Best Philosopher of All Time

Which philosopher is the greatest mind of all time?

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23 Total Votes
1

John Locke

John Locke FRS, widely known as the Father of Classical Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tra... dition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social contract theory. His work had a great impact upon the development of epistemology and political philosophy. His writings influenced Voltaire and Rousseau, many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American revolutionaries. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the United States Declaration of Independence.Locke's theory of mind is often cited as the origin of modern conceptions of identity and the self, figuring prominently in the work of later philosophers such as Hume, Rousseau and Kant. Locke was the first to define the self through a continuity of consciousness. He postulated that the mind was a blank slate or tabula rasa. Contrary to pre-existing Cartesian philosophy, he maintained that we are born without innate ideas, and that knowledge is instead determined only by experience derived from sense perception   more
6 votes
1 comment
2

Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a German philologist, philosopher, cultural critic, poet and composer. He wrote several critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy and science, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony and...  aphorism.Nietzsche's key ideas include the Apollonian/Dionysian dichotomy, perspectivism, the Will to Power, the "death of God", the Übermensch and eternal recurrence. Central to his philosophy is the idea of "life-affirmation", which involves questioning of any doctrine that drains one's expansive energies, however socially prevalent those ideas might be. His radical questioning of the value and objectivity of truth has been the focus of extensive commentary and his influence remains substantial, particularly in the continental philosophical tradition comprising existentialism, postmodernism, and post-structuralism.Nietzsche began his career as a classical philologist — a scholar of Greek and Roman textual criticism — before turning to philosophy. In 1869, at age twenty-four, he was appointed to the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel, the youngest individual to have held this position. He resigned in the summer of 1879 due to health problems that plagued him most of his life. In 1889, at age forty-four, he suffered a collapse and a complete loss of his mental faculties. The breakdown was later ascribed to atypical general paresis due to tertiary syphilis, but this diagnosis has come into question. Nietzsche lived his remaining years in the care of his mother until her death in 1897, after which he fell under the care of his sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche until his death in 1900   more
5 votes
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3

Confucius

Confucius was a Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher of the Spring and Autumn period of Chinese history.The philosophy of Confucius emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and since... rity. His followers competed successfully with many other schools during the Hundred Schools of Thought era only to be suppressed in favor of the Legalists during the Qin Dynasty. Following the victory of Han over Chu after the collapse of Qin, Confucius's thoughts received official sanction and were further developed into a system known as Confucianism.Confucius is traditionally credited with having authored or edited many of the Chinese classic texts including all of the Five Classics, but modern scholars are cautious of attributing specific assertions to Confucius himself. Aphorisms concerning his teachings were compiled in the Analects, but only many years after his death.Confucius's principles had a basis in common Chinese tradition and belief. He championed strong family loyalty, ancestor worship, respect of elders by their children of husbands by their wives. He also recommended family as a basis for ideal government. He espoused the well-known principle "Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself", an early version of the Golden Rule   more
3 votes
1 comment
4

Socrates

Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xe... nophon and the plays of his contemporary Aristophanes. Many would claim that Plato's dialogues are the most comprehensive accounts of Socrates to survive from antiquity.Through his portrayal in Plato's dialogues, Socrates has become renowned for his contribution to the field of ethics, and it is this Platonic Socrates who lends his name to the concepts of Socratic irony and the Socratic method, or elenchus. The latter remains a commonly used tool in a wide range of discussions, and is a type of pedagogy in which a series of questions are asked not only to draw individual answers, but also to encourage fundamental insight into the issue at hand. Plato's Socrates also made important and lasting contributions to the fields of epistemology and logic, and the influence of his ideas and approach remains a strong foundation for much western philosophy that followed   more
2 votes
1 comment
5

Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas, O.P., also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican friar and priest and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, within which he is also known as the "Doctor Angelicus", "Doct... or Communis", and "Doctor Universalis". "Aquinas" is the demonym of Aquino, his home town.He was the foremost classical proponent of natural theology, and the father of Thomism. His influence on Western thought is considerable, and much of modern philosophy was conceived in development or refutation of his ideas, particularly in the areas of ethics, natural law, metaphysics, and political theory. The works for which he is best known are the Summa Theologica and the Summa contra Gentiles.Thomas is honored as a saint by the Catholic Church and is held to be the model teacher for those studying for the priesthood, and indeed the highest expression of both natural reason and speculative theology. In modern times, under papal directives, the study of his works was long used as a core of the required program of study for those seeking ordination as priests or deacons, as well as for those in religious formation and for other students of the sacred disciplines   more
2 votes
1 comment
6

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a German philosopher, and a major figure in German Idealism. His historicist and idealist account of reality revolutionized European philosophy and was an important precursor to Continental philosophy and Marxism.He... gel developed a comprehensive philosophical framework, or "system", of Absolute idealism to account in an integrated and developmental way for the relation of mind and nature, the subject and object of knowledge, psychology, the state, history, art, religion, and philosophy. In particular, he developed the concept that mind or spirit manifested itself in a set of contradictions and oppositions that it ultimately integrated and united, without eliminating either pole or reducing one to the other. Examples of such contradictions include those between nature and freedom, and between immanence and transcendence.Hegel influenced writers of widely varying positions, including both his admirers and his detractors. His influential conceptions are of speculative logic or "dialectic", "absolute idealism". They include "Geist", negativity, sublation, the "Master/Slave" dialectic, "ethical life" and the importance of history   more
1 vote
0 comments
7

Aristotle

Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethi... cs, biology, and zoology. Together with Plato and Socrates, Aristotle is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. Aristotle's writings were the first to create a comprehensive system of Western philosophy, encompassing ethics, aesthetics, logic, science, politics, and metaphysics.Aristotle's views on the physical sciences profoundly shaped medieval scholarship, and their influence extended well into the Renaissance, although they were ultimately replaced by Newtonian physics. In the zoological sciences, some of his observations were confirmed to be accurate only in the 19th century. His works contain the earliest known formal study of logic, which was incorporated in the late 19th century into modern formal logic.In metaphysics, Aristotelianism had a profound influence on philosophical and theological thinking in the Islamic and Jewish traditions in the Middle Ages, and it continues to influence Christian theology, especially the scholastic tradition of the Catholic Church. Aristotle was well known among medieval Muslim intellectuals and revered as 'المعلم الأول' – "The First Teacher"   more
1 vote
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8

Karl Marx

Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. Marx's work in economics laid the basis for the current understanding of labour and its relation to capital, and has influenced ... much of subsequent economic thought. He published numerous books during his lifetime, the most notable being The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital.Born into a wealthy middle-class family in Trier in the Prussian Rhineland, Marx studied at the University of Bonn and the University of Berlin, where he became interested in the philosophical ideas of the Young Hegelians. After his studies, he wrote for a radical newspaper in Cologne, and began to work out his theory of dialectical materialism. He moved to Paris in 1843, where he began writing for other radical newspapers and met Fredrick Engels, who would become his lifelong friend and collaborator. In 1849 he was exiled and moved to London together with his wife and children where he continued writing and formulating his theories about social and economic activity. He also campaigned for socialism and became a significant figure in the International Workingmen's Association   more
1 vote
0 comments
9

René Descartes

René Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician, and writer who spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed the 'Father of Modern Philosophy', and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, wh... ich are studied closely to this day. In particular, his Meditations on First Philosophy continues to be a standard text at most university philosophy departments. Descartes' influence in mathematics is equally apparent; the Cartesian coordinate system — allowing reference to a point in space as a set of numbers, and allowing algebraic equations to be expressed as geometric shapes in a two-dimensional coordinate system — was named after him. He is credited as the father of analytical geometry, the bridge between algebra and geometry, crucial to the discovery of infinitesimal calculus and analysis. Descartes was also one of the key figures in the Scientific Revolution and has been described as an example of genius.Descartes frequently sets his views apart from those of his predecessors. In the opening section of the Passions of the Soul, a treatise on the Early Modern version of what are now commonly called emotions, Descartes goes so far as to assert that he will write on this topic "as if no one had written on these matters before". Many elements of his philosophy have precedents in late Aristotelianism, the revived Stoicism of the 16th century, or in earlier philosophers like Augustine. In his natural philosophy, he differs from the schools on two major points: First, he rejects the analysis of corporeal substance into matter and form; second, he rejects any appeal to ends—divine or natural—in explaining natural phenomena. In his theology, he insists on the absolute freedom of God's act of creation   more
1 vote
1 comment
10

Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who is widely considered to be a central figure of modern philosophy. He argued that human concepts and categories structure our view of the world and its laws, and that reason is the source of morality. His th... ought continues to hold a major influence in contemporary thought, especially in fields such as metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics.Kant's major work, the Critique of Pure Reason, aimed to bring reason together with experience and to move beyond what he took to be failures of traditional philosophy and metaphysics. He hoped to end an age of speculation where objects outside experience were seen to support what he saw as futile theories, while resisting the skepticism of thinkers such as David Hume.He stated:Kant proposed a "Copernican Revolution-in-reverse", saying that:In simple terms, Kant argued that our experiences are structured by necessary features of our minds. The mind shapes and structures experience so that, on an abstract level, all human experience shares certain essential structural features. Among other things, Kant believed that the concepts of space and time are integral to all human experience, as are our concepts of cause and effect. We never have direct experience of things, the noumenal world, and what we do experience is the phenomenal world as conveyed by our senses. These observations summarize Kant's views upon the subject–object problem   more
1 vote
0 comments
11

Plato

Plato was a philosopher in Classical Greece. He was also a mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his men... tor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the foundations of Western philosophy and science. In the words of A. N. Whitehead:The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato. I do not mean the systematic scheme of thought which scholars have doubtfully extracted from his writings. I allude to the wealth of general ideas scattered through them.Plato's sophistication as a writer is evident in his Socratic dialogues; thirty-six dialogues and thirteen letters have been ascribed to him. Plato's writings have been published in several fashions; this has led to several conventions regarding the naming and referencing of Plato's texts. Plato's dialogues have been used to teach a range of subjects, including philosophy, logic, ethics, rhetoric, religion and mathematics. Plato is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy   more
0 votes
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12

David Hume

David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist known especially for his philosophical empiricism and scepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment....  Hume is often grouped with John Locke, George Berkeley, and a handful of others as a British Empiricist.Beginning with his A Treatise of Human Nature, Hume strove to create a total naturalistic "science of man" that examined the psychological basis of human nature. In stark opposition to the rationalists who preceded him, most notably Descartes, he concluded that desire rather than reason governed human behavior, saying: "Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions". A prominent figure in the sceptical philosophical tradition and a strong empiricist, he argued against the existence of innate ideas, concluding instead that humans have knowledge only of things they directly experience. Thus he divides perceptions between strong and lively "impressions" or direct sensations and fainter "ideas", which are copied from impressions. He developed the position that mental behaviour is governed by "custom", that is acquired ability; our use of induction, for example, is justified only by our idea of the "constant conjunction" of causes and effects. Without direct impressions of a metaphysical "self", he concluded that humans have no actual conception of the self, only of a bundle of sensations associated with the self   more
0 votes
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13

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of the 18th-century. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological, and educational thought.Rousse... au's novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise on the education of the whole person for citizenship. His sentimental novel Julie, or the New Heloise was of importance to the development of pre-romanticism and romanticism in fiction. Rousseau's autobiographical writings—his Confessions, which initiated the modern autobiography, and his Reveries of a Solitary Walker—exemplified the late 18th-century movement known as the Age of Sensibility, and featured an increased focus on subjectivity and introspection that later characterized modern writing. His Discourse on the Origin of Inequality and his On the Social Contract are cornerstones in modern political and social thought.Rousseau was a successful composer of music, who wrote seven operas as well as music in other forms, and made contributions to music as a theorist. During the period of the French Revolution, Rousseau was the most popular of the philosophes among members of the Jacobin Club. Rousseau was interred as a national hero in the Panthéon in Paris, in 1794, 16 years after his death   more
0 votes
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14

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein was an Austrian-British philosopher who worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language. From 1939 till 1947 Wittgenstein taught at the University of C... ambridge. He published few works in his lifetime, including one book review, one article, a children's dictionary, and the 75-page Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. In 1999, Baruch Poll rated his posthumously published Philosophical Investigations as the most important book of the 20th-century philosophy, standing out as "...The one crossover masterpiece ... Appealing across diverse specializations and philosophical orientations". Philosopher Bertrand Russell described him as "the most perfect example I have ever known of genius as traditionally conceived; passionate, profound, intense, and dominating".Born in Vienna into one of Europe's richest families, he gave away his entire inheritance. Three of his brothers committed suicide, with Wittgenstein contemplating it too. He left academia several times: serving as an officer on the frontline during World War I, where he was decorated a number of times for his courage; teaching in schools in remote Austrian villages, where he encountered controversy for hitting children when they made mistakes in mathematics; and working during World War II as a hospital porter in London, where he told patients not to take the drugs they were prescribed, and where he largely managed to keep secret the fact that he was one of the world's most famous philosophers. He described philosophy, however, as "the only work that gives me real satisfaction.   more
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15

Søren Kierkegaard

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic, and religious author who is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher. He wrote critical texts on organized religion, Christendom, morality, ethics... , psychology and philosophy of religion, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony and parables. Much of his philosophical work deals with the issues of how one lives as a "single individual", giving priority to concrete human reality over abstract thinking, and highlighting the importance of personal choice and commitment. He was a fierce critic of idealist intellectuals and philosophers of his time, such as Swedenborg, Hegel, von Goethe, Fichte, Schelling, Schlegel, and Hans Christian Andersen.His theological work focuses on Christian ethics, the institution of the Church, the differences between purely objective proofs of Christianity, the infinite qualitative distinction between man and God, and the individual's subjective relationship to Jesus Christ, the God-Man, which came through faith. Much of his work deals with the art of Christian love. He was extremely critical of the practice of Christianity as a state religion, primarily that of the Church of Denmark. His psychological work explored the emotions and feelings of individuals when faced with life choices   more
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16

Gottlob Frege

Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege was a German mathematician, logician and philosopher. He is considered to be one of the founders of modern logic and made major contributions to the foundations of mathematics. He is generally considered to be the fath... er of analytic philosophy, for his writings on the philosophy of language and mathematics. While he was mainly ignored by the intellectual world when he published his writings, Giuseppe Peano and Bertrand Russell introduced his work to later generations of logicians and philosophers   more
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TheWarrior says2014-02-04T10:34:12.0102845-06:00
Where is C.S. Lewis?

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