philosophy

Jean de La Bruyère and the Characters

Jean de La Bruyère and the Characters

On August 16, 1645, French philosopher and moralist Jean de La Bruyère was born. La Bruyère is best known for one work, Les Caractères de Théophraste traduits du grec avec Les Caractères ou les moeurs de ce siècle (1688; The Characters, or the Manners of the Age, with The Characters of Theophrastus), which is considered to be one of the masterpieces of French literature. Jean de La Bruyère studied law…
Nicolas Malebranche’s Dualism of Religion and Science

Nicolas Malebranche’s Dualism of Religion and Science

On August 6, 1638, French priest and rationalist philosopher Nicolas Malebranche was born. Malebranche sought to synthesize the thought of St. Augustine and Descartes, in order to demonstrate the active role of God in every aspect of the world. Malebranche is best known for his doctrines of Vision in God, Occasionalism and Ontologism. Nicolas Malebranche joined the Collège de la Marche at the age of 16 to study philosophy and later studied…
Ludwik Fleck and the Thought Collective

Ludwik Fleck and the Thought Collective

On July 11, 1898, Polish and Israeli physician Ludwik Fleck was born. Fleck did important work in epidemic typhus in Lwów, Poland, with Rudolf Weigl and in the 1930s developed the concepts of the “Denkstil” (“thought style”) and the “Denkkollektiv” (“thought collective”). The concept of the “thought collective” defined by him is important in the philosophy of science and in logology (the “science of science”), helping to explain how scientific ideas…
Garrett Hardin and the Tragedy of the Commons

Garrett Hardin and the Tragedy of the Commons

On April 21, 1915, American ecologist and philosopher Garrett James Hardin was born. Hardin warned of the dangers of overpopulation. His exposition of the tragedy of the commons, in a famous 1968 paper in Science, called attention to “the damage that innocent actions by individuals can inflict on the environment“. He is also known for Hardin’s First Law of Human Ecology: “We can never do merely one thing. Any intrusion…
Friedrich Eduard Beneke and experimental Psychology

Friedrich Eduard Beneke and experimental Psychology

On February 17, 1798, German psychologist and post-Kantian philosopher Friedrich Eduard Beneke was born. Beneke argued that inductive psychology was the foundation for the study of all philosophical disciplines. He rejected the existing idealism for a form of associationism influenced by both Immanuel Kant and Locke. Beneke agreed with Herbart’s general idea that mathematics should be introduced into psychology, but he felt that Herbart’s attempt to quantify psychological phenomena was insufficiently…
Johann Heinrich Lambert – A Swiss Polymath

Johann Heinrich Lambert – A Swiss Polymath

On August 26, 1728, Swiss polymath Johann Heinrich Lambert was born. Lambert provided the first rigorous proof that pi is irrational (i.e. it cannot be expressed as the quotient of two integers). He also was the first to introduce hyperbolic functions into trigonometry as well as the first mathematician to address the general properties of map projections. He also made significant contributions to physics, philosophy, and logic. Lambert was born in…
Archytas – The Founder of Mathematical Mechanics

Archytas – The Founder of Mathematical Mechanics

At about 428 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, statesman, and strategist Archytas of Tarentum was born. A scientist of the Pythagorean school he is famous for being the reputed founder of mathematical mechanics, as well as a good friend of Plato. Archytas was born in Tarentum, Magna Graecia, an area on the heel of the boot of Italy which was under Greek control in the 5th century BC, and…
Roger Cotes and Newton’s Principia Mathematica

Roger Cotes and Newton’s Principia Mathematica

On July 10, 1682, English mathematician Roger Cotes was born. Cotes is well known for working closely with Isaac Newton by proofreading the second edition of his famous book, the Principia, before publication. He also invented the quadrature formulas known as Newton–Cotes formulas and first introduced what is known today as Euler’s formula. “If he had lived we would have known something.”, Remark of Issac Newton on the early death…
Alfred Korzybski and General Semantics

Alfred Korzybski and General Semantics

On July 3, 1879, Polish-American independent scholar Alfred Habdank Skarbek Korzybski was born. Korzybsky developed a field called general semantics, which he viewed as both distinct from, and more encompassing than, the field of semantics. He argued that human knowledge of the world is limited both by the human nervous system and the languages humans have developed, and thus no one can have direct access to reality, given that the…
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…
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