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The Great Philosophers

March 8, 2013



I have just started a community on google plus for discussion of the great philosophers. The plan is to include the thinkers who have revolutionized how we view the world. People are welcome to come and join the discussion. I will dedicate a post on here to a philosopher and some of their key works each month, and then the discussion can continue on the google plus community.

Some philosophers are easily taken for granted, because we do not realise just how influential they have been on our view of the world around us. Take some of the empirical philosophers: John Locke and David Hume. The way in which they set up our epistemological understanding of the world has been the framework ever since for nearly all scientific debate and progress.

It may now seem common sense to us that we are born with no knowledge, and gain knowledge through experience. But this was actually a conceptual framework provided for us by John Locke in his Essay on Human Understanding. Before this some knowledge was viewed as innate to us. The problem for empirical science was that this innate knowledge did not have clear boundaries and was not amenable to precise measurement. So John Locke provided a framework in which the bounds of experience were clear and determinate. From here, science could develop more freely in empirical domains.

As for David Hume, he provided us with the conceptual background for the problem of induction, which leads on to the debates in philosophy in the 20th century about how to verify or falsify scientific theories.

So the great philosophers are not just long lost individuals who strived in vain to secure the holy grail of certain knowledge of the world. They also provided us with the conceptual framework within which many of our discussions continue down to this day. In their day they revolutionized how we think about the world. This is quite an impressive achievement. And one that often gets overlooked.

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