John Stuart Mill was an English philosopher who devoted his life to the cause of utilitarianism: the ethical vision that society should be governed in a manner that maximizes happiness for the greatest number. Mill was born May 20, 1806 in a London suburb. His father James was an important…


Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, political theorist, novelist, and musician active in 18th century Europe. Often grouped together with his Enlightenment contemporaries, Rousseau was in fact suspicious of the notion of progress, drawing attention to the ways in which modern society corrupts the natural goodness of humanity. …


John Locke was an English philosopher from the 17th century whose writings revolutionized both epistemology and politics. …


Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher who wrote during the 17th century. …


William James was a 19th century American philosopher who co-founded the school of pragmatism, which presents truth as contextual and useful rather than universal and certain. Born into a wealthy family, he was delivered on January 11, 1842 at the Astor House, the first luxury hotel in New York City…


René Descartes was a French philosopher, scientist, and mathematician of the 17th century. During his lifetime, he participated in a variety of fields, notably optics, geometry, and astronomy. He was the first to publish a text on the laws of refraction, or what governs the bending of light as it…


Gottfried Leibniz was a German philosopher and polymath of the early modern period. Born in Leipzig on July 1, 1646, he was raised by his mother from the age of six after his father, an ethics professor, passed away in 1652. Leibniz inherited his father’s extensive library, which facilitated his…


William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was a Black sociologist, racial justice advocate, and socialist who lived in the period of American history between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of desegregation.

Born in 1868, Du Bois was raised by his mother after his father fled the family…


Rosa Luxemburg was a Polish-German political theorist and Marxist revolutionary who championed internationalism, anti-militarism, and democratic socialism. She was born in Russian-ruled Poland on March 5th, 1871. Luxemburg belonged to a lower-middle class family and was the youngest of five siblings. Her father was a timber trader who supported liberal…


Ludwig Wittgenstein was an Austrian logician and philosopher of language responsible for the “linguistic turn” that directed philosophy’s attention to the relationship between words and the world. Regarded by many as the greatest thinker of the 20th century, Wittgenstein was a peculiar man who eschewed fame and fortune and spent…

Austin Tannenbaum

Musician, writer, activist. If you enjoy my philosophy essays, consider supporting my work here: https://www.patreon.com/talkphilosophy

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