A Brief History of Thought | A Philosophical Guide to Living | Luc Ferry | Book Summary



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A Brief History of Thought by Luc Ferry

It’s anything but difficult to get discouraged for anybody beginning with philosophy. Unlimited language, wordy sentences and clutter of discrete thoughts regularly darken valuable experiences into being human and how we should live our lives – like attempting to respect a lovely see through a filthy window.

However, these flickers offer you a sure and straightforward way through that bog, taking Western idea’s most mind-boggling and crucial thoughts and refining them into language that everybody can get it. Beginning with old Greek originations of the universe and completing with the ascent of contemporary humanism, you will find out pretty much all the significant stages in Western philosophy’s advancement.

More than that, these flickers will demonstrate to you how unique philosophical schools have applied their shrewdness solidly, empowering followers to defeat their dread of death and live more joyful, increasingly substance and progressively significant lives.

1 – Philosophy has three essential dimensions.

To plot the historical backdrop of philosophy, we should comprehend what it is – how it functions, and what it looks to accomplish.

Anyway, what is philosophy?

Shockingly, there’s no generally acknowledged definition – scholars are a famously stubborn and factious gathering. Be that as it may, we can land at an agreeable depiction with a touch of thought.

In the first place, people are, in philosophical language, limited creatures: mortal animals possessing a restricted fix of existence. Also, in contrast to different creatures, we’re mindful of these breaking points. A pooch or lion, for example, has no development information about their death. They’re just worried about the present minute. Yet, people live realizing that they – and their friends and family – will pass away.

This shadow of death compels us to think about how to manage our transitory time on Earth. It additionally ingrains us with profound dread – the dread of losing friends and family, the dread of the obscure, dread of nothingness.

This apprehension keeps us from carrying on with an entirely placated life, brimming with adoration and fulfillment. What’s more, from the beginning, theory and religion have attempted to enable us to overcome this dread – however they go about it in totally various ways.

Religion – and especially Christianity – vows to spare us from the dread of death through confidence. On the off chance that we have confidence in God, He will spare us by conceding us into paradise, where we’ll rejoin with our friends and family for time everlasting.

Philosophy, then again, vows to spare us by utilizing our very own rationale and thinking. Philosophy plans to vanquish the uneasiness encompassing death by attempting to get ourselves, other individuals and the world we possess comfort.

Toward this end, philosophical reasoning involves three phases.

First is the theory. This includes pondering the idea of the real world. However, our insight into the truth is sifted through the devices we use to grasp it, thus theory thinks about those instruments as well. How would we pinpoint the reasons for regular wonders? What are the courses through which we can set up an announcement as “genuine?” These inquiries make up the second piece of the theory.

Second is ethics. This is increasingly viable and ponders humankind. Specifically, it asks how we ought to carry on and exist together with each other.

The third is wisdom or salvation. This is a definitive objective of religion and philosophy and inquires as to whether any – which means there is to life and how we can carry on with a satisfying life free from the stifling trepidation of our mortality.

What’s more, one of the principal methods of philosophy to use this three-organize framework was Stoicism.

2 – Stoicism endeavored to clarify the working of the universe and mankind’s place inside it.

One of the most compelling philosophical developments in ancient Greece was Stoicism, established by Zeno of Citium in the third century BC. To diagram it, we’ll pursue the three phases of philosophy sketched out in the past flicker: theory, ethics, and salvation.

As per the Stoics, the universe was like a creature. Each piece of it resembled an organ: explicitly made to assume a little job in helping the entire body to work. The outcome, they thought, was a splendidly agreeable, pre-appointed characteristic request between each piece of the universe.

They thought this order framed the major nature, or substance, of the real world, which they called kosmos. This order existed inside the universe and not outside to it for the Stoics, similar to the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Think about the human body and our regular habitat to see a case of this order from the Stoics’ point of view. The body and our condition, the Stoics would state, are consummately intended to give us all that we need; we have eyes and legs to see the world and move around in it, insight to beat deterrents and common assets to sustain, dress and sanctuary us.

What’s more, since this common order is as of now impeccable, mankind’s definitive objective is just to locate their legitimate spot inside it. This leads us to the topic of ethics.

From the Stoic viewpoint, ethics was genuinely clear. That is, whatever conflicted with the cosmic order wasn’t right and terrible, and whatever acted in concordance with it was correct and great. To be an ethical individual, thus, you needed to act as per the order for things and satisfy the obligations of your allocated put in – whatever that order or spot may be.

Obviously, from a cutting edge point of view, this thought makes them inconvenience social and political ramifications. For instance, as per the Stoics, on the off chance that you were brought into the world a slave, this was your legitimate put in the cosmic order, and your errand was to acknowledge it.

The Stoics likewise had their very own adaptation of salvation. By mulling over the regular order of the universe and living amicably inside it, they would have liked to comprehend that demise didn’t genuinely exist – at any rate, not in its feeling being the last consummation.

Rather, they accepted that when we die, we’re extremely just moved to start with one condition of being then onto the next inside the regular order. That order, thusly, is unceasing, and we’re carried on as a component of it after death. Along these lines, as opposed to a consummation, death is only a waypoint in our voyage through the cosmos.



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3 – Christianity displaced Greek philosophy and revolutionized human reasoning.

Even though Christianity isn’t a philosophy since it accentuates faith over-explanation, it’s as yet an arrangement of the idea that dislodged the Greek way of thinking and immeasurably affected the course of history.

How did this occur? We should again finish the phases of theory, ethics, and salvation.

Right off the bat, Christian theory moved logos – all-inclusive, undeniable rationale and reason – away from the structure of the universe. Rather, logos was epitomized in an individual: Jesus Christ. This was an extreme change. All of a sudden, logos wasn’t found in a cold and confined structure, however in one single, uncommon person.

What’s more, recollect, a theory likewise takes a gander at the apparatuses we use to get the reality. Here once more, Christianity reformed reasoning. To comprehend the genuine idea of things, it contended, confidence was required, not reason. Christians must place their confidence in Jesus, the focal point of logos, who represents the incomparable maker.

Christianity removed thoughts regarding ethics in three different ways, starting with a dismissal of the Greek notion of hierarchy. As indicated by this idea, nature inconsistent endowments us things like magnificence, quality, and stature. To the Greeks, this inconsistent dispersion of endowments confirms that a few of us are destined to lead and others to pursue.

Be that as it may, Christianity demanded that these disparities were immaterial. What made a difference rather were the choices we made with what we’d been given. In this way, we as a whole had the opportunity to pick how to live, and these decisions decide how great and temperate our lives were.

This thought of opportunity of the decision was the main advancement that Christianity brought to Western ethics. This prompted Christianity’s second creative thought: that our internal otherworldly world could compare to the outer universe of nature.

This is the reason, during the beginning of Christianity, saints were glad to be executed for their confidence; in their psyches, the external domain of man was mediocre compared to the internal domain of God.

The third ethical advancement was the modern idea of humankind. Since logos was currently customized as Christ and the Christian religion kept up that everybody was an equivalent “creature of God,” it turned out to be anything but difficult to consider an all-around equivalent human race.

At last, the Christian tenet of salvation was likewise new. Christianity guaranteed its adherents an individual type of time everlasting – singular interminability in the Kingdom of Heaven. It enabled Christians to vanquish their dread of death by accepting that, after death, they will keep their characters and consciousnesses and be brought together with their friends and family.

4 – The logical transformation released frameworks of thought that prompted present-day philosophy.

Mankind blew separated its past originations of the reality in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. For instance, the cosmos was an unbounded void, with Earth certainly not at its inside in the models of the universe created by cosmologists and mathematicians like Nicolaus Copernicus.

In the meantime, in the wake of speculations created by physicists like Isaac Newton, individuals comprehended the universe to be administered by powers that could be accurately estimated and determined.

It’s difficult to fathom the gap of dread this would’ve opened for individuals as of now. Since the universe appeared to be interminable and icily mechanical, people required another ethical order and manner by which to translate their place inside the world. Additionally, with life following death presently uncovered to be a fiction for a few, they required another type of salvation.

What’s more, the French rationalist Descartes helped individuals to accomplish these objectives by introducing modern philosophy.

Descartes took the uncertainty released by the logical upset and shaped it into an instrument for philosophical examination. In a quest for unquestionable truth, Descartes inspected reality by receiving a place of radical incredulity and basic reasoning. In doing as such, he concocted a frame of mind vital to modern philosophy: the critical spirit.

What’s more, to look at the real world, Descartes utilized the possibility of tabula rasa – a clean slate. He would dismiss every single earlier conviction and suspicions and start his examination once more.

In the wake of these huge developments came Jean-Jacques Rousseau – a tremendously significant savant and the organizer of present-day humanism. Rousseau put people at the extremely focus of his origination of the world. He felt that by getting ourselves, we could comprehend the world wherein we live.

What’s more, Rousseau didn’t see people as simply one more animal– he believed that what made us various was our perfectibility.

As indicated by Rousseau, animals work inside unsurprising examples of conduct, customized naturally. That is the reason why cats won’t eat grass, and why giraffes won’t eat meat. Yet, people, then again, have a huge ability to change and ideal themselves over their lives. We can choose to be vegetarian, for instance, or make our own, novel individual history.

Be that as it may, humanists additionally need a rendition of salvation.

To accomplish this, some went to religions of natural salvation – pseudo- religions fixated on individuals, as opposed to god(s). Things like socialism, scientism, and energy are on the whole religions of natural salvation, promising us utopias. To their disciples, they offer significance to human presence by giving destinations that are probably more significant than a solitary person’s life.

5 – Rousseau’s humanism was taken and applied to ethics by Immanuel Kant.

Rousseau’s radical better approach for contemplating human opportunity incited an inquiry that made ready for new thoughts regarding ethics. The inquiry was this: With so much opportunity accessible to them, how could individuals structure their conduct as indicated by clear ethical rules?

The German scholar Immanuel Kant took up this inquiry in the eighteenth century, building up a hypothesis of ethics for another world in which people were viewed as free on-screen characters. He arrived at two resolutions that would significantly affect the current idea and become the premise of present-day humanism.

To begin with, he guaranteed that great ethical conduct relies upon unengaged activities – that is, an attitude that isn’t driven by close to home and narrow-minded thought processes.

Similar to every single other animal, people are brought into the world with a lot of characteristic urges that drive us to fulfill our wants. Be that as it may, in contrast to different animals, we can overlook these motivations. Along these lines, we can be uninvolved in our addition.

For Kant, an ethical– a genuinely human – activity expects us to overlook our self-important driving forces and receive a frame of mind of disinterestedness. We have to move in the direction of this in our regular day to day existence – and do so uninhibitedly. If we are compelled to act, the moral part of the activity is nullified.

Second, Kant demanded that ethical action is coordinated toward a universal, common good.

This implies good, ethical attitude is what isn’t connected to the interests of your family or country, yet to shared humankind.

By coordinating our activities toward a common good, we utilize our opportunity of the decision to settle on uninvolved choices that advantage the welfare of humankind. In doing this, we separate ourselves from our crude, self-important driving forces and become nearer to humankind in general.

In contrast to that of the Stoics, in Kant’s origination of ethics, we never again attempt to adjust to the “regular” request of things in our activities – without a doubt, by abrogating our normal wants, we attempt to contradict it. Kant considered this obligation to mankind over nature a downright basic, that is, an unquestionable commandment.

The requirement for such an edict originates from the way that we’re attempting to oppose our common driving forces. All things considered, on the off chance that we were normally modified to put mankind before ourselves, we shouldn’t be advised to do as such!

These thoughts framed the establishment of present-day humanism – an establishment that would be broken by Friedrich Nietzsche in the eighteenth century.



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6 – Friedrich Nietzsche disassembled humanism and introduced the time of the postmodern philosophy.

Up until this point, we’ve seen a few turning points in the improvement of the Western idea. Be that as it may, we can’t talk about philosophical unrest without referencing the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

We can peruse Nietzsche’s philosophy as a war against what he called nihilism. For Nietzsche, all conventions – from Christianity and humanism to communism – assume that there’s a superior world to be had and that we should sideline the present minute for making progress toward it.

They all had utopias to move in the direction of and things they esteemed more than regular daily existence, similar to God and humankind. Nietzsche saw these as pulverizing and denying the significance and estimation of life for what it’s worth. Nihilism was, for Nietzsche, a forswearing of life.

Nietzsche went through his time on earth attempting to uncover the vanity of nihilism. Keeping that in mind, his philosophy demands that there are no utopias or qualities that offer importance to life. Rather, the importance of life will be life itself! At the end of the day, life doesn’t rely upon something different – something better than it – to give it meaning; rather, life offers importance to itself.

Additionally, Nietzsche considered the world as involving two unique powers: reactive and active. Besides, these powers were clamorous and consistently in the struggle – the world would never be diminished to the Greek thoughts of amicability.

Reactive powers work just by denying and quelling different powers. By professing to speak to perfect facts that are better than people, religion, science and present-day theory all respond against customary human life. At the end of the day, to work adequately, these idea frameworks depreciated our regular substances. The equivalent is valid for pity, lament, and uncertainty – these feelings flourished by belittling life, that is, by responding against it.

In any case, active powers don’t have to subdue different powers. Craftsmanship is the normal home for active powers since it opens up new points of view without expecting to refute its antecedents. While one can say that socialism is correct and bigotry isn’t right, one couldn’t genuinely say that Picasso was right and Monet was mistaken.

In any case, Nietzsche didn’t contend that we should dispose of reactive powers for active powers – rather, he held that we should endeavor to adjust these two kinds of powers. When we do, life turns out to be increasingly striking and energetic. Nietzsche called the active demand to accomplish an ideal equalization of powers the will to control.

If we can show our active and reactive powers to coordinate, we live strongly and completely – never again destroyed by our receptive powers of disappointment and self-question. Nietzsche called the achievement of this the fabulous style – his version of salvation.

In light of his availability to manufacture another philosophical way – away from the precepts of present-day humanism – Nietzsche can be viewed as the organizer of postmodern reasoning. In any case, in time, even this extraordinary philosopher’s thoughts would be raised doubt about.

7 – Contemporary humanism offers a route past the cynicism of postmodernism.

One analysis leveled against Nietzsche is the accompanying: If we’re always attempting to deconstruct every one of our qualities and thought frameworks and if we keep up that there’s nothing better than the present time and place, where are we headed? The postmodern reasoning Nietzsche helped introduce dangers putting the genuine and solid world on a platform and loving it.

Be that as it may, there’s another way. We can take the experiences picked up from postmodernism and use them to reexamine humanism. This is contemporary humanism.

In the light of the knowledge of postmodernism, contemporary humanism rejects the religions of natural salvation basic to the old-style humanists. Be that as it may, it doesn’t concur with Nietzsche’s affirmation that lone this present reality of experience exists. Rather, it represents that a few things are otherworldly – outside and better than ourselves.

To demonstrate this, the German philosopher Edmund Husserl utilized a basic similarity including a matchbox.

We realize a matchbox has six sides, however, when we hold it up to our eyes, regardless of how we hold it, we can just ever observe three sides immediately. This is likewise valid for the real world, in that whichever point we see life from, there are sides to it we can’t see right now, some of which are transcendental.

The nearness of something consistently suggests a non-appearance of something different – be that as it may, we think about the real world, we can never thoroughly get a handle on it.

Along these lines, transcendence isn’t a discrete ideal like in old style humanism – it turns into a demonstrated truth, a very piece of the truth where we live. We can call this transcendence at this very moment.

By conceding this, we likewise concede that human learning is constrained and can’t be omniscient. This additionally breaks with old-style humanism by dismissing “absolute knowledge” and gullible confidence in human science.

We can see transcendence all the more solidly in things like truth and excellence. People can’t design reality that 1 + 1 = 2; in like manner, a painter doesn’t imagine the magnificence contained in her fine art.

Contemporary humanism offers various ethics, as well.

Nietzsche instructed us to dismiss all qualities probably better than life. This is something that has affected the present Western majority rule governments – there are currently rare sorts of people who might forfeit their lives for God or a socialist government.

Contemporary humanism has values, yet these qualities focus on life itself. These new transcendent values are not vertical, similar to enthusiasm, however flat. Contemporary humanists take an aggregate perspective on humankind, and the focal point of their incentive upon their kindred individuals, not digest thoughts “unrivaled” to them.

Lamentably, contemporary humanism can’t offer a Christian sort of salvation where the dread of death is evacuated. Rather, it can saddle this dread, utilizing it to figure out what we have to do right now for mankind overall.

A Brief History of Thought: A Philosophical Guide to Living by Luc Ferry Book Review

Christianity, humanism, postmodernism and contemporary philosophy are the five characterizing stages throughout the entire existence of Western ideas. Each spoke to an extreme takeoff from the precepts of its forerunners, holding various thoughts in every one of the three of the primary phases of philosophy: theory, ethics, and salvation.

Contemporary humanism, however, today presents a defense for significance by offering an appealing combination of old-style humanism with the experiences of postmodernism.



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