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30 Philosophers Companion Material: The 80 Touchstones

By Mike Prestwood

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Fourscore Touchstones: A Panoramic Perspective

Welcome to the curated list of 80 pivotal touchstones, presented in the same sequence as they appear in “30 Philosophers: A New Look at Timeless Ideas.” This collection offers a “View From Above,” echoing the Stoic practice of gaining perspective, and serves as an essential refresher. Each entry is designed to evoke and enrich the key concepts explored throughout the book, offering a concise snapshot to complement your journey through philosophy.

Touchstone Synopsis:

  1. The Big Bang: The universe’s dramatic inception and cosmic expansion.
  2. Free Will: The ongoing debate over autonomy in human decision-making.
  3. Evolution: Nature’s intricate tapestry of life, unfolding over eons.
  4. Cultural Transmission: How civilizations pass down beliefs, practices, and innovations.
  5. Knowledge Framework: The structure that underpins and organizes human understanding.
  6. Philosophy: The pursuit of fundamental truths about knowledge, reality, and existence.
  7. Ontology: The study of being and the nature of reality’s various aspects.
  8. Holism: The principle that parts of any whole are intimately interconnected.
  9. Non-action: The Taoist concept of effortless action aligned with the natural world.
  10. Authenticity: The pursuit of self-discovery and living true to one’s essence.
  11. Yin and Yang: Symbolizing the interdependence of opposites within a harmonious whole.
  12. Unknowable Dao: The ultimate reality in Taoism, beyond human comprehension.
  13. Normalcy: The standards or conventions that define typical behavior or conditions.
  14. Schemas: Cognitive frameworks that help organize and interpret information.
  15. Non-self: The Buddhist notion that no self is permanent or separate.
  16. Nondualism: The belief that dualities are illusory, emphasizing unity.
  17. Dualism: The division of something conceptually into two opposed or contrasted aspects.
  18. Impermanence: The universal truth that all things are in a constant state of flux.
  19. Worldview: The fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society.
  20. Identity: Exploring the qualities, beliefs, and expressions that define a person or group.
  21. Reflective Inquiry: The process of introspection and critical thinking about one’s beliefs and knowledge.
  22. Ignorance is Bliss: The notion that lacking knowledge or awareness can lead to happiness or peace.
  23. Syllogisms: A form of reasoning in which a conclusion is drawn from two given or assumed propositions.
  24. Rationalism: The theory that reason rather than experience is the foundation of certainty in knowledge.
  25. Empiricism: The theory that knowledge is primarily derived from sensory experience.
  26. Logic: The systematic study of the form of valid inference and correct reasoning.
  27. Logical Fallacies: Errors in reasoning that undermine the logic of an argument.
  28. Eudaimonia: A concept in Greek philosophy referring to the condition of human flourishing or living well.
  29. Skepticism: The philosophical attitude of doubting the veracity of knowledge claims in various areas.
  30. Social Constructs: The idea that social realities are created by collective agreement and perception.
  31. Short-term vs. Long-term Pleasures: Contrasting immediate gratification with enduring satisfaction in decision-making.
  32. Apathetic Agnosticism: A viewpoint asserting indifference to the existence of deities due to the belief that their existence is unknowable.
  33. Allegorical Interpretation: A method of understanding complex ideas through symbolic storytelling and metaphors.
  34. Cognitive Reframing: Altering mental perspectives to change emotional or behavioral responses to situations.
  35. Negative Visualization: A Stoic exercise imagining worst-case scenarios to appreciate what one has and reduce fear of adversity.
  36. Cognitive Distancing: Creating psychological space between oneself and thoughts or emotions to reduce their impact.
  37. Cause and Effect: The principle that every event (cause) leads to an outcome (effect), foundational to logical reasoning and scientific inquiry.
  38. Cognitive Biases: Systematic patterns of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment, affecting decisions and perceptions.
  39. Chronoception: The perception and subjective experience of time by humans.
  40. Eternity: The infinite or unending time; often conceptualized as existing outside the temporal world.
  41. Intellect: The faculty of reasoning, understanding, and applying knowledge.
  42. Existence: The state or fact of being, particularly in relation to being alive or real.
  43. Senses: The physiological mechanisms of perception, including sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.
  44. Perceptions: The organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information to represent and understand the environment.
  45. Intent: The purpose or attitude behind an action or decision, indicative of forethought.
  46. Object-Oriented Nature: The philosophical study or perspective that emphasizes the primacy and centrality of objects in understanding reality.
  47. Pattern Recognition: The cognitive process of identifying patterns in data, crucial for learning and decision-making.
  48. The Idea of Ideas: A meta-conceptual exploration of how ideas themselves are formed, evolve, and interconnect.
  49. The Five Thieves: A concept from Sikh philosophy identifying five major obstacles to spiritual growth: lust, wrath, greed, attachment, and ego.
  50. Absolute Truth: The concept that certain truths exist independently of human perception or belief.
  51. Truth Hammers: Tools or methodologies used to test the validity and reliability of claims to uncover truth.
  52. The Scientific Method: A systematic approach to inquiry that uses observation, experimentation, and analysis to gain knowledge.
  53. Relativity: The principle that measurements of various quantities are relative to the velocities of observers, foundational in physics.
  54. Infinitesimal: Quantities so small that they approach zero, used in calculus to describe objects with infinitesimally small differences.
  55. Modern Cosmology: The scientific study of the universe’s origin, structure, evolution, and eventual fate.
  56. Mind-Body Dualism: The belief that the mind and body are distinct and separable entities.
  57. Idea Modeling: The process of creating structured and conceptual frameworks to explore and communicate complex ideas.
  58. Pragmatism: A philosophical tradition that emphasizes the practical application of ideas by assessing their truth through their observable effects and practical outcomes.
  59. Separation of Church and State: The principle of maintaining a distance between religious institutions and governmental operations to ensure religious freedom and governance neutrality.
  60. Liberalism: A political and moral philosophy based on liberty, consent of the governed, and equality before the law.
  61. Natural Rights: Fundamental rights that individuals inherently possess, such as life, liberty, and property, often seen as independent of government-granted rights.
  62. Due Process: Legal principle that ensures fair treatment through the normal judicial system, especially as a citizen’s entitlement.
  63. The Social Contract: A theory or model originating during the Age of Enlightenment suggesting that people’s moral and political obligations are dependent upon a contract among them to form the society in which they live.
  64. Checks and Balances: A system that ensures no single branch of government becomes too powerful, typically seen in the separation of powers in democratic systems.
  65. Law: A system of rules created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior.
  66. Monism: The philosophical view that various kinds of existence can be explained by a single reality or substance.
  67. Open Viewpoint Method (OVM): A methodological approach emphasizing the importance of considering a wide range of perspectives to fully understand a concept or issue.
  68. Fourth Estate and Journalism: The concept of the press and news media as a societal or political force or institution, alongside the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.
  69. Skeptical Empiricism: An approach combining skepticism about certain knowledge claims with an empirical method of inquiry that emphasizes observation and experiment
  70. The Problem of Induction: A philosophical challenge concerning the justification of beliefs about the future based on past experiences.
  71. Hume’s Fork: David Hume’s distinction between relations of ideas (analytic truths) and matters of fact (synthetic truths), emphasizing the limits of human knowledge.
  72. Transcendental Idealism: Kant’s theory that human experience of things is similar to but not directly representative of the external world itself.
  73. Categorical Imperative: Immanuel Kant’s principle that one should act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.
  74. Harm Principle: The ethical principle that individuals are free to act however they want as long as their actions do not harm others.
  75. Nihilism: The philosophical viewpoint that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value.
  76. Eternal Recurrence: The concept that the universe and all existence and energy have been recurring, and will continue to recur, in a self-similar form an infinite number of times across infinite time or space.
  77. Übermensch: Nietzsche’s concept of a superior man who could rise above conventional Christian morality to create and live by his own values.
  78. Anxiety: A psychological and philosophical concept referring to a state of unease or worry about future events with uncertain outcomes.
  79. Consciousness: The quality or state of being aware of an external object or something within oneself, central to discussions of mind and experience.
  80. Bad Faith: A term popularized by Sartre referring to the practice of deceiving oneself to escape the anxiety that comes with the freedom of choice and responsibility.

This collection of synopses concludes the panoramic overview of the 80 pivotal touchstones discussed in “30 Philosophers: A New Look at Timeless Ideas,” offering readers concise insights into the breadth of philosophical inquiry covered in the book.

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