Philosophy, the history of ideas, and travel are three of my greatest loves, and I love to share them with you. So from time to time, I explore the lives and ideas of great thinkers through traveling to the places where they lived and worked. I follow in the footsteps of thinkers who are no longer living since those who are alive are still telling their own stories. But those who are no longer living in the body persist in the ideas that they pass on. Here are my tributes to them:
~ Yellowstone, Great Plains, & Illinois
This, my seventh philosophical-historical adventure, will consist of a three-week road trip through the Great Plains and on to Illinois. I’ll fly from Chicago to Scotland on August 9th: I’ll be pursuing a master’s degree in the history of ideas at the University of Edinburgh starting this fall. In the meantime, I’m overjoyed to have this window of time to explore parts of my country which I’ve never seen and to learn as much as I can along the way.
During this journey, I’ll explore Yellowstone and the history of National Parks in America (it’s been a great NP year for me!); I’ll travel throughout the Great Plains following the history of Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, the Lakota and their and other Native Americans’ encounters with white invaders in the 1800’s and beyond; I’ll visit Springfield, Peoria, and Chicago following Abraham Lincoln, Robert Ingersoll, uniquely American forms of art and architecture, and other topics. I’ll also make many more stops and detours along the way…. Read more:
~ New York City
Margaret Higgins Sanger started her career as a nurse who worked with poor women in New York City in the 19-‘teens and twenties. As she saw these women struggle with the toll that large numbers of pregnancies took on their families’ finances and their own health, Sanger became convinced that ‘birth control’, a term she invented, was essential if these women hoped to escape poverty and sexual oppression. She opened America’s first birth control clinic and despite numerous arrests and fines, she continued her fight for reproductive rights. In this regard, she’s best known today as one of the founders of Planned Parenthood and a key figure in the development of the first birth control pill. Sanger also remains controversial. An ardent feminist, human rights activist, and advocate of sex-positivity, Sanger was also a eugenicist, believing that birth control was at least as important a tool for limiting the production of ‘the unfit’ (her words) as it was for women’s liberation…. Read more:
~ Maryland, New York, and Massachusetts
Frederick Douglass’s life story is both inspiring and humbling in the strength, character, and dazzling intellect he reveals, rising to such greatness in the midst of such adversity. Born a slave on the eastern shore of Maryland in the early 1800’s, he was an autodidact, having overheard his master say that learning to read leads to learning to think, rendering a slave too independent-minded to submit to domination by another. Hearing this, young Frederick knew what he had to do. Attaining literacy and learning a skilled trade gave him the wherewithal to escape to New York City in 1838 at about 20 years of age. A few years later, as a result of an impromptu but impassioned and eloquent speech about the hardships of a life enslaved, he was recruited as a public speaker for the abolitionist cause. He spent the rest of his life as an activist for all manner of human rights causes, from the abolition of slavery to universal suffrage to women’s rights and beyond…. Read more:
~ Paris, France
Thomas Paine, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Thomas Jefferson were three Enlightenment thinkers whose work is central in the intellectual legacy of modern human rights movements, and who were heavily influenced by the French Revolution… Read more:
~ Virginia, Philadelphia, & Washington DC.
Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13th, 1743, and in his long life, he accomplished more than most. He was a founding father of the United States, and went from being a young scholar, lawyer, and representative in the Virginia House of Burgesses, to writing the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, to public service as a congressman, as Minister to France, as Secretary of State, as Vice President to friend and rival John Adams, and finally as third president of the United States. Throughout his life, among many other things, he was an inventor, amateur scientist, farmer, avid reader, architect, naturalist, author, founder of the University of Virginia, and of course, philosopher….. Read more:
~ New York City
Elizabeth Cady Stanton was born in New York State and lived and worked many years in NYC, where she also died. Ernestine Rose was born in Poland and also lived for many years in NYC; much of her most important work on behalf of women and oppressed minorities was done here… Read more:
~ Edinburgh, Scotland
I’ve decided to start with the philosopher I most admire as a person as well as a thinker, the great David Hume. He was not only revered for the brilliance of his ideas and his honesty in presenting them, but also as a premier example of a genial, generous, great-hearted person; so much so, in fact, that one of his closest friends nicknamed him ‘Saint David’.Hume is often described as the greatest philosopher to write in English and among the greatest philosophers of all time, period. He was a central figure in the Scottish Enlightenment, and a profoundly influential empiricist and moral philosopher…. Read more:
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