Philosophy is a complex subject, with many ways of organising a list such as this. It could be organised on geographical lines, with an obvious division between Western and Asian traditions. It could also be organised according to areas of philosophical discussion, as Ethics, Logic, Epistemology and so on. However, this page opts for a simple chronological organisation.

Ancient Greek philosophy is typically divided into the pre-Socratic Period, the philosophy of Plato, and the philosophy of Aristotle. Important pre-Socratic philosophers include Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Parmenides, and Heraclitus. Socrates and his pupil Plato revolutionized philosophy. While Socrates wrote nothing, his influence survives through that of his pupil. Plato defined the issues with which philosophy still wrestles.

One of the greatest synthesizers of Christian and Aristotelian thought was Thomas Aquinas. His synthesis of Aristotelian metaphysics and practical reasoning with Christian teaching became characteristic of medieval philosophy.

Descartes, who is often called the father of modern philosophy, proposed that philosophy should begin with a radical skepticism about the possibility of obtaining reliable knowledge. In his Meditations, he systematically destroys all the foundations of knowledge except one (I am thinking, therefore I am), and then uses this single indubitable fact to rebuild a system of knowledge.

The British Empiricists, John Locke, George Berkeley and David Hume, developed a form of Scepticism and naturalism on roughly scientific principles.

Immanuel Kant wrote his Critique of Pure Reason in an attempt to reconcile the conflicting views and establish a new groundwork for studying metaphysics rooted in the analysis of the conditions for the possibility of knowledge.

By the late 19th Century, however, several important philosophers argued against the Kantians' skeptical attitude. One of the most influential was Edmund Husserl, who founded the philosophical mode known as phenomenology.

Philosophical thinking also developed elsewhere, and can be seen in many ancient texts. In China, the Tao Te Ching of Lao Tze and the Analects of Confucius both appeared around 600 BC, about the same time as the Greek pre-Socratics were writing. In India, major philosophical texts include the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, from circa 500 BC. In Iran, Zarathustra's teachings which were a new basis for the Iranian branch of Indo-Iranian philosophy appeared around 900 BC. Islamic civilization also produced many philosophical geniuses (see Islamic philosophy).

Though often seen as a wholly abstract field, philosophy is not without practical applications. The most obvious applications are those in ethics — applied ethics in particular — and in political philosophy. The political philosophies of Confucius, Kautilya, Sun Tzu, Immanuel Kant, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Niccolo Machiavelli, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill, Mahatma Gandhi, Robert Nozick, and John Rawls have shaped and been used to justify governments and their actions.

Other important applications can be found in epistemology, which might help one to regulate one's notions of what knowledge, evidence, and justified belief are. Philosophy of science discusses the underpinnings of the scientific method. Aesthetics can help to interpret discussions of art. Even ontology, surely the most abstract and least practical-seeming branch of philosophy, has had important consequences for logic and computer science.

The Classical Age


Confucius (551-479 BCE)

Lao Tzu (4thC BCE)

The Presocratics

Milesian School

Thales (620-546 BC)

Anaximander (610-540 BC)

Anaximenes of Miletus (c. 585-c. 525 BC)


Pythagoras (582-496 BC)

Philolaus (470-380 BC)

Alcmaeon of Croton

Archytas (428-347 BC)

Heraclitus (535-475 BC)

Eleatic School

Xenophanes (570-470 BC)

Parmenides (510-440 BC)

Zeno of Elea (490-430 BC)

Melissus of Samos (c 470 BC–unknown)


Empedocles (490-430 BC)

Anaxagoras (500-428 BC)


Leucippus (first half of 5th century BC)

Democritus (460-370 BC)

Metrodorus of Chios (4th century BC)

Pherecydes of Syros (6th century BC)


Protagoras (490-420 BC)

Gorgias (487-376 BC)

Hippias (485-415 BC)

Antiphon (480-411 BC)

Prodicus (465/450-after 399 BC)

Thrasymachus (459-400 BC)





Theano (fl. 6th cent. BC)

Diogenes Apolloniates (fl. 5th cent. BC)

Aspasia (fl. 5th cent. BC)

Cynics and Stoics

Antisthenes (445-360 BC)

Diogenes of Sinope (400-325 BC)

Classical Greek philosophers

Socrates (469-399 BC)

Euclid of Megara (450-380 BC)

Aristippus (435-356 BC)

Plato (c. 427-c. 347 BC)

Xenophon, 431–c.360 BCE

Speusippus (407-339 BC)

Xenocrates (396-314 BC)

Aristotle (384 - 322 BC)

Arete of Cyrene (fl. 4th cent. BC)

Stilpo (380-300 BC)

Theophrastus (370-288 BC)

Pyrrho (365-275 BC)

Epicurus (c340-c270BC)

Zeno of Citium (335-263 BC)

Cleanthes (331-232 BC)

Aristo (fl. 3rd cent. BC)

Timon (320-230 BC)

Arcesilaus (316-242 BC)

Menippus (fl. 250 BC)

Chrysippus (280-207 BC)

Diogenes of Babylon (240-152 BC)

Carneades (214-129 BC)

Panaetius (185-109 BC)

Philo of Larissa (160-80 BC)

Zeno of Sidon (150-70 BC)

Posidonius (135-51 BC)

Antiochus of Ascalon (130-68 BC)

Philodemus (110-40 BC)

Hellenistic Philosophy

Cicero (106-43 BC)

Aenesidemus (fl. 1st cent. BC)

Lucretius (98? - 55 BC)

Philo of Alexandria (30 BC - 45 AD)

L. Annaeus Seneca, ca. 3 B.C.-65 A.D.)

Epictetus (ca. 55-135 AD)

Musonius Rufus (30-100)

Plutarch (45-120)

Demonax (fl. 2nd cent.)

Diogenes of Oenoanda (fl. 2nd cent.)

Alcinous (fl. 2nd cent.)

Marcus Aurelius, 121-180

Galen of Pergamum (129-199)

Clement of Alexandria (150-215)

Sextus Empiricus (fl. 200)

Alexander of Aphrodisias (fl. 200)

Julia Domna (170-217)

Diogenes Laertius (fl. 3rd cent.)

The Neo-Platonists

Plotinus, 205-270

Porphyry (233-309)

Iamblichus (242-327)

Calcidius (fl. 4th cent.)

Themistius (317-388)

Augustine of Hippo, 354-430

Hypatia (370-415)

Proclus (411-485)

Ammonius (440-521)

Damascius (462-540)

The Middle Ages

Boethius, 475-524

Simplicius of Cilicia, 490-560

John Philoponus, 490-570

Johannes Scotus Eriugena, 810-877

Anselm (11th century)

Pierre Abélard, 1079-1142

Roger Bacon, 1220-1292

Thomas Aquinas, 1224-1274

Duns Scotus, 1266-1308

William of Ockham, 1285-1347

Richard de Bury, 1281-1345


Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, 1466-1536

Copernicus, 1473-1543

Niccolò Machiavelli, 1469-1527

Thomas More, 1478-1535

Michel de Montaigne, 1533-1592

Tycho Brahe, 1546-1601

Francis Bacon, 1561-1626

Galileo Galilei, 1564–1642

Johannes Kepler, 1571–1630

Robert Burton, 1577-1640

Thomas Hobbes, 1588-1679

Pierre Gassendi, 1592-1655

The Age of Enlightenment

René Descartes, 1596-1650

Thomas Browne, 1605-1682

Blaise Pascal, 1623-1662

Anne Conway, 1631–1679

Benedict de Spinoza, 1632-1677

John Locke, 1632-1704

Nicolas Malebranche, 1638–1715

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, 1646-1716

George Berkeley, 1685-1753

Montesquieu, 1689-1755

Voltaire, 1694–1778

Thomas Reid, 1710-1796

David Hume, 1711-1776

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1712-1778

Denis Diderot (1713-1784 AD)

Immanuel Kant, 1724-1804

Edmund Burke, 1729-1797

Revolution & Romanticism

Adam Smith, 1723–1790

Thomas Paine, 1737-1809

Jeremy Bentham, 1748-1832

Dugald Stewart, 1753-1828

William Godwin, 1756-1836

Mary Wollstonecraft, 1759-1797

Thomas Malthus, 1766-1834

Gottlieb Fichte, 1762-1814

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, 1770-1831

Arthur Schopenhauer, 1788-1860

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882

John Stuart Mill, 1806-1873

Henry David Thoreau, 1817-1862

Robert Green Ingersoll, 1833-1899

Thomas Henry Huxley, 1825-1895

John Fiske, 1842-1901

The Age of Uncertainty

Karl Marx, 1818-1883

William James, 1842-1910

Søren Kierkegaard, 1813-1855

Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844-1900

John Maynard Keynes, 1883-1946

Gottlob Frege

Rudolf Steiner

Albert Schweizer

Alfred North Whitehead, 1861-1947

Bertrand Russell, 1872-1970

Karl Popper

G. E. Moore

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Rudolph Carnap

Jean-Paul Sartre, 1905-1980

Albert Camus

Georg Henrik von Wright

Mortimer Adler

W. V. O. Quine

Nelson Goodman

Imre Lakatos

Ayn Rand

Paul Feyerabend

Mario Bunge

Douglas Hofstadter

Daniel Dennett

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, 1881-1955

Simon Blackburn

Paul Ricoeur

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