Thinking Back on Origin of Philosophy - Feelings of Reading History of European Philosophy

By Jiang, Linlin; Li, Xinghua | Review of European Studies, September 2012 | Go to article overview

Thinking Back on Origin of Philosophy - Feelings of Reading History of European Philosophy


Jiang, Linlin, Li, Xinghua, Review of European Studies


Abstract

Study of European philosophy is an important impetus for modern Chinese ideological development. For quite a long time, ancient Greek philosophy has been an extremely influential power in European philosophy. High value on study of ancient Greek philosophy and increasing deepening is an important mark of contemporary Chinese ideological maturity. The key to deepen understanding in European philosophy and ancient Greek philosophy is how to see the position of European philosophy and ancient Greek philosophy in development of philosophy.

Keywords: European philosophy, ancient Greek philosophy, origin

1. Philosophy and Thinking Back on Its Development

As a rational existence, when human being stood out from the great nature, his survival activities no longer simply depended on merely the physiological instinct of the nature, but depended more on his own rational spirit. When human being is faced up with such a series of contradictions as finiteness and infiniteness, relativity and absolutivity, temporality and eternity, reality and ideal and this shore and the other shore, philosophy emerged as the times required and became the highest appeal for human being to surpass self-finiteness and reach an infinite, free and ideal state.

The origin of the word "philosophy" is "philosophia" in ancient Greek, with the original meaning of "love of wisdom". Just as the well known US philosopher Will Durant said, "Science gives us knowledge and philosophy gives up wisdom". Therefore, as for those who study philosophy, understanding and learning philosophy will help them to re-survey themselves and the surrounding world and endow them with more wisdom of life. Maybe, it is in this way that philosophers began to be seen as the pronoun for the people with the most wisdom ever since the ancient Greece. They made reflections on the entire world and, therefore, facilitated the development and progress of the society, as a result of which people showed respect and honor to them. A real philosopher ought to "love wisdom" instead of cracking himself up as a modesty person with "wisdom". Socrates claimed himself as "one who loved wisdom" instead of a "wise person", as knowledge was finite and could be learnt, grasped and occupied, whereas wisdom, as an ideal and free state in human spirit, was infinite and could only be appreciated and loved. In the long-drawn process of historical development of human being, impelled by the primitive nature of thirsting for knowledge of human being, and especially under inspiration and propelling of the natural scientific development, a multitude of philosophers have illustrated their pursuit and probe of the nature of philosophy with thousands of years. Thereby, the three major morphologies of philosophy which have the most abundant content and the most profound influences in the process of historical development came into being, namely, Indian philosophy created by the Ganges civilization, Chinese philosophy created by the Yellow River civilization and European philosophy originating from the ancient Greek civilization. Simply speaking, what philosophy history describes is a history of philosophical thought until today. As a kind of relatively independent ideology, philosophical thoughts at different periods have their own relative complete extension and evolvement process. Thus, history of philosophy is a developmental history of problems. It is not simple bags-of-words of history data which have lapsed, but is an animated developmental process of movement with life and is imbued with rational brilliance of human being. Therefore, people's love in philosophy should be rooted in the zeal in the history of philosophy. History of philosophy is a rational pivot for human being to love wisdom and obtain wisdom.

2. European Philosophy and Reflection on Its Origin

A general survey on the three major philosophical systems created by human being, European philosophy has more abundant theoretical content, more nature development pattern and more profound influences and has been, as yet, the most typical philosophical system. …

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