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Ernest André Gellner was a British-Czech philosopher and social anthropologist, described by The Daily Telegraph when he died as one of the world's most vigorous intellectuals and by The Independentas a "one-man crusade for critical rationalism."
His first book, Words and Things (1959) prompted a leader in The Times and a month-long correspondence on its letters page over his attack on linguistic philosophy. As the Professor of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at the London School of Economics for 22 years, the William Wyse Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge for eight, and finally as head of the new Centre for the Study of Nationalism in Prague, Gellner fought all his life—in his writing, his teaching, and through his political activism—against what he saw as closed systems of thought, particularly communism, psychoanalysis, relativism, and the dictatorship of the free market. Among other issues in social thought, the modernization of society and nationalism were two of his central themes, his multicultural perspective allowing him to work within the subject-matter of three separate civilizations—the Western, Islamic, and Russian.