Tagged: Biographies

Interview with Heinz von Foerster, 1995.

This Interview was conducted by Stefano Franchi, Güven Güzeldere, and Eric Minch, representing Stanford Humanities Review. stanford humanities review: The primary goal of this special issue of SHR is to promote a multidisciplinary dialogue on Artificial Intelligence and the humanities. We think you are most qualified to facilitate such a dialogue since you have trotted along many disciplinary paths in your career, ranging from mathematics and physics to biophysics and hematology, to pioneering work on cybernetics, to philosophy, and even family therapy. One could even say that “transdisciplinarity” has been your expertise. . . . heinz von foerster: I don’t...

Carl Jung: Late Thoughts. 1962

From: Memories, Dreams, Reflections. By C. G. Jung Recorded And Edited By Aniela Jaffé.(abbreviated in the footnotes as AJ) This is the last chapter of the book, and represents Jungs final thoughts on some eternal questions about human nature. He died in 1961, and it was published in 1962. Late Thoughts ANY BIOGRAPHY of myself must, I think, take account of the following reflections. It is true that they may well strike others as highly theoretical, but making “theory” of this sort is as much a part of me, as vital a function of mine, as eating and drinking. What...

Lacan’s Life

The following chronology of Lacan’s life and work is based on a list of dates, publications, and events, assembled by the authors of Lacan.com. There is also an excellent overview of his life and his work at the Stanford Encyclopedia for Philosophy. 1901  —  Jacques-Marie-Émile Lacan is born in Paris, April 13, to a family of solid Catholic tradition. He is educated at the Collège Stanislas, a Jesuit school. He has a sister, Magdeleine-Marie and a younger brother Marc-Marie, who later becomes a Benedictine at the abbey of Hautecombe. His brother’s name appears before those of his parents in his thesis dedication....

Cicero: A Remarkable Life (106 – 43 BC)

The following description of Cicero’s life is mainly quoted from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. There is also a short description of his life in the context of ancient political philosophy at the Stanford Encyclopedia. The ancient historian Plutarch wrote a long biography of him in 75 CE, which you can find at the MIT Classics Archive.  Cicero’s political career was remarkable. In his times, high political offices in Rome, though technically achieved by winning elections, were almost exclusively controlled by a group of wealthy aristocratic families that had held them for many generations. Cicero’s family was aristocratic, but did...

Martin Heidegger (1889–1976)

Martin Heidegger was an important German philosopher in the 20th century, who is famous for his theories on existentialism and phenomenology. He was associated with existentialism, despite his efforts to distance himself from it. He had a strong influence on the French existentialist Jean Paul Sartre, for instance. He developed a phenomenological critique of Kant and wrote widely on Nietzsche and Hölderlin. His thinking influenced many other fields, such as theology, art, architecture, artificial intelligence, cultural anthropology, design, literary theory, social theory, political theory, psychiatry, and psychotherapy. His main work, a 20th century classic in philosophy, is ‘Sein und Zeit...

Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995)

Emmanuel Levinas is one of the most interesting European thinkers in the 20th Century. He is Jewish and grew up in Russia, studies philosophy with Husserl and Heidegger in Freiburg, fights with the French Army against the Germans, looses his family to the Holocaust, and is captured by the Nazis, but survives. After the war, he eventually becomes a professor at the Université de Paris Nanterre. He writes many books in his later life, and teaches at the Sorbonne as well. He integrates phenomenology, ethics, metaphyscis, and theology in a unique way, but it takes energy to understand him. He is also trying to re-think...

Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961)

Carl Jung was a Swiss psychoanalyst who created a version of psychoanalysis that is still very popular today. His system blends to some degree with New Age thinking and resonates with a popular cultural trend that is fascinated by mythology, dreams, storytelling, and archetypes.

Samuel Beckett

Beckett’s Life. (Quoted from the Samuel Beckett Website) • Born Samuel Barclay Beckett, at Cooldrinagh house, in Foxrock, County Dublin, Ireland on 13 April, 1906, the second of two sons. Parents are middle-class Protestants. • On Monday, April 24th, 1916, the Easter Uprising breaks out in Dublin, but the conflicts take place for the most part within the city proper, and so Beckett remains somewhat removed from the unrest. At one point his father takes him to a hill near their home at night to watch the fires in the city. Beckett enters Portora Royal School (where Oscar Wilde also...

Niccolò Machiavelli

Machiavelli (1469-1527) was not as bad as his reputation suggests today. He is a smart political thinker who actually had political experience. He is a pragmatist of power, and he also has a realistic perspective on human nature: people have a strong ambition to get what they want, they are more motivated by fear than by love, politics is it’s own domain and should not be driven by ethics, and in any case moral principles cannot be applied easily to our daily lives. He criticized the church and was in favor of Republicanism. He is one of the key philosophers...

Thomas Aquinas

Content: Timeline of his Life 1225 Thomas Aquinas born at Roccasecca 1230 Begins studies at Montecassino 1239 Continues studies at University of Naples 1244 Joins Dominicans; family protests decision by imprisoning him for a year 1245 Released by his family, Thomas goes to Paris to study with Albert the Great 1248 Accompanies Albert to newly founded Dominican school at Cologne 1250 Ordained a priest 1252 Returns to Paris; writes Contra impugnantes Dei cultum, a defense of mendicant orders 1256 Named master of theology at Paris 1259 Sent to Italy, where he would teach at Anagni, Orvieto, Rome, and Viterbo c....

Robert Musil

Robert Musil (1880-1942) is one of my favorite German writers; he has a very subtle irony and thinks like a philosopher. He is not very well known in the English-speaking world,  so here is a short description of his life and a few quotes. The Person Robert Musil Robert Musil’s character is very well described in the excellent web resource about his life and work, at RobertMusil.net. Here is a short quote from it: “Robert Musil was not very pleasant company. Adolf Frisé indexed, in his “Plädoyer für Robert Musil” (1982) the qualities that were associated with Robert Musil by...

A Marxist Murderer

The  article about Louis Althusser quoted here from the Independent Magazine was written by Edward Fox, and published on 11 JULY 1992. The occasion was the publication of Althussers autobiography in 1991, where he tries to explain the murder of his wife. Her picture from 1957 is on the right.  I am reproducing this article here because it contains many interesting aspects of Althusser’s struggle with mental disease.  Source: http://www.edwardfox.f2s.com/althusser1.html. “The French literary world has observed with fascination and dismay in recent weeks the success of an unlikely bestseller: the posthumously published autobiography of the philosopher Louis Althusser, who died...

Wilfred Bion: Biography.

The biography of Wilfred Bion, taken from the jacket of “Cogitations“. “Born in India in 1897, W. R. Bion first came to England at the age of eight to receive his schooling. During the First World War he served in France as a tank commander and was awarded the DSO and the Legion of Honour. After reading history at Queen’s College, Oxford, he studied medicine at University College, London, before a growing interest in psychoanalysis led him to undergo training analyses with John Rickman and, later, Melanie Klein. During the 1940s his attention was directed to the study of group...

Meister Eckhart

Meister Eckhart is a frequently-quoted German medieval theologian and mystic. He is popular in new-age environments and among spiritual seekers, but some of his statements can be interpreted as pantheistic, and therefore the Catholic Church always had some problems with him. His Life The following biographaphy is quoted from the Eckhart Society Webpage: “While there is no evidence as to the exact date of Meister Eckhart’s birth, scholars generally agree that he was born around 1260, in or near Erfurt which lies midway between Munich and Hamburg and north-east of Frankfurt, probably in a village called Tambach. He is thought...