The beginning of the study of philosophy in Greece was recorded in 585 B.C., with a notable philosopher by the name of Thales. He was followed by Pythagoras, a hundred years later. Pythagoras made important contributions to the study of mathematics and astronomy. Some of his teachings were acknowledged as precepts of religion. Then came three of the most notable Greek philosophers, by the name of Socrates, his pupil, Plato, and Plato’s pupil, Aristotle, all of whose works were honored and revered to this day.
The philosophers of the Middle Ages were those that focused mainly on religion, many of whom were Christians, and some were followers of the Mohammedan religion. Their thoughts and ideas were mostly centered on the relationship of man to God, as well the importance of ethics, reflecting human behavior and belief, based on the study of theology, considered as a branch of philosophy.
The works of some modern philosophers began with the French philosopher, Rene Descartes, who is particularly remembered for initiating a singular aspect of philosophy, known as rationalism. He maintained that some ideas are simply in our minds and need not be learned from experience, depending on their clarity and realism. The philosophers, Spinoza and Leibnitz, followed a similar line of thought which they advanced in the course of their career.
In England, Bacon, Locke and Hume developed another school of thought, known as empiricism, contrary to the ideas expounded by Descartes who maintained that some ideas are simply in our minds and need not be learned from experience, whereas their ideas focused strictly on experience rather than those that originate simply in our minds. Their contradiction served to invalidate one of the aspects of rationalism advanced by the French philosopher. In this respect, another philosopher, by the name of Immanuel Kant, endeavored to work out a compromise by the inclusion of religion.
In America, a philosopher, by the name of John Dewey, maintained that, like other sciences, ideas should not be treated as opinions, but analyzed to the point of proving their effectiveness. His contributions had influenced many modern students prior to his death in 1952.