toolbox title



So, you think you’re in control of your thoughts?


a brief summary....


influence of religion
and continual discourse between


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322 BC - 469 BC
Aristotle, Plato, Socrates
(Socrates was considered founder of Western Philosophy).
Aristotle ideas dominated European thought until at least the RENAISSANCE period.

key points
analytical & systematic, questioned everything,
looked for essential principals in every area of knowledge.



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551 - 479BC
Chinese sage whose thoughts (Confucianism) still influences many societies today- even those still under communist influences.
key points
Social order & responsibility,
respect for parents, elders and authority
more concerned with the management of society than with religion.




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1466 - 1536
Erasmus, Desiderius
(created a form of HUMANISM)
key points
stressed ‘free-will’
people in spiritual matters should think for themselves



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1596 -1650
Descartes, Rene

(Founder of RATIONALISM)
key points
Tried to explain how knowledge arises from reasoning alone
Celebrated conclusion

"I think, therefore I am"



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Berkeley, Hume, Locke

17th & 18th centuries
Berkeley, Hume and Locke

key points
argued that knowledge arises from experience and observation rather than pure reason and is closely related to experimental science.



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Kant, Immanuel
(attempted to bridge the gap between EMPIRICISM & RATIONALISM)
key points
maintaining that the first step to answering key questions (existence of God, immortality of the soul, free-will, etc.) was to investigate the limits of human understanding & reasoning
through a critique.



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1712 -1778
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques
(leading figure of the ENLIGHTENMENT)
key points
believed that people are naturally good but are corrupted by society’s false values.
His masterpiece THE SOCIAL CONTRACT with ‘man is born free, and everywhere is in chains’ was an important influence on ROMANTICISM and the French Revolution.


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1770 -1831
Hegel, George Wilhem Friedrich
(key figure within DIALECTIC movement)
key points
argued that mind or spirit rather than matter is the basic reality





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1718 -1883
Marx, Karl
(ideas based on Hegel’s - replacing IDEALISM with a form of MATERIALISM)
key points
believed in DIALECTICAL development of history
concerned with theories of economics and history

arguably enormously influential in the 20th Century



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1844 -1900
Nietzche, Freidrich
(radical German philsopher and linguist)
key points
rejected all philosophy since Socrates and moral values of Christianity,
asserted the ‘self’ and the idea of Superman (Ubermensch) an ideal superior being, supremely creative in the goal of human evolution.
Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were not slow in picking up and corrupting this ideal.


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1872 -1970
Russell, Bertrand
(awarded Nobel Prize for Literature 1950 in tribute to his  History of Western Philosophy)
key points
critical of religion
known for his work in logic and theory of knowledge



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1889 -1951
Wittgenstein, Ludwig
(One of the most influential philosophers of the 20th Century
studied under Russell - spent most of his time in GB)
key points
attempted to apply strict logical criteria to language and became a major influence on LOGICAL POSITIVISM
- later he became interested in the variety and flexibility of language and its power to shape society.


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1889 -1980
Sartre, Jean Paul
(leading exponent of EXISTENTIALISM)
key points
nature of human existence
freedom of human beings to create their own destiny



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1856 -1939
Freud, Sigmund
(Influential neurologist and founder of PSYCHOANALYSIS
became interested in mental health and investigating the sub-conscious mind through hypnosis, dream analysis, childhood memories and FREE ASSOCIATION)
key points
• human beings are driven by their LIBIDO- basically a mix of their sex drive and survival instincts

• human personality has three parts
1. the primitive - unconscious ID,
2. the rational EGO,
3. the SUPEREGO - or conscience


Other Freudian stuff
proposed an elaborate theory of human sexual development

• new born infants - oral phrase
gain physical gratification as well as food from their mouths
• toddlers - anal phase 
derive pleasure from controlling their bowel movements
• next comes a latent or hidden sexuality phase after which….
• phallic phase
discovery of and preoccupation with the genitals
• genital stage
bringing mature, loving relationships with other people.


some of his theories
ie. all men wrestle with the Oedipus Complex
a combination of sexual desire for their mothers and jealously of their fathers were considered revolutionary.


 A ‘Freudian Slip’
is a verbal mistake or memory lapse which reveals an unconscious thought or emotion. ie.  calling one’s boss ‘darling’ or forgetting a dentist’s appointment could signify emotional frustration or fear (of the dentist)


Freud fled Germany and the NAZIS in 1938 and settled in London.
Although many of his theories are now questioned he still remains one of the most influential figures of the 20th Century.


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1875 -1961
Jung, Carl Gustav
(Swiss psychologist who broke with his associate Freud to develop his own theories)
key points
rejected Freud’s emphasis on sexuality as the fundamental human drive- attempted instead to understand the unconcscious mind by analysing the symbolism of religious experience, myths and dreams.
Believed many of these symbols stem from mankind’s COLLECTIVE SUBCONSCIOUS and was composed of ‘archetypes’ - inherited, unconscious ideas and values.


In studying personality he coined the terms EXTROVERT and INTROVERT  - and identified the existence of the feminine aspect (the anima) in men and the masculine aspect (the animus) in women


Jungian psychotherapy
a strand of which attempts to instil a sense of harmony between the ‘patient’ and the human race has influenced many NEW AGE groups.


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Future shock
sense of insecurity and disorientation felt by people whose societies are undergoing rapid change.

Comes from the title of the book written by Alvin Toffler, which describes the devastating effects of social and technological change in Westernised industrialised society which he likened to the  ‘culture shock’ sometimes felt by travellers.


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Fuzzy logic
new branch of thought which rejects conventional ‘black & white’ logic in favour of a more flexible approach accommodating shades of grey more akin to Far Eastern philosophies
Chief exponent Bart Kalso claims that binary logic (right-wrong, 1 or 0) sacrifices accuracy for convenience.


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Rodin's Thinker

Most 20th Century philosophers have proved that....


....almost nothing is certain.


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