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 Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever

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nordmann
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PostSubject: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Mon 06 Feb 2012, 12:07

This will eventually be a poll, but first we need ten candidates. You are invited to name one (and only one) who you think might be deserving of the accolade "the world's most influential person ever" with a brief summary of why you reckon your candidate is worthy of it. The person must of course be reckoned to have lived with some measure of historical grounds to support the assertion (ie. Buddha can be named but Harry Potter is a no-no), though his or her contribution need not necessarily be one which only features primarily in conventional historical accounts. The candidate need not have been popular, charismatic or even very well known, but his or her contribution should be one which can readily be presented in a few short sentences.

Nomination: T'sai Lun

I'll start the ball rolling with one of my own pet favourites, the advisor to the Chinese emperor Wu in the second century BCE, T'sai Lun. It was he who reportedly saw the potential in a new product which had recently come from the Gansu province and which had tickled the emperor's fancy. Within two decades Lun had mechanised the process of pulping hemp to make paper, had introduced a smooth and therefore re-usable mould which made mass production possible, and had come up with innovations of his own (such as the applications of starch for sizing and ochre dye which acted as insect repellant thereby ensuring the vegetable product lasted without being eaten). By the end of his lifetime printing presses, mechanisms unimaginable using any of the other parchment materials available to his generation (or indeed the rest of the world for many centuries to come) had already become a feature of Chinese industry and, with refinements as the technology spread throughout Asia and beyond, meant that both the product and its printed application were available during the Muslim ascendancy and the growth of libraries and universities under their rule. Dissemination of knowledge, and indeed the rescuing of much ancient European knowledge, was therefore not only possible but implementable on a massive scale. It is conjecturable how, if at all, we might have reached that point through other avenues anyway, but it is undeniable that Lun's contribution to world history had massive implications, both direct and indirect, from which we are still benefiting today.
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Mon 06 Feb 2012, 12:23

St Paul

He took an obscure Jewish Preacher, and made a world religion out of him.
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Mon 06 Feb 2012, 15:30

Heavens I could nominate 10! But if I really had to pick one it probably would be Charles Darwin.

Because he broke (or began the process) the religious stranglehold on science and made available for all a clear and plausable understanding of the enviroment and of humankind that stripped away the need for a creator. Darwin's extraordinarily brave step set a new course that no subsequent scientific work could ignore and made room for strictly scientific explanations for all natural phenomena.
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Catigern
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Mon 06 Feb 2012, 15:46

The 'Prophet' Mohammed

Islam may not be quite the most significant movement in human history, but it's up there, and I can't think of another such movement for which one particular individual was so responsible.

I in particular live in fear of Islamic revolution in the UK, on the grounds that the vast majority of emoticons would probably be deemed Haram...

...let alone those depicting beer!
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Mon 06 Feb 2012, 16:24

Me.

The oldest known piece of literature - and an insight therefrom into one of the earliest civilisations..
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Tue 07 Feb 2012, 00:13

Homer - for encapsulating such noble sentiment in heroic verse as to consolidate a diverse people to build a civilisation that moved on a pace in all directions and which inspired another to Empire building with resurgent echoes that continued down the centuries; I would say that was influence enough.
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Thu 09 Feb 2012, 21:00

Priscilla wrote:
Homer - for encapsulating such noble sentiment in heroic verse as to consolidate a diverse people to build a civilisation that moved on a pace in all directions and which inspired another to Empire building with resurgent echoes that continued down the centuries; I would say that was influence enough.
He'd be nothing without Marge... jocolor
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Mon 13 Feb 2012, 09:28

Johannes Gutenberg - the invention of the printing press played a key role in the renaissance, reformation and ended the monopoly of the church in interpreting the scriptures. Also allowed the printing of pamphlets which could disseminate dissenting thoughts or rumours very quickly and effectively.
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Sun 04 Mar 2012, 09:15

Isaac Newton...no explanation needed.
Cool
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Sun 04 Mar 2012, 09:43

An explanation is needed.

Necromancers do not normally figure very high in "World's Top Ten People" lists so some clarificiation might be required here Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Sun 04 Mar 2012, 10:20

nordmann wrote:
An explanation is needed.

Necromancers do not normally figure very high in "World's Top Ten People" lists so some clarificiation might be required here Cheers

Laughing
Oh, I was thinking about Sir Isaac's attempts to use mathematical formulae to study the Bible and calculate the end of the world....

Okay, here's my attempt to put everyone to sleep....

His monograph Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, published in 1687, lays the foundations for most of classical mechanics. In this work, Newton described universal gravitation and the three laws of motion, which dominated the scientific view of the physical universe for the next three centuries. Newton showed that the motions of objects on Earth and of celestial bodies are governed by the same set of natural laws, by demonstrating the consistency between Kepler's laws of planetary motion and his theory of gravitation, thus removing the last doubts about heliocentrism and advancing the Scientific Revolution. The Principia is generally considered to be one of the most important scientific books ever written, due, independently, to the specific physical laws the work successfully described, and for the style of the work, which assisted in setting standards for scientific publication down to the present time. Newton built the first practical reflecting telescope and developed a theory of colour based on the observation that a prism decomposes white light into the many colours that form the visible spectrum.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Mon 05 Mar 2012, 07:53

He also invented the cat-flap.
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Mon 05 Mar 2012, 08:02

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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Mon 05 Mar 2012, 08:54

If only it was true ...

The story first saw the light of day in a 19th century edition of "The Country Parson", as reported content of one of the author's sermons; the point being to demonstrate that even great philosophers could be occasionally stupid (in the story Newton cuts two flaps, one big one for his cat and another smaller one for her kittens). A similar story from the same source (a Rev. James Woodforde who was not aware his diary would be published after his death) has originally Coleridge, but in later versions Coleridge, Southey and Wordsworth attempting to uncollar a horse together and failing abysmally until a "Scotch" girl (obviously of lower intellect according to J.W.) happens along and achieves the trick with a simple tug before wending further on her way, thereby discrediting the combined intelligence of the three devotees of Erator, Calliope and Euterpe. In the Newton story the maid performs much the same function in pointing out to the great man the silliness of having cut the smaller hole.

Two near-contemporary biographers of Newton state specifically that he did not keep either a cat or dog in his rooms. Furthermore, the room in which he was conducting the light experiment (the alleged catflap room according to J.W.) is still there with the original door intact, sans flap. It is also an interior door, which rather defeats the purpose of a flap in any case.

On the other hand a quick Google on the subject will reveal hundreds of websites citing the story as fact and accrediting its veracity to having been reported by The Daily Mews. So I could be wrong ... Anyway, vicars don't tell fibs, do they?
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Mon 05 Mar 2012, 11:30

It's a good story, though - and they do mention it at the Science Museum.

There's a cat-flap in Exeter Cathedral - often described as "medieval". In fact it seems that Bishop Cotton (Bishop of Exeter from 1598 to 1621) had it cut in the door leading to the clock chamber. His moggy was paid 1d a week to un-mouse that part of the cathedral - the mice were running amok in there, chewing the clock ropes to bits:

http://www.dsnell.zynet.co.uk/Guides.html
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Mon 05 Mar 2012, 12:41

If true about Cotton, then even Newton's apocryphal contribution is running in second place.

I read that Woodforde's book, by the way, dodgy sermons aside, is a fantastic contemporary account of Jane Austen's milieu from the parsonage point of view. It was apparently a best seller throughout the 19th century and still has its fans. I must look into it further, myself.
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Mon 05 Mar 2012, 13:26

I've never come across Woodforde - but have just had a bit of a google. Apparently Virginia Woolf and Siegfried Sassoon were big fans of his.

I like his entry for January 25th 1795: "We breakfasted, dined etc. again at home. The frost this Morning more severe than Yesterday. It froze the chamber pots above stairs."

One reviewer notes: "Not once in the course of these five volumes does he so much mention the name of Christ...His response to anything except dinner is apt to be low-key."

Woodforde sounds like Austen's Dr. Grant from Mansfield Park - he who "was very fond of eating and would have a good dinner every day". Dr. Grant worried more about the correct dressing of a turkey than about preparing his sermons, and in the end ate himself to death, having "brought on apoplexy and death by by three great institutionary dinners in one week".
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Mon 05 Mar 2012, 14:04

Worth a thread in its own right, it appears!

I'll chastise myself now for this (interesting but naughty) deviation and make amends by recapping on the eight most influential people from history thus far nominated:

T'sai Lun
St Paul
Charles Darwin
Prophet Mohammed
Gilgamesh
Homer
Johannes Gutenburg
Isaac Newton




A few more and we'll put it to the vote ...
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Mon 05 Mar 2012, 19:14

I also nominate Martin Luther. Although his own changes to religious observance were not so many , others taking up the notion in faith or expediency used the opportunity he created to further Christian religious extremes thus leading to ongoing conflict and the cause of great change in the shaping of boundries, power struggles and the domination of many people's lives. Not well expressed but you get the drift.
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Mon 05 Mar 2012, 19:17

Oh dear, I really am losing it. I thought I nominated Adam Smith here also but perhaps that was yet another list.
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Wed 07 Mar 2012, 08:04

Priscilla wrote:
I also nominate Martin Luther. Although his own changes to religious observance were not so many , others taking up the notion in faith or expediency used the opportunity he created to further Christian religious extremes thus leading to ongoing conflict and the cause of great change in the shaping of boundries, power struggles and the domination of many people's lives. Not well expressed but you get the drift.

Poor Luther. He meant so well. Like his Master, I suppose. The pair of them must have been aghast at what they sparked off.

"But that's not what I meant at all..."

There must be a message in there for us all.
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Wed 07 Mar 2012, 20:52

There is, of course, a message in there for us all, Temperance.

However, most of us manage to ignore it quite successfully . . .
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Thu 08 Mar 2012, 06:47

Saul of Tarsus aka St Paul. Following a blinding headache or divine intervention, as you like, he gets a guilt seizure and he's off. Like him or not it must be acknowledged that he then assumes charge of a disparate spread of Christians and tries to knock them into shape with management visits, sharp letters and structed policies. Not sure if he was a strong PR man or one of the world's first spin doctors. Without speedy communication he somehow manages to strengthen them and the Church of Rome is on its way in all ways.... Romans 12 - The body, soul and spirit epistle.
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Thu 08 Mar 2012, 08:06

Giraffe has already nominated St Paul for just that reason.

If I can get one more candidate then I'll draw up a poll and plonk it on the portal. I reckon the one that's there has been seen by everyone and anyone who wanted to has already done their bit ...
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Thu 08 Mar 2012, 09:32

Deleted.


Last edited by Temperance on Thu 08 Mar 2012, 11:36; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Thu 08 Mar 2012, 10:07

I am going to nominate that 'obscure Jewish preacher' Joshua bar Joseph. He still has a huge following and probably more books written about him than any other person.

I am not convinced, by the way, that Darwin 'broke (or began the process) the religious stranglehold on science'.

There had been a huge amount of scientific development prior to Darwin.

I would also nominate Shakespeare as the most influential writer ever, one who is still relevant to read and seems to transcend national boundaries.

Lastly Siddhārtha Gautama for his attempt to grapple with the problem of human suffering and put forward a way of living.

Tim


Tim


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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Thu 08 Mar 2012, 10:09

Apologies for breaking the rules and naming 3, need to read the rules more clearly next time so I will still with my first nomination.

Tim
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Thu 08 Mar 2012, 10:21

All good nominations, Tim!

This is what's on the back of Harold Bloom's "Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human":

"Shakespeare's influence, overwhelming on literature, has been even larger on life, and this has become incalculable, and seems recently to be growing. It surpasses the effect of Homer and of Plato, and challenges the Scriptures of East and West alike in the modification of human character and personality..."

Rather nicely put - yes, I think WS is getting my vote.
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Thu 08 Mar 2012, 10:33

Hi Tim - all three are fine, the important thing is a stated reason for inclusion. We'll leave aside the issue of historicity and let them all in Smile

Great - I'll draw up a poll of all twelve nominations and let it run for a while. Could be interesting ...
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Thu 08 Mar 2012, 11:45

Hi Mark

I guess the question of historicity could apply to all 3 but I think they all past your requirement

'The person must of course be reckoned to have lived with some measure of historical grounds to support the assertion'. Recent film not withstanding, most people seem to accept that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare!!

Fairly recently read Prof Marcus Borg's latest and probably last book on Jesus - a very interesting read.

regards

Tim
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Thu 08 Mar 2012, 19:18

Priscilla

'Saul of Tarsus aka St Paul. Following a blinding headache or divine intervention, as you like, he gets a guilt seizure and he's off. Like him or not it must be acknowledged that he then assumes charge of a disparate spread of Christians and tries to knock them into shape with management visits, sharp letters and structed policies. Not sure if he was a strong PR man or one of the world's first spin doctors. Without speedy communication he somehow manages to strengthen them and the Church of Rome is on its way in all ways.... Romans 12 - The body, soul and spirit epistle.'

Paul originally persecuted the church, I believe because he would have considered as blasphemous the idea that someone who was crucified was the Messiah. The Law makes clear that anyone ‘hanged on a tree’, which would he identified with crucifixion, would be cursed. Then, for some reason, he became convinced that Jesus had risen from the dead and therefore must be the Messiah. That God had vindicated Jesus. Much of Paul’s theology as set out most fully in Romans can be seen in the light of Paul’s change of mind.

Your namesake in the New Testament is an example of the importance that women played in the early church, an importance that was sadly later curtailed.

Regards

Tim



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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Thu 08 Mar 2012, 19:48

It's an interesting speculation, IMO, what direction Christianity would have taken without Paul/Saul, under the leadeship of James, brother of Jesus, and Simon Peter. Would it have been a splinter sect of Judaism, or even doomed to an early extinction? Would Mohammed ever have had his revelations without Christianity? Or, for that, matter, would Guru Nanak have been impelled to reconstitute Hinduism into Sikhism?
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PostSubject: Re: Nominations please for ten of the world's most influential people ever   Fri 09 Mar 2012, 12:02

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