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.
Perhaps, in the life of every person, sooner or later, a moment comes when he begins to ask himself various existential questions. What is the meaning of being? Why is the world so unfair? What comes first – mind or matter? Although … here we got excited, rarely does anyone ask questions of materialism or idealism.
These questions have plagued humanity since time immemorial. And various thinkers of the past have tried to give answers to them. Or at least formulate the questions themselves correctly. As a result, a huge number of philosophers have influenced the history of mankind. Some of their ideas disintegrated into dust and remained only in textbooks, some are embodied in modern social institutions, some are just an excuse to show off their erudition.
And it doesn't matter why you turned to the history of thinking – whether you want to get answers to the most important questions of life; whether to understand society and other people; or maybe just boast of Seneca's quotes in dialogues when buying broccoli at Billa for a stock – we have compiled a rating of 15 of the most famous philosophers in the world.
To compile the rating, data from search engines were used. What philosopher is asked most often – the one and the most famous.
Review of the world's most famous philosophers
|Rating of the most famous philosophers in the world||15||Alvin Toffler||4.3|
|9||Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel||4.6|
|1||Karl Heinrich Marx||5.0|
Alvin Toffler is a representative of the latest philosophical school. His works, published in the second half of the 20th century, describe the post-industrial, information society, and the place of man in it. That is, the situation that is observed right now.
In his emerging cult work Future Shock, first published in 1970, Alvin Toffler described the so-called 'third wave' – an entirely new type of society that has emerged from the intellectual revolution. He predicted the formation of a huge number of subcultures, the phenomenon of mass consumption, the blurring of the boundaries between 'producers' and 'buyers', but the main thing is the supremacy of information. Indeed, ideas are now becoming more valuable than any commodity. He also predicted the emergence of a 'consumer economy' that would replace traditional capitalism.
Despite the fact that during his life this philosopher did not gain much popularity, his ideas, which are now being embodied in the world around him, brought fame to Alvin Toffler. His predictions – from local (the effect of the 'shock of the future', which is expressed in unreasonable consumer behavior with purchases of new iPhones every year after the release only in order to keep up with the changing society) to global ones – are being fulfilled right now. And if you are suffering from an incomprehensible headache and cannot catch the last bus, read his books.
Arthur Schopenhauer is one of the most famous representatives of the German school of philosophers. At the same time, his thinking was contrasted with his predecessors. For example, he was very active in criticizing the works of Kant and generally inclined towards the ideas of irrationalism.
Schopenhauer's philosophy traces the idea of the existence of the unknowable. He divides our world environment into simple things that are available for comprehension by the human mind, and into spheres that are simply impossible to understand. However, the tendencies of mysticism, traced in the thought of this philosopher, suggest that these unknowable areas are available to us through revelation, faith, feelings and other 'inspirations'.
However, this philosopher gained his popularity in the modern world primarily due to the idea of universal pessimism. According to his writings, the only organ of cognition is intellect. But at the same time it is supplemented by an important feature of the human psyche – will. And the idea of universal pessimism is that this will is meaningless, since our world, in which you and I live, is the worst possible one. And the human task is to go through this world, through the 'arena strewn with glowing coals'. And there is no point in maintaining the will to live, since the intellect must understand that the existence of man on earth only increases his suffering.
At the same time, Arthur Schopenhauer, like Buddhists, was an ardent opponent of suicide. The human's job is to go through this world, not 'cheat' to avoid the path through the 'arena strewn with glowing coals'.
Diogenes is perhaps the only philosopher in the ranking, known not for his works, but for his shocking behavior. He constantly made fun of the Athenians, and at the same time drew highly intellectual conclusions from these 'pranks'.
For example, one day he went out to the city square of Athens and began to give some kind of philosophical lecture. True, no one listened to him. Then Diogenes squealed like a bird, and a crowd of onlookers gathered around him. And he criticized them – they say, when he was telling important things, no one listened to him, but as soon as he squealed like an unreasonable bird – and now the Athenians stand with their mouths open.
Diogenes became the founder of the Cynics school – a special trend of philosophy that originated in the lower classes of society. The cynics demonstratively despised the world and the traditional worldview, extolling their poverty as a symbol, as a rejection of pleasures, of statehood and public morality. Diogenes also looked for virtue in this, considering the goal of a person to be liberation from the benefits given to him from above, by society or by luck.
Therefore, the worldview of Diogenes can hardly be called cynical in the modern sense of this term, rather shocking and ascetic, with the ascendancy of asceticism on the flags and criticism of fortune, society and the benefits they give.
Niccolo Machiavelli is one of the most famous philosophers who studied the ideas of statehood and people management. The main part of his works is devoted to criticism and reasoning about the activities of various rulers of antiquity, antiquity and modernity (at the time of the author's life, that is, the beginning of the 16th century).
The most famous work of Niccolo Machiavelli is 'The Sovereign'. In it, he describes both methods of seizing power and methods of government, and also gives a portrait of the ideal head. And, which is characteristic, the ideas of Machiavelli, published in this work, have not lost their relevance to this day. In his opinion, there are several ways to come to power – weapons, strength, luck. And, since a person has no power over fortune, the “Sovereign” examines in detail the ways to achieve success using violence. According to Machiavelli, a good ruler must sometimes be like animals – and foxes and lions evoke special respect in the eyes of the Italian philosopher.
According to Niccolo Machiavelli, the people value a successful ruler more than a virtuous one, since the success of the state leads to the prosperity of the whole society, and the virtue of the sovereign – only to certain groups. And this is manifested in modern society. Even rulers who are cruel to their people are justified when their countries achieve a certain success in one area or another.
The English philosopher and educator John Locke is one of the founders of the liberal movement. His ideas about human rights and freedoms, for example, were reflected in the Declaration of Jefferson and Washington, the main US government document.
However, the main line of thought of John Locke concerns the formation of the human mind. He came up with the idea of a tabula rasa – 'blank slate'. Each person is born with a pure mind and throughout his life fills it with his own experience, consisting of single perceptions. According to John Locke, human feelings are primary and priority over reason. As a result, different people perceive the same objects differently.
The main product of thinking as a property of the soul, according to John Locke, is ideas. They come from external and internal experiences. Simple ideas further develop into complex, larger ones. Experience is the only source of such thoughts, and there can be no 'inspiration' or mysticism in this.
In other writings, John Locke discusses the idea of statehood. According to him, the only state that a person should achieve is complete freedom. People should have every right to dispose of their property and being. Not a single person in society can be a servant or vassal, and not only in relation to another person, but also a state institution. This should manifest itself, for example, in freedom of movement or property management.
Currently, John Locke's ideas are taking on a rebirth. This is also due to the fact that more and more presidents and heads of state choose liberalism and libertarianism as their main ideology.
Voltaire is one of the most famous French philosophers. It was his ideas and works that influenced the formation of the Enlightenment period. At the same time, during the life of Voltaire (first half of the 18th century), they were completely criticized by the current socio-political system.
According to Voltaire, a just society is based on three basic principles – freedom, equality and brotherhood. And each of them was contrasted with the actual social stratum. Feudalism was characterized by inequality, the influence of the church was not freedom. At the same time, Voltaire himself understood that any society in which such a phenomenon as property is observed is doomed to be divided into rich and poor.
Therefore, according to Voltaire, freedom may well replace property. People should have the right to choose who to work for. This freedom of labor will help them get property without actually having it.
Voltaire actively criticized religion. In his opinion, the church, among other things, was to blame for the division of society. But he also criticized atheism. In an enlightened society, according to this philosopher, there is freedom of religion. Voltaire called for fraternal unity among representatives of different faiths.
Voltaire's social and political works formed the idea of a proclaimed monarchy, which later became constitutional. And in the XIX-XX centuries, more and more states chose this path of government.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, better known simply by his last name, is one of the representatives of the philosophers of the classical German school, the founder of the course of German idealism. Ideas in this direction imply the primacy of consciousness and spirit. In the writings of Hegel, absolute idealism is observed, this philosopher believed that everything real strives for the triumph of philosophy and the formation of pure thinking.
The main idea of Hegel's philosophy is the triumph of reason. He considered the entire surrounding nature as part of an absolute idea, considered events as prerequisites, turning randomness into necessity. An important feature of Hegel's idealism is the idea that at different stages of human history, each individual nation can be represented as the bearer of the world mind.
The basic concept of Hegel's thought is that the absolute idea goes through three stages of development. The first is its existence in its own 'den', in fact, complete primacy. The second is its transition into 'otherness', its transformation into natural phenomena and surrounding objects. And the final one is a generalization of the absolute idea in the form of the real world in the human mind.
René Descartes is a French philosopher, thinker, researcher and mathematician. Born in 1596, with his writings he significantly influenced the scientific and cultural paradigm of the Middle Ages. And directly in philosophy, he is known as the creator of the method of radical doubt.
The task of Descartes was to determine such bases of any knowledge that would not cause the slightest doubt. Basically, this method of thinking is based on ancient Greek skepticism, but the French philosopher developed it. And most clearly it manifests itself in attempts to prove (or disprove) the existence of God.
Descartes deduces proof of the existence of God through the idea of human imperfection. Since people can perceive themselves to be imperfect, it means that they are able to compare themselves with some more perfect being, possibly who created them. God exists, according to Descartes, also because of the existence of the very idea of him.
Many ideas of René Descartes formed the basis of European philosophy. He deduced the idea of a perfect being (God), of the separation of matter from mind, of the infinite universe and of the common good, manifested in the need for a person to exist in solidarity with the rest of the world.
Friedrich Nietzsche is not only a representative of the German school of philosophers. He even created his own movement, which is currently considered non-academic, however, at the time of its creation, it struck the minds of many thinkers of that time.
At the same time, Friedrich Nietzsche himself did not adhere to any specific philosophical trend. In his works, one can find elements of nihilism (denial of generally accepted values), elements of metaphysics and perspective subjectivism. But he is best known for two ideas – the superman and the death of God.
The idea of a superman is based on the idea of the fragmentation of human existence. Superman is a creature who has regained the world. This is the creator, the creator of new vectors of development. He does not need to split his life into the fulfillment of individual needs, since he does not have the same needs. The idea of a superman is reflected in the modern world – as a symbiosis of mind and machine, as an enhancement of intelligence by technological solutions.
The idea of 'God is dead' is one of the elements of nihilism. According to Nietzsche, modern people have lost the value of moral guidelines based on supernatural concepts. The death of God is manifested in the fact that people no longer feel the guarantee of the goodness of being, ideas about all-forgiving beings or concepts are no longer able to satisfy a person.
Socrates is an ancient, ancient Greek philosopher who changed the direction of thinking of an entire country. If before him people tried to understand nature, its phenomena and meanings, then after him they paid attention to their own mind, feelings and personality.
That is why many researchers call Socrates the first philosopher in the classical sense of this term. His works are aimed at reflection, study of himself, search for answers to existential questions of life. The philosophical doctrine of Socrates explores its own principles and techniques.
The main idea of Socrates is the supremacy of knowledge and the search for truth. He studies moral virtues using the most popular technique of that time – dialectical disputes. Therefore, the works of Socrates did not survive directly, and his philosophical ideas can be judged only by the records of his contemporaries and followers.
The idea of Socrates' thought can be obtained from his' paradoxes' – short sayings that may seem contrary to common sense. This philosopher argued that evil comes from ignorance of virtue, and each person does not want to do evil of his own free will. He called knowledge the most virtue.
Socrates is known as one of the founders of maieutics – a method of gaining knowledge in controversy, which implies a critical attitude to dogma. He asked his opponents clarifying questions, leading them to the formation of a final answer.
Confucius is the most famous oriental philosopher, whose works and way of thinking formed the basis for the direction of 'Confucianism'. This teaching covers issues of ethics, politics, science, worldview, lifestyle and even religion – and is now common not only in China, but also in Japan and Korea.
The main ideas of Confucius describe the creation of an ideal, harmonious society, in which there is a place and function for each individual. It is based on the concepts of loyalty and mutual respect. Confucius identified five constancies of a righteous person who has a place in this society:
- Humanity. Each personality is the sum of the experience that a person creates in himself. And it is required that he was directed towards philanthropy;
- Justice. In society and the individual, truth dominates, and not one's own aspirations;
- Fidelity to customs. Society rests on rituals that must be observed. For example, showing respect to parents;
- Discretion. A person must be able to calculate the consequences of his actions;
- Conscientiousness. Actions are required to be done sincerely, only with good intentions.
Many elements of Confucius's teachings are reflected in Western philosophy. However, he was not always treated with enthusiasm. For example, Hegel spoke of Confucianism and its followers as a 'walking morality', and the above list of constancies called a set of platitudes of life wisdom, devoid of any metaphysics.
Aristotle is a philosopher, researcher and thinker of Ancient Greece, who managed to 'be noted' in almost all areas of human knowledge: mathematics, physics, politics, logic and much, much more.
Despite the fact that Aristotle was a student of Plato, and he, in turn, studied with Socrates, this philosopher in his writings refers primarily to nature and the world around him. For example, in 'Metaphysics' he considers four main causes-the origin of the whole being – matter, form, action and purpose. At the same time, he calls God the prime mover – it is with him that all beginnings begin.
Aristotle sees God not as an omnipotent primordial being, but as the primary source of all that exists – a certain substance that is universal and indefinable for feelings and reason. It is she who contains the other four causes, creating matter, form, action and purpose.
In addition, Aristotle actively explores being and existential issues. He identifies thinking and its elements – logic, concepts and judgments. At the same time, being is inextricably linked with consciousness and manifests itself through sensations, memory and habit. Aristotle also formed a system of virtues, and dividing them into ethical and mental. The first is a set of human qualities. The second is the way people behave in the best way in all situations.
Immanuel Kant is one of the founders of German classical philosophy. In his epistemology, he rejected the dogmatic method of knowledge and proposed to criticize the classical concepts, concentrating on the study of the mind itself.
The most famous work of Immanuel Kant is, of course, Critique of Pure Reason. In it, the author considered the possibility of true knowledge, not associated with experiments and research, a priori. In the future, Kant began to ask existential questions, but did not stop studying the ways of knowing. He argued that knowledge is based, among other things, on the subject of knowledge.
According to Kant, we do not study objects directly, but their phenomena – our own experience, formed in the study of an object. In addition, we have a conflict between reason and experience. And to confirm this, Kant deduces four antinomies – judgments that refute themselves. To try to come to terms with these contradictions, the philosopher suggests turning to faith, since science is not omnipotent and cannot explain them.
It is worth noting that modern scientific knowledge refutes Kant's antinomies. However, at one time they were quite 'shocked', since they assumed the need for religion from a research point of view.
Plato is one of the few ancient Greek philosophers whose works have come down to our time in full form. As a student of Socrates, he turned to the study of reason – and thereby became one of the founders of idealism.
In his writings, he denied the social concept of being. According to Plato, 'being' can be seen only in certain absolute entities, not tied to time and space. The philosopher called them 'eidos' or 'ideas'.
The world from the point of view of Plato consists of three elements (kinds) – eidos, eternal and existing outside of space; things that change during their life; and the space in which these things exist. This point of view is especially vividly manifested in the Timaeus dialogue, where the thinker describes his concept of the universe.
The work 'Parmenides' states that the world of ideas exists separately from the material universe. These spheres are opposed to each other. And because of this, modern researchers of Plato cannot determine exactly how he represented the world – for if the universes are opposed to each other, how is there a single space?
Plato also studied the soul and brought out 4 arguments that confirm its immortality:
- Opposites imply each other – like sleep and wakefulness, for example. Therefore, death must be complemented by immortality;
- There are universal concepts such as 'beauty' and 'fairness' without a bearer. And if a person knows them, it means that he must learn them somewhere. Plato believed that the soul even before birth knows about absolute entities, which confirms its immortality;
- Since the soul dominates in the union of body and soul, and the body obeys it, it means that the soul is close to divine essences. Immortal, in general;
- The soul is eidos, the idea of life, the root cause of the body's existence. This means that her being extends beyond the limits of the perceived world.
In his philosophical research, Plato used such a method of knowledge as dialectics. Therefore, most of his works are written in the form of a dialogue, where one character asks questions or counterarguments to another.
Karl Heinrich Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx is often studied primarily as an economist, author of many works on political economy, and the contributor to Capital. But he is a philosopher. Unless his thought touches not on existential issues, but on the peculiarities of the structure of society.
Marx's ideas grow out of Hegel's thoughts. He believed that a person can develop from the level of subjective thinking to the level of absolute speculation. Hegel called this path 'phenomenology', and his logic – 'dialectics'. Marx, in turn, demanded that this thinking be reversed.
Thus, it was Marx who stood at the foundations of materialist dialectics as a science. In his opinion, a person's thinking develops according to the same laws as the surrounding reality. Moreover, consciousness manifests itself as a reflection of being (society and nature). Together with his comrades, Karl Marx deduced three laws of materialist dialectics:
- Unity and struggle of opposites. Any investigated object has an internal source of development. It is 'set in motion' by the struggle of opposites, which are at the same time inseparable from each other;
- The transition from quantity to quality. Quantity is indifferent to being, but quality determines it. Therefore, one measure passes into another;
- Denial of denial. During the evolution of a measure, object or phenomenon, each new step is a negation of the previous one, but the development itself is progressively repeated (spiral-cyclic) in nature.
- The materialist approach to Hegel's dialectic led to the fact that Karl Heinrich Marx formed the concept of a new social system – communism (socialism). However, he criticized utopian socialism, calling his own scientific. Marx believed that the social order he created grew out of the ideas of classical German philosophers.
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.