The conventional history of trying to distinguish philosophy from physics, mathematics, the social sciences, and the humanities was an extreme over simplification. It has been impossible to limit what is usually called “philosophy” to a single subject that can be neatly placed on a disciplinary map. One reason for this is that place names on such maps tend to change.
In the Middle Ages, for example, “philosophy” covered practically every field of theoretical knowledge that did not belong to theology. New ton’s object of study was “natural philosophy,” and the term was still widely used in the first half of the19th century, covering most of what we now consider science and some of what we now consider philosophy. What is called philosophical thought naturally tends to stray beyond conventional boundaries.
About the Book
Philosophy is a discipline with a long history and a short memory. In this ground breaking new study of Western thought, Anthony Gottlieb turns once again to the writings of the great thinkers, questioning many established concepts and explaining his findings with unbridled brilliance and clarity.
From pre-Socratic philosophers like Empedocles, whose view of the universe was “a mixture of Stephen Hawking’s physics and Barbara Cartland’s romantic fiction, “to Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Renaissance visionaries like Erasmus and Bacon From pre-Socratic philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle to Renaissance visionaries such as Erasmus and Bacon, “philosophy” appears here as a phenomenon not bound to any one discipline. Indeed, as Gottlieb explains, the most ground breaking breakthroughs in the natural and social sciences have been repeatedly appropriated by other fields of knowledge.