Adolphe Quetelet

Adolphe Quételet

1796 (Ghent, Belgium) – 1874 (Brussels)

Quetelet, an active internationalist, maintained strong links with scientists in several countries. Among these were Babbage, Whewell, Wheatstone, Faraday, Herschel and Airy in Britain, Ampère, Le Verrier and Hachette in France, Gauss, Goethe and Encke in Germany and de la Rive in Switzerland (many contributing to a journal he edited). He studied with Arago, Fourier and Laplace in France, also meeting Poisson, Fresnel and Humboldt. He helped Babbage, Malthus and Whewell establish a Statistical Society, and influenced Nightingale. Marx, living at the same time in Brussels, drew on his work; whether they met is unknown.

Friedrich Engels

1820 (Barmen, Germany) – 1895 (London)

Engels’ friend and collaborator Hess was responsible for his conversion to communism. He first met his great friend and collaborator, Marx, in Germany, but travelled to Paris to spend more time with him — 10 days that led to a lifetime’s work together, after Paris in Brussels, Köln and London (Engels, but not Marx, also lived in Manchester). In England, He often helped to support the frequently-destitute Marx. While he had many English acquaintances (even fox-hunting with fellow-businessmen), he made few friends. But he contacted Owen, whom he greatly admired, and wrote several articles for his newspaper.

Friedrich Engels knew…

Edward Shils

1910 (Springfield, Mass.) – 1995 (Chicago)

Shils was famously extremely private, and biographical information including about acquaintanceships is relatively scarce. He collaborated on a book with his friend and colleague Parsons, and wrote an essay about the monarchy with Young. Dedicated to transatlantic discourse, he enticed Aron and Momigliano (a great friend) to teach in Chicago, and helped Chaudhuri, whose uncompromising attitudes he greatly respected, move to England. Among university colleagues, Szilard was a friend, while Bellow, whom he had mentored, based three thinly-disguised fictional characters on him, testing his patience to breaking-point.

Edward Shils knew…

  • Leo Szilard
  • Raymond Aron
  • Arnaldo Momigliano
  • Michael Polanyi
  • Michael Young
  • Nirad Chaudhuri
  • Saul Bellow
  • Talcott Parsons

Raymond Aron

1905 (Paris) – 1983 (Paris)

Sartre, Nizan and Aron all met at school: Canguilhem joined them at the École Nationale Supérieur. Sartre, de Beauvoir and Merleau-Ponty were among Aron’s co-founders of the review ‘Les Temps modernes.’ Camus edited another journal, ‘Combat’, with him. He was taught by Alain (the pen-name of Émile Chartier), while Bourdieu became his teaching assistant. He worked briefly with Malraux; Arendt became a friend when she fled Nazi Germany. He said that if his fellow-student Cavaillès had survived, he (Aron) would not have committed so many errors.

Pierre Naville

1904 (Paris) – 1993 (Paris)

Aragon, Soupault, Jacob and Cendrars co-founded an avant-garde review (‘l’Oeuf dur’) with Naville. His friend Queneau introduced him to surrealist circles, and he in turn introduced Boiffard to them, later helping him with his behavioural science work. Péret co-edited ‘la Révolution surréaliste’ with Naville, while Breton declared him one of those responsible for acts of pure surrealism (but later split with him over political ideology). Among his many correspondents were the mathematician Schwartz and the historian of mathematics van Heijenoort, both, like Naville, marxists.

Pierre Bourdieu

1930 (Denguin, France) – 2002 (Paris)

Le Roy Ladurie, like Derrida, was a fellow-student, and subsequently a professional colleague, sharing an interest in the Occitan peasant culture Bourdieu sprang from. Canguilhem, Bachelard and Koyré were influential teachers Bourdieu sought out while studying philosophy under Althusser. Aron was a guiding spirit, Bourdieu inheriting his mantle at the Centre for European Sociology (where Boltanski was one of the younger group he nurtured). Grass conducted a notable TV discussion with him. Haacke, Adrien and Buren were somewhat unlikely collaborators; Godard however baffled and clashed with him.

Pierre Bourdieu knew…

Marcel Mauss

1872 (Épinal, France) – 1950 (Paris)

Durkheim was Mauss’s uncle, intellectual mentor, and eventual professional colleague. Caillois and Leiris were among his students, Hubert a professional colleague, co-author and friend. Lévi-Strauss, who regarded him as an important influence but didn’t study under him, discussed exogamous relations among Brazilian tribes with him before exiling himself in New York.

Marcel Mauss knew…

Jean Duvignaud

1921 (La Rochelle, France) – 2007 (La Rochelle)

Duvignaud taught Perec at school, and encouraged him in his writing. Perec later became, along with Virilio, Duvignaud’s main collaborator on the review ‘Cause Commune.’ Barthes had founded the journal ‘Théâtre populaire’ with him, subsequently working with him on another, ‘Arguments.’

Henri Lefebvre

Henri Lefevre

1901 (Hagetmau, France) – 1991 (Navarrenx)

Nizan and Guterman were members of the marxist ‘Philosophie’ group that he formed, and Guterman a long-term collaborator despite basing himself across the Atlantic for his last 40 years. Debord and Lefebvre were both concerned with the politics of space, and were close friends as well as colleagues for a number of years. Lefebvre complained about his fellow-communist Aragon’s lack of support, supervised Baudrillard’s doctorate, and gave the young unknown Perec house-room to write.