The Great Philosophers: Karl Marx, Charles Sanders Peirce and William James
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The Great Philosophers: Karl Marx, Charles Sanders Peirce and William James

Jeremy Stangroom, James Garvey

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eBook - ePub

The Great Philosophers: Karl Marx, Charles Sanders Peirce and William James

Jeremy Stangroom, James Garvey

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No matter how you view philosophy, regardless of what you think it is, this series from The Independent will give you a strong sense of the life and work of the very best thinkers in the philosophical neighbourhood, dealing carefully and rationally with the most human of questions, the hardest questions, the questions which matter most. William James, in his last great work Some Problems of Philosophy, wrote that philosophy 'sees the familiar as if it were strange, and the strange as if it were familiar. It can take things up and lay them down again. Its mind is full of air that plays round every subject. It rouses us from our native dogmatic slumber and breaks up our caked prejudices'. This series shows how philosophical argument can be profoundly disconcerting in this way; how it leads people to question everything they thought they knew about existence, knowledge and ethics.

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The Absolute
The opposite of relative, conditioned or dependent. The idea of the Absolute dates back to pre-Socratic times. For Plato, the Ideal Forms were the Absolute. For other philosophers the idea has been associated with that of the Godhead. Certain rationalist thinkers, such as Spinoza, held the Absolute to be an all-encompassing principle and the true source of all reality, as did the idealist philosophers (see Idealism), most notably Hegel.
A Priori
Something known to be true or false prior to experience. Its opposite would be a posteriori, which is knowledge derived from experience.
The branch of philosophy that deals with the nature and expression of beauty, or in Kantian philosophy the branch of metaphysics concerned with the laws of perception.
The self that acts, chooses, and decides as opposed to the self that knows.
One who believes that God's existence cannot be proven, but doesn't deny the possibility that God might exist.
The belief that no proof can be given for the existence of God, since the concept of God, like those of soul, immortality, and first cause, lies beyond the reach of the human mind, which can only know the world of natural phenomena.
Analytic Philosophy
Originally a branch of philosophy concerned with the analysis of language and the concepts it expresses, typically formulating its precise and rigorous analyses in the symbolism of formal logic, as in the work of Russell and Wittgenstein. Still dominant in the English-speaking philosophical world, its subject matter now ranges well beyond linguistic analysis, but it can still be characterised by its emphasis on rigour, precision and clarity of argument, an objectivity similar to that of mathematics and science, and a concern for setting out clear evidence for the views proposed. In addition to Russell and Wittgenstein, proponents of Analytic Philosophy include Carnap, Quine, Kripke, Rawls and Nozick. Analytic philosophy is generally contrasted with Continental Philosophy.
The absolute disbelief in and denial of the existence of a God or Gods.
The theory of Democritus and Epicurus, among others, which claims that the entire universe is composed of minute, indivisible and indestructible particles.
The branch of psychology, most radically developed and advocated by B. F. Skinner, that focuses exclusively on observable behaviour, excluding all subjective phenomenon, such as emotions, memories and motives.
Relating to René Descartes or his philosophy.
In philosophy, categories are the most basic group into which things can be classified. A category, then, would be an irreducible and fundamental concept that can be applied to other concepts and objects. Aristotle and Kant each attempted a definitive list of categories, which included substance, relation, place, time, passion, and action, among others.
Causality or Causation
The connection between cause and effect, or the relationship between two things when the first is perceived as the cause of the second. Ordinarily, the relationship between cause and effect seems inevitable. Nevertheless, philosophers have asked why we think in terms of Causation, where the idea comes from, and when it is correct to apply it. David Hume is one philosopher who challenged the concept of Causation.
The forms of knowing and perceiving, such as attention, memory, reasoning, and perception (visual, aural, tactile), through which we synthesise information.
In philosophy, concept can stand for an idea, a thought, the form of a thought or even the meaning of a term, though concept is largely used in its most general application. For example, to have a concept of table means that one might distinguish table from every other thing and (2) reason about tables in some way.
Continental Philosophy
European in origin though by no means limited to mainland European philosophers, Continental Philosophy is generally contrasted with Analytic Philosophy, from which it differs in being more metaphysical and speculative in approach and less concerned with rigorous, formal proofs. Closely related to the humanities, it is concerned with the human condition in all its complexities, and is sometimes expounded in the form of works of literature, such as Sartre's novel Nausea and Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra. Other philosophers associated with this tradition are Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Foucault and Derrida.
The study of the origin and development of the universe.
The study of the whole universe as a totality of phenomena in time and space.
A member of a school of Ancient Greek philosophy, namely Cynicism, wherein virtue was seen as the only good and self control as the only means of attaining virtue. Cynics not only showed a complete disregard for pleasure, but also expressed contempt for human affection, preferring to find fault with most individuals for their lack of virtue. Diogenes was perhaps the most renowned Cynic.
A form of argument in which the conclusion logically and necessarily follows from the premises, with the general leading to the particular. An example would be, 'If all human beings are born, then Plato as a human being, must have been born.' It is an agreed upon fact that deduction is valid. Its opposite would be Induction.
The view that whatever happens has to happen, for every event is the inevitable, hence necessary, outcome of its specific, preceding causes, which themselves were the necessary result of yet previous causes. The chain of cause and effect might be seen as determined by God or the laws of nature. In science, an entirely mechanistic view is deterministic. In the Ancient World and in the Christian idea of predestination, the idea of fate is thoroughly deterministic.
A Greek term originally used to describe the Socratic method, according to which argument and reasoning took the form of dialogue. For Hegel and Marx, dialectic is an interpretive method whereby the contradiction between a thesis and its antithesis is resolved into a synthesis that includes elements from each of the opposing positions.
The view that reality is made up of two fundamental and fundamentally different elements, as opposed to monism, which perceives reality to be made up of only one substance. The dualism of Descartes, perhaps the most famous, advances th...