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10 Golden Age Philosophers, and Why You Should Know Them
We can all rattle off a few Greek philosophers to win a trivia prize, but how many Golden Age philosophers are you familiar with? Here's a primer.
If challenged to name ten philosophers in ten seconds, some of us might make it to ten. Most of us could possibly hit seven. Of those, the majority are likely to be ancient Greek figures with the remainder more modern, western ones. If a non-western name is to be offered it is likely to be one of the extremely famous thinkers of Asia, such as Confucius, the Buddha, Lao Tzu, or Sun Tzu. How many of us would produce an Islamic or Arabic thinker as an example?
This is a shame, as the Golden Age (8th century – 13th century) in the Middle East produced some of the most important thought in human history. It is through these thinkers that the west was able to regain access to the thought of Aristotle and Plato. Of the stars that have proper names in common usage, most of them have the names given to them by Middle-Eastern astronomers. We use the numeral system they devised, including the zero. They set the standard for the scientific method for hundreds of years. It is impossible to fully understand western thought without understanding the ideas of these thinkers.
Here are ten of the most underrated and under-appreciated philosophers from the Middle-East, ordered by date.
1. Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyyā al-Rāzī 854 CE – 925 CE
Famed doctor, chemist, and philosopher. First person to describe smallpox and measles as separate diseases. Developed a metaphysical system, based on Plato, which described the universe as consisting of five elements; God, time, place, soul, and matter. Author of the first book on pediatrics.
"I have written 20,000 pages (in small print), moreover I spent fifteen years of my life – night and day – writing the big collection entitled Al Hawi. It was during this time that I lost my eyesight, my hand became paralyzed, with the result that I am now deprived of reading and writing. Nonetheless, I've never given up."
2. Saadia Gaon 882 CE – 942 CE
Rabbi who lived during the golden age of Islam in the various centers of the Abbasid Caliphate. Known for work on Hebrew Linguistics, translations of hebrew texts into Arabic, Jewish law, and preventing a schism in Judaism by means of simple argument. Appointed as the first foreign head of an Academy in Sura. Combined Hebrew and Greek thought.
"The composition of poems remind(s) man of his state of frailty, wretchedness and toil."
3. Yahya ibn Adi 893 CE – 974 CE
Logic theorist and doctor based in Tikrit in modern Iraq. Produced dozens of translations of Greek philosophy into Arabic. A Christian, he was able to use his philosophical knowledge to produce defenses of Christian theology grounded in classical thought.
"Many a dead man lives on through knowledge."
4. Avicenna 980 CE – 1037 CE
Persian Polymath that is often regarded as the single greatest thinker of the Islamic Golden age. Author of 450 books, one of which was a standard medical text until 1650. Refined the scientific method past that of his philosophical idol, Aristotle. Wrote on Astronomy, Chemistry, Geology, Religion, Logic, Mathematics, Physics, and even wrote poetry. His commentaries and translations of Aristotle went on to influence European thought during the Enlightenment.
"The world is divided into men who have wit and no religion and men who have religion and no wit."
5. Sohrevardi 1154 CE – 1191 CE
Persian Philosopher. Founder of the Islamic school of Illuminationism. Built a metaphysics and Islamic school based largely on Platonic ideas, later went on to write dozens of books on philosophy, mysticism, and their relation to Islam.
"Whoever knows philosophy and perseveres in thanking and sanctifying the Light of the Lights, will be endowed with royal glory."
6. Fakhr al-Din al-Razi 1149 CE – 1209 CE
Scientist, Philosopher, and Theologian. Proposed several possible models of the cosmos including a multiverse model. Wrote “Tafsir Al-Kabeer”, The Great Commentary, on the Qur’an which is still often referenced. Wrote additional books on logic and medicine, in addition to other topics.
"The arguments of the philosophers for establishing that the world is one are weak, flimsy arguments founded upon feeble premises."
7. Kâtip Çelebi 1609 CE – 1657 CE
Ottoman historian and geographer. Wrote a bibliographic encyclopedia with 14,500 entries. Wrote extensively on Islamic law, ethics, and theology in addition to history and geography. Primary source for social change in the 16th and 17th century ottoman empire – including the introduction of coffee to the empire.
"With the coming of the period of decline, the winds of knowledge stopped blowing."
8. Dara Shikoh 1615 CE – 1659 CE
An Indian prince with a life befitting a drama, Dara was executed for being on the losing side of a succession struggle after the illness of the Emperor of Mughal Empire. Despite his short life, he was able to find the time to work on the mystical underpinnings common to both Hindu and Islamic thought. Writing several books and translating several Sanskrit classics for later study by other Islamic scholars. A library established by him is still in use by the Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University.
"And whereas I was impressed with a longing to behold the Gnostic doctrines of every sect and to hear their lofty expressions of monotheism and had cast my eyes upon many theological books and had been a follower thereof for many years, my passion for beholding the Unity, which is a boundless ocean, increased every moment."
9. Muhammad Abduh 1849 CE – 1905 CE
Egyptian scholar, jurist, reformer, and philosopher. A founder of the school of Islamic Modernism, and theorist of the application of liberal thought to Islamic nations. Exiled from Egypt by British authorities for using his newspaper to advocate independence. Argued that many western ideas had roots in Islamic thought.
"I went to the west and saw Islam, but no Muslims. I went to the east and saw Muslims, but not Islam."
10. Fatema Mernissi 1940 CE – 2015 CE
Moroccan Feminist and sociologist. Studied the history of Islamic thought and the role of women in it, publishing works suggesting that the condition of women in Islamic countries is not in line with statements that can be proven to be the thought of Muhammad. Author of the work Beyond the Veil.
"When a woman thinks she is nothing, the little sparrows cry. Who can defend them on the terrace, if no one has the vision of a world without slingshots?"
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?
- Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
- The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
- Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
How masturbation affects your brain...<p>Orgasms are a very common human phenomenon. The physical and mental health benefits have been researched frequently as a result, and yet, there is still so much to be learned about how our bodies and brains react to the chemicals and hormones released during and after experiencing this type of sexual release.</p><p>"The amount of speculation versus actual data on both the function and value of orgasm is remarkable" explains Julia Heiman, director of the <a href="https://kinseyinstitute.org/" target="_blank">Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction</a>.</p><p>Masturbation causes a rush of <a href="https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-dopamine" target="_blank">dopamine</a>, which is a chemical that is associated with our ability to feel pleasure. Along with the rush of dopamine that is released during an orgasm, there is also a release of a hormone called <a href="https://www.livescience.com/42198-what-is-oxytocin.html" target="_blank">oxytocin</a>, which is commonly referred to as the "love hormone."<br></p><p>This concoction of chemicals does more than just boost our mood, it also can play a key role in decreasing stress and promoting relaxation. Oxytocin decreases <a href="https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-cortisol" target="_blank">cortisol</a>, which is a stress hormone that is usually present (in high volumes) during times of anxiety, fear, panic, or distress. </p><p>According to BDSM and fetish researcher <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/dr-gloria-brame-colbert-ga/278388" target="_blank">Dr. Gloria Brame</a>, an orgasm is the biggest non-drug induced blast of dopamine that we can experience. </p><p>By boosting the oxytocin and dopamine levels and subsequently decreasing our cortisol levels, the brain is placed in a more relaxed, euphoric, and calm state. </p>
Masturbation boosts your immune system and raises your white blood cell count.<p>How do those effects on the brain from reaching orgasm translate to boosting our immune system and making our body healthier?</p><p>The increase of oxytocin and dopamine that causes a decrease in cortisol levels can help boost our immune system because cortisol (well-known for being a stress-inducing hormone) actually helps maintain your immune system if released in small doses. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.health24.com/Sex/Great-sex/incredible-health-benefits-to-masturbating-20181030-2" target="_blank">Dr. Jennifer Landa</a>, a hormone-therapy specialist, masturbation can produce the right kind of environment for a strengthened immune system to thrive. </p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15316239" target="_blank">A study</a> conducted by the Department of Medical Psychology at the University Clinic of Essen (in Germany) showed similar results. A group of 11 volunteers were asked to participate in a study that would look at the effects of orgasm through masturbation on the white blood cell count and immune system.</p><p>During this experiment, the white blood cell count of each participant was analyzed through measures that were taken 5 minutes before and 45 minutes after reaching a self-induced orgasm. </p><p>The results confirmed that sexual arousal and orgasm increased the number of white blood cells, particularly the natural killer cells that help fight off infections. </p><p>The findings confirm that our immune system is positively affected by sexual arousal and self-induced orgasm and promote even more research into the positive impacts of sexual arousal and orgasm. </p>
Masturbation can ease and prevent pain, which allows you to achieve the restful sleep that helps your immune system stay strong and healthy.<p>The benefits of masturbation have long been debated, but the more research that is done on the topic the more we understand that there are many positive reactions that happen in our bodies and brains when we orgasm.</p><p>Orgasms can help prevent or mitigate pain, which boosts the immune system, preventing cold and flu symptoms. </p><p>According to neurologist and headache specialist Stefan Evers, about one in three patients experience relief from migraine attacks by experiencing sexual activity or orgasm. Evers and his team <a href="https://www.livescience.com/27642-sex-relieves-migraine-pain.html" target="_blank">conducted an experiment</a> with 800 migraine patients and 200 patients who suffered from cluster-headaches to see how their experiences with sexual activity impacted their pain levels. </p><p>The study showed that 60% of migraine sufferers experienced pain relief after participating in sexual activity that resulted in orgasm. Of the cluster-headache sufferers, about 50% said their headaches actually worsened after sexual arousal and orgasm. </p><p>Evers suggested in his findings that the people who did not experience pain relief from migraines of headaches during their sexual activity did not release as large amounts of endorphins as those who did experience pain relief. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.sharecare.com/health/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-affect-immune-system" target="_blank">rheumatologist Dr. Harris McIlwain</a>, people who suffer from chronic pain have immune systems that are simply not functioning at full capacity - therefore, alleviating pain (through orgasm, as an example) can help boost the immune system. </p><p>Orgasms can also promote relaxation and make it easier to fall asleep. Serotonin, oxytocin, and norepinephrine are all hormones that are released during sexual arousal and orgasm, and all three are known for counteracting stress hormones and promoting relaxation, which makes it much easier for you to fall asleep.</p><p>There are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1233384" target="_blank">several studies</a> showing that serotonin and norepinephrine help our body cycle through REM and deep non-REM sleeping cycles. During these sleep cycles, the immune system releases proteins called <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity" target="_blank"><span id="selection-marker-1" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span>cytokines<span id="selection-marker-2" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span></a>, which target infection and inflammation. This is a critical part of our immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released throughout our bodies while we sleep, which proves the importance of a good sleep schedule to a healthy immune system.</p>
Masturbation promotes a high-functioning immune system; a healthy immune system prevents cold and flu.<p>The immune system is a balanced network of cells and organs that work together to defend you against infections and diseases by stopped threats like bacteria and viruses from entering your system. While there are many things we need to do to keep our immune systems functioning at optimal levels, masturbation (or other means of achieving orgasm) has proven to have positive effects on the immune system as a whole.</p><p>Just as bad habits (such as an inconsistent sleep schedule or harmful chemicals in your body) can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system. </p>
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.