"Scholars spend their
time maximizing their minimal differences" ―
hardly ever cynical manipulators of their readers’ minds. They do not produce delusions in others, without first
being subject to them themselves.” ― D. Stove
“You can't teach an
old dogma new tricks.” ― Dorothy
"There more things in
heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy" − Hamlet (1-5),
The term 'philosophy' is
from Greek, from phil- (affinity or loving) + Sophia (wisdom). The Grecian divine figure of Wisdom
was called Sophia or Lady Wisdom. Philosophy is literally the “love of
Academic philosophers study problems that
relate to knowledge, existence, reality, reason,
values, mind and language. In everyday matters, “philosophy” refers to our basic beliefs, concepts and
Philosophy is a way of thinking about the world, the universe and
about society. The ideas in philosophy are abstract – “things that cannot be touched”, however there is
sense philosophy. Some say philosophy is the 'science of the whole' and that the
ultimate synthesis of the parts of different sciences is philosophy's main concern. In general, philosophy
is the humanities discipline that 'thinks about thinking'.
In general, philosophy consists of three main theories or branches:
1) Theory of Value (Axiology:
2) Theory of Reality (Ontology & Metaphysics).
3) Theory of Knowledge (Epistemology).
For simplicity, the Golden Seat divides philosophy into two major areas:
Plato’s Natural Theology:
Behavioral guidelines based on what is the best outcome for individuals and
society. The study of ethics, human behavior, morality (right and wrong, good and evil) and
responsibilities of people to each other and society. The word 'Axiology', the Theory of Value, is from the
Greek axios (worth, value)
and logos (study).
Moral Philosophy: value for the individual -
"What ought I do as an individual?"
Ethics (Social &
Political Philosophy): value for society - "What ought we do
To ponder a subject and arrive at conclusions (‘speculate’ is the Latin verb “to look
at”). Speculative conclusions can never be verified (‘philosophical doubt’).
Plato’s Natural Theology: The True
Plato’s natural Theology:
Theory of Value (Axiology): Aesthetics. The value in fine arts and natural
Besides the “Two Grand Divisions” there are, as
always, special fields of philosophy:
• Philosophy of Education
• Philosophy of Language
• Philosophy of Mind
• Philosophy of Religion
• Philosophy of Science
• Political Philosophy
In ‘History of Western Philosophy’ Bertrand
Russell uses a three-tier model to categorize the Western philosophical traditions or schools of
• Pre-Socrates: Thales, Pythagoras,
Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles, Anaximander, Anaxagoras, Leucippus, Democritus, Protagoras.
• Socrates, Plato, Aristotle
• Post-Aristotle: Cynics, Sceptics, Epicureans, Stoics,
• The Fathers: Christain
philosophy, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St.
Augustine, St. Benedict, Pope Gregory the Great
• The Schoolmen: John the Scot, Saint Thomas
• Renaissance to Hume: Machiavelli,
Erasmus, More, Bacon, Hobbes, The
Empiricists (Locke, Berkeley, Hume), The
Rationalists (Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz,
• Rousseau to Present Day: Rousseau, German Idealists
(Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel), Byron,
Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, the Utilitarians,
Marx, Bergson, William James, John Dewey.
Western ‘modern’ philosophy began during The
Age of Reason (17th-century) and the Age of
Enlightenment (18th-century) from which evolved two
distinct schools: Empiricism and Rationalism.
German philosopher Immanuel
Kant (1724-1804) is noted for bridging the dominate western
philosophical schools of Rationalism and Empiricism (German Idealism).
Contemporary Western philosophy has been
largely dominated by two philosophical traditions:
Philosophy – dominated by Anglo-Saxon philosophers (Britain, No. America) who primarily focus on
pragmatic and empiric-analytic studies. Analytic philosophy began with a general rejection of British idealism (ie,
Hegelianism was ‘obscure’). It is characterized by an emphasis on language, known as the linguistic turn, and for
its clarity and rigor in arguments, making use of formal logic and mathematics, and the natural sciences. Key
figures (‘exterior’ folk: "what
does it do?") include Alfred North Whitehead, Bertrand Russell, George Moore, and Ludwig Wittgenstein
(‘Tractatus’). Wittgenstein has come to be considered one of the 20th Century’s most important
philosophers, if not the most important. Other important figures in Analytic history include the logical
positivists (particularly Rudolf Carnap), W. V. O. Quine, Saul Kripke, and Karl
2) Continental Philosophy – dominated by European philosophers (Germany, France)
who primarily focus on the interpretive aspects of philosophy. The term ‘Continental’ is a catch-all label for
everything else, which, in very general terms, rejects Scientism and tends towards Historicism (that the self or the world exist in the contexts and backgrounds that have a history,
a development; not “pregiven”). Notable continental philosophies include existentialism,
and Hegelianism. Key figures
(‘interior’ folk: "what
does it mean?") include Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. In the second half of the 20th-century,
four main schools dominated Continental Philosophy: Existentialism, Structuralism, Post-Structuralism and
Post-Modernism. Structuralism is the broad belief that all human activity and its products (even
perception and thought itself) are constructed and not natural, and that everything has meaning only through the
language system in which we operate (‘word choppers’). Post-Structuralism is the reaction to
Structuralism, which stresses the culture and society of the ‘reader over that of the author’.
Post-Modernism isn’t easy to define – kind of a “pick’n’mix” openness to a variety of different meanings.
Key figures of Existentialism include Jean-Paul Sartre,
Albert Camus, Simone de Beauvoir. Key figures of Post-Structuralism and Post-Modernism include Jacques
Derrida, Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault, Jean-Francois Lyotard. Derrida’s work has been repeatedly accused of
pseudo-philosophy and sophistry (Postmodern
The above exposition is largely a brief
historical overview of philosophy. The Golden Seat’s purpose, besides being a pleasurable piece of art,
is to harmonize Science, Religion and Philosophy and to be guidepost to a living
In the Lengthy
Introduction it was discussed that the ‘frame of mind’
of The Golden
Seat is spiritual. And that there are two grand
movements in Religious and Philosophical matters:
Ascend: Matter to Spirit. The Many
to One. Transcendent. The path of
Descend: Spirit to Matter. The One to Many. Immanence.
The path of compassion.
The worldview of German philosopher
Schelling provides a living philosophy that successfully
integrates the Ascending and the Descending.
Schelling understood that development or
evolution was a spiritual movement. Spirit is present at each and every stage of the evolutionary process, as
the very process itself. That spirit is the only
reality. That nature is objective Spirit (what Schelling calls
slumbering Spirit), where Spirit has
not yet become self-conscious. With the emergence of mind, Spirit becomes self-conscious and conscious morals
develop. Spirit begins to awaken and grow. It seeks to know itself through symbols and concepts, and the
result is that the universe begins to think about the universe. A world of reason develops where mind
is subjective Spirit.
Schelling enlightens our understanding of
mankind’s pain of reconciling the battle between mind and nature, between transcending nature for moral freedom and
becoming one with nature for wholeness, is a necessary part of Spirit’s awakening. We moderns must go through this
fire. No other period has had to face this fire on a collective scale. Going backward simply avoids the
fire, it does not transform it.
According to Schelling, the third great
movement of Spirit is the synthesis, which is the transcendence of both nature and mind and their radical union. Of Spirit
directly knowing itself as Spirit,
a direct mystical intuition. Spirit goes out of itself to produce objective nature, awakens to itself in subjective
mind, and then recovers itself in pure Nondual awareness, where subject and object are one pure immediacy that
unifies both nature and mind in realized Spirit.
Has Philosophy Made
The difficulty and counter-intuitive nature of these early philosophical inquiries often lead to errors that may
seem absurd and prejudicial to future generations. Even today, there is a great deal of debate as to whether there
has been any real 'progress in
philosophy. Discussions have been refined and bad ideas sent ‘to the flames’. In
retrospect, philosophy appears to be still mulling over the same problems that concerned Plato and Aristotle: the
ponderings of ‘mind & matter’ – of how to solve the duality of mind & matter, thought & thing, the
spiritual & the material – with the goal of finding truth to the fundamental question: “Which is more real -