Plato is possibly the most influential philosopher in all of Western thought. We know little about his early life except that he studied under Socrates, who encouraged him to think freely and to question everything around him. Plato went on to write about beauty, equality, justice, theology, political philosophy, cosmology, language, and epistemology (the study of how we can know things). He also founded the Academy, which became a model for education that led to the development of today’s schools. Additionally, he taught one of the other greatest thinkers in the history of the Western world, Aristotle.
Florence Nightingale was a social reformer who is perhaps best known today for founding the modern field of nursing. She trained nurses during England’s Crimean War. Her peers knew that she was going at night with a lamp and checking on her patients. When she returned to London, she established the nursing school for the famous St. Thomas Hospital, which laid the foundation for the professionalization of nursing. The school is now part of King’s College London. Today, the Florence Nightingale Medal is the highest achievement in the world for nurses, and new nurses regularly take the Nightingale Pledge.
Cyrus the Great was one of the greatest leaders in the history of Iran, having unified the Persian Empire and turned it into a global force. In the process, he brought much of the Middle East together under Persian rule, leading to a flourishing of Persian culture. Cyrus the Great built his capital city at Pasargadae, which Alexander the Great eventually destroyed; the ruins still stand a short distance from his tomb. He was also an early champion of religious tolerance and allowed subjects of different nationalities and faiths within his empire to practice their beliefs freely.
If you have seen Schindler’s Listor read the book, you are somewhat familiar with the beautiful person who, along with his wife, sheltered 1,100 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his factory. He went undercover, possibly out of pragmatism rather than ideological loyalty. Schindler was able to rise through the ranks so that he became respected by other German leaders. He used his inside connections to be able to employ Jewish people in his factory so that they would not be sent to concentration camps. Oskar Schindler is someone for whom the end justifies the means.
George Lucas is a creative genius who has directed some of the greatest franchises in cinema history. After working with greats such as Francis Ford Coppola, he formed LucasFilm Inc, which was behind Star Wars and Indiana Jones. When he wanted to produce Star Wars, numerous studios turned him down, but he persisted until he got an offer from Twentieth Century Fox. The franchise was a hit, with a princess who works alongside a smuggler and her own estranged brother to save the universe. Lucas has won dozens of awards for his work, which has revolutionized movies.
Johannes Gutenberg invented one of the most essential devices in the history of the world: the printing press. Prior to his invention, people had to meticulously copy books by hand. As a result, books became prohibitively expensive for all but the wealthiest few. Reading was far from being a luxury for the poor; those not in the ruling class could scarcely even read. The printing press used letter blocks that could be replaced so that printers could mass-produce texts. Books became much cheaper, and soon mass-distributed literature led to the Renaissance and Reformation, which together pulled Europe out of the Middle Ages.
William Lloyd Garrison was a social reformer in America who advocated the abolition of slavery, suffrage for women, and justice for all. He called slavery a national sin. His contact with African Americans caused him to shift his view from resettling formerly enslaved people in Africa to giving them equal rights in America. He published a newspaper called The Liberator, through which he constantly advocated for the abolition of slavery, despite constant threats of violence. After the abolition of slavery and during the antebellum period, he continued to dedicate his efforts toward equality for all. Keep reading for more beautiful people throughout the world who did amazing things.
Galen was one of the most significant physicians of the ancient world. He did anatomical work on other primates. It led to him realizing that there are anatomical similarities in humans despite whatever maladies they may present with. He recognized that these similarities in human anatomy and biology meant that there were specific illnesses that people could be diagnosed with. These diseases were attributed to the body not functioning correctly. Galen was the medical authority throughout the Middle Ages. It means that his teachings influenced Western medicine for at least 1400 years.
During his time, Aristotle was known as “the man who knows everything.” Afterward, he became known simply as “the philosopher.” In fact, Aristotle was so well-known as the singularity of genius that a thousand years after his end, the Medieval writer Dante referred to him simply as “the master,” and his readers knew whom he was talking about. Aristotle pioneered scientific inquiry into every kind of knowledge. Furthermore, he made contributions in fields as disparate as biology, political science, agriculture, literature, metaphysics, medicine, botany, physics, mathematics, logic, ethics, and even theatre.
Gregor Mendel is known as the father of genetics because of how his research led to the discovery of the basic principles of heredity. As a monk, he spent a lot of time in the garden of the monastery doing experiments that involved cross-pollinating pea plants. He saw that the plants born from the seeds of the “parent” plants had specific, often predictable traits. The carriers of transmission that caused these traits to pass between generations of pea plants (and of every other life form) became known as genes. Today, Mendel’s name is inseparable from genetic theory. Keep reading for more beautiful people throughout the world who did amazing things.
Nelson Mandela was a social reformer who fought against the apartheid government that kept Blacks in South Africa under complete subjugation. As a young man, he took part in guerilla tactics and conflict, which could become violent. He spent decades in prison for his actions, and while there, he left his previous ideology and came to embrace nonviolence. After they released him from prison, the people elected Nelson Mandela president in the first free election that South Africa had a country. His election meant that South Africa was no longer an apartheid state. He worked to help the country heal from the wounds of racial injustice.
Desmond Tutu worked alongside Nelson Mandela for the liberation of Blacks who suffered under apartheid in South Africa. He was the leader of the South African Council of Churches, which advocated racial equality, and wrote numerous books about civil rights for all people. Desmond Tutu demanded that Blacks in South Africa stop being deported to homelands. Plus, he knew that all South Africans should receive the same education, regardless of skin tone. Tutu received a Nobel Peace Prize for his work for the reconciliation of South Africa. Following the election of Nelson Mandela, Tutu worked on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that would help create racial justice.