About the Contributors

Contemporary Authors

Paul Richard Blum is T. J. Higgins, S.J., Chair in Philosophy at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore. He obtained his PhD at the University of Munich in Germany and his habilitation at Free University Berlin. Most of his research deals with the history of Renaissance and early modern philosophy, including the evolution of the question of immortality into philosophy of mind. His most recent book is Nicholas of Cusa on Peace, Religion, and Wisdom in Renaissance Context (Roderer 2018).

Diane Gall completed her PhD in philosophy at York University in Toronto and is Instructor in Philosophy at Medicine Hat College, Alberta. Her main research interests are in Wittgenstein, the philosophy of mind and psychology, and how philosophy asserts itself in the pop culture (particularly, the science fiction) of the day.

Marcus William Hunt is a PhD candidate in philosophy at Tulane University. His research interests include the philosophy of the emotions, a topic that ranges over philosophy of mind and philosophy of religion, as well as the philosophy of the fam- ily, which ranges over applied ethics and social philosophy.

Matthew Knachel is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. He is the author of the open logic textbook Fundamental Methods of Logic. He received his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh.

Robert Sloan Lee did his undergraduate work at the University of North Texas in Denton and his graduate work in philosophy (MA and PhD) at Wayne State Univer- sity in Detroit. He now lives in Texas with his wife Elizabeth and daughter Brighton. His areas of academic interest and research include philosophy of religion, science and religion, epistemology, and the works of Plato, Boethius, Anselm, George Berkeley, David Hume, and Brand Blanshard.

Cassiano Terra Rodrigues gained his PhD from the Pontifical University of São Paulo, and currently teaches at the Aeronautics Institute of Technology, São José dos Campos, Brazil. His main research concerns Charles S. Peirce’s philosophy, in dialogue with other thinkers, such as Kant and Wittgenstein. More details of Rodrigues’ work.

Heather Salazar is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Western New England University. She received her PhD at University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research focuses on the intersections of metaethics and philosophy of mind in Eastern and Western philosophy and in particular on conceptions of the self and their impact on moral obligations. Her publications include The Philosophy of Spirituality (Brill 2018), “Descartes’ and Patanjali’s Conceptions of the Self” (Jour- nal of Indian Philosophy and Religion 2011) and “Kantian Business Ethics” in Business in Ethical Focus (Broadview 2007). She is currently under contract for a monograph which assesses and contributes to neo-Kantian ethical constructivism.

Steven Steyl is a PhD candidate at the University of Notre Dame Australia. He spe- cialises in ethics, political philosophy, and philosophy of religion. He has taught phi- losophy of religion at the University of Auckland, the University of Sydney, and the University of Notre Dame Australia. Most of his current research is in moral phi- losophy, specifically the concept of care and its application to contemporary moral issues like migration and conversion therapy.

Nathan Smith is an Instructor of Philosophy at Houston Community College (HCC). He received his PhD in philosophy from Boston College and the Université de Paris IV – Sorbonne. He is currently serving as the OER Coordinator and manager of HCC’s Z-Degree. His dissertation was on the origins of Descartes’s concept of mind in the Rules for the Direction of the Mind. He is an OER research fellow and currently does work in renaissance and early modern philosophy and open education.

Elly Vintiadis teaches philosophy at the American College of Greece. She received her PhD in 2003 from the City University of New York Graduate Center and has also taught at the Hellenic Naval Staff and Command College and at the City College of New York. Her latest publication is a co-edited volume, Brute Facts (Oxford University Press 2018).

These biographies are taken from the volumes in which the works were originally found, except for Gall.

Historical Authors

Plato (429?–347 BCE) is, by any reckoning, one of the most dazzling writers in the Western literary tradition and one of the most penetrating, wide-ranging, and influential authors in the history of philosophy. An Athenian citizen of high status, he displays in his works his absorption in the political events and intellectual movements of his time, but the questions he raises are so profound and the strategies he uses for tackling them so richly suggestive and provocative that educated readers of nearly every period have in some way been influenced by him, and in practically every age there have been philosophers who count themselves Platonists in some important respects. He was not the first thinker or writer to whom the word “philosopher” should be applied. But he was so self-conscious about how philosophy should be conceived, and what its scope and ambitions properly are, and he so transformed the intellectual currents with which he grappled, that the subject of philosophy, as it is often conceived—a rigorous and systematic examination of ethical, political, metaphysical, and epistemological issues, armed with a distinctive method—can be called his invention. Few other authors in the history of Western philosophy approximate him in depth and range: perhaps only Aristotle (who studied with him), Aquinas, and Kant would be generally agreed to be of the same rank.

Bertrand Arthur William Russell (1872–1970) was a British philosopher, logician, essayist and social critic best known for his work in mathematical logic and analytic philosophy. His most influential contributions include his championing of logicism (the view that mathematics is in some important sense reducible to logic), his refining of Gottlob Frege’s predicate calculus (which still forms the basis of most contemporary systems of logic), his defense of neutral monism (the view that the world consists of just one type of substance which is neither exclusively mental nor exclusively physical), and his theories of definite descriptions, logical atomism and logical types.

Anselm of Canterbury (1033–1109) was the outstanding Christian philosopher and theologian of the eleventh century. He is best known for the celebrated “ontological argument” for the existence of God in the Proslogion, but his contributions to philosophical theology (and indeed to philosophy more generally) go well beyond the ontological argument. In what follows I examine Anselm’s theistic proofs, his conception of the divine nature, and his account of human freedom, sin, and redemption.

Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) lived at a critical juncture of western culture when the arrival of the Aristotelian corpus in Latin translation reopened the question of the relation between faith and reason, calling into question the modus vivendi that had obtained for centuries. This crisis flared up just as universities were being founded. Thomas, after early studies at Montecassino, moved on to the University of Naples, where he met members of the new Dominican Order. It was at Naples too that Thomas had his first extended contact with the new learning. When he joined the Dominican Order he went north to study with Albertus Magnus, author of a paraphrase of the Aristotelian corpus. Thomas completed his studies at the University of Paris, which had been formed out of the monastic schools on the Left Bank and the cathedral school at Notre Dame. In two stints as a regent master Thomas defended the mendicant orders and, of greater historical importance, countered both the Averroistic interpretations of Aristotle and the Franciscan tendency to reject Greek philosophy. The result was a new modus vivendi between faith and philosophy which survived until the rise of the new physics. The Catholic Church has over the centuries regularly and consistently reaffirmed the central importance of Thomas’s work, both theological and philosophical, for understanding its teachings concerning the Christian revelation, and his close textual commentaries on Aristotle represent a cultural resource which is now receiving increased recognition.

William Paley (1743—1805) English theologian; born at Peterborough (37 miles northeast of Northampton) July, 1743; died at Lincoln May 25, 1805. His mother was a keen, thrifty woman of much intelligence, and his father was a minor canon at Peterborough and a pedagogue. In 1758 Paley entered, as sizar, Christ College, Cambridge. He had been a fair scholar at his father’s school, especially interested in mathematics. After taking his degree in 1763, he became usher at an academy in Greenwich and, in 1766, was elected fellow of Christ College, where he became an intimate friend of John Law and lectured successfully on metaphysics, morals, and the Greek Testament. He offered lectures on Locke, Clark’s Attributes, and Butler’s Analogy; and in his lectures on divinity took the ground maintained in his Moral Philosophy that the Thirty- nine Articles were merely articles of peace, inasmuch as they contained about 240 distinct propositions, many of them inconsistent with each other. He had been ordained a priest in 1767, and was appointed to the rectory of Musgrave in Cumberland, which be resigned in 1776, to take the vicarage of the two parishes, Appleby and Dalston. In 1780, he was installed prebendary at Carlisle, and resigned Appleby on becoming archdeacon in 1782. At the close of 1785, he became chancellor of the diocese and (1789-92) figured as an active opponent of the slave-trade. Presented to the vicarage of Aldingham in 1792, he vacated Dalston for Stanwix in 1793. In recognition of his apologetic writings, he was given the prebend of St. Pancras in St. Paul’s Cathedral; the subdeanery of Lincoln, in 1795; and the rectory of Bishop Warmouth in 1795; and transferred his residence to Lincoln shortly before his death.

Generally regarded as one of the most important philosophers to write in English, David Hume (1711–1776) was also well known in his own time as an historian and essayist. A master stylist in any genre, his major philosophical works—A Treatise of Human Nature (1739–1740), the Enquiries concerning Human Understanding (1748) and concerning the Principles of Morals(1751), as well as his posthumously published Dialogues concerning Natural Religion (1779)—remain widely and deeply influential. Although Hume’s more conservative contemporaries denounced his writings as works of scepticism and atheism, his influence is evident in the moral philosophy and economic writings of his close friend Adam Smith. Kant reported that Hume’s work woke him from his “dogmatic slumbers” and Jeremy Bentham remarked that reading Hume “caused the scales to fall” from his eyes. Charles Darwin regarded his work as a central influence on the theory of evolution. The diverse directions in which these writers took what they gleaned from reading him reflect both the richness of their sources and the wide range of his empiricism. Today, philosophers recognize Hume as a thoroughgoing exponent of philosophical naturalism, as a precursor of contemporary cognitive science, and as the inspiration for several of the most significant types of ethical theory developed in contemporary moral philosophy.

William Kingdon Clifford (1845—1879) was an English mathematician and philosopher.

Building on the work of Hermann Grassmann, he introduced what is now termed geometric algebra, a special case of the Clifford algebra named in his honour. The operations of geometric algebra have the effect of mirroring, rotating, translating, and mapping the geometric objects that are being modelled to new positions. Clifford algebras in general and geometric algebra in particular have been of ever increasing importance to mathematical physics,[1] geometry,[2] and computing.[3] Clifford was the first to suggest that gravitation might be a manifestation of an underlying geometry. In his philosophical writings he coined the expression mind-stuff.

René Descartes (1596–1650) was a creative mathematician of the first order, an important scientific thinker, and an original metaphysician. During the course of his life, he was a mathematician first, a natural scientist or “natural philosopher” second, and a metaphysician third. In mathematics, he developed the techniques that made possible algebraic (or “analytic”) geometry. In natural philosophy, he can be credited with several specific achievements: co-framer of the sine law of refraction, developer of an important empirical account of the rainbow, and proposer of a naturalistic account of the formation of the earth and planets (a precursor to the nebular hypothesis). More importantly, he offered a new vision of the natural world that continues to shape our thought today: a world of matter possessing a few fundamental properties and interacting according to a few universal laws. This natural world included an immaterial mind that, in human beings, was directly related to the brain; in this way, Descartes formulated the modern version of the mind–body problem. In metaphysics, he provided arguments for the existence of God, to show that the essence of matter is extension, and that the essence of mind is thought. Descartes claimed early on to possess a special method, which was variously exhibited in mathematics, natural philosophy, and metaphysics, and which, in the latter part of his life, included, or was supplemented by, a method of doubt.

The biographical accounts of the historical authors are all taken from the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, except for Paley and Clifford. The Paley entry is from the Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. Gall wrote the Clifford entry.


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Some Problems of Philosophy by Diane R. Gall is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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