Prominent Thinkers

Here’s a thread for you guys,(and ladies) to post a short bio, or description of the ideas of a thinker who interests you, or about whom you know alot, or want to know more.
You might post a name, and a set of ideas that the person is associated with and/or links to wiki articles, and such which contain more information about them, copy and paste an encyclopedia entry, or anything else that might help people learn about, or distinguish different examples of reason or the philosophers who are identified with them.

I hope people will participate. This would be a great place to complile alot of useful information where it could be accessible to everyone on the site, and it might help people learn about thinkers with whom they may not be acquainted.

I’ll start off with this guy.

David Kellogg Lewis.

He’s an analytic philosopher who died in 2001 of diabetes. He’s been in the forefront of the discourse on identity theory, materialism and philosophy of mind. Some of the work he’s done has had much to do with what he calls knowledge de dicto and knowledge de se, which are the same as knowledge by description and knowledge by acquaintence and from what I can tell have alot to do with distinguishing epistemic categories for science and religion. And he’s known for his contributions to modal logic semantics, (which I have dreams about understanding thoroughly) with his writings on possible worlds. I personally think that he’s a gifted writer with a unique and interesting style.

Here’s more if you’re interested…

Your turn…

Here’s one - David Gauthier.

You shoud know this up front - he’s Canadian.

He wrote “Morals By Agreement” - social contract theory.

He’s a brilliant guy - his is a theory about a “minimal” social contract - he believes that we can agree about the rules of conduct in society, which is, in my view, exactly what we do. Even if we are “agreeing” against our will, or to a “unilateral” social contract. His vision is of a multilateral agreement, however - but one that understands that people will want to act out of self-interest, and that this trait need not preclude broad agreements.

He’s more of a Hobbesian than a Rousseau/Kant guy, but don’t let that put you off. Hobbes was nutso, but this guy isn’t.

But he is Canadian.

I don’t remember his name, but there’s thus guy who describes how…

Some kind of sociobiology guy, I don’t know his name but he said how religion/religiousness is genetic.

I think he’s right, and so ideologies aren’t going to “cure” humanity from its nonsense. Lots of genetic defects are due for some sort of removal, someday, I hope.

My post may have only half an ass, but I still posted, as I think ya need more than 1 reply here.

Would that be the great E.O. Wilson?

Double post because I screwed up:

Check out this guy. He’s so ruthless that when people accuse him of plagiarism, other smarty-pants uppity philospher types defend him and he gets away with it!!


Feng Youlan:

Feng Youlan (alternately spelled Fung You-lan or some combination of the spellings, such as Feng You-lan) was born to a middle-class family in the Henan province of China in 1895. He studied philosophy at both Beijing and Shanghai Universities before traveling to the United States in 1918 to study Philosophy at Columbia University under John Dewey, the famous pragmatist. His earlier works tried to synthesis the rationalist tradition within Confucianism with the rationalist tradition in Western philosophy with a strong Positivist influence. Unfortunately, after the Cultural Revolution he was forced to reject most of his earlier work and bring his philosophical endeavors more in line with the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist ideology, including a re-write of his influential book, “A History of Chinese Philosophy”. He died in 1990 in Beijing.

Xiong Shili:

Xiong Shili (Hsiung Shi-li) was a contemporary of Feng Youlan (1885-1968) working in Nanjing, but rather than focus on the rationalist tradition of Confucianism from a Western perspective, he looked to the consciousness-only in Buddhism for inspiration while keeping Western advances in mind, so that he could re-working the idealist tradition of Confucianism. His philosophy essentially roots the Consciousness-Only school in Confucian thought and the bridge between the two is mediated by the Yijing (I Ching), thereby rendering a negatively constructed philosophy into a positive one.

He looks very interesting to me. I was just looking around on the web and like this quote I found:

Thereupon I completely destroyed the draft of the consciouness-only doctrine that I had written on the basis of Asanga and Vasubandhu and vowed to compose a new consciousness-only doctrine on my own in order to save myself from the defect of the old. Hence my understanding of Confucianism was not derived from book learning. Only after my inner experiences had already embodied it did I feel that my understanding of it was in complete harmony with what was recorded in the books. This kind of experience is extremely difficult to explain to the general public.

I’ve still got to look up Feng Youlan. I doubt there will be any books on these thinkers at my library. Let me know if you recommend particular websites.

One thing to consider is “A Sourcebook on Chinese Philosophy” by Wing-tsit Chan. I bought mine from Amazon for less that US$20 and it pretty much has everything you could want – in fact, just about any other information you find in English will reference back to that book.

If you have an academic subscription, JSTOR also has a lot of Youlan but not so much on the Xiong. I’d say that you’re guess is as good as mine when trying to find them on the net, about the only thing I can recommend is to use the Wade-Giles spelling (Hsiung Shi-li) since philosophers are a conservative bunch, but so far I haven’t found much aside from a few essays on his essays.

One thing you might consider is looking up some essays by Tu Weiming. He’s a modern philosopher (Head of the Harvard-Yanchen institute) so his stuff is available in e-form and he writes a lot in English (making his stuff readily accessible). He is heavily influenced by both Feng Youlan and Xiong Shili, leaning more towards the Xiong Shili-side of the equation. I’d say that is your best bet.

Thank you for the advice. Unfortunately I don’t have access to JSTOR but I will definitely look into the book you recommend, etc.

Anyone ever heard of this guy?

I did a bit of Stanley Cavell´s The Claim of Reason. What I read of it was original, especially his approach to Cartesian scepticism and a groovy reading of Othello.

This guy? An 81 year old analytic philosopher who lives w/ in 150 miles of me. How could I miss this guy?

Yep, that´s the one. I thought he´d snuffed it but I guess he´s still going.

150 miles? Chance for a visit, cup of tea and a discussion, perhaps.

Actually I read a bit further and he’s in MA now. He was just born in GA.

I have a tshirt w/ this guy on it which says,

“perlocutionary acts? don’t ask me!”