Philosophy can be incredibly dry at times, giving it a bad name. With all of its jargon, complex theories, and intricate history, philosophy is strictly scholarly, intimidating intellectuals, scaring away laypeople, and attracting very little attention, as most people prefer to stay away from the dense topic; what people tend to overlook, though, is that philosophy is not always boring, for philosophy is filled with humorous yet interesting anecdotes concerning famous philosophers. So, without further ado, I present part four of Philosophy Fun Facts, which will be a short series of quirky but educational fun facts about philosophers and philosophy.
Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) was a utilitarian philosopher who believed that what benefitted the majority took priority over that which benefitted the few. It is surprising, then, for an ethical philosopher like Bentham, to create detailed plans for a… prison? Bentham proposed the idea of a ‘panopticon,’ which was a circular complex where all the prisoners were grouped in one central area, and the guards could watch them from the outer walls with ease. Funds were unavailable at the time, so the project was never started.
Existentialist Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) coined the word ‘angst.” Kierkegaard was raised a devout Christian, and his childhood led to his being a depressed man, earning him the nickname the “melancholy Dane.” Arguably the first Existentialist, Søren Kierkegaard inquired into the nature of faith and Man’s leap toward it. The word angst, from the Danish angest, translates to dread, but refers specifically to the overwhelming realization that we alone are in control of our lives.
For further reading:
501 Things You Should Have Learned About Philosophy by Alison Rattle (2012)
1001 Ideas That Changed the Way We Think by Robert Arp (2013)
The Essentials of Philosophy by James Mannion (2006)
The Twilight of the Idols by Friedrich Nietzsche (1888)
The Dream of Reason by Anthony Gottlieb (2000)
History of Philosophy by Julian Marias (1967)