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Religious Affiliation of
History's Greatest Philosophers

The following list of "great philosophers" is taken directly from
Living Biographies of Great Philosophers by Henry Thomas and Dana Lee Thomas, Garden City, New York: Garden City Books (1959), one volume in the Thomas's classic Living Biographies series. has no position about whether or not these are really history's greatest or most influential philosophers. We simply thought it would be interesting to present a generally respected list of philosophers, along with the "religious affiliation" of each -- to whatever extent such a concept can be applied to these individuals. Obviously the belief systems of each of these philosphers extend beyond traditionally defined denominational parameters. "Religious affiliations" listed below include traditions the philosophers were raised in as well as philosophies they founded or grew into. This list does not summarize the philosophy of these individuals. This list represents the perspective of Henry and Dana Lee Thomas, who are historians and biographers.

Other Living Biographies Books by Henry and Dana Lee Thomas are about: Great Scientists; Great Composers; Great Poets; Great Painters; Religious Leaders; Famous Novelists; Famous Women.

Related Pages:
- Spiritual/Religious Biographies - Religious Affiliation of Famous People
- Famous Adherents - lists of famous adherents of dozens of different religious groups

Name Date Birthplace Affiliation Some Works Written
Socrates 470-
399 B.C
Athens, Greece Greek philosophy, precursor of Platonism (he led what was considered a dangerous cult in his time, and he was put to death for his teachings, which are today called "ancient Greek philosophy") Developer of the Socratic Method
Plato 427 -
347 B.C.
Athens, Greece Greek philosophy / Platonism Republic; Symposium; Phaedrus; Phaedo; Apology of Socrates; Crito; Sophist; Ion; Meno; Laws
Aristotle 384 -
322 B.C.
Stagira, Macedonia Greek philosophy / Platonism / Deist / Aristotelian philosophy Dialogues; On Monarchy; Alexander; The Customs of Barbarians; Natural History; Organon, or The Instrument of Correct Thinking; On the Soul; Logic; Rhetoric; Eudemian Ethics; Physics; Metaphysics; Politics; Poetics
Epicurus 342 -
270 B.C.
Samos, Ionia, Greece Greek philosophy / Platonism / Epicureanism To Herodotus, dealing with physics; To Menoecus, dealing with ethics and theology; To Pythocles, on meteorology
Marcus Aurelius 121-180 Roman Empire Pagan / Cynicism / Stoicism / Christian Meditations
Saint Thomas Aquinas 1225-1274 Roccasecca, Naples, Italy Catholic Summa Theologica; Summa Contra Gentilres; Disputed Questions; On Divine Names; On the Book of Causes
Francis Bacon 1561-1626 London, England Anglican New Atlantis; The Wisdom of the Ancients; Colors of Good and Evil; Sacred Meditations; Confession of Faith; Things Thought and Things Seen; History of Life and Death
Rene Descartes 1596-1650 La Haye, Touraine, France Catholic The Search after Truth; Rules for the Direction of the Mind; Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason; Meditatios on the First Philosophy; Principles of Philosophy; The World; Geometry; Treatise on Man; Dioptric
Baruch de Spinoza 1632-1677 Amsterdam, Netherlands Judaism; later pantheism/deism Short Treatise on God, Man and His Well Being; Treatise on Religion and Politics; Metaphysical Thoughts; The Calculation of Chances; Ethics
John Locke 1632-1704 Wrington, Somersetshire, England raised as a Puritan (Anglican); later general liberal Protestant Christian The Reasonableness of Christianity; Letters on Toleration; Two Treatises on Government; Essay Concerning the Human Understanding; Thoughts on Education
Voltaire 1694-1778 Paris, France Jansenist; Deist Henriade; Oedipe; Brutus; Zaire; Mahomet; Irene; Littlebig; Letters on the English; Candide; The World As It Goes; Zadig
David Hume 1711-1776 Edinburgh, Scotland Church of Scotland (Presbyterian); deist Treatise of Human Nature; Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion; Four Dissertations: The Natural History of Religion, of the Passions, Of Tragedy, Of the Standard of Taste; Inquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals
Immanuel Kant 1724-1804 Konigsberg, East Prussia (Kaliningrad) Lutheran; Pietist The Critique of Pure Reason; The Critique of Practical Reason; The Critique of Judgment; Metaphysic of Nature; Metaphysic of Ethics; Religion within the Limits of Pure Reason
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel 1770-1831 Stuttgart, Germany Lutheran Science of Logic; Phenomenology of Spirit; Aesthetics; Philosophy of Religion; Philosophy of Art; Philosophy of Mind; Philosophy of Right; Philosophy of History; History of Philosophy; Encyclopedia of Philosophical Science; Life of Jesus
Arthur Schopenhauer 1788-1860 Gdansk, Poland philosophically atheist and anti-rationalist; among religions, preferred Hindu mysticism The World As Will and Idea; On the Fourfold Root of Sufficient Reason; On the Will in Nature; The Art of Controversy; The Two Fundamental Problems of Ethics
Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-1882 Boston, MA Unitarian minister; left and developed "Transcendentalism" The American Scholar; English Traits; Nature; Essays; Representative Man; The Conduct of Life; Letters and Social Aims; The Oversoul; The Natural History of the Intellect; Duty; Truth; Beauty and Manners; Literary Ethics; Journals; Poems; Many Days and Other Pieces
Herbert Spencer 1820-1903 Derby, Derbyshire, England atheist; "scientific philosophy" Principles of Sociology; Principles of Ethics; The Theory of Population; The Universal Postulate; Man versus the State; First Principles
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche 1844-1900 Rocken, Saxony, Germany raised Lutheran (father was a pastor); later pagan-atheist-Nietzscheist The Birth of Tragedy; Human All Too Human; The Dawn of Day; The Joyful Wisdom; Thus Spake Zarathustra; Beyond Good and Evil; The Genealogy of Morals; Schopenhauer as Educator; The Will to Power; The Twilight of the Idols; Antichrist; Ecce Homo (autobiography)
William James 1842-1910 New York City, New York raised by a free-thinking mystic; pluralistic The Principles of Psychology; Human Immortality; The Will to Believe and other Essays in Popular Philosophy; Talks to Teachers on Psychology and to Students on Some of Life's Ideals; The Varieties of Religious Experience; A Pluralistic Universe; The Meaning of Truth; Essays in Radical Empiricism; Some Problems in Philosophy
Henri Bergson 1859-1941 Paris, France born Jewish; skeptic and atheist while young; later idealist and believer in Elan Vital Creative Evolution; Time and Free Will; Matter and Memory; Mind-Energy; Laughter and Metaphysics; The Perception of Change; The Meaning of the War (of 1914)
George Santayana 1863-1952 Madrid, Spain devout Platonist-Catholic-Atheist Lucifer, a Theological Tragedy; The Sense of Beauty; Interpretations of Poetry and Religion; The Life of Reason, in five volumes: Reason in Common Sense, Reason in Society, Reason in Religion, Reason in Art, Reason in Science; Three Philosophical Poets; Winds of Doctrine; Egotism in German Philosophy; Skepticism and Animal Faith; Platonism and the Spiritual Life; The Realms of Being; The Last Puritan; The Realm of Truth; The Realm of Spirit; Persons and Places; The Middle Span

World's Greatest Philosophers
(Steven A. DeVore and Richard Linford, InteliQuest Learning Systems; URL:

  • Socrates
  • Plato
  • Aristotle
  • Francis Bacon
  • Rene Descartes
  • John Locke
  • Voltaire
  • Jean Jacques Rousseau
  • Adam Smith
  • Immanuel Kant
  • Karl Marx
  • Friedrich Nietzsche

Other categories in the DeVore/Linford Series are: Explorers, Scientists, Inventors, Writers, Painters, Composers, and Leaders.

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Web page created 28 September 1999. Updated 8 April 2007.