A thinking man and his tobacco pipe are almost a cliche, but these famous thinkers make the rest of us look like simpletons compared to their brilliant and often controversial accomplishments. In this third of our continuing series on famous pipe smokers we catalog eight notable pipe smoking thinkers. If you missed the first two installments, find our list of famous pipe smoking actors and smokin' authors here.
Sigmund Freud was born in 1856 in Moravia. He moved to Vienna, where he would spend most of his childhood. Throughout his career he published numerous works that would strongly influence the fields of psychology, anthropology, semiotics and the arts.
Freud's most famous research centered on psychosexual development, personality, memory and sexuality.
The most notable of his more than 320 books, essays, and articles include: The Ego and the Id, Beyond the Pleasure Principle,Studies on Hysteria, The Interpretation of Dreams, The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, and Medusa’s Head.
He was a firm believer that smoking pipe tobacco enhanced his capacity for work.
As the heralded founding father of psychoanalysis, Freud sought to invent a reliable and successful science of the mind. He believed neurosis is a byproduct of past traumatic experiences that have been repressed or distorted by internal mental censors. Simply put, Freud’s research supported the idea that we really and truly don’t know ourselves. If our minds and choices are policed and governed by repressive mental censors, then, as Freud explained, internal conflicts need to be resolved in order to alleviate symptoms of neurosis and mental distress.
Freud believed that overlooked phenomena such as dreams, slips of the tongue (Freudian slips), and a varied assortment of psychiatric symptoms are evidence of the unconscious mind trying to surface.
Freud’s work is widely considered to be the genesis of modern psychoanalysis, hence his title as the “Founding Father” of the field of research.
The development of analytic philosophy as the dominant philosophy of the twentieth century is owed, in large part, to Russell’s work.
Throughout his life, Russell also focused on contributions to the fields of the history of ideas, ethics, political theory, educational theory and religious studies. Though he was born into British Aristocracy, he gave away much of his inheritance. The three passions that governed his live where “the longing for love”, “the search for knowledge”, and “the unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.”
He championed numerous political causes and remained constantly involved in political and social controversy until his death in 1970. He believed that the ultimate objective of philosophy was to seek personal serenity and peace throughout the world. He was opposed to World War I, The Vietnam War, Nationalism and persecution. He was an anti-war activist and was fiercely anti-imperialist. The redemption of mankind, he believed, lies in cooperation. He also supported suffragists, free thought in religion and morals.
During an interview in 1959, Russell explained that smoking tobacco was his favorite vice. He smoked a pipe all day long. At that point, he had already been an avid pipe smoker for seventy years. “In fact” he said, “one occasion it saved my life.” He apparently had requested a seat in the smoking art of an airplane. The plane crashed into a Norwegian Fjord and all of the passengers in the non-smoking section were drowned, and those in the smoking section lived to be rescued. Thus, he concluded, that he owed his life to smoking.
Alexander Graham Bell
Born in Edinburgh in 1847, Alexander Graham Bell took an early interest hearing, speech and communication with the deaf.
His father, uncle and grandfather all worked in the field of Elocution (The study of formal speaking in pronunciation, grammar and tone). Bell’s father, Alexander Melville Bell published Visible Speech: The Science of Universal Alphabetics in 1867. Young Alexander Graham bell would go on to become so proficient in his father’s writing system that the elder Bell employed him for use in his demonstrations. By the time he was sixteen, Bell was in charge of his father’s operations in London.
Bell moved, with his family to Ontario in 1870, where he’d continue his research of speech, acoustics and the transmission of sound. A year later, he moved to Boston where he began work on “a device that would allow for the telegraph transmission of several messages set to different frequencies.”
Backed by local investors, he undertook another project that involved transmitting the human voice over wires. A skilled electrician named Thomas Watson partnered with Bell in order to bring his idea to fruition. On March 10th, 1876 they succeeded. The first telephone call had been made between the two men.
The telephone was displayed at exhibitions and public demonstrations over the next few years. By 1877, the Bell Telephone Company was up and running. After defending his telephone patent against numerous lawsuits, the invention took off.
By 1886 over 150,000 people in the United States owned a telephone. Throughout the rest of his life, Bell remained involved with other projects, including his work with the deaf. He also formed the Aerial Experiment Association with Glenn Curtiss (famous airplane pioneer and inventor) and several other associates.
As a tribute to the life’s work of the great inventor, Bell was invited to make the first transcontinental phone call in 1915. The man on the other end of the line was none other than Thomas Watson.
It’s hard to imagine a world devoid of Noam Chomsky’s influence. His contributions to the field of linguistics and criticisms of political systems and policy have been groundbreaking and revolutionary at times, as well as controversial and hotly debated at others. He has become one of the most prominent intellectuals in modern linguistics as well as an enduring figure on the global stage of political issues and mainstream ideologies. He is respected, revered, debated, and sometimes persecuted for his research, opinions and views regarding philosophy, linguistics and politics.
Whether or not one agrees with him, it’s impossible to deny Chomsky’s intellectual clout.
He made his first foray into the realm of global issues and politics at ten years old when he wrote an article on the spread of fascism in Europe following the fall of Barcelona in the Spanish Civil War.
He discovered politics at an early age. Although he described his parents as ideologically center left, Chomsky was introduced to far left politics through other members of his family. He described his discovery of anarchism as a “lucky accident”, which allowed him to formulated critical viewpoints regarding other radical left wing ideologies. He still identifies as a social anarchist.
At age 16, Noam Chomsky enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a B.A in 1949, an M.A in 1951 and a Ph.D. in 1955. He’d go on to earn honorary degrees from dozens of universities around the world throughout his lifetime.
He was identified, in 2005 by the British magazine, Prospect, as the most influential living scholar in the world.”
Chomsky became a tenured professor at MIT in 1957, where he has worked in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy ever since, while he also held a position as a visiting professor at New York’s Columbia University.
His image as a public figure of political dissent began and activism began with the onset of the Vietnam War. In 1969 he wrote his first political book, American Power and the New Mandarins. From then on, he has been viewed and credited as both a leading intellectual in linguistics, as well as an opinionated looming figure in the realm of left wing activism.
Noam Chomsky is also a fierce proponent of free speech and is, likewise, highly critical of censorship. "With regard to freedom of speech there are basically two positions”, he stated, “you defend it vigorously for views you hate, or you reject it and prefer Stalinist/fascist standards".
There is no way to summarize the life and work of someone with the mental capacity and caliber for far reaching and indispensable work that Noam Chomsky has demonstrated. He has authored countless books, papers and articles, has been the recipient of numerous awards, and has influenced a broad spectrum of social and academic fields. One might call him a veritable “Renaissance Man” of culture, wisdom, and academia of the twentieth and twenty first centuries.
He was voted the leading living public intellectual in The 2005 Global Intellectuals Poll conducted by the British magazine Prospect. That sort of notoriety is perhaps as close as one might get to defining his global impact. Then again, he isn’t finished yet.
Carl Gustav Jung was born in Switzerland in 1875. His father was protestant clergyman. Even as a small child he displayed an unusual inquisitiveness. At four years old he tried to make sense of the human behavior displayed by adults.
Jung attended the University of Basel from 1895-1900, where he studied biology, zoology, paleontology and archaeology before settling on medicine. He was also interested in philosophy, mythology, early Christian literature and religion.
Carl Jung worked closely with and collaborated with Sigmund Freud from 1907-1912. Freud considered Jung his “adopted eldest son, his crown prince and his successor.”
Despite their productive history together, Freud and Jung ceased working together because of the difference of opinions that the two held regarding the significance of libido and sexuality in human development and life, as well as differing opinions on the unconscious. Disagreements regarding Freud’s reluctance to acknowledge Jung’s ideas also played a role in their professional split. The last time they met, Jung gave a talk on personality types (introverted and extroverted) in analytical psychology. The introduction of these concepts helped many distinguish between the works of the two men.
Jung was interested in the symbolic meanings of the unconscious. The philosophies of Hinduism became elemental in this research following his world travels that spanned nearly twenty years. He has become one of the best known contributors to the study of dream analysis and symbolism.
He used alchemy as a metaphor for the transition from impure soul to pure soul through the psychoanalytical process. He also believed in the healing power of art to alleviate anxiety, trauma and fear.
Oppenheimer was born in New York City in 1904. He attended Harvard, initially intent on studying chemistry, he switched to physics and graduated summa cum laude in 1925.
Oppenheimer Studied under Max Born at the University of Göttingen, where he received his Ph.D. at age twenty four. He returned to Harvard in 1927 to study mathematical physics, followed by a stint at California Institute of Technology in 1928. Together, they published many works that influenced and contributed to the emerging field of quantum theory. While at California Institute of Technology, he also accepted an assistant professorship in physics at the University of California, Berkeley.
He was the first to conduct research that suggested the existence of black holes. He also researched astrophysics, nuclear physics, spectroscopy and quantum field theory, while also making important “contributions to the theory of cosmic ray showers, and did work that eventually led toward descriptions of quantum tunneling.”
Oppenheimer became involved in research to develop the atomic bomb at the onset of World War II.
He was appointed “Director” of the Manhattan Project in 1942. The laboratories at Los Alamos were built under his direction. The first nuclear detonation took place at Alamagordo on July 16, 1945. From 1947 to 1952, Oppenheimer served as Chairman of the General Advisory Committee to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). He used this position to voice his opposition to the development of the hydrogen bomb.
As Director of Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, Oppenheimer researched and led discussions on quantum and relativistic physics in the School of Natural Sciences.
Leon Lederman received his bachelor’s degree from the City College of New York in 1943, his masters from Columbia University in 1948, and his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1951. He served in the United States Army during World War II.
After he completed his studies at Columbia, Lederman remained with the university for thirty years. He became a full time professor in 1958, and directed the “Nevis Laboratories in Irvington, the Columbia physics department center for experimental research in high-energy physics” from 1961 until 1979. Along with his colleagues at Nevis, Lederman’s experiments lead to major advancements in "weak interactions, one of the fundamental nuclear forces.”
Lederman discovered a new particle in 1956.
Lederman and his colleagues identified the muon neutrino in 1962, using the most powerful accelerator in the world. Previously, only the electron-neutrino was known. He also discovered the bottom quark in 1977. Following these discoveries, his reputation as a top particle physicist was secured.
In 1988, Lederman received the Nobel Prize for Physics along with Melvin Schwartz and Jack Steinberger.
Other notable distinctions and awards Lederman received include the National Medal of Science (1965), the Elliott Cresson Medal for Physics (1976), the Wolf Prize for Physics (1982) and the Enrico Fermi Award (1992). Lederman was also a member of the USA Science and Engineering Festival's Advisory Board  and CRDF Global.
Though he published more than 200 papers, Lederman’s is perhaps most famous for writing The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question? He coined the nickname “the God Particle” for the Higgs Boson.
Throughout his career, Leon Lederman received numerous honorary degrees from colleges and universities around the world.
Ferdinand Porsche was born in 1875 is Maffersdorf Austria.
Porsche displayed an interest in electricity and technology at an early age. He was a vehicle engineer for several companies from the late 1800’s until 1931. In 1905, Porsche was recognized as Austria's most outstanding automotive engineer.
In 1906 Porsche achieved the position of chief designer for Austro-Daimler. By 1916 he was promoted to Managing Director. He left Austro Daimler for Daimler in 1923. The latter company would later go on to become Mercedes-Benz. The last company Porsche would work for before starting his own company was Steyr Automobile from 1929-1931.
During the 1930’s, due to Germany’s bleak economic climate, the need for an affordable car arose. Porsche was appointed to design the government funded “volks wagen” in 1933. The first prototypes were completed by 1935.
Porsche was asked to “adapt the Beetle chassis and drivetrain to simple military vehicle, the 'Kübelwagen' and then the layer the amphibious 'Schwimmwagen'.” He also worked on numerous tank and aircraft designs for the German armed forces.
Following World War II, Ferdinand and his son Ferry were imprisoned as war criminals for their roles in the development of Nazi military vehicles. Ferry served six months, while Ferdinand was imprisoned in Baden-Baden, Paris and Dijon.
After being released from prison, Ferdinand joined his son in Stuttgart, then Gmünd in Carinthia where the first model car with the Porsche name was developed. Forty nine Porsche 356’s were made. Each was built entirely by hand.
Porsche and his family returned to Stuttgart in 1949 and restarted their business. Later Ferdinand was contracted by Volkswagen to do consulting work. He received royalties for each Volkswagen Type 1 (Beetle) that was manufactured.
The Porsche name is synonymous with style and performance.