philosophy

George Edward Moore and the Naturalistic Fallacy

George Edward Moore and the Naturalistic Fallacy

On November 4, 1873, English philosopher George Edward “G. E.” Moore was born. Moore was, with Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and  Gottlob Frege, one of the founders of the analytic tradition in philosophy. Along with Russell, he led the turn away from idealism in British philosophy, and became well known for his advocacy of common sense concepts, his contributions to ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics. George Edward Moore was born in Upper…
Denis Pétau’s Work in Chronology

Denis Pétau’s Work in Chronology

On August 21, 1583, French Jesuit scholar Denis Pétau was born. Pétau, also known as Dionysius Petavius, was one of the most brilliant scholars in a learned age. Carrying on and improving the chronological labors of Joseph Justus Scaliger, he published in 1627 an Opus de doctrina temporum. Denis Pétau was born at Orléans, where he had his initial education. He attended the University of Paris, where he successfully defended…
Jean de La Bruyère and the Characters

Jean de La Bruyère and the Characters

On August 16, 1645, French philosopher and moralist Jean de La Bruyère was born. La Bruyère is best known for one work, Les Caractères de Théophraste traduits du grec avec Les Caractères ou les moeurs de ce siècle (1688; The Characters, or the Manners of the Age, with The Characters of Theophrastus), which is considered to be one of the masterpieces of French literature. Jean de La Bruyère studied law…
Nicolas Malebranche’s Dualism of Religion and Science

Nicolas Malebranche’s Dualism of Religion and Science

On August 6, 1638, French priest and rationalist philosopher Nicolas Malebranche was born. Malebranche sought to synthesize the thought of St. Augustine and Descartes, in order to demonstrate the active role of God in every aspect of the world. Malebranche is best known for his doctrines of Vision in God, Occasionalism and Ontologism. Nicolas Malebranche joined the Collège de la Marche at the age of 16 to study philosophy and later studied…
Ludwik Fleck and the Thought Collective

Ludwik Fleck and the Thought Collective

On July 11, 1898, Polish and Israeli physician Ludwik Fleck was born. Fleck did important work in epidemic typhus in Lwów, Poland, with Rudolf Weigl and in the 1930s developed the concepts of the “Denkstil” (“thought style”) and the “Denkkollektiv” (“thought collective”). The concept of the “thought collective” defined by him is important in the philosophy of science and in logology (the “science of science”), helping to explain how scientific ideas…
Garrett Hardin and the Tragedy of the Commons

Garrett Hardin and the Tragedy of the Commons

On April 21, 1915, American ecologist and philosopher Garrett James Hardin was born. Hardin warned of the dangers of overpopulation. His exposition of the tragedy of the commons, in a famous 1968 paper in Science, called attention to “the damage that innocent actions by individuals can inflict on the environment“. He is also known for Hardin’s First Law of Human Ecology: “We can never do merely one thing. Any intrusion…
Friedrich Eduard Beneke and experimental Psychology

Friedrich Eduard Beneke and experimental Psychology

On February 17, 1798, German psychologist and post-Kantian philosopher Friedrich Eduard Beneke was born. Beneke argued that inductive psychology was the foundation for the study of all philosophical disciplines. He rejected the existing idealism for a form of associationism influenced by both Immanuel Kant and Locke. Beneke agreed with Herbart’s general idea that mathematics should be introduced into psychology, but he felt that Herbart’s attempt to quantify psychological phenomena was insufficiently…
Basilios Bessarion and the Great Revival of Letters

Basilios Bessarion and the Great Revival of Letters

On January 2, 1403, Roman Catholic Cardinal Bishop Basilius Bessarion was born. The titular Latin Patriarch of Constantinople, Bessarion was one of the illustrious Greek scholars who contributed to the great revival of letters in the 15th century. One of the most learned scholars of his time, Bessarion spread knowledge of Greek language and learning by building a personal library that included a large collection of Greek manuscripts, by his…
Archytas – The Founder of Mathematical Mechanics

Archytas – The Founder of Mathematical Mechanics

At about 428 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, statesman, and strategist Archytas of Tarentum was born. A scientist of the Pythagorean school he is famous for being the reputed founder of mathematical mechanics, as well as a good friend of Plato. Archytas was born in Tarentum, Magna Graecia, an area on the heel of the boot of Italy which was under Greek control in the 5th century BC, and…
Alfred Korzybski and General Semantics

Alfred Korzybski and General Semantics

On July 3, 1879, Polish-American independent scholar Alfred Habdank Skarbek Korzybski was born. Korzybsky developed a field called general semantics, which he viewed as both distinct from, and more encompassing than, the field of semantics. He argued that human knowledge of the world is limited both by the human nervous system and the languages humans have developed, and thus no one can have direct access to reality, given that the…
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