"Scholars spend their time maximizing their
minimal differences" Anonymous
The term 'philosophy' is
from Greek, from phil- (affinity or loving) + Sophia (wisdom). The Grecian divine figure of Wisdom
was called Sophia or Lady Wisdom. Philosophy is literally the “love of
Academic philosophers study problems that
relate to knowledge, existence, reality, reason, values,
mind and language. In everyday matters, “philosophy” refers to our basic beliefs, concepts and
Philosophy is a way of thinking about the world, the universe and
about society. The ideas in philosophy are abstract – “things that cannot be touched”. Some say
philosophy is the 'science of the whole' and that the ultimate synthesis of the parts of different sciences
is philosophy's main concern. In general, philosophy is the humanities discipline that 'thinks
In general, philosophy consists of three main theories:
1) Theory of Value (Axiology).
2) Theory of Reality (Ontology and Metaphysics).
3) Theory of Knowledge (Epistemology).
For simplicity, the Golden Seat divides philosophy into two major areas:
Plato’s Natural Theology: The Good
Behavioral guidelines based on what is the best outcome for individuals and
society. The study of ethics, human behavior, morality (right and wrong, good and evil) and
responsibilities of people to each other and society. The word 'Axiology', the Theory of Value, is from the
Greek axios (worth, value)
and logos (study).
Ethics: value for the individual - "What ought I do as an individual?"
Social & Political Philosophy: value for society -
"What ought we do together?"
To ponder a subject and arrive at conclusions (‘speculate’ is the Latin verb “to look
at”). Speculative conclusions can never be verified (‘philosophical doubt’).
Plato’s Natural Theology: The True
Plato’s natural Theology:
Theory of Value (Axiology): Aesthetics. The value in fine arts and natural
Besides the “Two Grand Divisions” there are, as
always, special fields of philosophy:
• Philosophy of Education
• Philosophy of Language
• Philosophy of Mind
• Philosophy of Religion
• Philosophy of Science
• Political Philosophy
In ‘History of Western Philosophy’ Bertrand
Russell uses a three-tier model to categorize the Western philosophical traditions or schools of
• Pre-Socrates: Thales, Pythagoras,
Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles, Anaximander, Anaxagoras, Leucippus, Democritus, Protagoras.
• Post-Aristotle: Cynics, Sceptics, Epicureans, Stoics,
• The Fathers: Christain
philosophy, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St.
Augustine, St. Benedict, Pope Gregory the Great
• The Schoolmen: John the Scot, St. Thomas Aquinas
• Renaissance to Hume: Machiavelli,
Erasmus, More, Bacon, Hobbes. The Empiricists: Locke, Berkeley, Hume.
Rationalists: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz.
• Rousseau to Present Day: Rousseau. German Idealists: Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel. • Byron,
Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, the Utilitarians, Marx, Bergson,
William James, John Dewey.
Western ‘modern’ philosophy began during The
Age of Reason (17th-century) and the Age of
Enlightenment (18th-century) from which evolved two
distinct schools: Empiricism and
German philosopher Immanuel
Kant (1724-1804) is noted for bridging the dominate western
philosophical schools of Rationalism and Empiricism (German Idealism).
Contemporary Western philosophy has been
largely dominated by two philosophical traditions:
Philosophy – dominated by Anglo-Saxon philosophers
(Britain, No. America) who primarily focus on pragmatic and empiric-analytic studies. That philosophy should
apply rigorous methods of inquiry, logical techniques and be consistent with the formal methods of reasoning of
modern science (‘exterior’ folk). Key figures include Alfred North Whitehead, Bertrand Russell, George Moore,
and Ludwig Wittgenstein (‘Tractatus’). Wittgenstein has come to be considered one of the 20th Century’s most
important philosophers, if not the most important.
Philosophy – dominated by European philosophers (Germany,
France) who primarily focus on the interpretive aspects of philosophy (‘interior’ folk). The term
‘Continental’ is a catch-all label for everything else, which, in very general terms, rejects Scientism and tends
towards Historicism (that the self or the world exist in the contexts and backgrounds that have a history, a
development; not “pregiven”). Key figures include Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger.
In the second half of the 20th century, four main schools dominated Continental
Philosophy: Existentialism, Structuralism,
Post-Structuralism and Post-Modernism. Structuralism is the broad belief that all human activity and its
products (even perception and thought itself) are constructed and not natural, and that everything has meaning only
through the language system in which we operate. Post-Structuralism is the reaction to Structuralism, which
stresses the culture and society of the ‘reader over that of the author’. Post-Modernism isn’t easy to define
– kind of a “pick’n’mix” openness to a variety of different meanings. Key figures of Existentialism include
Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Simone de Beauvoir. Key figures of Post-Structuralism and Post-Modernism
include Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida (Derrida’s work has been repeatedly accused of pseudo-philosophy and
The above exposition is largely a brief
historical overview of philosophy. The Golden Seat’s purpose, besides being a pleasurable piece of art,
is to harmonize Science, Religion and Philosophy and to be guidepost to a living
In the Lengthy
Introduction it was discussed that the ‘frame of mind’
of The Golden
Seat is spiritual. And that there are two grand
movements in Religious and Philosophical matters:
Ascend: Matter to Spirit. The Many
to One. Transcendent. The path of
Descend: Spirit to Matter. The One to Many. Immanence.
The path of compassion.
The worldview of German philosopher
Schelling provides a living philosophy that successfully
integrates the Ascending and the Descending.
Schelling understood that development or
evolution was a spiritual movement. Spirit is present at each and every stage of the evolutionary process, as
the very process itself. That spirit is the only
reality. That nature is objective Spirit (what Schelling calls
slumbering Spirit), where Spirit has
not yet become self-conscious. With the emergence of mind, Spirit becomes self-conscious and conscious morals
develop. Spirit begins to awaken and grow. It seeks to know itself through symbols and concepts, and the
result is that the universe begins to think about the universe. A world of reason develops where mind
is subjective Spirit.
Schelling enlightens our understanding of
mankind’s pain of reconciling the battle between mind and nature, between transcending nature for moral freedom and
becoming one with nature for wholeness, is a necessary part of Spirit’s awakening. We moderns must go through this
fire. No other period has had to face this fire on a collective scale. Going backward simply avoids the
fire, it does not transform it.
According to Schelling, the third great
movement of Spirit is the synthesis, which is the transcendence of both nature and mind and their radical union. Of Spirit
directly knowing itself as Spirit,
a direct mystical intuition. Spirit goes out of itself to produce objective nature, awakens to itself in subjective
mind, and then recovers itself in pure Nondual awareness, where subject and object are one pure immediacy that
unifies both nature and mind in realized Spirit.