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Power of Western Philosophy

We studied the 100 essential thinkers, this term. All of them showed a strong influence on their own fields, or even changed the way people live and think. They are the most admired philosophers in the western society. Many of the thinkers are extremely important that the world will never be the one it looks like today. Some of them brought us great thoughts, and some of them offered us the power of innovation.

Among those great thinkers, there is an outstanding philosopher, mathematician, and writer. I think, therefore I am. This is a well-known maxim to the people all around the world. Yes, he’s René Descartes. He has been dubbed the “Father of Modern Philosophy”, and lots of subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which are studied closely to this day. In particular, his Meditations on First Philosophy continues to be a standard text at most university philosophy departments. Descartes' influence in mathematics is equally apparent; the Cartesian coordinate system, which allows algebraic equations to be expressed as geometric shapes in a two-dimensional coordinate system which was named after him. He is also credited as the father of analytical geometry, the bridge between algebra and geometry, crucial to the discovery of infinitesimal calculus and analysis. He was also one of the key figures in the Scientific Revolution. The western society became rational due to his glorious contribution to the philosophy. Descartes’ program in the Meditations is to put the edifice of human knowledge upon secure foundations. Reviewing his beliefs, he finds that many are contrary. Some are more or less justified than others; some, such as the propositions of mathematics, seem certain; others readily turn out to be false.

As René Descartes is regarded as the father of modern philosophy of western world, Karl Marx should be seen as the treasure of the whole world. As a philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist, he played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement. He published various books during his lifetime, with the most notable

being The Communist Manifesto (1848) and Capital (1867–1894); some of his works were co-written with his friend and fellow German revolutionary socialist, Friedrich Engels. Revolutionary socialist governments espousing Marxist concepts took power in a variety of countries in the 20th century, leading to the formation of such socialist states as the Soviet Union in 1922 and the People's Republic of China in 1949. Based on his theory, more communist thinking, such as Leninism, Stalinism, Trotskyism and Maoism, was developed. Even now, in China, Karl Marx‘s theory is still seen as the origin of the communist theory. He is thought as the most brilliant person in human society, not only in socialist states, but in all the state in the world, east and west, socialist and capitalist. He has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history, and in a 1999 BBC poll was voted the top "thinker of the millennium" by people from around the world, beating Aristotle and Plato. Marx believed that those structural contradictions within capitalism necessitate its end, giving way to socialism, or a post-capitalistic, communist society: 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.

From reading these articles about the western philosophers, I discovered that the development of western philosophy is always keeping pace with the changes in society and science. In other words, western philosophy pays more attention to the logical thinking, such as induction, reasoning and deduce. It comes from mathematics, physics and other natural discipline. Western philosophy has great power that shapes the way we think and act. But it can hardly been touched, it can only be argued, but never comes to a conclusion. It guided us through the darkness of the ignorant, and enriched our ability to become civilized. It has important influence on the modern society, but it’s not that abstruse. Just like Philip Stokes said in the book, “it is not solely the province of specialists, but an intrinsic and indispensable part of a person’s navigation through life.”


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