The 10 Most Inspirational Philosophers of All Time

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This is a list about the most inspirational philosophers of all time whose contribution to human thought is more than profound.

  • Confucius

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Confucius was an influential Chinese philosopher, teacher and political figure known for his popular aphorisms and for his models of social interaction. He is considered as a corner stone of Eastern culture and thought, he lived in China at the time before Christ, and left wise teachings to the world with its metaphors and phrases.

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.

The main pillars of his teaching focusing on the ideal man and the moral way people should live and interact with each other. Confucius recognized a chance and an obligation to strengthen the social values of compassion and tradition. His social philosophy was based primarily on the principle of “ren” which means “loving others” while exercising self-discipline. Confucianism later became the official imperial philosophy of China, and was extremely influential during the Han, Tang and Song dynasties.

  • Socrates

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The philosopher of justice and democracy. He lived in Athens during the Golden Age of Pericles. Master of Plato and creator of a somewhat peculiar model of state that can be found in the “Republic of Plato”. Socrates declared that philosophy should achieve practical results for the greater well-being of society.

To know, is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge.

He attempted to establish a system of moral principles based on human reasons rather than theological doctrines. He pointed out that human choice was motivated by the desire for happiness.  The Athenians accused him of corrupting the youths and he was sentenced to death by drinking poison. What is incredible about his integrity, is the fact that one night before his death he had the chance to escape but instead that, he chose to die to set the example that we  should obey at laws either they are fair or not!

  • Plato

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Disciple of  Socrates wrote several books, of which the most important was the Republic of Plato. He established the foundations of ontology and ethics. In addition, he posited the dichotomy of the intelligible and sensitive world and metaphors such as Plato’s Cavern and the Winged Cart. He is famous of idealism and form theory.

Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.

Plato’s impact on philosophy and the nature of humans had an enormous impact not only in his homeland of Greece but worldwide. His work covered a broad spectrum of interests and ideas: mathematics, science and nature, morals and political theory. His beliefs on the importance of mathematics in education have proven to be essential for understanding the structure of the entire universe.

  • Aristotle

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Disciple of Plato, was the favorite teacher of the conqueror Alexander the Great. He carried out exuberant works on the ethics and studied in depth the metaphysics and the substance. He also postulated the phrase

“No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness”

He was known to walk around the school grounds while teaching, his students forced to follow him, were nicknamed the “Peripatetics,” meaning “people who travel about.” Lyceum members researched subjects ranging from science and math to philosophy and politics, and nearly everything in between.  He is the father of the theory of deduction, what philosophers now call a syllogism, a logical argument where the conclusion is inferred from two or more other premises of a certain form.

  • Buddha Siddhartha Gautama

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The founder of Buddhism. He was an Asian philosopher who had previously been a prince but he abandoned all his luxuries in order to travel and see the pain of the people and to find answers to the problem of suffering.

Be kind to all creatures; this the is true religion

He joined a whole class of men who had dropped out of Indian society to find liberation. There were a variety of methods and teachers, and Gautama investigated many atheists, materialists, idealists, and dialecticians. The legend says tha he remained in meditation for six days and finally he reached enlightenment. After his enlightenment, Buddha traveled on foot throughout northern India. He taught constantly for forty-five years. During his life, Buddha encouraged his students to question his teachings and confirm them through their own experience. This kind of non-dogmatic attitude still characterizes Buddhism today.

  • Jean Jacques-Rousseau

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He is considered to be the Father of Enlightenment, a movement that sought to superimpose reason above any other characteristics of man and defended values ​​such as freedom, fraternity and equality. He propelled political and ethical thinking into new channels. His reforms revolutionized taste, first in music, then in the other arts.

Every man has a right to risk his own life for the preservation of it

He had a deep impact on people’s way of life, he taught parents to take a new interest in their children and to educate them in a different way, he furthered the expression of emotion rather than polite restraint in friendship and love. He introduced the worship of religious sentiment among people who had discarded religious dogma. He opened people’s eyes to the beauties of nature, and he made liberty an object of almost universal aspiration.

  • Immanuel Kant

flickrcom – Willie Sturges

A German moralist, creator of Transcendental Idealism, and faithful critic of Reason. He dared to seek the limits of human knowledge. His contributions to metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and aesthetics have had a profound impact on almost every philosophical movement that followed him.

Give a man everything he wants and at the moment everything will not be everything

He declared that Reason itself is structured with forms of experience and categories that give a phenomenal and logical structure to any possible object of empirical experience.  These categories cannot be outwitted to get at a mind-independent world, but they are necessary for experience of spatio-temporal objects with their causal behavior and logical properties.  These two statements constitute Kant’s famous transcendental idealism and empirical realism.

  • Friedrich Nietzsche

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Famous for his discourse against state and morality. He posited nihilism against moralism, in addition to writing controversial aphorisms to this day as “God is dead” and “man is something that must be overcomes (Superman).”

There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.

Nietzsche claimed the exemplary human being must craft its own identity through self-realization and do it without relying on anything transcending that life such as God or a soul.  This way of living should be certified even were one to adopt, most problematically, a radical vision of eternity, one suggesting the “eternal resumption” of all events. According to some commentators, Nietzsche advanced a cosmological theory of will to power.

  • Thomas Hobbes

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He is the writer of “Leviathan” a masterpiece about absolutism and creator of a very important phrase

man is a wolf to man

which defines his realistic attitude to the world. The main concern of his philosophy is the problem of social and political order, in other words how human beings can live together in peace avoiding the danger and fear of civil conflict.He poses stark alternatives: we should give our obedience to an unaccountable sovereign (a person or group empowered to decide every social and political issue). Otherwise what awaits us is a “state of nature” that closely resembles civil war which is a situation of universal insecurity, where all have reason to fear violent death and where rewarding human cooperation seems to be impossible.

  • Jean Paul Sartre


flickrcom – Arturo Espinosa

A very important French existentialist philosopher, who postulated the phrase

man is condemned to be free

He had a relationship with Simone de Beauvoir, and published a work entitled Existentialism is humanism, that it has a very significant role in history. Sartre’s works are characterized by a development of classic phenomenology, and an interest in ethics. Adopting and adapting the methods of phenomenology, Sartre starts to develop an ontological account of what it is to be human. The main features of this ontology are the groundlessness and radical freedom which characterize the human condition. Sartre’s ontology is explained in his philosophical masterpiece, Being and Nothingness, where he specifies two types of reality which lie beyond our conscious experience: the being of the object of consciousness and that of consciousness itself. The object of consciousness exists as “in-itself,” that is, in an independent and non-relational way.

Giannis Sore

Giannis Sore

Giannis is an IT enginner from Athens.
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