19th Century Philosophers : 19th Century Philosophers Immanuel Kant : Immanuel Kant ɪmanuəl kant] (22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was an 18th-century German philosopher from the Prussian city of Königsberg. He is regarded as one of the most influential thinkers of modern Europe and of the late Enlightenment.
Among his most important works are the Critique of Pure Reason and the Critique of Practical Reason, which examine the relation of epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics. Slide 3: Influence
The vastness of Kant's influence on Western thought is immeasurable. Over and above his specific influence on specific thinkers, Kant changed the framework within which philosophical inquiry has been carried out from his day through the present in ways that have been irreversible. In other words, he accomplished a paradigm shift: very little philosophy since Kant has been carried out as an extension of pre-Kantian philosophy or in the mode of thought and discourse of pre-Kantian philosophy. This shift consists in several closely related innovations that have become axiomatic to post-Kantian thought, both in philosophy itself and in the social sciences and humanities generally: Slide 4: Kant's "Copernican revolution", that placed the role of the human subject or knower at the center of inquiry into our knowledge, such that it is impossible to philosophize about things as they are independently of us or of how they are for us;
his invention of critical philosophy, that is of the notion of being able to discover and systematically explore possible inherent limits to our ability to know through philosophical reasoning;
* his creation of the concept of "conditions of possibility", as in his notion of "the conditions of possible experience" -- that is that things, knowledge, and forms of consciousness rest on prior conditions that make them possible, so that to understand or know them we have to first understand these conditions;
* his theory that objective experience is actively constituted or constructed by the functioning of the human mind;
* his notion of moral autonomy as central to humanity;
* his assertion of the principle that human beings should be treated as ends rather than as means. Friedrich Engels : Friedrich Engels (November 28, 1820 – August 5, 1895) was a German social scientist and philosopher, who developed communist theory alongside his better-known collaborator, Karl Marx, co-authoring The Communist Manifesto (1848). Engels also edited the second and third volumes of Das Kapital after Marx's death. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel : Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (August 27, 1770 – November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher, and with Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, one of the creators of German idealism. Slide 7: Hegel influenced writers of widely varying positions, including both his admirers (Bauer, Marx, Bradley, Sartre, Küng), and his detractors (Schelling, Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Russell). Hegel developed a comprehensive philosophical framework, or "system", to account in an integrated and developmental way for the relation of mind and nature, the subject and object of knowledge, and psychology, the state, history, art, religion, and philosophy. In particular, he developed a concept of mind or spirit that manifested itself in a set of contradictions and oppositions that it ultimately integrated and united, such as those between nature and freedom, and immanence and transcendence, without eliminating either pole or reducing it to the other. His influential conceptions are of speculative logic or "dialectic," "absolute idealism," "Spirit," negativity, sublation (Aufhebung in German), the "Master/Slave" dialectic, "ethical life," and the importance of history. Karl Heinrich Marx : Karl Heinrich Marx (May 5, 1818 – March 14, 1883) was a 19th-century philosopher, political economist, sociologist, humanist, political theorist and revolutionary. Often called the father of communism, Marx was both a scholar and a political activist. He addressed a wide range of political as well as social issues, and is known for, amongst other things, his analysis of history. His approach is indicated by the opening line of the The Communist Manifesto (1848): “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”. Marx argued that capitalism, like previous socioeconomic systems, will produce internal tensions which will lead to its destruction. Just as capitalism replaced feudalism, capitalism itself will be displaced by communism, a classless society which emerges after a transitional period in which the state would be nothing else but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat. Slide 9: On the one hand, Marx argued for a systemic understanding of socioeconomic change. On this model, it is the structural contradictions within capitalism which necessitate its end, giving way to communism:
“The development of Modern Industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.” — (The Communist Manifesto)On the other hand, Marx argued that socioeconomic change occurred through organized revolutionary action. On this model, capitalism will end through the organized actions of an international working class: "Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things. The conditions of this movement result from the premises now in existence." (from The German Ideology)
While Marx was a relatively obscure figure in his own lifetime, his ideas began to exert a major influence on workers' movements shortly after his death. This influence was given added impetus by the victory of the Marxist Bolsheviks in the Russian October Revolution, and there are few parts of the world which were not significantly touched by Marxian ideas in the course of the twentieth century. The relation of Marx to "Marxism" is a point of controversy. Marxism remains influential and controversial in academic and political circles. John Stuart Mill : John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 – 8 May 1873), British philosopher, political economist, civil servant and Member of Parliament, was an influential liberal thinker of the 19th century. He was an exponent of utilitarianism, an ethical theory developed by Jeremy Bentham, although his conception of it was very different from Bentham's. Utilitarianism : Utilitarianism The canonical statement of Mill's Utilitarianism can be found in Utilitarianism. This philosophy has a long tradition, although Mill's account is primarily influenced by Jeremy Bentham, and Mill's father James Mill. However his conception of utilitarianism was so different from Bentham's that some modern thinkers have argued that he demonstrated libertarian ideals,and that he was not as much a consequentialist as was Bentham, though he did not reject consequentialism as Kant did.
Bentham's famous formulation of Utilitarianism is known as the "greatest happiness principle." It holds that one must always act so as to produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people (within reason). One of Mill's major contributions to Utilitarianism is his argument for the qualitative separation of pleasures. Bentham treats all forms of happiness as equal, whereas Mill argues that intellectual and moral pleasures are superior to more physical forms of pleasure. Mill distinguishes between "happiness" and "contentment," claiming that the former is of higher value than the latter, a belief wittily encapsulated in his statement that "It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question." Slide 12: Mill defines the difference between higher and lower forms of happiness on the principle that those who have experienced both tend to prefer one over the other. This is, perhaps, in direct opposition to Bentham's statement that "Pushpin is as good as an Opera," that if a simple child's game like hopscotch causes more pleasure to more people than a night at the opera house, it is more imperative upon a society to devote more resources to propagating hopscotch than running opera houses. Mill's argument is that the 'simple pleasures' tend to be preferred by people who have no experience with high art, and are therefore not in a proper position to judge. For this reason, in his life Mill supported legislation that would have granted extra voting power to university graduates, on the grounds that they were in a better position to judge what would be best for society. It should be noted that, in this example, Mill did not intend to devalue uneducated people, and he certainly would have advocated sending the poor but talented to universities; rather, he believed that education, and not the intrinsic nature of the educated, is what qualified them to have more influence in government.
Mill furthermore dealt with one of the prime problems associated with utilitarianism, that of schadenfreude. Detractors of utilitarianism argued, among other objections, that if enough people hated another person sufficiently that simply reducing the happiness of the object of their hatred would cause them pleasure, it would be incumbent upon a utilitarian society to aid them in harming the individual. Mill argued that, in order to have such an attitude of malice, a citizen would have to value his own pleasure over that of another, and so society is in no way obligated to indulge him, and, to the contrary, is fully permitted to suppress his actions.
The qualitative account of happiness Mill advocates thus sheds light on his account presented in On Liberty. As Mill suggests in that text, utility is to be conceived in relation to mankind "as a progressive being," which includes the development and exercise of our rational capacities as we strive to achieve a “higher mode of existence". Thus the rejection of censorship and paternalism is intended to provide the necessary social conditions for the achievement of knowledge and the greatest ability for the greatest number to develop and exercise their deliberative and rational capacities. Herbert Spencer : Herbert Spencer (April 27, 1820 – December 8, 1903) was an English philosopher; prominent classical liberal political theorist; and sociological theorist of the Victorian era. Slide 14: Spencer developed an all-embracing conception of evolution as the progressive development of the physical world, biological organisms, the human mind, and human culture and societies. The lifelong bachelor contributed to a wide range of subjects, including ethics, religion, politics, philosophy, biology, sociology, and psychology.
He is best known for coining the phrase, "survival of the fittest," which he did in Principles of Biology (1864), after reading Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species.This term strongly suggests natural selection, yet as Spencer extended evolution into realms of sociology and ethics, he made use of Lamarckism rather than natural selection. Literature : Literature Spencer also exerted a great influence on literature and rhetoric. His 1852 essay, “The Philosophy of Style,” explored a growing trend of formalist approaches to writing. Highly focused on the proper placement and ordering of the parts of an English sentence, he created a guide for effective composition. Spencer’s aim was to free prose writing from as much "friction and inertia" as possible, so that the reader would not be slowed by strenuous deliberations concerning the proper context and meaning of a sentence. Spencer argued that it is the writer's ideal "To so present ideas that they may be apprehended with the least possible mental effort" (§3)by the reader. Slide 16: His logic was that by making the meaning as readily accessible as possible, the writer would achieve the greatest possible communicative efficiency. This was accomplished, according to Spencer, by placing all the subordinate clauses, objects and phrases before the subject of a sentence so that, when readers reached the subject, they had all the information they needed to completely perceive its significance. While the overall influence that “The Philosophy of Style” had on the field of rhetoric was not as far-reaching as his contribution to other fields, Spencer’s voice lent authoritative support to formalist views of rhetoric.
Spencer also had an influence on literature, as many novelists came to address his ideas in their work. George Eliot, Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Hardy, Bolesław Prus, Abraham Cahan and D. H. Lawrence all referenced Spencer. Arnold Bennett greatly praised First Principles, and the influence it had on Bennett may be seen in his many novels. Jack London went so far as to create a character, Martin Eden, a staunch Spencerian. H.G. Wells used Spencer's ideas as a theme in his novella, The Time Machine, employing them to explain the evolution of man into two species. It is perhaps the best testimony to the influence of Spencer’s beliefs and writings that his reach was so diverse. He influenced not only the administrators who shaped their societies’ inner workings, but also the artists who helped shape those societies' ideals and beliefs. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche : Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900)was a nineteenth-century German philosopher and philologist. He wrote critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy, and science, using a distinctive German language style and displaying a fondness for aphorism. Nietzsche's influence remains substantial within and beyond philosophy, notably in existentialism and postmodernism. Slide 18: His style and radical questioning of the value and objectivity of truth raise considerable problems of interpretation, generating an extensive secondary literature in both continental and analytic philosophy. Nonetheless, his key ideas include interpreting tragedy as an affirmation of life, an eternal recurrence (which numerous commentators have re-interpreted), a rejection of Platonism, and a repudiation of (especially 19th century) Christianity.
Nietzsche began his career as a classical philologist before turning to philosophy. At the age of 24 he became the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel (the youngest-ever holder of this position), but resigned in 1879 due to health problems, which would plague him for most of his life. In 1889 he exhibited symptoms of serious mental illness, living out his remaining years in the care of his mother and sister until his death in 1900. The death of God, nihilism, and perspectivism : The death of God, nihilism, and perspectivism The statement "God is dead," occurring in several of Nietzsche's works (primarily, and perhaps most notably, in The Gay Science), has probably become the single most-quoted line in all of Nietzsche's texts. Many people take the quotation as a reflection of Nietzsche's concerns about the development of Western society in the modern age. In Nietzsche's view, recent developments in modern science and the increasing secularization of European society had effectively "killed" the Christian God, who had served as the basis for meaning and value in the West for the previous thousand years. Slide 20: Nietzsche claimed the "death of God" would eventually lead to the loss of any universal perspective on things, and along with it any coherent sense of objective truth. Instead we would retain only our own multiple, diverse, and fluid perspectives. This view has acquired the name "perspectivism".
Alternatively, the death of God may lead beyond bare perspectivism to outright nihilism, the belief that nothing has any importance and that life lacks purpose. As Heidegger put the problem, "If God as the suprasensory ground and goal of all reality is dead, if the suprasensory world of the Ideas has suffered the loss of its obligatory and above it its vitalizing and upbuilding power, then nothing more remains to which man can cling and by which he can orient himself.“ The secular-minded people of Nietzsche's day did not recognize this crisis and both to clarify and to overcome it Nietzsche wrote Thus Spoke Zarathustra and introduced the concept of a value-creating Übermensch. According to Lampert, "the death of God must be followed by a long twilight of piety and nihilism (II. 19; III. 8). […] Zarathustra's gift of the superman is given to a mankind not aware of the problem to which the superman is the solution. Arthur Schopenhauer : Arthur Schopenhauer (February 22, 1788 – September 21, 1860) was a German philosopher best known for his work The World as Will and Representation. Schopenhauer responded to and expanded upon Immanuel Kant's philosophy concerning the way in which we experience the world. His critique of Kant, his creative solutions to the problems of human experience, and his explication of the limits of human knowledge are among his most important achievements. His metaphysical theory is the foundation of his influential writings on psychology, aesthetics, ethics, and politics which influenced Friedrich Nietzsche, Wagner, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Sigmund Freud and others. 19th Century Scientists : 19th Century Scientists Louis Pasteur : Louis Pasteur (December 27, 1822 – September 28, 1895) was a French chemist and microbiologist best known for his remarkable breakthroughs in the causes and prevention of disease. His experiments supported the germ theory of disease, also reducing mortality from puerperal fever (childbed), and he created the first vaccine for rabies. He was best known to the general public for inventing a method to stop milk and wine from causing sickness - this process came to be called pasteurization. He is regarded as one of the three main founders of microbiology, together with Ferdinand Cohn and Robert Koch. He is also credited with dispelling the theory of spontaneous generation with his experiment employing chicken broth and a goose neck flask. He also made many discoveries in the field of chemistry, most notably the asymmetry of crystals. He is buried beneath the Institut Pasteur, an incredibly rare honor in France, where being buried in a cemetery is mandatory save for the fewer than 300 "Great Men" who are entombed in the Panthéon. Marie Curie : Marie Curie November 7, 1867 – July 4, 1934) was a physicist and chemist of Polish upbringing and, subsequently, French citizenship. She was a pioneer in the field of radioactivity, the only person honored with Nobel Prizes in two different sciences, and the first female professor at the University of Paris. she discovered (1898) "polonium" William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin : William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin (26 June 1824 – 17 December 1907) Irish mathematical physicist and engineer. At Glasgow University he did important work in the mathematical analysis of electricity and thermodynamics, and did much to unify the emerging discipline of physics in its modern form. He is widely known for developing the Kelvin scale of absolute temperature measurement. The title Baron Kelvin was given in honour of his achievements, and named after the River Kelvin, which flowed past his university in Glasgow, Scotland.
He also had a later career as an electric telegraph engineer and inventor, a career that propelled him into the public eye and ensured his wealth, fame and honour. Thomas Alva Edison : Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931) was an American inventor and businessman who developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph and a long lasting light bulb. Dubbed "The Wizard of Menlo Park" by a newspaper reporter, he was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production to the process of invention, and therefore is often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory.
Edison is considered one of the most prolific inventors in history, holding 1,093 U.S. patents in his name, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France and Germany. Alfred Bernhard Nobel : Alfred Bernhard Nobel (October 21, 1833, Stockholm, Sweden – December 10, 1896, Sanremo, Italy) was a Swedish chemist, engineer, innovator, armaments manufacturer and the inventor of dynamite. He owned Bofors a major armaments manufacturer, which he had redirected from its previous role as an iron and steel mill. In his last will, he used his enormous fortune to institute the Nobel Prizes. The synthetic element nobelium was named after him. Charles Robert Darwin : Charles Robert Darwin (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist. eminent as a collector and geologist, who proposed and provided scientific evidence that all species of life have evolved over time from common ancestors through the process he called natural selection. Slide 29: The fact that evolution occurs became accepted by the scientific community and the general public in his lifetime, while his theory of natural selection came to be widely seen as the primary explanation of the process of evolution in the 1930s, and now forms the basis of modern evolutionary theory. In modified form, Darwin’s scientific discovery remains the foundation of biology, as it provides a unifying logical explanation for the diversity of life. Darwin developed his interest in natural history while studying first medicine at Edinburgh University, then theology at Cambridge. His five-year voyage on the Beagle established him as a geologist whose observations and theories supported Charles Lyell’s uniformitarian ideas, and publication of his journal of the voyage made him famous as a popular author. Puzzled by the geographical distribution of wildlife and fossils he collected on the voyage, Darwin investigated the transmutation of species and conceived his theory of natural selection in 1838. Although he discussed his ideas with several naturalists, he needed time for extensive research and his geological work had priority. He was writing up his theory in 1858 when Alfred Russel Wallace sent him an essay which described a similar theory, prompting immediate joint publication of both of their theories. His 1859 book On the Origin of Species established evolution by common descent as the dominant scientific explanation of diversification in nature. He examined human evolution and sexual selection in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, followed by The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. His research on plants was published in a series of books, and in his final book, he examined earthworms and their effect on soil. Sigmund Freud : Sigmund Freud (May 6, 1856 – September 23, 1939), was an Austrian physician who founded the psychoanalytic school of psychology. Freud is best known for his theories of the unconscious mind and the defense mechanism of repression and for creating the clinical practice of psychoanalysis for curing psychopathology through a particular form of dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst. He is also renowned for his redefinition of sexual desire as the primary motivational energy of human life which is directed toward a wide variety of objects, as well as his therapeutic techniques, including the use of free association, his theory of transference in the therapeutic relationship, and the interpretation of dreams as sources of insight into unconscious desires.