philosophy

Michel de Montaigne and the Art of Writing an Essay

Michel de Montaigne and the Art of Writing an Essay

On February 28, 1533, French philosopher Michel de Montaigne was born. Montaigne was one of the most significant philosophers of the French Renaissance, known for popularizing the essay as a literary genre. His work is noted for its merging of casual anecdotes and autobiography with intellectual insight. His massive volume Essais contains some of the most influential essays ever written. “We are, I know not how, double in ourselves, so that what…
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Frank P. Ramsey and the Ramsey Theory

Frank P. Ramsey and the Ramsey Theory

On February 22, 1903, precocious British philosopher, mathematician and economist Frank Plumpton Ramsey was born. Although he died already at age 26, he had made significant contributions to logic, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of language and decision theory. He remains noted for his Ramsey Theory, a mathematical study of combinatorial objects in which a certain degree of order must occur as the scale of the object becomes large. “The first problem I…
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Isaac Casaubon – The Most Learned Man in Europe

Isaac Casaubon – The Most Learned Man in Europe

On February 15, 1559, French classical scholar and philologist Isaac Casaubon was born. Casaubon is known among philologists and historians of philosophy today above all for his proof in De rebus sacris et ecclesiasticis exercitationes XVI (1614, London) that the so-called Corpus Hermeticum could not have been created earlier than the first century AD. He was regarded by many of his time as the most learned man in Europe. Isaac Causaubon –…
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Immanuel Kant – Philosopher of the Enlightenment

Immanuel Kant – Philosopher of the Enlightenment

On February 12, 1804, the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant passed away. He is widely considered to be a central figure of modern philosophy. He argued that human concepts and categories structure our view of the world and its laws, and that reason is the source of morality. His thought continues to hold a major influence in contemporary thought, especially in fields such as metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics. The problem…
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The Encyclopaedia of Rabanus Maurus

The Encyclopaedia of Rabanus Maurus

On February 4, 856, Frankish Benedictine monk, theologian, poet, encyclopedist and military writer Rabanus Maurus Magnentius passed away. He was the author of the encyclopaedia De rerum naturis (“On the Natures of Things“). He also wrote treatises on education and grammar and commentaries on the Bible. He was one of the most prominent teachers and writers of the Carolingian age, and was called “Praeceptor Germaniae,” or “the teacher of Germany.” How Rabanus…
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The Art of Hiding Information – Johannes Trithemius’ Steganography

The Art of Hiding Information – Johannes Trithemius’ Steganography

On February 1, 1462, German Benedictine abbot and polymath Johannes Trithemius was born. Trithemius was active in the German Renaissance as a lexicographer, chronicler, cryptographer, and occultist. He had considerable influence on the development of early modern and modern occultism. However,  “Speak of things public to the public, but of things lofty and secret only to the loftiest and most private of your friends. Hay to the ox and sugar to the…
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Christian Wolff and the German Enlightenment

Christian Wolff and the German Enlightenment

On January 24, 1679, German philosopher Christian Wolff was born. One of the most important philosophers of the Enlightenment between Leibniz and Kant, he is one of the most important representatives of natural law and is regarded as the actual founder of 19th-century jurisprudence on concepts. German philosophy owes its terminological foundation to him; many of the terms he defined, such as consciousness, meaning, or attention, were later adopted into everyday language.…
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Sir Francis Bacon and the Scientific Method

Sir Francis Bacon and the Scientific Method

On January 22, 1561, English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, orator, essayist, and author Sir Francis Bacon was born. Bacon has been called the creator of empiricism. His works established and popularized inductive methodologies for scientific inquiry. “Knowledge, that tendeth but to satisfaction, is but as a courtesan, which is for pleasure, and not for fruit or generation.” — Francis Bacon, as quoted in Valerius Terminus: Of the Interpretation of Nature (ca. 1603) Scholasticism…
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Hypatia – the first Woman in Mathematics

Hypatia – the first Woman in Mathematics

The Neoplatonian philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria, Egypt, was the first well-documented woman in mathematics. Her actual date of birth is unknown, although considered somewhen between 350 and 370 AD. She was the head of the Platonist school at Alexandria and additionally taught philosophy and astronomy. Hypatia’s Early Life There is little news about Hypatia’s life and work. Hypatia’s father was the astronomer and mathematician Theon of Alexandria, the last scientist known by…
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Thomas Carlyle and his Obsession with “Great Man”

Thomas Carlyle and his Obsession with “Great Man”

On December 4, 1795, Scottish philosopher, satirical writer, essayist, translator, historian, mathematician, and teacher Thomas Carlyle was born. Best known for his famous work On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History, he argued that the key role in history lies in the actions of the “Great Man“. However, Carlyle is considered one of the most important social commentators of the Victorian era. “The weakest living creature, by concentrating his powers on…
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