enlightenment

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 Enlightenment. He is probably best known for his seminal work the Historical and Critical Dictionary. “Reason is like a runner who doesn’t know that the race is over, or, like Penelope, constantly undoing what…
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Antoine Lavoisier’s Theory of Combustion

Antoine Lavoisier’s Theory of Combustion

On Nov 1, 1772, French chemist Antoine Lavoisier [1] reported in a note to the Secretary of the French Academy of Sciences about the role of “air” in the combustion process. It required five more years of experiments, before in 1777, Lavoisier was ready to propose a new theory of combustion that excluded phlogiston,[4] which according to the prevailing theories of the time was part of every matter and responsible for the combustion process.…
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Abraham Gottlob Werner and the School of Neptunism

Abraham Gottlob Werner and the School of Neptunism

On September 25, 1749, German geologist Abraham Gottlob Werner was born. He is best known for his early theory about the stratification of the Earth’s crust. Moreover, he propounded an earth history that others labeled Neptunism that states that holding that all rocks have aqueous origins. While most tenets of Neptunism were eventually set aside, science is indebted to Werner for clearly demonstrating the chronological succession of rocks, for the zeal which…
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Read Euler, he is the Master of us all…

Read Euler, he is the Master of us all…

On September 18, 1783, Swiss mathematician and physicist Leonhard Euler passed away. Euler is considered to be the pre-eminent mathematician of the 18th century and one of the greatest mathematicians to have ever lived. He is also one of the most prolific mathematicians. He made important discoveries in fields as diverse as infinitesimal calculus and graph theory. He also introduced much of the modern mathematical terminology and notation, particularly for mathematical analysis,…
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John Locke and the Importance of the Social Contract

John Locke and the Importance of 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. “To love truth for truth’s sake is the…
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Illumination and Steam Power – William Murdoch and the Industrial Revolution

Illumination and Steam Power – William Murdoch and the Industrial Revolution

On August 21, 1754, Scottish engineer and inventor William Murdoch was born. He was the first to make extensive use of coal gas for illumination and a pioneer in the development of steam power. William Murdoch – Early Years William Murdoch (sometimes also referred to as Murdock) was born as the third of seven children of the mill tenant and former infantryman John Murdoch in the community of Cumnoch. At the age of ten, he moved…
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Johann Valentin Andreae and the Legend of the Rosicrucians

Johann Valentin Andreae and the Legend of the Rosicrucians

On August 17, 1586, German theologian and author Johannes Valentinus Andreae  was born. He claimed to be the author of the Chymische Hochzeit Christiani Rosencreutz anno 1459 (1616, Strasbourg, the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz), one of the three founding works of Rosicrucianism, a philosophical secret society said to have been founded in late medieval Germany by Christian Rosenkreutz. Rosicrucianism holds a doctrine or theology “built on esoteric truths of the ancient past“,…
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Johann Friedrich Struensee – A Royal Affair

Johann Friedrich Struensee – A Royal Affair

On August 5, 1735, German physician Johann Friedrich Struensee was born. He became royal physician to the mentally ill King Christian VII of Denmark and a minister in the Danish government, where he tried to carry out widespread reforms. His affair with Queen Caroline Matilda caused his downfall and dramatic death. Johann Friedrich Struensee – Early Years Johann Friedrich Struensee was born in Halle as the second of six children of the pietist…
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The Sensibility of Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock

The Sensibility of Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock

On July 2, 1724, German poet Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock was born. One of his major contributions to German literature was to open it up to exploration outside of French models. Klopstock is considered an important representative of sensibility. “The God who created these fair heavens with the same facility as yon green sapling; he who hath bestowed on man a life of toil, of transient joys and fleeting pains, that he might…
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How Johann Beckmann invented the Science of Technology

How Johann Beckmann invented the Science of Technology

On June 4, 1739, German chemist and economist Johann Beckmann was born. He established the science of agriculture and coined the word technology, to mean the science of trades. Technology today has become ubiquituous. You might think that this term was part of our vocabulary ever since antiquity. Not at all. It was Johann Beckmann, who was the first to teach technology and write about it as an academic subject. Johann Beckmann and…
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