A few of the greatest philosophers of history have been persecuted either by their unique ideas or by their unwilligness to conform. Some of these philosophers wanted to help others to think for themselves. To think for oneself or to have a unique identity is not common practice today, just as it has hardly been … Read More
A few of the greatest philosophers of history have been persecuted either by their unique ideas or by their unwilligness to conform. Some of these philosophers wanted to help others to think for themselves. To think for oneself or to have a unique identity is not common practice today, just as it has hardly been in the history of our current civilization. To think for oneself means that you may possible reject the norm and offer new ideas. I can provide you a long list of figures that come to mind, but for the sake of this web article I will mention four of the ones that come to mind: Socrates
“A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion, a thoroughly vulgar conception which has nothing sound in it and nothing true.”
Life: (c. 469 BC – 399 BC) A classical Greek Athenian philospher. One of the founders of Western philosophy, teacher of students like Platon and Xenophon. Socrates did not really write something himself but rather we know of him through the writings of his students namely Plato and Xenophon and mostly from Plato’s dialogues. Socrates lived a life of service for others, always allowing others to undestand themselves and bring the best from his students. Contribution: Among being one of the founders of Western philosphy, Socrates contributed a great deal in his teachings to the fields of epistemology, ethics, logic and through the socratic method. Socrates offered many ideas, mainly in the opposition of democracy. Death: Because Socroates promoted free tought, he was immenintely condemned for corrupting the minds of youth of Athens and was subsequently senteced to death to driking a mixture containing the poison hemlock. Jesus of Nazareth
“You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)
Life: (7–2 BC/BCE to 30–36 AD/CE) Also referred as the Christ as the central figure of Christianity. Known to be an insightful learner. He became a prolific healer and preachers. In this 30s when he attracted a lot of considerable attention, most noted when he went to observe passover and was shown triumphant and with much significance. Contribution: Jesus left us with many teachings, a lot of which were transcribed through his disciples or the different Gospels by the apostles in the New Testament. Death: Jesus is known to have lived in Palestine ruled by the Roman Empire who accused him of inciting the masses and an agitator. He was then later found guilty, arrested, tried and executed. Giordano Bruno
“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
Life and Contribution: (1548 – February 17, 1600) A Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician and astronomer. Bruno was one of the first to propose that the Sun was just another star and the universe contained an immense number of inhabited worlds populated by other intelligent beings. Of course, this idea can be very controversial in the age of the Roman Inquisition, however we know today this idea is no longer rejected. Our understanding of the solar system now tell us that our universe is so immense and expanding. We know that there are millions of stars and many even Earth-like. We are also aware that life has been confirmed in Mars. Death: As I said Bruno lived during the time of the Roman Inquisition and they were not very tolerant of new ideas, specially of ideas that would contradict the status quo. Bruno’s concept of the plurality of worlds was so controversial that the Roman Catholic Church through orders of the Pope himself marked Bruno as a heretic having him burned at the stake by civil authorities. Hypatia
All formal dogmatic religions are fallacious and must never be accepted by self-respecting persons as final.
Life: (ca. AD 350–370–March 415) A Greek Neoplanotist philosopher during Roman Egypt who was most notably as a mathematician but who also taught philosophy and astronomy. Contribution: Charted celestial bodies and invented the hydrometer, used to determine the relative density. She was also attributed to have proposed the elliptical orbits of celestial bodies first tought to be discovered by Johannes Kepler 1200 years later. Death: Murdered by Christian mob who accused her of heresy. The mob not only violently attacked her but also stripped her naked as a form of humiliation, then she was dragged through the streets where she was killed. There are many other examples in history like Anaxagoras, Diagoras of Melo and Protagoras of Abdera. Interestingly enough when you look for the definition of “Philosopher” accepted dictionaries like The Merrian-Webster dictionary define it as:
1 a : a person who seeks wisdom or enlightenment : scholar, thinker b : a student of philosophy 2 a : a person whose philosophical perspective makes meeting trouble with equanimity easier b : an expounder of a theory in a particular area of experience c : one who philosophizes
We live in a society that encourages conformism and non-critical thinking. We have a society that shows being ignorant and unaware as something stylish and at many times even sexy. Take a look at the worldwide success of the television show Friends. Two of the most desired characters represented each sex is Joey and Rachel. Joey makes a point of being the one that just doesn’t get it and is very proud of it. Yet, somehow, he is also the most attractive male character in the show. Rachel is just about the same side of the coin. Proudly, I have to admit, I am no expert in the analysis of TV shows as I turned off my TV about 3 years ago. However, I have an awareness and have watched sporadically episodes of other TV shows like 2 and Half Men, Jersey Shore, Desperate Housewives and The Kardashians. And I also have the idea of movies by Adam Sandler or movies like the Hangover; all of which not only portray stupidity and mediocrity as being hipped, but also which promote a sheeple mentality. The question would be, are we doing the same mistakes that were done centuries ago with Socrates, Giordano Bruno or Hypatia? Well, let’s look at people who questioned the status quo like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi, Dalai Lama and recently Ron Paul. That’s right I am placing Ron Paul in this category not only because he fits the definition of accepted dictionaries, but also because he brings new ideas and breaks through the status quo. For this Ron Paul is called a nut job and received little or no coverage by the mainstream media. Ron Paul is a winner of every poll on who won the Republican presidential debates and receives the most support from the current military forces. Perhaps, the establishment is not going to accuse Ron Paul of heresy or burn him to the stake, but definitely he will be made forgotten or be made have little or even laughable image. The consequence of what is happening in the world today with social media surpassing the power of old media is that we are now able to have the opportunity to gather other sources of news media that give us a more impartial view of what is really happening such as the thousands of crowds who attend Ron Paul’s rallies. Definitely, being a philosopher seems to continue to be a dangerous thing, however it seems that the practice of condemning free thinkers definitely has not been of any benefit for the progress of our civilization.