philosophy

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 According to available historical documents, he is the first philosopher known to have written down his studies, although only one fragment of his work remains.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…
Pierre Bayle – Forerunner of the Age of Enlightenment

Pierre Bayle – Forerunner of the Age of Enlightenment

On November 18, 1647, French philosopher and writer Pierre Bayle was born. As a forerunner of the Encyclopedists and an advocate of the principle of the toleration of divergent beliefs, his works subsequently influenced the development of the 3Enlightenment. He is probably best known for his seminal work the Historical and Critical Dictionary. Pierre Bayle was born at Carla-le-Comte near Pamiers, Ariège, France and was mainly educated by his father…
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…
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