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.[7] Youth and Education George Edward Moore was born in…
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Denis Pétau and the Science of Chronology

Denis Pétau and the Science of 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,[2] he published in 1627 an Opus de doctrina temporum. Denis Pétau – Early Years Denis Pétau was born at Orléans, where he had his initial education. He attended the University of Paris, where…
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Jean de La Bruyère and the Power of Money in a Demoralized Society

Jean de La Bruyère and the Power of Money in a Demoralized Society

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. “Life is a tragedy for those who feel,…
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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. “I am not my own light unto myself.” – Nicholas Malebranche, Dialogues on Metaphysics (1688) Family Background and Education Malebranche’s father…
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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 change over…
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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 into nature…
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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 most we…
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Ockham’s Razor

Ockham’s Razor

Probably on April 10, 1347, English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher and theologian William of Ockham passed away. He is considered to be one of the major figures of medieval thought and was at the centre of the major intellectual and political controversies of the fourteenth century. He is commonly known for Occam’s razor, the methodological principle that bears his name, and also produced significant works on logic, physics, and theology. Probably…
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Baltasar Gracian and the Art of Wisdom

Baltasar Gracian and the Art of Wisdom

On January 8, 1601, Spanish Jesuit and baroque prose writer and philosopher Baltasar Gracián y Morales was born. He is best known as the leading Spanish exponent of conceptism (conceptismo), a style of dealing with ideas that involves the use of terse and subtle displays of exaggerated wit. His writings were lauded by Nietzsche and Schopenhauer.[7] “If you cannot make knowledge your servant, make it your friend.” — Baltasar Gracian, The Art of…
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Albertus Magnus and the Merit of Personal Observation

Albertus Magnus and the Merit of Personal Observation

On November 15, 1280, German scholar, Dominican friar, Catholic bishop, and Catholic Saint, Albert, Count von Bollstädt a.k.a Abertus Magnus, Albert the Great passed away. As a philosopher Albertus Magnus championed Aristotle‘s philosophy, but adapted it to the medieval outlook, and held that there was merit in the addition of personal observation. He often is referred to as the greatest German philosopher and theologian of the Middle Ages. Even more so than…
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