5 Philosophers Our World Cannot Forget

These philosophers have provided us a wealth of information and have shown us ways to live that we might not have known otherwise.

Some showed us the power of nonviolent resistance as an effective way to change the course of history. Others showed us the power of thought and positivity. Regardless, here’s 5 philosophers our world simply can’t afford to forget.

Seneca

4 BC – 65 AD

Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher who believed in “…Philosophy, [as] the guide of life” and “…that no man can live a happy life, or even a supportable life, without the study of wisdom1…”.

He was primarily interested in ethics and usually dedicated his writing to people he deemed as being “…someone who is plagued by a ‘sickness of the soul’2.”

Having lived during an era defined by greed, the lust for power, and war, he tried to share his teachings with anyone who was falling into the grasps of desire and/ or despair.

“Poverty brought into conformity with the law of nature, is great wealth… It is the superfluous things for which men sweat…that force us to grow old in camp… That which is enough is ready to our hands. He who has made a fair compact with poverty is rich.3

Life is long if you know how to use it. - Seneca the Younger

Mahatma Gandhi

October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948

Mohandas K. Gandhi is one of history’s most renowned activists. He is known for his philosophy of nonviolent resistance — Satyagraha (the firmness of truth). He was also known to his followers as Mahatma, someone revered for their great soul.

Some argue that Gandhi isn’t considered as a true philosopher (whatever the hell that means) but I’m of the strict belief that he definitely was a philosopher, and a great one at that. All it really means to be a philosopher is to be someone engaged in the pursuit of truth and wisdom.

Be the change that you wish to see in the world. - Mahatma Gandhi

Confucius

c. 551 BCE – 479 BCE

Confucius was a Chinese philosopher known for his focus on “…creating ethical models of family and public interaction and setting educational standards.4“. His ideas and teachings have continued to influence China for thousands of years. For quite some time, he was even considered as China’s chief philosopher

His teachings have touched millions of people. Ever heard of filial piety? Well, you’ve got Confucius to thank for that.

The Golden Rule

Confucius’ social philosophy was based primarily on the principle of “ren” or “loving others” while exercising self-discipline. He believed that ren could be put into action using the Golden Rule, “What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.” (Lunyu 12.2, 6.30).5

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall. - Confucius

Martin Luther King Jr.

January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968

Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Civil Rights activist inspired by the nonviolent philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. He was a leader of the modern American Civil Rights Movement for several years and was arguably most known for his pursuit of racial equality.

In the late 50’s and 60’s, he led nonviolent movements which would ultimately lead to achieving what he and many others had worked for, equality for African-Americans.

“While others were advocating for freedom by “any means necessary,” including violence, Martin Luther King, Jr. used the power of words and acts of nonviolent resistance, such as protests, grassroots organizing, and civil disobedience to achieve seemingly-impossible goals.6

If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl; but by all means, keep moving. - Martin Luther King Jr.

Aristotle

384 BCE – 322 BCE

Arguably one of the most accomplished and most renowned Greek philosophers, Aristotle’s contributions string across many different fields such as “…logic, metaphysics, mathematics, physics, biology, botany, ethics, politics, agriculture, medicine, dance and theatre.7

Because of his many contributions, he’s notably referred to as simply “The Philosopher” and “The Teacher”.

A lot of his writing is based on the topic of virtue and understanding what drives a person.

The life of money-making is one undertaken under compulsiion, and wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking; it is merely useful and for the sake of something else. - Aristotle

Which are your favourite philosophers? Let me know in the comment section below.

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Footnotes

  1. Wikisource.org
  2. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy – Seneca, 2.1 Philosophy as a Practice
  3. Wikisource.org
  4. The Biography.com Website
  5. The Biography.com Website
  6. The King Center
  7. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy