New South Wales coast, as interpreted by Mark Holder

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Version: 3.0
(February 8, 2014)

.Philosophy.

Like to think? Of course not, who wants the headache? However, if you're one of those people with a nagging need to know, this page is just for you.

.Socrates.

The Death of SocratesSocrates is considered by many to be the father of Western philosophy. Whether he actually lived or is a fictitious character created by Plato is unknown and debated, his constant questioning of that which we think we know to be real and true set the tone for 2500 years of thinking to follow. Quick-witted and uncompromising, Socrates found little favour with the leaders of his beloved Athens, eventually being ordered to commit suicide for the crimes of corrupting the youth of Athens and failing to worship the city's gods. In short, one could say he was the first martyr in the name of family values.

.Henry David Thoreau.

Henry David ThoreauHenry David Thoreau, a "harmless anarchist" to friends, moved to a cabin in the woods to seek a life of simplicity because he found life in Concorde, Massachusetts to be too hectic. This was in 1850; one shudders to think what the impact of 21st century life would lead him to do. Thoreau's path was one of quiet simplicity, of working with his hands, reading, meditating on life its many facets. Walden is the book most closely associated with his ideas and lifestyle, taken as it was from a 2 year period spent living on the shore of Walden Pond in Concorde. In this period he lived simply and with self-reliance, altho he was never far from friends and family. Another major part of his philosophy involved non-violent protest, the ideals of which he put forth in the essay, Civil Disobedience. This essay was to inspire others to non-violent action, most notably Mahandas Ghandi in India (see below) and Dr. Martin Luther King in the American South.

.Mahandas Ghandi.

Mahandas GhandiMahandas Ghandi was a tireless worker for the freedom of India in the dying days of the British Empire. Following and expanding Thoreau's ideas on non-violence, he led massive protests against the British colonialism of his homeland and its unfair treatment of his people. Meditating at his spinning wheel, he led a life of minimalistic simplicity, owning little more than the cloak he wore. Tho far from perfect (he is often accused of hypocrisy, especially in regard to treatment of his wife), Ghandi was the right man in the right place and, most importantly, with the right ideas for his people.

.Thomas Jefferson.

Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson believed in freedom. Strange notion for a slaveowner, but a valid notion nonetheless. His view of freedom was one of individual choice and the great responsibilities involved with those choices. As author of both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, Jefferson's ideals have had an immense effect on the methods and practice of politics in the modern era. This is not to say he saw government through rose-coloured glasses. As a veteran of the War of Independance, he was acutely aware of the potential for tyranny in the fledgling state. He also warned individuals of the powers of "monied institutions" (banks and corporations) and the illegitimate control they could exercise over the populace if left unchecked and unregulated.

.Friedrich Nietzsche.

Friedrich NietzscheFriedrich Nietzsche was to philosophy what punk rock was to popular music: a point of punctuation delineating "before" and "after" - nothing has been quite the same since he came along. If Jefferson was a thinking man's Sinatra, Nietzsche was Johnny Rotten, sneering and berating the norms of his day. Never an overly happy person, Nietzsche nevertheless considered himself an extraordinary man, the greatest gift ever to mankind. With this powerful sense of self came great arrogance. Nothing was safe; not politics, society, morality or ethics. Not even God, whom Nietzsche declared dead. In his time, he was a recognised poet, philosopher, and mountaineer.

.Aldous Huxley.

Aldous HuxleyDoes Aldous Huxley belong on the Philosophy page? Some would argue not, citing he is reknowned more as a novelist than as a philosopher. However, his novels did touch upon very serious and important ideas. His most famous work, Brave New World, dealt with a dystopia disguised as utopia (or a manufactured paradise), a world where people are raised from birth on the work-produce-consume ideology, where people are distracted by entertainment and pleasure to the point of blissful ignorance of the world around them, unaware of their own slavery to the state (does this sound familiar to anyone working 60+ hour weeks to pay for the 4 wheel drive, big house, entertainment system/game console, maxed out credit card? The answer is yes, it does). Huxley's world stood in stark contrast to George Orwell's 1984 in which the people were kept in check through state violence and intimidation.

Huxley believed the mind acts as a reducing valve, a capacity brought on through the evolutionary need to procure food and shelter. In doing so, the mind has closed itself to other realities, or Reality at Large, as he was fond of saying. While one can open the mind via hypnosis or meditation (and Huxley was interested in both), in 1953 he was introduced to a quicker method: peyote. The sacred cactus of the western Native Americans cleansed the doors of perception allowing him to glimpse the world in a new way, profoundly changing his perception of time and reality he later described as: I was seeing what Adam had seen on the morning of his own creation - the miracle, moment by moment, of naked existance.

.Richard Stallman.

Every generation has its philosopher - a writer or artist who captures the imagination of a time. Sometimes these philosophers are recognised as such; often it takes generations before the connection is made real. But recognised or not, a time gets marked by the people who speak its ideals, whether in the whisper of a poem, or the blast of a political movement. Our generation has a philosopher. He is not an artist, or a professional writer. He is a programmer. - Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law, Stanford University, from the introduction to Free Software, Free Society by Richard M. Stallman. Richard Stallman

Richard Stallman is the father of the free software music, having founded the GNU project in 1984 as a direct result of the commercialisation of software development and copyright, which was rapidly closing the door on ideas and wrecking the community of programmers he'd been part of at MIT. As a result of his uncompromising stance on the freedom to read, alter and redistribute software, we now have an amazing amount of software (over 16,000 programs for Debian GNU/Linux alone) that is stable, rapidly evolving, and freely available to anyone in the world to use or improve. Anyone, from students to professional programmers to PC enthusiasts can contribute to any project in any way they can, from programming to writing documentation. This solves the personal itch but how does it effect the real world? Consider this: being free to use and develop means poor countries are able to develop an IT industry. GNU/Linux is used in such diverse countries as Mongolia, Peru, and several former Soviet Bloc states. Rather than spend billions of dollars from fragile economies on licenses to run Microsoft Windows (and all the necessary anti-virus, firewall, and other security software required), they are building their own industry. Thanks to free software, there are new windows of opportunity that would otherwise be closed to users and organisations worldwide. And thanks to Richard Stallman, there is free software.

.Abbie Hoffman.

Abbie HoffmanThe Groucho Marxist himself. The 1960s were a paradoxical time of peace, war, love, violence, community and rage. Adding to that mix was the unique personality of Abbie Hoffman, a radical protester who founded the Youth International Party, or Yippies. Abbie organised anti-war demonstrations such as attempting to levitate the Pentagon, anti-capitalism demonstrations where he and his fellow protestors threw dollar bills on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, causing chaos when traders stopped trading and scrambled to grab the falling bills. He was also the author of several well-received books such as Steal This Book. By mixing absurd comedy with serious protest, Abbie was able to make a statement and entertain at the same time, reaching an audience far larger than might be reached via serious protest. One can only imagine the fun he'd have with the Internet as a medium.