Introducing philosophy in the age of speed
Dr. Hassan Mansour Al-Hajj
On November 17th, the world celebrated World Philosophy Day. But how can this celebration be an occasion and incentive for receiving and accepting the philosophical thought of the generations of today, which is ruled by the technological revolution, the speed of communication and the dominance of a fast way of life in all fields? Can this generation find enough time to read the books of great philosophers who enriched the history of philosophy with their philosophies on the fate of the universe, man and nature? In this short article in accordance with the age of speed, we will try to present the story of philosophy so that modern man can understand the meaning of philosophy and philosophizing and use this understanding in his daily and ethical life, as well as in preparation for his destiny and the completion of his essence. In addition, with this article, we want to break the popular illusion about the barrenness, abstraction and sophistication of philosophical thought, with a short and quick presentation of the most important perceptions of philosophy and its turning points through the most important philosophical schools and great philosophers who left their mark on the stages of the history of philosophy.
In order to achieve the purpose of this article, we must ask the question of what philosophy is: Do philosophers and historians of philosophy agree on the definition of philosophy? It is natural that they disagree; This is because the act of philosophizing does not accept stereotypes, and therefore there are as many philosophies as there are philosophers, in the words of Jean-Paul Sartre. And the philosopher Kant believed that we cannot teach philosophy, but that we can teach philosophizing. So, the essence of philosophy depends on the activities and reflections of all those who asked questions about the universe, existence, God and man. From here we can trace several perceptions of what philosophy is. However, it must be admitted, according to Aristotle, that man’s wonder before nature and before everything that is normal and natural is the source of philosophy. But this wonder continued within the framework of modern philosophy through the metaphysical question posed by the German philosopher Leibniz and rediscovered by Heidegger in the twentieth century: Why is there something instead of nothing? In fact, this question summarizes the fundamental problem in philosophy by posing the fundamental problems of philosophy which are based on the metaphysical question, place, existence and nothingness.
On this basis, the perceptions from which the definitions of philosophy were based multiplied. Among the most important of these perceptions: First, the consideration of philosophy as the love of wisdom, and not as wisdom in itself; second, the consideration of philosophy as a question; As philosopher Carl Jaspers said, questions are more important than answers. Third, consideration of philosophy as a certain doctrine that has a conception of the world and its destiny; Fourth, consideration of philosophy as a universal view of the entire universe; Fifth, consideration of philosophy as a critical theory and analysis of language and science.
So, in order to classify philosophers, we must ask a basic question in philosophy, namely: the question of the relationship between thought and reality, which deals with the question of truth arising from the harmony of thought and material reality. Traditional philosophers have divided themselves into two camps on this issue: idealist and materialist. The dispute took place over the constant race between knowledge and existence. As for existence, idealists believe that thought precedes existence. As for materialists, they believe that material existence precedes thought. Regarding knowledge, idealists believe that knowledge is achieved by projecting and directing consciousness onto real existence. As for the materialists, they believe that knowledge is achieved through the reflection of material reality on human consciousness.
In fact, the history of philosophy witnessed several phases, starting from Eastern philosophies to contemporary philosophy, passing through Greek philosophy, Arab and Western medieval philosophy, and modern German and French philosophy. This philosophical history witnessed great turning points in the development of human thought. From these twists and turns, the Greek miracle arose through the philosophers of joy who preceded Socrates, and Heraclitus, the philosopher of movement, change and controversy, and the philosopher Parmenides, who believed in the principle of stability and stillness and rejected nothingness, as he believed. that the universe is, and nothingness is not: it means nothing outside of static and fixed being. The philosopher Democritus also appeared, who assumed that everything in nature consists of atoms. As for Socrates, he represented a fundamental turning point in the history of thought, because he transferred philosophical interest from nature to man by saying: O man, know thyself. And the Greek miracle was completed with Plato and Aristotle, who wrote the history of philosophy by establishing metaphysics, offering each of them an integrated philosophical system. Namely, Plato played a major role in the foundation of idealistic philosophy, believing that the truth is in the world of ideals and eternal truths, while our earthly world is only a world of corruption and change. He presented this theory in the book “Republic”. ” when talking about the legend of the cave. As for Aristotle, he was called the first teacher because of his abundance of productions in metaphysics, physics, and logic. Indeed, Aristotle worked to establish metaphysics by bypassing his teacher Plato and bridging the gap that the latter established between the world of ideals and the world of physical nature. So; Aristotelian logic dominated for centuries until the Renaissance after the medieval decline, when attempts to reconcile philosophy and religion prevailed, and even to make philosophy the handmaiden of religion. Here it is necessary to mention the role of Arab-Islamic philosophy through Al-Farabi, Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd, who presented a new reading of Aristotle’s philosophy, because this reading contributed to a reconsideration of the Greek miracle and rebirth. philosophy in the Renaissance. It is also worth highlighting the Stoic school and the Epicurean school, which arose after the long-term dominance of Aristotelianism. Their concern was moral and they agreed on the basic slogan, which is to live according to nature through human reconciliation between its individuals. nature and the nature governed by its laws. In the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment, humanism emerged, the rational trend regained its glory, and modern philosophy emerged with the French philosopher Descartes, who launched the cogito, “I think, therefore I am.” He opened the door to a new stage in the history of modern philosophical thought by assigning a primary role to free will arising from Ego is Thinking. However, Descartes’ free rational turn continued with the Dutch philosopher Spinoza, who, with his foundation of ethics on mathematical foundations and vision of the unity of existence, and thinking that freedom is awareness of necessity, made an important addition to modern thought. As for the German philosopher Leibniz, he found the atoms of Democritus and assumed that all beings are a community of simple monads who sympathize with other beings according to the theory of pre-harmony established by divine providence. Parallel to this rational trend in modern philosophy, the empiricist trend emerged with Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, since this current prioritized the role of experience in the knowledge process. And since each current has its own strong arguments and evidence that cannot be ignored, the German philosopher Immanuel Kant appeared trying to use the experimental and rational currents by establishing a critical philosophy through his book “Critique of the Pure Mind”, where he tried to combine reason and experience, based on two basic intuitions: intuition Time and place intuition as basic conditions for knowledge. Kant was also interested in establishing morality on a metaphysical basis, so that metaphysics forms the basis for an abstract cosmic morality that is appropriate for all human beings, for which man is the end, not the means.
After Kant’s criticism of the pure mind, the German philosopher Hegel through his famous book “Phenomenology of Spirit” came to reconsider the mind, considering that the world is the embodiment of the absolute mind. So; Hegel formed the pinnacle of idealist philosophy, because he believed that reason rules the world. Hegel was distinguished by his dialectical approach based on triads, each of which includes one question and its opposite, and the union of two extremes, considering that the most comprehensive triad that includes all triads is the following: Art, Religion, Philosophy. This means that philosophy represents a discourse of reason that transcends both religious and artistic activities. So; Hegel believes that the philosopher represents the spirit of his age. Since Hegel represents the pinnacle of idealist philosophy, there had to be a contradiction that this philosophy faced. One of Hegel’s students was Karl Marx, who turned Hegel’s dialectical approach on its head, because he stopped this approach on its feet instead of standing on its head. . The argument for Marx starts from material reality, while for Hegel it starts from a pure idea. Thus, Marx benefited from Hegel’s dialectic and placed it on the solid ground represented by the economic infrastructure. As Marx believes that human society is based on three levels: the economic level, the political level and the ideological level. These levels make up the social structure, but it is the economic structure that characterizes society. If the mode of production is capitalist, society will be under the control of capitalist ideology.
Therefore, after this short presentation, we hope that we have managed to provide an overall idea of the history of philosophy, up to modern philosophy, provided that we complete the post-Marxist phase in the next article.
* Researcher and Lebanese university professor