• Immanuel Kant
  • Got­tfried Leibniz 
  • Friedrich Niet­zsche
  • Karl Pop­per
  • Arthur Schopen­hauer
  • Lud­wig Wittgenstein
  • 1724–1804
  • 1646–1716
  • 1844–1900
  • 1902–1994
  • 1788–1860
  • 1889–1951

chrono­log­i­cal list of ideas that resonated

best of all pos­si­ble worlds

It would have the most good and the least evil. Courage is bet­ter than no courage. With­out evil to chal­lenge us, there can be no courage. Since evil brings out the best aspects of human­i­ty, evil is regard­ed as nec­es­sary — grasp­ing at straws..

1710 — Got­tfried Liebniz

cat­e­gor­i­cal imperative

“Act only accord­ing to that max­im by which you can at the same time will that it should become a uni­ver­sal law” is a pure­ly for­mal state­ment and express­es the con­di­tion of the ratio­nal­i­ty of con­duct rather than that of its moral­i­ty. Thus; “So act as to treat human­i­ty, whether in your own per­son or in anoth­er, always as an end, and nev­er as only a means.” 

1785 — Immanuel Kant

hedge­hog’s dilemma

It describes a sit­u­a­tion in which a group of hedge­hogs seek to move close to one anoth­er to share heat dur­ing cold weath­er. They must remain apart, how­ev­er, as they can­not avoid hurt­ing one anoth­er with their sharp spines. Though they all share the inten­tion of a close rec­i­p­ro­cal rela­tion­ship, this may not occur, for rea­sons they can­not avoid. Despite good­will, human inti­ma­cy can’t occur with­out sub­stan­tial mutu­al harm, and what results is cau­tious behav­ior and weak relationships. 

1851 — Arthur Schopenhauer

amor fatilove of one’s fate
It is used to describe an atti­tude in which one sees every­thing that hap­pens in one’s life, includ­ing suf­fer­ing and loss, as good or, at the very least, necessary. 

1882 — Friedrich Nietzsche

the lim­its of my lan­guage means the lim­its of my world

There’s an unbridge­able gap between what can be expressed in lan­guage and what can be expressed in non-ver­bal ways.

1922 — Lud­wig Wittgen­stein, who lat­er became his own best critic

black swan

The obser­va­tion of these black swans con­tra­dicts the law
“All swans are white”, but even if there were no black swans, the law would still be fal­si­fi­able, because iden­ti­fy­ing a swan and observ­ing the col­or black would remain possible. 

1934 — Karl Popper