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A Philosophy Overview—A Project

I was asked recently if there were a good source providing a brief overview of the major philosophers and philosophy. I am not sure there is anything, especially online, exactly like that, but can certainly see that something like that could be very useful. This will be an ongoing project along with the others I'm currently engaged in.

I've started with a list of philosophers, which can be used now.

The list includes just over 400 philosophers with links, at present, to external sources. I created the list for myself, but polished it up a little, so others might find it useful as well.

This was the first step in creating the kind of overview of philosophy and philosophers I think would be most useful. I readily admit this is not an unbiased overview, though I think it is objective. I will provide a brief overview of those philosophers I think are most important, presenting their philosophy uncritically.

The following is a list of the philosophers I intend to review:

  • Peter Abelard (1079-1142) [P]
  • Abelard and Universals (An Article) [P]
  • Alfred Adler (1870-1937) (Psychology) [N]
  • Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) [PN]
  • Aristotle (384-322 BC) [P]
  • Augustine (354-430) [N]
  • A.J. Ayer (1910-1989) [N]
  • Francis Bacon (1561-1626) [P]
  • George Berkeley (1685-1753) [N]
  • Auguste Comte (1798-1857) [N]
  • Rene Descartes (1596-1650) [N]
  • John Dewey (1859-1952) [N]
  • Denis Diderot (1713-1784) [P]
  • Desiderius Erasmus (1467-1536) [PN]
  • Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) [N]
  • Friedrich August von Hayek (1899-1992) [PN]
  • Hegel (1770-1831) [N]
  • Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) [N]
  • Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) [N]
  • David Hume (1711-1776) [N]
  • William James (1842-1910) [N]
  • Immanuel Kant (-1724-1804) [N]
  • Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) [X]
  • Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) [N]
  • John Locke (1632-1704) [P]
  • Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) [X]
  • Karl Marx (1818-1883) [N]
  • John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) [N]
  • Isaac Newton (1642-1727) [PN]
  • Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) [N]
  • William of Ockham (Occam) (1280-1349) [P]
  • Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) [PN]
  • Plato (427-347 BC) [N]
  • Karl Popper (1902-1994) [PN]
  • Pythagoras (585-497 BC) [N]
  • Willard Van Orman Quine (1908-2000) [N]
  • Ayn Rand (1905-1982) [P]
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) [PN]
  • Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) [N]
  • Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) [N]
  • Adam Smith (1723-1790) [N]
  • Socrates (469-399 BC) [PN]
  • Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) [N]
  • Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) [PN]
  • Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes (600BC) [PN]
  • Voltaire (1694-1778) [P]
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) [N]

[Note: Philosophers I regard as a negative influence on philosophy are designated with [N], those regarded as a positive influences on philosophy are designated with a [P], and those whose contributions were both positive and negative are designated with [PN]. My reasons for these evaluations will be explained as part of the explication of their individual philosophies.]

In addition to the overview of these selected philosopher's philosophies, the following sections are also intended:

Why Philosophy and What Is It?—A Brief Discussion of what philosophy is, including why we need philosophy and a breakdown of the major subsections of philosophy.

Philosophy Concepts and Categories—The more important schools of philosophy, and philosophical concepts, their origins and the philosophers associated with them.

For example:

Vienna Circle
Frankfurt School
Logical Positivism
Critical Theory/Deconstruction (also post modernism)
Naturalism (vs. supernaturalism vs. physicalism)
Realism (Platonic)
Idealism
Empiricism
Rationalism
Sophism, Skepticism
Dialectic
Pragmatism
tabula rasa vs a priori/a posteriori
Mind/Matter dualism
Solipsism
and more ...

A Very Brief History of PhilosophyA listing with brief descriptions of the major points of development of Western Philosophy.

Because this is a work in progress, please feel free to make suggestions, such as a particular philosopher or school of philosophy you would like to see covered. Any comments or criticisms will be appreciated.

—(02/11/10)