Thomas Garrigue Masaryk was born at Göding, Moravia, in the year 1850. The child of poor parents, after passing through the primary school he was apprenticed to a blacksmith and worked at this trade for some time. He studied in Vienna and in Leipzig, and at the age of twenty-nine he became lecturer on philosophy at the university of Vienna. His first publication was a work on suicide, which he regarded as a morbid symptom of the condition of contemporary Europe, declaring its chief cause to be the decay in religious sentiment. In 1882 he was appointed professor of philosophy at the newly founded Czech university of Prague. Extremely well versed in English philosophy, and a critical student of Hume, John Stuart Mill, and Herbert Spencer, he has published a monograph on the first-named writer. Comte and modern French philosophy, Kant and modern German philosophy, have likewise been two of the main factors in his mental development, so that his whole reading of history is based upon a philosophical and humanist foundation. Prior to the war, it was perhaps among Marxist students that his name was most widely known in this country and the United States, for he is the author of a detailed study of Marxism, and is an opponent of the famous doctrine of historical materialism.
From the opening of his career, Masaryk's influence in Bohemia has been extraordinary, his leadership being accepted in all branches of public life, political, scientific, and philosophical.