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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.Ngram_Philosophers_Adam_Smith__Adam Smith

Ngram_Philosophers_Adam-Smith_Smith, 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

Imhotep, Thales of Miletos, Xeenophanes, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Anaxagoras, Pericles, Zeno of Elea

Ngram_Philosophers_490BC-384BC_Empedocles, Protagoras, Socrates, Democritus, Antisthenes, Plato, Diogenes of Sinope, Aristotle

Ngram_Philosophers_372BC-45AD_Epicurus, Zeno of Citium, Chrysippus, Cicero, Philo, Seneca, Plutarch, Epictetus,

Ngram_Philosophers_55AD-1266AD_Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Plotinus, St. Augustine, Hypatia, St. Anselm, St. Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus

Ngram_Philosophers_1285AD-1564AD_William of Occam, Cosimo de Medici, Erasmus, Niccolo Machiavelli, Nicolaus Copernicus, Thomas More, Francis Bacon, Galileo Galilei,

Ngram_Philosophers_1588AD-1642AD_Thomas Hobbes, René Descartes, Antoine Arnauld, Blaise Pascal, Baruch Spinoza, John Locke, Nicolas Malebranche, Isaac Newton

Ngram_Philosophers_1646AD-1713AD_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.)

Ngram_Philosophers_1723AD-1775AD_Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant, Thomas Paine, Jeremy Bentham, Mary Wollstonecraft, Friedrich Schiller, Georg Hegel, Friedrich Schelling

Ngram_Philosophers_1788AD-1823AD_Arthur Schopenhauer, Auguste Comte, John Stuart Mill, Charles Darwin, Søren Kierkegaard, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Alfred Russel Wallace

Ngram_Philosophers_1835AD-1848AD_Mark Twain, Ernst Mach, Charles Peirce, Alfred Thayer Mahan, William James, Ambrose Bierce, Friedrich Nietzsche, Gottlob Frege

Ngram_Philosophers_1856AD-1870AD_Sigmund Freud, Ferdinand Saussure, Emile Durkheim, Edmund Husserl, Henri Bergson, John Dewey, Alfred North Whitehead, Vladimir Lenin

Ngram_Philosophers_1872AD-1889AD_Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, Carl Jung, Albert Einstein, Moritz Schlick, John Maynard Keynes, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger

Ngram_Philosophers_1891AD-1905AD_Rudolf Carnap, Lev Vygotsky, Gilbert Ryle, Alfred Tarski, Karl Popper, B.F. Skinner, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ayn Rand

Ngram_Philosophers_1906AD-1913AD_Kurt Godel, Simone de Beauvoir, W.V.O. Quine, Claude Levi-Strauss, A.J. Ayer, J.L. Austin, Alan Turing, Albert Camus

Ngram_Philosophers_1915AD-1932AD_Alan Watts, Garrett Hardin, Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend, Michel Foucault, Noam Chomsky, Jacques Derrida, John Searle

Ngram_Philosophers_1942AD-1953ADDaniel Dennett, Ray Kurzweil, Christopher Hitchens, Michael Sandel

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.