March 1, 2021 - Twenty-Six Hundred Years of Philosophy

Updated: Mar 9

Philosophy began at 7:30 AM on June 24th, 585 B.C., in the city of Miletus, now the west coast of Turkey.


It was a Thursday.


Of course, I’m being facetious; my point, instead, is that most histories of philosophy place its origins in the late 6th century B.C. in Greece and it colonies. At this time and place, the foundations of logic, ethics, metaphysics, literary criticism, cosmology, biology, physics, psychology, political science and a host of other disciplines were first formulated—and in some cases their influence extends, powerfully, even to today.


Don’t believe me? The TV evangelist waxing about the immortal soul might think he’s expounding Jesus, John, or Isaiah, but he’s really preaching ancient Greek metaphysics.


Where has all philosophy led, however, in terms of finding truth? Take, for example, Richard Rorty (1931-2007), one of the West’s most famous and influential philosophers in the last century. For Rorty, the very notion of finding “Truth” (kind of the whole point of philosophy, actually) was broadly misguided and the quest has set philosophy on the wrong course for thousands of years. Or so he claims. For him, truth and knowledge aren’t a matter of “getting reality right, but rather [are] . . . a matter of acquiring habits of action for coping with reality.”


Coping? That’s it? Coping with reality?



One of the 20th century’s greatest philosophers says that all we can ever hope to do is learn to how to cope? Please! Twenty-six centuries of human knowledge climaxes in us being told, basically, to “take a valium.”


William F. Buckley had once said that he’d rather entrust the U.S. government to the first “400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty at Harvard University.”


Me? I’d rather take one chapter from Moses, or Paul, or John than from all vast the corpus of philosophical inquiry since the time of Thales, considered the world’s first philosopher, who speculated that all matter was made of water. (I’m not totally sure how much we’ve progressed since then.) No wonder Paul wrote, “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20).


He sure has.