Wednesday, 23 January 2019

The Myth of Original Philosophy

The Thinker by Auguste Rodin
If a philosophical school is filled with the intense conviction that the ideas of its founders are totally original and right, then you can be certain that they are a bunch of inept and immature thinkers and their philosophy is garbage.

Who cares whether a philosophy is original or not—what really matters is whether the philosophy is “true,” and whether it is well argued? No one accepts a philosophy merely because it is original, but they may accept it if they are convinced that they can benefit from it.

None of the major philosophers in history — Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Locke, Hume, and Kant — have claimed that they are propounding original ideas. In fact, in their treatises we find them making efforts to connect their ideas with the work of other eminent thinkers in their own time and from the past.

A wise philosopher will always acknowledge the intellectual debt that he owes to the great minds of the past—he will respect his predecessors even when he is disagreeing with them. It is noteworthy that Aristotle begins every book with a discussion of what the thinkers before him have stated on the subject.

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