UI 418


A Biographical Sketch for Connecting the Lives of Intellectuals and Their Ideas

     This project is intended to introduce you to the task of determining what experiences or events in the lives of intellectuals contribute to the development of their ideas.  In this assignment you will be using a biographical reference work and a selection from the writings of an intellectual presented in the histories we are using as a specialized textbooks or in the Internet anthology of primary sources.  You may choose any individual from the intellectual movements we are discussing at the time the sketch is due.

     Once you have chosen a subject, find a biographical reference source, such as Credo Reference,  Literature Resource Center (D.L.B. & C.A.), and the Oxford Reference Online, that contains brief essays about prominent intellectuals, and look for an entry about the person you have chosen to study.  Hard copy general encyclopedias and online encyclopaedia such as Wikipedia are not acceptable sources.  Read both the reference-source entry and the primary document.  Then think about the possible reasons why your subject might have written the document, given what you know about his our her life.  Next, develop a brief explanation for the connection between the intellectual's life and the selection you have read.  At this point, you should be ready to write a two- to three-page (double-spaced, 12-point font) essay about your subject and his or her thoughts.

     The essay should begin with a brief introduction to the intellectual's life that describes who that person was and what made this person significant in his or her time.  Then discuss the thrust of the intellectual's work, citing the document you are going to summarize in this essay and one or two other important works by that person.  Next,  summarize the selection from the anthology and explain the connection you believe existed between this person's life and the source from the anthology as a concluding paragraph.  Finally, close the life of the intellectual.

     At the end of the essay, cite the biographical reference source and the selection from the anthology you used in the essay.  The citations should be in the proper form for including them in a bibliography or works-cited section of a research paper.

     Biographical sketches must be in your own words, including paraphrases of material from the sources, with some quotations where appropriate.  Beware of plagiarism,* which is unacceptable and will result in a 0 on the project.  Do not include a cover page or submit the review in any kind of cover.

*Plagiarism in writing is the use of words, phrases, or sentences that are not yours as an  author, but create the impression that they are.  It is unacceptable, whether intentional or unintentional, and will result in no credit given to the project.  See Benjamin, A Student's Guide to History, pp.75, 107, 110 and 115-18.  See also the following URL for further information on this issue: www6.semo.edu/judaffairs/ Academic%20Honesty%20Brochure%20F03.doc

Guidelines for Researching and Writing a Biographical Essay

     The purpose of this project is to introduce you to the life and mind of an intellectual who lived and worked in Europe during the period from the seventeenth century to the present.  It is not intended that you should write a full-length biography. Rather, you should concentrate on the years in which the individual wrote his or her most important works.  Keeping in mind that the formative years of anyone's life can have a profound effect on his or her thinking, do not neglect that period when you are doing the research; it might provide clues to what was written in later years.

     1.  In order to choose a subject, review your textbook or other books on modern European intellectual history.  The person must have contributed to the intellectual currents of his or her time, or who was later recognized as an important thinker.

     2.  Once you have chosen a person to study, search for biographical materials, such as biographies, biographical essays, and articles in biographical dictionaries and other biographical reference sources.  In addition, read about the period in which the person lived, so as to develop a sense of the intellectual and social context of that person's life.  This type of information can be found in both books and articles on the period, as well as in the biographies mentioned above.

     3.  Next, search for the writings of the individual that were mentioned in the biographical materials.  Choose the two or three most significant ones, available in complete editions, and read them. 

     4.  Study all of the sources with the intention of explaining what the person said in those prominent writings and why he or she said it.  Incorporate material from both primary and secondary sources in your biographical essay.

     5.  Write a 12 to 15-page essay in the form of a historical article.  (For examples see journals such as The American Historical Review and The Journal of Modern History.)  Your essay should consider the life and times of the intellectual.  It should begin with the birth and early life of that individual, concentrate on the period in which he or she produced the works you have studied, and end with the later years of the intellectual's life.  Like the biographical sketches you have written, this biographical essay should attempt to explain how the life and times of the intellectual influenced the works he or she produced and what significance those works had for the European mind.

      6.  For source citations, use a scholarly format with which you are familiar:  University of Chicago or Turabian's, Modern Language Association (MLA), or American Psychological Association (APA).

     7.  The biographical essay must be in your own words, including paraphrases of material from sources, with some quotations where appropriate.  Beware of plagiarism,* which is unacceptable and will result in a 0 on the project.  Do not include a cover page or submit the review in any kind of cover.

*Plagiarism in writing is the use of words, phrases, or sentences that are not yours as an  author, but create the impression that they are.  It is unacceptable, whether intentional or unintentional, and will result in no credit given to the project.  See Benjamin, A Student's Guide to History, pp.75, 107, 110 and 115-18.  See also the following URL for further information on this issue: www6.semo.edu/judaffairs/ Academic%20Honesty%20Brochure%20F03.doc

Selected Reference Sources of Biographical Information

Allibone's Dictionary - English and American authors to the latter half of the 19th century

Biographical dictionaries

Chamber's Biographical Dictionary

Chalmer's General Biographical Dictionary

A Companion to American Thought

Current Authors

Current Biography - The first volume appeared in 1940

Dictionary of Literary Biography

Dictionary of Scientific Biography - American scientists

Twentieth Century Authors, A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Literature

Who's Who or Who's Who in . . .

Biographical Essay

            Mary Shelley was part of an era in Europe referred to as the Romantic period. Romanticism was a literary, artistic, and philosophical movement originating in Europe in the 18th century that lasted roughly until the mid 19th century.  Romanticism is characterized mainly by a reaction against the Enlightenment and Neoclassicism with their stress on reason, order, balance, harmony, rationality, and intellect.  Romanticism placed on emphasize on the individual, the subjective, the irrational, the imaginative, the personal, the spontaneous, the emotional, the visionary, and the transcendental. The second phase of Romanticism, from about 1805 to the 1830s, was typified by an increasing of cultural nationalism and a new attention to national origins.  This revived appreciation of history affected people such as Sir Walter Scott, often considered the father of the historical novel.  Around the same time English Romantic poetry reached its height in the works of John Keats, Lord Byron, and Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was Shelley’s husband.[1] 

Mary Shelley was born on 30 August 1797 in London, and she was one of the important figures of the second phase of the Romantic period.  In addition she was the daughter of the two great intellectual rebels of the 1790s during the first half the Romantic period, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft.  Her mother, the celebrated author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), died eleven days after her birth of puerperal fever.  This left her father, the author of An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793), to care for Shelley and her three year old half sister Fanny.[2]  The death of her mother Wollstonecraft was the first in a series of tragic events that would greatly influence her own life, and tragedy would become one of the central themes in many of her future works.

            The death of Shelley’s mother was an event that would greatly affect her life for the next sixteen years. Shelley’s father Godwin would be her primary caretaker for the first three years of her life. Godwin incorporated the methods of progressive educational authorities, including Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his contemporaries he had studied.  Godwin also attempted to adopt many of Wollstonecraft's child-care practices.  Described as precocious, sensitive, and spirited, Shelley became his favorite child.  He called her "pretty little Mary" and relished the signs of her intellectual superiority over her half sister.  He took charge of  their early education and took them on various excursions, including the Pope's Grotto at Twickenham, theatrical pantomimes, and to dinners with his friends such as Charles and Mary Lamb and James Marshall.  This resulted in Shelley developing an attachment to her father that became intense and long lasting.[3]

            Shelley’s remaining childhood was forever changed in 1801 when her father remarried the proclaimed widow Mary Jane Clairmont whom was with his child, and had two children of her own already.   This woman was in fact though the spinster Mary Jane Vial, who had two illegitimate children, ironic because Wollstonecraft’s other daughter fanny was illegitimate.  Vial though was of an affluent background and would tell Godwin that she had descended to marry him.  Although Vial would lose the baby during child birth, Godwin was still quite smitten with her and their marriage would last.  Her stepmother Vial favored her own two children and the son she and Godwin later had over Wollstonecraft's daughters, and as a result Shelley's childhood was not happy. [4]  The Relationship between Vial and Shelley was a relationship that has been described as strained.  Vial was described as being clever and talented but her methods amounted to prevarication, duplicity, and guile.  Later in life Shelley wrote of Vial that behind her front lay storms of temper and envy, and she was a liar and slander who opened people’s mail, pried, and acted behind their backs.  Vial appears to have been unable to love Shelley and she was understandably hurt by hateful comparisons with her predecessor Wollstonecraft.  She was also ridden with jealousy of Wollstonecraft and Wollstonecraft’s namesake daughter Shelley, whom Godwin and his circle of friends cherished.  This all contributed to a woman who for the length of her thirty-five year marriage to Godwin accused him of preferring Shelley to herself.[5]

Although Shelley received no formal education, she found consolation in her father’s teaching and her intellectual pursuits, especially books that included her mother's.  Her talents were obvious at an early age, and at the age of eleven in 1808 Shelley, whose name was then Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, published a booklet in the series of rhymed children's tale Mounseer Nongtongpaw, and entitled the Discoveries of John Bull in a Trip to Paris.[6]  While Jane, the daughter of Vial and who later called herself Claire, was sent to boarding school to learn French, Mary never received any formal education. She learned to read from Louisa Jones, the Godwin's housekeeper and governess, Godwin, and his wife.  In addition Shelley followed Godwin's advice in addition to his teaching that the proper way to study was to read two or three books simultaneously.  She had access to her father's excellent library, as well as to the political, philosophical, scientific, or literary conversations that Godwin conducted with such visitors as William Wordsworth, Charles Lamb, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas Holcroft, John Johnson, Humphry Davy, Horne Tooke, and William Hazlitt. Famously one night on August 24, 1806 Mary and Jane hid under the parlor sofa to hear Coleridge recite "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner."[7]

In the summer of 1812 Godwin sent his daughter Shelley to visit William Baxter, who was an acquaintance that lived in Dundee, Scotland.  This trip had two reasons for occurring.  The first reason was that Mary had developed a severe skin eruption, which was true and what was told to Baxter.[8]  The second reason was that Vial was threatened by her stepdaughter's attention to Godwin, especially when Shelley began transforming into the beautiful image of his first wife.  As the relationship between Shelley and her step-mother worsened she was sent to Scotland on June 7, 1812.  Although Shelley was further isolated from the father she loved, the two years in Scotland nurtured Mary's literary imagination. Mary was able to experience happiness with the Baxter family that she had rarely known. She quickly grew fond of Baxter, and developed a friendship between his two daughters, Christina and Isabel. This close family was to provide Mary with a model of domestic affection, tranquility, and harmony.  In addition the Scottish country side would provide her with a beautiful landscape and scenery that would surface later in some of her fiction.[9]

Upon her return to Scotland Shelley would meet someone who would irrevocably change the course of her life.  This person was Percy Bysshe Shelley and on her return to London in November 1812, Shelley met him for the first time and his wife, Harriet Westbrook Shelley.  Percy Shelley was the son of a wealthy noble and he was supporting Godwin financially and was staying with the Godwin’s.  Soon Mary and Percy became enamored with each other. Shelley viewed Percy as a generous, young idealist and as a budding genius.  Percy in the mean time had become dissatisfied with his wife and was affected by Mary's beauty, her intellectual interests, and mostly by her identity as the "daughter of William and Mary."[10] By June of 1814 Percy Shelley was dining with the Godwin’s almost every day.  He was even going for daily walks with Mary while her step-sister Jane chaperoned.  As was inevitable on June 26th they declared their love for each other.  After discovering the relationship, Godwin forbade him from visiting the house, but he was still accepting Percy Shelley's money ironically.  Mary tried to obey her father's injunction, but after Percy's attempted suicide she was convinced of the strength of his love.  As a result of her belief in his love on July 28, 1814 she eloped with him to France, accompanied by Jane.

Mary and Percy Shelley would be together for the next eight years on the continent, but soon after their departure Mary became pregnant. The first and the next two of the Shelley’s children all died as infants though.  In November of 1816, a month after Mary’s half-sister Fanny committed suicide Percy's wife Harriet also killed herself. These deaths presented the couple with the opportunity for a marriage, and they were married on December 30, 1816.[11]  During this time of death in the life of Mary and Percy Shelley, their living arrangement was complicated by the ménage-a-trois with Jane Clairmont, which involved Mary Shelley in a unique domestic arrangement. At this stage in her life she was condemned by her beloved father, the seventeen-year-old Mary had just become a wife, and she was no longer a mother.  She was increasingly despondent and dependent on Percy Shelley for support, but he on the other hand, was caught up in his excited passions and eager to live out his theory of free love by encouraging Jane’s affections.  In the early part of 1815 Percy's friend Thomas Jefferson Hogg came to stay with Mary, Percy, and Jane for six weeks.  It was during this time that Percy urged Mary, despite her reluctance, to reciprocate Hogg's sexual overtures.[12]

It was during the following spring of 1816 that Jane persuaded Percy and Mary to accompany her to Switzerland to meet George Gordon, Lord Byron a handsome, capricious, and cynical person who was bursting with an intellectual energy, and Jane was having an affair with.  They left with Jane in early May of 1816 and eventually moved into a chalet on the banks of Lake Geneva, within walking distance from Villa Diodati.  Byron and Percy became close friends, sailing together on the lake and having literary and philosophical discussions in the evenings.  It was here that they had a now famous competition to see who could come up with the most frightening story.  Although Byron and Percy were quick to come up with their own tales, it was not until after a discussion about galvanism and Erasmus Darwin's success in causing a piece of a vermicello to move voluntarily that Mary Shelley would be Inspired.  This caused a Shelley to have a dream that inspired her most successful, famous, and well know work Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.[13]

Frankenstein is the story of Victor Frankenstein who has studied the alchemic ideas of the old European Masters and then learns of the new found knowledge of Natural Science.  Victor is inspired to create a means by which inanimate matter can be made to life. He starts to construct a man using means that simulated the functions of the human system in it.  He is successful in stirring the creature to life, but he is also becomes terrified of it.  Every time the creature comes near him he flees, and finally so does the creature.  About a year later after recovering from an illness, Victor hears of the death of his brother in his native Switzerland and he hurries back to home.  He fears that the person convicted of the murder has been set up, but he says nothing and they are executed.  To recover Victor goes hiking into the mountains where he encounters the creature, and to his amazement the creature is able to converse with him.  He convinces Victor to create him a woman companion, but Victor in disgust and lunacy tears up the creation.  The Creature retaliates by killing Victor’s best friend and later his bride Elizabeth on their wedding night.  Victor then becomes the hunter, and he pursues the creature to the artic ice.  Stranded and exhausted an iceberg breaks away and he is carried to the Ocean where he is found near death by a ship.    There on the ship he relates the story to a captain and after this he dies.[14]

In the novel Frankenstein there are several key themes that emerge from the book.  One of the most obvious conclusions on theme from the book is that it is a tragic story.  A constant reoccurrence in the work of Mary Shelley is the tragedy in her own life coming through in her writing.  Frankenstein is a story that ends with almost all the principal characters dead and the poor monster left to his lonely self.  This theme of tragedy is one that would continue to come across in Mary Shelley’s work as she continued to experience tragedy in her own life.  This was the case with her idea for Frankenstein, which she realized only eighteen months after her first born child died two weeks after its birth. This novel was only first was the reoccurring theme of tragedy.

Another central idea from of the creation of Dr. Frankenstein’s creature is the warning that Shelley gives her audience against the Enlightenment celebration of science and technology.  An important aspect here is Mary Shelley's implicit warning of the inherent perils in technological developments of modern science.  It acts as a cautionary tale and critique of scientific research and in particular the early modern scientific revolution.  “Through the work of Victor Frankenstein, Mary Shelley mounts a powerful critique…of the psychology of the modern Scientist, and of the commitment of science to discover the “objective” truth, whatever the consequences.”[15]

The Last Man is set in the twenty-first century, where the main character Lionel Verney deals with the events of the world around him.  Much of the novel centers on the relationships of his friends and family of his class, and the horrible wars that go on around them.  A plague gradually kills off all the people around him, but he finds himself immune from infection and he has to cope with the death of the world around him and his beloved circle of friends.  Oddly Lionel does fall victim to the plague, but he alone of the central characters recovers from it and remains physically fine.  After Lionel leaves for Italy with a small band of survivors, he winds up in Rome alone.  At the end of the Novel Lionel is preparing to set out to sea in search of other lone survivors.[16]

The Last Man was written in the period following the Death of Shelley’s husband Percy, and is Shelley's best-known work after Frankenstein.  The parallels of The Last Man and the actual life of Mary Shelly give this book a feel as an act of mourning and dealing with the loss that has again struck her life.  Not only had she lost her spouse, three children to this point, but her friend George Gordon, Lord Byron has died, and so has the collective life they had lived together.  The physical resemblance between Percy Shell and the character Adrian, and the symbolic resemblances between Byron and Lord Raymond, Lionel Verney and Shelley herself, make this a clear act of grief.  A second aspect to The Last Man, is Shelley joining her contemporaries in her, “apocalyptic response” to the horrors of the French Revolution and the following bloodshed of the Napoleonic wars.  It serves as a critique of the political, spiritual, and artistic aspirations of the post-revolutionary Romantic era.  [17]

It was in July of 1822 that Shelley was to suffer her greatest loss.  Her husband while out sailing with and Edward Williams drowned in the Gulf of Spezia on July 8th. This was only a month after he had saved her from bleeding to death when she miscarried during her fifth pregnancy.  Shelley would never remarry after the death of her husband Percy.  She received offers of matrimony though from men such as John Howard Payne, an American actor-dramatist, and Prosper Merimee, a cynical French Novelist and Dandy, but she never remarried. As she wrote to a friend in June of 1831, "Mary Shelley shall be written on my tomb."  Shelley would spend the remainder of her life as a devoted mother to Percy Florence Shelley and a devoted daughter to Godwin, whom she continued to support emotionally and financially until his death in 1836.[18] 

As the sole care giver to her son Florence, Shelley returned to England in June 1823 and petitioned her father-in-law, Sir Timothy Shelley, for an allowance.  This was necessary because while her husband Percy was alive she had been accustomed to an annual income as great as £1,000 a year.  Her father-in-law agreed to give her £100 a year. Shelley was now forced to earn money by writing to support her family, and even with increases in the allowance to £200 in 1824 and £300 in 1829, in addition to loans against her inheritance, she was forced to earn money by writing. The annuals, which catered to the demands of a middle-class readership for adventure, romance, melodrama, and happy or morally satisfying endings, became Shelley’s main source of outside income. She had had as many as three stories a year published in the annuals, for which she seemed to have an acute sensitivity to her audience’s tastes.[19] 

Shelley's wrote her last two novels, Lodore in1835 and Falkner in 1837.  They are both semi-autobiographical, and Lodore became her most popular and successful of her novels since Frankenstein.  It was also the first of Shelley's novels to have a sentimental, happy ending. After she completed her last novel Shelley devoted her energies to nonfiction and editing her husband's works. Her last book was published in 1844, and it was an account of her summer tours on the Continent with her son and his college friends.  By then she was in ill health, and in 1848 she began to suffer what were apparently the first symptoms of the brain tumor that eventually killed her.[20]

In the later years of her life Shelley was affected by the death of her father in 1836.  When he died her father was still in debt, but Shelley arranged for him to be buried next to Wollstonecraft. Later in 1841 her son Percy graduated from Cambridge.  This along with Sir Timothy's death in 1844 relieved her of the financial pressure that had driven her in earlier years. Shelley was able to spend the final years of her life in relative satisfaction. After her death from a brain tumor on February 1, 1851, her son and daughter-in-law had the remains of her parents moved from St. Pancras to St. Peter's Churchyard in Bournemouth, and Shelley was buried beside them in a nonreligious service.[21]

The Life of Mary Shelley is a life of tragedy, possibly the most tragic part of which is that at the age of nineteen she had peaked as writer.  That is to say that her most successful work critically and financially was completed at the young age of nineteen, and nothing that she would do afterwards would be on the same level of success.  Although the element of loss and tragedy is a reoccurring theme in the writing of Mary Shelley, she is also a social commentator.  It is through her novels that she is able to comment on society at large.  In Frankenstein she warns about the possible dangers of modern science, and in The Last Man she warns against the recent destruction that had occurred in Europe.  She is able to do these things notably while at the same time incorporating her own personal circumstances and experiences into her works.

[1] Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature, s.v. “Romanticism.


[2] Bradford K. Mudge, “Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly,” Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 116: British Romantic Novelists, 1789-1832, (Detroit, the Gale Group, 1992), 311.


[3] Bradford K. Mudge, “Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly,” Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 116: British Romantic Novelists, 1789-1832, (Detroit, the Gale Group, 1992), 311.

[4] Emily W. Sunstein, Mary Shelley: Romance and Reality (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1989),27-32.


[5] Emily W. Sunstein, Mary Shelley: Romance and Reality (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1989), 30.


[6] John R. Greenfield, “Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly,” Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 110: British Romantic Prose Writers, 1789-1832, Second Series, (Detroit, The Gale Group, 1991), 209-220.


[7] John R. Greenfield, “Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly,” Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 110: British Romantic Prose Writers, 1789-1832, Second Series, (Detroit, The Gale Group, 1991), 209-220.


[8] Emily W. Sunstein, Mary Shelley: Romance and Reality (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1989), 54-55.


[9] John R. Greenfield, “Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly,” Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 110: British Romantic Prose Writers, 1789-1832, Second Series, (Detroit, The Gale Group, 1991), 209-220.


[10] Bradford K. Mudge, “Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly,” Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 116: British Romantic Novelists, 1789-1832, (Detroit, the Gale Group, 1992), 311-325.

[11]Darren Harris-Fain, “Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly,” Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 178: British Fantasy and Science-Fiction Writers Before World War I. (Detroit, The Gale Group, 1997), 222-228.

[12] Bradford K. Mudge, “Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly,” Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 116: British Romantic Novelists, 1789-1832, (Detroit, the Gale Group, 1992), 311-325.

[13] Bradford K. Mudge, “Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly,” Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 116: British Romantic Novelists, 1789-1832, (Detroit, the Gale Group, 1992), 311-325.

[14] Mary Shelley, “Frankenstein or, the Modern Prometheus,” (New York: Signet Classics, 2000), 1-198.

[15] Anne K. Mellor,  “Making a “Monster: An Introduction to Frankenstein,” The Cambridge Companion to Mary Shelley,  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 18.

[16]Mary Shelley, “The Last Man,” (Lincoln, Nebraska:  University of Nebraska Press, 1965) 1-342. 

[17] Kari E. Lokke, “The Last Man,” The Cambridge Companion to Mary Shelley,  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 116

[18] Bradford K. Mudge, “Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly,” Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 116: British Romantic Novelists, 1789-1832, (Detroit, the Gale Group, 1992), 311-325.

[19] John R. Greenfield, “Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly,” Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 110: British Romantic Prose Writers, 1789-1832, Second Series, (Detroit, The Gale Group, 1991), 209-220.

[20] Bradford K. Mudge, “Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly,” Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 116: British Romantic Novelists, 1789-1832, (Detroit, the Gale Group, 1992), 311-325.

[21] John R. Greenfield, “Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly,” Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 110: British Romantic Prose Writers, 1789-1832, Second Series, (Detroit, The Gale Group, 1991), 209-220.




Harris-Fain, Darren. “Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly.” Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 178: British Fantasy and Science-Fiction Writers Before World War I. Detroit: The Gale Group, 1997.

Sunstein, Emily W.  Mary Shelley: Romance and Reality. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1989.

Lokke, Kari E.  “The Last Man.” The Cambridge Companion to Mary Shelley. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Mudge, Bradford K. “Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly.” Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 116: British Romantic Novelists, 1789-1832. Detroit: the Gale Group, 1992.

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. “The Last Man.”  Lincoln, NE:  University of Nebraska Press, 1965

Mellor, Anne K.  “Making a “Monster: An Introduction to Frankenstein.” The Cambridge Companion to Mary Shelley. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Shelley, Mary “Frankenstein or, the Modern Prometheus.” New York: Signet Classics, 2000.

Greenfield, John R. “Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly” Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 110: British Romantic Prose Writers, 1789-1832, Second Series. Detroit: The Gale Group, 1991.

“Romanticism.” Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature. 1995.



The Societal Shadow, (the life of Karl Marx.)

The great deal of people have condensed Karl Marx’s image into that of an anti-establishment cult figure.  He was someone who rejected capitalism and suffered an extremely difficult life because of it.  Most importantly people connect Marx to the big C word.  This is of course is communism, which carries a stigma with it that makes most people cringe.  In order to understand Communism in a world that widely rejects it on the whole an audience must look at societies from the inside out, and decide what the objective realities of these societies are.  Next they must evaluate if the current society is stable in its economic state, and who the working class is (proletariat/ the poor or becoming poor class) and whom the rich are (the controllers of the property/wealth).  Finally, the internal cogs of the system need to be analyzed.  Is natural justice being sought after, or instead is wealth being given to only a few privileged individuals?  In essence is supply side economics is taking shape.  These are questions a modern day socialist would most likely ask when analyzing society at large. No theorist did more for the development for the existence of socialism, or offered a more accurate critique of the political economy than Karl Marx.

To understand Karl Marx it is important to understand his ideas, primarily.  The man had an amazing life on triumph, sorrow, poverty, alcoholism, womanizing (to some extent,) and many other unique individual stages.  However, before the linear sketch of Marx’s life it is important that his theories be analyzed in their context first.  To see the progression of Marx’s theories is to see the man himself and the gift he left the world.

[1]The stages of Marx’s intellectual world are designated by Marx’s critical objective, which three such stages can be extracted up to 1844.  First, was the stage of an abstract critique of philosophy and religion which was confined to Marx’s time at the University of Jena.  In the period between 1839 and 1841 roughly, Marx rejected philosophy in nearly all forms. Essentially Marx believed philosophy was a vocalized form of religion. [2]One important distinction to this is necessary to analyze the philosopher Hegel, and the ancient Greeks (or classics,) as separate from other philosophers that Marx studied.  Marx rejected the contemporary philosophers of his time, except for Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel wherein Marx could still study and appreciate elements of his work.   This will be examined in context during the first major writing of Marx’s career.

Next, Marx introduced his first issues of social, political and economic life.  These became his immediate focus in a series of critical writings.     [3]Then, according to Oakley, in late 1843, Marx discovered political economy and found in the essential anatomy and physiology of contemporary society.  His life labor was further developed after he read a young Fredrich Engel’s article, “Outlines of a critique of Political Economy.” 

Marx actually edited this paper and found that the two had some pretty similar basic understandings of the world before them.  Once the two met in person they realized there ideas were actually almost on the exact same theoretical track.  In essence political economy became the focus of both Marx and Engel’s critical theories for the rest of their lives.  Marx’s first studies in political economy led him to a critical comprehension of the nature and operations of capitalism through political economy rather than to a critique of the analyses of the system that he encountered.  His first exposition of the critical theory of capitalism in 1844 emphasized the immediate human ramifications of living under the domination of capital.  Allen Oakley best states the final resting point of Marx’s theoretical and revolutionary endeavors.  Oakley[4] “Through this early critiquing of the political economy, Marx endeavored during the rest of his life to formulate and propagate a critical theory of the essential nature and immanent evolution of capitalism.”(pg.4.)  ‘This is the story of the remarkable Karl Marx.’

            Karl Marx was born in Trier, Germany, on May 5, 1818 to Hirshel and Henrietta Marx.  Hirshel Marx was a Jewish lawyer and in order to escape anti-Semitism, he chose to abandon his Jewish faith when Karl was only six years old.  Even though the majority of people living in Trier were Catholics, Hirshel Marx decided to become a Protestant.  [5]The family converted to this in 1824. It is a proper assumption that this event more than likely influenced Karl Marx to a state of personal disdain for religion in all forms.  After all if religion was a guiding light for his family how could they so swiftly change a personal choice and a divine right of life.  Marx’s continuing argumentative nature with his father and mother was set forth from this time on (that continued until both died.)

After graduating from the Friedrich-William Gymnasium High School in Trier, Marx entered Bonn University where he studied law and majored in history and philosophy.  He planned to follow his father and become a lawyer—however he soon became disillusioned and pessimistic of his times there.  This time at Bonn more than anything else set forth some of Marx’s inconsistencies in life.  To say inconsistencies is to say that Marx had a lot of trouble with keeping his theories consistent and progressive.  He finished very few of the writings he started at this time, (another problem plaguing Marx throughout life,) and the ones he did could be very disconnected internally and unreadable overall.[6] Furthermore Marx’s arguments with his parents increased here as well. His father questioned why Marx spent more time walking around town and going to various watering holes to drink, than to apply his ability to the utmost.  Though his father would combative, it was probably more so an attempt to get Marx on the right track in life.  Marx also had trouble discussing anything with his mother that would not subsequently result in a fight over religion. 

An on going rift with his mother always flanked the two’s relationship in regard to religion.  Henrietta was still devotedly religious, and Marx seemed to believe that people who were religious were “brainwashed.”  Obviously from this point on with Marx’s reluctance to heed an inch of his own view points the two were separated from any kind of substantial conversation.  Despite continued alienation from his family, and problems with many of conventions of life, Marx moved on through personal study and knowledge.  Sadly Marx could never make full amends with his father as he died in 1838.  In his last letter the critical nature of his father’s words had to of hurt the young Karl to some degree.

[7]“Scarcely your wild abandon in Bonn come to an end, your debts but recently paid, this simply announces how you were wasting your talents and staying up for nights on end in order to bring such monster into the world.”(Pg.15)

Once transferring to Berlin after failing a physical for the military, he began studying philosophy. He concluded his university course in 1841 after submitting his thesis on the philosophy of Epicurus. This is the first singular written piece by Marx that would be recognized.  It largely played a role in the shaping of Marx’s class issues.  Marx largely believed the Greek philosopher Epicurus was satisfied at death because he had conquered any questioning of his time on earth through his own self awareness and rationality.  [8]In contrast Democritus had questions left in his mind at death and stabbed his eyes out at death, and had not been comfortable with his complete life on earth.  From this Marx extrapolated that religion could poison the soul of any man with a living conscious.  Also at this point were foreshadowed of Marx’s feelings on religion which were becoming simultaneously interwoven with that of his views on state, (that would come later in his career.)  Though, Marx claimed religion, “an opiate of the masses,” an audience must see Marx’s dissent of both as similar if not equal in some regards.  They both kept people from having a feeling of identity while living in the only objective reality they knew. Marx also stated at this point of his life that he “detested all gods.” 

While at Berlin, he was introduced to the writings of G. W. F. Hegel and his theory that [9]“a thing or thought could not be separated from its opposite.”(pg 54.)  The anti-religion and anti-autocracy philosophies of Hegel led Marx to join a radical group known as the Young Hegelians.  However, in a short time he would reject and reformulate his views on these theologians, as well.  The key break between Marx’s early inspiration in learning, (Hegel,) and Marx himself was there discrepancies on religion and the state as a whole.

[10]“Such development, according to Hegel, proceeds by laws which are fundamentally mental or spiritual; a culture or nation has a kind of personality in terms of its own character.  Hegel took this personification even further and applied it to the whole world.  He identified the whole of reality with what he called the ‘the absolute,’ or world self, or God.”(43.)

              His reading of writers on Hegel, namely, Feuerbach had taken away Marx’s complete loyalties from Hegel.  However, as stated earlier Marx still would use Hegel’s underlying principal of society’s negative capabilities.  [11]According to Stevenson, What remained was the idea that in Hegel’s writings the truth about human nature and society was concealed in a kind of inverted form.  Hegel believed that a state more or less would and should be an entity involved in society and people’s lives, while Marx clearly viewed it as the number one antagonist and something to get rid of.  From a standpoint of dialectics Hegel discussed the manner of the eternal or interchangeable spirit.  However, Hegel largely denied the development of nature and society as anything that man needed to worry about.  This was the prime fallacy and contradiction that Marx saw.  As Hegel, stated through his intellectual system that everything which is reality has to be understood as “rational” 

A likely interpretation of the view of Hegel on the state would be that while he maybe saw it as an aggressor an abrasive on the working man, it was not the worker’s place to question this from a stance of structure.  The worker should instead focus on the development of his soul to deal with these problems.  Marx could not see how someone’s spirit could be sound while it was being actively diminished and destroyed by a system that didn’t understand or care for it.

        After graduating from Berlin University, Marx moved to Paris, hoping to become a professor.  Unfortunately, things did not work out the way he had hoped, and so he turned to journalism instead.  Marx became editor of the Rheinische Zeitung in Cologne, a liberal democratic newspaper where he wrote articles on freedom of the press and on religion in politics. These articles were critical of the government.  Not long after it was published, the Prussian government banned the newspaper in 1843. [12]

            With rumors circulating that he may be arrested, Marx then left for Paris and married Jenny von Westphalen, one of his childhood friends, whom he was engaged with for seven years before eventually marrying, and having four children.    It is important to note that Marx was very devoted in order to balance his family life and work, which is what he believed he needed for a natural state of harmony.  However, while Marx was known to gain great happiness from his family his time was greatly limited as hi work was always his focus first and foremost. Specifically, at this time Marx began studying political economy and the history of the French Revolution.  Marx teamed with a man named Arnold Ruge to publish the radical journal Deutsch-Franzosiche Jarbucher.   Ruge had also been affiliated with the Young Hegelians, and was a very politically oriented man.  An argument with Ruge eventually came to pass between the two because of their political differences brought their relationship to an end as well as the journal’s end; Ruge stayed a liberal while Marx was sinking into the weighted shoes of a communist revolutionary.  [13]

In 1845, Marx moved to Brussels, Belgium, and continued his studies.  He had previously made friends with Friedrich Engels, the son of a wealthy cotton spinner who also had been a Young Hegelian.  They collaborated on several works instantly, including The Holy Family, which was a criticism of some of their Young Hegelian friends.  Marx was again expelled for subversive journalism in his writings.  This first major collaborative work between the two would also be Marx’s first critique in entirety of capitalism via-political economy.  Engel’s background in aristocracy combined with Marx’s knowledge of Adam Smith’s theories would help them write both a rough, but cogent and greatly informative piece.  This was written primarily by Marx and largely was an attack on a personal friend of his named Bruno Baumer. 

The propensity of Marx to attack statements, theories and even lifestyle choices of friends and collaborators would thus continue throughout his life. (The exception was his life partner in theory, and lifeline, Engels himself.)  In this case Marx felt that the writing of his collaborative partner, The Condition of the Working Class in England and the current press the two were circulating around working class populations about Europe was more important than to maintain personal relationships.  One major point made by the Marx part of this writing aimed at Bruno’s discussions of private property.

            The important piece of information to extract from this complicated text is that, Marx felt that these young Hegelians more or less were becoming indebted to their capitalist system and the theories of the founding father, which was of course Adam Smith.  [14]According to Oakley, of Marx’s critique, the offered many criticisms to all parts of society but, no viable solution for a better one.  He believed they were more or less economists with no sense of the real problems that were in the belly of the beast.

 In the spring of 1847 Marx and Engels took their collaboration further and entered the world of direct participatory action.  They joined a secret propaganda society called the Communist League and took a prominent part in the League's Second Congress (London, November 1847), at whose request they drew up the celebrated Communist Manifesto, which appeared in February 1848.  With the clarity and brilliance of genius, this work outlines a new world-conception, consistent with materialism, which also embraces the theme of social life; dialectics, and is a most profound doctrine of development. From this, the audience can view the theory of the class struggle and of the world revolutionary role of the proletariat -- the creator of a new, communist utopian society." It appeared in 1848 as the Communist Manifesto.

Through the Manifesto they declared that all history was the history of class struggles.  [15]Under capitalism, the struggle between the working class and the business class would end in a new society, a communist one.  Written for a mass audience, the Communist Manifesto summarized the forthcoming revolution and the nature of the communist society that would be established by the proletariat.  Marx argued that if you are to understand human history you must not see it as the story of great individuals or the conflict between states.  Instead, you must see it as the story of social classes and their struggles with each other. 

Furthermore, through out history money, wealth, and capital had dictated a way of life to the masses. Wealth ruled the selfish thinking of the rich and, detrimentally affected and negated the lives of the poor that worked for and surrounded them. In many cultures class determined your human life, and you had to wait for your next incarnation for a better one.  While in other parts of history the idea of wealth transcended a life and allowed for growth from one class to another. This is the reality of a capitalist society that was first discussed by Karl Marx in the 19th century.

When Karl Marx and Engels first penned this shaping work on communism, they assumed that the relationship between workers and capital would always be opposing. Obviously there views of serf’s throughout history helped them shape the work. While many rejected his overall theories throughout his life, they did not argue with the basic idea that the interests of workers would always be at odds with those of owners. As a consequence, over the years, that thought has guided the marketplace in terms of deciding wages, working conditions and other worker centered benefits. The bourgeoisie (rich/owners class), by rapid improvement of production instruments and by powerful means of communication, drew all, even the most underdeveloped nations, into modern civilization through production. Their fast development and ability in many cases to exploit the worker allowed them to get a foothold in the market.  However, the commonality of the different epochs of history has remained in that stratification has always been present, and Marx believed that this so called system of incorporation merely condensed all of the working class into a camp of enslavement.

[16]'Human nature' is a term that Marx uses, and applies it to members of both classes is largely shaped by their positions within the two groups. Given the conformist nature of the human person, considerable light may be thrown upon the major features of Marx's reality by means of an investigation of the types of 'human nature' that he assigned in this economic theory. In Marx's capitalist reality, division of labor is a necessary condition for commodity production. This division attacks the individual/worker class at the very root of their life so that they are converted into 'a crippled being'.   By the process in which they are broken there experiences exude alienation, which defines them forever.  Marx states,

[17]“He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the simplest, monotonous, and most easily acquired knack that is required of him.”

 In essence the workers are reduced to means of basic survival like an animal, while at the same time turned into a machine completely devoid of emotion. The alienation according to Marx has several dimensions. In the first, the worker is estranged not only from the act of production, but also from the products of his labor. Next, because the workers activities belong to another, namely the capitalist, the worker translates this separation as a loss of his self. Which also means that a worker actively estranges himself/herself throughout the act of production. In the last form, the alienation takes the form of estrangement of one man to another man. A view of the Manifesto according to [18]The Essential, sums up the critical theory well. The division of labor creates a hierarchical structure among the workers themselves and thus the workers become the property of the capitalist and are seen as human capital. The non-worker in theory does everything against the worker, which the worker does against himself; but he the non-worker does not do against himself what the worker does to himself. So, whereas the worker's activity is a torment to himself, the capitalists' activity is his means of support and success. Division of labor and the human nature that it has molded in all its alienated and crippling forms are, therefore, fundamental and integral parts of the paradox of facts that Marx implanted in his reality regarding capitalism.

February of 1848, revolution broke out in France and Marx was expelled from Brussels.  Still riding the coattails of the Manifesto, he returned to France with notoriety and but not money. Though only for a short time as he soon moved back to Cologne where he began to publish the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, a liberal newspaper backed by industrialists.  The freedom of press at this time in Prussia was very great and Marx exploited this advantage strongly.  It was said stated by Engels that this gained back some of the inner spirit in Marx, because he again felt a renewed confidence of people trying to acquire truly relevant information.  Concisely stated the lower class was becoming endowed with a sense of reality and awareness.  However, this did not last to long as word of socialist celebrity; Marx, was spread and the Prussian government tried to contain Marx’s articles through the court system, and eventually ended up expelling him again in 1849, forcing Marx to move back to London10. [19]

            Life became increasingly difficult for Marx and his family while in London.  They received financial aid from Engels and relatives of Marx’s wife, Jenny.  Friedrich helped to financially support Marx by giving him some of the money received from his recently published book, Condition of the Working Class in England.  He also managed for other people to make contributions as well.  This allowed Marx to have the time to be able to study and further his economic and political theories.  Unlike prior philosophers/theorists, Karl Marx was not only interested in uncovering the truth in the theories, but also acting on them.  He wrote while studying philosophy that “Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is, to change it11.” Real advocacy was difficult for Marx at this though, as the Marx family was enduring it highest level of poverty known yet. Further tragedy struck when Jenny gave birth to a daughter they named Franziska, in the spring of 1851, only to see the child die one year later.  They were forced to borrow money again to purchase a coffin.[20]  After this event occurred Marx spent many years with considerable depression, while working out his most theoretical masterpiece.

In 1867, Marx published the first volume of his controversial Das Kapital.  It was “to discover the economic law of motion of modern society,” in Marx’s own words.  Unlike most of his earlier works, Das Kapital was commended as an educational and scientific analysis of political economy based on years and years of in-depth study.[21]  The next two volumes, mostly written by Engels, were published after Marx’s death. It must be noted at this point of Marx’s life his writings were getting more and more indecipherable to most readers.  While reading excerpts of Marx and Engel’s collective works after the Manifesto, Engel’s writings to pertain much more too substantial evidence and are much more cogent in relation to the already difficult subject matter.  The relevance to historical data and objectiveness is much greater and the content, overall more coherent.  It is not to say that Marx did not keep his fire and desire to influence the masses.  However, it is more important to note that without Engel’s as a provider and consummate collaborative partner Marx’s later career would not have had nearly the amount of significant impact that it did. 

Within Kapital, Marx’s theories can be seen as much influenced not only by the industrial revolution, but also from his early works on Hegelian philosophy.  Many of the writing within this are very difficult and arduous to read at times.  Volumes two and three of Das Capital, (both written by Engel’s,) speak greater bounds of real linear theory as opposed to jumbled opinions and proclamations.  Just the same the essential points of Marx’s parts of Das Capital are greatly profound and amazing since Marx was essentially impoverished at this point. 

The piece speaks of how man is alienated by the process of labor and the product that is made out of the labor.   Marx more or less says the process of labor is alienation because man doesn’t intend concisely to do work for their own pleasure.  Rather that labor is forced upon man to gain another kind of socially defined pleasure.  (i.e., furniture, money.)  Also, Marx believes that work that is done by person is not done for him/or her if they could consciously evaluate and conceptualize there own self; but instead the work they do bestows there labor onto consumers.  This happens because the worker uses their own energy to produce the product thus losing the inner self and inner life.  Finally, another key point of this writing exists within Marx’s larger theory framework,(but not limited to,) of historical materialism.  Marx believes that throughout history the ruling ideas are concepts drive, the ruling society, and ruling intellectual force.  The reason that ruling classes rules over intelligence, according to Marx is because that class has the material means to be dominant.  [22]Perhaps both physical and mental exhaustion are pushed so heavily on the working class to the point where they become complacent an uninterested in developing further.  According to Howe also, according to Marx, there is a relationship of detachment between man and the products they products, making a sort of commodity based society without utility or virtue.  Each of these new products created by blueprint, but not by intrinsic creativeness devalues the worker each time, more and more as they go.  The key to this piece of writing largely rests in its structural of analyzation, and of economist inversion to the capitalist state.  Many economists today could look at this work except in the opposite fashion to promote their structures.  In contrast to the controversial and revolutionary call of the Manifesto, Das Capital was a theoretical masterpiece on class struggle through the concepts of commodity, man and economics.  [23]

Marx’s last years consisted of illness and depression after his wife and oldest daughter died.  Many of Marx’s final days were spent completely alone, often reading and writing for up to sixteen hours a day.  After working pretty much the last twenty years of his career on one volume of a work many question why Marx could not complete works, and not begin new concepts period.  [24]Meningitis, depression, insomnia, hemorrhoids, boils, nervous debility, bronchitis, pulmonary abscess, and bronchitis is enough to kill the spirit of anyone, and it eventually it did to Marx.    The lonely conclusion and restless ending of his life reflects the values that most, put on revolutionaries during their time on earth and for that matter any kind of radical thought.  Though Marx would have most likely disliked the happenings of the Russian Revolution, it was this kind of outward thinking that he so desired.    Marx, saw the internal structure of industrial life with completely open eyes.  The only commonality he saw between all men is that they were united as workers, and members of a class based societal system.  It was through his interpretation of this that he saw the only conceivable ending, to hate, slavery (both mental and physical,) and suffering.  Marx continued to write essays and papers on socialism and communism until his death on March 14, 1883. Fittingly, Marx was found dead in his reading chair alone over a book.  He was sixty five at the time, and it has been rumored that only twelve total people attended his funeral.

[1] Oakley, the Making of Marx

[2] Poetch, Marxism and Christianity

[3] Oakley, the Making of Marx

[4] Oakley, The Making of Marx

[5] Appignanesi, Marx for Beginners

[6] Rubel, Marx without myth, pgs. 14-20

[7] Rubel, Marx without Myth

[8] Rubel, Marx without Myth

[9] Stevenson, Seven Theories

[10] Oakley, The making of Marx’s

[11] Stevenson, Seven Theories

[12] Howe, Essential Works.

[13] Oakley, the Making

[14] Oakley, The Making

[15] Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto: chap2-3

[16] Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto

[17] Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto, 1st chap.

[18] Irving Howe, the Essential Works of Socialism.

[19] Rubel, Marx without Myth

[20] Appignanesi, Marx Without Myth

[21] Essential Works of Socialism, excerpts Kapital

[22] Marx and Engels, Collected Works: excerpts from Kapital

[23] Howe, Essential Works of Socialism

[24] Appignanesi, Marx for Beginners


Works Cited

Appignanesi, Richard. Marx for Beginners. New York. Pantheon Books. 1990.

Howe, Irving. Essential Works of Socialism. London. Yale University Press. 1970

Marx, Karl; Engels, Frederick. Collected Works: Vol 3,4,5, 17. (Includes Kapital vol.1

            And the Manifesto.

Oakley, Allen. The Making of Marx’s Critical Theory: A Bibliographical Analysis.

London. Routledge and Kegan Paul. 1983.

Poetch, Hans-Lutz. Marxism and Christianity. St.Louis., MO.. Concordia Publishing

House. 1973

Rubel, Maximilien. Marx without Myth. New York. Harper Torchbooks. 1975

Stevenson, Leslie. Seven Theories of Human Nature: Christianity, Freud, Lorenz, Marx,

Sartre, Skinner, and Plato. Oxford University Press(various cities.) 1974

Woods, Alan. Marxism and the U.S.A: London. Wellred Books. 2005.

“Eppur si muove!”

Galileo Galilei


                        World history during the fifthteenth and sixteenth centuries was energetic

and fascinating.  Into that changing and intriguing period was born one of the most

revolutionary of all history’s scientists – Galileo Galilei.

            Galileo Galilei was born February 15, 1564 in Pisa, Italy and into a Europe that

was evolving rapidly.  The Italian and Northern Renaissance periods were flourishing;

the wealth of the New World was flowing into northern Europe, and the trade

of the East flowed through the  powerful merchant cities of northern Italy.

            Italy, for all its flowering of the arts, was not a large power in the Europe of

Galileo’s day.  Italy was a collection of principalities and city states which were at

rivalry with one another and unable to establish an Italian leader or district strong enough

to unite the whole peninsula.  In addition, the pope in Rome was not only a religious

leader but a secular one as well, and although no pope was strong enough to conquer and

unite all of Italy they were all influential enough to garner aid and support from the other

European to stave off the aggression of the rival Italian powers. In fact, for most of

Galileo’s lifetime, the superpower in Europe was Spain, mostly  because of its New

World conquests and the influx of wealth it brought back to Spain.  But all of European

society was influenced by the exploration and conquest of the new lands in the West and

 all of this fueled a commercial and scientific demand for new technological

developments(Clough, 552).

            The basic facts of Galileo’s early life seem to be relatively uncontroversial.  He

and his family moved from Pisa to Florence in his early childhood.  There in 1581 he

 began his academic career as a medical student at the University of Pisa and quickly

 earned the nickname of “The Wrangler” (Ronan, 69) because of his habit of  forcefully

and constantly debating his lecturers over the natural philosophy of Aristotle.

            Galileo, though he was studying medicine, was apparently bored by the subject

and was instead fasinated by mathematics and physics.  Therefore in 1585, after three

years of studying medicine, Galileo left the University of Pisa without obtaining any

kind of a degree.

            While still a student, though, Galileo was supposed to have made his first

independent discovery about the science of motion.  purportedly he was in the Pisan

cathedral and observed the swinging of a chandelier. He timed the swings and

was struck by the fact that the swings, whether long or short, were accomplished

in the same length of time. 

            After he left the university, he pursued his interest in mathematics

by engaging a tutor and discovered the works of Archimedes.  This led him

to experiment with hydrostatics and his experiments were successful enough

to bring him to the attention of scientific circles.  Their acceptance helped him gain

enough credibility as a mathematician that he obtained the position

of lecturer in mathematics at the University of Pisa at the age of twenty-five.

            During his years as a lecturer he continued to do experiments dealing

with mass and momentum.  In one of the most famous, apocalyptic or not, he allegedly

dropped cannon balls off the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa to demonstrate

that the rate at which objects fell to the ground did not depend on their mass.

To demonstrate this he supposedly dropped two cannon balls of different weights

at the same instance and maintained that they touched the ground at the same

moment.  (Over three hundred years later, astronaut David Scott conducted the same

experiment on the moon’s surface, although he used a feather and a hammer, and

if any verification was needed to finally prove Galileo correct it was perfectly

observable that the feather and the hammer hit the lunar surface at the same time.)

            Again, though, Galileo’s experiments ran directly counter to the ideas of Aristotle

and offended the established leaders at the university.  His forthright insistence on

his own conclusions did not aid in his career in Pisa(Geymonat 15)..

            Therefore, after three years as a lecturer he moved to Venice and taught

mathematics at the University of Padua. It’s not known whether it was entirely by choice

that he made this relocation but his future at the University of Pisa was severely limited

by the total insistence there on a classical interpretation of  learning.

            Venice at that time was the wealthiest city in Italy and its merchants were patrons

 of the arts and the sciences.  Despite his bombastic personality, Galileo was undoubtedly

a brilliant inventor and it was at the University of Padua that he became known for his

experiments with the mechanics of movement. and  actively experimented with the mass

and trajectory of objects.

            In spite of his lecturing, private teaching and research, Galileo still          

            had time and energy enough to pursue his intention of developing

            a workshop for producing scientific instruments, and as if this

            were not enough, designing the odd piece of larger equipment.

            But his instrument making was the most profitable.  In these

            early years his greatest commercial success was his so-called

            geometrical and military compass that could be used for both

            measuring and for making calculations(Ronan 95,96).

                        Not only was his compass a financial success for Galileo but also he

 seems to have been generally esteemed for his erudition in the fields of mathematics and


            But Galileo was not just a brilliant scientist, he was also a person with many

interests outside the field of science.  For example, he played the lute superbly, was an

expert in the field of horticulture, and liked the company of friends and the imbibing

of good wines.  He also seems to have had many friends who loved him and enjoyed

his company.

            Unfortunately, he also had a negative side to his life.  He was brash, obstreperous,

and a man who made a habit out of challenging the authorities of his day.

            Despite, or perhaps, because of his personal characteristics, Galileo is

undoubtedly one of the most renowned of the world’s scientist.  He is considered the

world’s first true physicist.  Among scientists themselves there may be various opinions

about his true influence on science and history but all seem to agree that his major

contribution was in the establishing of the idea of experimentation and in the validation

of theories by the use of actual data.  Up to the time of Galileo most scientific inquiry

was done by questioning the theories of philosophy and science but not in actually

observing the phenomenon.  Galileo was one of the first to accurately tie mathematics

and observation together as a basis for his conclusions.  He set the stage for the

discoveries of Newton- who was born the year Galileo died – and for the empiricists

who demanded that knowledge be based on observable data.

            All of Galileo’s ability and personality seemed to coalesce, though, when, in

1609, he was made aware of the invention of the telescope and was able to use his

knowledge of optics to construct what he referred to as a “perspective” and to build

successively more powerful ones with which to observe the heavens.

             Scientists may laud Galileo for his empirical approach to scientific experiment

and discovery but for most nonscientists it was his support of Copernicus’ heliocentric

view of the solar system and the publication of The Starry Messenger in 1610 that

defined his role in history.

            In The Starry Messenger he described constructing a telescope and using it

to study the night sky.  He described the configurations on the surface of the moon

which he believed disproved Aristotle’s assumption of a perfect heaven. He was also

able to distinguish individual stars in the Milky Way.  Most importantly, he discovered

the existence of  four bright lights around Jupiter and postulated that these were moons

which circled the planet.  All of these observations were meticulously recorded by


            There was no doubt in Galileo’s mind of the authenticity and importance

            of the discoveries he announced, and since he wished to have them reach

            astronomers and philosophers all over Europe as quickly as possible he

            addressed it to them and wrote it in Latin(Drake 18,19).

            When he published his findings in The Starry Messenger in Italian he illustrated

the brashness of his character by circumventing the academic circles of his day which

customarily published all works in Latin.  By publishing in the vernacular, Galileo was

making his findings available to a wide strata of literate people.

            The title page of The Starry Messenger seems to sum up not only his intentions

but the self-confidence Galileo had in his findings:



Revealing great, unusual, and re- 

markable spectacles, opening these 

to the consideration of every man, 

and especially of philosophers and 



Gentleman of Florence 

Professor of Mathematics in the

University of Padua,



lately invented by him

In the surface of the Moon, in innumerable 

Fixed Stars, in Nebulae, and above all 


swiftly revolving about Jupiter at 

differing distances and periods, 

and known to no one before the 

Author recently perceived them 

and decided that they should 

be named 



1610(Drake 21)  

            With the publication of The Starry Messenger, Galileo became internationally

famous. There was a great demand for telescopes, especially those made by Galileo, so

that others could observe the heavens as had Galileo.  Galileo prospered financially from

this fame and demand for his telescopes and was able to parlay his notoriety into a good

yearly income and a position at the University of Pisa.  He was finally able to return to

Pisa as he had wished to do for years 

            However, the fame and notoriety were not all positive.  The Catholic Church

had been severely shaken by the Protestant movement started by Martin Luther in

1520, by internal corruption, and by the changes implemented by the Counter

 Reformation movement.  The very structure of the church was tied to the strict

interpretation of the Bible and the Bible, said those in the church hierarchy, that

the Earth was the center of a God designed universe around which everything

revolved.  If the Earth was not the pivot point of all creation, and mankind the ipso facto

center of God’s universe then a total reevaluation of the Bible and the church’s

teachings seem to be necessary.

            In fact, Galileo’s observations of the heavens, complete with detailed drawings,

turned around 2000 years of accepted science as espoused by Aristotle and Ptolemy.  The

Catholic Church therefore looked upon such theories as absolute heresy and Galileo was

cautioned against making claims for a Copernican universe without proof that would be

acceptable to the Church (Santillana 9)..

            Galileo’s observations of the heavens and his publication of The Starry

Messenger, nonetheless, were not done to undermine the Church or in a spirit of

combatant heresy.  In fact, in his ”Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina” in 1615, he

 argues that his theory on the rotation of the planets about the sun did not contradict the






            Some years ago, as Your Serene Highness well knows, I discovered in the

            heavens many things that had not been seen before our own age.  The

            novelty of these things, as well as some consequences, which followed

            from them in contradiction to the physical notions commonly held

            among academic philosophers, stirred up against me no small number

            of professors-as if I had placed these things in the sky with my own

            hands in order to upset nature and overturn the sciences.  They seem

            to forget that the increase of known truths stimulates the investigation,

            establishment, and growth of the arts; not their diminution or

            destruction(Drake 175).

            Rather he seems to have been excited about his discoveries and about being the

first person in history to see so clearly into the heavens, but not because he was trying to

destroy the Catholic Church’s view of the world.  Conversely, he felt that he was

strengthening the validity of religion by disclosing  a heretofore-unknown

truth about God’s design of the universe.  He embraced Copernicus’ view of a

heliocentric solar system because it fit the facts that he could observe through his

telescope, not because he wanted to invalidate religious teachings.

            Regardless of his intentions, however, Galileo did continue to receive negative

scrutiny from the Church but he continued his observations and his experiments and

in 1632 he published Dialogue of the Two Great World Systems. 

            Galileo had followed strict protocol; he had had his book scrutinized

            by official church censors; had received the church’s official

            imprimatur-and had clearly fooled all the officials into thinking

            that all his ideas were only being presented as hypotheses, which made

            them acceptable to the church.  He had almost gotten away with

            publishing a heretical work without provoking Urban’s (the pope’s)


            What made him think he could get away with it?  Prior to th 

            publication of the Dialogue, the pope had counted himself

            one of Galileo’s good friends and supporters(Hellman 4).

            Despite warnings from friends about the seriousness of the ill-feeling

against him, Galileo seems to have felt that it should be possible to use reason and

logic to answer the charges of heresy.  It was a time when it might have behooved him

to listen to his friends but,

            There were times when Galileo would take nobody’s advice, times

            when he would obstinately go his own way in spite of the danger

            and this was one of those occasions.  However much his friends might

            plead, . . . Galileo could not or would not, leave the authorities alone;         

            he was determined to pester them to admit that a moving Earth

            was not heretical(Ronan 162).

            Despite Galileo’s care to present Dialogue of the Two Great World Systems as

merely a hypothetical discussion of a heliocentric universe, the ideas presented

in the book were deemed dangerous to the Church and Galileo was charged

with heresy and was brought before the Inquisition in Rome in June 1633.

He was at that time 70years old and an esteemed and famous personage in

his own right, yet he knelt before the Inquisition and recanted

            I, Galileo, son of the late Vincenzo Galilei, Florentine, age 

            seventy years. . . have been pronounced by the Holy Office

            to be vehemently suspected of heresy, that is to say, of

            having held and believed that the Sun is the center of the

            world and immovable and that the Earth is not the center

            and moves;. . . with sincere heart and unfeigned faith I

            abjure, curse, and detest the aforesaid errors and heresies. . (Ronan 220).

            Although Galileo did not suffer torture or imprisonment as a result of

the verdict of  heresy, he was under house arrest for the rest of his life and

The Dialogue of the Two Great World Systems was placed on the church’s list

of banned books.

            Galileo, the scientist, continued to work and despite his public denunciation

of  Copernicus’ ideas, privately he continued to do research and in 1638 he

completed  Discourses on Two Sciences, a classic work, in which he discussed his

principles of applied mehanics, falling bodies and motion.  It is generally considered

to be his most important contribution to science.  Discourses and Mathematical

Demonstrations concerning Two Sciences was written as a dialogue as had been

the Dialogue but in Discourses he deals with the basic question of the role of

mathematics and the relationship between theory and experiment.

            However, Galileo on a personal level did not fare very well after his trial.

            Galileo had never married.  He did have a long-term mistress while he was

at the University of Padua, Marina Gamba, and during the ten years they were together

they had three children- two girls and a boy. Galileo seems to have been especially close

to his oldest daughter, Maria Celeste, and to have loved her dearly.  After his trial for

heresy he was allowed to return to his own home outside Arceti where he could be close

to his daughter, Maria Celeste.  Unhappily, she died in April of 1634.  Galileo was

reportedly heartbroken at his loss.

            Galileo, as he aged, suffered from a type of infection that attacked his eyes an 

he began to lose his eyesight and eventually was totally blind.  He died in 1642.

            It was really inevitable that Galileo would spend a great deal of his life

in conflict with the established authorities of his day.  He started at an early age

questioning the scientific doctrines and went on to lose positions and advancements

because of his criticisms of Aristotle.  Many of the moves he made around Italy

were the result of his opinionated and vocal approach to accepted tenets. Whether

he was destined to be tried and sentenced as a heretic is debatable, but certainly

he marched toward that end in measured steps rather than being tricked into it by

a malicious fate.

            Scientists may laud Galileo for his experiments with physics and his

contribution to the development of Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of gravity but  The

Starry Messenger is the book that excited the public about the observation of the

stars and ignited a debate about the role of  man’s place in the universe that is

still going on. 

            Galileo spent many a cold, clear night staring through the lens of his

telescope, excited beyond measure at what he – the first human being in history 

was seeing.  His enthusiasm, his thirst for knowledge comes across in his

writing and it still inspires today.  The Hubble Telescope, the planned

missions to Mars all are in effect the offshoot of  men like Galileo who were too

single minded to be tactful and too convinced of the rightness of their discoveries

to be prudent.

            Four hundred years have passed and the names of those who condemned

Galileo are mere footnotes in a history book, but the observations and theories of

Galileo are still being studied and still inspire because he was right “eppur si muove"!


Works Cited

Clough, Shepherd B, ed., A History of the Western World.  Lexington, Massachusetts: 

            D. C. Heath and Company, 1969.

Drake, Stillman, trans., Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo.  Garden City, New York:

            Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1957.

Geymonat, Ludovico, Galileo Galilei.  New York, N. Y.: McGraw-Hill Book Company,


Hellman, Hal, Great Feuds in Science.  New York, N. Y.: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998.

Ronan, Colin A., Galileo.  New York, N. Y.: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1974.

Santillana,Giorgio de, The Crime of Galileo.  Chicago: The University of Chicago

            Press, 1955.

Sigmund Freud


            Sigmund Freud, the father of psychology of the unconscious, developed his pioneering ideas in psychology at the turn of the nineteenth century.  During this time, advances in science, technology, and medicine were promising substantial effects for the subjective interior lives of men and women in Western civilization.  The industrial revolution, urbanization, and new forms of social life, including the growth of the middle class, were expanding the range of human personality and affecting interpersonal relationships.  Freud stands out as the single most significant scientific figure associated with a new understanding of the self and its transformations.  Freud aroused considerable antagonism in his time just as today.  Science historian, I. Bernard Cohen states that the “continuing extremes of hostility may be taken as an index of the profound impact of the Freudian revolution.”  [1]

Sigmund Freud was born on May 6, 1856 in Freiburg, Moravia (present day Pribor, Czech Republic).  His father was Jakob, a wood merchant in Freiburg and his mother was Amalie Nathanson.  Sigmund was the oldest child in his father’s second family.[2]

When the wool trade market collapsed in 1860, the Freud family moved to Vienna.  For the rest of his life, Jakob was unemployed and the Freud family stayed on the brink of poverty.  Freud attended the Sperl Gymansium in Vienna from the age of nine to seventeen and graduated with distinction in 1873.  His curriculum emphasized modern and classical languages and mathematics.  Jakob and Amalie made significant financial sacrifices for the sake of Sigmund’s education.[3] 

In 1873, Freud entered the University of Vienna to study medicine.  He chose medicine not from the desire to be a practitioner, but with the intention of studying the human condition with scientific rigor. [4]

Ernst von Brücke, professor of physiology at Vienna became one of Freud’s key role models.   Freud spent three years more than the necessary in qualifying for his medical degree he earned in 1881.  The delay was due to starting what he had intended on being a career in biological research.  Freud spent a lot of time in Brücke’s physiological institute from 1876-1882 researching nerve cells in primitive fish and studying the anatomy of the human brain.  He made a successful start at a research career; however, poor economic prospects of a position without an adequate salary forced a change in career plans. [5]

Freud joined the resident staff of the Vienna General Hospital in July 1882 and stayed there until August of 1888.  He worked in various clinical departments of the hospital for short periods of time.  He spent fourteen months in the department of nervous disease and decided that he wanted to specialize in neuropathology.   While training at the Vienna General Hospital, Freud found time to do more anatomical research on the human brain.  He traced the course of nerve tracts in the medulla oblongata and began a series of studies in clinical neurology.  These studies were conducted in the tradition of patient investigation he learned while at Brücke’s institute.[6] 

In 1884, Freud began research on the therapeutic uses of cocaine reputation.  He used the drug on himself and found that it made him euphoric and able to work well.  His article On Coca was well received.  Freud saw the potential of cocaine being used as a stimulant, an analgesic, and as in aid in withdrawal from morphine addiction.  Reports were made that Freud was addicted to cocaine, and this clouded his reputation.[7] 

In 1885, Freud traveled to Paris and spent four months studying with J.M. Charcot.  Charcot gave Freud more insight to the condition of “hysteria.”  Hysteria was widely considered to be a uniquely female disease, but Charcot thought otherwise.  Hysteria is a psychological disease that can be compared to today’s Anorexia nervosa in the respect that it creates severe symptoms but has no evident physical or hereditary cause.[8] 

   Upon his return from Paris to Vienna in 1886 Freud married Martha Bernays and established his own practice.[9] In the beginning of his practice, Freud treated mostly women with “hysteria.”  Freud attempted to use common practices for treatment of hysteria such as massage and electrotherapy.  He was largely dissatisfied with these results, and searched for a new broad explanation for nervous disorders.[10]

 Josef Breuer became an integral component of the evolution of Freud’s therapy.  Breur’s treatment of Anna O. was a precursor to Freud’s psychotherapy techniques.  Anna O had symptoms of intermittent paralysis of the limbs and severe speech and visual disturbances.  Breuer used hypnotic suggestion with Anna O.  After hypnotizing her, he told her that certain symptoms would disappear and he found that after hypnosis for some time her symptoms did disappear. Through “talk therapy” and hypnosis from a few words Breuer linked Anna O’s hysteria with her father’s death and illness.[11]  Breuer and Freud’s Studies in Hysteria were published in 1895.  Breur’s technique of emotional discharge to ease intrapsychic conflict led Freud to conclude that the symptoms of hysteria might be due to the sexual content of repressed fantasies.  He developed the notion that neurotic behavior involves a psychological defense against unacceptable ideas. This concept later framed a series of infamous tentative sexual theories by Freud.[12]

In the meantime, around 1895, Freud befriended Wilhelm Fliess, a Berlin physician.  Fliess gave Freud the opportunity to examine many of his own emotional conflicts so that he could test some of his theoretical ideas.  Freud underwent “self-analysis” and called his an important “project” for psychology.  The “project” however, did not in complete success as it was abandoned. But this period time was fruitful in Frued’s work as his technical procedure for investigating unconscious mental processes and for treating psychoneuroses was named psychoanalysis in 1896. [13]

  Psychoanalysis as a theory proved to be tremendously successful, even with large criticism; its influence has been widely felt in particular regarding the understanding of childhood.  However, as a method of treatment, psychoanalysis is much more difficult to assess.  From the beginning, it lacked any clear definable, reliable criteria for a cure that can be found in medicine for disease.  Most often the patients who responded well to psychoanalysis were those with mild symptoms.  Freud did develop a variety of durable techniques and tools for grasping the psychoanalytic situation such as “free association,” “resistance,” and “transference.”  Free association involved the patient verbalizing all that came to mind while the analyst remained silent.  Resistance impeded treatment and was expressed in a variety of ways through the patient.  The most important concept of transference, Freud referred to the feelings of both attachment and anger that a patient holds toward the analyst, for no plausible reason. [14]

Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams (1900) formed the culmination of his earlier work on psychoneuroses and “a new departure toward a general psychology.”  He formed the thesis that dreams have decipherable meanings that relate to our unconscious conflict with universal applicability.  Freud studied dreams for the next four decades.  His work on dreams led to a model that has roots in Darwinian and neurological terms of sexual and aggressive drives that ultimately seek satisfaction.[15]

The Psychology of Everyday Life was published 1904.  In this work, Freud, made an analysis of slips of the tongue and other mistakes in psychological motivation.  These slips of the tongue are known today as “Freudian slips.”  They occur when something unintended is said that reveals something about an unconscious thought or emotion.   

Along with psychoanalysis, Freud made other significant developments in psychology.  He developed ideas about psychosexual development.  Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905) describes stages of sexual development that humans experience beginning with the oral stage at infancy and ending with a genital stage onset at puberty where sexual interests mature.[16]  In Three Essays Freud contended that infants undergo first an oral stage of arousal, which can be seen in nursing.  This is followed by the anal stage which is exemplified in a toddler’s pleasure in having bowel movements.  The third stage is the phallic stage.  In this stage it is thought that the child is fixated on the mother or the father as a sexual object.  The child eventually represses this desire because he realizes it is forbidden.  Next is a long latency stage that is followed by the genital stage.  In Three Essays on Theory of Sexuality, Freud provided an unforeseen view of emotional development.  He concluded that adult conflicts are linked to the novel notion of infantile sexuality, and the Oedipal conflict. [17]    

The “unconscious” dominates most of Freud’s theories and developments in psychology.  His technique of psychotherapy and study of psychoanalysis led to this significant contribution to psychology.  A Note on the Unconscious in Psychoanalysis (1912) produced a new image of the human being that has had a lasting impact on twentieth-century thought.  In A Note, Freud states that the unconscious “designates…ideas with a certain dynamic character, ideas keeping apart from consciousness in spite of their intensity and activity.”  Freud believed that these powerful mental processes hidden from the conscious govern human behavior more than reason. [18]     

Freud identified three parts to the human psyche (ego, super-ego, and id) in Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920).  The id has primitive desires like hunger and sex.  The ego is the mediator between the id and the super-ego.  The ego is to find a balance between primitive drives, morals, and reality, but has the responsibility to satisfy the id and super-ego.  The super-ego is the internal embodiment of the father figure.  The super-ego opposes the desires of the id and is aggressive to the ego.  From this model Freud developed theories of defense mechanisms the ego uses to alleviate turmoil between the super-ego and id.    Among these are: reaction formation, displacement, projection, denial, repression/suppression, sublimation. [19] 

Freud also wrote about social theory, his Totem and Taboo: Resemblances Between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics (1913) was the first and most important volume on social theory.  Totem and Taboo was a collection of four essays that have been received as an application of psychoanalysis to the fields of archaeology, anthropology, and religion.  The four essays include: "The Horror of Incest", "Taboo and Emotional Ambivalence", "Animism, Magic and the Omnipotence of Thoughts", and "The Return of Totemism in Childhood.  “The Horror of Incest” is the first and shortest of the four essays.  Freud employs examples mostly from Austrailian Aborigines that were gathered from James George Frazer.  Freud points out that although Aborigines do not have any sexual restrictions, they have established elaborate social organization whose sole purpose it to prevent incestuous sexual relations.  This essay is concluded with a discussion of the mother-in-law taboo.  He concludes that the incestuous wishes which are repressed to the unconscious among civilized peoples are a source of conflict to the “uncivilized” people ofFrazer’s studies as well.[20]   In “Taboo and Emotional Ambivalence” Freud contends that like neurotics, “primitive people” feel ambivalent about most people in their lives but will not admit to themselves.  For example, while a person may immensely love her father, there are things about her father that the person hates.  The hated parts are projected onto people other than the father.[21]

“Animism, Magic and the Omnipotence of Thought” is the third essay.  It examines the “primitive” understanding of the universe.  “The belief in magic sorcery derives from an overevaluation of physical acts whereby the structural conditions of mind are transposed onto the world.” This overvaluation survives both in primitive men and neurotics.[22]

“The Return of Totemism in Childhood.” Freud argues takes a cue from the Darwinian theory that the first human society was a horde of brothers led by a strong father and combines it with a theory of the sacrifice ritual from William Robertson Smith.[23]  Freud describes a universal taboo derived from James Frazer’s Golden Bough against incest and against killing the totem animal.  Sons,who were driven by their Oedipal urges, killed their father and were soon without a leader.  Their need for a leader caused them to deify the totem animal.  This act established the forerunner for religious establishments.  “Social development depended on overcoming, with institutions which forbade incest, the Oedipal desire for the mother.”[24]   

In Civilization and Its Discontents (1930) Freud gave an unsettling theory that humans are driven by inherent aggressiveness that threatens civilized life.  Civilized life is “fighting a losing battle with our aggressive instincts.”  This social theory of psychology fits well in its time and place, post-World War I Europe.[25] 

The dispersion of Freud’s thought throughout Europe centered in the psychoanalytic movement.  He had weekly meetings at his house beginning in 1902 that developed the International Psychoanalytic Association (established 1910, Nuremberg). Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, and Sandor Ferenczi dominated.  At a meeting, Ferenczi proposed an authoritarian structure with an elite determining proper psychoanalytic doctrine.  When the organization’s structure shifted as such Eugen Bleuler resigned.  He was the professor of psychiatry in Switzerland and the only European member with of the association with academic credentials in psychiatry.  This was the first instance of failure by the psychoanalytic movement to keep their lines of communication open with European academic psychiatry.  This decreased the European influences of Freud’s ideas.[26]

 Those who would not subordinate their intellects to that of Freud left the association.  Alfred Adler and Freud disagreed over the importance of the Oedipus complex, so Adler left in 1911.  Jung left in 1914 because of differences over the importance of sexuality ad because of personal differences with Freud.[27] 

The response to the developing threat of Jung’s schism was the formation of the Committee.  This was a permanent elite that guaranteed the maintenance of their orthodoxy.  The members agreed that that if any of them wished to depart from any of the  “fundamental tenets of psychoanalytical theory” he would promise not to do it publicly before discussing with the rest of the members.  Members of this committee included: Ernest Jones, Hanns Sachs, Ferenczi, Otto Rank, Max Eitingon, Freud, Breuer, and Fleiss.  All stuck to their agreement save Otto Rank.  He broke with Freud in 1929.[28]

The cultish aspect of the European psychoanalytic movement was a key reason why Freud had a small influence in Europe.  Also, a large scale impact in Europe was blocked when the Nazis came to power in the 1930s.  Psychoanalysis was seen as a Jewish doctrine.  It was largely Jewish intellects that had proscribed it.  Many of its adherents, the majority being Jewish were forced out of Europe.  Many of those first went to England because psychoanalysis was accepted there the most, second to America.[29] 

  “The United States has given Freud his stature in the history of thought.”  Before he was given any honor in Europe he was invited to give a lecture series at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.  G. Stanley Hall, a prominent psychologist extended the invitation.  Freud was warmly received by James Putnam, the professor of neurology at Harvard (later the president of the American Psychoanalytic Association.)  Reputable American journals were open to Freud and his followers.  In Europe the Psychoanalysts had to publish in journals that were self-established.   American physicians were the key element of the transmission of Freud’s thought.[30]

By 1920, most American physicians interested in neurology and psychiatry had taken into account some of Freud’s ideas.  They prided themselves on being eclectic, and many of them had accepted part of his thought.  There was an open-mindedness among American physicians that was not evident in Europe. 

The culmination of Freud’s influence on American medicine came after World War II.  From 1920-1930s the number of psychoanalysts in the United States did not increase very much.  By the 1940s and 1950s psychiatry shared a great increase of federal fund available for medical research and education.  Those in charge of the disbursement of those funds were strongly inclined toward a Freudian approach.  Psychoanalysis became entrenched in the medical school curriculum and was often the core of the basic course of psychiatry.  Psychoanalysis required a lot of time from the physician, more than that of other therapy and was therefore very expensive.  Only affluent people were receiving psychotherapy.  American psychoanalysts rarely saw cases typical of Freud’s with symptoms of psychogenic paralyses and what we call obsessive compulsive disorders.  Rather American psychoanalysts treated cases of people with inability to form adequate personal relationships.  Freud did not have the intent of devoting most of the resources of psychiatry for this purpose.  Unfortunately, while psychiatry was enjoying its peak of financial support, those were who mentally ill with “bizarre symptoms” were neglected. [31]

In review of Freud’s contributions to psychology we should consider that Freud’s psychological life was not smooth.  Psychoanalysts have found the search for a father figure was important in Freud’s life, as his own father did not provide an adequate model.  Freud’s relationship with his mother has also been a topic of interest in understanding the fundamentals of Freud’s psychology.  Freud was the oldest child in his father’s second family.  His older half brother was about the age of Freud’s mother (twenty years younger than Freud’s father) had a child about the same age as Freud lived nearby.  Freud wrote the confusion he had as an infant sharpened his intellect and his curiosity.  “A man who has been the indisputable favorite of his mother keeps for life the feeling of a conqueror, that confidence of success that often induces real success.”  The dynamics of Freud’s family life was illuminated with his sexual theories and his ideas of the Oedipal conflict. [32]

Freud was capable to feeling depressed, but has been noted as cordial.  His relationships particularly with men were sometimes intense and conflicted.  This may be in part due to his unresolved feelings of omnipotence.  He was an excellent speaker and loved telling jokes. He wrote Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious.  He was a rigid atheist albeit coming from a Jewish background and marrying a Jewish woman.  He had a good relationship with his sons, but was not emotionally expansive to his daughters and grandchildren.[33]

Freud remained overall in good health into his late sixties despite smoking fifteen to twenty cigars a day.  He did have some intestinal problems that have been considered psychosomatic.  He had significant stress during World War I, living in Vienna with a short supply of food and fuel and two sons in combat.  It has been noted that perhaps the shortage of available cigars led to the most stress in Freud’s life at this time period.  In 1923, cancer in his jaw was detected, which he ultimately led to his death. He had repeated operations on his jaw with metal appliances inserted and parts of his jaw removed.   After 1923, he wrote three books, many articles, and continued his practice and correspondence.  Despite, the danger of Nazis he remained in Vienna until June of 1938.  He went to England due to diplomatic efforts and a ransom payment on behalf of Ernest Jones.  He died in London on September 23, 1939. [34]

Freud leaves a complex legacy.  His thought has been the source of much dispute.  In the late twentieth century, debunking Freud has become highly problematic.  His influence outlives his imitators and critics.  Historians and philosophers of science are today less apt to disregard psychoanalysis.  One may always say that Freud was not a scientist by application of today’s standards for the scientific method.   He was a member of the Royal Society, an honor that was bestowed only upon him and Albert Einstein in the twentieth century[35].  Francis Crick, contends that Freud just “wrote well.”  Immunologist Peter Medawar has called psychoanalysis “the most stupendous intellectual confidence trick of the twentieth century.”  The emotionally provocative content of Freud’s work perhaps determined much of its vulnerability. [36]

However, if Freud’s work were unfruitful, his influence should have logically diminished a half century after his death; instead his psychoanalytic theories have continued to evolve. “His overall impact has continued to spread, and the breadth of this influence in Euro-american culture explains his position in volume.” Peter Gay writes, “It is a commonplace that we all speak Freud today whether we recognize it or not.”  Nobel laureate wrote, “Sigmund Freud was clearly a genius. Alone he had founded a new science-and how many men have ever done that?”[37]

[1] John Simmons, The Scientific 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Scientists, Past and Present, (Secaucus, NJ: Carol Publishing Group,1996), 33-34.

[2] Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 1971 ed., “Sigmund Freud,” by Peter Amacher

[3] Ibid.                                                          

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 1971 ed., “Sigmund Freud,” by Peter Amacher

[7] Ibid.

[8] John Simmons, The Scientific 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Scientists, Past and Present, (Secaucus, NJ: Carol Publishing Group,1996), 33-34.

[9] Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 1971 ed., “Sigmund Freud,” by Peter Amacher

[10] John Simmons, The Scientific 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Scientists, Past and Present, (Secaucus, NJ: Carol Publishing Group,1996), 33-34.

[11] Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 1971 ed., “Sigmund Freud,” by Peter Amacher

[12] John Simmons, The Scientific 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Scientists, Past and Present, (Secaucus, NJ: Carol Publishing Group,1996), 35

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 1971 ed., “Sigmund Freud,” by Peter Amacher

[17] Sigmund, Freud, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, translated by James Strachey, 4th edition (New York; Basic Books, 1962)

[18] Marvin Perry, Joseph R. Peden, and Theodore H. Von Laue, Sources of the Western Tradition,
            5th ed., vol. II: From the Renaissance to the Present (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company,
            2003), 279-281.      

[19] Ibid.

[20] Wikipedia,, 2006 ed., “Totem and Taboo” accessed <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totem_and_Taboo>

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 1971 ed., “Sigmund Freud,” by Peter Amacher

[25] Marvin Perry, Joseph R. Peden, and Theodore H. Von Laue, Sources of the Western Tradition,
            5th ed., vol. II: From the Renaissance to the Present (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company,
            2003), 279-281.      

[26] Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 1971 ed., “Sigmund Freud,” by Peter Amacher

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 1971 ed., “Sigmund Freud,” by Peter Amacher

[32] Ibid.

[33] John Simmons, The Scientific 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Scientists, Past and Present, (Secaucus, NJ: Carol Publishing Group,1996), 37

[34] Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 1971 ed., “Sigmund Freud,” by Peter Amacher

[35] Twemlow, Stuart W. MD and Parens, Henri MD, “Might Freud's Legacy Lie Beyond The Couch?” Psychoanalytic Psychology. 23(2):430-451, Spring 2006

[36] John Simmons, The Scientific 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Scientists, Past and Present, (Secaucus, NJ: Carol Publishing Group,1996), 39

[37] Ibid.


Adam Smith (1723-1790)


In APA format


Joe Woods


Southeast Missouri State University


            Adam Smith was born in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland around June 3, 1723.  His father, also Adam Smith, was the local controller of customs and was a Christian.  He passed away six months prior to Adam’s birth.  Adam’s mother was born into a wealthy family, which was able to provide for both of them after his father’s passing.  His father had one child from a previous marriage, but his wife, at the time, passed away.  Even at the beginning of his life one could see it would be far from ordinary.  For example, at age four he was taken captive by a band of gypsies, but his uncle was able to find and return him to his family.  From these humble beginnings Smith would prove to be a great asset in the advancement of the European mind.

Adam Smith began his education by attending grammar school in Kirkcaldy, his native town.  At age fourteen, he was enrolled at the University of Glasgow and chose to study moral philosophy.  Glasgow was thriving economically at the time, and its university was as West (1969) states “. . .beginning to stage an intellectual renaissance, later to be acknowledged throughout the western world” (p. 36).  After this education in Glasgow, he entered the Balliol College at Oxford by receiving a scholarship, but he discontinued his education there in 1746.  It is believed Smith was not pleased with the university, because it lacked courses and mentors in his areas of interest.  During these educational years, he developed strong feelings towards liberty, free speech, democracy, and reason.  His studies and ideals would inevitably lead to his discoveries in economics and political philosophy, which he developed in his most famous work Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.  Some historians consider him the greatest economic thinker of his time period.

            Adam Smith wrote three major works: The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), and finally Essays on Philosophical Subjects (1795).  His life encompassed the time period described as the Scottish Enlightenment, which lasted from 1730 to 1800.  The first major contributor to this movement was France Hutchinson who was Smith’s teacher/mentor at the University of Glasgow.  Hutchinson made a large impact on Smith’s future writings.  Smith would use ideas or descriptions based on Hutchinson’s teachings and writings.

His first work was The Theory of Moral Sentiment, which described the capitalistic system in Europe.  He described moral economic philosophy as having four parts: 1.) ethics and virtue, 2.) familial rights, 3.) state and individual rights, and 4.) private rights and liberty.  He believed a pluralistic view is necessary to analyze the characteristics of moral philosophy.  Thus, he divided moral systems into two categories: nature of morality and motive of morality.  The nature of morality included prudence, benevolence, and propriety, while the motive of morality included self-love, sentiment, and reason.  Morality and ethics in business was an emerging idea, and Smith attempted to add more discussion in order to create an outline with the characteristics of a good businessman.

Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations is Smith’s most widely known book.  It completely changed international views of economics and is considered the first modern book in economics.  The Wealth of Nation’s influence would change international economic policy due to its great popularity among scholars, diplomats, and intellectuals.  Smith superbly wrote the book for the average, educated individual allowing those besides top-tier economists to understand simplified theories.  The work impacted European society in many unique ways.   For example, it was written in English instead of Scots language, which was rare for authors of Scottish descent.  The Wealth of Nations was a great success in Europe and the American colonies/states.  There were five editions published during Smith’s life across the Western world.  According to Rae (1965), “It has been seriously asserted that the fortune of the book in the country was made by Fox quoting it one day in the House of Commons, and . . . it had actually shaped parts of the policy of the country years before it was ever publicly alluded to in either House of Parliament” (p. 289).  These statements show how widely admired and respected Smith’s work was to intellectuals, policy makers, and peers.

The Wealth of Nations covered a number of economic and societal areas including: the growth of division of labor, understanding the end of feudalism, problems with mercantilism, his belief of the “Invisible Hand”, the problems created by special interest groups, the ground-breaking theory of “both-benefit” transactions, and the paradox of value.  Smith used prior knowledge of these situations to create his own reaction and answer to the question at hand.

Smith discusses the profitability with the introduction of division of labor into the international economic community.  Division of labor is the specialization of cooperative labor in specific tasks and roles to increase efficiency output.  Smith (1776) saw the advantages and disadvantages of this division stating that it allows industries to increase qualitative productivity, but also that workers become agitated when doing one repetitive task every day as a career profession.  Smith can not claim this as his theory, but instead tried to present empirical facts showing that division of labor is exponentially more efficient.

Smith believed that feudalism would eventually fail to exist.  He saw the shift coming in European society from feudalism to capitalism and the need for compensation for individuals’ work in this new industrial society.  Feudalism was the economic state of Europe during the middle ages, which referred to the relationship between lords, vassals, and the fief that was provided by the lord.  Smith viewed feudalism as a failing system and capitalism was its natural successor.  His predictions have proven correct since his publication, although feudalism was already in a state of declination in the European economic arena.

Another major model Smith wrote about in The Wealth of Nations was the problems with mercantilism.  Mercantilism is an economic theory believing that a nation’s wealth is based on its supply of capital, primarily gold or silver, which is considered at a constant globally.  Smith critiques two major flaws with mercantilism: the belief that tariffs help the wealth of a nation and the belief that a large supply of gold or silver is necessary for a country to have economic success.  These critiques led to future discussions by economists such as David Ricardo, John Locke, and David Hume.

The ‘invisible hand’ is Smith’s brilliant metaphor explaining that an individual pursuing his own self-interest affects and stimulates the economy.  He did not believe that all labor by a person benefits society rather that usually individuals produce goods or services desired by the public or neighbors.  Supporting both, Smith discusses examples in capitalism when individuals take advantage of others to maximize profit, which does not benefit the public.  As Schneider (1948) shows us, “The Wealth of Nations is not based on a psychology of self-interest, but on a theory of natural laws of prudence, which is not a theory of motivation at all, but a theory of moral judgment” (p.12).  The question of the “Invisible Hand” is a spiritual question as well, asking what force pushes an individual to their present position in society.  Bernard Mandeville and Francis Hutchinson had discussed these ideas in earlier years, but Smith’s major work spread the discussion to the ears of educated and influential Europeans.

Adam Smith takes a stand against special interest groups who try to manipulate the government in order to further their own interests.  Of course, he does not call them special interest groups because that term was not in use during his lifetime.  Smith (1901) states, “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversions, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices” (Vol.1, p. 325).  He clearly states that special interest groups affect government against the will of the public.  This belief makes one wonder what Smith would say about our corporate-run government today in the United States.  He had great insight into the damages these groups can make if allowed to run a government.

His writings on “both-benefit” transactions were revolutionary in the field of economics during this time period.  It was commonly believed that at each transaction between two merchants, one received a better deal than the other, essentially winning.  Smith saw this as inaccurate and proclaimed that volunteer transactions benefit both parties as long as collusion or fraud is not involved.  Essentially Smith asked, why would a merchant trade a valued good for a less valued good if he did not benefit from the sale?  His in-depth analysis was a new development in economics, which has added to his prominence in this field.

Finally he added insight into the diamond-water paradox, which was a discussion between philosophical economists on the basis of value.  There were two theories at the time: the practical theory of value and the labor theory of value.  The first stating value is how useful an object is to mankind, and the second stating value is equal to the amount of labor required to produce the object or service.  Smith does not answer the question, but adds his thoughts towards the great economic puzzle of the time.  He considers the labor theory to be partially correct in this scenario, but brings up the point that an emerald is less expensive but more costly to locate and mine.

All of these concepts and interpretations were compiled by Smith to create the greatest economic work in the eighteenth century.  There is some debate that his ideas were not original but were discussed by scholars of his time.  This is true, but he did not claim those ideas to be his own, but instead wanted the idea to be reached by more people than was done in the past.  Smith’s discussion on the transition from mercantilism to free trade, which had been happening for decades and could be noticed by any educated person who cared to notice, brought greater debate to the problems with mercantilism.  The influence of this work stems from the comprehensive organization and cohesiveness of the ideas in the economic theories and scenarios at the time.  The Wealth of Nations proved to be Smith’s greatest contribution, which would offer him great opportunities in the future.  Smith’s words would alter political policy in the western world, but as West (1969) states, “He underestimated the power of his own influence and that of other economists to come” (p. 16).  It was extremely rare in this time period for a book to gain as much respect as his did in such a short amount of time.  Some of his policies and ideas were implemented in British law within years of publication.

Smith’s final major work is called Essays on Philosophical Subjects.  Two of his old friends, Scottish scientists Joseph Black and James Hutton compiled these writings after his death in 1790.  We know these to be Smith’s last writings as Chalmers states, “A few days before his death he gave orders to destroy all his manuscripts, with the exception of some detached essays, which he left to the care of his executors” (p.102).  This book is divided into three topics: the history of astronomy, the history of ancient physics, and the history of ancient logistics and metaphysics.  Smith’s overall understanding of these fields is outstanding, considering he was educated in the field of moral philosophy.  During this time period, authors were not confined to one specific field of study; thus Smith’s works discussed many genres in philosophy. Ironically, Smith was an advocate for division of labor due to its efficiency and productivity in economics.  Smith did not publish these works during his lifetime, and it has been speculated during which period in his life each chapter was written.

His associations and relationships with colleagues and scholar societies led to his development as a philosopher and writer, which produces insight into the mind of European Enlightenment writers.  Smith was a member of the British Society, which was a group of economists trying to set up fishing stations to increase productivity for Britain.  He also frequently attended the Poker Club of Edinburgh, which was a melting pot of activist intellectuals.  He exchanged letters with a number of well-known philosophers such as David Hume, France Hutchinson, Lord Henry Home, Jean D’Alembert, Andre Morellet, and Baron de Montesquieu.    These experiences, conversations, and personal interests influenced Smith to write the most comprehensive and powerful works of his lifetime.  These Enlightenment period writings and teachings are still relevant in our world today, which is evident in western educational institutions.

Adam Smith’s lifetime spanned the period known as the Scottish Enlightenment, approximately 1730 to 1800.  Scotland was going through many changes after the Act of Union in 1707.  These changes occurred in many ways such as: growth economically from free trade with Britain, the establishment of public education, a greater involvement in European scholastics, and freedom to seek their own societal views and values.  These enlightened individuals looked at similar scientific movements in France, Germany, and Britain as starting points for discussion.  Unlike these movements, Scottish thinkers emphasized common sense, history, and empiricism.  They prized social stability, and peace and quiet, but also radical scholastic change.  At the beginning, the movement was led in advances in local economics and philosophy, but eventually shifted towards scientific studies only.

The first major contributor to the Scottish Enlightenment was Smith’s teacher Frances Hutcheson.  He held the highest position in academic Scotland, the chair of Philosophy at the University of Glasgow.  Hutcheson’s greatest contributions to his field are the utilitarian and consequentialist principles, which define virtue as that which brings the greatest good to the most people.  The counterpart to Hutcheson was David Hume, who was arguably the most important intellectual during this time period.  Hume is considered one of the inventors or innovators of the scientific method, believing that fact can only be found by using the senses.   These breakthroughs, with many more, changed European thought forever.

Adam Smith clearly benefited from his surroundings.  Before he was born Scotland was the poorest country in Western Europe, but after the Act of Union in 1707 new doors were open to those seeking to learn.  Scotland was the first country of Europe to establish a public school system.  This system started Adam in grammar school at a young age in his home village of Kirkcaldy.  At fourteen he enrolled at the University of Glasgow, which was rather old compared to his peers.  After studying under Dr. Hutcheson, Adam traveled to further his education at Oxford.  These tutors and educators shaped Adam’s mind and interests.  Discussions Smith had with Hutcheson are evident when comparing The Wealth of Nations and Hutcheson’s viewpoints.  We will not know the amount of influence Hutcheson had on Smith, but it must be significant.  These were Adam Smith’s educational surroundings.

The Wealth of Nations was not Adam Smith’s only legacy.  His second, less well-known, life started when he accepted a position at the University of Glasgow.  In fact, he took over the position his mentor Hutcheson held years before; Adam Smith was now the chair of moral philosophy at his beloved Glasgow.  His lectures mirrored his writings and vice versa.  Lectures spanned the ideas and theories of ethics, rhetoric, political economies, and jurisprudence.  There are records of Smith’s lectures during this period.  An excerpt from Smith (1965) on the English language follows: 

But what has a greater effect on the sound of the Language than all the rest is the harmonious and sonorous pronunciation peculiar to the English nation. There is a certain ringing in their manner of speaking which foreigners can never attain.

Adam Smith was chair of moral philosophy until 1763, when he accepted an offer by Charles Townshend to tutor the Duke of Buccleuch, Townshend’s young stepson.  Smith used this rare opportunity to travel across France and meet French intellectuals such as himself, including: Andre Morellet, Jean D’Alembert, and especially Francois Quesnay whom he greatly admired.  When this opportunity expired he returned to his home in Kirkcaldy to begin writing his grand masterpiece or magnum opus.  It took him about ten years to finish The Wealth of Nations, which would gain him great popularity near the end of his life. 

Adam Smith passed away on July 17, 1790.  He was sixty-seven years old.  He died from a painful illness and was buried in Canongate Kirkyard, Edinburgh.  At his death he could not for see the power and influence his writings would gain, especially The Wealth of Nations.  His life’s work was complete as Siebert writes, “Smith was able to leave behind his published works in the state he wished.  He saw The Wealth of Nations through five editions and The Theory of Moral Sentiments through six editions” (p.280).  Adam Smith will be remembered for his involvement and genius during the Enlightenment period.  Europe was changing radically as science was invented, discovering new phenomenon on a daily basis.  Adam Smith will be remembered forever as the author of The Wealth of Nations, but he was more than that.  He was a product of the ever-changing societal and educational circumstances of the eighteenth century, which have developed our world as we know it.  Adam Smith’s legacy will be his genius in discussing philosophical questions and allowing the literate to understand the complicated situations and discussions with ease.


Chalmers, Alexander. (1816). Adam Smith. The General Biographical Dictionary,

Vol. 28, 98-103.

Rae, John. (1965). Life of Adam Smith. New York: Sentry Press.

Ross, Ian (1991). (D.T. Siebert, Ed.) Adam Smith. Dictionary of Literary Biography, v.104, p.269-281. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Inc.

Schneider, Herbert W. (1948). Adam Smith’s Moral and Political Philosophy. New York:  Hafner Publishing Company.

Smith, Adam. (1901). An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations. New York, NY: P.F. Collier.

Smith, Adam. (1965). Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres. (J.C. Bryce, Ed.) Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund.

West, E.G. (1969). Adam Smith. Volume 1-3. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House.


















































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