history The Greatest Minds of All Time  

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List of the Greatest Minds of All Time, throughout history. This list represents the most influential thinkers across various disciplines, ranked in a way that represents the power of their ideas and their impact on the world. The wisest men and women include top philosophers, physicists, famous poets, thinkers, teachers, physiologists, artists, inventors, engineers, the most irreplaceable CEOs in the world, economists and politicians and those whose talents span across many fields of study.

This list takes a historic perspective, so the greatest thinkers who are included on this list come from many different eras. The greatest minds of the 21st century may be quite different from great geniuses from the distant past, but each person should be judged within the context of the time that they were living. For example, inventing a new type of telephone in 2013 would not qualify one as "the most brilliant mind of all time," but in 1876 when Alexander Graham Bell first patented the telephone, it was an act of genius not seen before.

See Also: The Most Influential People of All Time.
list ordered by

11,988 2,983
Leonardo da Vinci is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Leonardo da Vinci Died at 67 (1452-1519) Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian polymath, painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest ...more

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9,838 2,698
Isaac Newton is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Isaac Newton Died at 84 (1643-1727) Sir Isaac Newton PRS MP was an English physicist and mathematician who is widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time and as a key figure in the scientific revolution. His book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia ...more

11,098 3,961
Albert Einstein is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Albert Einstein Died at 76 (1879-1955) Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist. Einstein's work is also known for its influence on the philosophy of science. He developed the general theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics. Einstein is best ...more

6,963 2,024
Galileo Galilei is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Galileo Galilei Died at 78 (1564-1642) Galileo Galilei, often known mononymously as Galileo, was an Italian physicist, mathematician, engineer, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the scientific revolution during the Renaissance. His achievements include ...more

6,057 2,331
Plato is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Plato Plato was a philosopher, as well as mathematician, in Classical Greece. He is considered an essential figure in the development of philosophy, especially the Western tradition, and he founded the Academy in Athens, the first institution of ...more

5,895 2,097
Aristotle is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Aristotle Died at 62 (383 BC-321 BC) Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and scientist born in the Macedonian city of Stagira, Chalkidice, on the northern periphery of Classical Greece. His father, Nicomachus, died when Aristotle was a child, whereafter Proxenus of Atarneus became ...more

9,513 2,253
Nikola Tesla is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Nikola Tesla Died at 87 (1856-1943) Nikola Tesla was a Serbian American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current electricity supply system. Tesla gained experience ...more

5,235 2,621
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Died at 35 (1756-1791) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard ...more

4,956 1,480
Archimedes is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Archimedes Archimedes of Syracuse was an Ancient Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer. Although few details of his life are known, he is regarded as one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity. Generally considered ...more

4,168 2,222
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
William Shakespeare Died at 52 (1564-1616) William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". ...more

4,234 1,438
Michelangelo is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Michelangelo Died at 89 (1475-1564) Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer of the High Renaissance who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art. ...more

4,693 1,664
Marie Curie is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Marie Curie Died at 67 (1867-1934) Marie Skłodowska-Curie was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and only woman to win twice, the only person to ...more

5,009 2,641
Charles Darwin is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Charles Darwin Died at 73 (1809-1882) Charles Robert Darwin, FRS was an English naturalist and geologist, best known for his contributions to evolutionary theory. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors, and in a joint publication with ...more

3,742 1,089
Socrates is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Socrates Socrates was a classical Greek philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy. He is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon and ...more

3,374 974
Pythagoras is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Pythagoras Pythagoras of Samos was an Ionian Greek philosopher, mathematician, and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism. Most of the information about Pythagoras was written down centuries after he lived, so very little reliable ...more

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2,789 1,047
Johannes Kepler is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Johannes Kepler Died at 59 (1571-1630) Johannes Kepler was a German mathematician, astronomer, and astrologer. A key figure in the 17th century scientific revolution, he is best known for his laws of planetary motion, based on his works Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome ...more

3,284 1,440
Johann Sebastian Bach is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Johann Sebastian Bach Died at 65 (1685-1750) Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He enriched established German styles through his skill in counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organisation, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from ...more

3,550 1,185
Ludwig van Beethoven is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Ludwig van Beethoven Died at 57 (1770-1827) Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers. His best-known ...more

4,272 2,239
Stephen Hawking is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Stephen Hawking age 75 Stephen William Hawking CH CBE FRS FRSA is an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge. His scientific works include a collaboration ...more

2,446 1,263
Immanuel Kant is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Immanuel Kant Died at 80 (1724-1804) Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who is widely considered to be a central figure of modern philosophy. He argued that fundamental concepts structure human experience, and that reason is the source of morality. His thought continues to ...more

2,630 907
Nicolaus Copernicus is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Nicolaus Copernicus Died at 70 (1473-1543) Nicolaus Copernicus was a Renaissance mathematician and astronomer who formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at its center. The publication of this model in his book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium ...more

3,181 1,308
Benjamin Franklin is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Benjamin Franklin Died at 84 (1706-1790) Benjamin Franklin FRS was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A renowned polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. ...more

1,950 707
Max Planck is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Polar Bear added Max Planck Died at 89 (1858-1947) Physicist,Quantum theory and thermodynamics were greatly enriched by his work. Probably the scientist of the 20th century. Einstein himself said so. He was a friend of Einstein, but he proved that Einsteins idea of a strict determination of all things was wrong by his quantum theory. This theory, scientifically proved to be right, influenced the science of physics and philosophy tremendously.The thesis of God and an existence beyond determination got an argument from the side of natural science. The future only will show how great his contributions to science really were.Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, FRS was a German theoretical physicist who originated quantum theory, which won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918. Planck made many contributions to theoretical physics, but his fame as a physicist rests ...more

1,944 1,067
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Died at 83 (1749-1832) Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer and statesman. His body of work includes epic and lyric poetry written in a variety of metres and styles; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an autobiography; literary and aesthetic criticism; ...more

2,399 1,312
Friedrich Nietzsche is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Friedrich Nietzsche Died at 56 (1844-1900) Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a German philosopher, cultural critic, poet, composer and Latin and Greek scholar. He wrote several critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy and science, displaying a fondness for ...more

1,895 1,002
Homer is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Homer Homerus, best known as his anglicised name Homer, is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey. He was believed by the ancient Greeks to have been the first and greatest of the epic poets. Author of the first known literature of Europe, he had a ...more

1,610 762
Hippocrates is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Hippocrates Died at 83 (459 BC-376 BC) Hippocrates of Kos, was a Greek physician of the Age of Pericles, and is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine. He is referred to as the "Father of Western Medicine" in recognition of his lasting ...more

1,494 847
Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz Died at 70 (1646-1716) Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz was a German polymath and philosopher. He occupies a prominent place in the history of mathematics and the history of philosophy. Most scholars believe Leibniz developed calculus independently of Isaac Newton, and ...more

2,287 1,313
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Thomas Jefferson Died at 83 (1743-1826) Thomas Jefferson was an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and the third President of the United States. He was a spokesman for democracy, and embraced the principles of republicanism and the ...more

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1,929 993
Confucius is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Confucius Died at 72 (550 BC-478 BC) Confucius was a Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher of the Spring and Autumn period of Chinese history. The philosophy of Confucius emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and ...more

2,297 1,952
Thomas Edison is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Thomas Edison Died at 84 (1847-1931) Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. Dubbed ...more

1,749 621
Alan Turing is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
speroe added Alan Turing Died at 42 (1912-1954) Alan Mathison Turing, OBE, FRS was a British pioneering computer scientist, mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, mathematical biologist, and marathon and ultra distance runner. He was highly influential in the development of ...more

4,177 2,479
Jesus Christ is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
GarryMarley added Jesus of Nazareth 4 B.C - 30 A.D.Jesus, also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth, is the central figure of Christianity, whom the teachings of most Christian denominations hold to be the Son of God. Christianity regards Jesus as the awaited Messiah of the Old Testament and refers ...more

1,657 917
Voltaire is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Voltaire Died at 84 (1694-1778) François-Marie Arouet, known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher famous for his wit, his attacks on the established Catholic Church, and his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom ...more

1,450 725
René Descartes is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
René Descartes Died at 54 (1596-1650) René Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician and writer who spent most of his life in the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed the father of modern philosophy, and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, ...more

1,186 506
Carl Friedrich Gauss is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Carl Friedrich Gauss Died at 78 (1777-1855) Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss was a German mathematician who contributed significantly to many fields, including number theory, algebra, statistics, analysis, differential geometry, geodesy, geophysics, mechanics, electrostatics, astronomy, ...more

1,206 774
Leo Tolstoy is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
sudeeshab added Leo Tolstoy Died at 82 (1828-1910) Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, commonly referred to as Leo Tolstoy, was a Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright and philosopher who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Tolstoy was a master of realistic fiction and is ...more

948 583
Johannes Gutenberg is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
sebbzor added Johannes Gutenberg Died at 70 (1398-1468) Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg was a German blacksmith, goldsmith, printer, and publisher who introduced printing to Europe. His invention of mechanical movable type printing started the Printing Revolution and is widely regarded ...more

941 404
Werner Heisenberg is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Werner Heisenberg Died at 75 (1901-1976) Werner Karl Heisenberg was a German theoretical physicist and one of the key pioneers of quantum mechanics. He published his work in 1925 in a breakthrough paper. In the subsequent series of papers with Max Born and Pascual Jordan, during the ...more

1,394 519
Michael Faraday is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Michael Faraday Died at 76 (1791-1867) Michael Faraday FRS was an English scientist who contributed to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. His main discoveries include those of electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis. Although Faraday received ...more

1,276 714
Gregor Mendel is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Srinidhi S U added Gregor Mendel Died at 62 (1822-1884) Gregor Johann Mendel was a German-speaking Moravian scientist and Augustinian friar who gained posthumous fame as the founder of the modern science of genetics. Though farmers had known for centuries that crossbreeding of animals and plants ...more

1,099 434
Blaise Pascal is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Blaise Pascal Died at 39 (1623-1662) Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and Christian philosopher. He was a child prodigy who was educated by his father, a tax collector in Rouen. Pascal's earliest work was in the natural and applied sciences ...more

1,507 744
Alexander Graham Bell is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Alexander Graham Bell Died at 75 (1847-1922) Alexander Graham Bell was an eminent Scottish-born scientist, inventor, engineer and innovator who is credited with inventing the first practical telephone. Bell's father, grandfather, and brother had all been associated with work on elocution ...more

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892 301
Louis Pasteur is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Louis Pasteur Died at 73 (1822-1895) Louis Pasteur was a French chemist and microbiologist renowned for his discoveries of the principles of vaccination, microbial fermentation and pasteurization. He is remembered for his remarkable breakthroughs in the causes and preventions of ...more

1,141 514
Sun Tzu is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Polar Bear added Sun Tzu Died at 48 (543 BC-495 BC) Sun Tzu was a Chinese military general, strategist, and philosopher who lived in the Spring and Autumn period of ancient China. The name he is best known by is actually an honorific which means "Master Sun": His birth name was Sun Wu ...more

1,424 1,286
Martin Luther is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
GarryMarley added Martin Luther Died at 63 (1483-1546) Martin Luther was a German friar, priest and professor of theology who was a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation. Initially an Augustinian friar, Luther came to reject several teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. He ...more

1,333 549
Niels Bohr is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time

1,089 697
Sophocles is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Sophocles Sophocles is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus, and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides. According to the Suda, a 10th-century ...more

878 464
Fyodor Dostoyevsky is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Fyodor Dostoyevsky Died at 60 (1821-1881) Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky, sometimes transliterated Dostoevsky, was a Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist and philosopher. Dostoyevsky's literary works explore human psychology in the troubled political, social, and ...more

951 674
Arthur Schopenhauer is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Arthur Schopenhauer Died at 72 (1788-1860) Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher best known for his book, The World as Will and Representation, in which he claimed that our world is driven by a continually dissatisfied will, continually seeking satisfaction. Independently ...more