philosophy

Herbert Spencer and Social Darwinism

Herbert Spencer and Social Darwinism

On April 27, 1820, English philosopher, biologist, anthropologist, sociologist, and prominent classical liberal political theorist of the Victorian era Herbert Spencer was born. Spencer is best known for the expression “survival of the fittest”, which he coined in Principles of Biology (1864), after reading Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. This term strongly suggests natural selection, yet as Spencer extended evolution into realms of sociology and ethics, he also…
The Philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein

The Philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein

On April 26, 1889, Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein was born. He worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language. He is considered one of the world‘s most famous philosophers. Wittgenstein‘s influence has been felt in nearly every field of the humanities and social sciences. “My work consists of two parts: of the one which is here, and of everything which I…
Anaximander and the Milesian School of Philosophy

Anaximander and the Milesian School of Philosophy

At about 610 BC, pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Anaximander of Miletus was born. He belonged to the Milesian school and learned the teachings of his master Thales. According to available historical documents, he is the first philosopher known to have written down his studies, although only one fragment of his work remains. An early proponent of science he tried to observe and explain different aspects of the universe, with a particular interest…
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…
Guillaume Postel – French Linguist and Religious Universalist

Guillaume Postel – French Linguist and Religious Universalist

On March 25, 1510, French linguist, astronomer, Cabbalist, diplomat, professor, and religious universalist Guillaume Postel was born. “Ibn Sina says more in one or two pages than does Galen in five or six large volumes” Guillaume Postel Postel was adept at Arabic, Hebrew, and Syriac and other Semitic languages, as well as the Classical languages of Ancient Greek and Latin and studied at the Collège Sainte-Barbe in Paris. Besides he…
Herman Kahn and the Consequences of Nuclear War

Herman Kahn and the Consequences of Nuclear War

On February 15, 1922, American physicist, futurist and system theorist Herman Kahn was born. He became known for analyzing the likely consequences of nuclear war and recommending ways to improve survivability, making him one of three historical inspirations for the title character of Stanley Kubrick’s classic black comedy film satire Dr. Strangelove. Herman Kahn was born in Bayonne, New Jersey and was raised in the Bronx, later Los Angeles. Kahn…
John Wilkins and the Universal Language

John Wilkins and the Universal Language

On February 14, 1614, Anglican clergyman, natural philosopher and author John Wilkins was born. Wilkins was one of the founders of the Royal Society and a polymath, although not one of the most important scientific innovators of the period. He is particularly known for An Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language (1668) in which, amongst other things, he proposed a universal language and a decimal system of…
Robert Malthus and the Principle of Population

Robert Malthus and the Principle of Population

On February 13, 1766, English cleric and scholar Rev. Thomas Robert Malthus was born. His An Essay on the Principle of Population observed that sooner or later population will be checked by famine and disease, leading to what is known as a Malthusian catastrophe. He thought that the dangers of population growth precluded progress towards a utopian society. Malthus placed the longer-term stability of the economy above short-term expediency. His…
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. “If you cannot make knowledge your servant, make it your friend.” Baltasar Gracian, The Art of…
Averroes – The Commentator and Polymath

Averroes – The Commentator and Polymath

On December 10, 1198, medieval Andalusian polymath Abū l-Walīd Muḥammad Ibn ʾAḥmad Ibn Rušd, better known as Averroes, passed away. Averroes wrote on logic, Aristotelian and Islamic philosophy, theology, the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence, psychology, political and Andalusian classical music theory, geography, mathematics, and the mediæval sciences of medicine, astronomy, physics, and celestial mechanics. Averroes had a greater impact on Christian Europe: he has been described as the “founding…
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