Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the philosopher, essayist, and novelist, was born at Geneva. His mother having died a few days after his birth, he was brought up by an aunt and an erratic father who taught him to read through the medium of sentimental novels and Plutarch's Lives.

He had little formal education. After staying for about two years with a country minister at Bossey, he returned to Geneva and lived with an uncle. He was then apprenticed in turn to a notary and an engraver, the latter of whom treated him so brutally that in 1728 he left Geneva to seek his fortune elsewhere.

Rousseau was protected and befriended by Mme. de Warens, a convert to Roman Catholicism, who had left her native canton of Vaud to live at Annecy in Savoy, with financial support from the king of Sardinia and the ecclesiastical authorities. Rousseau's subsequent attachment to her was a decisive factor in his conversion to Roman Catholicism as well as in his emotional development.

Louis Rougier

Louis Rougier
Louis Rougier

Louis Rougier, the French philosopher, was a pupil of Edmond Goblot. Rougier taught philosophy at the universities of Besançon and Caen. In 1935 he organized and presided over the Paris International Congress of Scientific Philosophy, where the leading spokesmen for logical empiricism, at the time little known in France, presented their views in a body.

From the start, Rougier's thought had been marked by the contemporary upheavals in the sciences of physics, mathematics, and logic. To these developments he devoted several of his early books, including La philosophie géométrique d'Henri Poincaré (Paris, 1920), La structure des théories déductives (Paris, 1921), La matiére et l'energie selon la théorie de la relativité et la théorie des quanta (Paris, 1921), and En Marge de Curie, de Carnot et d'Einstein (Paris, 1922).

In his view, the upsets in the sciences reinforced the closely pressed critique which he had directed in his doctoral thesis, Les paralogismes du rationalisme (Paris, 1920), against the theory academic philosophers call "rationalism."

William David Ross

William David Ross - Ikumi Hisamatsu
William David Ross


William David Ross was a British Aristotelian scholar and moral philosopher. Sir David Ross was born in Scotland and was educated at the Royal High School in Edinburgh, Edinburgh University, and Balliol College, Oxford, where he took firsts in classical moderations and "greats." He was a fellow of Merton College from 1900 to 1902, when he was elected a fellow and tutor of Oriel. He was provost of Oriel from 1929 until his resignation in 1947.

Ross was prominent in academic and public life. He was vice-chancellor of Oxford University (1941–1944), pro-vice-chancellor (1944–1947), president of the Classical Association (1932), and president of the British Academy (1936–1940). He was chairman of Council of the Royal Institute of Philosophy continuously since 1940. In 1947 he served as president of the Union Académique Internationale.

Ross was awarded the Order of the British Empire for his work in the ministry of munitions and as a major on the special list during World War I. He was knighted in 1938. During World War II he was a member of the appellate tribunal for conscientious objectors and after the war was honored by the governments of Norway and Poland.

Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre, French existentialist philosopher and author, was born in Paris where he attended prestigious lycées and then the École Normale Supérieur from 1924 to 1928. After passing his agrégation the following year, he taught in several lycées both in Paris and elsewhere.

In 1933, he succeeded Raymond Aron (1905–1983) as a research stipendiary for a year at the Institut Français in Berlin, where he immersed himself in phenomenology, concentrating on Edmund Husserl but also reading Max Scheler and some Martin Heidegger.

In the years following his return to France, he published several phenomenological works as well as the philosophical novel La nausea (Nausea) (1938) that brought him public recognition. He resumed his teaching till conscripted into the French Army in 1939.

Bertrand Arthur William Russell

Bertrand Arthur William Russell
Bertrand Arthur William Russell

Bertrand Arthur William Russell, the British philosopher, mathematician, and social reformer, was born in Trelleck, Wales. He was the grandson of Lord John Russell, who introduced the Reform Bill of 1832 and later twice served as prime minister under Queen Victoria.

John Stuart Mill, a close friend of Russell’s parents, was his godfather in an informal sense. Russell’s parents died when he was a little child. Both of them had been freethinkers, and his father’s will had provided that he and his brother were to have as their guardians friends of his father’s who shared the latter’s unorthodox opinions.

As the result of litigation the will was set aside by the Court of Chancery and the two boys were placed in the care of their paternal grandparents. Lord John Russell died two years later, and it was the boys’ grandmother who determined the manner of their upbringing.

Leonard James Savage

Leonard James Savage
Leonard James Savage

Leonard James Savage was the most influential Bayesian statistician of the second half of the twentieth century. Born November 20, 1917, in Detroit, Michigan, Savage received his PhD in mathematics at the University of Michigan in 1941.

He then spent a year serving as John von Neumann’s assistant at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he was exposed to von Neumann’s ideas on game theory and the mathematical modeling of human behavior, topics that became a central focus of Savage’s research.

In his next position at Columbia University’s wartime Statistical Research Group— whose members included such luminaries as Abraham Wald, Milton Friedman, Harold Hotelling, Fredrick Mostler, and Abraham Girshick—Savage developed an interest in statistics and became convinced that the subject should be grounded on a “personalist” conception of probability. After Columbia, Savage went on to hold academic positions at Chicago, Michigan, and Yale.

Friedrich Karl von Savigny

Friedrich Karl von Savigny
Friedrich Karl von Savigny

Friedrich Karl von Savigny, the founder of historical jurisprudence, was born in Frankfurt, Germany, into a family that had moved there from Lorraine. Left an orphan at thirteen, Savigny was brought up by a friend who educated him in ways that recall the experience of young John Stuart Mill. At seventeen Savigny entered the University of Marburg; after studying at other universities, he returned to Marburg for his doctor’s degree in 1800 and began a long, influential, and distinguished teaching career.

At the age of twenty-four he published Das Recht des Besitzes (The Right of Possession; Giessen, 1804), and in the following year he began to tour libraries in search of manuscripts for his historical work. In 1810 he accepted a teaching post at the newly founded University of Berlin, which he helped organize and where he became rector.

Friedrich Karl von Savigny did much to raise the standards of German universities and to help them achieve a dominant position in the world of scholarship. While teaching, writing, and assisting in the administration of the university until 1842, he also performed judicial tasks, and from 1842 to 1848 he was chancellor of Prussia.

Max Scheler

Max Scheler
Max Scheler

A pioneering German phenomenologist, ethicist, and social philosopher, Max Scheler was born in Munich in 1874. His father was Lutheran, his mother was Jewish; Scheler himself, ever independent, embraced Catholicism. After studying with Wilhelm Dilthey and Georg Simmel, he earned his doctorate in 1897 under Rudolf Eucken in Jena, where he taught until 1906. From 1907 he taught in Munich, where he met Franz Brentano and several disciples of Edmund Husserl, the father of the phenomenological movement.

He soon became acquainted with a growing circle of phenomenologists from Munich and Göttingen, including Moritz Geiger (1880–1937), Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889–1977), Alexander Pfänder, Adolf Reinach (1883–1917), Edith Stein, and others. But as early as 1901, when he first met Husserl, Scheler had already taken an independent phenomenological direction of his own.

In 1910 Scheler lost his post in Munich after a divorce alienated him from the Catholic university administration. In 1912, he married Märit Furtwängler, sister of the noted conductor. From 1910 to 1919, he freelanced as an independent scholar, publishing a prolific number of works, particularly on ethics, but also on political issues of the day, including war, capitalism, feminism, the psychology of resentment, and various social issues. He served on diplomatic missions to Switzerland and the Netherlands.

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