10 most prominent German philosophers

Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective, does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

Philosophy has its origins in ancient Greece of the 7th-5th centuries BC. Initially, it was customary to call all educated people philosophers, and only gradually this term began to be applied to those who studied worldview issues. The word philosophy literally translates as “wisdom”, that is, love of wisdom. Its tasks include the study of general principles and laws of life, the development of human society, the process of thinking and the acquisition of knowledge, beliefs, as well as the study of value systems, in particular moral ones. This broad framework extends to a large number of specific areas, ranging from epistemology and metaphysical searches to highly specific topics such as philosophy of design or philosophy of cinema.

Germany, being a developed country with a high level of education, has given the world many talented and outstanding people: scientists, writers, composers and of course philosophers. In this article, we will introduce you to famous German thinkers whose ideas have had a significant impact on society and the formation of modern European, and in some cases world culture.

Ranking of the most prominent German philosophers

Nomination a place Philosopher rating
Ranking of the most prominent German philosophers 10 Martin Heidegger 4.1
9 Edmund Husserl 4.2
8 Karl Marx 4.3
7 Ludwig Feuerbach 4.4
6 Johann Gottlieb Fichte 4.5
5 Max Weber 4.6
4 Arthur Schopenhauer 4.7
3 Immanuel Kant 4.8
2 Friedrich Nietzsche 4.9
1 Georg Hegel 5.0

Martin Heidegger

Rating: 4.1

Martin Heidegger

Heidegger graduated from the University of Freiburg im Breisgau, where, in addition to philosophy, he studied theology, mathematics and natural science. After defending his doctoral dissertation, he worked for a long time as an assistant to Edmund Husserl. In 1923 he received the title of professor, and ten years later he took the post of dean of the faculty, but soon resigned. In the early stages, Heidegger's worldview was largely shaped by the ideas of his mentor, as well as the philosophy of Wilhelm Dilthey. His main work was the book “Being and Time”, which is an attempt to investigate the existence of man through his practical interaction with the world, in a socio-historical context. In his work, Heidegger reflects on the problem of conformism and how a person, based on his deep experience, is able to gain a sense of the authenticity of his being. The philosopher was skeptical about attempts by some scientists of the 20th century to apply mathematical methods to the field of social sciences. Heidegger's later, post-war writings dealt with traditional questions of metaphysics.

Edmund Husserl

Rating: 4.2

Edmund Husserl

The famous philosopher of the late XIX – early XX century is considered the founder of phenomenology, the concept of the phenomena of consciousness. According to Husserl's interpretation, it is the science of pure consciousness, free from any dogmas and aimed at cognizing essences. His worldview at the beginning of his teaching career was influenced by British empiricists and Franz Brentano, in later years he turned to the theories of Immanuel Kant. The first published book of Husserl was “The Philosophy of Arithmetic”, where the philosopher, in general terms, explored the relationship between psychology and formal logic. In the further development of his views, he strove to discover the self-evident and premiseless principles of logic. Husserl assigned a key place in the formation of consciousness to the experience of sensory contemplation. The main works of Edmund Husserl are “Formal and Transcendental Logic” and “The Crisis of European Sciences”. The philosopher contributed to the development of existentialism, he also laid the foundation for the formation of gestalt psychology and methods of psychoanalysis.

Karl Marx

Rating: 4.3

Karl Marx

Although Karl Marx is known primarily as a public figure who laid the foundation for the communist movement, his contribution to philosophy is also recognized as very significant. Educated at the University of Bonn, after which he continued his studies in the capital of Germany. The young Karl Marx was especially fascinated by the classical theories of the ancient philosophers: Democritus and Epicurus. Among his contemporaries, he was inspired by the works of Hegel and Feuerbach. Since 1843, Marx has been living in France, where he meets Friedrich Engels and the poet Heinrich Heine. In 1845, after moving to Brussels, as a member of a secret international society, he, in cooperation with Engels, compiled the “Manifesto of the Communist Party”. Marx's active social activities and atheistic outlook at that time met almost nowhere with a warm response, in the end he and his family had to emigrate to London. It was there that he worked on his main work called “Capital”. The philosophical views of Karl Marx, which were later formed into a separate movement called “Marxism”, were based on materialism and the desire for revolutionary transformations in the social environment.

Ludwig Feuerbach

Rating: 4.4

Ludwig Feuerbach

Feuerbach began his acquaintance with philosophy, studying with Karl Daub, and later attended lectures by Georg Hegel in Berlin. After graduating from the University of Erlangen, he continued his research, and his first important work was “The History of New Philosophy from Bacon to Spinoza”. In 1830, Feuerbach published a small anonymous work in which he proved the inconsistency of the religious doctrine of the immortality of the soul. When the author's name became known to the public, he was stripped of his teaching status. However, this did not stop the philosopher, who, in his views, was increasingly inclined towards an atheistic picture of the world. At the same time, he did not share the view of the 18th century enlighteners on religion as a fruit of superstition and a political tool, believing that the inclination to religious searches stems from anthropomorphism inherent in man. Feuerbach was also a supporter of eudemonistic ethics, according to which the pursuit of happiness is considered the main criterion of morality. Of the works published by him, the most important are “The essence of religion” and “Foundations of the philosophy of the future.”

Johann Gottlieb Fichte

Rating: 4.5

Johann Gottlieb Fichte

A famous philosopher of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Johann Fichte was a follower of critical idealism. On the basis of this teaching, he deduced a new form of it called speculative transcendentalism. At the beginning of his life, Fichte became acquainted with the works of Immanuel Kant, which, in fact, set the direction for all his further philosophical work. The first work that received public recognition was “The Experience of Criticism of All Creation.” Shortly after its publication, he was appointed professor at the University of Jena. In 1799, Fichte had to leave his teaching career due to accusations of spreading atheistic views. In his subsequent works, the philosopher touched on issues of ethics, metaphysics and social pedagogy. He created the preconditions for the idea of ​​state socialism, and also formulated the principle that truth is most often in the middle between the thesis and the antithesis.

Max Weber

Rating: 4.6

Max Weber

Thanks to his father, who held a state post, Max Weber was interested in politics and science from childhood. After graduating in the field of jurisprudence, he defended his dissertation, thus becoming a doctor of jurisprudence. For some time, Weber worked as a lecturer at the University of Berlin, and later served as an assistant editor in a scientific publication. His most important book, touching upon philosophical questions, was “Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism.” This work examined the influence of culture and religion on the development of the state economic system. Unlike Karl Marx, Max Weber viewed the religious worldview as an important element for the development of civilization. The philosopher is considered one of the founders of sociology, the first to introduce such a concept as “social action” into use. In his studies, Weber focused on society, first of all, as a society of individual individuals, and was also convinced that the key factors of motivation are ideas, the world of which dominates the materialistic one. In the political sphere, he showed himself to be a supporter of democracy and constitutional reforms. Weber's ideas had such a serious impact on German society in the 20th century that he even took part in the creation of a new constitution for the Weimar Republic.

Arthur Schopenhauer

Rating: 4.7

Arthur Schopenhauer

The main philosopher and pessimist of the 19th century, Arthur Schopenhauer, from a young age had a penchant for misanthropy and a practical and reasonable (sometimes bordering on cynicism) outlook on life. This was largely due to circumstances such as the suicide of his father (with whom 16-year-old Arthur had a close relationship) and a difficult relationship with his mother, who considered the child a burden. The future philosopher drew inspiration from the work of Immanuel Kant, whom he considered his ideological mentor. For other thinkers, such as Fichte and Hegel, Schopenhauer was dismissive, criticizing their ideas at every opportunity. Despite his skeptical outlook, after the publication of his main book, The World as Will and Representation, he enjoyed considerable popularity among the young snobs of his time. The greatest literary recognition for Schopenhauer was brought by a collection of aphorisms, many caustic quotes from it remain known and in demand to our time.

Immanuel Kant

Rating: 4.8

Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant is considered one of the most prominent figures in classical philosophy of the 18th century. He grew up on the outskirts of Konigbserg, among artisans, but thanks to his thirst for knowledge, he easily entered the university. The teachings of Isaac Newton left a huge mark on the student's worldview. Due to financial problems, Kant had to leave his studies, and for the next ten years he worked as a home teacher for children from wealthy families. At the same time he was engaged in scientific research in the field of physics, astronomy, geography, and also wrote works of a philosophical nature. At first, Kant was influenced by the dominant ideology of Wolffianism, but over time he developed his own views, which became revolutionary for Europe at that time. One of the fundamental ideas of the philosopher was the statement about the value of each individual person and the inalienable right to personal freedom of action. Among the works of Immanuel Kant, three fundamental works are distinguished. The first of them – “Critique of Pure Reason”, touches on the topic of cognitive possibilities and obtaining evidence in isolation from empirical knowledge. The second, Critique of Practical Reason, deals with ethical issues, while the third, Critique of Judgment, contains reflections on aesthetics and teleology.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Rating: 4.9

Friedrich Nietzsche

The world famous philosopher was born in 1844 near the German city of Leipzig. Educated at the University of Leipzig at the Faculty of Philology. Around this time, the young Nietzsche became acquainted with the views of Arthur Schopenhauer, set out in his book “The World as Will and Representation”, which aroused in him a keen interest in philosophy. After completing his studies, he was immediately invited to the position of a professor at the University of Basel in Switzerland. The development of the philosophical ideas of Nietzsche, which would later lead to the formation of a separate movement called Nietzscheanism, at one time was received ambiguously and did not meet with a response from the general public. His most striking work is considered the book “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, it does not lose popularity to this day. Friedrich Nietzsche is the author of the symbolic idea of ​​”the death of God”, which means the loss of confidence in religious orientations and values. Nietzsche also called for a revision of the generally accepted view of envy, which, in his opinion, is a powerful source of human motivation.

Georg Hegel

Rating: 5.0

Georg Hegel

Georg Hegel is one of the founders of the German philosophy of idealism, the author of many theories that have been controversial for over a hundred years. An important place in his teachings was played by the theological education he received at the University of Tübingham. Since 1808, Hegel served as rector in Nuremberg, taught a number of philosophical and humanitarian subjects, as well as mathematics. In addition, he worked on his compositions: first his first work “Phenomenology of Spirit” was published, then “Science of Logic” followed. Hegel's philosophical concept received recognition at the highest state level, becoming practically the official ideology of Prussia at the beginning of the 19th century, and he himself was invited to the University of Berlin. Although some of Hegel's ideas were later deemed obsolete, others remained relevant. It is believed that it was he who laid the foundation for the emergence of humanistic sociology.


Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

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