Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Famous Figures of Western Culture

Thomas Aquinas stained glass window.Image via Wikipedia

Dionysius of Halicarnassus (Halicarnassus c. 60 BC–after 7 BC) was a Greek historian and teacher of rhetoric, who flourished during the reign of Caesar.

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) The greatest of the medieval Christian theologians.
The translation of integritas, consonantia, and claritas, (Aquinas I, Q.39, 8a) is by James Joyce in his Portrait.

Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1645) A British materialist philosopher and author of Leviathan, a study of politics that considered the state an uncontrollable monster.

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) was born in Salem, Massachusetts, where after his graduation from Bowdoin College in Maine, he wrote the bulk of his masterful tales and major romances such as The Scarlett Letter.

St. Augustine (354 – 430) Early African bishop of the Christian Church who infused Platonism into Christian theology. A professor of Rhetoric and prolific writer whose Confessions initiates a new literary genre.

Aristotle (384 – 322 b.c.) A student of Plato; his philosophical method dominated Western thought until modern times. Besides philosophical tracts he wrote the Poetics and Rhetoric.

George Orwell, (British subject, born in India, 1903 – 1950) writer, journalist, and novelist: Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four

Mary Wollstonecraft (England, 1759 – 1797), a feminist and politically engaged writer, best known for her pioneering views on the rights of women as expressed in her manifesto Vindication of the Rights of Women.

Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626), Renaissance author, courtier, and father of inductive reasoning.

Johannes Eckhart was one of the greatest of Christian mystics. He was born in Germany, in 1260, and entered the Dominican order when he was 15. He taught theology at the Universities of Paris and Cologne.

Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464) a Cardinal in the Catholic Church held that true knowledge needs a divine spark.

Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804), German philosopher whose critiques have become philosophical landmarks of Western civilization.

Demetrius (1st cent. A.D.), a Greek critic and teacher of Rhetoric.

Claude Lévi-Strauss (b. 1908) is a French anthropologist who developed structuralism as a method of discovery and understanding.

Heraclitus (535? – 475? B.C.) Greek philosopher who thought change was the only reality, and that all else was illusion. Of his writing only Fragments have been collected; his style is the continuous use of anthithesis.

Cicero (Marcus Tullius, 106 – 43 B.C.) Roman lawyer, orator, politician, philosopher, and master rhetorician.

Jacques Derrida (1930 – 2007), born in Algiers, founder of philosophical movement Deconstructionism. Deconstruction is a critical method that attempts “to undo” the logic of antitheses.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) A most influential modern thinker whose main ideas are found in Thus Spake Zarathustra and The Birth of Tragedy and the Genealogy of Morals.

John Locke, (August 29, 1632 – October 28, 1704) English philosopher considered the first of the British Empiricists.

Plato (428 – 348 B. C. E), Greek philosopher who by any reckoning is the most dazzling writer in the Western literary tradition. Using Socrates as his spokesperson and adhering to his Theory of Forms, he wrote on the arts, theory of knowledge, ethics, rhetoric, mathematics, and language.

Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888 – 1965) One of the twentieth century’s major poets and critic; born American he became a British subject.

Adam Smith (Scotland, 1723 – 1789) known today as the father of economic liberalism for his landmark book The Wealth of Nations. He also wrote on rhetoric and morals.

William James , the American psychologist, described the mental process: “Consciousness, then does not appear to itself chopped up in bits … It is nothing jointed; it flows. A “river” or “stream” are metaphors by which it is most naturally described. In talking of it hereafter, let us call it the stream of thought, of consciousness, or the subjective life. (1950, 1:239).

Johannes Kepler (1571 – 1630) was a German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University; the sixth president of the United States, and also the son of our second president, John Adams, and his wife, Abigail.


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