The 12 Most Famous Sayings of Philosophy (?)
Last week, I talked about Adorno and Horkheimer, who were rather extreme in their views. But then again, which great philosopher wasn’t? Isn’t the history of philosophy largely the history of individuals making some rather extreme and/or startling statements that provoked a response from others? Take some of the most famous philosophical statements throughout the ages, such as:
- Man is the measure of all things. (Protagoras)
- The unexamined life is not worth living. (Socrates)
- Knowledge is power. (Bacon)
- I think, therefore I am. (Descartes)
- To be is to be perceived. (Berkeley)
- Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them. (Hume)
- Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. (Rousseau)
- History teaches that people have never learned anything from history. (Hegel)
- Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so. (Mill)
- Philosophers have only interpreted the world, the point is to change it. (Marx)
- God is dead. (Nietzsche)
- The limits of my language are the limits of my world. (Wittgenstein)
All these statements are provocative. In order to make an impact on the development of human thought, one often has to be extreme to the point of falsehood. And communicating one’s thoughts in a somewhat difficult—even obscure—manner usually does not do any harm to the success of a philosopher either. On the contrary, the difficulty gives additional fodder to the discussion he provokes.
In line with this long tradition of extreme and difficult philosophers, I find that Adorno and Horkheimer do provoke several questions that are worthwhile discussing. More on that later.
Entry filed under: Philosophy. Tags: Adorno, Bacon, Berkeley, Descartes, Hegel, Horkheimer, Hume, Marx, Mill, Nietzsche, philosophical sayings, Philosophy, Protagoras, Rousseau, Socrates, Wittgenstein.