Blupete's Biography Page

The Philosophers:

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Aristotle (384-322 BC).
Aquinas, Saint Thomas (1225-74):
A scholastic theologian, Aquinas, according to Chambers, "... had no knowledge of Greek or Hebrew, and was almost equally ignorant of history." Aquinas' work, Summa Theologiae "remains to this day substantially the standard authority in the Roman Church."

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Bacon, Francis (1561-1626).
Berkeley, George (1685-1753):

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Comte, Auguste (1798-1857):

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Darwin, Charles (1809-82):
Democritus (c.500BC):
As to when this Greek philosopher existed, it is not certain. Tradition characterizes him as a person who was continually laughing at the follies of mankind. Only very few fragments of his work have come down to us. According to Chambers, "Democritus's atomic system assumes an infinite multitude of atoms." That all of these atoms exist for no particular reason, and, from "their multitudinous combinations springs that vast and varying aggregate called nature ..." Nature, Democritus further supposed, conducted itself by a definite set of laws; but followed, and follows, no design.
Descartes, René (1596-1650).
Dewey, John (1859-1952):
I do not know much of Dewy's early life other than he was born in Vermont. His first big appointment in his academic life was to come in 1894 when Dewey was appointed to the chair for the Department of Philosophy, Psychology, and Education at the newly founded (in 1892 with Rockefeller's money) University of Chicago. He was to hold this position until 1904 when he went off to Columbia (New York). Dewey was a believer in the theories of William James (pragmatism); James was to dub Dewey and his fellows, "the Chicago School." Dewey is noted as a leader of one of the modern ethical theories in philosophy, that which is known as instrumentalism ("morality is relative to individual experience"). At base, Dewey was a empiricist; and, given his view of things, it will not be surprising that he advocated "learning by doing." "Philosophy," it was Dewey's view, "Recovers itself when it ceases to be a device for dealing with the problems of philosophers and becomes a method, cultivated by philosophers, for dealing with the problems of man." The work I have by Dewey is Human Nature and Conduct (1921) (New York: Random House, Modern Lib., 1930). The other work I have is Experience and Nature (in this work one will find a portraiture of Dewey; it, apparently, is the publication of a series of the Paul Carus lectures which Dewey gave) (London: George Allen, 1929).
Diogenes (BC, c412-323).

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Epicurus (c340--c270 BC):
Epicurus was a Greek philosopher who taught that a person should only rely on his senses. The object of the epicurean philosophy was to reduce man's natural anxiety, viz., to eliminate superstition and the dread of death. It is a misunderstanding of the philosophy of Epicurus, as is disclosed in the normal usage of the word epicure, to conclude that the epicurean is one who is singularly devoted to sensual pleasures.
Epimenides (6th cent. BC):
Cretan prophet and miracle worker. According to one story, he was called to Athens to purify the city after the murder of Cylon on the Acropolis. Many poems, oracles, and sayings were attributed to him. Epimenides Paradox in philosophy is this, a Cretan said that all Cretans are liars.
Erasmus, Desiderius (1466-1536):
Erasmus was a Dutchman, born at Rotterdam. Taught by the monks (his personal experiences turned him against them) he eventually ended up in Paris as an ordained priest and there continued his studies. In 1498, Erasmus first came to England, living chiefly at Oxford (at a later period he was at Cambridge). Through these years of study, especially when at Oxford, Erasmus developed a contempt for the schoolmen. By 1516, we see where Erasmus was publishing his work. Erasmus, in his work, introduced "a more rational conception of Christian doctrine, and to emancipate men's minds from the frivolous and pedantic methods of the scholastic theologians." Erasmus lived out the last of his days at Basil (a city situated on the corners of France, Switzerland and Germany). As Chambers points out: "Erasmus stands as the supreme type of cultivated common sense applied to human affairs."

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Fichte, Johann Gottlieb (1762-1814):
A disciple of Kant, Fichte has been categorised as the founder of the Idealist school. Members of this school, much impressed with Kant's primacy of Practical Reason, are dedicated servants to the notion of state power. To Fichte there is Self, Ego; and there is the rest of the world, nonEgo. One changes the world through the Ego, and Ego is developed by the Moral Will. This line of thought, while pure subjectivism, will lead men to great heights, and end in the baking of other men in ovens. (See Paul Johnson's book, The Birth of the Modern, pp. 810-22.)
Freud, Sigmund (1856-1939)

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Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von (1749-1832).

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Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich (1770-1831):
Hume, David (1711-76):
Hume was an empiricist from the school of Locke; he was the first to expose what later became known as the naturalistic fallacy, viz., the misconceived attempts to jump syllogistically from what is, to what ought to be. Hume challenged the rationalistic school and the social contract theories.

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James, William (1842-1910):
After receiving his medical degree from there in 1872, William James taught at Harvard in the relatively new field of psychology. His work, The Principles of Psychology (1890) is well known and it was in it we see the use of the literary expression Stream of Consciousness, a technique which a number of writers picked up and used with considerable success in their books, including: the Irish novelist, James Joyce's (1882-1941) Finnegans Wake; William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury and Virginia Woolf's To the Light House.
The philosophy of William James has received the label "pragmatism." It is to be compared with the notion of "absolutism." To James, as a pragmatist, anything is possible, even a God in heaven. While James' pragmatism has its attractions, however, one is obliged to put Occam's razor to the argument. Personally, I like Karl Popper's approach: any proposition is OK, until it meets a contrary piece of evidence. It is impossible to be absolutely sure of most anything, even of the Cartesian proposition that we exist. Nothing, in scientific terms, is really absolute.
James' philosophy is reflected in his work, Pragmatism (1907); in it "James denied absolute truth in an ever-changing universe, and regarded it as provisional rather than in accordance with absolute moral standards." (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus, 1991.)

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Kant, Immanuel (1724-1804).

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Leibniz (1646-1716):
Leibniz is described as the father of German speculative philosophy. Leibniz, was aquainted with Spinoza's naturalism, indeed, he met Spinoza. Leibniz was critical of both Spinoza and Locke. Leibniz was a "dualist"; he developed a theory that there did exist heirarchial forces in the world, which he called "monads" -- "self-contained realities incapable of interaction yet magically 'exhibiting' essences God's mediation." To Leibniz, God was the Monad of Monads. Leibniz' work is Discourse on Metaphysics and the Monadology.
Locke, John (1632-1704).
Lucretius (98?-55 BC):
Lucretius, a Roman poet, concluded that all things - including man - operate according to their own laws and are not in any way influenced by supernatural powers; with this view, he thought, man should be free of the yoke of religious superstition and the fear of death.

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Malthus, Thomas Robert (1766-1834).

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Nietzsche, Friedrich (1844-1900):
A German philosopher, Nietzsche was most famous for the theory of Übermensch ("superman"). His views were influenced by Schopenhauer; he was a critic of Hegel. Nietzsche "sought to penetrate beyond all rational, systematic schemes to the irrational, human level beneath"; he rejected Christianity, it "teaches men how to die but not how to live." Nietzsche "justified a course of national conduct beyond good and evil." Nietzsche was not one of them, but his philosophy suited the German Nazis to a tee.

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Plato (427-348 BC).
Popper, Sir Karl (1902-94).

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Russell, Bertrand (1872-1970).

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Santayana, George (1863-1952):
Santayana was a Spanish born American philosopher and poet. He became a professor at Harvard (among his students were Felix Frankfurter [1882-1965] and T. S. Eliot [1888-1965]). His was a school known as American realism. Santayana's five volumed The Life of Reason (1905-6) is "a landmark in the philosophy of history ... vast in scope yet luxuriant in detail." Santayana's other books included: Skepticism and Animal Faith (1923); The Last Puritan, A Memoir In the Form of a Novel (1935), this was Santayana's "first and only novel ... a brilliant analysis of the New England character ... a profound commentary on the moral and material idols of the twentieth century"; The Idea of Christ in the Gospels or God in Man (1946); Dominations and Power; Reflections on Liberty Society and Government (1951); Poems (New York: Scribner's, 1935); Persons & Places, The Background of my Life (Autobio.) (New York: Scribner's, 1944); Persons & Places, The Middle Span (Autobio.) (Scribner's, 1945). The two books about Santayana that I have are The Philosophy of Santayana (New York: Scribner's, 1942), Vagabond Scholar by Bruno Lind (New York: Bridgehead, 1962) and Santayana: The Later Years, A Portrait with Letters by Daniel Cory (New York: Braziller, 1963).
Sartre, Jean-Paul (1905-1980):
Schelling, Wilhelm Joseph (1775-1854):
Schelling was another of the disciples of Kant, whose thinking led to the Idealist school. Though Schelling is not one whose thoughts I have studied in any detail (nor, for that matter, any of these Germans of the Idealist school); it would seem Schelling differed from Fichte, in that, where Fichte placed almost a sole emphasis on Ego, Schelling put equal emphasis on both the self and the world outside of self,- the Ego and the nonEgo. I am not at all sure where that leaves Schelling on the philosophical scale of things.
Schiller, Ferdinand Canning Scott (1864-1937):
A British philosopher who taught at Oxford. In 1903 he wrote Humanism, his term for "pragmatism" the philosophy espoused by William James. Schiller had a distaste for Idealism and its traditional expression as may be found in the works from Aristotle to Russell; he thought it "nonsense fortified by technicality." PhilGLOSS03.htm#Dualism
Schiller, Friedrich von (1759-1805):
Schiller, a German, may be remembered as an historian (appointed the "honourary" professor of history at Jena in 1788), a philosopher, and, of course, as a dramatist. He was a friend of Goethe's.
Schopenhauer, Arthur (1788-1860).
Seneca, Lucius Annaeus, the Younger (c.5BC-65):
There was two famous Romans named Seneca. The most famous is the son, as I have listed. His father bore the same name, is sometimes referred to as Marcus. They were born in Cordova, Spain. The father wrote a history of Rome, which, unfortunately, is lost to us. The younger Seneca went to Rome and was trained to be a lawyer. He was to make powerful friends but ran afoul of one of them in the course of a court case and was banished to Corsica where he remained for eight years. Eventually, Seneca was to be entrusted by Agrippina with the education of her son, Nero (37-68). Upon Nero becoming the emperor, Seneca was made a consul. Seneca continued to hold to his high moral ideals; and, it is this that led to Nero's gradual aversion. (Nero was one of the most despicable persons in all of the world's history and had developed a nasty habit of killing off any person for whom he developed a dislike: such as his mother and his wives.) In 65, there was a conspiracy to get rid of Nero; Seneca fell under suspicion and thus to suffer Nero's vengeance. Seneca was sentenced to death by a method of his own choosing: he elected to open his veins. As for Seneca's philosophy: he was "inclined to the stoic system, with Epicurean modifications."
Socrates (469-399 BC):
Spinoza, Benedict de (1632-77).

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Theophrastus (c372-286BC):
The Greek philosopher, Theophrastus, followed in the steps of Plato and Aristotle; indeed he was a student of theirs. Theophrastus was to head up one of the ancient philosophical schools: the peripatetic school. Most of his writing are now lost, but there is one that did survive, Characters which is a work delineating the various moral types of persons, and which, Chambers, "has had much influence in modern literature."

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Whitehead, Alfred North (1861-1947):
Educated at Cambridge, Whitehead went on to become a senior lecturer there in mathematics until the year 1911. From Cambridge he went to London to teach mathematics, when, after that, in 1924, he went off to Harvard, there to teach philosophy and continued to do so until 1937. During the years, 1910-13, Whitehead was to collaborate with a former pupil of his, Bertrand Russell, in the writing of Principia Mathematica, "the single greatest contribution to logic since Aristotle." (Chambers.)

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Peter Landry