Philosophy, before it was separated from physical science, was traditionally considered as science. The greatest philosophers in history were considered as modern day scientists, with celebrity status. Although some were never appreciated during their lifetime, meaning that they died poor, their works have been studied by modern scholars. As a result, they’ve received countless accolades and awards which have in turn placed unimaginable monetary value on their work.
The top philosophers, therefore, are the ones who have placed the greatest influence and impact on humans worldwide. These intellectual geniuses basically embraced rational thinking when studying the world around us, even beyond, into space. The following is the list of the ten greatest philosophers:
10. John Locke
Locke is one of the most important figures in modern politics. His thinking influenced Thomas Jefferson, who implemented his principles of freedom and humanism during the Declaration of Independence. He was not for the idea of the rich getting richer while the poor getting poorer. This is why he was against Europe’s idea of land acquisition through lineage at that time. He is one of the fathers to be thanked for the birth of democracy.
He initially had a bad reputation because of his teachings, which were mainly contrary to Christianity. To some extent, he was even labeled an atheist. Epicurus used to state that life should be happy so people need not fear God because good things should be easy to get while terrible ones also easy to endure. His principles stated that people should not fear the intangible things, like God, but only believe in tangible things. Epicurus advocated for healthy diet, proper exercise and living justly.
8. Zeno of Citium
Zeno founded the idea of Stoicism which generally states that we suffer because of erroneous judgments. For this reason, he taught people how to be completely in control of their emotions and avoid suffering negative consequences. For instance, one needs not get enraged over an issue. The negative emotion will normally lead to bad actions. Therefore, complete control of emotions brings about mental peace, according to his teachings.
Avicenna was born in Persia in 980 AD and died in 1037. He was not only a philosopher but one of the most sought after physicians during his time. “The Canon of Medicine” and “The Book of Healing” were some of his books through which he shared his vast knowledge. He was the first philosopher to describe the 5 common senses of humans mainly smell, hearing, sight, touch, and taste.
6. Thomas Aquinas
In a time where Christianity teachings were constantly challenged by other philosophers, Thomas took a different stand. He surprisingly came up with a theory that proved God exists. His argument was based on the creation theory. Stating that the creator of the universe is God, he was able to successfully teach ethics, with help from the Bible. However, Christians have consistently claimed that he doesn’t have authority over the teachings because they were derived from the Bible.
Probably the greatest philosopher from the Eastern region, Confucius was able to clearly put across the ideas of democracy. He taught that power lies in the people but they must still respect the Emperor as the official ruler. This was around 400 BC. For a long time, this idea was believed to be invented by the Greeks. He also expounded the ‘Golden Rule’, by giving it a positive perspective, in a similar manner to what Jesus Christ did.
4. Rene Descartes
Rene invented Analytical Geometry, in the 1600’s, which is a branch of Mathematics that is still relevant to this day. Apart from Math, his contributions to modern Physics are also notable. He was the first scholar to discover the laws that govern reflection and refraction. His teachings advocated that human beings are capable of achieving more by tapping into the power of the mind. ‘As a man thinks so he becomes’, is a statement that can be traced back to him.
3. Paul of Tarsus
Paul was a pivotal figure in the establishment of Christianity after the death of Jesus. He was able to accomplish this through the many letters he wrote to the other churches across Europe. In addition, Paul adjusted the requirements of Christianity to only one belief in Jesus Christ. Peter initially disagreed with this stating that some of the traditional Jewish cultures, like circumcision and observing certain foods, should be included too. Without Paul, Christianity would merely be Judaism today.
As a student of Socrates, who was a key player in writing down his teachings, Plato also founded the Academy of Athens. This was the first institution of higher learning in the region. Plato is famous for teaching that peace will only be achievable, and evil consequently banished, when the world is ruled by philosophers, people with wisdom. He argued on the existence of a higher being that created the universe and cautioned against materialism.
Aristotle was the first philosopher in history to document science, literature, politics, and ethics. His theory categorized existence into 4 causes: Material, Form, Effective, and Purpose. He also observed that life had hierarchy, composed of plants, animals and human beings at the top. He always had an answer to all subjects which is why almost all modern philosophy teachings stem from Aristotle’s thoughts.