Some people prefer to leave the past alone for different reasons. Some prefer to concentrate on problems and issues of the present and those that we shall face in the future; and such people don’t see how the past is relevant to current issues. But some prefer to ignore the past because they prefer to cover up the past insofar as events of the past do not present humans and human society in a good light. But generally those who prefer to ignore past history are those for who do not apply the lessons of history; and history surely has lessons to teach us.
In his book, A History of Western Philosophy,* Bertrand Russell makes some rather surprising statements about love as definitive of two great religions, Christianity and Buddhism. It is in the process of contrasting what he sees as advocacy of love by Christianity and the Buddha with what he takes as Friedrich Nietzsche’s ethic, that Russell contrasts the Christianity’s and Buddhists love for humanity with Nietzsche’s complete lack of sympathy for others. In the process Russell effectively misleads us both with regard to the religious ideal and Nietzsche’s philosophy
The teachings of a Jewish sage are transformed into a Hellenized, somewhat mystical philosophy and eventually Christian doctrine over the course of a few decades. After a few centuries, the Christian doctrine becomes a Roman institution.
Simon Wiesenthal, a survivor of the Nazi death camps, dedicated his life to documenting the crimes of the Holocaust and to hunting down the perpetrators still at large. “When history looks back,” Wiesenthal explained, “I want people to know the Nazis weren’t able to kill millions of people and get away with it.” His work stands as a reminder and a warning for future generations.
But my philosophy correspondent, Pablo, was not impressed. “That immoral!” he declared.
Over two thousand years ago the Roman poet and philosopher, Lucretious (99-55 BCE), expressed a surprisingly modern philosophy, one which he got from a more ancient philosopher, the Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BCE).
Many of the paradoxes associated with the ‘free will / determinism’ problem could have been avoided had philosophers paid more attention to the views of ‘freedom’ articulated by Spinoza, Hobbes, and Hume; and had they been more critical concerning the notion of metaphysical freedom advanced or assumed by Descartes and Kant.
Many studies of the philosophy of religion include the “problem of evil,” which can be treated either as an intellectual problem, one which raises logical and epistemic issues, or as an existential problem of human tragedy. Philosophers and theologians take on the challenge of trying to show that one can consistently affirm God’s existence and the fact of evil in the world. But the intellectual problem arises from the “existential problem”, one concerning human experience of suffering and evil, and human attempts to make sense of such suffering and evil
What exactly did Alfred N.Whitehead mean by his statement that we can characterize European philosophy as a series of footnotes to Plato? To me this surely suggests that the old metaphysician, Whitehead, was asserting that we can look at European philosophy as a continuation of Plato’s philosophy.
We can raise raise a number of questions regarding the sociological and historical effects of monotheism, questions which many members of secular communities tend to answer in negative terms. But, of course, a definitive statement on this issue is not easy and maybe not even possible, given that most answers are posed in terms of a religious or a secular bias. Nonetheless, maybe a few things can be said which are not just partisan statements that belief in one god is good for you or the opposite.
“Philosophy as a preparation for death?” “Philosophy as the study of death?” Why should we accept such characterizations of philosophy? Maybe I’m being disrespectful to Plato, and his version of the great Socrates, when I say “thanks, but no thanks!”