The History of Philosophy

The History of Philosophy


Vitruvius means the ideal human figure in a geometrical order. Also there is an important suggestion by Vitruvius about reaching the best result for an architect that being wary of that problem and besides the observations and resources which architect has; there must be an architect’s addition in terms of his or her judgment and sense of correctness.


In ancient design education, two kinds of training were given: Practical training and additional training in theory. According to Vitruvius there were some subjects which must be described:

–          Knowledge is the child of practice and theory.

–          Practice is the continuous and regular exercise of employment.

–          Theory is the ability to demonstrate and explain the productions of dexterity on the principles of proportion.


Also he added that absolutely, natural ability and instruction must be together, to begin with this point, an architect also must study geometry, music, law, history, philosophy, etc…, besides having natural ability. As one of the most significant thoughts, learning particular approach to design needs a master in architecture; but learning universal principles is a need for all humans, not only architects.


From the beginning at the end ofRoman Empire, the secular spirit inspired Greek Cosmology, epistemology and art, but after despotic phases, barbaric raids and civil strife as the Empire crumbled, Greeks understood that they could not manage all events which had been around them and they began to lose their confidence about their abilities. As a consequence, they went towards to divine spirit against the physical world, were effected on philosophy, art and architecture theory.


Neo-Platonism was the subject which was studied on Plato’s philosophy in order to develop a version about the divine spirit in Neo-Platonist school in philosophy. Also, Plato’s cosmology includes two realms: the transcendental world of pure forms and phenomenal world of physical objects.


Phenomenal realm consists of true reality while pure, brilliant and timeless forms are the context of transcendental realm.


In Plotinus philosophy, there’s a concept, which includes knowledge and all conceptions: The One.

The One – Divine Mind à Soul (Human Soul) à The Physical World (Human Body)


According to Plotinus’ idea, all these individuals emanated from the One and also rejoined to the One again. He also added that there were two ways for individuals to rejoin the One: Reincarnation and Mystical Intuition. If anybody wants to discover the essential character of objects in Nature, it will be enough to look the One that is the form’s original source.


Plotinus thought that the art were not new and original productions, they were only the copies or imitations of natural objects, so non original reproductions in intuitive world, not visible world. But naturally, there were individual artists that had original designs within themselves, actually, in his or her art, his or her equipment of eyes and hands were used.

This description can be called “Metaphysical Idealism”, that means finding images in a transcendental realm, especially, firstly Renaissance, later Romanticism in 19th century.


Early mystery cults and Neo-Platonism had a role in growing Christian Church. Additionally,Roman Empireaccepted Orthodoxy and developed it dominated the next nine centuries. The main subject and aim of Christian Cosmology was not the life in physical world, relationship between man in this world and the otherworldly divine. Also, Neo-Platonism consists of God’s guide ness in universe that an original source, the One.


The point of view of Christianity for the organic analogy can be described as a relationship between Creator and Created.


When it comes to the comparison between ancient man and medieval man:

–          Ancient man had a search of universal truths in his mind for knowledge

–          Medieval man had a search of truths in pre – established doctrines.


The ancient problem of epistemology was that how the human mind could know what he/she knew.


To sum up, in Greek outlook, there were two important points:

–          The secular interest in physical nature

–          The priority of the individual.


Additionally, in Ancient times, humans believed that everything was under our control and could not be out of our control; on the other hand, in the middle Ages, they had a belief that there was no control over the God; everything was under God’s control.


Ancient, Medieval, Modern and Western philosophy will be thought in terms of periods. Ancient philosophy dominated bye the writings of two people, Plato – Aristotle. If any person wants to study philosophy, he/ she will have the way that is going from Aristotle to modern philosophy and then the medieval period.


Medieval philosophy can be described as the philosophy of many years, from the fall of theRoman Empireto Renaissance. As a reason, throughout the middle Ages, there has been a widespread reaction against religion and especially in its role in thought.


One of the greatest medieval philosophers,St. Augustinehad two books, which were so famous in World’s literature: The Confessions and The City of God. The other philosopher was Thomas Aquinas, had a technical side and had two books: On the Truth of Catholic Faith and Summary of Theology. After the period that consists ofSt. Augustine’s death andRoman Empire’s fall, a new period began: Dark Ages.


The ages of philosophers:

–          John the Scott à 9th Century

–          Abelard à 12th Century

–          Roger Bacon & Thomas Aquinas à 13th Century

–          Duns Scotus & William of Ockham à During the Medieval Period



St. Augustineand Aquinas can be considered as successful philosophers in middle ages. Individually, Augustine was an alone thinker who had the best known work, autobiography. On the other hand, Aquinas was in a different side, he was not alone, like Augustine and also was inside the tradition in terms of religion and academy that was one of the great Order of Dominicans.


We can say for Augustine, he was a genius and aimed to provide his own meditation, like Descartes or Spinoza, on the other hand, for example, Kant or Hegel aimed to develop systems to be handed on by teaching in universities as professors.


Also in the middle ages, there was s significant issue: The invention of the university. A description of ‘university’ is the engaged people’s corporation in a professional way. Maybe a question can occur in terms of being professional in the middle ages, as an answer, there are some efficient examples: For instance, Aquinas wrote eight million words without three million words disputed works.


Actually in universities, there were some effective teaching methods, but Aquinas’ methods from medieval techniques were so different: Disputation. There would be two opposite ideas and which you accepted to defense clearly and efficiently, you would choose this and in a logical way, you would try to persuade others.


Furthermore, there are two characteristics of medieval philosophers:

–          The voluminous output

–          The rigorous method of presentation


In education of university, there was a description: Syllabus. It contained the curriculum of all terms as a document. In the middle ages, the syllabus was set by the works of Aristotle, which were translated into Latin at the beginning. The Syllabus began with login course which Aristotle created.


As an analysis, in the middle ages, the great philosophers spent their time inBritainbecause of the existence of university communities. Also there was a common language in all universities that was Latin of the Church.


In any university or any educational program, Aristotle’s books were translated into Latin in 12th and 13th century. Additionally, he was a genius in different ways: Logic, biology, botany, meteorology, metaphysics, etc…  During the middle ages, logic was the first course that Aristotle created and it was the first thing that the students learned. But in the end of the Middle Ages, at the Renaissance and Reformation, instead of logic, mathematical viewpoint began to be learned in most European universities by mathematicians, for example, Gottlob Frege, Bertnard Russell.


Philosophy had been in logic centered for mostly all of periods. But especially after the Middle Ages, people became more interested in Epistemology than philosophy. When it comes to the Epistemology’s question is that: How do we know, what we know? Also, there was an interesting change in philosophy, the question type. Instead of “What do you know?” there would be “What do you mean?”



The primary task of philosopher is telling good argument from bad without any starting or ending point, showing the differences between good and bad arguments. Also the secondary task of philosopher is to analyze the language and concepts which we use in making first order decisions. Moreover, there was an attractive example about a philosopher’s sharp distinction between his/her religion and thought: Thomas Aquinas was not only a philosopher, but also a Christian. The sharp point was that, as a philosopher, he thought that there was no reason the universe had no existed forever; on the other had, as a Christian, according to him, the universe will go to end one day.


When it comes to the works of Aquinas; “On the Truth of Catholic Faith” is a philosophical work, which is directed to people with any kinds of religion. The other work, “Summary of Theology” is directed differently, people in Christianity and tells the acceptations of statements in the Bible as good arguments.


The most famous arguments in the history of philosophy for the existence of God are called “Ontological Argument”. For example, Descartes, Kant, Spinoza, Leibniz, etc… there were two kinds of arguments in the middle ages:

–          Cosmological Argument, that begins from the cosmos, from the world around us

–          Ontological Argument, that starts from the notion of God from the very concept of God.


St. Anselm was well known from this argument and he suggested that “God is something that you cannot conceive anything greater than” The most interesting point was nobody from any religion did declare it could be false, all members in any religion accepted this argument.


There were two main problems in middle ages: The Philosophical Problem and the Theological Problem. The Philosophical Problem was the problem of reconciling divine for the knowledge and people’s freedom. Also, there’s an interesting description: Medieval philosophy had been in many generations, especially recent generations, the Cinderella of the subject’s history.





The Great Philosophers – Brian Magee

Source of Architectural Form – Mark Gellernter

A History of Western Philosophy – Bernard Russell