philosophy

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 Worldly Wisdom,…
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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 father of…
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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 who was…
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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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Theophrastus of Eresos – the Father of Botany

Theophrastus of Eresos – the Father of Botany

Theophrastos of Eresos, who studied in Plato’s philosopher’s school, is most famous for his groundbreaking work on plants. Thus, he is often referred to as the ‘father of botany’. His two surviving botanical works, Enquiry into Plants (Historia Plantarum) and On the Causes of Plants, were an important influence on Renaissance science. Theophrastus of Eresos was a native of Eresos in Lesbos and his given name was Tyrtamus. It is believed that…
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The World is in Ever-Present Change – Heraclitus of Ephesus

The World is in Ever-Present Change – Heraclitus of Ephesus

Greek pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus was famous for his insistence on ever-present change in the universe, as stated in the famous saying, “No man ever steps in the same river twice”. This position was complemented by his stark commitment to a unity of opposites in the world, stating that “the path up and down are one and the same”. Through these doctrines Heraclitus characterized all existing entities by pairs of contrary…
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John Locke and the Social Contract

John Locke and the Social Contract

On August 29, 1632, English philosopher and physician John Locke was born. One of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers he became known as the “Father of Classical Liberalism“. He spent over 20 years developing the ideas he published in his most significant work, Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) which analyzed the nature of human reason, and promoted experimentation as the basis of knowledge.  John Locke’s Youth and Education John Locke was…
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John Venn and the Venn Diagram

John Venn and the Venn Diagram

On August 4, 1834, English logician and philosopher John Venn was born. He is best known for his contribution of the eponymous Venn diagram, used in the fields of set theory, probability, logic, statistics, and computer science. John Venn grew up in a quite religious family and it was expected that he followed his family’s tradition into priesthood. He attended Gonville and Caius College Cambridge and was awarded a mathematics scholarship in his…
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Thomas S. Kuhn and the Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Thomas S. Kuhn and the Structure of Scientific Revolutions

On July 18, 1922, American physicist, historian, and philosopher of science Thomas Samuel Kuhn was born. He is most famous for his controversial 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which was influential in both academic and popular circles, introducing the term “paradigm shift“, which has since become an English-language idiom. Kuhn was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Samuel L. Kuhn, who was trained as a hydraulic engineer at Harvard University and…
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Reality according to Alexius Meinong

Reality according to Alexius Meinong

On July 17, 1853 Austrian philosopher Alexius Meinong was born. He is best known for his contributions to ontology as well as to the philosophy of mind and theory of value. Famous is also his his belief in nonexistent objects. Meinong distinguished several levels of reality among objects and facts about them. Meinong was born in Lemberg, former capital of the Austrian crown land Galicia (before and after the Habsburg period Lwów, Poland; today Lviv, Ukraine)…
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