Some men and women in history have devoted much of their lives to the pursuit of the truth. Some have pursued the truth out of a desire for fame or because of a desire to solve problems. Others have pursued truth because they are afraid of what may happen if they believe falsehoods. Some people are just curious. Some people just want to know more than their friends and enemies. Some people pursue the truth so that they can survive. I think that it is also common for people to pursue the truth because their worldview demands that they seek it. Socrates’ philosophy seems to have mandated the pursuit of truth above all other pursuits and, possibly, at the expense of all other pursuits. The omniscient God of the Bible, who calls Himself the Truth, commands believers to seek to know Him.
A person who pursues the truth may correctly be called a philosopher whether or not he actually finds the truth. Much can be learned from the philosophers who came before us. It seems that the work of most people who devote their lives to the pursuit of knowledge, even if it attains notoriety with their peers, is eventually lost or, if it is fortunate, is retained by moderns who contrast it with the presumably more advanced philosophy which they, themselves, espouse. On the other hand, it is natural, indeed even respectful and wise, to formulate and explain one’s own views with attention to those who came before us. In this line, many of us would do well to spend much of our philosophizing time listening and learning from those who came before us. Why?
- To train ourselves to think rightly
- To learn the implications of ideas, both true ideas and false ones
- To acquire some truth
- To help others acquire truth
- To continue to re-examine our beliefs
- To know the history of thought
Whether or not you are a Christian, like me, if any of these reasons hold value for you, I think you will enjoy this series. In the time that follows, I plan to regularly publish short readings in the history of philosophy which will take about 5 minutes to read and digest. These will be organized by approximate date and philosopher. These will consist of a few quotations from the philosopher (if there are any surviving works), a paragraph or so of commentary, and links to other primary and secondary sources for further reading or listening.
If you have any suggested changes or additions to the format that would make this series more beneficial to you, please either comment below or email the site. If, during the course of this series, you feel that I have missed any important philosophers and you wish to whine and complain, please notify me and I will probably promise to include your pet philosopher in the next few posts. In other words, feedback is appreciated.
In addition, if you want to do some research and submit a reading, I will read, edit, and post it as co-authored by you. I would be grateful for the opportunity to collaborate and pass off some of the work to you as long as you do a good job.
Thanks for reading.