Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Author Timeline

Euripides 480-406
Plato 428-348
Aristotle 384-322

Augustine 354-430
Aquinas 1225-1274
Montaigne 1533-1592
Galileo 1564-1642
Bacon 1561-1626
Descartes 1596-1650
Newton 1642-1726
Locke 1632-1704
Hume 1711-1776
Kant 1724-1804
Melville 1819-1891
Dostoyevsky 1821-1881
James 1842-1910

If you look at the list between Bacon and Kant, you can see how the various lives intersected with each other.  There is kind of a hand off from one to one as they try to figure things out.


  1. The most interesting thing about this list is that there is almost a 900 year gap between Augustine and Aquinas. That is the Dark Ages. For 900 years not a great book was written. Most probably great books were written but were destroyed in cultural purges of the times.

    Now if you begin with Euripides at 500 BC and bring it up to Augustine in about 380 AD (time of writing,) you have about 900 years in which great books were produced. Suppose that great books were still being written in the following 900 years. Therefore, in the year that Aquinas wrote, half of the great books that had been written were probably destroyed. That means that in the year 1200 or so, only half of the great books were still in circulation, assuming that great books were written but did not survive.

    1. That's an interesting point about lost or destroyed books. It really is amazing just how much has been lost. I keep hoping that they'll run across new manuscripts somewhere, especially when it comes to Greek drama.
      I kicked this around a bit a few years ago: http://fpbooks.blogspot.com/2012/04/dark-ages-or-at-least-large-gap.html

      It amazes me how much the Great Books pool. There is a period in Athens, one in Rome and then a long dark period. After that you get Florence, Paris and England. The early Americans were busy and then there was a whole German wing (which I don't much care for). If you were outside of one of those hot-spots, it was much harder to be part of the conversation.

    2. That's interesting that you noted that gap so early on in your reading. I was aware of this point in the back of my mind, but it didn't hit home for me until I was finishing up the set with these theologians who I had put off for so long. Not much interested in theology.

      Another theory is this - is it possible that sometime after Augustine all or most of the great books that were written previously and known, were then lost or misplaced for a time? If that is the case, then it would be very difficult to write any new books in the dark period because there was no foundation for later thinkers.

      Also, the "Ages" in Western culture are not always times as much as places. When we speak of the Dark or Middle Ages, they happened in places. So that in the Middle East with the rise of Islam, they consider that same period to be an era of enlightenment! The Middle Ages are connected with the fall of the Roman Empire, but that fall coincided with the rise of Islam.

  2. I forgot to check the notify me box. That way I'll get an email when a reply is posted.

    I think I am going to send some beginners of the GBWW to your blog to visit. They are just getting started and may get some encouragment from your postings,