"The Master said, ‘At fifteen, I set my mind upon learning; at thirty, I took my place in society; at forty, I became free of doubts; at fifty, I knew Heaven's mandate; at sixty, my ear was attuned; at seventy I could follow my heart's desire without overstepping the bounds of propriety." (Confucius, Analects II.4)
Covered in these courses: PHIL 100 ("Life, Death, Freedom"), 266 (Chinese Philosophy) and 269 (Indian Philosophy)
Plato; Greece, 428/427 BCE – 348/347 BCE
“In the knowable realm, the form of the good is the last thing to be seen, and is reached only with difficulty. Once one has seen it, however, one must conclude that it is the cause of all that is right and beautiful in anything, that it produces both light and its source in the visible realm, and that in the intelligible realm it controls and provides truth and understanding, so that anyone who is to act sensibly in private or public must see it.” (Republic, VII 517b-c)
Covered in these courses: PHIL 100 (various), 205 (Greek Philosophy), 212 (Philosophy of Art), 213 (Ethics), 214 (Social & Political), 224 (Theory of Knowledge), 225 (Metaphysics), 309 (Plato) and 311 (Friendship)
Aristotle; Greece, 384 – 322 BCE
“For it is owing to their wonder that men both now begin and at first began to philosophize; they wondered originally at the obvious difficulties, then advanced little by little and stated difficulties about the great matters . . . And a man who is perplexed and wonders thinks himself ignorant; therefore since they philosophized in order to escape from ignorance, evidently they were pursuing science to know, and not for any utilitarian end. And this is confirmed by the facts; for it was when almost all the necessities of life and the things that make for comfort and recreation had been secured, that such knowledge began to be sought. Evidently then we do not seek it for the sake of any other advantage; but the man is free, we say, who exists for his own sake and not for another’s, so we pursue this as the only free science, for it alone exists for its own sake.” (Metaphysics I.2)
Covered in these courses: PHIL 100 (various), 103 (Logic), 205 (Greek Philosophy), 212 (Philosophy of Art), 213 (Ethics), 220 (Philosophy of Science), 225 (Metaphysics), 271 (Western Perspectives on Animals), 311 (“Friendship” and “Plato, Aristotle, Sophists”)
St. Augustine; North Africa/Rome, 354 – 430 CE
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” (Confessions I.1)
Covered in these courses: PHIL 100 (“Gods, Humans, Animals”), 206 (Medieval Philosophy), 214 (Social & Political Philosophy) and 223 (Philosophy of Religion)
Avicenna [Ibn Sina]; Persia, 980 – 1037
“Thus the Necessary Existent (God) is a knower by its very essence. Its essence gives being to all things that exist, in the order in which they exist. Hence Its essence, which gives being to all things, is known to it. Consequently, all things are known to It from Its essence; not because things are a cause of the knowledge in It which It has of them, but on the contrary, Its knowledge is the cause of all things.” (Book of Knowledge: Metaphysics 29)
Covered in these courses: PHIL 206 (Medieval Philosophy), 223 (Philosophy of Religion) and 269 (Islamic Philosophy)
René Descartes; France, 1596 –1650
“For a person inquiring into the truth, it is necessary once in his life to doubt all things, as far as this is possible.” (Principles of Philosophy, I.1)
Covered in these courses: PHIL 100 (various), 207 (Modern Philosophy), 224 (Theory of Knowledge), 225 (Metaphysics), 226 (Philosophy of Mind), 271 (Western Perspectives on Animals) and 309 (Descartes)
David Hume; Scotland, 1711 – 1776
“For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception. When my perceptions are removed for any time, as by sound sleep, so long am I insensible of myself, and may truly be said not to exist.” (A Treatise of Human Nature, I.6)
Covered in these courses: PHIL 100 (various), 204 (Scientific and Everyday Reasoning), 207 (Modern Philosophy), 212 (Philosophy of Art), 220 (Philosophy of Science), 223 (Philosophy of Religion) and 226 (Philosophy of Mind)
Immanuel Kant; Germany, 1724 – 1804
“Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the more often and steadily we reflect upon them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.” (Critique of Practical Reason)
Covered in these courses: PHIL 100 (various), 207 (Modern Philosophy), 212 (Philosophy of Art), 213 (Ethics), 271 (Western Perspectives on Animals), 309 (Kant) and 311 (Friendship)
Mary Wollstonecraft; England, 1759 – 1797
“I love man as my fellow; but his scepter, real or usurped, extends not to me, unless the reason of an individual demands my homage; and even then the submission is to reason, and not to man.” (A Vindication of the Rights of Woman)
Covered in these courses: PHIL 214 (Social and Political Philosophy) and 230 (Feminist Philosophy).
Arthur Schopenhauer; Germany, 1788 – 1860
“If the immediate purpose of our life is not suffering then our existence is the most ill-adapted to its purpose in the world: for it is absurd to suppose that the endless affliction of which the world is everywhere full, and which arises out of the need and distress pertaining essentially to life, should be purposeless and purely accidental. Each individual misfortune, to be sure, seems an exceptional occurrence; but misfortune in general is the rule.” (The World As Will and Representation, Vol. II)
Covered in these courses: PHIL 100 (various), 213 (Ethics), 215 (Philosophy of Music) and 256 (From Hegel to Nietzsche)
Friedrich Nietzsche; Germany, 1844 – 1900
“Gradually it has become clear to me what every great philosophy has so far been: namely, the personal confession of its author and a kind of involuntary and unconscious memoir; also that the moral (or immoral) intentions in every philosophy constituted the real germ of life from which the whole plant had grown.” (Beyond Good and Evil §6)
Covered in these courses: PHIL 100 (various), 212 (Philosophy of Art), 213 (Ethics), 256 (From Hegel to Nietzsche), 309 (Nietzsche) and 311 (Philosophical Heretics)
Bertrand Russell; England, 1872 – 1970
“As usual in philosophy, the first difficulty is to see that the problem is difficult. If you say to a person untrained in philosophy, ‘How do you know I have two eyes?’ he or she will reply, ‘What a silly question! I can see you have.’ It is not to be supposed that, when our inquiry is finished, we shall have arrived at anything radically different from this un-philosophical position. What will have happened will be that we shall have come to see a complicated structure where we thought everything was simple, that we shall have become aware of the penumbra of uncertainty surrounding the situations which inspire no doubt, that we shall find doubt more frequently justified than we supposed, and that even the most plausible premises will have shown themselves capable of yielding implausible conclusions. The net result is to substitute articulate hesitation for inarticulate certainty.” (An Inquiry Into Meaning and Truth)
Covered in these courses: PHIL 201 (Symbolic Logic), 220 (Philosophy of Science), 222 (Analytic Philosophy), 224 (Theory of Knowledge) and 227 (Philosophy of Language).
Martin Heidegger; Germany, 1889 – 1976)
“We are too late for the gods and too early for Being. Being’s poem, just begun, is man.” (Der Spiegel interview, 1966)
Covered in these courses: PHIL 225 (Metaphysics), 260 (Phenomenology), 260 (Contemporary Continental Pholosophy) and 309 (Heidegger).
Ludwig Wittgenstein; Austria/England, 1889 – 1951
“What can be said at all can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot speak thereof one must remain silent.” (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus)
Covered in these courses: PHIL 201 (Symbolic Logic), 215 (Philosophy of Music), 222 (Analytic Philosophy), 227 (Philosophy of Language) and 309 (Wittgenstein).
Hannah Arendt; Germany/USA, 1906 – 1975
“Clichés, stock phrases, adherence to conventional, standardized codes of expression and conduct have the socially recognized function of protecting us against reality, that is, against the claim on our thinking attention that all events and facts make by virtue of their existence.” (The Life of the Mind, Vol. I)
Covered in these courses: PHIL 214 (Social and Political Philosophy) and 270 (Jewish Philosophy).
J. L. Austin; England, 1911 – 1960
“Words are not (except in their own little corner) facts or things: we need therefore to prise them off the world, to hold them apart from and against it, so that we can realize their inadequacies and arbitrariness, and can relook at the world without blinkers.” (Philosophical Papers)
Covered in these courses: PHIL 222 (Analytic Philosophy), 224 (Theory of Knowledge), 227 (Philosophy of Language) and 311 (Perception).
Simone de Beauvoir; France, 1908 – 1986
“One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” (The Second Sex)
Covered in these courses: PHIL 230 (Feminist Philosophy) and 258 (Existentialism).
Willard van Orman Quine; USA, 1908 – 2000
“We must not leap to the fatalistic conclusion that we are stuck with the conceptual scheme that we grew up in. We can change it, bit by bit, plank by plank, though meanwhile there is nothing to carry us along but the evolving conceptual scheme itself. The philosopher’s task was well compared by Neurath to that of a mariner who must rebuild his ship on the open sea.” (from a Logical Point of View)
Covered in these courses: PHIL 220 (Philosophy of Science), 222 (Analytic Philosophy), 224 (Theory of Knowledge), 227 (Philosophy of Language) and 268 (Topics in Metaphysics).
Franz Fanon; Caribbean, 1925 – 1961
“I came into this world anxious to uncover the meaning of things, my soul desirous to be at the origin of the world, and here I am an object among other objects.” (Black Skin, White Masks)
Covered in these courses: PHIL 214 (Social and Political Philosophy) and 233 (Philosophy of Peace and Non-Violence
Stanley Cavell; USA, 1926 –
“In the face of the questions posed by Augustine, Luther, Rousseau, Thoreau, we are children; we do not know how to go on with them, what ground we occupy. In this light, philosophy becomes the education of grownups. . . . Why do we take it that because we must put away childish things, we must put away the prospect of growth and the memory of childhood? The anxiety in teaching, in serious communication, is that I myself require education. And for grownups this is not natural growth but change.” (The Claim of Reason)
Covered in these courses: PHIL 227 (Philosophy of Language), 309 (Wittgenstein) and 311 (“Philosophy of Ordinary Language”).
Patricia Churchland; Canada/USA, 1943 –
“Where do values come from? How do brains come to care about others? If my genes organize my brain to attend to my survival, to reproduce and pass on those genes, how can they organize my brain to value others? Some, but only some, of the neurobiology of this is beginning to be understood. First, however, the more fundamental question: how is it that brains can care about anything? To put it more tendentiously, how can neurons care? What does it mean for a system of neurons to care about or to value something?” (Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality)
Covered in these courses: PHIL 100 (Consciousness), 226 (Philosophy of Mind) and 311 (Perception).
David Lewis; USA/Australia, 1941 – 2001
“One comes to philosophy already endowed with a stock of opinions. It is not the business of philosophy either to undermine or justify these pre-existing opinions, to any great extent, but only to try to discover ways of expanding them into an orderly system.”
Covered in these courses: PHIL 222 (Analytic Philosophy), 224 (Theory of Knowledge), 226 (Philosophy of Mind) and 268 (Topics in Metaphysics)
Michel Foucault; 1926 – 1984
“There are moments in life where the question of knowing whether one might think otherwise than one thinks and perceive otherwise than one sees is indispensable if one is to continue to observe or reflect. But then, what is philosophy today – philosophical activity, I mean – if it is not the critical work of thought on itself? And if it does not consist in the endeavor of knowing how and to what extent it might be possible to think differently, rather than legitimating what is already known? There is always something ludicrous in philosophical discourse when it tries, from the outside, to dictate to others, to tell them where their truth is and how to find it, or when it presumes to give them naively positivistic instruction. But it is its right to explore what might be changed, in its own thought, through the practice of a knowledge that is foreign to it. The ‘essay’, which must be understood as the test by means of which one modifies oneself through the play of truth . . . is the living body of philosophy, at least if we assume that philosophy is still what it was in times past, i.e., an askesis, an exercise of the self, in thought.” (The History of Sexuality, Vol. II: The Use of Pleasure)
Covered in these courses: PHIL 214 (Social and Political Philosophy), 219 (The Problem of False Consciousness) and 262 (Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Adrian Piper; USA/Germany, 1948 –
“My choices have turned me into a walking institutional critique; and I find I enjoy this new persona very much.” (Rationality and the Structure of the Self, Vol. I)
Covered in these courses: PHIL 230 (Feminist Philosophy) and 265 (Controversies in Art)