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The ordered list below is from the Leiter Reports where 400 current philosophers voted on who are the most important philosophers of the recent 200 years.

The top 40 Modern Philosophers

  1. Ludwig Wittgenstein teacherLudwig Wittgenstein (1889 – 1951) — Wiki – Pic Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself. My aim is: to teach you to pass from a piece of disguised nonsense to something that is patent nonsense.
  2. Gottlob FregeGottlob Frege (1848 – 1925) — Wiki – Pic Every good mathematician is at least half a philosopher, and every good philosopher is at least half a mathematician.
  3. Bertrand RussellBertrand Russell (1872 – 1970) — Wiki – Pic Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth.
  4. John Stuart MillJohn Stuart Mill (1806 – 1873) — Wiki – Pic The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way.
  5. W. V. O. QuineW. V. O. Quine (1908 – 2000) — Wiki – Pic The edge of the system must be kept squared with experience
  6. Georg HegelGeorg Hegel (1770 – 1831) — Wiki – Pic Truth is found neither in the thesis nor the antithesis, but in an emergent synthesis which reconciles the two.
  7. Saul Kripke, philosopher, mathematician, at PrincetonSaul Kripke (1940 – ) — Wiki – Pic It really is a nice theory. The only defect I think it has is probably common to all philosophical theories. It’s wrong.
  8. Friedrich NietzscheFriedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) — Wiki – Pic The higher we soar the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly.
  9. Karl_MarxKarl Marx (1818 – 1883) — Wiki – Pic From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.
  10. Soren KierkegaardSøren Kierkegaard (1813 – 1855) — Wiki – Pic What I really need is to get clear about what I must do, not what I must know. – There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.
  11. Rudolf CarnapRudolf Carnap (1891 – 1970) — Wiki – Pic One of the principal tasks of the logical analysis of a given proposition is to find out the method of verification for that proposition.
  12. John RawlsJohn Rawls (1921-2002) — Wiki Pic The principles of justice are chosen behind a veil of ignorance. Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous.
  13. David Kellogg LewisDavid Kellogg Lewis (1941 – 2001) — Wiki Pic You claim to be able to break the very laws of nature. And with so little effort! A marvelous power indeed! Can you also bend spoons? 
  14. G. E. MooreG. E. Moore (1873 – 1958) — Wiki – Pic Everything is what it is and not another thing.
  15. Donald Davidson philosopherDonald Davidson  (1917 – 2003) — Wiki – Pic The trouble is, as so often in philosophy, it is hard to improve intelligibility while retaining the excitement.
  16. Martin HeideggerMartin Heidegger (1889 – 1976) — Wiki – Pic Man is not the lord of beings. Man is the shepherd of Being.
  17. Edmund HusserlEdmund Husserl (1859 – 1938) — Wiki – Pic Philosophers, as things now stand, are all too fond of offering criticism from on high instead of studying and understanding things from within.
  18. Hilary Putnam, philosopherHilary Putnam (1926 – ) — Wiki – Pic The ‘real world’ depends upon our values (and, again, vice versa).
  19. William JamesWilliam James (1842 – 1910) — Wiki – Pic The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.
  20. Charles PeirceCharles Peirce (1839 – 1914) — Wiki – Pic Every man is fully satisfied that there is such a thing as truth, or he would not ask any questions.
  21. Alfred TarskiAlfred Tarski (1901 – 1983) — Wiki – Pic – ‘Snow is white’ is true if and only if snow is white.
  22. J. L. AustinJ. L. Austin (1911 – 1960) — Wiki – Pic Ordinary language blinkers the already feeble imagination.
  23. P. F. Strawson, philosopher at OxfordP.F. Strawson (1919 – 2006) — Wiki – Pic No philosopher understands his predecessors until he has re-thought their thought in his own contemporary terms.
  24. Karl PopperKarl Popper (1902 – 1994) — Wiki – Pic – In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable: and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.
  25. Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret AnscombeElizabeth Anscombe (1919 – 2001) — Wiki – Pic Those who try to make room for sex as mere casual enjoyment pay the penalty: they become shallow.
  26. SartreJean-Paul Sartre (1905 – 1980) — Wiki – Pic Life has no meaning a priori… It is up to you to give it a meaning, and value is nothing but the meaning that you choose.
  27. John DeweyJohn Dewey (1859 – 1952) — Wiki – Pic We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.
  28. Wilfrid Sellars, philosopher at U of PittsburghWilfrid Sellars (1912 – 1989) — Wiki – Pic The hypothetical imperative which comes closest to capturing the moral point of view is that of impartial benevolence.
  29. Arthur SchopenhauerArthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860) — Wiki – Pic Our world is driven by a continually dissatisfied will, continually seeking satisfaction.
  30. Henry Sidgwick, English Utilitarian philosopherHenry Sidgwick (1838 – 1900) — Wiki – Pic Reason shows me that if my happiness is desirable and good, the equal happiness of any other person must be equally desirable.
  31. Alfred North WhiteheadAlfred N. Whitehead (1861 – 1947) — Wiki – Pic There are no whole truths; all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil.
  32. FoucaultMichel Foucault (1926 – 1984) — Wiki – Pic Everything I do, I do in order that it may be of use.
  33. Sir Bernard Williams, British moral philosopher of personal identityBernard Williams (1929 – 2003) — Wiki – Pic Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit.
  34. Gilbert RyleGilbert Ryle (1900 – 1976) — Wiki – Pic Man need not be degraded to a machine by being denied to be a ghost in a machine.
  35. Maurice Merleau-PontyMaurice Merleau-Ponty (1908 – 1961) — Wiki Pic There is no inner man, man is in the world, and only in the world does he know himself.
  36. Franz Brentano German philosopherFranz Brentano (1838 – 1917) — Wiki Pic A person judges truly, if and only if, his judgment agrees with the judgment he would make if he were to judge with evidence.
  37. Michael Dummett philosopherMichael Dummett (1925 – 2011) — Wiki Pic Some changes add to the expressive power of language, while others diminish it: we should resist the latter and encourage the former.
  38. Jürgen Habermas, German philosopherJurgen Habermas (1929 – ) — Wiki Pic The uncertainty of the danger belongs to the essence of terrorism.
  39. Hannah Arendt German/American philosopherHannah Arendt (1906 – 1975) — Wiki Pic Action without a name, a who attached to it, is meaningless.
  40. Simone de BeauvoirSimone de Beauvoir (1908 – 1986) — Wiki – Pic There is only one good. And that is to act according to the dictates of one’s conscience.

An additional 148 Philosophers Squared Off In Quotations

A Chronological Index

An Alphabetical Index


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