Special Report

Ideas That Shaped Modern Thought

Many of the ideas we’ve absorbed from birth are based on flawed thinking or incomplete understanding. But which ones? In this collection of articles, we look at some of the influential thinkers whose concepts underpin the Western world.

The Man Who Knew Everything

Aristotle: The Man Who Knew Everything

Daniel Tompsett

Today’s debate between methods of attaining knowledge—one divinely revealed, the other gained by rational inquiry—is a significant aspect of Aristotle’s legacy.

Plato and His Puppets

Plato and His Puppets

Edwin Stepp

Augustine adopted Platonic ideas to explain Christian theology. But what was at the heart of Plato’s thinking? 

Shadows of Augustine

Shadows of Augustine

Peter Nathan

Both the general Christian community and those who reject religion in favor of rationalism owe an intellectual debt to Augustine.

Biography: Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas: In the Light of Human Reason

Donald Winchester

Was Thomas Aquinas a theologian or a philosopher? By most accounts he was both, and his blending of the two disciplines resulted in a new approach to the Bible and its teachings.

Biography: Martin Luther, the Fearful Philosopher

Martin Luther: The Fearful Philosopher

Edwin Stepp

Martin Luther had a profound impact on traditional Christianity. Though he sought only to reform his church, he wound up rejecting it and establishing a new one.

Biography: Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche: “God Is Dead”

Jerry de Gier

Looking at his early life, no one could have known the impact Friedrich Nietzsche would have on society. But in his final years he was not at peace.

Biography-Carl Jung-Forever Jung

Carl Jung: Forever Jung

Gina Stepp

Carl Gustav Jung founded an approach he named Analytical Psychology, many tenets of which have led some to refer to him as a “founding father of the New Age.”

Biography: Max Weber: A Compulsion for Work

Max Weber: A Compulsion for Work

David F. Lloyd

Author of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber had a significant role in shaping 20th-century political and social concepts.

Ayn Rand: Fantasyland

Dan Cloer

It’s unusual to find someone who not only retains his or her early views but builds a whole superstructure of philosophical meaning atop them. Ayn Rand was such a person.

Philosophy and Ideas

Six Dominant Ideas

Ideas can be powerful. If they are good, we all benefit; but bad ideas can have disastrous effects. In this series Vision looks at six prominent ideas of our time—concepts that animate our thinking and the language we all use. Yet each one is fundamentally flawed.