3 Philosophers You Should Know About

Philosophers are often seen as a relic from another time: old men in armchairs opining about a world they know nothing about.

While there may be a grain of truth in this, without philosophers concepts like democracy, justice and morality would look very different.

That’s because the work of these academics has always trickled down into society, from the ancient Greeks right up to the present day. And that’s what makes philosophy so fascinating.

Here are some of the philosophers we think you should know about.

Simone Weil

Who is she? 

Simone Weil was born in 1909 in Paris and was a French philosopher and political activist.

Although she was a pacifist, she travelled to Spain to fight in the Spanish Civil War, on the side of the anarchists. Her great works include Gravity and Grace and The Need for Roots.

Why is she so important?

Her commitment to justice and incredible intelligence. Albert Camus described her as “the only great spirit of our times.”

I haven’t heard of her…

While today people are beginning to realize what a powerhouse of thought she was, it really has taken until now for her to get the recognition she deserves.

Top Quotations

Those who are unhappy have no need for anything in this world but people capable of giving them their attention.

Get her look:

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Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir // "I was made for another planet altogether. I mistook the way."

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Who is she? 

Simone Lucie Ernestine Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir was a French writer and existentialist philosopher.

Why is she so important?

Her book The Second Sex is one of the most important feminist texts to date. In it she famously wrote “one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman” and launched the intellectual study of gender as we know it today.

Top Quotations

Man is defined as a human being and a woman as a female – whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male.

All oppression creates a state of war.

Why one man rather than another? It was odd. You find yourself involved with a fellow for life just because he was the one that you met when you were nineteen.

Angela Davis

LA Times Festival detail. Booth 158.

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Who is she?

Angela Davis is an American philosopher, thinker and radical political activist. She is the former leader of the Communist Party USA and was famously acquitted of conspiracy over an armed take-over of a Marin County courtroom.

At one point she was on the run and on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitive list. She writes on feminism, race and critical theory.

Why is she so important?

Her enduring commitment to activism, her perseverance in the face of racism, being a pioneering women of colour in philosophy…the list goes on.

Top Quotations

I am no longer accepting the things I can not change. I am changing the things I can not accept.

I think the importance of doing activist work is precisely because it allows you to give back and to consider yourself not as a single individual who may have achieved whatever but to be a part of an ongoing historical movement.

 

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