Essay: Sophie’s World Terms Task

The Myths:

From the time of Jesus Christ, religious explanations, myths, were handed down from generation to generation. Gaarder explains,“Over the millennia a wild profusion of mythological explanation of philosophical questions spread across the world” (Gaarder 24). By writing letters to Sophie, Gaarder explains and tries to make Sophie understands how the early philosophers thought by using Nordic myths as examples of mythological pictures. A well-known Nordic myth is of Thor and his hammer which was used to explain the natural occurrence of rain. Over the years, many other great examples from other parts of the world dramatized myths of the season which lead philosophers to question the different versions of the myth.

The idea of a myth has become significant in the story of Sophie’s World. Sophie learned about “The Mythological World Picture” through the Course in Philosophy. With this knowledge, she wanted to try to create an explanation or a myth about the changing of the seasons. Writing her own myth, Sophie began to realize that there is no other way of explaining how the seasons change other than her explanation. Forgetting all she learned in school and what she was taught by others Sophie began to believe her own story and she began to understand why people created and relied on these religious explanations.


From the time of Democritus, superstitions played a big role in society. Superstitions explained the relations between sickness and health. These superstitions made the Greeks great believers in fatalism. Gaarder writes, “Fatalism is the belief that whatever happens is predestined” (Gaarder 54). Back in that time, this was not uncommon. People from Nordic countries and all around the world wanted to learn their fate in any way possible. Whether they would learn their fortune from a coffee cup or from gazing up at the stars, fate had governed the lives of many individuals. The letter-writer’s description of the oracle at Delphi was an example of the concept of being able to see a person or a country’s fate. The letter writer also explains how the Greeks believe that a mysterious power is steering the course of history. However, many Philosophers hoped to change superstitions and wanted to try to stop believing in faten and to rather start to find natural explanations for the processes of nature.

The idea of fate has become significant in the Sophie’s World because to Sophie everything is not really making sense to her. Sophie doesn’t know her stance on fate and fatalism. Sophie questions her beliefs and starts to think about if sickness is really a punishment from the gods, and also and what forces governed the course of history. Without knowing the answers to the questions about fate, she explored the concept of free will. Sophie decided to believe in free will which caused her to make up her mind, take a stance, and start writing letters to the philosopher playing cat and mouse with her.


A representation of a new area, geographically and temporary, Socrates the first of the great philosophers was the most puzzling figure in the entire history of philosophy. Socrates spent his life mostly in the city squares and marketplaces talking with people and standing lost in his thoughts for hours. A common trick or a characteristic of Socrates was that he made himself look unintelligent by making the townspeople answer common sense questions. Even though he is one of the greatest influences on European thought, Socrates had no time to write down a single line of his thinking since he was conversing with the people. The life of Socrates is mainly known to us through the works of Plato one of his pupils. Plato wrote multiple dramatized discussions about philosophy, with Socrates made as the main speaker. Really, Socrates’s personality was unimportant but it was Plato’s sketch of Socrates that inspired Western world for practically 2,500 years. Socrates became to be known for helping people “give birth” to the correct perception and understanding. Unlike the Sophists, Socrates did not teach for money and as Gaarder writes, “Socrates called himself a philosopher in the true sense of the word” (Gaarder 66). With his knowledge, Socrates really became a philosopher, one who loves wisdom.

In Sophie’s World Socrates’s existence has gained significance because just like Socrates, Sophie learns that “wisest is she who knows she does not know” (Gaarder 61). Socrates used to act unintelligent to try to gain knowledge, and even though he thought he knew many things, he always wanted to learn more and he did this by acting as if he knew nothing. This taught Sophie that there is a danger that philosophers can become too arrogant with their knowledge like Sophie was after her first “lesson. Socrates’s story taught Sophie that it is better to be continually wowed by the world’s wonders than it is more important to have some knowledge about some aspects of the world. The deeper Sophie gets involved in the course, the more and more her thinking has been changing.


Plato, a pupil of Socrates, was 29 years old when Athens had condemned its noblest citizen. The death of his dear teacher left a huge impression on Plato, which caused Plato to open up a school as a remembrance of Socrates. In “Plato’s Academy”, Plato was “concerned with the relationship between what is eternal and immutable” (Gaarder 83). Plato’s mission was to grasp a reality, find out what is eternal, and to find the roots of everything tangible in nature that flows. Plato believed that everything flowed and that everything is made from a timeless mold or form. Plato came to the conclusion that there must be a reality behind the material world and as the letter-writer described in the Myth of the Cave there is a reality behind the shadowy images and that these images have meanings to them. Overall, Plato’s astonishing theories have been around for more than two thousand years and even though they have been criticized, his ideas still attract much attention today.

Plato has become significant in the novel Sophie’s World because Plato’s philosophies have taught Sophie that she herself is related to the man in the allegory of the cave. In the story the Myth of the Cave. Plato describes the world as a dark place in which humans can see the world using their senses. When Sophie was in the woods, the description of the woods was similar to that of the cave. Out of the woods, Sophie saw everything in a new way just as the cave dweller. She began to see nature in a completely different way after reading about Plato and the cave dweller. Just like the cave dweller, Sophie thought that everything around her was so beautiful. Gaarder writes, “She saw nature in a completely different way… It was rather like having been color-blind” (Gaarder 92). Plato’s philosophy had a great affect on Sophie by making her wonder and think about the world of ideas. He made her curious about her past life and when her soul would be free and if her soul would continue living on.


Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) was Plato’s prized pupil who had studied at Plato’s Academy for almost twenty years. Aristotle studied philosophy and was mostly interested in the study of nature. Rather than just using his reason like his teacher, Aristotle chose to use his senses as well. Gaarder writes, “He was not only the last of the great Greek philosophers, he was Europe’s first great biologist” (Gaarder 105). Aristotle became well known for his knowledge of all the sciences. Even though Aristotle was a pupil of Plato, Aristotle refuted Plato’s theory of ideas and formulated his own natural philosophy. Aristotle believed that there were never innate ideas. With the example of the chicken and the idea chicken that the letter writer explains that Aristotle thinks that the chicken was there first. Aristotle never believed that forms existed but that the forms were in the things because they had particular characteristics of things. This led Aristotle to developed a remarkable view towards the causality of nature. He believed that there are four causes of nature that occur, which are the “material cause”, the “efficient cause”, the “formal cause”, and the “final cause.” This would be the beginning of Aristotle’s way of organization. Aristotle began to notice the idea of similar purpose when he was considering the purely lifeless processes of nature. He tried to show that everything in nature belongs to different categories and subcategories. On a scale comparing humans to plants and animals, Aristotle believes man is at the top because man has the ability to think rationally. Along with being able to think, Aristotle thinks that man should live to achieve happiness by using all his abilities. Aristotle believed that there were three forms of happiness which were: fill happiness with pleasure and enjoyment, be a free and responsible citizen, and to live as a thinker and philosopher. With these things, Aristotle put an image in his mind that men are a complete form which is able to achieve happiness while women, on the other hand, are incomplete and unfinished men.

Aristotle has gained much significance in the novel Sophie’s World because of his influence on Sophie. After completing her lessons sometimes Sophie would put away her letters in the cookie tin. Most of the time, she would keep the letters in any place and her room would always be a mess. However, after reading Aristotle’s philosophy everything changed. Sophie began to clean up her room and the thoughts in her head. She organized everything the way it was supposed to be. Sophie put all the pages that she received from Alberto Knox into a binder which is the first step in becoming organized. She put the books on the bookshelf, and the clothes in the closet with a shelf for each specific item. This resembles Aristotle’s philosophy of organizing and classifying animals and things. When Sophie went to feed her fish she said: “You belong to the animal kingdom.” When she snuck into her Mom’s room, she whispered to her mother, “You have the rare capacity of thought.” Just like Aristotle, Sophie began to clear up her life and begin to classify and organize her items, pets, and ideas which help form her more and more into a philosopher and a mature adult.

The Middle Ages:

In the year 395 A.D., the Roman Empire was divided in two – a Western Empire with Rome as its center, and an Eastern Empire with the city of Constantinople as the capital. Later on, the Western Empire was destroyed, however, the Eastern Empire continued on for a short while until the Turks conquered Constantinople. During the fall of the Western Empire, the Middle Ages began with Rome as the capital. The Middle Ages were the period between two other epochs and they were said to be a thousand year period of growth. During the Middle Ages, “various nation-states established themselves, with cities and citizens, folk music and folktales” (Gaarder 169). An important aspect in these nation-states was religion. Christianity at the time was a widespread religion in the Roman Empire. Soon on after the old Roman Christian Empire was gradually divided into three different cultures causing some complications. At the end of the Middle Ages, all the three cultures combined back together. Although everything seemed right after the reconnection, many questions facing religion arose. Questions such as “Was there a contradiction between the Bible and reason, or were belief and knowledge compatible?”, boggle the minds of the medieval philosophers. These questions were soon dealt with, with the help of two important wise philosophers. St.Augustine lived from 354 to 430, and in this time he became an important aspect of the transition into the Early Middle Ages. In the beginning, St.Augustine examined different religions before he became Christian. He went from being a Manichaean- which doctrine is half religion and philosophy- to becoming a Christian. Through his search of religions, he tried to tackle the questions which arose but he realized that one should not go far as to use reason to answer the questions and that one should not criticize God, but one should have faith and believe. However, relying on faith and belief did not quite work with the other prominent medieval philosopher, St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 A.D.).

St. Thomas, a theologian, and a professor was from Aquino, which was a town between Rome and Naples. Unlike St. Augustine who christianized Plato’s views, St. Aquinas had christianized Aristotle and his ideas. Trying to answer the questions that bothered everyone, St. Thomas believed that “With our reason we can recognize that everything around us must have a formal cause” (Gaarder 178). He finally came to the conclusion that there is no difference or problem between philosophy and reasoning and the Christian beliefs.

The Middle Ages has gained much significance in the novel Sophie’s World because as Sophie learned about the Western philosophers she begins to think about the role of women in that time. When Sophie asks Alberto if there were any female philosophers in the Middle Ages, Alberto mentions the Hildegard of Bingen. The name Hildegard is very interesting to Sophie since it resembles the name Hilde which Sophie wants to find out who is. Alberto begins to also explain that believed that the soul was divided into a male and a female side—in Greek, the female side is called wisdom, or “sofia.” This delights Sophie because the example of sofia and Hildegard shows that maybe a woman can become a philosopher. Even though women could not become philosophers back then with the Western thinking, Sophie believes that she has wisdom and that she would be a great philosopher.

The Renaissance:

A short while after St. Thomas Aquinas, cracks began to appear in the culture of Christianity. Science broke away from the Church which allowed people to have a freer relationship to reasoning. This was the beginning of the great trouble in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Renaissance. Renaissance can be defined as rebirth because at that time what was to be “reborn was the art and culture of antiquity” (Gaarder 194). Every aspect of life was now seen and everything revolved around man. During the Renaissance, many essential preconditions were created. Things such as the compass, firearms and the printing press made life easier and played a role in spreading Renaissance humanists’ new ideas. Gaarder writes, “Above all else, the Renaissance resulted in a new view of mankind” (Gaarder 196). Humanists went to a great extent to develop the idea of individualism which became the idea of the Renaissance man- a man embracing all aspects of life and art. This idea of the Renaissance man led to the belief that man did not exist for God’s sake. The cause of this led to the Renaissance humanists seeing that their cultural duty was to restore Rome. The revival of Rome introduced the science back again, which led to a new scientific method and scientific observations with precise mathematical terms. Scientists such as Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, and Isaac Newton, began with new ideas leading to the creation of new laws. Isaac Newton provided a description of the solar system while Johannes Kepler discovered that planets move in elliptical and oval orbits and Galileo Galilei formulated the Law of Inertia. Overall, the Renaissance resulted in a new image of man and science.

The Renaissance has gained significance in the novel Sophie’s World because as Sophie Amundsen learned about the artists and scientists which lived during the Renaissance, Sophie’s thinking herself began to change like the thinking of other great Renaissance artists. When Alberto was teaching Sophie how gravity worked and the concepts that the scientists tried to understand, Sophie began to think even better and she was more curious than the scientists. With the example of the wood and marble, Sophie understood the Law of Inertia and that “a body remains in the state which it is in, at rest or in motion, as long as no external force compels it to change its state” (Gaarder 202). This amazed Sophie just as it had amazed the philosophers and scientists during the Renaissance.

The Baroque:

During the Seventeenth century, a period full of poets, art and music arose called the Baroque. The terms “baroque” was derived from a word whose definition meant “a pearl of irregular shape” (Gaarder 223). This irregular shape was an important key in the art formed during the period of Baroque. In addition to this irregular shape, art was also influenced in the Baroque period by an important event called the Thirty Years war. This was a series of wars that severely damaged Europe. During this war, a well-known poet became know from his famous works. Shakespeare, wrote two of his famous plays and in them he compared life to a dream and life to a theater. Other poets during the time were focused on other topics such as God.

The period of the Baroque has become significant in the novel Sophie’s World because in the novel we learn the idea that “life as theater”. Sophie recognizes that she herself is on the stage and she is part of the theater. Sophie also thinks that she is on the stage because she began to learn that life is a theater and that people are watching and being entertained by her. This concept is trying to explain that the real world it just fake and others control the real world.This connects with the idea that all the world’s a stage and that this idea came during a time of war where many of the people controlled the world.

Descartes (pronounced “day-cart”):

Born in 1596 A. C., René Descartes was a notorious philosopher who sought out to find the truths to many confusing questions. Just like Plato, Descartes believed in reason and that certain knowledge can only be attained by reason. However, Descartes began to doubt some of these philosophers and he attempted to figure the facts of life himself. Descartes began to rely more on his reason than rather his sense thus classifying him as a rationalist. Additionally, Descartes was the first who tried to produce a philosophical system that organized the new ideas and explained them. Along with this, he developed a way to answer philosophical questions which he explained in his Discourse on Method. The way that he developed was that in order for someone to solve a problem they must break it into many small parts. Since Descartes was a mathematician he solved all his problems like that. With his new method development, Descartes used his reasoning to develop the concept of perfect entity. Since perfection could only come from someone who is perfect, that means there is a perfect person who is God. This way of thinking led to the title that “Descartes was the father of modern philosophy” (Gaarder 231).

The life and story of René Descartes has become significant in the novel Sophie’s World because Descartes’s concept of ideas had affected Sophie’s mind. Descartes has a new emphasis which he places on man as a physical and automatic machine. Descartes relied on math and physics which is why he thinks that man is mechanical since man is being controlled by the laws of physics. Instead of seeing man just as a human being, Sophie realizes that man is also a machine. Humans can think, reason and process thoughts which cause their body to work and complete processes. Overall, Descartes reinstates the old differences between the mind and everything else.


Baruch Spinoza was born in 1632 and grew up in a Jewish community. Like many other philosophers, Spinoza was very religious. When he got older, Spinoza began to criticize and question the Christian religion, the Bible, and the Jewish community. This led to the excommunication of Spinoza because his Jewish community did not appreciate what he was doing. Forgetting his community and what had happened, Spinoza devoted his entire life to philosophy because of his desire to live a private life. Unlike Descartes, Spinoza believed that “everything that exists can be reduced to one single reality which he simply called “substance” (Gaarder 247). In Ethics Geometrically Demonstrated, Spinoza explains that God did not create the world so that he can forget all about it. Rather than believe just about God, Spinoza believed in God and nature. Because of his strong belief, Spinoza knew that only God or nature can complete freedom

Spinoza’s ideals have become significant in the novel Sophie’s World because to Sophie, she is now lacing freedom but she seems to be gaining wisdom. Spinoza argued that freedom, is just an illusion. He believed that humans can choose what they want to do in life. In order to find peace humans must study philosophy and religion carefully. This is relevant to Sophie’s life because Sophie is learning philosophy because she chose to. The lessons of philosophy and religion which Sophie chose to take have been bringing her to the state of enlightenment and overall this has allowed Sophie to gain wisdom.


In 1632 A.D, John Locke, a physician and a philosopher was born. Locke believed that with experience comes knowledge and that everything that exists was seen through the senses first. Locke explains to us that “It was he who first advocated the principle of division of powers” (Gaarder, 262). This division of power is now known as the legislative branch, judicial branch and the executive branch. Locke wanted there to be an even distribution of power. The people in the world and our representatives should make up the laws to ensure equality for all. Aside from this, Locke’s first concern was the question about where do individuals get their ideas from. He believed that when Humans enter the world they begin to use their senses which allows ideas and opinions to develop. These opinions and ideas begin to develop and the person begins to gain knowledge of specific things.

Locke’s ideals about the main philosophical questions have become significant in the novel Sophie’s World because overtime as Sophie has been taking the philosophy classes she now after Locke, has a clear idea about the relationship of the body and mind. Locke believed that the through the body we have eyes and with these eyes we can see new things. Also, Locke believed that using our senses which is from the body we can gain knowledge of our surroundings. Knowing this, Sophie connected the thoughts and came to the idea that the senses are transporting the sensations to the mind, and that the mind classifies stores all of these ideas, sensations, and opinions. Overall, Locke’s ideal led to why there is an explanation for the things we think of and why we think of them.

The Enlightenment:

In the eighteenth century, a new age arose. The French Enlightenment or Age of Reason began in 1789 and it was an age filled with enlightened philosophers. With a shift in time, there also came a shift in ideas. During this time, philosophers tried to create the basis for morals, religion, and ethics, according to reason. Philosophers during this age believed in “morals, religion, and ethics in accordance with man’s immutable reason” (Gaarder 311). These philosophers included Montesquieu, Rousseau, Voltaire. The French Enlightenment philosophers believed that everyone has natural rights that they are born with. In general, the Enlightenment became known as being more known than the English philosophy.

The Age of Enlightenment, or the Age of Reason has become significant in the novel Sophie’s World because both just like Hilde, Sophie has began to realize the importance of natural rights. To the famous philosopher Rousseau, humans were innately good, and civilization corrupted them. To him, the goal of society was to become “natural” which means that people have natural rights in everything such as religion, politics, and education. Until the French Revolution started, feminism was a forgotten topic which disappointed Sophie and Hilde because this means that women couldn’t get natural right like men. Overall, natural rights have become important to the girls because they hoped that other women could have natural rights that men have and take advantage of.


Immanuel Kant, a philosopher, was born in 1724 A.D. to a master saddler, Kant lived in an East Prussian town called “Königsberg” his whole life. Coming after the empiricists, Kant began his own new concept of philosophy. Kant’s idea was “that time and space belong to the human condition” (Gaarder 322). This means that just because things like time existed beyond our time that doesn’t mean that we can perceive it our own way. Kant believed that the idea of the world and how we perceive it has to do with reasoning and senses. Since reason can prove or disprove any claim, the existence of God must be proved by faith, according to Kant, as he tried to conserve the Christian faith.Aside from this, Kant’s decisions of right or wrong would be dependent on reason which was similar to the thinking of rationalists.

Overall, Immanuel Kant’s concepts of reasoning have gained significance in the novel Sophie’s World because Kant’s philosophy reinforces one of the key points of Sophie’s World. Kant believed that unbiased knowledge of the world is impossible. Kant created the term “the thing in itself”. This describes the external world and that how we can never know about the world completely. This relates to Sophie because even though Sophie has been studying philosophy and religion, she has either learned that the knowledge of the world is acquired through the senses or through reasoning. However, Kant explains that we can really never know the knowledge of the world which is why we think things like space and time exist.


Romanticism was a movement in Europe that started from end of the eighteenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century lasting fifty years. There were many new types of art and poetry which made this period important. A key concept during this period was that people were allowed to be “free to interpret life in his own way” (Gaarder 342). Along with this, many Romanticism thinkers made a connection between spirit and nature, as they called nature the “visible spirit” and the spirit the “invisible nature”. This led to a creation of two types of Romanticism. Universal Romanticism dealt with nature and the soul and National Romanticism consisted of Romantics who dealt with history and the language of people.

The concept of Romanticism has gained much significance in the novel Sophie’s World because Sophie and Alberto have begun to realize that their lives are in a book. Alberto tells Sophie that Romantic authors often felt that their books would write themselves but at certain parts the author would have all of the control. This compares to what Gaarder has been doing to Sophie and Alberto. Also, we feel that Knag is showing off his writing skills by making everything that happens, happen for a reason which confuses us with whether Gaarder or Alberto or Knag is talking. We feel that Albert Knag is showing off his power of writing by making Alberto say certain things and also causing section breaks to appear, but we are also made aware that Gaarder is behind everything. Overall, Jostein Gaarder wrote a book about Albert Knag, who wrote a book to give as a birthday present for his daughter Hilde. And in the book which is a present, another man Alberto Knox teaches a girl named Sophie Amundsen a philosophy course.


Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was born in the eighteenth century and was “a child of Romanticism” (Gaarder 357). As the Romantic period progressed, Hegelianism then started to surface. Hegel united the Romantic ideas with his own ideas and Hegel believed in human reason and that truth is subjective. Hegel believed that the “world spirit” was for everyone because man is the only one with a spirit and that human understanding got closer to world spirit. Whenever a new idea enters into the world, “[Hegel] also called these three stages of knowledge thesis, antithesis, synthesis” This process in all was called the “dialectic process”. This process was a useful way of understanding the way that humans exchange ideas and communicate. Using the dialectic process, Hegel questioned the Romantic idea that individuals can be private. Hegel believed that people are important to their communities and that when this happens people gain respect from their communities. Because of Hegel’s ideas and way thinking, people thought Hegel’s philosophy wasn’t a philosophy at all. Overall, Hegel’s philosophy was not so much a lesson to be taught, but a method to be used to understand time and history.

Hegel’s dialectic process has become significant in the novel Sophie’s World because as Sophie learned about world spirit she began to believe in it and she wondered what would happen when mankind reaches a state of enlightenment. This was similar to the ideas created by Hegel. Hegel believed that the process by which human understanding gets close to the understanding truth is called the creation of “world spirit.” The final part of world spirit is a state of absolute spirit. Hegel was unclear about what was going to happen when mankind reaches this state of enlightenment. With this knowledge, Sophie realized that philosophy must be the “mirror of the world spirit” which is the same philosophy of Hegel.


Søren Kierkegaard was born in 1813 A.D and he grew up as a passionate Christian. According to Kierkegaard, Christianity was overwhelming because the church and had a specific way of answering religious questions about Christianity. Since the Church used Hegel’s process of answering questions, Kierkegaard thought that the answers to these questions couldn’t benefit his personal life. This caused Kierkegaard to raise a philosophical war against this process. Kierkegaard believed that everyone should have the right to practice whatever religion they prefer even if that means no religion at all. His main philosophy was existentialism, which meant that every person has the right to think for themselves and act for themselves. He believed that people have control over their lives, bodies and decisions. Kierkegaard also believed that “it is more important to find the kind of truths that are meaningful to the individual’s life” (Gaarder, 375). Individuals should find what they care about and set out to find the truth about it. Overall, Kierkegaard believed that every single person, “is a unique individual who only lives once” (Gaarder 373).

Kierkegaard’s truths and faith have gained significance in the novel Sophie’s World because as Kierkegaard believed that all human beings lived in three different stages of life, so did Sophie. Sophie believed that she belonged to the aesthetic stage. In addition to this, Sophie believed that anyone can change from stage to stage and that if they didn’t fit in with the aesthetic stage that they could jump to the religious or ethical stage. Since Sophie was young she belonged in the aesthetic stage since she lives for the moment, but not everyone is like Sophie. People who are more serious can go to the ethical or religious stages.


Karl Marx was born in the nineteenth century around the same time that Kierkegaard lived and both philosophers even at a few times crossed the same paths. Along with this Karl Marx used to listen to Schelling’s lectures. Other than being a philosopher, Marx was also a historian, sociologist, and economist. Marx was also a dialectical materialist because he “ realized that there was an interactive or dialectical relation between bases and superstructure” (Gaarder 390) Being a materialist, Marx did not agree with Hegel’s philosophy. Marx believed that the only way to understand history was to look at the materials or the economy. Further on, Marx explains history is a power struggle between the classes of society. He believed that the capitalists were powerful and that they believed that they owned everything and that the proletariat had no power against the capitalists. Marx disagreed with that way of society and published The Communist Manifesto which proposed a new type of society.

Karl Marx’s dialectic materialism became significant in the novel Sophie’s World because growing up in Norway, Sophie has learned that she lives in a capitalist society where wealthy capitalists feasted and lived in huge houses. Also, in a capitalist society, the proletariat produces the goods and the capitalists pay them.Since Marx believed that work was a positive thing he still criticized the way that the society was set up. This is relevant to Sophie because Sophie has an aunt who hates to work and she hates herself. Overall, even though Sophie was unhappy with the problems that workers faced, she like the idea of a communist society.


Charles Darwin was born in 1809 A.D. and he grew up as a naturalist. Since Darwin was born in the 19th-century he is often paired with Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud who were all 19th-century thinkers that discovered laws and questioned mankind. Darwin had sailed around the world and studied many exotic islands. During this time, Darwin began to form his theory of evolution. The theory of evolution was that animals slowly adapt to their surroundings and that the fittest will survive in the end which gives them a better chance to reproduce. Darwin’s theory of evolution explained how things change their physical traits over time and evolve to become a different organism. Darwin explained this in his book called The Origin of Species. This theory came from the idea that natural selection led to evolution. Natural selection is also known as “the survival of the fittest” (Gaarder 404). Overall, Charles Darwin made made many discoveries that included fossils and discoveries about how man was created. Along with this, Darwin estimated that the planet was to millions of years old.

Charles Darwin’s idea of natural selection and evolution has become significant in the novel Sophie’s World because now Sophie has finally learned all about the beginning of humanity and how the animals evolved into the humans which are alive now. In Alberto’s class, Alberto tells Sophie that life was created with DNA and over the years, scientists have found out that the first organisms were part of the earth billions of years ago. With Darwin’s idea of evolution in mind, Sophie now knew how the simple DNA molecules would turn into organisms, which would then lead to the existence of humans.


Born in the late nineteenth century, Sigmund Freud wasn’t exactly a philosopher like the great men before him. Freud was a doctor and he tried to use his studies to study the human mind. Freud studied psychoanalysis and developed the idea that “there is a constant tension between man and his surroundings” (Gaarder 426). What Freud meant was that uncontrollable things control an individual and how they think. Freud believed that people keep some memories deep inside their brains. Freud focused on helping people find their memories and experiences they have lost in their subconsciousness. This is similar to how an archaeologist digs through layers of history to find traces of the past, a psychoanalytic must dig into a patient’s mind to find experiences which have caused disorder. By doing this, Freud helped patients overcome their mental and psychological disorders. Freud believed that in the human brain there are three parts: id, ego, and superego. The id is the part of the mind that makes an individual complete a pleasurable act. The ego is the part of the brain that controls what the person chooses to do. The superego is the part of the mind that regulates how the brain chooses right or wrong.

Overall, Freud’s greatest discovery was that the mind is large and very complicated than what the people and the world think. Our consciousness is just a part of our mind that controls our desires, and actions which we don’t know we do.

Sigmund Freud’s idea of the human mind and human psychology has become significant in the novel Sophie’s World because after learning about the human mind, Sophie began to understand why and how people react and act the way they do. Freud believed that “parapraxes” is when a person says or does something that they do not mean to do. Knowing this, Sophie began to notice that people sometimes try not to say some things, however, it just comes out because it cannot be controlled. However, in order to stop people from doing uncontrollable things Freud developed a technique which allows him to help his patients by freeing their minds.

Our Own Time:

Modern philosophy begins with the main idea of existentialism. Existentialism is the belief that the existence of man is that man is free and responsible for himself. The beginning of existentialism is Friedrich Nietzsche who was an important philosopher because he believed that the modern world was part of “slave morality” of Christianity. Another key Existentialists was Jean-Paul Sartre. Sartre explained that Existentialism is humanism. By this he meant that in order for Existentialism to begin humanity is forced to come to terms with its own existence. Sartre believed that humans exist differently than any object because humans are self-conscious. Sartre thinks that humanity is like actors who don’t have a script or stage directions. With this Sartre believed that life must have a meaning and that humans choose this for themselves.As existentialism became popular, the other topics of philosophy from years ago began to gain the interest of people.

Modern philosophy of our own time has gained significance in the novel Sophie’s World because after learning about the world she now understands how the world works and that her life has a purpose which she chooses. Since Sophie can choose how to live her life she has freedom. Since Sophie thinks that she lives in a book, she must now go find her freedom and she must go out and find herself and her meaning. Even though Sartre’s view of life can be depressing, Sophie still learned that she has to get freedom and that she can get freedom in her life if she chooses to which is the main key in Sartre’s view of life.

Sartre (pronounced “sart”):

Jean-Paul Sartre was born in the late 20th century and grew up to be a French existentialist. Sartre’s believed that a “[man’s] existence takes priority over whatever he might otherwise be” (Gaarder 450). He believed that each individual must create their own meaning to life. Sartre focused on the idea that existentialism is equal to humanism, because humanity serves as the point of departure for existentialism. This meant that in order for Existentialism to begin humanity is forced to come to terms with its own existence.. Sartre thinks that humanity is like actors who don’t have a script

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