25 Greatest Philosophers Who Ever Lived

Philosophy has shaped the world. From science to politics, the great philosophers challenged the ways that we see things.

Many thought-provoking quotes originated from famous philosophers.  Sadly, many people may know the quote, but not who made it up.

So, from unknown to famous philosophers, get ready for a trip through time because they are the 25 Greatest Philosophers Who Ever Lived!

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Rene Descartes

Rene DescartesSource: biography.com, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org (public domain)

Considered the “Father of Modern Philosophy,” Descartes is famous for his statement, “I think, therefore I am.”



SocratesSource: history.com

You’ve already met Socrates’ most famous student, Plato, but Socrates himself was a very well known philosopher.

He is famous for the Socratic Method in which a series of questions are asked in order to lead the listener to a conclusion.


Niccolo Machiavelli

Niccolo MachiavelliSource: biography.com, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org (public domain)

Living during the Italian Renaissance, Machiavelli is famous for his contributions to political philosophy. His book “The Prince” explains to rulers how they can stay in power at all costs.

This book shocked people because before that time, everyone thought rulers were (or should be) virtuous. He claimed that, “Might makes right,” and “It is better to be feared than loved.”


John Locke

John LockeSource: biography.com

An English physician, Locke is famous for believing that all knowledge comes from our senses. His ideas influenced later philosophers like Hume and Kant.

He is also well known for using very simple words in his writings. When asked how we can know that external objects really exist at all, Locke said to simply stick your hand in a fire.


Diogenes of Sinope

Diogenes of SinopeSource: iep.utm.edu, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org (public domain)

An Ancient Greek philosopher, Diogenes is known for claiming that Aristotle had perverted the teachings of Plato.

Diogenes believed that Athens had become corrupt with vanity and wanted to bring back virtuous living.

He would even walk through the streets of Athens while holding a lamp and saying that he was “looking for an honest man.”

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