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Famous Philosophers

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Thales
Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. Believed all is made of water. First known philosopher.
Anaximander
Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. Believed in the concept of Apeiron, or "the boundless". Conducted the earliest recorded scientific experiment.
Anaximenes
Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. Believed all is made of air. A crater on the Moon is named in his honour.
Pythagoras
Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher and mathematician. Believed all is made of numbers. Proved the the mathematical theorem that bears his name.
Heraclitus
Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. Believed all is made of fire. Coined the phrase "panta rei", or everything floats.
Parmenides
Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. Believed all is one, and change is impossible. Stressed the distinction between truth and appearance.
Anaxagoras
Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. Believed in a cosmic mind ordering all things. First philosopher to bring philosophy to Athens.
Empedocles
Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. Believed all is made up of four elements: water, earth, air and fire. Died by jumping into the Etna volcano.
Protagoras
Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. Believed man is the measure of all things. One of the sophists - i.e. teacher for hire.
Democritus
Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. Famous for his atomic theory of the universe. Known as the "Father of modern science".
Socrates
Ancient Greek philosopher. Famous for his question-and-answer method of inquiry. Executed for his beliefs and practices.
Plato
Ancient Greek philosopher. Famous for his theory of transcendental forms. Advocated government by philosophers.
Aristotle
Ancient Greek philosopher. Polymath whose works ranged across all philosophical fields. Famous for The Golden Mean.
Epicurus
Ancient Greek philosopher. Believed pleasure is the greatest good, but the way to attain it is through modesty and reflection. First to formulate "the problem of evil".
Zeno of Citium
Ancient Greek philosopher. Believed in peace of mind gained from living a life of Virtue in accordance with Nature. Father of stoicism.
St. Augustine
Roman Algerian philosopher. Famous for merging Christian theology with the philosophy of Plato. Developed the doctrine of original sin.
Thomas Aquinas
Medieval Italian philosopher. Famous for merging Christian theology with the philosophy of Aristotle.
Niccolò Machiavelli
Italian Renaissance philosopher. Believed the end justifies the means. Known as the founder of modern political science.
Michel de Montaigne
French Renaissance philosopher. Famous for his skepticism towards his own and others' authority. Popularized the essay.
Francis Bacon
English early modern philosopher. Famous for developing a skeptical scientific methodology. Known as the father of empiricism.
René Descartes
French philosopher. Famous for his "Cogito ergo sum" and his ontological argument for the existence of God. Father of modern philosophy.
Thomas Hobbes
English philosopher. Famous for his social contract theory. Championed the absolute power of sovereign leaders.
Blaise Pascal
French philosopher and mathematician. Famous for his rational wager as an argument for believing in God. Defended the scientific method.
Baruch Spinoza
Dutch philosopher and theologian. Famous for his pantheistic religious views. Called himself a "disturber of established religion."
John Locke
English philosopher. Famous for his conception of the mind as a tabula rasa - i.e. a blank slate. Known as the father of classical liberalism.
Gottfried Leibniz
German philosopher. Believed in optimism and that we live in the best of all possible worlds. Co-invented calculus.
George Berkeley
Anglo-Irish philosopher. Believed objects around us are only ideas in the minds of the observer. Claimed that to be is to be perceived.
Voltaire
French philosopher. Famous for defending freedom of religion and expression, and separation of church and state. Known for his wit.
David Hume
Scottish philosopher. Believed continuity, causality and God not to exist as they could not be experienced. First modern philosopher to admit to atheism.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
French philosopher. Believed that man is born free yet everywhere he is in chains. His thoughts inspired the French Revolution.
Adam Smith
Scottish philosopher. Believed in division of labor and the "invisible hand" of the free market. Known as the father of classical economics.
Immanuel Kant
German philosopher. Believed there are two worlds: our bodies and the external world. Known for his categorical moral imperative.
Jeremy Bentham
British philosopher. Believed an act to be moral if it achieves the greatest happiness for the greatest number. Known as the father of utilitarianism.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
German philosopher. Believed reality is a historical process. Interpreted history in three dialectical stages: thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.
Arthur Schopenhauer
German philosopher. Believed the world to be the product of a blind, insatiable, and malignant metaphysical will. Philosophical pessimist.
Auguste Comte
French philosopher. Famous for developing positivism. Known as the father of sociology.
Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach
German philosopher. Famous for advocating liberalism, atheism, and materialism. His critique of Christianity inspired Marx and Engels.
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
French philosopher. Believed property is theft, and anarchy is order. Known as the father of anarchism.
John Stuart Mill
English philosopher. Believed in the freedom of the individual. Important figure in liberal political philosophy.
Søren Kierkegaard
Danish philosopher. Believed in truth as subjectivity. Widely considered to be the first existentialist.
Karl Marx
German philosopher. Believed societies progress through class struggle. Known as the father of communism.
Charles Sanders Peirce
American philosopher. Believed that truth is the account of reality that works best for us.
Known as the father of pragmatism.
Friedrich Nietzsche
German philosopher. Believed man is something to be surpassed. Known for pointing out that God is dead.
Bertrand Russell
British philosopher. Believed the road to happiness lies in an organized diminution of work. Led the British "revolt against idealism".
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Austrian-British philosopher. Believed the limits of language are the limits of the world. Published only one book in his lifetime.
Martin Heidegger
German philosopher. Believed the most thought-provoking thing in our thought-provoking time is that we are still not thinking.
Karl Popper
Austrian-British philosopher. Believed the growth of knowledge to be a result of trial and error.
Jean-Paul Sartre
French philosopher. Believed people adopt bad faith to deny their own freedom of choice. Known for popularizing existentialism.
Simone de Beauvoir
French philosopher. Believed man to be defined as a human being and woman as a female. Close relationship with Sartre.
Albert Camus
French philosopher. Believed life will be lived all the better if it has no meaning. Known as the father of absurdism.
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