Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Greatest Philosopher

Forgive the lateness, I was out the country as this was going on. I was perusing the results of the BBC's 'Greatest Philosopher' poll. A case was made for each of a shortlist of 20 with no striking omissions. The winner by a good few lengths was Karl Marx. Now his impact on the 20th century is undoubted and perhaps his effect outside of the ivory tower makes him stand out from his peers.

If we're talking strict philosophy, however, I think there are some with more clout. For example Kant constructed one of the most cohesive and consistent moral systems in philosophy (As an aside, an Austrian woman, Maria von Herbert, wrote to Kant asking for guidance after being dumped. Kant's prescription of "a pure moral sedative" didn't quite do the trick and she ended up committing suicide. This however should not be taken as an indictment of his overall system - this is the cold stone table of philosophy, not a psychiatrist's chair).

Aristotle would be my prime candidate. After all, the man practically invented the style of modern philosophy as well as, of particular interest to this writer, being the first to write about economics (I believe he invented the term).

I think the BBC's helpful summaries make my case quite simply.

Most modern socialist theories are drawn from his work but Karl Marx has had a wider influence touching on many areas of human thought and life such as politics, economics, philosophy, and literature.


And

More than Plato and Socrates Aristotle's brand of reason influenced the progress of Judaism, Islam and Christianity through thinkers such as Maimonides, Thomas Aquinas and Averroes.

I think saliency has got the better of a balanced decision. (Mariella Frostop chose Søren Kierkegaard if you were wondering. Anne Robinson chose Nietzsche)

2 comments:

Devil's Kitchen said...

Karl Marx definitely had the most impact though.

I don't think that any of the others can claim that their hypocritical writings were responsible for the deaths of at least 50 million people (a very conservative estimate)...

DK

My fist of flounce said...

On that score Nietszsche could give him a fair run

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