List of Famous Western Philosophers


Name Philosophy Famous Quotes
Classical philosophers 600-500 BCE    
Thales of Miletus (ca. 624-546 BCE). Of the Milesian school. Believed that all was made of water. The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.
Anaximander of Miletus (c. 610-546 BCE). Of the Milesian school. Famous for the concept of Apeiron, or “the boundless”. Whence things have their origin,Thence also their destruction happens,According to necessity;For they give to each other justice and recompenseFor their injusticeIn conformity with the ordinance of Time.
Anaximenes of Miletus (c. 585-525 BCE). Of the Milesian school. Believed that all was made of air.  
Pythagoras of Samos (c. approx. 580-500 BCE). Of the Ionian School. Understood the deepest reality to be composed of numbers; believed that souls are immortal. Reason is immortal, all else mortal.
Xenophanes of Colophon (c. 570-480 BCE). Sometimes associated with the Eleatic school. Politically anti-militant, and epistemically skeptical. Men create the gods in their own image.
500-400 BCE    
Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. approx. 535-475 BCE). Of the Ionians. Emphasized the mutability of the world, which he understood to be analogous to fire. Ta panta rhei, Everything flowsYou cannot step into the same river twice.
Parmenides of Elea (c. 515-450 BCE). Of the Eleatics.  
Anaxagoras of Clazomenae (c. 500-428 BCE). Of the Ionians. Atomist. Everything has a natural explanation. The moon is not a god, but a great rock, and the sun a hot rock.
Zeno (c. approx. 490-430 BCE). Of the Eleatics. Famous for Zeno’s paradoxes.  
Empedocles of Acragas (c. 490-430 BCE). Believed in metaphysical doctrine of four elements. Advocate of ethical vegetarianism. To the elements it came from Everything will return. Our bodies to earth, Our blood to water, Heat to fire, Breath to air.
Protagoras of Abdera (c. 481-420 BCE). Sophist. Early advocate of relativism.  
Socrates of Athens (ca. 470-399 BCE). Emphasized virtue ethics. In epistemology, understood dialectic to be central to the pursuit of truth. As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.Not life, but good life, is to be chiefly valued.  
Democritus of Abdera (c. 450-370 BCE). Atomist. Everything existing in the universe is the fruit of chance and necessity.
Xenophon (c. 427-355 BCE). Philosopher of history.  
Plato (c. 427-347 BCE). Famed for view of the transcendental forms. Advocated polity governed by philosophers. The unexamined life is not worth living.
Euclid (c. 325-265 BCE). Founder of Euclidean geometry.  
Aristotle (c. 384-322 BCE). A polymath whose works ranged across all philosophical fields. All men by nature desire knowledge. 
Pyrrho of Elis (c. 360-270 BCE). Skeptic.  
Hellenistic Philosophers 300-200 BCE    
Epicurus (c. 341-270 BCE). Materialist Atomist, hedonist. The art of living well and the art of dying well are one.
Zeno of Citium (c. 333-264 BCE). Founder of Stoicism. Anarchist. Held that the acceptance of objectivity allows the overcoming of passions.  
Roman Era Philosophers 0-100 CE    
Cicero (c.106 BCE-43 BCE)    
Philo (c. 20 BCE-40 CE). Believed in the allegorical method of reading texts.  
100-200 CE    
Marcus Aurelius (121-180). Stoic. The universe is change, our life is what our thoughts make it.
200-400 CE    
Sextus Empiricus (fl. during the 2nd and possibly the 3rd centuries CE). Skeptic, Pyrrhonist.   
Augustine of Hippo (c. 354-430). Original Sin. Church father.  
Western Medieval Era Philosophers 900-1000 CE    
al-Razi (c. 865-925). Rationalist. Major Islamic philosopher. Held that God creates universe by rearranging pre-existing laws.  
1000-1100 CE    
Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (c. 980-1037). Major Islamic philosopher.  
Anselm (c. ~1034–1109). Christian philosopher. Produced ontological argument for the existence of God.  
1200-1300 CE    
Thomas Aquinas (c. 1221-1274). Christian philosopher.  
Early Modern Philosophers 1500-1550 CE    
Niccolò Machiavelli (c. 1469-1527). Political realism. It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.
Copernicus (c. 1473-1543).    
Martin Luther (c. 1483-1546). Major Western Christian theologian.  
1550-1600 CE    
Michel de Montaigne (c. 1533-1592). Humanist, skeptic.  
John Calvin (c. 1509-1564). Major Western Christian theologian.  
1600-1650 CE    
Francis Bacon (c. 1561-1626). Empiricist. Knowledge is power
Galileo Galilei (c. 1564-1642). Heliocentrist.  
René Descartes (c. 1596-1650). Heliocentrism, dualism, rationalism. Dubito ergo cogito ergo sum, I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am.
1650-1700 CE    
Thomas Hobbes (c. 1588-1679). Political realist. Curiosity is the lust of the mind.
Blaise Pascal (c. 1623-1662). Physicist, scientist. Noted for Pascal’s wager.  
Baruch Spinoza (c. 1632-1677).   Deus sive natura. God or nature
Isaac Newton (c. 1643-1727).    
John Locke (c. 1632-1704). Major Empiricist. Political philosopher. No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience.
1700-1750 CE    
Gottfried Leibniz (c. 1646-1716).    
George Berkeley (c. 1685-1753). Idealist, empiricist. To be is to be perceived
David Hume (c. 1711-1776). Empiricist, skeptic.  
1750-1800 CE    
Voltaire (c. 1694-1778).   I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
Denis Diderot (c. 1713-1784).    
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (c. 1712-1778). Social contract political philosopher. Man is born free yet everywhere he is in chains
Adam Smith (c. 1723-1790). Economic theorist, member of Scottish Enlightenment.  
Immanuel Kant (c. 1724-1804). Deontologist, proponent of synthetic a priori truths. But although all our knowledge begins with experience, it does not follow that it arises from experience.
Jeremy Bentham (c. 1748-1832). Utilitarian, hedonist.  
Modern Philosophers 1800-1850 CE    
F.W.J. von Schelling (c. 1775-1854). German idealist.    
G.W.F. Hegel (c. 1770-1831). German idealist. History repeats itself.
Arthur Schopenhauer (c. 1788-1860). Pessimist. Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.
Charles Darwin (c. 1809-1882).   It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.
Søren Kierkegaard (c. 1813-1855). Existentialist.  
1850-1900 CE    
Karl Marx (c. 1818-1883). Socialist, formulated historical materialism. History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.
J. S. Mill (c. 1806-1873). Utilitarian.  
Herbert Spencer (c. 1820-1903). Nativism, libertarianism, social Darwinism. Survival of the fittest
Friedrich Nietzsche (c. 1844-1900). Naturalistic philosopher, influence on Existentialism. God is dead
William James (c. 1842-1910). Pragmatist. The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.
Vilfredo Pareto (c. 1848-1923). Social philosopher.  
Sigmund Freud (c. 1856-1939). Creator of psychodynamic philosophy of mind. Nothing escapes human criticism and resentment.
Max Weber (c. 1864-1920). Social philosopher.  
Henri Bergson (c. 1859-1941).   The present contains nothing more than the past, and what is found in the effect was already in the cause.
John Dewey (c. 1859-1952). Pragmatist. Education is a social process. Education is growth. Education is, not a preparation for life; education is life itself.
Benedetto Croce (c. 1866-1952).    
Carl Jung (c. 1875-1961). Founded analytical psychology. Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
1900-2000 CE    
George Santayana (c. 1863-1952). Pragmatist, naturalist; known for many aphorisms. There is no cure to birth and death save to enjoy the interval in between
Bertrand Russell (c. 1872-1970). Analytic philosopher, extremely influential. The final truth belongs to heaven and not this world.
Martin Heidegger (c. 1889-1976). Phenomenologist.  
Karl Popper (c. 1902-1994). Falsificationist.  
Jean-Paul Sartre (c. 1905-1980). Humanism, existentialism.  
Ludwig Wittgenstein (c. 1889-1951). Analytic philosopher.Extremely influential.  
Simone de Beauvoir (c. 1908-1986). Existentialist, feminist.  
Michel Foucault (1926-1984). Structuralism, Post-structuralism, Postmodernism, Queer theory.  
Noam Chomsky (b. 1928).    

Please click the link below to go back to the Philosophy Page:


4 Responses to “List of Famous Western Philosophers”
  1. jamesesz says:

    Please feel free to add names or details if you realize that your favourite philosopher is missing. ^^

  2. Ersid says:

    Something can be science withuot being good; for example, the idea that the world is only 6,000 years old may be scientific; it’s just bad science.I’d argue that this turns on how you define science. In the classical (Aristotelian) sense of logical and rational inquiry, maybe this is the science. In the actual sense, as part of a system of inquiry based on testable hypotheses, it’s not science at all. There is nothing testable about the proposition that the Earth is only 6000 years old, is there?

  3. Diana says:

    IMO, philosophy is a way of tnkniihg about something in a methodical manner, examining the different aspects of something and trying to make sense of it.Theology to me, is the philosophy of God and things related to God.Science to me, is the philosophy of the material world.Ethics would be the philosophy of morality; aesthetics the philosophy of art, etc.However, my idea about it may be totally wrong this is just how it has always seemed to me.So, am I anywhere near the ballpark?

Check out what others are saying...

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: