John Notes for “Introduction to Western Philosophy”

Here are your John Notes for some of the major honchos in Western philosophy:

Socrates: Liked to call himself a “gadfly.” No one argued it. Turned unceasingly asking annoying questions into the basis for Western civilization.

Plato: Believed knowledge was more about remembering than learning. Yet founded the first college in the Western World. Been confusing people ever since. Famous for the Socratic dialogues, which were later refashioned into scripts for the hit TV show, My Two Dads. Wrote Republic, in which he posited that the key to harmonious communal living was unisexual clothing, plenty of stop signs, and people picking up after their dogs. Spent majority of life trying to get people to call him just anything but “Plato.”

Aristotle: Believed all of nature was subject to rational analysis and understanding. Legacy includes systematic logic, scholasticism, and global warming.

St. Thomas Aquinas: Famous for writing Summa Theologiae, wherein he proved that, through the strict application of logic, a rational man could confuse himself into a religious stupor. Summa proved invaluable to surgeons of the Middle Ages, whose primary tools were sharp sticks and their teeth. Two sentences from Summa Theologiae, carefully whispered into a patient’s ear by an aquinaesthesiologist, would instantly numb the patient from the neck down. For brain surgery, a third sentence was read. For public executions, a fourth.

Descartes: Proved true his famous axiom “I think; therefore I am” by one day falling asleep, and instantly vanishing. 

Berkeley: Renowned for being the first (and last) famous philosopher named George. Felt that reality divorced from human perception was logically unsupportable. Died wondering why he never got invited to any parties.

Kant: Held that all ethical decisions should be formed in response to the single question, “Do these pants make me look fat?” Famous for writing The Critique of Pure Reason. It was his freakish good luck that his publisher happened to be a moron: the book was supposed to be titled, The Reason of Pure Critique. Written as a humorous guide to Berlin’s museums and cafes, it was immediately hailed as breakthrough work on metaphysical speculation. No idiot, Kant kept quiet. Died smiling.

William James: The Mr. Goodwrench of philosophy. American. Felt that philosophy was too far removed from reality to serve any verifiably useful purpose. As a result, started his own school of philosophy, Pragmatism, which quickly grew into a franchise operation, “Uncle Willie’s 1-Stop Philosophy Shop,” where drive-through customers could receive instant adjustments to their philosophical positions. Later started “Positions to Go!,” which promised philosophical constructs delivered to one’s home in thirty minutes or less. Died penniless.

Sartre: Important, but why should we care?

 

Related pieces o’ mine: John Notes for Western Literature 101, and Pick-Up Lines of Famous Men in History

 

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter. If you shop at Amazon, help support John by entering the site through this link right here--Amazon will then send John 3-4% of the cost of anything you buy before exiting the site again.

 

  • http://significana.com/ Signifier

    "aquinaesthesiologist" I love the term. And I thought I wanted to read Aquinas some day. Maybe not.

  • http://thereisnogray.wordpress.com thereisnogray

    What a vicious circle poor Descartes was on. First doubting his existence, and then realizing that doubt existed, and if doubt existed then someone must be doing the doubting of their own existence, therefore they existed, but they had to doubt whether or not their doubt was real. Man, I’m tired just thinking about it. No wonder he fell asleep and vanished. Too bad he couldn’t have gone bye-bye before the whole analytical geometry thing popped into his head.

  • http://clubrevolutiononline.blogspot.com Angela

    you left out oprah…

  • Jessica

    Oprah falls under the "important but why should we care category."

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    I don't know about unisexual clothing, but I'll back picking up after one's own dog any day.

  • http://samwrites2.wordpress.com samwrites2

    I'm sure there's a joke somewhere about putting Descartes before the horse, but I Kant remember it.

    -Sam

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    I am with skerrib on the dog thing!

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    so am I

  • http://youtube.com/watch?v=H5tZc8oH--o Ross

    just wanna say you make me laugh. I haven't been to the blog as much recently maybe the new layout confused me, (think I got it now) but read a couple of posts this morning and remembered how funny you are (don't get a big head about it though.)

  • christine

    OMG nearly died laughing!! Just finished philosophy course and this is just epic!!! Off right now to send to my lecturer who will LOVE it


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