: discriminative stimulus-behavior-reinforcement.

Social Epistemology

Rina Aizawa
Social Epistemology

Since the early 1980s, social epistemology has become an important field in Anglo-American philosophy. It encompasses a wide variety of approaches, all of which regard the investigation of social aspects of inquiry to be relevant to discussions of justification and knowledge.

The approaches range from the conservative acknowledgment that individual thinkers are aided by others in their pursuits of truth to the radical view that both the goals of inquiry and the manner in which those goals are attained are profoundly social.

Individualistic rather than social epistemologies have dominated philosophical discourse since at least the time of Descartes. The writings of Mill, Peirce, Marx, Dewey, and Wittgenstein, which began to develop social epistemologies, are among a few exceptions to individualistic approaches.

Socialism

矢島舞美
Socialism

 This entry is concerned with “socialism” from the time at which, so far as anyone knows, the word was first used in print to describe a view of what human society should be like.

This was in 1827, in the English Co-operative Magazine, a periodical aimed at expounding and furthering the views of Robert Owen of New Lanark, generally regarded as the father and founder of the cooperative movement. (Owenite cooperation, incidentally, was an institution different from, and far more idealistic than, the distributive stores which in the Victorian age took over the name.)

Some historians have traced the ancestry of socialism much further back: For example, to primitive communist societies, to the Jesuits of Paraguay, to the ideal communities described by Thomas More and others, to the Diggers of Cromwell’s army, and even to Plato’s Republic.

Society

Society
Society

A group of perennial problems in social philosophy arises from the concept “society” itself and from its relation to the “individual.”What is the ontological status of a society? When one speaks of it as having members, is that to recognize it as a whole with parts, or is the relation of some different kind? Or is this a case of what Alfred North Whitehead called the fallacy of misplaced concreteness?

Social Action and Social Relations

“Society” is used both abstractly and to refer to entities that can be particularized, identified, and distinguished from each other as social systems or organizations. The phrase “man in society” is an instance of the more abstract use, for it refers neither to some particular form of association nor to a particular collectivity in which individuals find themselves.

It refers, rather, to the social dimension of human action—to a certain generalized type of human relationship. Purely spatial or physical relations between human beings, like contiguity, are not social; for social relations give to human actions a dimension possessed neither by the mere behavior of things nor, indeed, of animals.

Socrates

Socrates
Socrates

Socrates is the first Western philosopher to have left to posterity any sense of his individual personality, and he is a central figure in the subsequent development of philosophy. Both of these aspects are due primarily to Plato. It is via his portrayal by Plato’s literary genius that Socrates is a living figure for subsequent generations, and thereby an exemplar of the ideals of philosophy, above all dedication to truth and intellectual integrity.

It was under the influence of Socrates that Plato applied systematic techniques of argument pioneered by Socrates and his contemporaries, the Sophists, to the fundamental questions of human nature and conduct that primarily interested Socrates, thereby placing ethics and psychology at the center of the philosophical agenda.

But while Plato brings Socrates to center stage he also hides him; because Socrates wrote nothing himself we depend on others for our knowledge of him, and it is above all Plato’s representation of Socrates that constitutes the figure of perennial philosophical significance.

Solipsism

Im Ji Hye (임지혜): Im Ji Hye, Beauty Look
Solipsism

There are a number of importantly different views associated with the term solipsism. Its Latin roots—solus, meaning “alone,” and ipse, meaning “self ”—suggest the rough idea that a solipsistic doctrine is going to put some sort of emphasis on the self standing alone, but there are radically different ways in which a philosopher might develop that emphasis.

In particular, we must distinguish an extreme metaphysical thesis, a view about the nature of mental states (sometimes misleadingly referred to as methodological solipsism), an epistemological/methodological thesis, and an ethical thesis.

Metaphysical Solipsism

The simplest and most radical of doctrines associated with solipsism is the puzzling doctrine that only the self exists. Stated in these terms, the doctrine is scarcely intelligible. The obvious question concerns whose self precisely it is that is supposed to be the only existing thing. It is easiest to state the doctrine from the first-person perspective. If I embrace solipsism, I am endorsing the view that I am the only existing thing.

Ernest Sosa

眼福
Ernest Sosa

Ernest Sosa is Romeo Elton Professor of Natural Theology and Professor of Philosophy at Brown University and regular Distinguished Visiting Professor at Rutgers University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh and has taught at Brown since 1964. Since 1983, he has been the editor of Philosophy and Phenomenological Research and since 1999, with Jaegwon Kim, the co-editor of Nous.

Sosa has published essays on issues in a wide variety of philosophical areas such as metaphysics, logic, philosophy of mind, theory of action, and philosophy of language, but he has been most influential in epistemology, where he is known for advocating a virtue-based approach to the analysis of knowledge and justification with an emphasis on the importance of a reflective perspective.

What is distinctive of virtue epistemology is the order of explanation: A belief ’s epistemic status is to be understood in terms of the epistemic properties of the subject, which in turn are to be captured by employing the concept of an intellectual virtue. How is this concept to be understood? In pure virtue epistemology, construed in analogy to pure virtue ethics, the concept of an intellectual virtue is basic (Foley 1994).

Werner Sombart

✧✿✧
Werner Sombart

Werner Sombart, the German economic and social theorist, was born in Ermsleben near the Harz Mountains. He was professor of economics at the University of Breslau from 1890 to 1906 and at Berlin University from 1906 to 1931.

Sombart made a strong impact on German economic thought and policies; he played a leading role in the Verein für Sozialpolitik and the Deutsche Soziologische Gesellschaft, and he was joint editor with Max Weber and Edgar Jaffe of the journal Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik.

Sombart’s interests covered economic and social history and theory, sociology, and the methodology of the social sciences, although his contributions to methodology were more polemical than constructive.

Socinianism

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Socinianism

“Socinianism,” an evangelical rationalist movement, was one of the forerunners of modern Unitarianism. Three phases can be distinguished:
  1. the thought of Laelius Socinus (1525–1562) and his nephew Faustus Socinus (1539–1604);
  2. the thought and institutions of the Minor (Reformed) Church of Poland, especially as embodied in the Racovian Catechism (1605), which represented a fusion of Faustus’s theology with that of the local anti-Trinitarian and partly Anabaptist Minor Church; and
  3. the rationalist theology of the Socinianized Minor Church.
This last phase was especially important after the Socinianized Minor Church was crushed in Poland in 1658 and the spirit of Socinianism became influential in the Netherlands among the Remonstrants; in the British Isles, in the seventeenth century, among certain Anglican divines and nonconformist intellectuals; and, in the eighteenth century, among the Arminian divines of New England, who were forerunners of the Unitarian congregationalists.

Sociology of Knowledge

Sociology of Knowledge
Sociology of Knowledge

The “sociology of knowledge” is concerned with determining whether human participation in social life has any influence on human knowledge, thought, and culture and, if it does, what sort of influence it is.

Development

Although the term sociology of knowledge was coined in the twentieth century, the origins of the discipline date back to classical antiquity. Plato, for instance, asserted that the lower classes are unfit to pursue the higher kinds of knowledge, because their mechanical crafts not only deform their bodies but also confuse their souls.

Plato also held the more refined doctrine of the correspondence of the knower (or more precisely, the faculties and activities of the knower’s mind, which are in part determined by society) and the known.

Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand Solger

Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand Solger
Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand Solger

Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand Solger, the German romantic philosopher, was born in Schwedt. He studied jurisprudence, philology, and philosophy at the University of Halle and at Jena, where he heard Friedrich von Schelling lecture.

After some time in the Prussian civil service, he lectured on philosophy at the University of Frankfurt an der Oder (1809), where he met Ludwig Tieck, the writer. From 1811 until his death he was a professor at the University of Berlin.

Like many romantics, Solger was preoccupied with the polarity of the finite and the infinite. Man is finite but filled with a desire for the infinite. The world in which he finds himself is fragmented. Grasping splinters of reality, common understanding operates in terms of polarities— concrete and universal, appearance and concept, body and soul, individual and nature.

Vladimir Sergeevich Solov’ëv

Vladimir Sergeevich Solov’ëv
Vladimir Sergeevich Solov’ëv
Vladimir Sergeevich Solov’ëv was a Russian philosopher, poet, polemical essayist, and literary critic. His father, S. M. Solov’ëv, was an eminent historian and professor at Moscow University.

After graduating in 1873 from the historicophilological department of Moscow University, Solov’ëv studied for a year at the Moscow Theological Academy. In 1874 he defended his master’s dissertation, Krizis zapadnoi filosofii.

Protiv pozitivistov (The crisis of western philosophy: Against positivists) and was elected a docent of philosophy at Moscow University. During 1875–1876 he conducted research at the British Library, where he concentrated on mystical and Gnostic literature, including Jakob Boehme, Paracelsus, Emanuel Swedenborg, and the kabbalah.

Sophists

Sophists
Sophists

In English, the term sophist is most often used pejoratively, for one who argues with devious abuses of logic. The Greek Sophistês took on a similar sense in the fifth century BCE., but its original meaning is simply expert or wise person.

In the study of Greek philosophy, the sophists denote a group of teachers and intellectuals of the fifth and fourth century BCE (the term is also used for later practitioners of their profession; this soon comes to be interchangeable with rhetoric or public speaking, as in the so-called Second Sophistic movement of the second century CE).

The sophists are perennially ambiguous and controversial figures, and it has long been debated whether they should be deemed philosophers. Two central points seem clear: First, the sophists did not constitute a philosophical school with a shared set of metaphysical and ethical positions; second, a number of them did develop serious, innovative, and influential ideas and arguments on a wide range of topics, and so demand inclusion in the history of ancient philosophy.

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