Philosophers Big Ideas
Androcles & the Lion
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Hypatia was a philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician, who lived in Alexandria, Egypt. She was a prominent thinker of the Neoplatonic school in Alexandria where she taught philosophy and astronomy. She is the first female mathematician whose life is reasonably well recorded. Hypatia was renowned as a great teacher and a wise counselor. She wrote a commentary on Diophantus's thirteen-volume Arithmetica. Many modern scholars also believe that Hypatia may have edited the surviving text of Ptolemy's Almagest
Hypatia is known to have constructed astrolabes and hydrometers, but did not invent either of these. Although she herself was a pagan, ancient sources record that Hypatia was widely beloved by pagans and Christians. Towards the end of her life, Hypatia became embroiled in politics and, in March 415 AD, she was murdered by a mob. Her murder shocked the empire and transformed her into a "martyr for philosophy”. During the Age of Enlightenment, she became a symbol of opposition to Catholicism. In the nineteenth century, European literature, romanticized her as "the last of the Hellenes". In the twentieth century, Hypatia was seen as an icon for women's rights and a precursor to the feminist movement. Since the late twentieth century, some portrayals have associated Hypatia's death with the destruction of the Library of Alexandria, despite the fact that it no longer existed during Hypatia's lifetime.
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The Crow & the Pitcher
René Descartes was a French-born philosopher, mathematician, and scientist who spent a large portion of his working life in the Dutch Republic. One of the most notable intellectual figures of the Dutch Golden Age, Descartes is also widely regarded as one of the founders of modern philosophy
Many elements of Descartes's philosophy have precedents in late Aristotelianism, the revived Stoicism of the 16th century. In the opening section of the Passions of the Soul, an early modern treatise on emotions, Descartes goes so far as to assert that he will write on this topic "as if no one had written on these matters before." His best known philosophical statement is "cogito, ergo sum" ("I think, therefore I am”.)
In the 17th-century Dutch Republic, the rise of early modern rationalism exerted a profound influence on modern Western thought in general. The 17th-century arch-rationalists like Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz  give the "Age of Reason" its name and place in history. Leibniz, Spinoza, and Descartes were all well-versed in mathematics as well as philosophy. Descartes's Meditations on First Philosophy (1641) continues to be a standard text at most university philosophy departments and he is credited as the father of analytical geometry, the bridge between algebra and geometry—used in the discovery of infinitesimal calculus and analysis
Belling the Cat
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Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian polymath of the High Renaissance who is widely considered one of the most diversely talented individuals ever to have lived. While his fame initially rested on his achievements as a painter, he also became known for his notebooks, in which he made drawings and notes on science and invention; these involve a variety of subjects including anatomy, astronomy, botany, cartography, painting, and palaeontology. Leonardo's genius epitomized the Renaissance humanist idea.
Leonardo was born to a notary and a peasant woman in Vinci, in the region of Florence, Italy. Leonardo was educated in the studio of the renowned Italian painter Andrea del Verrocchio. Much of his earlier working life was spent in the service of Ludovico il Moro in Milan, and he later worked in Rome, Bologna and Venice. He spent his last three years in France, where he died in 1519. 
Although he had no formal academic training, many historians and scholars regard Leonardo as the prime exemplar of the "Renaissance Man" or "Universal Genius", an individual of "unquenchable curiosity" and "feverishly inventive imagination. Leonardo is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time. Mona Lisa is the most famous of his works. The Last Supper is the most reproduced religious painting of all time and his Vitruvian Man drawing is also regarded as a cultural icon.
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Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatetic school of philosophy, and the Aristotelian tradition. His writings cover many subjects including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theatre, music, rhetoric, psychology, linguistics, economics, politics, and government. Aristotle provided a complex synthesis of the various philosophies existing prior to him. As a result, his philosophy has exerted a unique influence on almost every form of knowledge in the West and it continues to be a subject of contemporary philosophical discussion. 
Little is known about his life. Aristotle was born in the city of Stagira in Northern Greece. His father, Nicomachus, died when Aristotle was a child, and he was brought up by a guardian. At seventeen or eighteen he joined Plato's Academy in Athens and remained there until the age of thirty-seven. Shortly after Plato died, Aristotle left Athens and, at the request of Philip II of Macedon, tutored Alexander the Great beginning in 343 BC. Though Aristotle wrote many elegant treatises and dialogues for publication, only around a third of his original output has survived. 
Aristotle's views on physical science profoundly shaped medieval scholarship. Their influence extended from Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages into the Renaissance.
The Grasshopper & the Ants
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Epicurus was an ancient Greek philosopher and sage who founded Epicureanism, a highly influential school of philosophy. He was born on the Greek island of Samos to Athenian parents. Influenced by Democritus, Aristippus, Pyrrho, and possibly the Cynics, he turned against the Platonism of his day and established his own school, known as "the Garden", in Athens. Epicurus and his followers were known for eating simple meals and discussing a wide range of philosophical subjects. He openly allowed women and slaves to join the school. Epicurus is said to have originally written over 300 works on various subjects, but the vast majority of these writings have been lost. Only three letters written by him—the letters to Menoeceus, Pythocles, and Herodotus—and two collections of quotes—the Principal Doctrines and the Vatican Sayings—have survived intact, along with a few fragments of his other writings. Most knowledge of his teachings comes from later authors, particularly the biographer Diogenes Laërtius, the Epicurean Roman poet Lucretius and the Epicurean philosopher Philodemus, and with hostile but largely accurate accounts by the Pyrrhonist philosopher Sextus Empiricus, and the Academic Skeptic and statesman Cicero. 
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Confucius  was a Chinese philosopher, poet and politician of the Spring and Autumn period who was traditionally considered the paragon of Chinese sages. Confucius's teachings and philosophy formed the basis of East Asian culture and society, and continues to remain influential across China and East Asia as of today.
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His philosophical teachings, called Confucianism, emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice, kindness, and sincerity. Confucianism was part of the Chinese social fabric and way of life. His followers competed successfully with many other schools during the Hundred Schools of Thought era, only to be suppressed in favor of the Legalists during the Qin dynasty. Confucius's thoughts received official sanction in the new government. 
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Confucius is traditionally credited with having authored or edited many of the Chinese classic texts, including all of the Five Classics, but modern scholars are cautious of attributing specific assertions to Confucius himself. 
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Confucius's principles have commonality with Chinese tradition and belief. He championed strong family loyalty, ancestor veneration, and respect of elders by their children and of husbands by their wives, recommending family as a basis for ideal government. He espoused the principle "Do not do unto others what you do not want done to yourself". 
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Archimedes of Syracuse  was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, astronomer, and inventor  Although few details of his life are known, he is regarded as one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity. Considered to be the greatest mathematician of ancient history, and one of the greatest of all time, Archimedes anticipated modern calculus and analysis by applying the concept of the infinitely small and the method of exhaustion to derive and rigorously prove a range of geometrical theorems, including: the area of a circle; the surface area and volume of a sphere; area of an ellipse; the area under a parabola; the volume of a segment of a paraboloid of revolution; the volume of a segment of a hyperboloid of revolution; and the area of a spiral.
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His other mathematical achievements include defining and investigating the spiral that now bears his name; and devising a system using exponentiation for expressing very large numbers. He was also one of the first to apply mathematics to physical phenomena, founding hydrostatics and statics. Archimedes' achievements in this area include a proof of the principle of the lever, and the widespread use of the concept of center of gravity. He is also credited with designing innovative machines, such as his screw pump and compound pulleys. Legend tells us that Archimedes discovered his law of buoyancy (what allows objects to float) while bathing in an Ancient Greek bath-house. He supposedly became so excited that he ran through the streets without his cloths crying “Eurica,” meaning “I have found it.”
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Pythagoras of Samos was an ancient Ionian Greek philosopher. His political and religious teachings influenced the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. Knowledge of his life is clouded by legend, but he appears to have been the son of a gem-engraver on the island of Samos. Modern scholars disagree regarding Pythagoras's education and influences, but they do agree that, around 530 BC, he travelled to Croton in southern Italy, where he founded a school in which initiates lived a communal, ascetic lifestyle. 
The teaching most identified with Pythagoras is the "transmigration of souls", which says that every soul is immortal and, upon death, enters into a new body. He may have also devised the doctrine of musica universalis, which holds that the planets move according to mathematical equations and thus resonate to produce an inaudible symphony of music. 
Pythagoras was credited with many mathematical and scientific discoveries, including the Theory of Proportions, the sphericity of the Earth, and the identity of the morning and evening stars as the planet Venus. It was said that he was the first man to call himself a philosopher ("lover of wisdom"). Pythagoras was regarded as a great philosopher throughout the Middle Ages and his philosophy had a major impact on scientists such as Nicolaus Copernicus, Johannes Kepler, and Isaac Newton.