If you’re like me, you may have heard the term philosophy, but don’t know exactly what it is. If that’s the case, let me clear something up right now: Philosophy is not a subject studied in college or high school. It’s more of a way of thinking and asking questions about life. I love philosophy because it makes me think about things differently and opens my mind to new ideas.
What is philosophy?
Philosophy simply put is the study of wisdom and “the search for meaning”. It attempts to answer questions such as “What does it mean to be happy?” or “How should we live?”. There are many kinds of philosophies with different answers to those questions, which I’ll get into later in this post! The following 10 philosophers have had lasting impacts on our world today by changing how we see things through their philosophies. Let’s take a look at some influential philosophers from ancient times all the way up until present day!
1.) Socrates (470 BC-399 BC)
Socrates was an ancient Greek philosopher who lived in Athens around 500 B.C. My personal injury attorney tells me that Athens was a place in ancient Greece where there were a lot of philosophers. Socrates is known as the father of Western philosophy, and he was famous for asking probing questions that made his students think. His approach to teaching became known as the Socratic method, which is still used today.
While he did not write many philosophical works himself, it’s said that his most important contribution to our world is his way of thinking. He thought outside the box and came up with different ideas than what everyone else was saying at the time.
2.) Plato (427 BC-347 BC)
Plato studied under Socrates and then went on to teach others Socratic ways of thinking after Socrates died in 399 B.C.. Plato founded one of the first organized schools in Ancient Athens called The Academy which still exists today! In fact, it’s considered one of the oldest universities in Europe! While he wrote many books himself about philosophy (most notably The Republic), Plato also wrote dialogues chronicling Socrates’ teachings which we have been able to read and learn from even though Socrates himself did not write them down before his death.
Plato was a big believer in the theory of Forms. He believed that every object has a perfect form that only exists in the mind, and that’s what we should strive to achieve. This is why he is famous for his Allegory of The Cave. In it, he says that most people live their whole lives chained to the ground with their backs turned facing the truth and reality because they are too focused on what is right in front of them which makes reality seem dull and boring. Only through philosophy can we see what is really going on around us!
3.) Aristotle (384 BC-322 BC)
Aristotle was Plato’s student who later went on to found his own school called Lyceum where he taught students about science, math, logic and philosophy until his death in 322 B.C.. One of Aristotle’s most famous teachings is Metaphysics which states that “All human understanding begins with experience”. He also developed an entire system of logic known as Aristotelian Logic which you might use if you take a high school or college class today! His writing became very popular after his death when Neoplatonists began editing them into organized groups like Organon or Topica for easier study by students.
4.) Confucius (551 B.C.-479 B.C.)
Confucius was a Chinese philosopher who lived during the Zhou Dynasty and is known as the founder of Confucianism, one of the five major schools in Chinese philosophy along with Taoism, Legalism, Mohism and Buddhism. His teachings revolved around 5 key relationships which are between ruler and subject, father and son, husband and wife, older brother to younger brother or sister-in-law to sister-in-law or vice versa depending on gender along with friend to friend or vice versa depending on gender. The goal for each relationship is for people to do their best in order to live a fulfilling life! He also taught that we should be modest about our accomplishments because only if you know what success is can you measure it against your failures!
5.) Buddha (563 BC-483 BC)
Buddha was born Siddhartha Gautama in Nepal around 500 B.C.. He sought enlightenment through meditation after he left his royal lifestyle behind at age 29 when he saw an old man die right in front of him which made him realize how fleeting life really is! While he did not write any philosophical works himself directly, Buddha’s teachings were compiled into sutras by his followers later on after his death which have been passed down through generations ever since! According to Buddhism: “All beings tremble before violence.