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Kenny Pearce

Antoine Arnauld

Chike Jeffers

Someone in my department teaches on Epicurus and once named him when pressed on who he would choose as his favourite philosopher.

Among people generally recognized as philosophers, I would suggest Herder is under-appreciated, but that is certainly changing. I would like to especially recommend that Cocooners check out Sonia Sikka's recent book: http://www.amazon.com/Herder-Humanity-Cultural-Difference-Enlightened/dp/1107004101/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364948494&sr=8-1&keywords=sonia+sikka

Michel X.


*In aesthetics, there's his account of the role of artworks (appealing to the intellect rather than exciting desire) which is still worth discussing, especially in the context of the debate over "art for art's sake".

*Also in aesthetics, his account of music still merits attention.

*In ethics, On the Basis of Morality is a very interesting text, particularly with regard to intuitionism, the realist/anti-realist debate, and virtue ethics.

*Also is ethics, On the Basis of Morality (coupled with WWR) can quite easily be seen as a proto-environmental ethics, and they have a lot to contribute to discussions surrounding the (moral or intrinsic) value of the non-human world.

*On the Freedom of the Will is a very clear essay on that very topic, and could easily find a place alongside (well, likely prior to) Big Strawson and Little Srawson, van Ingwagen, and Arpaly in a course on the debate over free will. It also does an excellent job (entirely against its author's wishes, of course!) of setting the stage for compatibilism.

*His criticism of Kant is still pretty insightful, and a useful foil for those having trouble with the first Critique.

Marcus Arvan

I vote Heidegger, hands down.

Martin Wheeler's 2011 SEP entry (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/heidegger/) is brilliant and wonderfully clear (about as clear as one can be with a philosopher who made up words left and right); and, I think, if read with an open mind reveals just the tip of how deep, insightful, and meaningful Heidegger's work really is.

Dan Dennis

I agree there is loads of good stuff in ancient philosophy.

I'd add that whilst Plato could not be called under-appreciated overall, few contemporary ethicists would think they could learn something from reading The Gorgias - but there is far more to be learnt from that book than in most other works on ethics.

As for more obviously under-appreciated philosophers, the following now fall into that category.

Peter Winch: Essays on Ethics and Action; Trying to Make sense.

R.F. Holland: Against Empiricism

TH Green; Shaftesbury.

Dan Dennis

ps Heidegger is one of the most cited philosophers - in which case he does not really belong on a thread of under-appreciated philosophers. Under-appreciated by analytic philosophers, maybe...

Marcus Arvan

Dan: Of course. "Under-appreciated" is a very broad term, though. Heidegger almost certainly fits the bill within the analytic world. ;)


gregg rosenberg, david pearce, neven sesardic - panpsychist

Marcus Arvan

Totally agree on Greg Rosenberg.


aplc is probably one of the ten best books ever published in phil of mind - panpsychist

(*Marcus Arvan/moderator notes: panpsychist is referring to Rosenberg's 2005 OUP book, "A Place for Consciousness: Probing the Deep Structure of the Natural World")

Rob Gressis

Anthony Kenny, after he wrote his massive new history of western philosophy, cited Plotinus and Husserl as philosophers who deserved greater readership. I've never read him, but I've also heard great things about Suarez.

Marcus Arvan

Rob: I'll second Husserl. For anyone new to him, I would suggest his "The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology" over, say, his more famous "Cartesian Meditations." The former is especially worthy of attention from those interested in physicalism/dualism about mind.

Michael J. Augustin

I think many of the Hellenistic philosophers are under-appreciated. In addition to the Epicureans, we might add the Stoics Posidonius and Panaetius.

Jeremy Pierce

Among the Stoics, Chrysippus gets the most attention, and it's deserved in that he was the systematic philosopher of the Stoics who did for them what Aquinas did for the medievals. But I think Cleanthes is too often dismissed as more of a poet than a philosopher. Chrysippus had some odd views on possibility and time, and Cleanthes is the one whose response to Aristotle's sea battle problem strikes me as the best among the ancient determinists. Carneades is also often ignored because people assume the Skeptics developed no views, but on the same issues he develops a standard B-theory and allows for truth about the future without necessity, all the while being the first agent-causation theorist in response to the swerving-atom theory of the Epicureans that leaves free will totally unexplained.

I've gotten to a point where I can't imagine teaching a historical ethics course while leaving out the thousand-year gap that most analytic and continental philosophers alike seem to want to leave out, but even my understanding of the ethical thinking in that period is limited, and I've been teaching some of the figures for almost a decade now. Augustine's response to the Stoics on emotion strikes me as exactly right. He offers a distinctive theory about desires as the primary item of normative evaluation, which when combined with his view of evil as a privation and thus everything existent as intrinsically good on some level, provides a very interesting ethical framework even apart from his significance within Christian theology. He heavily interacted with the Hellenistic philosophers in City of God, and the few who cover him only do either his earlier On the Freedom of the Will, which covers his earlier views that he later improved upon in City of God, or the Confessions, which doesn't interact anywhere near as well with the philosophers whose influence was prominent in his own day.

And the tradition most commonly dismissed as silly (but which is almost universally misrepresented by people who think that) is the natural law tradition, going back explicitly to the Stoics but even with roots in Aristotle and going all the way through even Locke and Leibniz (although Locke's version, in my view, is natural law lite, given his divine voluntarist, and therefore subjectivist-at-the-foundations, metaethics) before being misrepresented pretty foully by Hume and everyone afterward.

Malebranche is still too underrated, anticipating all the interesting moves of Hume well ahead of him. It amazes me that Spinoza gets more time in undergrad classes than Malebranche, when the later had more influence in the long run and the former is nearly impossible for undergrads to read.

Jonathan Edwards also anticipated Hume and is one of the more able defenders of compatibilism in the history of philosophy (I think better than Hobbes, Malebranche, Locke, or Leibniz), and I'm not sure if he even had read Malebranche or Berkeley, but he's similar to both in certain ways, and I know he hadn't read Hume, but he comes up with a temporal parts view independently of Hume and should count as at least tied with Hume for being the first to present such a view.

Leibniz's New Essays should be required reading in early modern classes in order to illustrate how all the problems in Locke were seen in his generation but completely ignored for 200 years, basically until Kripke and David Lewis. Most of the moves that brought a return to metaphysics after the dominance of radical empiricism were there in Leibniz but completely ignored. And Leibniz's arguments for God's existence are superior to the usual ones from Descartes that are presented in early modern classes, with a skip to Hume and Kant's critiques without any acknowledgement that there are better versions out there even in that period.

Thomas Reid is certainly underrated, even though he's now getting more attention. Several themes in contemporary epistemology were present in his work but never caught on in his time. His response to Locke on personal identity is as important as Leibniz's, but no one I know besides me teaches either. They just cover Locke, Hume, and Kant on that issue if they do it at all among the early moderns. Reid was also one of the few libertarians of that period.

Then, of course, it would be nice if we could improve our understanding and emphasis in teaching on the women in the early modern period. That's the earliest time in Western philosophy when we have enough written sources by women even to do much with them, and few of us were even taught these works in graduate school, which makes it a whole bunch of extra work on our part to teach them. Anne Conway anticipated Leibniz in some respects, although she's certainly not as systematic or comprehensive. Princess Elizabeth, I'm told, had some of the more interesting critiques of Descartes, but I've never gotten myself to read that correspondence, and I never had to for classes.

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