Philosophers on World

Why Does Philosophy Matter?

Why is philosophy so important that UNESCO designated this discipline with its very own day?  UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova explains, “Faced with the complexity of today’s world, philosophical reflection is above all a call to humility, to take a step back and engage in reasoned dialogue, to build together the solutions to challenges that are beyond our control. This is the best way to educate enlightened citizens, equipped to fight stupidity and prejudice. The greater the difficulties encountered the greater the need for philosophy to make sense of questions of peace and sustainable development.”

While we often think of philosophy as theoretical in nature, it not only has practical applications, but multidisciplinary ones.

Seven Influential Philosophers Across the Disciplines

Still think the musings of philosophers are more ethereal than earthly? Read on for a roundup of philosophers whose work directly shaped understanding in a particular field or area of study.

1. Michel Foucault

While largely regarded as a historian and philosopher, Foucault is also well known for his contributions the social sciences — particularly for his ideas about the link between knowledge, power and social control. His work has enlightening applications across a number of topics, ranging from socio-legal studies and the sociology of race to feminist and political theory.

2. Michel de Montaigne

While more of a statesman in his time, de Montaigne is now heralded as an author whose intellectually heady essay directly influenced writers from all over the world, including Descartes, Bacon, Pascal, Rousseau, Emerson, Nietzsche, Asimov and even Shakespeare. He’s also credited with the acceptance of the essay as a literary genre in its own right. His ideas about psychology — particularly as related to education, fear, motivation, happiness, and thought — also had a significant impact on psychology.