10 Fascinating Philosophy Concepts

Suggested by SMS

The love of wisdom is the accurate translation of “philosophy” from the ancient Greek, but since then it has come to mean the processes and ideas through which we address questions and problems that arise within the human condition. Some philosophies are founded in our most basic and natural ideals, others are the product of our evolution as sophisticated thinkers. The fascination with philosophy doesn’t always come from the depth and meaning of the principles behind it, although this can capture our imaginations. Sometimes the very nature of the culture and community that spawns a way of thinking evokes a philosophical curiosity that captivates and enthralls us. Following are the top ten Fascinating Philosophies. In regard to their allure and charm, they are listed from tenth to most fascinating. Although the very concept of numbers and order is always open to debate philosophically.

10. Perfectionism

At the surface Perfectionism would appear a simple philosophy with traits leaning toward an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. But that would be to confuse the student of Perfectionism with the plight of the perfectionist. The clear distinction being that one makes a choice to pursue a school of thought, while the other is driven by a psychological disparity. Perfectionism recognizes two important aspects of the quest for perfection. The first of these is that there is no universal state of perfection. Everyone has a different “perfect” world and so the recipe to attain this must be as flexible as each individual demands. Second to this is that the perfect state of existence is almost certainly impossible to attain. Unless one is completely self-centered and can be satisfied with perfection being purely about their momentary state, the influences and demands of the world will probably find a way to stuff something up. The reality is that, a community built on the philosophy of Perfectionism, may not be a particularly happy one. Each individual can do all in their power to live a principled and righteous existence, but the government must be very careful in the regulation it imposes towards a sense of society. Although the idea of a Utopian society is a delightful distraction, the truth behind the perfect world is that it is an individual and unattainable goal that would probably make its citizens miserable in the pursuit.

9. Ethical Egoism

Bordering on “Every man for himself”, Ethical Egoism promotes the belief that all acts are justified and appropriate if they are performed with the intent of fulfilling personal needs. No consideration of the impact of these events on others is necessary; in fact it is discouraged as it sullies the purity of the deeds. On this basis a range of heinous and unfair crimes can be performed and, assuming the victim is also an Ethical Egoist, they will be applauded by all involved. Of course, the retaliatory steps that are taken as a result are also completely reasonable and supported by the philosophy. In some ways, Ethical Egoism appears a sound justification for the humor of The Three Stooges or at least for our enjoyment of such violent slapstick. However, one a more realistic level, it can be an explanation for the work of every cruel, misguided and egocentric tyrant throughout history.

8. Moral Absolutism

The philosophy of Moral Absolutism has a Utopian beauty to it that can only last as long as it takes for the first act of kindness to shatter it. It is as fragile as it is cruel and cannot be sustained in a compassionate society. Moral Absolutism holds that there are only blacks and whites in terms of morality. A lie is a lie and no amount of justification for the lie will change its wrongness; intentionally taking a life is murder and the circumstances of war, self-defense or the protection of property have no bearing on its morality. Ideally, dissolving the greys makes the world a much simpler place. If everyone told the truth at every contest, then there would be no need for trials and juries; we would know be able to identify the wicked with a question and the honorable would be evident at a glance. Sadly, the list of the righteous would soon become a register of those who could bear to do without “little white lies” and the thoughtful half-truths that protect the feelings of the meek. Under such a philosophy, Utopia could quickly become torture.

7. Solipsism

“I think, therefore I am.” – Reneé Descartes, 1637

In his pursuit of a proof of his own existence, Descartes managed to discount the experiences of his five senses as potentially misleading. He was able to remove all aspects of the human condition that might justify his claim to actually living and had almost convinced some of his readers that he didn’t. Then he played his trump card and Part IV of his Discourse on the Method revealed that the very process of thinking his own unique thoughts was enough to demonstrate that he was present. Solipsism is a less positive, but older version of the same or strikingly similar idea. Having first been attributed to the Greek philosopher Gorgias (483 – 375 B.C.E.), the idea behind Solipsism is that the mind is the only thing of which one can be sure. Using similar logic and experiences as Decartes, all other experiences of life are potentially illusion and only our thoughts are real. At a metaphysical level, Solipsism teeters on the boundary between fascinating and disturbing as it raises the idea that, if the mind is the only true indication of existence, then whose mind is it anyway? If it is my mind, then do the other minds around me exist, or are they simply constructs of my own thoughts? If it isn’t my mind, then am I the creation of someone else in the world? If so, who? Within the blink of a mighty eye the religious would leap into the debate with the answer, “God”. Within the blink of the “all-seeing-eye”, the conspiracy theorists would say, “Freemasons”. Within the rest of us, Solipsism remains an amusing, slightly bizarre, yet fascinating philosophy.

6. Objectivism

If you have ever considered the possibility that we are going about the whole philosophical process the wrong way, then you may be an Objectionist. That is not to say that you object to everything from smug predictions of the weatherman on the radio in the morning to the right of the driver in the next lane moving into your lane without your granting permission. Objectivism simply has a problem with the possibly arrogant direction that has been taken by philosophers in the course of their debate. The public discourse on such topics as the meaning of life, the purpose of existence and the discernment of existence itself is often guided and driven by a limited number of thinkers. This monopoly on the rules of the process is one of the greatest obstacles to free thought and the opportunity for individuals to discover their own answers. In fact, the Objectionists would rather everyone create their own philosophical questions and work through answering them in their way. This would broaden the understanding of the population and give each person’s ownership of their own philosophy.
As mentioned in the introduction, a major fear of Objectivism is the possibility that humans, as a race, have taken a wrong philosophical turn; that the people who have directed the discussions so far have made a mistake. This explains why there has been no definitive answer and why, after almost two and a half thousand years, the mysteries of life still elude us. Perhaps the extreme of philosophical silence would be no more effective than the cacophony of theories and best guesses currently being slung about like peas and corn across the dinner table, but there could be an argument for us to stop playing with our food and simply sustain ourselves.

5. Voluntaryism

A refreshingly peaceful, yet determinedly confrontational philosophy, Voluntaryism maintains that all human society and association should occur on a totally voluntary basis. With this in mind, proponents believe that the right of the individual to make decisions as to their interaction with society cannot be dictated by any ruling body or ruling class. However, the form of activism on these matters is resolutely non-aggressive. The tools of the philosophy are education, persuasion and non-violent opposition. Through this principle of non-aggression, Voluntaryists maintain the moral high ground and encourage others to withdraw from potential battlefield. Furthermore, this resistance to face any physical confrontation also reflects the belief that governments, whatever their intentions, will consistently form a “defensive” control over the area that they choose to dominate. They will refuse to recognize any individual or community structured defense arrangements and impose their structures over all. Given their superior numbers and more efficient technology, the government is far more likely to be successful in an armed confrontation. So, the Voluntaryists’ non-aggression policy makes both physical and political sense. A second major element of the philosophy’s stance is the conviction that, despite the efforts to justify their actions, governments gather their income from the individual under the guise of “taxation”. The underlying belief is that individuals should have the right to contribute to the services that they wish to have provided and be freed from those costs that are irrelevant to them. While Voluntaryism may appear a placid and inoffensive philosophy, its promotion of civil disobedience and its passive aggressive rage towards governing bodies would suggest that there is either significant confusion in the core of the philosophy or significant intelligence in its presentation.

4. Work Less Party

The time-saving devices of the second half of the twentieth century should have created a world of greater leisure and reducing stress. Yet, sadly, the degree of stress in modern society is often increasing rather than reducing and those areas that we have worked so hard to satisfy, such as money, job security and personal health, are as unwieldy and troublesome as ever. There appears to be a cyclic nature to these dilemmas. To satisfy our lifestyle, we must find means of reducing our workload; to reduce our workload, we must find means of meeting our expenses; to meet our expenses, we must produce more money; to produce more money, and we must increase our workload. It is a vicious and defeating cycle. The only way the Work Less Party can see to defeat it is to step aside from it. Based in Canada, the Work Less Party has a courageous and fascinating philosophy that suggests that if we all reduce the amount of work we do, we will be emotionally and physically better off. If everyone accepted a working week of about half the current expectation, we would have more time to explore the more important aspects of life. We could delve into the arts and give thought to expressing the more intricate and personal aspects of the human condition. While it may be disconcerting at first, the inability of people to pay the prices being asked for goods and services would cause them to reduce as the market would have to evolve to the needs and capabilities of the consumer. After the initial teething problems, the whole world would find that they could not only survive working half time, but they would thrive. The sophistication of the society would improve and the reduced hours would provide employment, at half-time, for those currently struggling in society. Cynics will brand the Work Less Party’s philosophy as fundamentally lazy and non-productive, but the reality is that those driving employment and work standards are driven by factors other than the good health and lifestyle of their employees.

3. Pythagorean Philosophy

Among the myriad of fascinating, enlightened and slightly bizarre features of Pythagoras, there is the highly regarded belief that he coined the original term “philosophy”. According to some historians, he proclaimed himself the first “philosopher” and taught his community with charisma and great knowledge.
This led to a number of surprising ideals including the ban on eating beans, the statute that silenced newcomers for a year and the truth about transmigration of the soul, but beyond these was his basic belief that “All things are numbers”. To support this ideal, Pythagoras demonstrated the place of mathematics and numbers in music, astronomy and nature and even built the “doctrine of numbers” that elaborated on their importance. Each number has its own characteristics and should be respected as such. The number one is unity, the number of reason and the generator of all numbers. The number two is the first female number, having diversity and opinion, and three is the first male number, offering harmony through the combining of unity and diversity. It follows that five is the number of marriage, bringing together male and female, and, naturally, six is the number of creation, where male and female bring forth the unity of a child. Even numbers were recognized as numbers that could be divided in two parts of equal size and odd numbers were acknowledged as being unable to find such balance. While the premise that places number as the center of all things can be dismissed as a mathematicians limited view of the world, it is interesting to consider how much of our lives and how much of the world around us is defined through the use of numbers. Does this make them useful tools in discussing our world or fundamental to our understanding of it?

2. Innatism

After years of using a keyboard to write letters, emails and reports, it’s not unusual for our fingers to go to the keys we need with little, if any, thought of the characters we are typing. This is a result of physical memory having learned the placement of the keys after years of repetition and subliminal training. But does such knowing and awareness ever actual enter into our genetic coding? Are some ideas and beliefs so common to our way of thinking that they are passed from generation to generation without needing to be learned again? Innatism claims that this can occur to a range of learning including simple mathematics concepts, language ideas and religious beliefs. While this can be quickly dismissed as the propaganda of churches and moralists, the reality is that many species that have survived through evolution have developed instincts. These are little more than behaviors and knowings that are entrenched in the animal’s psyche. They are considered innate to the animal and without them the creature would perish. It then follows that, unless the increased sophistication of thought among human beings is to be blamed for the loss of an intrinsic natural phenomenon, there could be some innate aspects of humans. Simply because we can mount arguments against these knowing, it doesn’t follow that we are right to disregard them.

1. Machiavellianism

There are many sound and well-intentioned political philosophies that, while being profound and valuable, are verging on boring. But, when it comes to a fascinatingly open and bold example of a self-serving and dastardly political practice, cloaked behind the prestige of a philosophy, few dare to risk coming close to Machiavellianism. Defined as the use of “cunning and duplicity in statecraft or in general conduct”, Machiavellianism is regarded as a manner of thought and behavior linked with cynicism. The morality of the philosophy is hard and practical, lacking the sympathy or compassion of general society. Machiavellianism has been blamed for the style of many monarchs and the horrors of a number of cruel military actions against their subjects. Yet, despite the seemingly negative attributes, it was taken on by numerous Italian and French nobles, as well as the English playwright, Christopher Marlowe. There are some schools of thought that regard Machiavellianism as a personality trait rather than a philosophy. This is supported by its inclusion as one of the “dark triad” of personality traits along with narcissism and psychopathy. However, there is a significant difference between a “dark”, but natural, character flaw and the conscious decision to undertake a way of thinking that promotes cold, detached decision-making and a win at all costs attitude. Regardless of attempts at reclassification, Machiavellianism remains a political philosophy that excuses the most simplistic and arrogant acts and tries to justify poor governance.