famous philosophers

Famous Philosophers A-G

List of Famous Philosophers A-G

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Famous Philosophers Country Born / Died Thoughts, Theories, Philosophies and Works (first published)
Abelard, Pierre France 1079-1142 The scholastic sought peace between religions and developed an ethics of responsibility for the purpose.
Adorno, Theodor W Germany 1903-1969 Adorno was an influential member of the “Frankfurt School”. In his critical theory “minima morelia” (1951) he takes up the ethical question of the “doctrine of the good life”. Other works: “Dialectic of Enlightenment” (1947, together with Max Horkheimer) and “Negative Dialectics” (1966).
Giles of Rome Italy 1243-1316 The high scholastic and outstanding theologian wrote a catalog of 95 false doctrines.
Alcmaeon 500 BC Alcmaeon was a Pythagorean. According to his thesis, a lack of harmony is the cause of many diseases. For him, the brain is the organ of perception.
Alcuin (of York) England 735-804 The scholastic and head of the Palace School of Charlemagne taught the “seven liberal arts” in his classes.
Althusius, Johannes Germany 1557-1638 According to Althusius, the state is based on a social contract; the people are politically and religiously independent. His most famous work, first published in 1603 was “Politica Methodice Digesta, Atque Exemplis Sacris et Profanis Illustrata”.
Aquinas, Thomas Italy 1225-1274 Thomas Aquinas found a solution to the question of who should decide on the truth, the mind or the church. He proposed 5 proofs using reason to prove the existence of God and the immortality of the soul. His best known work “Summa Theologiae”.
Archytas of Tarentum 428-347 BC Pythagorean – the number is the foundation of knowledge. Archytas was the founder of mathematical mechanics.
Arendt, Hannah Germany 1906-1975 Jewish existential philosopher who first fled to France and then in 1941 to the US, where she taught as the first woman at Princeton University. She grappled particularly with Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers and called for a European federalism: direct democracy with a greater political participation by each individual. Best known work: “The Origins of Totalitarianism” (1955).
Aristarchus of Samos 310-230 BC Aristarchus developed a heliocentric world view and held the sun for a fixed star.
Aristotle Greece 384-322 BC Aristotle was a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. He developed logic from two premises which led to one conclusion. Aristotle viewed philosophy as a science and dealt with virtue ethics, in which perfect happiness is sought. Man’s end purpose he claims is rational thought. One of the most famous philosophers.
Arcesilaus 316-241 BC Arcesilaus taught the suspension of judgment (the skeptical approach) and refuted claims to certitude in knowledge.
Augustine of Hippo 354-430 Augustine was the father of western Christian theology & philosophy for almost 1000 years. Influential in development of original sin and doctrine of grace by which God grants salvation to sinners. In favor of the separation between church and state.
Averroes Ibn Rušd (ابن رشد) Spain 1126-1198 Islamic philosopher. The spirit of man is immortal, religion is for the masses, but a philosophy needs reason.
Avicenna Iran 980-1037 A child prodigy of the Middle Ages. He was not only one of the most famous philosophers but also a doctor, physician, mathematician, astronomer, chemist, theologian, geologist, lawyer, inventor and he also wrote poetry. He led a life made for the movies and wrote two encyclopedias of medicine on diagnoses, treatments, prevention, hygiene, medicinal plants, surgery, cosmetics and drugs.
Bacon, Francis (Sir) Great Britain 1561-1626 “Knowledge is power”. Francis Bacon was a pioneer of scientific method and wrote the utopian “New Atlantis”. In his theory, all consciousness is derived from feelings or sensations. For Bacon, the world works purely mechanically.
Bacon, Roger England 1214-1294 Franciscan Friar who studied nature using impirical methods. The high scholastic turned against prejudice, habit and lack of self-criticism.
Bath, Adelard of England 1080-1162 The scholastic recognized in Spain the superiority of Arab science, he translated and spread their knowledge in mathematics, medicine and astronomy.
Bergson, Henri (Nobel Prize for literature 1927) France 1859-1941 Henri Bergson is a representative of the philosophy of life and forerunner of existentialism. Unlike Immanuel Kant, he distinguished between space (homogeneous) and time (flowing): “Space is detected by the mind, time by intuition”. Bergson coined the term “élan vital”, a spiritual force that drives development. Works: “Time and Free Will” (1889), “Matter and Memory” (1896), “Laughter” (1900), “Creative Evolution” (1907).
Berkeley, George Anglo Irish 1685-1753 Influenced by “sensationalism” Berkeley posed skeptical questions about “morals and ethics” and came up with “immaterialism”.
Bloch, Ernst Germany 1885-1977 In addition to Adorno, Habermas and Horkheimer, Bloch was one of the main representatives of the “Frankfurt School”. In his book “The Principle of Hope” discusses the meaning of utopia for the people’s present life.
Bruno, Giordano Italy 1548-1600 Giordano Bruno was a dominican friar who announced the infinity of the universe and God as the source of eternal change. He died at the stake in Rome for his belief that nature evolved to perfect itself.
Caesaream, Eusebius 260-337 Caesaream is considered the father of church history on account of his chronicles.
Calvin, John France 1509-1564 Calvin wrote the “Geneva Catechism” and a church order with “strict church discipline”.
Campanella, Tommaso Italy 1568-1639 The Italian wrote the utopia of the “Sunshine State” and spent 27 years in prison during the Inquisition.
Anselm (of Canterbury) Aosta 1033-1109 The scholastic was a leading proponent of the ontological proof of God; “Credo ut intelligam” (I believe in order to understand).
Capella, Martianus 350-400 Capella was a Neo-Platonist and defined the canon of the seven liberal arts. Trivium: grammar, rhetoric, logic. And quadrivium: arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy.
Chrysippus 276-204 BC Chrysippus created the basis of the Stoa with 705 books and formulated the Stoic ideal of freedom from effects; terms are generalizations of our perception of objects.
Cicero Italy 106-43 BC Cicero was a politician, lawyer and orator and represented the teachings of the Stoics and the academies. He is credited as a pioneer of humanism, the doctrine of natural law and general good judgement.
Cleanthes Turkey 331-251 BC Stoic and former boxer; for Cleanthes virtuous action is only possible through the knowledge of reality.
Comte, Auguste France 1798-1857 God and man are as one. Charity was the highest duty for Auguste Comte, he developed positivism, a science that is based on tangible facts and their empirical link.
Confucius China 561-479 BC Confucius taught five virtues (love, righteousness, diligence, honesty, reciprocity) and three social obligations (loyalty, filial piety, respect of decency and morality). One of the most famous philosophers.
Cusa, Nicholas of Germany 1401-1464 Link between medieval scholasticism and the mysticism and metaphysics of the Renaissance. In his book “De Docta Ignorantia” Nicholas of Cusa writes about the limits of human knowledge.
Dante Alighieri Italy 1265-1321 Dante is one of the most important poets and famous philosophers of the Middle Ages. With “Monarchia”, around 1316, he wrote a work on a state independent of the church and recognized that “there are things that you can not influence”. These things can only be observed. Other major works: Convivio (1306), The Divine Comedy (1307-20), Quaestio (1320)
Democritus 460-370 BC As an atomist, he believed matter (including the soul) consists of an infinitely number of tiny particles (atoms), which are in perpetual motion; together with Leucippus, Democritus is regarded as the father of atomic theory.
Descartes, René France 1596-1650 In his famous book “Principles of Philosophy” (1641) Descartes wrote “Cogito, ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am). The French mathematician and scientist saw no connection between body and soul, but replaced it with spirit and nature. With such reasoning he founded among other things “rationalism” and “dualism”. Other major works: “The Passion of the Soul” (1649) and “About the People” (1662). One of the most famous philosophers.
Diogenes Greece 399-329 BC Diogenes was a Socratic and a founder of cynic philosophy. He probably didn’t live in a barrel as widely rumored. He did, however, complain to Alexander the Great telling him to “take thy shadow from me” when his view of the sun was blocked.
Dionysius ca. 500 BC All that is visible is only a metaphor of the invisible. God is the cause, the beginning, being and life for Dionysios. Through cleansing (catharsis) and enlightenment (photismos) it is possible to reach a kind of perfection.
Dong Zhongshu China 179–104 BC Promoted Confucianism as the official ideology of the Chinese imperial state. Many modern scholars doubt Dong Zhongshu was the author of the five elements theory of Chinese philosophy although they are credited to him.
Duns Scotus, John Scotland 1265-1308 High scholastic and opponent of Thomas Aquinas. The will has priority over reason. Good is determined by the will and is thus higher than the truth.
Erasmus (of Rotterdam) The Netherlands 1466-1536 Erasmus was a friend of Thomas More and an Augustinian critical of the church, but also an opponent of Martin Luther on the question of free will. He stood for religious tolerance and against nationalism and war. His major work, “In Praise of Folly” (1509).
Epictetus 50 -138 Stoic with one major work on morality. Epictetus wrote “Men are disturbed not by things but by the view they take of them”.
Epicurus 341-270 BC Epicurus was an atomist who gathered his disciples in a garden where he taught physics, canonic (theory of knowledge) and ethics. He claimed that the seeking of pleasure and the avoidance of pain were at the centre of human morality and that they governed all our actions. One of the most famous philosophers.
Feuerbach, Ludwig Germany 1804-1872 Feuerbach is a famous representative of materialist philosophy. He further developed the “dialectical method” together with Karl Marx.
Fichte, Johann Gottlieb Germany 1762-1814 Johann Gottlieb Fichte was a German idealist. He penetrated government, ethics and law teachings with his theories of “subjective idealism”.
Fortescue, John (Sir) England 1394-1476 In his belief, the king’s power was based on public consent and not on God’s grace.
Frankfurt School Germany 1923-today This group of philosophers, sociologists and neo-Marxist scholars which arose from the “Institute for Social Research IfS” (founded by Felix Weil) originated in Frankfurt. Followers such as Adorno, Bloch, Habermas, Horkheimer, Marcuse, Fromm and Alfred Schmidt dealt with “critical theory” and dealt with ideological and socio-critical issues. Major work: “Dialectic of Enlightenment” (1944-47 by Adorno and Horkheimer).
Galilei, Galileo Italy 1564-1642 Opposed Aristotelian concepts and instead offered the law of fall as the basis of mechanics which became the basis of new philosophy. He was tried for heresy in part for such beliefs as “The book of nature is written in the language of mathematics”.

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