Deaths of Philosophers

Deaths of philosophers

The documented history of philosophy is often said to begin with the notable death of Socrates. Since that time, there have been many other noteworthy deaths of philosophers.

  • 435 B.C.E. According to legend, Empedocles leapt to his death into the crater of Etna.
  • 420 B.C.E. According to some reports, Protagoras died in a shipwreck.
  • 399 B.C.E. Socrates, condemned to death for corrupting the young, drank hemlock amongst his friends as described in Plato’s Phaedo.
  • 338 B.C.E. According to legend, Isocrates starved himself to death.
  • 320 B.C.E. Ancient sources tell us that Nicocreon the tyrant had Anaxarchus pounded to death in a mortar with iron pestles; Anaxarchus is said to have made light of the punishment.
  • 207 B.C.E. Chrysippus is said to have died from laughter after giving wine to his donkey and seeing it attempt to eat figs.
  • 52 B.C.E. Lucretius is alleged to have killed himself after being driven mad by taking a love potion.
  • 65 Seneca was forced to commit suicide after falling out with Emperor Nero.
  • 415 Hypatia was killed by a mob of Christians.
  • 526 Boethius was strangled on the orders of the Ostrogoth king Theodoric by whom he was employed.
  • 1141 Judah Ha-Levi was killed on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
  • 1180 Abraham Ibn Daud was martyred.
  • 1277 Peter of Spain was killed by the collapse of a roof.
  • 1284 Siger of Brabant was stabbed to death by his clerk.
  • 1415 John Hus was executed at the Council of Constance.
  • 1535 Thomas More was executed by beheading in 1535 after he had fallen out of favour with King Henry VIII.
  • 1572 Girolamo Maggi was executed by strangulation on the orders of a prison captain in Constantinople; Maggi had been incarcerated after being arrested during the Turkish siege of Famagusta.
  • 1572 Peter Ramus was killed in the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.
  • 1600 Giordano Bruno was burnt by the Inquisition.
  • 1619 Lucilio Vanini was also burnt by the Inquisition.
  • 1626 Francis Bacon died of pneumonia, contracted while stuffing snow into a chicken as an experiment in refrigeration.
  • 1640 Uriel da Costa, after being beaten and trampled by a religious group he had offended, went home and shot himself.
  • 1650 René Descartes was killed by a cold acquired through his rising early to instruct Queen Christina of Sweden.
  • 1794 The Marquis de Condorcet died in prison.
  • 1866 William Whewell was thrown from his horse and sustained fatal injuries.
  • 1882 William Jevons was drowned while bathing.
  • 1901 Paul Rée fell to his death from a mountain.
  • 1903 Otto Weininger commited suicide by shooting himself.
  • 1906 Ludwig Boltzmann hanged himself.
  • 1911 Paul Lafargue died with his wife, Laura Marx, in a suicide pact.
  • 1928 Alexandr Bogdanov died as a result of one of his experiments in blood transfusion.
  • 1930 Frank P. Ramsey died after contacting jaundice at the age of 26.
  • 1931 Jacques Herbrand died in a mountaineering accident in the Alps at the age of 23.
  • 1936 Moritz Schlick was murdered by an insane student.
  • 1937 Gustav Shpet was executed after being accused of involvement in an anti-Soviet organization.
  • 1937 Antonio Gramsci died during his imprisonment by Mussolini.
  • 1939 Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz commited suicide by taking an overdose of Veronal and trying to slit his wrists a day after the Soviet invasion of Poland; it was planned to be a joint suicide with a close friend of his but she survived the attempt.
  • 1940 Walter Benjamin committed suicide at the Spanish-French border, after attempting to flee from the Nazis.
  • 1940 Leon Trotsky was axe murdered.
  • 1941 Kurt Grelling was killed by the Nazis.
  • 1943 Simone Weil starved herself to death.
  • 1944 Giovanni Gentile was murdered by communist partisans.
  • 1945 Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed by hanging.
  • 1945 Miki Kiyoshi died in prison; he had been imprisoned after helping a friend on the run from the authorities.
  • 1948 Mohandas Gandhi was shot and killed by a Hindu zealot.
  • 1949 Syed Zafarul Hasan died after an attack of paralysis.[citation needed]
  • 1954 Alan Turing is believed to have committed suicide by eating a cyanide-poisoned apple, allegedly due to chemical depression.
  • 1960 Albert Camus died in an automobile accident.
  • 1971 Richard Montague was beaten to death, presumably by a male prostitute.
  • 1973 Amilcar Cabral was assassinated while fighting for the independence of Portuguese colonies in Africa.
  • 1978 Kurt Gödel starved himself to death by refusing to eat for fear of being poisoned.
  • 1979 Evald Ilyenkov committed suicide.
  • 1979 Nikos Poulantzas committed suicide by jumping out of the twentieth floor of his apartment building.
  • 1983 Arthur Koestler committed joint suicide with his third wife, Cynthia, by taking an overdose of drugs after a painful struggle with disease.
  • 1984 Michel Foucault was the first high-profile French personality to die of AIDS after contracting HIV, presumably due to his philandering in San Francisco.
  • 1994 David Stove committed suicide by hanging himself after a painful struggle with disease.
  • 1994 Sarah Kofman committed suicide on Nietzsche’s birthday.
  • 1994 Guy Debord committed suicide by shooting himself after a painful struggle with polyneuritis.
  • 1995 Gilles Deleuze committed suicide by jumping out of his fourth-story apartment window.
  • 2007 André Gorz commited joint suicide with his wife by lethal injection.

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