graphing the history of philosophy


Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, religion, science and language.




Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument.

Many academic disciplines have also generated philosophical inquiry. These include
, logic, and mathematics.




Each philosopher is a node in the network and the lines between them (or edges in the terminology of graph theory) represents lines of influence. The node and text are sized according to the number of connections (both in and out). The algorithm that visualises the graph also tends to put the better connected nodes in the centre of the diagram so we see the most influential philosophers, in large text, clustered in the centre. It all seems about right with the major figures in the western philosophical tradition taking the centre stage. (I need to also add the direction of influence with a arrow head – something I’ve not got round to yet.) A shortcoming however is that this evaluation only takes into account direct lines of influence. Indirect influence via another person in the network does not enter into it. This probably explains why Descartes is smaller than you’d think. It would also be better if the nodes were sized only by the number of outward connections although I think overall the differences would be slight. I’ll get round to that. It gets more interesting when we use Gephi to identify communities (or modules) within the network. Roughly speaking it identifies groups of nodes which are more connected with each other than with nodes in other groups. Philosophy has many traditions and schools so a good test would be whether the algorithm picks them out.


The introduction of the terms "philosopher" and "philosophy" has been ascribed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras. The ascription is said to be based on a passage in a lost work of Herakleides Pontikos, a disciple of Aristotle. It is considered to be part of the widespread body of legends of Pythagoras of this time. "Philosopher" was understood as a word which contrasted with "sophist". Traveling sophists or "wise men" were important in Classical Greece, often earning money as teachers, whereas philosophers are "lovers of wisdom" and not professionals.

In mathematical logic, a propositional calculus or logic is a formal system in which formulas of a formal language may be interpreted as representing propositions. A system of inference rules and axioms allows certain formulas to be derived, called theorems; which may be interpreted as true propositions.
The series of formulas which is constructed within such a system is called a derivation and the last formula of the series is a theorem, whose derivation may be interpreted as a proof of the truth of the proposition represented by the theorem.

The ideas preceding truth tables and tabular structure have been found by more individuals, including Frege and Bertrand Russell whereas the actual 'tabular structure' is generally credited to either Ludwig Wittgenstein, Emil Post or both (independently of one another).

Logic and reasoning are tools of philosophy. Therefore, the philosopher should be logic well versed. Moreover, it is important to know how this reasoning can be formalized, ie giving a (formal) system that indicate precisely what a valid argument is and what is not. Such a formal system, we will study. But then we must first commit to a specific language with a certain expression. This language will be the language of the predicate of logic and of prospositional. The associated reasoning systems are those with natural deduction. Once we have a formal system this system itself can be the subject of study. We can now reason about reasoning and investigate the limitations of of it.

The term ‘proposition’ has a broad use in contemporary philosophy. It is used to refer to some or all of the following: the primary bearers of truth-value, the objects of belief and other “propositional attitudes” (i.e., what is believed, doubted, etc.), the referents of that-clauses, and the meanings of sentences. The logic examines concepts that naturally appear to have a philosophical level. Typical questions on the logic for example are about on the expressiveness of a language. What concepts in the (mathematical) "reality" can I describe in my language? This " reality" refers to the semantics of my language. Propositional logic was eventually refined using symbolic logic. Gottfried Leibniz has been credited with being the founder of symbolic logic for his work with the calculus ratiocinator. Although his work was the first of its kind, it was unknown to the larger logical community. As a result, many of the advances achieved by Leibniz were reachieved by logicians like George Boole and Augustus De Morgan completely independent of Leibniz.

International Federation of Philosophical Societies (FISP)
  Salons (gatherings)
René Descartes' rationalist philosophy laid the foundation for enlightenment thinking. His attempt to found the sciences on a secure metaphysical foundation was not as successful as his method of doubt applied in philosophic areas leading to a dualistic doctrine of mind and matter. His skepticism was refined by John Locke's 1690 Essay Concerning Human Understanding and David Hume's writings in the 1740s. His dualism was challenged by Spinoza's uncompromising assertion of the unity of matter in his Tractatus (1670) and Ethics (1677).

These laid down two distinct lines of Enlightenment thought: the moderate variety, following Descartes, Locke and Christian Wolff which sought accommodation between reform and the traditional systems of power and faith and the radical enlightenment, inspired by the philosophy of Spinoza, advocating democracy, individual liberty, freedom of expression, and eradication of religious authority. The moderate variety tended to be deistic whereas the radical tendency separated the basis of morality entirely from theology.

Both lines of thought were eventually opposed by a conservative Counter-Enlightenment, which sought a return to faith.

In the mid-18th century, Paris became the center of an explosion of philosophic and scientific activity challenging traditional doctrines and dogmas. The philosophic movement was led by Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who argued for a society based upon reason rather than faith and Catholic doctrine, for a new civil order based on natural law, and for science based on experiments and observation.

The political philosopher Montesquieu introduced the idea of a separation of powers in a government, a concept which was enthusiastically adopted by the authors of the United States Constitution.

While the Philosophes of the French Enlightenment were not revolutionaries, and many were members of the nobility, their ideas played an important part in undermining the legitimacy of the Old Regime and shaping the French Revolution.

Ultimately, cornerstones of current societies have become the Magna Carta (concept of the rule of law), the Trias Politica (concept of power relations) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (based on Roosevelt's 'Four Freedoms' as the concept of the individual integrity, autonomy and responsibility) and were consolidated in the Copenhagen criteria on EU membership.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, a document that lists the fundamental rights of the citizens of the European Union, states that "the peoples of Europe are determined to share a peaceful future based on rights and common values: democracy, dignity, freedoms, equality, solidarity, tolerance, the rule of law, civil rights, justice.

A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation. These gatherings often consciously followed Horace's definition of the aims of poetry, "either to please or to educate". Salons, commonly associated with French literary and philosophical movements of the 17th and 18th centuries, were carried on until as recently as the 1940s in urban settings.

The salon was an Italian invention of the 16th century, which flourished in France throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. The salon continued to flourish in Italy throughout the 19th century. In 16th-century Italy, some brilliant circles formed in the smaller courts which resembled salons, often galvanized by the presence of a beautiful and educated patroness such as Isabella d'Este or Elisabetta Gonzaga.

One important place for the exchange of ideas was the salon. The word salon first appeared in France in 1664 (from the Italian word salone, itself from sala, the large reception hall of Italian mansions). Literary gatherings before this were often referred to by using the name of the room in which they occurred, like cabinet, réduit, ruelle and alcôve. Before the end of the 17th century, these gatherings were frequently held in the bedroom (treated as a more private form of drawing room): a lady, reclining on her bed, would receive close friends who would sit on chairs or stools drawn around. This practice may be contrasted with the greater formalities of Louis XIV's petit lever, where all stood. Ruelle, literally meaning "narrow street" or "lane", designates the space between a bed and the wall in a bedroom; it was used commonly to designate the gatherings of the "précieuses", the intellectual and literary circles that formed around women in the first half of the 17th century. The first renowned salon in France was the Hôtel de Rambouillet not far from the Palais du Louvre in Paris, which its hostess, Roman-born Catherine de Vivonne, marquise de Rambouillet (1588–1665), ran from 1607 until her death. She established the rules of etiquette of the salon which resembled the earlier codes of Italian chivalry.

The content and form of the salon to some extent defines the character and historical importance of the salon. Contemporary literature about the salons is dominated by idealistic notions of politesse, civilité and honnêteté, but whether the salons lived up to these standards is matter of debate. Older texts on the salons tend to paint an idealistic picture of the salons, where reasoned debate takes precedence and salons are egalitarian spheres of polite conversation. Today, however, this view is rarely considered an adequate analysis of the salon. The salon of Madame Geoffrin expressed the period in which salons were dominant and has been labeled the 'age of conversation'. The topics of conversation within the salons - that is, what was and was not 'polite' to talk about - are thus vital when trying to determine the form of the salons. The salonnières were expected, ideally, to run and moderate the conversation.

The place to hear the freest, most animated, and most instructive conversation that ever regard to philosophy, religion, and government; light pleasantries had no place there was D'Holbach's salon. Meetings were held regularly twice a week, on Sundays and Thursdays, in d'Holbach's home in rue Royale. Visitors to the salon were exclusively males, and the tone of discussion highbrow, often extending to topics more extensive than those of other salons. This, along with the excellent food, expensive wine, and a library of over 3000 volumes, attracted many notable visitors. Among the regulars in attendance at the salon—the coterie holbachique—were the following:

Diderot, Grimm, Condillac, Condorcet, D'Alembert, Marmontel, Turgot, La Condamine, Raynal, Helvétius, Galiani, Morellet, Naigeon and, for a time, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The salon was also visited by prominent British intellectuals, amongst them Adam Smith, David Hume, John Wilkes, Horace Walpole, Edward Gibbon, David Garrick, Laurence Sterne; the Italian Cesare Beccaria; and the American Benjamin Franklin.


Vedanta, also known as Uttara Mīmāṃsā, is a Hindu philosophical tradition that is one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy. Avula Parthasarathy, popularly known as Swamiji (born 8 June 1927), is an Indian philosopher and exponent of Vedanta, one of the ancient philosophies of India. He translates the subtle philosophical themes into a practical technique of living. He has multiple degrees in literature, science and law, and completed a postgraduate degree in international law from London University. 

Renouncing a shipping business early in life, he has dedicated his life to study, research and propagation of Vedanta. His writings, discourses and seminars have featured in international press and television media. Business, sport and film celebrities regularly seek his counsel.