The 15 Greatest Philosophers of All Time - World Scholarship Vault (2023)

For thousands of years, philosophers have shaped the universe and our school of thought, and their impact is still visible today. The greatest philosophers of all time have left us a wealth of knowledge to support our understanding of the mind and the environment. Before moving on to some of the greatest philosophers of all time, let's take a closer look at what philosophy entails.


what is philosophy

Philosophy is the intellectual, abstract and methodical analysis of reality. From ancient Greece to the present, philosophy has played a significant role in the development of civilization. Famous philosophers have produced pioneering ideas over the centuries and made contributions to every field and industry, including politics, mathematics, literature, art and science.

Philosophy, derived from the Greek for "love of learning," is the study of knowledge, existence, and reality.

Ethics, nature, aesthetics, metaphysics, existence, logic, knowledge and theory are some of the subjects that philosophers discuss. The teachings of the philosophers endure because they concern human existence.

15 greatest philosophers of all time

Here are some of the greatest philosophers of all time, along with some of their contributions and biographical details.


The most famous Greek philosopher, Aristotle, was a polymath who lived from 384 to 322 BC. in ancient Greece. He was tutored by Plato, another well-known philosopher.

The 15 Greatest Philosophers of All Time - World Scholarship Vault (1)

The first scientist in human history is often referred to as Aristotle. At least 200 tracts are his creation, of which about 31 are still printed today. In addition to non-philosophical work on empirical biology, his work focused on disciplinesPhilosophyof the mind through ethics, political theory, aesthetics and rhetoric. He was known for his sound theories on plant and animal observation.

He is best known today for developing the first logic, which is a systematic treatment of the foundations of sound thinking. He also distinguished between the three main types of rhetoric: ethos (ethics), pathos (emotions), and logos (logic). He also created the philosophy of deduction or syllogism as we know it today.

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Lao Tozu

Another of the ten leading philosophers, Lao Tse, created a theory closely related to Taoism. Around 500 BC he wrote the most important Taoist text in ancient China. The harmony of humans and other animals and how they should interact in the universe are central themes in Taoism.

He also championed the idea of ​​spiritual immortality, according to which your soul joins the universe after death instead of dying. He thought we should live in harmony with Chi (or Qi), the energy that governs the universe.

The concept of yin and yang, which emphasizes corresponding energies such as light and dark, heat and cold, activity and inactivity, also comes from Taoism and illustrates how opposites combine to make sense of the universe.

Taoism was adopted as the official religion of the Tang Dynasty in the 8th century AD. Before the communist takeover in 1959, Taoism was one of the three main religions in China, along with Confucianism and Buddhism.

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John Locke

John Locke was an Oxford professor studying medicine who lived in Europe in the 17th century. He is best known for his contributions to liberalism and the Enlightenment.

Locke was staunchly opposed to the idea that rulers have a divine right to rule, and he supported everyone's right to life, liberty, and property. He also held that the people had the right to overthrow a king by force if he violated civil liberties. He firmly believed that a government's primary responsibility is to serve its constituents.

Karl Marx

Marxism was founded in 1800 by the German philosopher Karl Marx. Marxism focuses on the social, political and economic thesis that the working class and the capitalists are in conflict.

He was convinced that one day, in a revolution, the working class would overthrow the capitalist class and take control of the economy in the process. He is considered an ardent supporter of communism.


Confucius, a Chinese philosopher who lived from 770 to 481 BC. lived according to moral and ethical principles. He is remembered for striving to make education accessible to all and establishing teaching as a legitimate profession. (It seems that Confucius and the People's University share a belief in ensuring that all people have access to quality education.)

He also founded Confucianism, a system of thought that emphasizes personal morality and ethics. The four essential tenets of Confucianism are referred to as its ethics. Justice, kindness, harmlessness and respect for individual autonomy are some of them. His five enduring virtues—benevolence, righteousness, truthfulness, decency, and wisdom—are mentioned most frequently.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson, American philosopher, essayist, orator, and abolitionist has made his mark on society in recent times. His article on "self-reliance" is what he is best known for.

He shared a common belief with his 19th-century British Romantics about the close relationship between God, man and nature. Her writing has the power to change lives because it encourages readers to use their own judgment above all else.

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Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant, a leading contemporary philosopher who lived from 1724 to 1804, was best known for his critique of judgment, pure reason, and practical reason.

The 15 Greatest Philosophers of All Time - World Scholarship Vault (2)

He advocated measuring whether or not we fulfill our responsibilities, rather than the results of our activities to determine whether an activity is right or wrong. He concludes that moral reason triumphs over all other kinds of reason in the application of his fundamental moral law.


Epicurus, who reigned from 341 to 27 B.C. lived as the founder of Epicureanism. He was a wise Greek philosopher who had a significant influence. He held that happiness, which is the absence of mental anguish and physical suffering, is the ultimate goal of human life.

According to his philosophy, the pursuit of pleasure, not the strict application of reason, defines happiness, which he believed to be the supreme good of human existence. He also held that fears of punishment and death were irrational impulses that could be overcome to attain happiness and freedom from fear.


Socrates was an ancient Greek philosopher from Athens who is often considered the father of Western philosophy. He was the first person in the line of ethical thought to be considered a moral philosopher. He has no lyrics, and people mainly remember the posthumous narratives of his students Xenophon and Plato.

He paved the way for the development of the literary genre of Socratic dialogue, which focuses on teaching through questions. He was born in 399 BC. sentenced to death for corrupting youth and disobeying the recognized gods of the city.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Another philosopher from Germany is on the list. Friedrich Nietzsche had a significant impact on the western world by publishing his writings on a variety of subjects ranging from science to art, culture, history and everything in between.

Nihilism, the belief that everything is meaningless, including life itself, is one of its core tenets. This concept served as the basis for the existentialist and surrealist movements that came after his time.

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Dante (1265-1321)

The medieval Italian poet and philosopher Dante is considered the father of the modern Italian language. He is best known for his trilogy of poetry, The Divine Comedy, which is divided into three parts depicting purgatory, heaven, and hell in the Christian afterlife. The poem contains a variety of knowledge, a critique of current issues, and original language and imagery.

Normative principle:

Discussions of rhetoric surrounding moral philosophy and political ideas can be found in Dante's major theoretical writings.

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Platon (ca. 428–348 v. Chr.)

Socrates taught the Greek philosopher Plato, who later served as a mentor to Aristotle. He was an a priori rational philosopher who relied on logic rather than the senses for knowledge. He later founded the Academy in Athens, one of the first Western universities.

Normative principle:

In addition to exploring justice, beauty and equality, Plato's logic included studies of politics, language, cosmology - the study of the origin and development of the universe - and aesthetics and politics.

Pascal (1623-1662)

Contemporary probability theory, a branch of mathematics concerned with the analysis of random processes, was founded by the French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher Blaise Pascal.

Normative principle:

In 1657, under the pseudonym Louis de Montalte, Pascal wrote Les Provinciales, a collection of 18 letters supporting Jansenist theologies over Jesuit ones. He also promoted a religious culttheologywhich went against the views of the French philosopher René Descartes and preached that God is known through the heart and not through the mind.

Voltaire (1694-1778)

François Arouet, better known by his pseudonym “Voltaire”, is generally considered one of the greatest authors of the French Enlightenment. Thousands of letters, novels, pamphlets, essays, plays and other texts were written by him; Most of them focused on politics and religion. One of his best-known works is Candide, a satirical novel that ridicules the optimistic view that all catastrophe and human suffering are the result of a good cosmic design.

Normative principle:

Voltaire's open distrust of state and church sparked much debate in his day, but he remained a progressive thinker on civil rights, championing the value of freedom of speech and religion and the right to a just life. Judgement.

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797)

English author and intellectual Mary Wollstonecraft fought for equal rights for women in society. She was a passionate feminist who thought men and women should be treated equally because they both have social responsibilities. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, her best-known work, is considered the first major feminist essay. In it, she advocated that women should have the same basic rights as men and a level of education appropriate to their place in society.

Normative principle:

Women should have the same basic rights as men, according to Wollstonecraft, who also believed that they should receive an education appropriate to their status in society.

The 15 Greatest Philosophers of All Time - World Scholarship Vault (3)

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Frequently asked questions about philosophy

Which philosopher is the best and why?

Third in the great triumvirate of ancient Greek philosophers after Socrates and Plato, Aristotle (384-322 BC) is perhaps the greatest thinker that ever lived.

What skills do you need for philosophy?

Studying philosophy will help you improve your oral and written communication, problem-solving skills, analytical thinking and discipline, and your ability to make strong arguments.

Who was the world's first philosopher?

Thales is usually considered the first philosopher.

What are the 4 most important philosophies?

The four main branches of philosophy are metaphysics, epistemology, axiology and logic. Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that considers the physical universe and the nature of ultimate reality. It asks questions like: what is real?


Of course, many of these concepts and beliefs are still commonly used in contemporary culture. Through these philosophers we have been able to question humanity and the way we interact with God, nature, each other and ourselves.

History's greatest philosophers paved the way for our thinking and gave us permission to ask ourselves questions we might not otherwise have considered. They left us guiding principles that we can use to shape how we behave in public, how we think about politics, how we teach our children, how we operatemathematicseScience, and how we approach all other aspects of our quest for knowledge.

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Who is the No 1 philosopher in the world? ›

1. Aristotle. Aristotle, one of the most famous Greek philosophers, was also a polymath who lived in Ancient Greece in 384-322 BC. He was taught by another famous philosopher, Plato.

Who was the most respected philosopher? ›

Aristotle (384–322 BCE), who follows Socrates and Plato as the third member of the great triumvirate of ancient Greek philosophers, is arguably the most important thinker who ever lived.

Who were the 3 most famous philosophers? ›

The Socratic philosophers in ancient Greece were Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. These are some of the most well-known of all Greek philosophers. Socrates (470/469–399 B.C.E.) is remembered for his teaching methods and for asking thought-provoking questions.

What are the 7 philosophers? ›

Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant: these are the seven philosophers who stand out from the rest in what is known as the `modern' period in philosophy. Their thought defines the mainstream of classical or early modern philosophy, largely responsible for shaping philosophy as we now know it.

Who is the hardest philosopher to understand? ›

They do not produce delusions in others, without first being subject to them themselves. Hegel, Bertrand Russell observed, is “the hardest to understand of the great philosophers.” Hegel would not have liked very much that Russell had to say about his philosophy in A History of Western Philosophy (1945).

Who is the greatest philosopher alive today? ›

10 Contemporary Philosophers to Read Today
  • Slavoj Žižek (b. 1949)
  • Gayatri Spivak (b. 1942)
  • Judith Butler (b. 1956)
  • Gu Su (b. 1955)
  • Thomas Nagel (b. 1937)
  • John McDowell (b. 1942)
  • Saul Kripke (b. 1940)
  • David Chalmers (b. 1966)

Who is the wisest philosopher? ›

The oracle's answer is that Socrates is the wisest person.

Who was a philosopher in the Bible? ›

Jesus was a prophetic philosopher, a Jewish thinker among Jewish thinkers in a Hellenized Jewish world, prophetic in his tone and philosophical in his reasoning. One place we see this at work is near the end of the Gospel of Matthew.

Who is the father of philosophy? ›

Socrates is considered by many to be the founding father of Western philosophy—as well as one of the most enigmatic figures of ancient history.

Who is the oldest philosopher? ›

Thales. The earliest person who is cited by ancient sources as a philosopher is Thales, who lived in the city of Miletus in Asia Minor around the late 7th or early 6th century BCE.

Who is the best philosopher to follow? ›

Major Philosophers and Their Ideas
  1. Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) ...
  2. Aristotle (384–322 BCE) ...
  3. Confucius (551–479 BCE) ...
  4. René Descartes (1596–1650) ...
  5. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 82) ...
  6. Michel Foucault (1926-1984) ...
  7. David Hume (1711–77) ...
  8. Immanuel Kant (1724–1804)
Sep 7, 2022

Who are the 5 Greek philosophers? ›

5 of the Most Influential Ancient Greek Philosophers
  • Thales of Miletus (620 BC–546 BC) ...
  • Pythagoras (570 BC–495 BC) ...
  • Socrates (469 BC–399 BC) ...
  • Plato (427 BC–347 BC) ...
  • Aristotle (384 BC–322 BC)
Nov 4, 2021

Do philosophers believe God? ›

“To be honest, most of philosophy isn't concerned in any direct sense with God or God's existence,” Jensen said. “It is one part of philosophy that we study, but we're not obsessed with it. In no way is it the purpose of philosophy to attack religion.”

What are the 8 schools of philosophy? ›

Some of them are commonly misunderstood, and we correct that problem here.
  • Nihilism.
  • Existentialism.
  • Stoicism.
  • Hedonism.
  • Marxism.
  • Logical Positivism.
  • Taoism.
  • Rationalism.
Dec 10, 2017

What are the 5 schools of philosophy? ›

Platonist, Aristotelian, Stoic, Epicurean, and Skeptic Philosophies.

Who is the philosopher that questioned everything? ›

Viewed by many as the founding figure of Western philosophy, Socrates (469-399 B.C.) is at once the most exemplary and the strangest of the Greek philosophers. He grew up during the golden age of Pericles' Athens, served with distinction as a soldier, but became best known as a questioner of everything and everyone.

Who is the man who knew everything in philosophy? ›

Aristotle of Stagira (l. 384-322 BCE) was a Greek philosopher who pioneered systematic, scientific examination in literally every area of human knowledge and was known, in his time, as "the man who knew everything" and later simply as "The Philosopher”, needing no further qualification as his fame was so widespread.

Was there ever a philosopher king? ›

Alexander the Great, as a student of Aristotle, has often been described as a philosopher king. His contemporary Onesicritus spoke of him as a "philosopher in arms", and the 1st-century Platonist Plutarch wrote in laudatory terms of his wisdom, generosity, temperance and courage.

Who is the youngest philosopher? ›

He began his career as a classical philologist before turning to philosophy. He became the youngest person ever to hold the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel in 1869 at the age of 24.
Friedrich Nietzsche
BornFriedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche15 October 1844 Röcken, Saxony, Prussia, German Confederation
14 more rows

Who is the most nihilistic philosopher? ›

While few philosophers would claim to be nihilists, nihilism is most often associated with Friedrich Nietzsche who argued that its corrosive effects would eventually destroy all moral, religious, and metaphysical convictions and precipitate the greatest crisis in human history.

Do philosophers get paid? ›

A philosopher salary can range depending on the field they specialize in. Some philosophy careers may pay around $50,000 while others can exceed upwards of $100,000.

Who is the main philosopher? ›

Aristotle is among the most important and influential thinkers and teachers in human history, often considered — alongside his mentor, Plato — to be a father of Western Philosophy.”

Who is the greatest philosopher who wrote nothing? ›

Although Socrates himself wrote nothing, he is depicted in conversation in compositions by a small circle of his admirers—Plato and Xenophon first among them.

Who is the best philosopher in understanding the self? ›

The philosophical framework for understanding the self was first introduced by ancient Greek philosophers Socrates and Plato.
  • Rational is what makes man human. ...
  • Aristotle suggests that the rational nature of the self is to lead a good, flourishing, and fulfilling life.

Who is the greatest philosopher of the 20th century? ›

Bertrand Russell

Who is the greatest teacher of all time philosophy? ›

Socrates (469/470–399 BC)

Socrates was a Greek philosopher and is considered to be the father of western philosophy. The most famous amongst his students were Plato who tutored Aristotle who later went on to teach Alexander the Great.

Who is mother of philosophy? ›

Leisure is the mother of philosophy. Thomas Hobbes - Forbes Quotes.

Who is the oldest philosophy? ›

The Milesians. Thales (c. 624-c. 545 B.C.E.), traditionally considered to be the “first philosopher,” proposed a first principle (arche) of the cosmos: water.

What are the 3 branches of philosophy? ›

This course examines the main areas of philosophy, which include ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics.


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