Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Lecture 1 (Raw Notes)

The History of Western Philosophy

As time goes on, the authority of the church diminishe
Renaissance – Science didn't play a huge part
Emancipation: “Emancipation is a term used to describe various efforts to obtain political rights or equality, often for a specifically disenfranchised group, or more generally in discussion of such matters.” 

Until the 17th Century, nobody really cared about philosophy
Unlike religion, science is completely ethically neutral
    Political condition – Renaissance: After the death of Frederick II In 1250, Italy was free from foreign interference until Charles VIII invaded in 1494

    Italy: 5 important states – Milan, Venice, Florence, Papal domain, Naples

    Democratic: Democracy is a political government carried out either directly by the people (direct democracy) or by means of elected representatives of the people (Representative democracy) 

    13th Century – In Florence, conflicting classes – The nobles, the rich merchants, small men

    The nobles were Ghibelline (A member of a medieval aristocratic Italian faction that supported the German emperors in a long struggle against the Popes and the Guelphs)

    The other two were Guelf (The Guelphs and Ghibellines were factions supporting, respectively, the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor in central and northern Italy during the 12th and 13th centuries. The struggle for power between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire had arisen with the Investiture Conflict of the 11th century.)

    The Medici ruled Florence until 1737 but it became poor and unimportant

    Humanism: “Humanism is a worldview and a moral philosophy that considers humans to be of primary importance. It is a perspective common to a wide range of ethical stances that attaches importance to human dignity, concerns, and capabilities, particularly rationality.”

    Italy – Constant wars until coming of French in 1494 but didn't interfere much with trade or prevent the country from increasing wealth.

    Gemistus Plethora did much to promote Platonism in Italy. So did Bessarion.

    Platonism: “The embracing of the doctrines of the philosopher Plato, popular among the poets of the Renaissance and the Romantic period. Platonism is more flexible than Aristotelian Criticism and places more emphasis on the supernatural and unknown aspects of life

    The Renaissance was not a popular movement, it was a movement of a small number of scholars and artists.

    Niccolo Machiavelli

    He was a Florentine

    Florentine - “a native or resident of Florence, Italy”

    Wrote 'The Prince'

    The Prince examines the acquisition, perpetuation, and use of political power in the western world. Machiavelli wrote The Prince to prove his proficiency in the art of the state, offering advice on how a prince might gain and keep power. Machiavelli justified rule by force rather than by law. Accordingly, The Prince seems to justify a number of actions done solely to perpetuate power. It is a classic study of power—its acquisition, expansion, and effective use.

    He also wrote 'The Discourses on Livy':

    The Discourses purport to explain the structure and benefits of a republic, a form of government based on popular consent and control. It is considered almost unanimously by scholars to be if not the first, then certainly the most important, work on republicanism in the early modern period

    The love of liberty came to the Renaissance from antiquity

    Remember – Machiavelli never bases any political argument on Christian or Biblical grounds

    His beliefs were

    Important – National dependence, security, well-ordered constitution
    The best Constitution apportions (divide and distribute) legal rights among prince, nobles
    because a successful revolution would be difficult to achieve

    He is of the opinion that civilized men are almost certain to be unscrupulous egoists (immoral and self-centered)

    Politicians will behave better in a community in which their crimes can be made widely known
    In Northern countries the Renaissance began later than in Italy

    The Northern Renaissance was in many ways different to that in Italy. It was associated with public virtue


    Born in Rotterdam.
    He was illegitimate
    He became a monk and hated it
    In 1493 he became secretary to Bishop of Cambrai. Gave him opportunity to travel.
    Had little knowledge of Greek, but was an accomplished Latinist

    Erasmus hated the scholastics – saw them as superannuated and antiquated

    He didn't really like any philosophy

    After leaving England in 1500, he worked to learn Greek

    Too poor to afford a teacher. Tried Hebrew. Gave up.

    He wrote 'The Praise of Folly':

    Erasmus had a considerable influence in stimulating English Humanism

    The curiosity of the renaissance gradually became scientific

    Made a vast collection of Latin proverbs

    Wrote VERY successful book: colloquies to teach people how to speak Latin

    Sir Thomas More

    1478 – 1535


    Followed his father's profession as lawyer

    1504 he was member of parliament

    Led opposition to Henry VII's demand for new taxes

    More is remembered solely on his account of 'Utopia'

    An island in the Southern hemisphere
    Everything is done in the best possible way
    There are 54 towns
    Anyone may enter any house
    All are dressed alike
    Family life is patriarchal
    Most people eat in common halls
    Both men and women punished if not virgin when married
    All religions tolerated
    Priests are few. They have honour but no power
    Admittedly, Utopia sounds dull. There is no diversity
    Reformation – Authority of Pope rejected

    Counter reformation – Revolt against intellectual and moral freedom

    3 great men of reformation and counter reformation were Luther, Calcin, Loyola

    The rise of science:
    4 great men – Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and Newton


    Devoted to astronomy
    Believed the sun was the centre of the universe


    First important astronomer to adopt heliocentric theory
    Influenced by Pythagoreanism

    Great discovery of his, three laws of planetary motion.

    Law 2: The line joining a planet to the sun sweeps out equal areas in equal times

    Law 3: The square of the period of revolution of a planet is proportional to the cube of its average distance from the sun


    First discovered the importance of acceleration in dynamics. It means the change of velocity. Found the milky way consists of a multitude of separate stars

    He was condemned by the inquisition privately in 1616, publicly in 1633


    "His 1687 publication of the Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (usually called the Principia) is considered to be among the most influential books in the history of science, laying the groundwork for most of classical mechanics."

    Francis Bacon

    1617 – acquired his fathers office of keeper. But eventually prosecuted for accepting bribes from litigants.

    £40,000 fine, although not forced to pay the fine and only stayed in the tower for 4 days


    15, went to Oxford
    Research his background. Achievements etc.

    Wrote the leviathan:
    In the book, which was written during the English Civil War, Thomas Hobbes argues for a social contract sovereign. Hobbes wrote that chaos or civil war — situations identified with a state of nature and the famous motto Bellum omnium contra omnes ("the war of all against all") — could only be averted by strong central government"


    Very good that your notes are based on the book, proves your reading = key to success.

    Really detailed notes what are perfect for revision, well done :)

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