551BCE Confucius (d.479BCE), K'ung Fu-tzu [K'ung
Fu-tse], Chinese philosopher, was born in Chufu, China. His
followers transcribed his conversations in 20 books called the
"Analects" following his death. He was an accountant and later
taught the importance of centralized authority and filial piety.
Like Aristotle, he believed the state to be a natural institution.
He was the 11th child of a 70-year-old soldier. "All eminence should
be based entirely on merit." "The way of a superior man is
three-fold; virtuous, he is free from anxieties; wise, he is free
from perplexities; bold, he is free from fear." "To see the right
and not do it is cowardice." "Shall I teach you what knowledge is?
When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you don't
know a thing, to allow that you don't know it. This is knowledge."
(SFC, 8/10/96, p.E4)(http://eawc.evansville.edu,
p.9)(SFC, 3/28/98, p.D3)(AP, 6/17/98)(SFEC, 2/27/00, Z1
p.2)(SFEC, 7/9/00, Z1 p.2)(SFC, 1/2/04, p.D8)
467BCE A meteorite crashed to earth and convinced
Greek philosopher Anaxagoras that heavenly bodies were not divine
beings. He became the world's earliest figure to be indicted for
(WSJ, 11/21/03, p.W4)
427BCE May 21, Plato, Greek philosopher, was born.
His work included the "Republic," and the dialogues "Critias" and
"Timaeus" in which he mentioned the island empire of Atlantis. He
claimed that an Egyptian priest confided information about Atlantis
to Solon, the Athenian legislator, whose memoirs Plato claimed to
have read. In 1998 e books on Atlantis were published: "Atlantis
Destroyed" by Rodney Castleden and "Imagining Atlantis" by Richard
(HN, 5/21/98)(WSJ, 6/26/98, p.W9)
399BC Feb 15, Socrates was
condemned to death on charges of corrupting the youth and
introducing new gods into Greek thought. A tribunal of 501 citizens
found Socrates guilty of the charge of impiety and corruption of
youth. Socrates b.(469BC) had been the teacher of two leaders who
were held responsible for the Greek‘s loss to Sparta in the
Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC). Plato‘s Apology, Crito, and Phaedo
describe Socrates‘ trial, imprisonment and death.
(eawc, p.11)(HNQ, 3/21/00)
399BC May 7, Socrates
(b.469BC), Greek philosopher, committed suicide. He had been
indicted for rejecting the Gods acknowledged by the State, of
bringing in strange deities, and of corrupting the youth. In
2007 Emily Wilson authored “The Death of Socrates.”
360BC Greek philosopher Plato,
in his "dialogues" from about this time, said an island he called
Atlantis "in a single day and night... disappeared into the depths
of the sea." He described Atlantis as "an island situated in front
of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Hercules." In
2011 a US-led research team, using a satellite photo of a suspected
submerged city, suggested a site just north of Cadiz, Spain, as the
site of Atlantis.
c350BC The new philosophy of the Cynics emerged
led by Greek philosopher Diogenes (404-323). He argued against
conventional life and that people should live naturally and strive
(eawc, p.13)(SFC, 10/29/08, p.G2)
322BCE Mar 7, Aristotle (d.322 BCE) died. His
writings included treatises on logic, metaphysics, ethics, politics,
rhetoric and natural sciences. He first described language in terms
of subject and predicate as well as parts of speech. Aristotelian
logic is based on a small number of unambiguous constructs, such as,
"if A, then B": the truth of one implies the truth of another. This
celebrated rule gives Aristotelian reasoning the power to establish
facts through inference. The constructs also included A=A,
representing that every entity is equal to itself. He defined
politics as the science of the sciences that looks after well-being.
His writings included "De Generatione Animalum." His "Historia
Animalium" was later translated by D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson." "Hope
is a waking dream." The opening of his "Metaphysics" began: "All men
by nature desire to know."
(V.D.-H.K.p.44,45)(I&I, Penzias, p.73)(Hem.,
1/96, p.11)(LSA, Spg/97, p.6)(EEE, p.12)(AP, 8/9/98)(WSJ, 9/30/98,
p.A16)(NH, 12/98, p.10)(SFC, 8/13/02, p.A13)
150-250 Acharya Nagarjuna, Indian philosopher,
lived about this time. He founded the Madhyamaka school of Mahayana
1165 Jul 28, Ibn al-'Arabi,
Muslim mystic, philosopher, was born.
1274 Mar 7, Thomas Aquinas
(48), Italian theologian, saint, died.
1290 William of Ockham
(d.1349), English Franciscan scholastic philosopher, was born. He
became known for the maxim called Occam’s Razor (Ockham’s razor):
"Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem." (Entries should
not be multiplied unnecessarily). A modern version of this principle
of logic might be: "The simpler, the better." [see 1349]
(V.D.-H.K.p.123)(WUD, 1994 p.996)(AP,
1349 William of Ockham
(b.1290), English Franciscan scholastic philosopher, died. He
proclaimed that the only real things are singular entities like an
apple or man, and that universals have no existence whatever; they
are mere names. The divine and nature each has its own validity, but
the one is vastly more important that the other, with the one
determining salvation, and the other the mere comfort of the body
during its life. [see 1290]
(V.D.-H.K.p.123)(WUD, 1994 p.996)(AP,
1536 Jul 12, Desiderius Erasmus
(b.1469 in Rotterdam) died, humanist, priest (Novum instrumentum
omne), died. His most famous works included "In Praise of Folly" and
a Greek text of the New Testament. In 1999 Prof. Charles Trinkaus
published "Collected Works of Erasmus: Controversies," an
examination of the religious conflict between humanism and the
(V.D.-H.K.p.159-160)(SFC, 9/27/99, p.A26)(WSJ,
1/31/03, p.W13)(MC, 7/12/02)
1552 Aug 14, Fra Paolo Sarpi,
[Paulus Venetus], expert, philosopher, was born in Venice.
1568 Sep 5, Tommasso
Campanella, Italian philosopher and poet, who wrote “City of the
Sun,” was born.
1572 Michel de Montaigne,
French philosopher, observed that “there are men on whom the mere
sight of medicine is operative.”
(Econ, 11/1/08, p.92)
1588 Apr 5, Thomas Hobbes
(d.1679), English philosopher (Leviathan), was born. "The reputation
of power IS power."
(HN, 5/5/97)(AP, 5/31/99)
1592 Sep 13, Michel Eyquem de
Montaigne, French philosopher (L'Amiti), died at 59.
1596 Mar 31, Rene Descartes
(d.1650), French philosopher, was born in La Haye, France. He
proposed a numerical index that represented fundamental notions. He
made consciousness the defining feature of the self. Descartes died
in Sweden. In 1997 Paul Strathern published: "Descartes in 90
Minutes," and Keith Devlin published "Goodbye Descartes: The End of
Logic and the Search for a New Cosmology of the Mind." In 1998 the
French biography by Genevieve Rodis-Lewis was translated to English:
"Descartes: His Life and Thought."
(V.D.-H.K.p.203)(Wired, 8/96, p.86)(WSJ, 3/18/97,
p.A20)(AP, 3/30/97) (WSJ, 7/23/98, p.A14)(WSJ, 8/21/98, p.W13)
1632 Nov 24, Baruch (Benedict)
de Spinoza (d.1677), Dutch rationalist philosopher, was born in
Amsterdam. "Fear cannot be without hope nor hope without fear."
(AP, 9/24/99)(MC, 11/24/01)
1650 Feb 11, Rene Descartes
(b.1596), French mathematician and philosopher: "I think therefore I
am", died in Stockholm. In 1666 his bones were exhumed for transfer
to France. In 2008 Russell Shorto authored “Descartes’ Bones: A
Skeletal History of the conflict Between Faith and Reason.”
1651 Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679),
English philosopher, authored “Leviathan.” In it he tried to deduce
from 1st principles the shape that society should take.
(SSFC, 6/27/04, p.M3)
1669 Jul 21, John Locke's
Constitution of English colony Carolina was approved.
1676 Jul 21, Anthony Collins,
English philosopher (A discourse on free-thinking), was born.
1677 Feb 21, [Benedictus]
Baruch Spinoza (b.1632), Dutch philosopher, died. In 2003 Antonio
Damasio authored "Looking for Spinoza," a look at contemporary
neurological research in contrast with the opposing philosophical
views of Spinoza and Descartes.
(WUD, 1994 p.1371)(MC, 2/21/02)(SSFC, 2/2/03,
1679 Dec 4, Thomas Hobbes
(b.1588), English philosopher, died. "The reputation of power IS
power." Hobbes sought to separate politics from religion. In his
book “Leviathan” he argues that the only way to secure civil society
is through universal submission to the absolute authority of a
(WSJ, 7/30/03, p.A12)(WSJ, 9/15/07,
1711 Apr 26, David Hume
(d.1776), Scottish historian and philosopher, was born. His work
included the “Treatise of Human Nature” and the 6-volume “History of
England.” Use of the new calendar puts his birthday on May 7.
1711 May 7, David Hume
(d.1776), Scottish historian and philosopher, was born. His work
included the “Treatise of Human Nature” and the 6-volume “History of
England.” The old style calendar puts his birthday on April
1724 Apr 22, Immanuel Kant
(d.1804), German philosopher (Critique of Pure Reason), was born in
Konigsberg (Kaliningrad). He held that space is just a "form of
sensibility" that our minds impose on experience to give it
structure. His work included the essay "Perpetual Peace."
(V.D.-H.K.p.40)(HN, 4/22/98)(WSJ, 8/21/98,
p.W13)(WSJ, 1/7/98, p.A10)
1729 Sep 6, Mozes Mendelssohn,
German enlightened philosopher (Haksalah), was born. [see Sep 26]
1743 Benjamin Franklin and John
Bartram founded the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia
as an American counterpart to the British Royal Society.
1744 Aug 25, Johann G. von
Herder, German philosopher, theologist, poet, was born.
1753 Mar 25, Voltaire left the
court of Frederik II of Prussia.
1758 Mar 22, Jonathan Edwards
(54), theologian, philosopher (Original Sin), died.
1762 May 19, Johann Gottlieb
Fichte, German philosopher, was born. He developed ethical idealism
out of Immanuel Kant's work.
1770 Aug 27, The German
philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) was born in
Stuttgart. He wrote "The Science of Logic." Hegel greatly influenced
Karl Marx. His method was to metaphysicize everything, that is, to
discern in concrete reality the working of some Idea or Universal
Mind. Hegel proposed that all change, all progress, is brought about
by the conflict of vast forces. A world-historical figure or nation
or event lays down a challenge. This thesis, as he called it, is
opposed by an antithesis. The conflict between them is resolved,
inevitably, by a synthesis of the two forces on a higher plane of
(V.D.-H.K.p.258)(AP, 8/27/97)(HN, 8/27/98)
1773 Apr 6, James Mill
(d.1836), English philosopher, historian (Hist of British India) and
economist, was born in Scotland.
(V.D.-H.K.p.253)(WUD, 1994 p.909)(MC, 4/6/02)
1778 Jul 3, Jean-Jacques
Rousseau, writer and philosopher, died. He was considered part of
the French Enlightenment along with Voltaire and Diderot.
(WSJ, 2/18/97, p.A18)(WSJ, 6/7/00, p.A24)(MC,
1781 Immanuel Kant published
his "Critique of Pure Reason." The questions of whether the universe
has a beginning and whether it is limited in space are described as
antinomies (that is, contradictions). This is because he saw
compelling arguments for and against. [see 1790]
(BHT, Hawking, p.8)
1784 Jul 30, Denis Diderot
(b.1713), French philosopher, critic, and encyclopedist, died. "Let
us strangle the last king with the entrails of the last priest."
(WSJ, 6/15/99, p.A16)(MC, 7/30/02)
1784 Philosopher Emmanuel Kant
posed the question “What is enlightenment?”
(WSJ, 9/1/04, p.AD10)
1790 Emmanuel Kant published
his "Critique of Judgement." His analysis of the nature of art and
aesthetic experience proved to be a major influence on modern ideas.
These ideas were later revisited by Murdoch in her 1998 work
"Existentialists and Mystics." [see 1781]
(WSJ, 2/17/98, p.A20)
1790 The opera "The
Philosopher’s Stone" was composed and first performed. A 1997 score
showed that a number of composers wrote various sections. Mozart’s
name was associated with the 2nd act finale and a duet. It was a
singspiel based on fairytales with a libretto by Emanuel
Schikaneder. Other composers included Johann Baptist Henneberg,
Benedikt Schack, Franz Haver Gerl and Emanuel Schikaneder.
(SFC, 6/13/97, p.C11)(WSJ, 11/4/98, p.A20)
1791 Jul 13, The bones of the
greatest French satirist, philosopher, and writer, Voltaire
(Jean-Marie Arouet) were enshrined in the Pantheon in Paris.
1794 Mar 29, Marie-Joseph de
Condorcet (50), mathematician (Theory of Comets) and philosopher,
died as a fugitive from French Revolution Terrorists.
1794 Jun 8, Maximilian
Robespierre, French Revolutionary leader, worried about the
influence of French atheists and philosophers, staged the "Festival
of the Supreme Being" in Paris.
1797 Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826), the third president of the United States (1801-1809),
began serving as US Vice President. He was also elected president of
the American Philosophical Society this year and continued to 1815.
A philosopher-statesman of the Enlightenment, Jefferson drafted the
Declaration of Independence, was George Washington’s first Secretary
of State and vice-president under John Adams.
1798-1857 Auguste Comte, the French founder of the
philosophical system of Positivism.
(WUD, 1994, p.303)(WSJ, 6/22/99, p.A22)
1806 May 20, John Stuart Mill
(d.1873), British philosopher and economist, was born. He promoted
utilitarianism and is known as the last great economist of the
classical school. He authored "Principles of Political Economy"
wherein in theorized that production was the real basis for economic
law. He felt that the market was capable of allocating resources but
not of distributing income. "If all mankind minus one, were of one
opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind
would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if
he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
(V.D.-H.K.p.253)(WSJ, 1/11/99, p.R20)(AP,
1813 May 5, Soren Kierkegaard
(d.1855), Danish philosopher and theologian, was born. He founded
Existentialism and believed that man's relation to God must be an
agonizing experience. "Truth is not introduced into the individual
from without, but was within him all the time." His books included
the philosophical novel "Diary of a Seducer."
(WUD, 1994, p.786)(AP, 10/23/97)(SFC, 9/4/98,
1762 May 19, Johann Gottlieb
Fichte (d.1814), German philosopher, was born. He developed ethical
idealism out of Immanuel Kant's work.
1814 Jan 27, Johann Gottlieb
Fichte (b.1762), German philosopher, died.
1818 May 5, Karl Marx, German
philosopher, was born in Prussia. He argued that history was marked
by various stages of class struggle and capitalism which had
overcome feudalism would in turn be overcome by socialism and the
elimination of private property. He and Friedrich Engels founded
Communism. Together they wrote "The Communist Manifesto" and "Das
(WSJ, 1/11/99, p.R20)(AP, 5/5/97)(HN, 5/5/99)
1826 The Faculties of
Philosophy and Law were reestablished at the Univ. of Innsbruck.
(StuAus, April '95, p.97)
1828 Apr 21, Hippolyte Taine,
French philosopher, historian (Voyage in Italy), was born.
1854 Apr 29, Henri Poincare
(1912), French mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, was born. He
investigated the idea of space and led to the notion that space is
too complex for mathematics. Rather space is an assumption, and it
can be described and controlled only so far as we assume it. In
other words there is no such thing as space. Instead, there are as
many spaces as there are people... for every person can assume an
indefinite number of different spaces.
1855 Nov 11, Soren A.
Kierkegaard (b.1813), Danish philosopher and theologian, died. In
2005 Joakim Garff authored “Søren A. Kierkegaard: A Biography.”
1860 Sep 21, Arthur
Schopenhauer (b.1788), German philosopher known for his pessimism
and philosophical clarity, died. At age 25 he published his doctoral
dissertation,” On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient
Reason,” which examined the four separate manifestations of reason
in the phenomenal world.
1861 Feb 15, Alfred North
Whitehead (d.1947), English philosopher (Adv of Ideas) and
mathematician, was born. "We think in generalities, but we live in
detail." "I have always noticed that deeply and truly religious
persons are fond of a joke, and I am suspicious of those who
aren’t." "It is more important that a proposition be interesting
than that it be true."
(AP, 4/11/97)(AP, 10/5/97)(AP, 9/8/98)(MC,
1865 Jan 19, Pierre-Joseph
Proudhon (b.1809), French economist and a socialist, died. “Property
is theft.” He was the founder of Mutualist philosophy and was the
first person to declare himself an anarchist.
1867 Oct, Karl Marx
(1818-1883), London-based German philosopher, sociologist, economic
historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist, published Volume
1 of “Das Kapital, Kritik der politischen Okonomie” (Capital:
Critique of Political Economy). The first English edition was
published in 1887. It is a critical analysis of capitalism as
political economy, meant to reveal the economic laws of the
capitalist mode of production, and how it was the precursor of the
socialist mode of production. Volumes II and III remained mere
manuscripts upon which Marx continued to work for the rest of his
life and were published posthumously by Engels.
1868 Mar 22, Wilhelm
Storasta-Vydunas, Lithuanian philosopher and writer, was born in
Jonaiciai. He died Feb 2, 1920, in Germany.
1872 May 18, Bertrand Russell
(d.1970), English mathematician, philosopher and social reformer,
(WSJ, 9/27/96, p.A16)(AP, 1/7/99)(HN, 5/18/99)
1874 Jul 28, Ernst Cassirer,
German philosopher, educator (Essay on Man), was born.
1881 May 1, Pierre Teilhard de
Chardin (d.1955), French Jesuit philosopher, paleontologist, was
born. He authored the "Phenomenon of Man" wherein he proposed the
idea of the noosphere, i.e. sphere of mind, in which all the minds
of all the humans on earth could be conceived of as both separate
and as combined in one great, single intelligence.
1882 Friedrich Nietzsche
authored “Die Fröhliche Wissenschaft” (The Gay Science), in which he
pronounced the death of God.
1882 Herbert Spencer
(1820-1903), English philosopher, culminated his visit to the US
with a dinner a Delmonico’s in NYC, at which mostly Republican men
of science, religion, business and government participated. In 2008
Barry Werth authored “Banquet at Delmonico’s: Great Minds, the
Gilded Age, and the Triumph of Evolution in America.”
(WSJ, 1/9/09, p.A11)
1883 May 9, Spanish philosopher
Jose Ortega y Gasset was born in Madrid.
1884 Jul 7, Lion Feuchtwanger,
German philosopher, writer (Jud Suss), was born.
1884 Herbert Spencer
(1820-1903), English philosopher, authored his libertarian bible:
“The Man versus the State.”
(Econ, 3/12/11, SR p.18)
1888 Friedrich Nietzsche
(1844-1900), German philosopher, authored “Twilight of the Idols.”
It included the phrase: "What does not destroy me makes me
stronger," which unwittingly inspired 21st century musicians.
1889 Apr 26, Ludwig
Wittgenstein (d.1951), philosopher (Tractatus), was born in Vienna,
Austria. He pondered the nature of knowledge and the limits of
language. He argued that the criteria for the correct use of any
language must be social. "The human body is the best picture of the
(SFEC, 10/27/96, BR p.4)(SFC, 1/31/98, p.E1)(WSJ,
8/21/98, p.W13)(AP, 1/3/01)(MC, 4/26/02)
1891 May 18, Rudolf Carnap,
philosopher (German Logical Positivist), was born.
1893 Mar 5, Hippolyte Taine
(64), French philosopher, historian, died.
1895 Jul 12, R. Buckminster
Fuller (d.1983), architect and engineer, was born. "The more we
learn the more we realize how little we know."
(AP, 7/1/97)(HN, 7/12/01)
1897-1955 Bernard De Voto, American author,
journalist and critic: "History abhors determinism, but cannot
tolerate chance." Determinism refers to the notion that a cause
precedes every event.
(AP, 8/20/97)(SSFC, 4/6/03, p.M5)
1900 Aug 25, Philosopher
Friedrich Nietzsche (55) died in Weimar, Germany. In 1999 Ronald
Taylor translated into English the book "Nietzsche and Wagner" by
Joachim Köhler. In 2002 Taylor translated Joachim Kohler’s
"Zarathustra’s Secret: The Interior Life of Friedrich Nietzsche." In
2004 Georges Liebert authored "Nietzsche and Music."
(WSJ, 2/4/99, p.A20)(AP, 8/25/00)(SSFC, 6/9/02,
p.M5)(WSJ, 1/28/04, p.D6)
1902 Jul 25, Eric Hoffer
(d.1983), American longshoreman, philosopher and author of “In Our
Time,” was born: “Our present addiction to pollsters and forecasters
is a symptom of our chronic uncertainty about the future. ... We
watch our experts read the entrails of statistical tables and graphs
the way the ancients watched their soothsayers read the entrails of
a chicken.” “It almost seems that nobody can hate America as much as
native Americans. America needs new immigrants to love and cherish
it.” “We do not usually look for allies when we love. Indeed, we
often look on those who love with us as rivals and trespassers. But
we always look for allies when we hate.”
(AP, 5/21/97)(AP, 10/28/97)(AP, 5/23/98)(HN,
1903 Dec 8, Herbert Spencer
(b.1820), English philosopher, died. He was later considered to be
the father of Social Darwinism. He is best known for coining the
phrase "survival of the fittest," which he did in “Principles of
1905 Jun 21, Jean-Paul Sartre
(d.1980), French philosopher and existentialist, was born. He won
the Nobel Prize in 1964 but declined it. His works include “The Road
(HN, 6/21/98)(AP, 2/15/00)
1908 Jan 9, French philosopher
and feminist Simone de Beauvoir was born in Paris.
1908 Jan 27, Antanas Maceina
(d. Jan 27, 1987), philosopher and representative of modern
Lithuanian Catholicism, was born.
1910 Aug 26, William James
(b.1842), American psychologist and philosopher, died. His work
included “the Principles of Psychology” (1890) and “The Varieties of
Religious Experience” (1902). William James was the older brother of
novelist Henry James. In 2006 Robert D. Richardson authored the
biography: “William James.”
1912 Jun 28, Karl F. von
Weisacker, German physicist, philosopher, was born.
1912 Sep 5, John Cage (d.1992),
inventive composer, writer, philosopher, and artist, was born. [2nd
source says Sep 15] “The highest purpose is to have no purpose at
(HN, 9/5/98)(SFC, 12/27/99, p.E3)(AP, 6/20/00)
1914 Apr 19, Charles Sanders
Peirce (b.1839), American polymath, philosopher and scientist, died
in Milford, Pa. In 1883 he used randomization in a psychological
experiment at Johns Hopkins Univ.
c1914-1919 Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951),
Viennese-born philosopher, wrote his "Tractatus
Logico-Philosophicus" while serving in the Austrian army during WW
I. He had "set out to chart the logical limits of language and ended
with poetic gestures toward what words could not capture." In 1996
Marjorie Perloff wrote "Wittgenstein’s Ladder: Poetic Language and
the Strangeness of the Ordinary."
(SFEC, 10/27/96, BR p.4)
1935 Aug 15, Humorist Will
Rogers (55), American comedian and "cowboy philosopher," and
aviation pioneer Wiley Post (36) were killed when their airplane
crashed near Point Barrow, Alaska. Rogers once said: "Even if you're
on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."
(AP, 8/15/97)(HN, 8/15/98)(MC, 8/15/02)
1938 Paul-Louis Landsberg
(1901-1943), German philosopher, authored “The Experience of Death:
and The Moral Problem of Suicide.” Landsberg, a Jewish Catholic,
died in a Nazi concentration camp.
(Econ, 7/12/08, p.92)(http://tinyurl.com/6bjhe7)
1950 Theodor Adorno
(1903-1969), German philosopher, authored “The Authoritarian
Personality,” an inquiry into the fascist potential of American
(WSJ, 4/18/08, p.W5)
1950 Walter Paepcke, chairman
of Container Corp. of America, founded the Aspen Institute in
Colorado as a gathering place for business leaders, artists and
philosophers to contemplate society’s underlying values: "a global
forum for leveraging the power of leaders to improve the human
condition;" "an educational institute that promotes leadership based
(WSJ, 1/31/03, p.W13)
1951 Apr 29, Ludwig
Wittgenstein (b.1889), Austrian-born philosopher, died in Cambridge,
England. His “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicos” (1921) purported to
address all of philosophy’s major problems. His posthumous work was
edited by Elizabeth Uncombed (d.2001), and included his
"Philosophical Investigations" (1953).
(SFC, 1/16/01, p.C4)(WSJ, 2/28/09,
1951 Theodor Adorno
(1903-1969), German philosopher, authored “Minima Moralia,”
Reflections From a Damaged Life,” in which he called all traditional
experience of the world into question.
(WSJ, 4/18/08, p.W5)
1952 Jun 2, Philosopher John
Dewey died at age 92.
(MT, Fall. ‘97, p.19)
1954 Jan 3, Albert Einstein
wrote a letter to the philosopher Eric Gutkind describing belief in
God as "childish superstition" and saying Jews were not the chosen
people. In 2008 the letter was put up for auction and sold for
(AFP, 5/13/08)(AP, 5/16/08)
1959 Norman O. Brown (d.2002),
philosopher, authored "Life Against Death." His 1966 book "Love’s
Body" was a follow-up.
(SFC, 10/7/02, p.A19)
1962 "The Structure of
Scientific Revolution" by Berkeley Prof. Thomas Samuel Kuhn
(1923-1996), eminent historian of science, was published. Kuhn
distinguished between ordinary science, which solves problems within
a particular paradigm and revolutionary science, which introduces a
new world view.
(V.D.-H.K.p.211)(SFC, 6/21/96, p.E2)
1963 Donald Davidson (d.2003 at
86), Prof. of Philosophy at UC Berkeley, authored "Actions, Reasons
(SFC, 9/5/03, p.A23)
1965 May 22, Heinrich Barth,
Swiss philosopher (Das Sein in der Zeit), died.
1965 Imre Lakatos of London's
School of Economics organized a session chaired by Karl Popper at
which philosopher Thomas Kuhn spoke. In 2003 Steve Fuller authored
"Kuhn vs. Popper: The Struggle for the Soul of Science."
(Econ, 8/9/03, p.71)
1966 Jul 12, D.T. Suzuki (96),
Zen Buddhism scholar, died in Tokyo, Japan.
1969 Feb 26, Karl Jaspers
(b.1883), German psychiatrist, philosopher, died.
1969 Aug 6, Theodor Adorno,
German philosopher, died of a heart attack. In 2008 Detlev Claussen
authored “Theodor W. Adorno: One Last Genius.”
1970 Feb 2, Bertrand Russell
(B.1872), philosopher, social gadfly and British MP, died in
Merioneth. "Why is propaganda so much more successful when it stirs
up hatred than when it tries to stir up friendly feeling?" He wrote
"Pricipia Mathmatica." In 1996 "Bertrand Russel: The Spirit of
Solitude," 1871-1921 by Ray Monk was published.
(WSJ, 9/27/96, p.A16)(AP, 1/7/99)(HN,
1971 Prof. Carl Cohen of U of M
published "Civil Disobedience."
1973 Oct 18, Leo Strauss
(b.1899), German-born political theorist, died. Strauss, who arrived
in the US in 1937, contended that Western civilization draws
strength from the unresolved contest between reason and revelation.
His books included “Liberalism: Ancient and Modern,” a collection of
essays, “Natural Right and History,” “Persecution and the Art of
Writing,” and “Thoughts on Machiavelli.”
1976 May 26, Martin Heidegger
(b.1889), German philosopher (Holzweg), died.
1977 Aug 23, Marxist
philosopher Rudolf Bahro was imprisoned in German DR.
1980 Apr 15, Existentialist
philosopher, novelist and dramatist, Jean-Paul Sartre (b.1905) died
in Paris at the age of 74. His work included "Being and Time" (1927)
and "Nausea" (19238). He won the 1964 Nobel Prize for literature and
his work included "Being and Nothingness." Philosophical replies to
this work were written by Claude Levi-Strauss: "The Raw and the
Cooked," a book that popularized structuralism in France, and by
Michael Foucault: "Words and Things," ("The Order of Things" in the
American edition). "If you're lonely while you’re alone, you’re in
bad company." In 2000 Bernard-Henri Levy authored "Sartre: The
Philosopher of the Twentieth Century."
(SFEC, 4/19/98, BR p.8)(SFEC, 6/21/98, Z1
p.8)(AP, 4/15/99)(Econ, 8/30/03, p.60)
1981 Hilary Putnam of Harvard
Univ. sought to prove that "I am a brain in a vat" is a type of
self-defeating utterance, which can never be true.
(Econ, 11/15/03, p.80)
1983 May 21, Eric Hoffer
(b.1902), longshoreman-philosopher, died in SF. His writings
included "The True Believer" (1951), a critical view of mass
movements, "The Passionate State of Mind," "The Ordeal of Change,"
and "The Temper of the Time."
1984 Jun 25, Michel Foucault
(57), philosopher (History of Sexuality), died of AIDs.
1985 Bernard Williams
(1930-2003), English moral philosopher, authored "Ethics and the
Limits of Philosophy" (1985).
(SSFC, 6/15/03, p.A27)
1987 Jul 28, James Burnham
(81), philosopher (Coming Defeat of Communism), died.
1996 May 27, George S. Boolos,
Prof. of linguistics and philosophy at MIT, died at age 55. He was
president of the Association for Symbolic Knowledge and was known as
one of the originators of provability logic, the study of the logic
of statements and what can and cannot be proved within mathematical
systems. He was also an authority on the work of 19th cent. German
mathematician and philosopher Gottlob Frege, regarded as the founder
of modern logic.
(SFC, 5/30/96, p.A16)
2001 Stanford philosophy
professors John Perry and Ken Taylor made an hour long radio pilot
program, “Philosophy Talk,” on the question: “Would you want to live
forever?” San Francisco producers at KALW agreed to air the program.
(SFC, 2/10/10, p.E3)
2002 Nov 24, John Rawls (81),
philosopher, died in Boston. His work included "A Theory of Justice"
(1971), which advanced the concept of a social compact. The Rawls
test: would the best off accept the arrangements if they believed at
any moment they might find themselves in the place of the worst
(WSJ, 11/26/02, p.A1)(SFC, 11/29/02, p.A27)
2002 Steven Pinker authored
"The Blank Slate," an examination of human nature and the political
implications that follow the explication of human behavior.
(WSJ, 9/26/02, p.D10)
2002 Bernard Williams authored
"Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy." It tempered the
postmodernist line that "truth expresses no more than the power of
some individual or group to impose its view of things on everyone
(SSFC, 9/22/02, p.M2)
2003 Jun 10, Bernard Williams
(73), moral philosopher, died in Oxford. His books included:
"Utilitarianism: For and Against" (1973), "Ethics and the Limits of
Philosophy" (1985), "Shame and Necessity" (1993), and "Truth and
Truthfulness" (2002). He coined the term "moral luck."
(SSFC, 6/15/03, p.A27)(Econ, 6/28/03, p.83)
2003 Aug, Donald Davidson,
American philosopher, died. He argued that our basic beliefs about
the world cannot be wrong through and through because otherwise we
would have no reason to regard them as genuine beliefs.
(Econ, 11/15/03, p.80)
2003 Nov 4, Richard
Arthur Wollheim, a philosophy professor whose writing on visual art
and psychoanalysis made him one of the field's most innovative
thinkers, died in London. He set out his views about visual art in
"Painting as an Art," (1987). He was credited with coining the term
"Minimalism" in his 1965 essay "Minimal Art," about monochromatic
painting and Marcel Duchamp's piecing together of everyday objects
into artworks. His 1968 book "Art and Its Objects" also won high
2003 Daniel C. Dennett,
philosopher at Tuft Univ., authored "Freedom Evolves." It expanded
on his 1995 book "Darwin’s Dangerous Idea," which ignited anxiety
about the incompatibility of determinism and free will.
(SSFC, 4/6/03, p.M5)
2003 Prof. Robert Fogelin of
Dartmouth authored "Walking the Tightrope of Reason: The Precarious
Life of a Rational Animal."
(SSFC, 9/21/03, p.M6)
2004 Jan 9, Norberto Bobbio
(94), an Italian liberal philosopher, essayist and senator for life,
died in Turin. One of his most important books is the 1955 "Politica
e Cultura" ("Politics and Culture"). A 1994 essay, called "Destra e
Sinistra" ("Left and Right"), was his best-selling work.
2004 Mar 21, C. West Churchman
(90), former UC Penn. and UC Berkeley prof. and author of 12 books,
died in Bolinas, Ca. He helped create the concept of corporate
responsibility. His books included "Challenge to Reason," "The
Design of Inquiring Systems," and "The Systems Approach."
(SFC, 3/25/04, p.B7)
2004 Jun 13, Author and
academic Stuart Hampshire, a former chairman of the department of
philosophy at Princeton University who argued that philosophy must
be studied within the context of other disciplines, died in Oxford,
England. His books included "The Freedom of the Individual."
2004 Oct 8, Jacques Derrida
(74), one of France's best-known philosophers and the founder of the
deconstructionist school, died of cancer in Paris.
(SSFC, 10/10/04, p.A14)
2005 May 20, Paul Ricoeur (92),
a French philosopher whose broad interests included biblical
interpretation and the study of human perception, died.
2006 Sep 12, Joan Valerie
Bondurant, former spy and UC prof. of political science, died in
Tucson, Az. She had translated documents for the CIA in India where
she met Gandhi and grew fascinated by satyagraha, a thesis of
nonviolent resistance. Her books included “Conquest of Violence: The
Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict” (1958).
(SFC, 9/21/06, p.B5)
2006 Sep 19, Sam Harris
published his polemic ”Letter to a Christian Nation.” It was a
philosophical attack on the basic tenets held by all major
(WSJ, 9/28/06, p.B2)
2005 Ted Honderich edited “The
Oxford Companion to Philosophy,” an update to the 1995 original.
(Econ, 5/21/05, p.85)
2005 Brian Leiter edited “The
Future for Philosophy.”
(Econ, 5/21/05, p.85)
2006 Joshua Foa Dienstag
authored “Pessimism: Philosophy, Ethic, Spirit.”
(WSJ, 9/15/06, p.W1)
2006 Ronald W. Dworkin,
anesthesiologist and philosopher, authored “Artificial Happiness.”
(WSJ, 6/24/06, p.P12)
2006 Michael Frayn authored
“The Human Touch: Our Part in the Creation of the Universe.” He
addressed the question: How much of man’s conception of the world is
made up by man?
(Econ, 9/9/06, p.80)
2007 Jun 8, Richard Rorty
(b.1931), philosophy professor, died in Palo Alto, Ca. His books
included “Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature” (1979). In 2008 Neil
Gross authored “Richard Rorty: The Making of an American
(SFC, 6/11/07, p.A2)(Econ, 6/14/08, p.103)
2007 Nicholas Fern, British
journalist, authored “The Latest Answers To the Oldest Questions.”
(WSJ, 2/23/07, p.W4)
2008 Genevieve Lloyd authored
“Providence Lost,” a work of intellectual history in which the
author attempts to restore some of the lost continuities that
connect modern philosophy to its ancient sources.
(WSJ, 11/28/08, p.W6)
2009 Jan 11, Arne Naess
(b.1912), Norwegian philosopher, writer and mountaineer, died. He
was best known for launching the concept of "deep ecology,"
promoting the idea that Earth as a planet has as much right as its
inhabitants, such as humans, to survive and flourish.
2009 Mar 16, Bernard d’Espagnat
(87), French physicist and philosopher, was named in Paris as the
winner of this year’s $1.42 million Templeton Prize.
(SFC, 3/17/09, p.A2)
2009 Jul 17, Leszek Kolakowski
(b.1927), Polish-born Oxford philosopher and historian of ideas,
died in Oxford. “We Learn history not in order to know how to behave
or how to succeed, but to know who we are.” His work included the
3-volume series “Main currents of Marxism: Its Rise, Growth and
2011 James Miller authored
“Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche.”
(Econ, 1/29/11, p.82)