Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)
An enormously influential German composer who rose to prominence in the early 1700s. Best known by his contemporaries as an organist, Bach also wrote an enormous body of both sacred and secular music that synthesized a variety of styles and in turn influenced countless later composers.
Francis Bacon (1561–1626)
An English philosopher and statesman who developed the inductive method or Baconian method of scientific investigation, which stresses observation and reasoning as a means for coming to general conclusions. Bacon’s work influenced his later contemporary René Descartes.
Cesare Beccaria (1738–1794)
An Italian politician who ventured into philosophy to protest the horrible injustices that he observed in various European judicial systems. Beccaria’s book On Crimes and Punishments (1764) exposed these practices and led to the abolition of many.
John Comenius (1592–1670)
A Czech educational and social reformer who, in response to the Thirty Years’ War, made the bold move of challenging the necessity of war in the first place. Comenius stressed tolerance and education as alternatives for war, which were revolutionary concepts at the time.
René Descartes (1596–1650)
A French philosopher and scientist who revolutionized algebra and geometry and made the famous philosophical statement “I think, therefore I am.” Descartes developed a deductive approach to philosophy using math and logic that still remains a standard for problem solving.
Denis Diderot (1713–1784)
A French scholar who was the primary editor of the Encyclopédie, a massive thirty-five-volume compilation of human knowledge in the arts and sciences, along with commentary from a number of Enlightenment thinkers. The Encyclopédie became a prominent symbol of the Enlightenment and helped spread the movement throughout Europe.
Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790)
American thinker, diplomat, and inventor who traveled frequently between the American colonies... [continues]
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