http://ideas.aeon.co/viewpoints/1462Russell -- He constituted much of my introduction into philosophy and is one of my personal heroes. His History of Western Philosophy is still one of the best written and most concise anthologies of the Western tradition. He remains about as detached and objective as any author can be throughout much of it, though this declines toward the end of the 19th century. He differs from many philosophers in that he embodied his philosophy as a person and expressed a liberalism that was always ahead of its time. Very few philosophers led lives whose grandness surpassed their theoretical accomplishments.Nietzsche -- Honestly, I'm unsure if meeting Nietzsche in person would be a more wonderful experience than reading his books. In Nietzsche, I would argue that the written word must be greater than the spoken word, only because i can't imagine anything greater. I don't speak of the greatness of his theory per-se, -- although i find it compelling -- rather I speak simply of the eloquence and beauty of his sentences and the vibrant passion of his metaphors. Reading Nietzsche is a joyous task, especially for an aspiring writer such as myself, who can only sit and marvel at the works of a true master.Goethe -- And where would Nietzsche even be without Goethe? Goethe's artistic fame in Germany can only be rivaled by Shakespeare's and his effect on German culture is second only to Martin Luther. Goethe was many things: a poet, scientist, philosopher, playwright... The list could go on. He was a genius, not by our standards, but of the renaissance; a polymath, who was an expert in multiple fields of inquiry. He embodied his philosophy like Russell, although he was much more prolific. His works -- poetry, letters, notes etc. -- occupied several volumes. He was also the catalyst of Romanticism in Germany, which was one of the greatest trans-valuations of western tradition since the advent of Christianity.Voltaire -- The greatest of the philosophes, I would argue. Perhaps Rousseau affected France more, but Voltaire's thought was much more consistent and edgy. Voltaire would inspire all of the philosophers i previously mentioned. In fact, Nietzsche's Human, All-Too-Human(1878)was dedicated to him, a century after his death. His stance on religion was revolutionary, calling for it's complete separation from state processes and his politics were liberal enough that Frederick the Great had him arrested in Frankfurt, during one of his trips to Germany.Sartre -- Once again, much of my love for Sartre come from a respect and appreciation for his writings. Not only that, but his participation in the French resistance during World War 2 was quite admirable. His philosophy of freedom and authenticity, though seemingly bleak and barren of hope, holds an optimism that's quite rare to see during the modernism of the post-WW2 era, where most believed that progress was over and human greatness was a farce.
Another suggestion: select three of the History of Ideas or Philosophy of Life videos in the right sidebar, or others at the bottom of our Homepage) and write extended scripts about them, including points of comparison/contrast with the others you've selected for your series of posts.
And another: This I Believe: Write yours.