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The Experience of Thinking

Philosophy Podcasts

From Plato to Martin Buber: 14 talks on major European thinkers, examining their ideas and essential viewpoints in relation to what we can know about the world and the self and how we achieve this knowledge

From Plato to Martin Buber: 14 talks on major European thinkers, examining their ideas and essential viewpoints in relation to what we can know about the world and the self and how we achieve this knowledge


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From Plato to Martin Buber: 14 talks on major European thinkers, examining their ideas and essential viewpoints in relation to what we can know about the world and the self and how we achieve this knowledge




Martin Buber (1878 — 1965)

"To the human being the world is two-fold in accordance with his/her twofold attitude". His book 'I and Thou' published in 1923 describes a foundation in dialogue for understanding the world. It opens a new pathway in philosophy which avoids the egocentric stand point of much traditional thinking.


Bertrand Russell (1872 — 1970), Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889 — 1951)

Philosophy and science have a common underlying methodology with Russell. All knowledge is proved by the methods of science. As a mathematician he looks for reliable knowledge based on outer experience freed from all subjectivity. The stuff of mental and physical worlds is the same. There is no big comprehensive system. Atomism replaces any organic view in the sense that understanding one part explains other parts by inference. Otherwise his philosophy is a radical investigation of social...


Martin Heidegger (1889 — 1976)

He addresses directly the question what do we mean by thinking. It is not easy to grasp and any attempt to do so is entangled by his connection with National Socialism. “That we are still not thinking stems from the fact that the thing itself that must be thought about turns away from man, has turned away long ago”. Another provocative statement is that we have lost the meaning of being as in human being. “We assert our existence or non-existence without knowing what it means. When people...


Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 — 1900)

"God is dead." This is his challenge to the optimism of the 19th century which pretended that religion and metaphysics were real but in fact were killed by science. Europe had lost the guidance which sustained it in past centuries. Higher spiritual values were replaced by the philistine and the mediocre.


Edmund Husserl (1859 — 1938), Rudolf Steiner (1861 — 1925)

The new science that Husserl wished to found is ‘Phenomenology’ a method of exploring human consciousness. We are certain of our conscious awareness and when we analyse it we observe we are always conscious of something. Our awareness is intentional. This leads to questions of meaning and the intelligibility of the flow of events. For Steiner likewise meaning is not just given but it is the responsibility of the modern human to uncover meaning and one has to recognize how one participates in...


Søren Kierkegaard (1813 — 1855)

One cannot find truth separate from one’s subjective experience as a living existing being. Hegel and Kant and other rational, systematic philosophers who remain detached observers are incapable of understanding the living processes that unfold before them. Existentialism later is inspired by his writings.


Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770 — 1831)

His idealist philosophy examines that part of knowledge which is not derived from sense-perception, that is, the truth of the spirit (Geist). In the Phenomenology of Spirit he traces out the development of consciousness. Ideas are not just the product of the mind but permeate the world and constitute the substance of things.


Immanuel Kant (1724 — 1804)

The outstanding philosopher of the enlightenment. We have seen ideas as above the phenomena, as in the phenomena and now as separate from the phenomena. Kant’s task was to examine how we come to understand the world or rather how the world can be known by us. Having mapped out what is knowable, this world of appearances, he maintained there is an unknowable world of things-in-themselves.


John Locke (1632 — 1704), George Berkeley (1685 — 1753), David Hume (1711 — 1776)

Locke maintained that all knowledge is acquired and initially from the senses. All forms of nature can be explained mechanically by matter in motion and the impact of one body on another. Berkeley opposed this by denying the existence of inanimate matter and demonstrating that nothing exists save spiritual activity in God’s infinite mind and in human minds. Hume is the supreme sceptic. All our ideas are copied from our impressions. It is not reason which connects our ideas buts habits of...


Francis Bacon (1561 — 1626), René Descartes (1596 — 1650), Baruch Spinoza (1632 — 1677)

The 17th century rejected the world views derived from the Greeks. Bacon emphasised a practical not a contemplative approach to nature. He proposed torturing nature to obtain her secrets. Descartes’ statement ‘I think therefore I am’ includes all the inner life, feelings and willing etc. The source of all knowledge is in the mind. Like Descartes Spinoza’s thought was shaped by the New Science. But for him philosophy begins with what is ontological and logical prior I.e. with the divine and...


Thomas Aquinas (1227 — 1274 AD)

Philosophy as religion culminated with the Scholastics the greatest of whom was Aquinas. He was a Realist (ideas are real) as distinct from the Nominalists (ideas, names are just labels we apply to everything in the world).


Augustine of Hippo (354 — 430 AD)

The prophet of personality. In his book ‘The City of God’ there are two cities, (1) love of self, contempt of god and (2) love of god, contempt of self. The way of freedom is through the soul’s abyss.


Aristotle (384 — 321 BC)

The idea is imminent in the sense object. Things are actualised in the sense world. This world of becoming is teleological (goal –oriented).


Plato (427 — 347 BC)

The theory of forms. The world of spirit accessible to heightened awareness endures. The sense world is transient, a world of becoming. The dialectical method of Socrates.