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Aaron, Richard Ithamar (1901–1987), philosopher, was born on 6 November 1901 at Upper Dulais, Blaendulais, Glamorgan, the son of William Aaron (1864–1937), a draper, and his wife, Margaret Griffith (d. 1940). He was brought up in Llwyfenni, Llangyfelach, Ynystawe, which was his home from 1910 to 1932, and received his secondary education at ...

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Abercromby, David (d. 1701?), physician and philosopher, most probably belonged to the Abercrombys of Seaton in the north-east of Scotland where he is believed to have been born. It is not known if Abercromby married or had children, although what survives of his biography makes marriage unlikely. Nothing is known of his parentage....

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Peter Giles

revised by Mark J. Schofield

Adam, James (1860–1907), classical scholar and philosopher, born on 7 April 1860 at Kinmuck in the parish of Keithhall near Inverurie in Aberdeenshire, was second child and only son of James Adam and his wife, Barbara Anderson. The father owned the general store and tailor's shop which served the neighbouring countryside; he died of typhoid fever when his son was only eight. His mother by her own energy carried on the business, and brought up her six children. He made rapid progress at the parish school of ...

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Airay, Christopher (1600x03–1670), philosopher, was born at Clifton, Westmorland, and matriculated from Queen's College, Oxford, aged eighteen (Foster) on 9 November 1621. He graduated BA on 16 December 1625, was created a fellow in 1627, and proceeded MA on 29 January 1629. He was created BD on 1 or 2 November 1642 and was subsequently vicar of ...

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Alnwick, Martin (d. 1336), Franciscan friar, theologian, and philosopher, doubtless came from Northumberland. Possibly the Martinus occasionally recorded as participating in Oxford disputations in the last years of the thirteenth century, he was certainly at Oxford by 1300, when he was among the friars presented to the bishop of ...

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Appleton, Charles Edward Cutts Birchall (1841–1879), lecturer on philosophy and journal editor, was born on 16 March 1841, at Reading, the second son of the Revd Robert Appleton (d. 1875). He was educated at Reading School, of which his father was headmaster. He matriculated at ...

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Arouet, François-Marie [known as Voltaire] (1694–1778), writer and philosopher, was born in Paris on 21 November 1694 according to the notice of baptism. He was the fifth of five surviving children born to François Arouet (1649–1722), lawyer and minor official, and his wife, ...

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Bacon, Francis, Viscount St Alban (1561–1626), lord chancellor, politician, and philosopher, was born on 22 January 1561 at York House in the Strand, London, the second of the two sons of Sir Nicholas Bacon (1510–1579), lord keeper, and his second wife, Anne (...

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Bacon [Bakun], Roger (c. 1214–1292?), philosopher and Franciscan friar, is by inference from his later career usually assigned a birth date about 1214, and from early traditions it seems that he came from the south-west of England, perhaps near Ilchester in Somerset.

Bacon...

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Bailey, Samuel (bap. 1791, d. 1870), economist and philosopher, was baptized on 8 July 1791 at St Peter's Church (later the cathedral), Sheffield, the second son and fifth of the eleven children of Joseph Bailey, of Burngreave, and Mary Eaden. His father, originally an artisan, had become wealthy in the cutlery business (he was master cutler in 1801) and as a merchant. ...

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Balfour, Arthur James, first earl of Balfour (1848–1930), prime minister and philosopher, was born on 25 July 1848 at Whittingehame House, East Lothian, the third of eight children and eldest son of James Maitland Balfour (1820–1856), landowner (and MP, 1841–7), and his wife, ...

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Arthur James Balfour, first earl of Balfour (1848–1930) by John Singer Sargent, 1908 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Balfour, Robert (b. c. 1555, d. in or after 1621), philosopher and classical scholar, was born at Tarrie in Forfarshire; that he matriculated at St Andrews University in 1571 suggests a date of birth about 1555. After graduating he taught at St Andrews...

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Barfield, (Arthur) Owen (1898–1997), writer and philosopher, was born on 9 November 1898 at 6 Grosvenor Gardens, Muswell Hill, Middlesex, the youngest of the four children of Arthur Edward Barfield, a solicitor, and his wife, Elizabeth, née Shoults. It was a free-thinking family and so immune to all 'superstition' that ...

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James Beattie (1735–1803) by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1773 [The Triumph of Truth, with the Portrait of a Gentleman] University of Aberdeen

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Beattie, James (1735–1803), poet and philosopher, was baptized at Laurencekirk, Kincardineshire, on 25 October 1735, the youngest of six children of James Beattie (d. c.1742), tenant farmer and village shopkeeper, and Jean Watson (c.1692–1772). His father, who died when ...

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Beconsall, Thomas (1663/4–1709), philosopher and Church of England clergyman, was the son of John Beconsall of Lemster, Cheshire. He matriculated, aged sixteen, on 30 March 1680, at Brasenose College, Oxford. He graduated BA in 1683, MA in 1686 (in which year he became a fellow), and BD in 1697. He was vicar of ...

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Bellers, Fettiplace (b. 1687, d. in or before 1750), philosophical writer and playwright, the son of John Bellers (1654–1725) and Frances, née Fettiplace (d. 1717), was born on 23 August 1687 in the parish of St Andrew's, Holborn. His parents were Quakers, his father being the author of several tracts, largely on the employment of the poor and on prison reform, anticipating ...

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Bentham, Jeremy (1748–1832), philosopher, jurist, and reformer, was born on 4 February 1748 in Church Lane, Houndsditch, London, the eldest of the seven children of Jeremiah Bentham (1712–1792), attorney, and Alicia Woodward Whitehorne (d. 1759), the eldest daughter of Thomas Grove, a mercer of ...

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Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) by Henry William Pickersgill, 1829 © National Portrait Gallery, London