greatest philosophers

Greatest Philosophers A-Z 💭

Greatest Philosophers 💭 All-Time A-Z List

  • This greatest philosophers list was compiled by Joe Connor and last updated Nov 4, 2022 @ 12:46 pm

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Greatest Philosophers Country (today) Born / Died Thoughts, theories and and works of the greatest philosophers
Abelard, Pierre 🇫🇷 France 1079 – 1142 Pierre Abelard was scholastic philosopher and theologian who strived for peace between religions and developed an ethics of responsibility for the purpose. Famous Abelard quote:

The master key of knowledge is, indeed, a persistent and frequent questioning

Adelard of Bath 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 England, UK 🇬🇧 1080 – 1162 Adelard of Bath was natural philosopher. The scholastics recognized in Spain the superiority of Arab science. Adelard of Bath translated and spread their knowledge in mathematics, medicine and astronomy.
Adorno, Theodor W 🇩🇪 Germany 1903 – 1969 Theodor W 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).
Alcmaeon of Croton 🇮🇹 Italy c500 BC Alcmaeon of Croton was a Pythagorean. According to his thesis, a lack of harmony is the cause of many diseases. For Alcmaeon of Croton, the brain is the organ of perception.
Alcuin of York 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 England, UK 🇬🇧 735 – 804 Alcuin of York was an English scholar, clergyman, poet, and teacher. 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 was “Politica Methodice Digesta, Atque Exemplis Sacris et Profanis Illustrata” (first published in 1603).
Anselm of Canterbury 🇮🇹 Italy 1033 – 1109 Anselm of Canterbury, the scholastic, was a leading proponent of the ontological proof of God; “Credo ut intelligam” (I believe in order to understand).
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. Aquinas proposed 5 proofs using reason to prove the existence of God and the immortality of the soul. Thomas Aquinas’ best known work “Summa Theologiae”.
Arcesilaus 🇹🇷 Turkey 316 – 241 BC Arcesilaus taught the suspension of judgment (the skeptical approach) and refuted claims to certitude in knowledge.
Archytas of Tarentum 🇮🇹 Italy 428 – 347 BC Archytas of Tarentum was a Pythagorean. The number is the foundation of knowledge. Archytas was the founder of mathematical mechanics.
Arendt, Hannah 🇩🇪 Germany 1906 – 1975 Hannah Arendt was a 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. Arendt’s best known work: “The Origins of Totalitarianism” (1955).
Aristarchus of Samos 🇬🇷 Greece 310 – 230 BC Aristarchus of Samos 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. Amongst the greatest philosophers of all-time. Famous Aristotle quote:

Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.

Augustine of Hippo 🇩🇿 Algeria 354 – 430 Augustine of Hippo was the father of western Christian theology and 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 Averroes Ibn Rušd was amongst the greatest Islamic philosophers. The spirit of man is immortal, religion is for the masses, but a philosophy needs reason.
Avicenna 🇮🇷 Iran 980 – 1037 Avicenna was a child prodigy of the Middle Ages. Avicenna was not only one of the greatest philosophers but he was also a doctor, physician, mathematician, astronomer, chemist, theologian, geologist, lawyer, inventor and he also wrote poetry. Avicenna led a life made for the movies and wrote two encyclopedias of medicine on diagnoses, treatments, prevention, hygiene, medicinal plants, surgery, cosmetics and drugs.

I prefer a short life with width to a narrow one with length

Bacon, Francis 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 England, UK 🇬🇧 1561 – 1626 Sir 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. Famous Francis Bacon quote:

Knowledge is power

Bacon, Roger 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 England, UK 🇬🇧 1214 – 1294 Roger Bacon was a Franciscan Friar who studied nature using impirical methods. The high scholastic turned against prejudice, habit and lack of self-criticism.
Bergson, Henri 🇫🇷 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. Henri Bergson won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1927. Works: “Time and Free Will” (1889), “Matter and Memory” (1896), “Laughter” (1900), “Creative Evolution” (1907).
Berkeley, George 🇮🇪 Ireland 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 1685 – 1753 George Berkeley was influenced by “sensationalism”. Berkeley posed skeptical questions about “morals and ethics” and came up with “immaterialism”, which is sometimes also called “subjective idealism”. Famous George Berkeley quote:

Truth is the cry of all, but the game of the few

Bloch, Ernst 🇩🇪 Germany 1885 – 1977 In addition to Adorno, Habermas and Horkheimer, Ernst 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.
Calvin, John 🇫🇷 France 1509 – 1564 John Calvin wrote the “Geneva Catechism” and a church order with “strict church discipline”.
Campanella, Tommaso 🇮🇹 Italy 1568 – 1639 Tommaso Campanella was the Italian who wrote the utopia of the “Sunshine State” and spent 27 years in prison during the Inquisition.
Capella, Martianus 🇩🇿 Algeria 350 – 400 Martianus 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 🇹🇷 Turkey 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. One of Italy’s greatest philosophers.
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 Charity was the highest duty for Auguste Comte, he developed positivism, a science that is based on tangible facts and their empirical link. Auguste Comte said

God and man are as one

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). Confucious is one of the  greatest philosophers of all time.
Dante Alighieri 🇮🇹 Italy 1265 – 1321 Dante is one of the most important poets and one of Italy’s greatest philosophers. 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 🇬🇷 Greece 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) René 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  France’s greatest philosophers.
Diogenes 🇬🇷 Greece 399 – 329 BC Diogenes was a Socratic and a founder of cynic philosophy. Diogenes was one of the greatest philosophers but probably didn’t live in a barrel as widely rumored. However, he did complain to Alexander the Great telling him to “take thy shadow from me” when his view of the sun was blocked.
Dionysius 🇬🇷 Greece c500 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.
Duns Scotus, John 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Scotland, UK 🇬🇧 1265 – 1308 John Duns Scotus was a high scholastic and opponent of Thomas Aquinas. He believed will has priority over reason. Good is determined by the will and is thus higher than the truth.
Erasmus of Rotterdam 🇳🇱 Netherlands 1466 – 1536 Erasmus of Rotterdam 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. Erasmus’ major work was “In Praise of Folly” (1509).
Epictetus 🇹🇷 Turkey 50 – 138 Epictetus was a Stoic philosopher with one major work on morality. Famous Epictetus quote:

Men are disturbed not by things but by the view they take of them

Epicurus 🇬🇷 Greece 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 greatest philosophers.
Eusebius of Caesarea
🇮🇱 Israel 260 – 337 Eusebius of Caesarea (Eusebius Pamphili) is considered the father of church history on account of his chronicles.
Feuerbach, Ludwig 🇩🇪 Germany 1804 – 1872 Ludwig Feuerbach is a famous representative of materialist philosophy. Feuerbach further developed the “dialectical method” together with Karl Marx.
Fichte, Johann Gottlieb 🇩🇪 Germany 1762 – 1814 Johann Gottlieb Fichte was a German idealist. Fichte made an impact on government, ethics and law teachings with his theories of “subjective idealism”.
Fortescue, John
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 England, UK 🇬🇧 1394 – 1476 Sir John Fortescue was a judge. In his belief, the king’s power was based on public consent and not on God’s grace. Famous John Fortescue quote:

One would much rather that twenty guilty persons should escape the punishment of death, than that one innocent person should be condemned and suffer capitally

Frankfurt School 🇩🇪 Germany 1923 onwards 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 Galileo Galilei opposed Aristotelian concepts and instead offered the law of fall as the basis of mechanics which became the basis of new philosophy. Galileo Galilei was tried for heresy in part for such beliefs as “The book of nature is written in the language of mathematics”.
Giles of Rome 🇮🇹 Italy 1243 – 1316 Giles of Rome was the high scholastic and outstanding theologian wrote a catalog of 95 false doctrines.
Gregory of Nyssa 🇹🇷 Turkey 335 – 394 Gregory of Nyssa was the Father of the Orthodox Church; Nyssa taught the infinity of God and the Trinity.
Habermas, Jürgen 🇩🇪 Germany 1929 Jürgen Habermas was a philosopher and sociologist, best known for his contributions to the “critical theories” and on the moral and social philosophy of the Marxist origins of the “Frankfurt School”. Main work: “Theory of Communicative Action”.
Hartmann, Nicolai 🇱🇻 Latvia 1882 – 1950 Nicolai Hartmann developed a layered structure of being; ideal being (values, mathematics) is timeless and infinite, real being (life, soul, spirit) is temporal and individual.
Heidegger, Martin 🇩🇪 Germany 1889 – 1976 Martin Heidegger was one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century and founder of the fundamental ontology. Among other things he saw modern technology as a threat, realizing that it changes our attitudes / opinions towards the world. Helped shape Sartre, Gadamer, Hannah Arendt and many others. Major work “Being and Time” (1927).
Hegel, Georg Friedrich 🇩🇪 Germany 1770 – 1831 Friedrich Hegel was the main representative of German idealism; thesis-antithesis-synthesis. Hegel believed we only perceive the world indirectly and our minds only have access to images & perceptions of it (a virtual reality). Hegel’s most famous works: Phenomenology of Spirit (1806/ 07), Science of Logic (1831).
Heraclitus 🇹🇷 Turkey 540 – 480 BC Heraclitus believed all opposites are changing and in constant motion (Greek: “panta rhei” = everything flows). For example, war and peace, day and night, wealth and poverty, etc. For Heraclitus, dispute was the father of everything (dialectic).
Hobbes, Thomas 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 England, UK 🇬🇧 1588 – 1679 Thomas Hobbes claimed life without a state would be “solitary, poor, instinctive and short”. Waivering of individual freedom for the benefit of the state. Hobbes major work: Leviathan (1651).
Horkheimer, Max 🇩🇪 Germany 1895 – 1973 Max Horkheimer, as a representative of the “Frankfurt School”, oriented himself on Marxist principles along with Adorno, Bloch, Habermas, and Marcuse, and supported the student revolt of 1968. His main works: “Dialectic of Enlightenment” (1947, together with Adorno) and “Critique of Instrumental Reason” (1967).
Hume, David 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Scotland, UK 🇬🇧 1711 – 1776 David Hume in his “epistemology” divided the mind into two classes: sensory impressions and ideas.
Husserl, Edmund 🇩🇪 Germany 1859 – 1938 Edmund Husserl adopted Brentano’s “intentionality” of consciousness and made it the central message of his phenomenology. Truth is a recognizable fact. Major work: “Being and Time” (1927).
Jaspers, Karl 🇩🇪 Germany 1883 – 1969 Not only a world-renowned philosopher, but also an important psychiatrist. Karl Jaspers counts as one of the main representatives of German existential philosophy. Close friend of Martin Heidegger and Hannah Ahrends. In 1945 he founded the philosophy magazine “Die Wandlung” (The Conversion) and in 1953, received an honorary doctorate from the University of Heidelberg. His work consists of over 30 books and several thousand letters and essays.
John of Salisbury
🇬🇧 UK 1120 – 1180 John of Salisbury (also known as Johannes von Salisbury, John the Little) was a philosopher, theologian and scholar. John the Little was opposed to the extremes of realism and nominalism in favor of common sense, a doctrine of utilitarianism, founded in his admiration of the literary skepticism of Cicero. Johannes von Salisbury believed education was not merely intellectual but moral, basically the world-view of Renaissance humanism.
Kant, Immanuel 🇩🇪 Germany 1724 – 1804 Immanuel Kant was a highly influential German philosopher whose work “The Critique of Pure Reason” (1781) is considered one of the most important in modern philosophy. Kant devised the “categorical imperative” maxim, a moral principle:

Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law

Kierkegaard, Søren 🇩🇰 Denmark 1813 – 1855 For Kierkegaard, regarded as the founder of existentialism, the spirit and criticism of organized religion are at the center of his philosophy, believing that our existence is our own free choice. His most important work: “Either/Or” (1843).
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm 🇩🇪 Germany 1646 – 1716 Gottfried Leibniz is famous for his boundless optimism believing that God created the best possible Universe and that many substances exist in common harmony, such as between body and soul. In his essay “theodicy” of 1710 he seeks to explain how the suffering of the world is possible, although God is omnipotent and good.
Locke, John 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 England, UK 🇬🇧 1632 – 1704 John Locke was an initiator of the “Enlightenment” (explanation of circumstances through reason) and an empiricist, who saw the human mind as a blank slate which was only written on through the course of life. One of England’s greatest philosophers.
Lorenzen, Paul 🇩🇪 Germany 1915 – 1994 Together with Wilhelm Kamlah Lorenzen was a founder of the “Erlangen School” of Methodological constructivism. He was also the developer of logical propaedeutic (preschool of reasonable discourse) and dialogical logic (game semantics).
Luther, Martin 🇩🇪 Germany 1483 – 1556 Initiator of the Reformation. In his 95 theses (which he posted to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church in 1517) Martin Luther railed against indulgences, the selling of public offices, pilgrimages and self-chastisement arguing that salvation comes from faith and God’s grace alone. Luther translated the New Testament from Latin into German in just 11 weeks making it widely accessible (1522).
Machiavelli, Niccolò 🇮🇹 Italy 1469-1527 Political philosopher of the modern era; Machiavelli advised state leaders in “Il Principe” (“The Prince”, 1513 /32) on cunning and deceit.
Marcuse, Herbert 🇩🇪 Germany 1898 – 1979 Neo-Marxist supporter and member of the “Frankfurt School”. Herbert Marcuse was a major critic of capitalism.
Marx, Karl 🇩🇪 Germany 1818-1883 The founder of historical materialism and the forerunner of communism lived in poverty. The “social being determines consciousness”. He authored his most famous work “Das Kapital” in 1867.
Mill, John Stuart 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 England, UK 🇬🇧 1806 – 1873 John Stuart Mill was a representative of liberalism. One of John Mill’s most famous quotes:

The essence of freedom is to do what you want to do

More, Thomas 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 England, UK 🇬🇧 1478 – 1535 Sir Thomas More the humanist in “Utopia” called for social reform. Saint Thomas More was convicted of treason and beheaded by Henry VIII. Famous Thomas More quote:

I do no­body harm, I say none harm, I think none harm, but wish everybody good. And if this be not enough to keep a man alive, in good faith, I long not to live.

Nicholas of Cusa
🇩🇪 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.
Nietzsche, Friedrich 🇩🇪 Germany 1844 – 1900 His philosophy was directed against Christianity, which he claimed produced a “slave morality”. Nietzsche created the “superman” which was misused by the Nazis. Perceived reality always has a subjective perspective. A selection of his works: Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1885), The Gay Science (1887), Ecce Homo – how one becomes what one is (1908).
Parmenides 🇬🇷 Greece 515 – 445 BC Parmenides was an important pre-Socrat and founder of the Eleatic school of philosophy who had a great influence on Plato. Parmenides was convinced thinking and being are identical. The only Parmenides work known to have survived is fragments of a poem in which he reasons reality is one, change is impossible, and that existence is timeless and uniform. One of the best known Greek philosophers. Famous Parmenides quote:

It is indifferent to me where I am to begin, for there shall I return again

Pascal, Blaise 🇫🇷 France 1623 – 1662 Blaise Pascal was a mathematician, logician, theologian, physicist and philosopher. Pascal assumed the mind and senses are wrong and searched for a way between dogmatism and rationalism. Pascal died before finishing his book “Pensèes: Thoughts on religion and other subjects” (1669 posthumously).
Paul of Tarsus 🇬🇷 Greece 5 BC – 67 AD Saint Paul of Tarsus (also known as Saul and Paul the Apostle) insisted faith in Jesus was all that was needed because the world is, and forevermore, will be under a state of Grace in Jesus, a core belief of all Christian sects. Paul is also credited with the concept that God’s moral law (the ten commandments) is innately understood by all humans that reach the age of reason.
Pico della Mirandola, Giovanni 🇮🇹 Italy 1463 – 1494 Giovanni Pico della Mirandola was a Renaissance philosopher who developed 900 theses “On the Dignity of Man”. The “900 theses” was the first printed book to be banned by the Roman Catholic church. In them Giovanni stated:

Freedom of will is the most characteristic feature of man

Plato 🇬🇷 Greece 427 – 347 BC Plato was a student of Socrates, a teacher of Aristotle and one of the greatest  philosophers of all time. Plato saw dialogue as a method of gaining knowledge and founded transcendental idealism: “Knowledge is reasoned opinion”. Plato was very productive writing a total of 36 works including “Politeia”, which includes this famous Plato quote:

All that exists is but a shadow

Plotinus 🇬🇷 Greece 205 – 270 Plotinus (along with his teacher Ammonius Saccas) founded Neoplatonism, a doctrine which dates back to Plato. The living being and the universe both have a soul. The world soul stands as the third between being and matter. In order to become one with the one, it must be purified by sensuality. Plotinus’s writings have inspired metaphysicians and other thinkers throughout history.
Porphyry of Tyre 🇬🇷 Greece 234 – 304 Porphyry of Tyre was a neoplatonic philosopher, opponent of Christianity and vegetarian. Porphyry edited and published The Enneads. He also wrote a systematic introduction to the “Categories” of Aristotle, called “Isagoge”, a source for the dispute about universals. Famous Porphyry quote:

So people should abstain from other animals just as they should from the human

Popper, Karl
🇦🇹 Austria 🇬🇧 1902 – 1994 Sir Karl Popper represented “critical rationalism”. Popper’s main work: “Logik der Forschung” (1934) criticised “logical positivism” and the main representatives of the “Wiener Kreis” (Vienna Circle). Famous karl Popper quote:

True ignorance is not the absence of knowledge, but the refusal to acquire it

Proclus (The Successor) 🇬🇷 Greece 412 – 485 Proclus Lycius, after Ammonios Sakkas, was one of the leaders of the Neoplatonic School of Athens. Proclus saw behind everything and described a fully developed elaborate system of Neoplatonism which widely influenced Western philosophy. Proclos was one of the most productive Greek philosophers, two of his most important surviving works are “The Elements of Theology” and “The Platonic Theology”.
Protagoras 🇬🇷 Greece 490 – 411 BC Protagoras taught relativism and was convinced truth depends on perspective and is therefore “relative”. “Man is (thereby) the measure of all things”. Protagoras was a wandering teacher (a sophist). He was mocked and sniped at by Socrates and Plato but they did not influence him. Protagoras said:

Judgments are always subjective

Ptolemy, Claudius 🇬🇷 Greece 100 – 170 Claudius Ptolemy, in addition to being a philosopher, was a skeptic, all-round genius, mathematician, geographer, astronomer and astrologer. Ptolemy developed a geocentric world view (i.e. Earth is at the centre of the universe) which was decisive during the Middle Ages. Ptolemy also wrote “Almagest” an extensive 13 volume work on mathematics and astronomy.
Pyrrhon of Elis 🇬🇷 Greece 360 – 270 BC Pyrrhon of Elis was the founder of Pyrrhonism and the first Greek skeptic philosopher. Truth can be established neither by sensory perception nor by judgement.
Pythagoras 🇬🇷 Greece 570 – 495 BC Pythagoras was the founder of Pythagoreanism which advocated vegetarianism, believing any being that experienced pain or suffering should not have pain inflicted on it unnecessarily. In Pythagoras’ philosophy of nature the harmony of numbers and order was the essence and structure of all things “The essence of the cosmos is the number”. Pythagoras also recognised the earth is spherical. Plato was not only one of the greatest philosophers he was also a famous mathematician. He developed the geometric Pythagorean theorem and equation for calculating the area of right-angled triangles: a²+b²=c².
Ramus, Petrus 🇫🇷 France 1517 – 1572 Petrus Ramus was a Renaissance humanist who developed a “non-Aristotelian” approach to pedagogy, seeking to simplify and bring order to philosophical and scholastic education (Ramism). Ramus, a Huguenot convert, was murdered by a Catholic mob during the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre 23-24 August 1572.
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques 🇨🇭 Switzerland (Republic of Geneva) 1712 – 1778 Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer and composer who saw, in society and civilization, the reasons for the evils of the time and called for a return to the virtues of freedom, innocence and nature in order to eliminate the inequality that had arisen among human beings. Rousseau wrote: “Man is born free and yet (through laws) lies in chains everywhere”, which included spiritual and social chains. Rousseau’s most notable work was: “The Social Contract” (Vom Gesellschaftsvertrag oder Prinzipien des Staatsrechtes) published in 1762.
Russell, Bertrand 🇬🇧 UK 1872 – 1970 Bertrand Russell was a logician, mathematician, historian, political activist, social critic, pacifist, liberal, socialist and philosopher. Russell was awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950. Russell, along with Alfred Whitehead, represented New Realism as a mathematical-logical science and he was one of the founders of analytic philosophy. Russell published his views on all major areas of philosophy apart from aesthetics. Famous Bertrand Russell quote:

It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents men from living freely and nobly

Sartre, Jean-Paul 🇫🇷 France 1905 – 1980 Jean-Paul Sartre was the mastermind and main representative of existentialism and was also a dramatist, screenwriter, novelist and critic. Existence precedes being “Being is what it is”. Man is condemned to freedom. Responsibility cannot be discarded. Sartre’s main work: “Being and Nothingness” (1943). Sartre was the life companion of Simone de Beauvoir. Famous Jean-Paul Sartre quote:

My thought is me: that’s why I can’t stop

Schopenhauer, Arthur 🇩🇪 Germany 1788 – 1860 Arthur Schopenhauer’s best known work “The World as Will and Representation” (1818, expanded in 1844) describes the world as the product of a blind and insatiable metaphysical will. Schopenhauer builds on the transcendental idealism of Immanuel Kant and was one of the first western philosophers to absorb some tenets of Indian philosophy including denial of the self and asceticism. Famous Arthur Schopenhauer quote:

We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to be like other people

Seneca 🇮🇹 Italy 4 BC – 65 AD Seneca (Lucius Annaeus Seneca / Seneca the Younger) was a Stoic philosopher, playwright and statesman during the Roman Imperial period. Seneca’s works discuss practical advice and ethical theory as separate but interdependent and believes philosophy is a “balm for the wounds of life”. Seneca considered it was important to confront one’s own mortality and be able to face death. Famous Seneca quote:

While we teach we learn

Smith, Adam 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Scotland, UK 🇬🇧 1723 – 1790 Adam Smith was a renowned economist, author and moral philosopher. Smith wrote two classic works; “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” (1776) which advocated economic and individual liberalism. In “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” (1759). Smith said “man was an animal that did trade” and “barter is a purely human act”. Smith believed self-love, rather than humanity or compassion, is the driving force behind every action.
Socrates 🇬🇷 Greece 470 – 399 BC Socrates was one of the greatest philosophers of all time. He developed the scientific methods of dialectics, induction and definition. Socrates placed man at the centre of his contemplation:

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing and A life without self-exploration is not worth living

Socrates developed a critical thinking technique, which became known as the “Socratic method”, involving Q&A conversations between individuals to tease out ideas and reveal preconceptions based on assumptions.

Speusippos 🇬🇷 Greece 408 – 339 BC Speusippus was a student of Plato and his nephew (by his sister Potone) and inherited the Platonic Academy after Plato’s death. Speusippus developed ideas on epistemology, ethics and metaphysics but rejected Plato’s Theory of Forms.
Spinoza, Baruch de 🇳🇱 Netherlands 1632 – 1677 Spinoza was one of the most important and original thinkers of the 17th century involved in most reas of philosophy. Spinoza developed his monist philosophy, which became known as Spinozism. Spinoza’s philosophical theories and views are included in his two main works; “Theologico-Political Treatise” (1670 anonymously) and “Ethics” (1677 posthumously). Famous Spinoza quote:

Happiness is a virtue, not its reward

Thales of Milet 🇬🇷 Greece 625 – 547 BC Thales of Miletus was a pre-Socratician philosopher, astronomer, mathematician, one of the Seven Sages of Greece and father of modern science. Thales tried to explain natural processes and phenomena rationally. Thales believed water is the primordial material of the world; “Everything consists of water”. As an astronomer Thales predicted a solar eclipse and as a mathematician the “Theorem of Thales” proves all angles on a semicircular arc are right angles. Famous Thales quote:

The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself

Theophrastos 🇬🇷 Greece 371 – 287 BC Theophrastus was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school of pholosophy. Theophrastus emphasised the natural causality rather than the target or purpose cause. Most of his writings have been lost so his opinions have been reconstructed from later works by Alexander of Aphrodisias and Simplicius. Famous Theophrastus quote:

Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend

Valla, Lorenzo 🇮🇹 Italy 1406 – 1457 Lorenzo Valla (Laurentius) was a humanist, rhetorician, educator and Catholic priest. Valla examined the freedom of the human will and favored a positive evaluation of pleasure. Valla is considered the father of modern textual criticism.
Voltaire 🇫🇷 France 1694 – 1778 Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet) was a French Enlightenment philosopher, historian and prolific writer who published over 2,000 books. He advocated freedom of speech and religion, separation of the church and state and civil liberties. Voltaire was involved with the Lumières and the Philosophes. Voltaire embraced Deism and Classical liberalism. Voltaire’s main work was “Candide” (1759). Famous Voltaire quote:

Man is free at the instant he wants to be

Whitehead, Alfred North 🇬🇧 UK 1861 – 1947 Alfred North Whitehead was a logician and mathematician who became one of the 20th century’s leading metaphysicians. With his friend and ex-student Bertrand Russell he wrote “Principia Mathematika” (1911-1913) an important three volume work on logic. In Whitehead’s “Process and Reality” (1929) he argues reality is an organism that develops dynamically. Famous Alfred North Whitehead quote:

The art of progress is to preserve order amid change, and to preserve change amid order

William of Occam 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 England, UK 🇬🇧 1280 – 1347 William of Occam was a late scholastic who represented conceptualism and called for the separation of church and state. William of Occam was famed for his minimalist philosophers quotes:

Occam’s razor” – to understand something, eliminate unnecessary information to get to the truth or best explanation quickest

Wittgenstein, Ludwig 🇦🇹 Austria 🇬🇧 1889 – 1951 Ludwig Wittgenstein was an Austrian-British philosopher primarily in logic but also mathematics, the mind and language. Wittgenstein belonged to the extended Viennese circle. His only published book during his lifetime was “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus” (1921). Wittgenstein’s other manuscripts, including “Philosophical Investigations” (1953) were all published posthumously. Bertrand Russell, Wittgenstein’s teacher, said:

Perhaps the most perfect example I have ever known of genius as traditionally conceived; passionate, profound, intense, and dominating

Wolff, Christian 🇩🇪 Germany 1679 – 1754 Christian Wolff (Wolfius) was the best known German philosopher between Leibniz and Kant. His wide-ranging “Philosophia practica universalis, mathematica methodo conscripta” (1703) was presented in his demonstrative-deductive, mathematical method and was possibly the high point of Enlightenment rationality in Germany.
Wollstonecraft, Mary 🇬🇧 UK 1759 – 1797 Mary Wollstonecraft was a writer, philosopher and advocate of women’s rights. Her unconventional lifestyle overshadowed her work but her “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects” (1792) was one of the first examples of feminist philosophy and established her as an important feminist philosopher. She demanded women be treated as citizens with equal legal, social and political rights. Mary Wollstonecraft quote:

It is justice, not charity, that is wanting in the world

Xenophanes of Colophon 🇬🇷 Greece 570 – 470 BC Xenophanes of Colophon was one of the earliest Greek philosophers. He was also a critic and poet. Fragments of his poetry quoted by later Greek writers are all that remain of his works. Famous Xenophanes quote:

Mortals deem that the gods are begotten as they are, and have clothes like theirs, and voice and form

Zeno of Elea 🇬🇷 Greece 490 – 430 BC Zeno of Elea was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. He was a member of the monistic Eleatic school founded by Parmenides.
Aristotle said Zeno of Elea invented the dialectical method (a dialogue between two or more people with differing views seeking truth through reasoned argumentation). Zeno of Elea examined space, time and movement and found 10 paradoxes, which Bertrand Russell described as “Immeasurably subtle and profound”.
Zeno of Citium 🇬🇷 Greece 336 – 264 BC Zeno of Citium was the founder of Stoicism which focused on logic, physics and ethics. Zeno’s writings have only survived as fragments in quotations from later writers. Famous Zeno of Citium quote:

Happiness is a good flow of life

Zhongshu, Dong 🇨🇳 China 179 – 104 BC Dong Zhongshu was a Chinese philosopher, writer and politician who advocated Confucianism as the official ideology of the Chinese imperial state. Dong favored monistic heaven worship over the Chinese 5 element theory. Dong wrote three chapters in “Ju Xianliang Duice” in the “Book of Han” (111) and although Dong is often credited with, at least, partial authorship of the 4th century “Luxuriant Dew of the Spring and Autumn Annals” it’s most likely written by multiple authors.
Zwingli, Ulrich 🇨🇭 Switzerland 1484 – 1531 Ulrich Zwingli (Huldrych Zwingli) was primarily a church reformer, theologian and humanist rather than a philosopher. Zwingli was influenced by the writings of Erasmus. Zwingli served as a pastor and regarded himself as a soldier of Christ and he died in the second Kappel War fighting for Zürich. His student Heinrich Bullinger continued his reforms.

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