Ngrams from Google is a wonderful tool for observing the change in literary interest of individual words. The graphs are based on the numerical usage of a given word, or phrase, in published books from the year 1800 AD to near present. That near present now means 2000 AD, but hopefully it will soon graphed to the present. It is a fine tool, but extreme caution must be used because it has some qualities that must be taken into account. For example, the name “Adam Smith” will generally limit the graphed data to the economic philosopher who published The Wealth of Nations in 1776, but the word Smith will give a vastly different result. Note the exact search word used is at the right side of the charts below. The numbers to the left are % of usage for a given year, labeled at the bottom. Be very careful to note the number of zeros (0.000000%) on the scale on the left side of each chart, as the first one has 6 zeros after the decimal point, and the second one has 5 zeros, and each chart is independent.Adam Smith
Philosophers’ names are listed in this post beneath the charts by date of their birth, and their popularity in the year 2000 is listed to the right of each chart. Each of these philosophers was reviewed using their personal quotations in Probaway’s series Philosophers Squared. Click any chart below for a bigger image.
Imhotep, Thales of Miletos, Xeenophanes, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Anaxagoras, Pericles, Zeno of Elea
Gottfried Leibniz, George Berkeley, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Thomas Reid, David Hume, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Denis Diderot. (The rise of the word Berkeley after 1940 is probably due to the University of California, Berkeley’s rise to prominence. The bolding of Hume can be done by pointing to any word when in the Google Ngram program.)
To search your favorite philosophers, or other words or phrases, go to Google Ngrams and enter their names several ways. By comparing their graphs you can eliminate some of the crossover static from other sources using the same words.