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Bergmann, Gustav (04 May 1906–21 April 1987), philosopher and mathematician, was born in Vienna, Austria, the son of Fritz Bergmann, an import/export merchant, and Therese Pollack. Before Bergmann took a Ph.D. in mathematics with a minor in philosophy in 1928 at the University of Vienna, he had already been invited to join the famous Vienna Circle. This group of philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians had adopted what they called logical positivism (or sometimes logical empiricism): advocating a scientific world view, they rejected traditional metaphysics and religion as meaningless and regarded ethical and aesthetic statements as only expressions of attitudes. As one of the youngest members of the Circle along with his Gymnasium classmate, the mathematical logician ...

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Bridgman, Percy Williams (21 April 1882–20 August 1961), physicist and philosopher of science, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Raymond Landon Bridgman, an author and journalist, and Mary Ann Maria Williams. As a boy, Bridgman was shy but independent and competitive. He participated in track and field sports, played chess, and studied the piano. Although his family was deeply religious (Congregational), the young Bridgman, to the great disappointment of his father, rejected religion as being factually unverifiable. Raymond Bridgman later came to accept his son’s commitment to honesty and intellectual integrity as a moral equivalent to religion. A good student, Percy Bridgman attended the public schools of Newton, Massachusetts, and upon graduation in 1900 entered Harvard College, earning an A.B. summa cum laude in 1904. He remained at Harvard to study physics, receiving an A.M. in 1905 and a Ph.D. in 1908, and was subsequently appointed research fellow in the Department of Physics. He became instructor in 1910. In 1912 he married Olive Ware, of Hartford, Connecticut, daughter of Edmund Asa Ware, founder and first president of Atlanta University. The couple had two children. Bridgman was made assistant professor in 1913, full professor in 1919, Hollis Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy in 1926, Higgins University Professor in 1950, and professor emeritus in 1954....

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Bronowski, Jacob (18 January 1908–22 August 1974), mathematician and historian and philosopher of science, was born in Łódź (in what is now Poland), the son of Abram Bronowski and Celia Flatto, occupations unknown. During his childhood his family moved first to Germany (1912) and then to England (1920). In 1927 he entered the University of Cambridge to study mathematics, receiving his Ph.D. in 1933. He also helped found and edit a literary magazine, ...

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Church, Alonzo (14 June 1903–11 August 1995), mathematician and philosopher, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Samuel Robbins Church, a judge, and Mildred Hannah Letterman Parker. Church attended Princeton University, receiving an A.B. in 1924 and a Ph.D. in mathematics in 1927. While at Princeton, Church married Mary Julia Kuczinski, a practical nurse, in 1926; they had three children....

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Eiseley, Loren Corey (03 September 1907–09 July 1977), anthropologist, writer, and philosopher of science, was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, the only son of Clyde Edwin Eiseley, an amateur actor turned hardware salesman, and Daisey Corey, a self-educated artist. The family’s financial instability and his mother’s handicap (she was deaf and, as he later wrote, “always on the brink of mental collapse”) made his formative years in Nebraska a time of profound isolation. For solace, he turned to the Nebraska prairie and its fauna. He enrolled in the University of Nebraska in 1925, but physical and psychological crises kept him from graduating until eight years later. Near the end of his life, he recalled dropping out of college at least three times—to work in a poultry hatchery, to recuperate from tuberculosis in Colorado and the Mojave Desert (1928–1929), and to drift, riding the rails in the West (1930–1931). His father’s death in 1928 brought Eiseley to the brink of mental collapse. During this period, however, he worked on his first archaeological dig, published his first poetry, and cultivated a deep affinity for animals and landscape. In the same year he finished college (1933) Eiseley went to the University of Pennsylvania for graduate work in anthropology. He earned his Ph.D. in 1937, completing a dissertation titled “Three Indices of Quaternary Time and Their Bearing upon Pre-History: A Critique.” With this work an intensely private man began an unexpected career as a prominent public intellectual and literary naturalist....

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Frank, Philipp G. (20 March 1884–21 July 1966), scholar of physics and philosophy of science, was born in Vienna, Austria, the son of Hans Frank, a chemist, and Marta Hoffmann. Frank received his doctorate in theoretical physics from the University of Vienna in 1907, having studied under Ludwig Boltzmann. During that year he published the essay “Kausalgesetz und Erfahrung” ( ...

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Greenwood, Isaac (11 May 1702–12 October 1745), professor of mathematics and experimental philosophy, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Greenwood and Elizabeth Bronsdon (occupations unknown). Baptized and raised in Increase Mather and Cotton Mather’s North Church, Greenwood followed the Mathers in their scientific interests. At Harvard College he became a favorite of tutor ...

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Kuhn, Thomas S. (18 July 1922–17 June 1996), historian and philosopher of science, was born Thomas Samuel Kuhn in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Samuel Lewis Kuhn, an industrial engineer, and Minette Stroock Kuhn. He attended Harvard University, receiving his bachelor of science degree in physics in 1943. Following two years of civilian service for the Office of Scientific Research and Development, he returned to Harvard to complete an M.A. in 1946 and a Ph.D. in 1949, both in physics. While completing his Ph.D., he taught general education as a junior fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows. Kuhn married Kathryn Louise Muhs in 1948; they had three children and divorced in 1978. He remarried in 1982, to Jehane Robin Burns. In 1958 Kuhn went to the University of California at Berkeley, where he stayed until 1964, when he left to teach at Princeton University. He ended his professional career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he taught from 1979 to 1992....

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Ritter, William Emerson (19 November 1856–10 January 1944), naturalist, philosopher, and administrator, was born in Hampden, Wisconsin, the son of Horatio Emerson and Leonora Eason, farmers. He spent most of his boyhood on the farm, where he gained an early love of nature. Ritter attended local public schools and began teaching in Wisconsin public schools in 1877. He graduated from the State Normal School in Oshkosh, Wisconsin (1884), then served as principal of the Oconto, Wisconsin, high school (1884–1885), before continuing his education at the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned a B.S. (1888). At Berkeley, Ritter studied under the geologist ...

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Whitehead, Alfred North (15 February 1861–30 December 1947), mathematician, logician, and philosopher, was born at Ramsgate on the Isle of Thanet in Kent, England, the son of Alfred Whitehead, an educator and a member of the Church of England clergy, and Maria Sarah Buckmaster. The young Alfred North Whitehead enjoyed the benefits of the exceptionally fine schooling available in the mid-nineteenth century to the gifted sons of families that, even though of modest means, were well connected within church and education circles. For his university preparation he was sent to the Sherborne School in Dorsetshire in southern England, where he easily absorbed the broad curriculum, participated in sports, and reached the pinnacle of student leadership, a position roughly analogous to being president of the student council in an American school....

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Wright, Chauncey (20 September 1830–12 September 1875), philosopher and mathematician, was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, the son of Ansel Wright, a grocer and deputy sheriff, and Elizabeth Boleyn. He graduated from Harvard College in 1852 and excelled in mathematics and science. From 1852 to 1872 he was a mathematician in the employ of the ...