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Famous Philosophers and Others - part 2


EmersonRalph Waldo Emerson:
1803-1882. Emerson was one of America's most influential authors and thinkers. Born in Boston, and serving there as a Unitarian minister, he eventually left his only pastorate, Boston's Old North Church (1829-32), because of doctrinal disputes. On a trip to Europe Emerson met Thomas Carlyle, S. T. Coleridge, and Wordsworth, whose ideas, along with those of Plato, the Neoplatonists, Asian mystics, and Swedenborg strongly influenced his philosophy. Returning home in 1835, he settled in Concord, Massachusetts, which he, Margaret Fuller, Thoreau, and others made a center of TRANSCENDENTALISM. He stated the movement's main principles in Nature (1836), stressing the mystical unity of nature. Emerson developed transcendentalist themes in his famous Journal, kept since his student days at Harvard. Among the best known of his essays are "The Over-Soul," "Compensation," and "Self-Reliance." He is also noted for his poems, e.g., "Threnody," "Brahma," and "The Problem." His later works include Representative Men (1850), English Traits (1856), and The Conduct of Life (1870).



HeisenbergWerner Karl Heisenberg:
(1901-1976) A German theoretical physicist, Werner Heisenberg was born on December 5, 1901. His father was a high school teacher, but became professor at the University in Muenchen in 1910. The family moved to Muenchen, and in 1920 Heisenberg started his studies at the university in this town, under Sommerfeld. Wolfgang Pauli already belonged to Sommerfeld's small group of students; it is a remarkable fact that both future Nobel prize recipients met each other at so early a stage. Werner Karl Heisenberg was one of the leading scientists of the 20th century. He did important work in nuclear and particle physics, but his most significant contribution was the development of QUANTUM MECHANICS. He is best known for his UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE, which restricts the accuracy with which some properties of atoms and particles -- such as position and linear momentum -- can be determined simultaneously. In 1926-1927, Heisenberg worked at Kopenhagen as a lector. In the Winter of 1927, he discovered the principle of uncertainty, that is forever linked with his name.This principle states, that canonical conjugate variables, such as the position and the momentum of a particle, cannot be determined with infinite precision within the context of one and the same phenomenon or experiment. Together, Born's statistical interpretation of the wave function (1926), Bohr's concept of complementarity (1927), and Heisenberg's principle of uncertainty constitute the foundation of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. In 1933, Heisenberg received the Nobel prize for the year 1932. He died on February 1, 1976, in his home in Muenchen. (Source: Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc., 1995)



Pyrrho the Skeptic:
(c 360- c 270 BC) Pyrrho left no writings of his own, but we do know a fair amount about his philosophy. Through the writings of Diogenes Laertius and Pyrrho's student, Timon of Philus, we discover that Pyrrho's philosophy was more a way of living than a dogmatic doctrine or method of dialectic. The most important aspect of his philosophy was to achieve a good, peaceful, content life within the regulations and restrictions of the laws. Philosophical life was about equilibrium. He believed that there were two opposing arguments for every discussion and that both sides should be brought forth, not to establish an objective truth, but rather to bring about a suspension of judgment. Pyrrho believed that indifference was the key to tranquility and that tranquility should be the goal of life. He also believed that man should not remove himself completely from the corporeal, but should live among it, without attempting to possess objective truth through it. Pyrrho is generally regarded as a Skeptic.



The SphinxThe Sphinx:
The great sphinx is among the earth's greatest cultural mysteries. According to ancient egyptian mythology, the sphinx was a living being with the human head and the body of a lion. Those who dared approach the sphinx were presented with a riddle and those who could not solve it, were destroyed.

Although usually depicted in a recumbent position, some sphinxes were shown trampling Egypt's foes. The sphinx image also appeared in various forms among other ancient cultures of Western Asia and the Mediterranean, notably in Mesopotamia, Greece, and Etruria. Wings were often added to the leonine body, and female sphinxes were also created, especially in Greece (8th-6th century BC). Like its mythological counterpart, the Great Stone Sphinx in Egypt poses an ancient riddle for humankind. Who built it and why? And now, there is a new challenge in the riddle of the Sphinx. Not only is the how and why of the Sphinx being called into question, but also the when. Could this great monument pre-date Egypt? Pre-date in fact, all known civilizations? The Sphinx, to date, remains silent on these and other secrets. There is an old saying that something mysterious is "as enigmatic as the Sphinx."



 Mark Twain Mark Twain:
As his fictional character, Huckleberry Finn, points out very early in his tale of youth and adventure, Mark Twain told the truth, mainly. Twain told the truth in great novels and memoirs and short stories and essays, and he became a writer of international renown still translated into 72 languages. He became, through the written and spoken word, America's greatest ambassador and its most perpetually quoted. He was born Samuel L. Clemens in 1835 in a town called Florida, Mo., and before he became a famous writer under the pen name Mark Twain, he worked on a riverboat, as a prospector for gold, as a reporter, and at other enterprises. He was not a young man of excellent reputation - a conclusion reached by Jervis Langdon, an Elmira businessman who had been asked by young Sam for his daughter Livy's hand.

Still, the marriage occurred and, shortly thereafter, in 1871, the couple moved to Hartford, renting a home in the Nook Farm neighborhood from John Hooker. They soon began construction on an eccentric and expensive mansion, where they lived for two decades. In the billiard room of this house many of the greatest books of Mark Twain were finished, among them "Tom Sawyer," "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," "Roughing It," "Life on the Mississippi," and "A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court." Twain is thought of today in many circles as a great humorist. This is, of course, true. His wit is legendary. In fact, once after reading a mistaken account of his own death, he was quoted as saying: "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." - Cablegram, 1897



Howard CosellHoward Cosell:
We threw this in for a little fun. Howard William Cohen (Cosell was his professional name) was a U.S. sportscaster who was born March 25, 1918, in Winston-Salem, N.C. He reached the pinnacle of his career as the audacious commentator on television's "Monday Night Football" (1970-83) and was simultaneously crowned the nation's most loved and most hated sports broadcaster. Cosell's foray into broadcasting in 1956 followed a legal career representing sports and entertainment figures. Before he moved to television with his twangy Brooklyn monotone, he became the host of a radio show that featured Little League players questioning major league baseball stars. His determination to "tell it like it is" often created controversy or criticism, but he reveled in the attention his trenchant observations drew. Cosell, who sported a trademark toupee and, by his own admission, had been variously described as "arrogant, pompous, obnoxious, vain, cruel, verbose, and a show-off," willingly embraced those characterizations as a form of homage. Cosell was posthumously awarded a Sports Emmy for lifetime achievement.


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