By Natural Philosopher Mike Prestwood
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The Philosophy Timeline

Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980)

5 Generations Ago 30 Phil, Chapter 31: Sartre and Existentialism Touchstones: Anxiety, Consciousness, and Bad Faith Jean-Paul Sartre arrived in the Material World on June 21, 1905. Born in Paris to a modest family. Sartre, the chain-smoking existentialist who frequented Parisian cafes, is most remembered as an activist writer and for his idea of “bad […]

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John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

9 Generations Ago 30 Phil, Chapter 29: Mill and Utilitarianism Touchstone: Harm Principle John Stuart Mill was born on May 20, 1806, in London, to James Mill, a Scottish-born philosopher and economist, and Harriet Barrow. His Greatest Happiness Principle lies at the core of utilitarianism, advocating for actions that maximize utility, generally understood as producing

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John Locke (1632-1704)

16 Generations Ago 30 Phil, Chapter 24: Locke and Natural Rights Touchstones: Natural Rights, Due Process, The Social Contract, Checks and Balances, and Law John was born on August 29, 1632 into a Puritan family in England. During his life, John Locke was focused on empiricism. He goes on to become a key figure in

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Roger Williams (1602ish-1683)

17 Generations Ago 30 Phil, Chapter 23: Roger Williams and Liberalism Touchstones: Separation of Church and State, and Liberalism. Pictured: None exist of Roger Williams. This artist impression represents his fond relations with Native Americans. Roger Williams was born in England around 1602, in Smithfield, situated at the heart of London. Williams officially founded Providence

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Rene Descartes (1596-1649)

17 Generations Ago 30 Phil, Chapter 22: Descartes and Cartesian Dualism Touchstones: Mind-Body Dualism, Idea Modeling, and Pragmatism René Descartes was born into minor nobility in the Kingdom of France on March 31, 1596. In 1637, Descartes published “Discourse on the Method,” he sought to identify certain knowledge by using doubt to strip away uncertain

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Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

18 Generations Ago 30 Phil, Chapter 21: Galileo and the Scientific Revolution Touchstones: Relativity, the Infinitesimal, and Modern Cosmology Pictured: Portrait circa 1638, Galileo was about 74. Galileo Galilei, more of a scientist than a traditional philosopher, forever altered our understanding of nature. He was born on February 15, 1564. Galileo was a great scientist

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Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

18 Generations Ago Francis Bacon was born on January 22, 1561, in London to a prominent and influential family. The young Francis Bacon received a comprehensive education, attending the prestigious Trinity College, Cambridge, at the age of 12. Bacon is the Father of the Scientific Method, but notice he is not the inventor. Bacon laid

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Guru Nanak (1469-1539)

22 Generations Ago 30 Phil, Chapter 19: Guru Nanak and Sikhism Touchstone: The Five Thieves Nanak was born in a village in Pakistan, on April 15, 1469. In 1499, at age 30, Nanak experienced a transformative spiritual event. While working as a storekeeper, he would often bathe in a nearby river. One fateful day, he

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Peter Abelard (1079-1141)

38 Generations Ago 30 Phil, Chapter 18: Peter Abelard and Universals Touchstones: Intent, Object-Oriented Nature, Pattern Recognition, and The Idea of Ideas Born in 1079 in Le Pallet, a small village in France, Peter Abelard hailed from a noble lineage. His father, a knight of the local lord, intended for his son to follow in

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Alhazen (965-1040)

42 Generations Ago 30 Phil, Chapter 17: Alhazen and the Senses Touchstones: Senses and Perceptions Pictured: Artist impression. Alhazen was born in Basra around 965 CE, a city located in present-day Iraq. In his 30s, Alhazen faced the challenge of his life. He was “commissioned” to produce a solution for regulating the unpredictable and deadly

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Al-Farabi (872-950)

46 Generations Ago 30 Phil, Chapter 16: Al-Farabi and Intellect Touchstones: Intellect and Existence Pictured: Artist impression. Al-Farabi was born along the Silk Road circa 872 CE in the city of Farab, in present-day Kazakhstan. Al-Farabi’ thought was rooted in Platonic and Aristotelian frameworks, yet it seamlessly wove in elements of Islamic thinking. He imagined

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Heraclitus (circa 535-475 BCE)

102 Generations Ago 30 Phil, Chapter 7: Heraclitus and Your Worldview Touchstones: Impermanence, Worldview, and Identity Pictured: Bust of an unknown philosopher. Some believe this might be Heraclitus. This bust is in the Capitoline Museum in Rome, but the museum makes no such identity assumption. As Eastern luminaries contemplated the rhythm and flow of nature,

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Laozi (604-517 BCE)

105 Generations Ago 30 Phil, Chapter 4: Laozi and Daoist Philosophy Touchstones: Non-action, Authenticity, Yin and Yang, & Unknowable Dao Pictured is the statue of Laozi at the base of mountQingyuan in China. The life of Laozi is shrouded in mystery, but he is the first philosopher in “30 Philosophers” that attempts to construct a precise

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