Discussing various philosophers is no different than discussing philosophy. Some philosophers spent most of their time discussing a particular topic such as God that they became known for that topic. Other philosophers discussed almost everything. Philosophers come from particular cultures, times and languages. Philosophers can belong to a philosophical school. Philosophers can even be known to the wider world for something other than their philosophy.
It is for this reason that there are different ways to talk about various philosophers. The primary way to speak about a philosopher is historically. If we want to discuss Aristotle, then we discuss him as he fits into his ancient Greek context. We discuss what influenced him both philosophically and otherwise. We also talk about what he did that influenced the later course of history. We certainly mention what he believed and why he believed it. This is the most important and primary way of speaking about a philosopher.
We can also speak about a philosopher in a secondary way. When we are talking about Aristotle, we might speak of Protagoras because Aristotle disagrees with him. It might be that Aristotle does not properly represent Protagoras, so this is a secondary way of speaking about him. Another secondary way of speaking about a philosopher is by mentioning his philosophical opinion on some issue. For example, both Aristotle and Thomas Reid believe in libertarian freedom. The problem is that they believe in libertarian freedom for different reasons and place a different level of importance on that issue. Yet another secondary way of speaking of a philosopher is by school. A school is a set of beliefs that a bunch of philosophers all agree on and label themselves by. So Thomas Aquinas and Averroes were both Aristotelians, but their philosophies were very different. There are many other secondary ways that particular philosophers might be discussed such as culturally, regionally and religiously, but the previous ones are the most important.
Since speaking historically of various philosophers in the most important way of identifying them, they must be identified the same way that any historical group of people are identified. Generally, we refer to the culture, time, nationality and region in order to narrow down historical figures. So Aristotle was Greek, lived from 384-322BC, was Macedonian and lived in or around Athens. In general, it seems best to refer to three general time periods: Ancient, Medieval and Modern. It also seems best to use national regions to refer to philosophers by place. Since nationalities change over time, time periods will take precedence over national regions. Ancient philosophers have different beginnings in different places and end approximately around 400-500AD. Medieval philosophers end at around 1500AD. Modern philosophers continue from Medieval ones until the present. We can further divide philosophers by region. We have Western philosophers who came from Europe and the Middle East, Eastern philosophers that came from China and the East Asian countries and Indian philosophers. Other regions never had any philosophers until much later on when they joined one of these traditions.
This divides philosophers into nine areas: Ancient Western, Medieval Western, Modern Western, Ancient Indian, Medieval Indian, Modern Indian, Ancient Eastern, Medieval Eastern and Modern Eastern. Since philosophers write much of philosophy, this also divides philosophy into into the same categories.
The life of the philosopher is genuinely tragic. Almost no one likes him. Throughout the history of culture, a hatred for philosophy is revealed, and moreover from a wide variety of aspects. Philosophy is the most insecure aspect of learning. The very possibility of philosophy is continually being questioned, and every philosopher is compelled to begin his work with the protection of philosophy and the justification of its possibility and fruitfulness. Philosophy is attacked from above and from below, it is hostile to religion, and science is hostile to it. It does not use what is called public prestige.
The first and most influential attack of philosophy had to be sustained on the part of religion, and this does not stop until now, since, contrary to O. Cont, religion is the eternal function of the human spirit. It is precisely the clash of philosophy and religion that creates the tragedy of the philosopher. The clash of philosophy and science is less tragic. The severity of the clash between philosophy and religion is determined by the fact that religion has its cognitive expression in theology, its cognitive zone. Philosophy has always posed and solved the same questions that theology posed and solved. Therefore, theologians have always oppressed philosophers, often persecuted them and even burned them. So it was not only in the Christian world. The struggle of the Arab Mohammedan theologians against philosophy is known. Poisoned Socrates, burned by J. Bruno, forced to leave for Holland Descartes, excommunicated from the synagogue of Spinoza, testify to the persecutions and tortures that philosophy had to experience from representatives of religion.
The great philosophers in their cognition have always sought to revive the soul; philosophy was for them a matter of salvation. Such were the Hindu philosophers, Socrates, Plato, Stoics, Plotinus, Spinoza, Fichte, Hegel. Plotinus was hostile to a religion that teaches salvation through an intermediary. Philosophical wisdom was for him a matter of immediate salvation. Between the God of the philosophers and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, there was always not only difference but also a conflict. Hegel in the extreme form expressed an understanding of philosophy as the highest stage in comparison with religion. Philosophy constantly fought against popular religious beliefs, against mythological elements in religion, against tradition. Socrates fell victim to this struggle. Philosophy begins with a struggle against myth, but it ends in that it comes to myth as the crowning of philosophical knowledge. So it was with Plato, whose cognition through concept passes into knowledge through myth. The myth also lies in the foundations of German idealism; it can be discovered in Hegel works. Greek philosophy wanted to put a person’s life in dependence on reason, not on fate. The religious consciousness of the Greek put man’s life in dependence on fate. Greek philosophy has put it in dependence on reason. And this act of Greek philosophy was of world-historical significance. It laid the foundation for European humanism. Never a real philosopher will refuse to raise and solve the problems that religion is occupied with, which theology considers to be its monopoly.
A real philosopher wants not only to know the world but also to change, improve, degenerate the world. It can not be otherwise, if philosophy is primarily a doctrine of the meaning of human existence, of human destiny. Philosophy has always claimed to be not only a love of wisdom. And the rejection of wisdom is the rejection of philosophy, the replacement of it by science. A philosopher is, first of all, a knower, but his knowledge is holistic, it encompasses all aspects of the human being and human existence, it inevitably teaches us how to realize the meaning.
Philosophers have always been a small group of humanity, there have always been few. And the more amazing is that they are so disliken. Philosophers are disliked by people of religion, theologians, church hierarchs and ordinary believers, scientists and representatives of various specialities do not like, politicians and social figures, people of state power, conservatives and revolutionaries do not like, engineers and technicians, artists who do not like them.
Philosophy is alien to most people, and at the same time every person, without realizing it, is in a sense a philosopher. The whole technical apparatus of philosophy is alien to most people. Most people are ready to use the word “philosopher” in a mocking and negative sense. The word “metaphysics” in ordinary everyday life is almost a curse. From the “metaphysics” made a ridiculous figure, and it is laughable. But every person, even if he did not realize it, solves the questions of the “metaphysical” order. The questions of mathematics or natural science are much more alien to a huge mass of people than philosophical questions, which, in effect, are not alien to any person. And there is a philistine philosophy of various social groups, classes, professions, as there is philistine politics. A person who is disgusted with philosophy and despises philosophers usually has his philosophy of home. It has a statesman, revolutionary, specialist scientist, engineer-technician. That’s why they consider philosophy to be unnecessary.