Philanthropic Organizations - Views - Philosophy

Philosophy

The classical view of philanthropy—that the "love of what it is to be human" is the essential nature and purpose of humanity, culture and civilization—is intrinsically philosophical, containing both metaphysics and ethics. It asserts that our nature and purpose in life is educational—to make ourselves more fully humane through self-development, pursuing excellence (arete) of body, mind and spirit. The ancient Greek word for culture as education was paideia. Paideia and "philanthropía were both later translated by the Romans into Latin by one word—significantly, humanitas.

The total economic collapse attending the Fall of Rome and leading into the so-called "Dark Ages" dissolved Classical civilization, replacing it with Christian theology and soteriology, administered through the Roman Catholic Church's ecclesiastical and monastic infrastructures. Gradually there emerged a non-religious agricultural infrastructure based on peasant farming organized into manors, which were in turn organized for law and order by feudalism. For a thousand years Classical humanism hibernated in forgotten manuscripts of monastic libraries. When it was rediscovered in the Italian Renaissance, humanism consisted of a specific academic curriculum: grammar, rhetoric, poetry, history, and moral philosophy, or ethics, designed to train laymen for effective leadership in business, law, and government. One of the clearest literary expressions of Renaissance humanist philosophy is Pico della Mirandola's famous 15th-century Oration on the Dignity of Man, which echoes the philanthropic myth of human creation, though with the Christian God as the Promethean Creator.

Europe emerged from the 16th-17th century Wars of Religion ready to try secular alternatives, for which humanistic philosophies of Rationalism and Empiricism, fortified by the Scientific Revolutions, inclined lay philosophers toward the progressive view of history inaugurated by Classical philanthropy. This tendency achieved an especially pure articulation in the Scottish Enlightenment, several of whose leading philosophers proposed philanthropy as the essential key to human happiness, conceived as a kind of "fitness"—living in harmony with Nature and one's own circumstances. Self-development, manifested in good deeds toward others, was the surest way to live a pleasing, fulfilling, and satisfying life, as well as to help build a commonwealth community.

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Early Islamic Philosophy - Main Protagonists of Falsafa and Their Critics
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Famous quotes containing the word philosophy:

    People who love soft methods and hate iniquity forget this,—that reform consists in taking a bone from a dog. Philosophy will not do it.
    John Jay Chapman (1862–1933)

    Englishmen are babes in philosophy and so prefer faction-fighting to the labour of its unfamiliar thought.
    William Butler Yeats (1865–1939)

    There is, I confess, a hazard to the philosophical analysis of humor. If one rereads the passages that have been analyzed, one may no longer be able to laugh at them. This is an occupational hazard: Philosophy is taking the laughter out of humor.
    A.P. Martinich (b. 1946)