From Descartes to Derrida
I am glad that this work is finally up to be shared with the world. I have referred many friends to read this book as an introductory text but the problem was that it was not published. I know it is one of the best books to start reading philosophy. Awais has adapted a simple and comprehensive style in it.
Preface:I really liked when you told that this is not a book for dummies and you have deliberately left some things to be pondered upon by the reader. It is very rightly said that thinking over philosophical problems is the main part of doing philosophy.
Awais, you deserve congratulations on this excellent accomplishment.It is very interesting to get to know your views on these philosophers. I began reading the chapter on Marx; I was somewhat struck by your assertion in the very beginning that Marx's philosophy contains an ethical element in it.It is indeed a question of great philosophical interest to ask whether the primary justification of the establishment of communism is the ethical degeneracy of capitalism, but Marx certainly wouldn't have answered yes. The foundation of Marxist philosophy is dialectical materialism, the view that history unfolds as a sequence of contradictions and their resolutions and then newer contradictions, all of which are materially determined. Therefore, Marx's philosophy of history harbours an extreme degree of inevitability. Marx's fundamental argument was not that communism "should" be instituted, but rather than it "would inevitably" be instituted given the flow of history. And in so arguing, Marx completely rejected any notion of morality or ethics. He would certainly be at variance with any claim of universal, eternal, unchanging code of ethics, which essentially what you have proposed by ascribing an ethical element to his philosophy. Marx's writings, and the way he led his life, do give the impression that he was out to accomplish a moral imperative, but he would never have admitted to doing so.
@ KhubaibThank you Khubaib for your precious comments. You are very right, and i agree with what you say. Perhaps i should have written of ethics being an 'implication' of Marx's view rather than an 'aspect', but my take on Marx is more or less the same as yours, as revealed by this excerpt from the chapter on Marx:'[Marx] did not merely advocate communism, he predicted and prophesied it like a prophet. Communism was primarily to be a child of a determinisitc historical process, not the realisation of a pre-determined moral philosophy; though it cannot be denied that philosophy of communism does have an ethical side as well.'
I enjoyed reading your chapter on Wittgenstein. You have very succinctly summarized the main points of the Tractatus, though I disagree with some of your interpretations. But I wish that you had devoted more space to the later philosophy of Wittgenstein, because I find it much more intriguing.You mentioned that Wittgenstein was very much influenced by Frege and Russell. You also mentioned that Russell dismissed the common misunderstanding of the grammatical structure of a language as its logical structure. What this actually means is that Russell rejected the Aristotelian tradition of subject-predicate logic in favour of his 'theory of descriptions' (which in my view, by the way, is the single greatest contribution to philosophy by an individual.) According to the theory of descriptions, there are no 'subjects' in the sense of 'carriers of properties'. All that exist are properties, and what we regard as subjects are collections of properties: take away the properties and nothing is left. There is no 'underlying substance' so to speak.However, in describing the logical system of Wittgenstein, you've mentioned that he regarded atomic facts as being statements which ascribe properties to objects. This, in my view, is completely counter to Russell's theory of definite descriptions, and it smacks of the same muddle-headed subject-predicate logical system that Aristotle and his followers in the Middle Ages believed in.
hi, well i am just in the beginning of reading and understanding philosophy seriously. i have read its two pages yet it seems to be a well written piece except that of few mistakes the one is in the preface just see the end of 6th line in 2nd para of preface.but the best part was that you have justified for the first time the use of philosophy with statement ( It is useful for harming stupidity...) which i always thought how can i justify it through words. anyways thanx for giving a good readable account for beginners like me.
Good job Awais ,you got zeal for your mission.
Well.. A great job for beginners like me. i always found philosophy a bit difficult but at the same time i always found this subject attractive, lol.And Awais has done a great job in compiling philosophical matter right from the history and introduction kind of stuff, because that serves to be helpful for the starters a great deal.Well done Awais, I'm greatly inspired by your effort
Mr. Awais Aftab Your book is exquisite, simple and, perhaps most importantly, it is flawless. I enjoyed reading it.What I have to offer is a suggestion and a hope. Let me throw out the suggestion first. In your nicely written introduction there is a line:'....when the emergence of science as a successful institution has called into question the validity of philosophy'.However, it never has. A more truthful alternative might be importance. The emergence of science certainly has questioned the validity of metaphysics, but not philosophy as a whole. What you say afterwards does mention this fact vaguely, but still 'Validity' wasn't so valid here.Now the hope. You say 'Faith has no rational validity; faith is irrational. It is not my purpose to pronounce a judgment on the role of religion,..........'That is just what we need: a 'judgement'. A strict, rational and bold judgement. Someday perhaps, if not today........ Enlightened Rebel
Mr. Awais Aftab Your book is exquisite, simple and, perhaps most importantly, it is flawless. I enjoyed reading it.What I have to offer is a suggestion and a hope. Let me throw out the suggestion first. In your nicely written introduction there is a line:'....when the emergence of science as a successful institution has called into question the validity of philosophy'.However, it never has. A more truthful alternative might be importance. The emergence of science certainly has questioned the validity of metaphysics, but not philosophy as a whole. What you say afterwards does mention this fact vaguely, but still 'Validity' wasn't so valid here.Now the hope. You say 'Faith has no rational validity; faith is irrational. It is not my purpose to pronounce a judgment on the role of religion,..........'That is just what we need: a 'judgement'. A strict, rational and bold judgement. Someday perhaps, if not today........ -Enlightened Rebel-
I have read just the the introduction of the book. And i tell you it was really very good. I could relate to it very intimately. It clearly reflects an intelligent and deep thinking of the writer. The questions put - which actually everyone of us ought to ask to ourselves - indicate that the author has put a lot of thought process in the work.
Dear Awais,You have a flare for writing and you write really well. Kudos for this book! I don’t have a suggestion per se. All I have in mind is a small question:What is the purpose of writing a book on the history of philosophy when there already exists so much literature on it? In my opinion, which hardly amounts to nothing, it would’ve been better had you written a philosophical treatise of your own, presenting humanity with fresh ideas. Or you could’ve (creatively) re-interpreted some philosopher(s) of your liking.Such an attempt would’ve, in my opinion, greatly helped in the generation of new ideas and given us all- as the cliché goes- some serious food for thought.Hope to hear from you soon. Take care.Regards,Ali Ahmad Faruqi
@ Ali FaruqiThank you so much for your precious comments.The question you ask is very valid, and i do not deny that what u say is right. It would have been far better to me to have written a work which present fresh ideas or a creative-reinterpretation of philosophers, but every journey has a first step, and i consider this book as my first step. I myself wish to contribute something original to philosophy, and if life permits, i would certainly work on it.Yes, there already exists so much literature on the history of philosophy, written much much better than my attempt, but different people have different ways of explaining things and i suppose there are some people who find my way of explaining things easier to understand. So this book is for them. For people like you, already well-versed in philosophy, the book has little fresh to offer. :)Regards.
Simply WOW! Commendable job, Awais! I know I am a bit late in commenting on your work but it's simply because I am too too busy with my final-year research project. I just went through the last section on Postmodernism and I did find it to be really helpful. I am not really a philosophy person but once you begin studying literary theory and criticism you automatically have to resort to philosophy! I will read the book in detail or perhaps I may keep on referring to it on and off because I believe it's too beneficial for all those who want to understand philosophy in an 'understandable' language :) Great work, I must say. I hope you get it published soon, inshaAllah :)All the best!
Awais, I'm impressed no end by how flexible your mind is... you're a medical student, yet you're concerned about this not-so-physical aspect of life too.I'm not a big philosophy fan.. never have been. The way you've written this book.. amazing! i wanted to skim through the relationship between the 'existentialist couple' Sartre and Beauvoir... and i ended up reading the whole article, savoring each thought as it was expressed it words... keep writing! It was extremely enjoyable and informational.Best Regards,Amna Rehman.
i am impressed by ur intelligence and knowledge.good work awais.its simply the best.i ve no words to appreciate it.excellent!
Hi Awais,Good to see your blog and this book. Will surely go through your work.Regards!
First of all i must congratulate Awais for this great accomplishment. Its a moment of intense joy and personal realization of a sort for me,for whom young men like Awais are sources of hope and inspiration in a world which is increasingly being deprived of hope, meaning , values and creativity. With an increasingly rigorous and strong attack on , Enlightenment , Rationalism, Universalism , Foundationalism and Essentialism, from the quarters which have traditionally been vanguards of liberty and equality , it seems we are digging our own graves. In such a time of intense de-realization, apathy and crisis of being watching young boys like Awais writing a book on Philosophy, a discipline which never established itself in Pakistan and whatever of it existed is long dead and buried; with a sense of satisfaction that ideology of the Islamic republic has been saved from subversive attacks. The price for this safety , it was not realized is a slow death,the poison of un-reason has spread in minds, spreading fascism, hatred, and mediocrity.Pakistan has failed from produce a single, poet, scientist,painter,philosopher, worth a name from post-partition generation. we have no great poet after Ahmad Faraz, we have no novelist and we have no short story writer after Manto. In these situations, Awais stands up as a beacon of hope. I have always told Awais that he is meant to do great things in future, and i will keep insisting , that he must try to fight the attitude of introversion and pessimism. I must thank him for his graciousness, his kindness and love for me. I certainly didnt deserve the honor of being mentioned in his book. but this his un matched generosity for which i shall always be grateful.I am sure one day Awais Aftab will make us all proud.
Now about the book, Awais's narrative and clarity of thought is admirable. He has a gift for expression and is able to write his thoughts well. Awais calls it a journey through modern philosophy. It is indeed a journey and in every journey one needs to follow a path and Awais has chosen analytical path.There are certain chapters of this book which can be proudly presented to the academic world for a comment.I must mention his writing on Existentialism. His description of early Wittgenstein and his attempt to historicize Post-modernism. These writings in a way represent a "turn" of a sort in intellectual life of Awais. I am very proud that i have been a witness to this "turn" in Awais's life, i remember the intellectual exchanges we had on Wittgenstein, Sartre and Postmodernism. Awais's fascination with the "absurd" and "freedom" brought him closer to the continental philosophy. which still remains under represented in this book. Though Awais has moved a lot from Bertrand Russell's attempt to discredit continental philosophy, an analytical bias still exists in his writing on Marx, Hegel,Sartre and Postmodernism. I am sure that Awais will write an appendix of a sort which will follow the development of thought in continental tradition, which infect has been more influential in the world than Analytical philosophy. From German Ideology and completion of western metaphysics with Hegel, arise two phenomenal splits in western philosophy, A radical philosophy of change , a view attributed to Marx that Philosopher is not a mere observer and analyzer of world but change is also a philosophical endeavor. Anti-rational revolt against Hegel and through it , western metaphysics and philosophy itself. Nietzsche, Heidegger and Iqbal are 3 most important figures of this type, whose thought influenced both East and West.Heidegger caused a paradigm shift in western philosophy that he shifted the emphasis from "knowledge" to Being [ If one realizes that he was reversing Kant one can acknowledge the monumental nature of the task]. His observation that for 3000 years the Metaphysical tradition have been misreading "being". All the discourse on Being from Aristotle is Not been about being at all but about "A being".With this observation he essentially de stabalizes the whole Metaphysics. A point which later Derrida will take to extreme.All the study of being has infact been attempt to hide the being and all the discourse on being and its expressions, logic,god, reason suffers from it.His concept of "destruction", to destroy this bias , is base of De-construction.Scientific turn with Husserl and Phenomenology, from phenomenology to Phenomenological ontology, its extension in Sartre. A critique of Humanism and rise of structuralism.Development of Critical theory, its off shoots cultural studies, post feminism, Queer and Gender studies.The Investigations into Ideology and Discourse, Louis Althusser, Gramsci and Foucault.Inverse Platonism of DeleuzeDeconstruction of DerridaFirst philosophy of Levinas.I am sure these subjects will be next project of Awais i wish him luck and hope to see it soon.A small suggestion, i dont claim an expertise on British Empiricism but its not very appropriate calling Bishop Berkeley as a "founder" of Idealism. Idealism is a very old movement in philosophy, Berkeley certainly is most important and rather "shocking" idealist of modern times ,but the term "founder" creates confusion. I hope Awais will give it a good thought.with all my loveAhmad
Greetings!Perhaps, all the philosophical wisdom could thus be crunched: Everything is from, in , of, by, for, and to the One.P e a c e.Yaseen P V
Hey you've really done a good job with this. How long did it take?
Thank you very much for creating a website like this. It is the stepping stone people need to begin immersion into philosophy proper. What I would like to know though is, what sort of philosophical movements are coming after postmodern ? Or have they not arisen yet ? Thanks again.
Thank You very much for your blog
Thank you for this wonderfully concise and clear outline of the history of philosophy. Its really helpful and useful for students like me who need to understand something during last-minute exam prep, and also I can tell I'll enjoy reading this at leisure and taking it as a stepping-stone to properly approaching these philosophers and understanding them. Consider this commenter inspired!
Whether Life is important or not is actually not an issue with Philosophy and the Absurd. In a way, it does hinder the human concept of continuing life, but it also frees it. With the Absurd, there is no set path, giving man the concept of free will allowing the Others, The Sartre concept of influence, to introduce meaning. Meaning that they can take their own path based on what interests them through their surroundings. Surroundings like environmental factors and personality inheritance from others. The Myth of Sisyphus includes this. Sisyphus wanted solely to provide for his town, an influence for him.
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