There are many philosophers who have made great contribution to the development of the world culture. Therefore, the purpose of this work is to discuss eleven most inspirational philosophers. Most of them managed the matters pertaining to social justice in all aspects: from ethics, religion, and social cohesion to the issue of jurisprudence. Some of them came from humble background but due to the passion and determination, they fulfilled their ambitions of making human interaction healthy and just. Other philosophers became great leaders of their countries. They sought to care for their subjects through achieving equal distribution of resources. The findings of the work indicate that philosophers are the individuals with the high sense of concern towards others. They feel that their responsibility is to guide masses towards right and just ways of handling issues for the greater good of everyone. The work covers biography of the philosophers and the context, in which their ideas were applicable. It also involves the section outlining what I have learned from them.
Since the times of ancient Greece, ethics, knowledge, and theories of existence have been developing. Most of them have helped in answering many unimaginable questions. These ideas and discoveries have given birth to the rich history of philosophy. As René Descartes, a famous French philosopher, states, philosophy is all about thinking. This essay aims to discuss the biography of particular philosophers, their doctrines, and the context of these philosophies. There is also a section, which analyzes what is learned from them, in the proposed paper.
Al-Farabi was of Turkish origin. It is believed that his father brought him to Baghdad when he was a child. His father is thought to have been a caliph’s bodyguard. Al-Farabi worked neither in the central government nor in the court society. It was not until 942 that he started to live at the Prince Sayf ad-Dawlish's court where he stayed till his death. His philosophy was political and religious in nature.
He tried to enlighten the leaders about the issues related to religion and philosophy. Al-Farabi equated the philosopher-king to the prophet-lawgiver by stating that they had to share common ideas. The view he had was that the jurisprudence and theology are the study of laws that are derived from the lawgiver who is also the founder of the humankind. His philosophy declares that people should be concerned with their actions to ensure that they enjoy life on earth and the Supreme life after death.
Al-Ghazali was a mystic and Muslim theologian educated in Tus in Iran and then in Jorj??n before finally being taught in Nishapur by al-Juwayn????. After the death of his teacher, Al-Ghazali went to Niz.??m al-Mulk’s court. He was invited there in 1085. In 1091, he became a chief professor at Niz.??m????yah College in Baghdad. He encountered spiritual crisis that crippled him and made him stop lecturing for a while.
Al-Ghazali visited Mecca in 1096 before returning to teaching in Tus where he died in 1110. His philosophy was tightly connected with theology and jurisprudence. Al-Ghazali stated that Islam was true, and its truth could not be contested. He meant that people would live a healthy and fulfilled life if they followed the scriptures of Quran and practiced the culture and doctrines of Islam.
The ideas and the way of life of a Greek philosopher Socrates had a profound influence on philosophy. Unlike other thinkers, he had never traveled to other cities in search of knowledge. His was a son of Sophroniscus and Phaenarete besides being a husband to Xanthippe with whom he had three children. He served as a hoplite in the Athenian army and was sentenced to death at the age of 70. His teaching was based on psychology and sought to answer the questions concerning the meaning of courage, self-control, and self-pity.
His philosophy was the idea that the reason is the controlling factor in an individual. Therefore, he meant that people acted according to what they knew; if someone gives enough thoughts to a particular matter, the emotions follow in this direction. He provides the following example: since no one knows anything about the feelings after death, it would be pretentious for any person to fear to die.
Machiavelli was born on May 3, 1469, in Florence, Italy, in the family of Bernardowho was a doctor of law. Machiavelli was a Renaissance political philosopher. There is no much information about his education but it is known that his father had a small library, and, probably, he used to read books from it. His philosophical work involved political consulting of those in authority. Machiavelli’s works earned him the reputation of an immoral cynic and atheist. His philosophy is documented in The Prince that was published after his death in 1527.
His view was that the princes had to seek “effectual truth” and ignore “what ought to be done” or else it would be a part of their ruin. He meant that a prince had to learn to be harsh in order to prolong his reign. Machiavelli claimed that even if he was good, the subjects would disappoint him when would seek their support.
Plato was a Greek philosopher born in Athens in 428/427 BCE to Perictione and Ariston. He is the most famous Socrates’ student. His brothers Adeimantus and Glaucon are considered to be the individuals taking part in the dialogue in his work Republic. He was associated with Socrates when he was young, and most of his works is the representation of things, which Socrates has done. Plato examined the subjects of political ethics, virtue, and happiness. He was interested in answering the question of what makes a good life.
His philosophy states that just like the excellence of a knife is in cutting, the excellence of living a healthy life is in upholding virtue. He means that taking into account the fact that there are three parts of a human soul, for a state to function well, three properly running components are also needed. These elements include producers, guardians, and rulers.
John Lock was an English philosopher born on August 29, 1632, in Wrington, England; he died on October 28, 1704, in High Laver, Essex. The English Civil Wars occurred when he was ten years old. Later, he was enrolled at Westminster School in London. He studied political liberalism as well as philosophical empiricism. John Lock had a great influence on the Constitution of the United States and the European Enlightenment. His philosophy defies Sir Robert Filmer’s theory, which says that all kings are divinely sanctioned, by stating that Filmer’s doctrine strayed from the common sense.
Second, Lock provides the definition of power, according to which it is the right of formulating laws and implementing them for the good of the public. He alludes to the fact that every person owns his/her body and through hard work, one can get property beyond his/her body but it has to be done within the law of nature and without the infringement of other people freedom.
Confucius was a Chinese philosopher born on September 28, 551 BCE in Qufu, state of Lu; he died in 479 BCE aged 73. His family name was Kong while his birth name was Qiu. His father died when he was three years old. Therefore, Confucius was raised by his mother. He had learned archery, music, rituals, arithmetic, calligraphy, and charioteering that enabled him to begin brilliant career in teaching at the age of 30. His work was political in nature since he served in the government of Lu where he helped in policy formulation.
The ideas of Confucius made an impact on the civilizations of East Asia, especially China. His philosophy is based on the idea that one does not have to be in government to have influence but he/she can exert influence on the government by being obedient to his parents and friendly to his siblings. It means that an individual is required to be ethical towards others, and the positive acts will enable the government to be just to the masses.
Ibn Rushd was an Islamic philosopher born in 1128 CE in Cordova and died in 1198 in Marrakesh. His ideas were related to jurisprudence and religion. Ibn Rushd critiqued Al Farabi and Ibn Sina. His philosophy includes the study of the works of other thinkers exploring the field of interest. The power of making an assumption about the unknown from the known guides it. Thus, he means that any person opposing Islam should have very convincing evidence. In his view, Islam teaching is true, and the contradiction to it would be incorrect.
Ibn Khaldun was born in Tunis on May 27, 1332. The background of his wealthy family enabled him to enjoy the best education with good teachers. Being naturally curious and intelligent, he managed to become a prominent philosopher of his time. His philosophical works are related to societal and political issues. Among them, there is Muqaddimah, which is focused on the science of civilization.
He explained the major events that resulted in the rise and decline of the Islamic states in North Africa. He claimed that the reason for it lied in the differences between the sedentary societies and nomads. In his view, increased freedom and security bring competition, which leads to the emergence of individualism. The latter, in its turn, develops unethical behavior. He states that if the cooperation is enhanced, the productivity is increased. Therefore, his idea is that for reaching great achievement in an ethical manner, the society should uphold cohesion.
Malek Benabi was born in 1905 in Constantine, Algeria, which is a city of scholars. Due to his low-income family background, he was educated in public school before continuing his study in France. His works involved political and religious matters, and he sought to explain harmonious interaction between individuals. Benabi’s philosophy was based on the idea that only the culture of harmony can implement civilization.
His philosophical works included The Conditions of Renaissance, which emphasizes the importance of ethical values in the attainment of civilization by the society. He emphasized the need for fostering appropriate values in the society so as to attain the desired development. In his work The Question of Culture, he states that the reason for stagnation and deterioration is based on the culture of the society, and only the alteration of this culture can promote positive changes.
Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s was born in Abu Dhabi in 1918. He was the first president of the United Arab Emirates and ruled from 1971 to 2004. He had ruled Abu Dhabi from 1996 till his death in 2004. In the family of Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan who had four sons, he was the youngest one. His father died when he was still young. It is at this time that he received the knowledge that helped him in shaping his character and life. He had great passion for the environment and was introduced into falconry that became a part of his life. As Abu Dhabi Eastern Region ruler’s representative, he had to ensure the development of Al Ain. He managed to convince the neighboring territories that they had to unite to be strong; in 1971, the United Arab Emirates was founded. He was elected as the president of the newly formed Federation and later re-elected by his fellow rulers.
His philosophy was related to humanitarian assistance and concerned with the welfare of people. His idea was that the wealth of the country had to be distributed across the Emirates, and this distribution had to cater for women whose role in the development he believed was crucial. He supported the establishment of equality between all individuals in the United Arab Emirates and sought to ensure that every person benefits from the income, which vast resources of the region generated. He helped to establish equitable distribution of water that enhanced agricultural development. He also ensured that the oil revenues were channeled to the construction of hospitals, schools, roads, and houses.
In my opinion, all people are born without any knowledge of life, and it is the society that teaches them on what ought to be done. It is not the case for everyone since there are individuals who feel that nature does not offer enough answers, and it is their duty to ensure that they seek the truth. The act of getting into deep thinking and receiving answers to the difficult questions is the area of the work of philosophers. Due to the curious minds, the values and principles that enhance the existence of humankind shape the world.
What I have learned is that most of the philosophers were very much concerned with the ethical issues that promote more effective governance for the greater good of the society. A wide range of philosophical works are directed towards ensuring the fact that people live in respect and avoid infringement of other individuals’ rights since they enjoy freedom. Another lesson learned is that religion is an important aspect of leadership, and, therefore, the rulers should take into consideration the values outlined in the scriptures. I have also understood that philosophers sought to enhance harmony in the society in order to attain civilization development (Islamic Studies Department, 2016). It is important to note that philosophy changes with time and, therefore, the latest philosopher has to shape the works of the previous ones to make them fit current times. I have learned about Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s care and concern for his people. He is an example of the source of true inspiration for all leaders with great vision for their countries.