Plato probably would not have existed had it not been for Pythagoras and Socrates. Augustine would not have produced his writings had it not been for Plotinus and Aristotle. Einstein would not have produced relativity had it not been for Newton and so on. Is it correct to consider human thought in its entirety as a continuous functions whose points represent the great thinkers of history? Were there philosophers who examined this view?

  • "As an integral whose derivatives represent the great thinkers of history" What do you mean by this? Are you using the mathematical definitions of those words? – 79037662 Nov 8 '19 at 16:09
  • Not quite the mathematical definitions, more like a poetic license. If it doesnt fit, i am gonna edit the question. – Yamar69 Nov 8 '19 at 16:16
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    Yeah as written, that sentence makes as much sense as "colourless green ideas sleep furiously". – 79037662 Nov 8 '19 at 16:18
  • Ok, done. Is it better? – Yamar69 Nov 8 '19 at 16:22
  • Do you literally mean "continuous" in the mathematical sense of varying in a way that's infinitely divisible, or do you just mean it in the metaphorical sense that each new idea builds on and depends on what came before? Anyone in the historicist tradition of Hegel might fit into the latter, and you also might be interested in something like The Sociology of Philosophies. – Hypnosifl Nov 8 '19 at 16:38

It's not even faintly tenable. There has definitely been a reaction back agaibst the 'great man theory of history', there has no doubt been too nuch focus in the past 9n unique individuals vs global trends. Human population, and kniwledge, have increased gigantically, also shifting tge focus away from individuals. But look at someone like Elon Musk, who has catalysed the new space race, altering the rate at which Mars and the solar system will be explored relative to other technologies.

Hegel certaintly depersonalised history, seeing humans as agents of the dialectic. But consider the analogy to evolution: there are niches, there is competition, and real dynamics can be used to explain the outcomes. But, each time the system is run, it is not deterministic - it is a stochastic process. The same with the development 8f ideas. We are not simply exploring a space, we a creating a space of ideas, if culture, which informs how we interact.

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