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Famous Philosophers from France

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Updated June 14, 2019 61k views 284 items

List of notable or famous philosophers from France, with bios and photos, including the top philosophers born in France and even some popular philosophers who immigrated to France. If you're trying to find out the names of famous French philosophers then this list is the perfect resource for you. These philosophers are among the most prominent in their field, and information about each well-known philosopher from France is included when available.

Famous French people of philosophy here include everything from Michel Foucault to Simone de Beauvoir.

This historic philosophers from France list can help answer the questions "Who are some French philosophers of note?" and "Who are the most famous philosophers from France?" These prominent philosophers of France may or may not be currently alive, but what they all have in common is that they're all respected French philosophers.

Use this list of renowned French philosophers to discover some new philosophers that you aren't familiar with. Don't forget to share this list by clicking one of the social media icons at the top or bottom of the page.
1
Jean-Paul Sartre is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Dec. at 75 (1905-1980)

Birthplace: Paris, France

Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (, US also ; French: [saʁtʁ]; 21 June 1905 – 15 April 1980) was a French philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and ...more

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The Best Jean-Paul Sartre Quotes #114 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #540 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time

2
Michel Foucault is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Dec. at 58 (1926-1984)

Birthplace: Europe, Metropolitan France, Poitiers, Poitou-Charentes, Vienne

Paul-Michel Foucault (UK: FOO-koh, US: foo-KOH, French: [pɔl miʃɛl fuko]; 15 October 1926 – 25 June 1984), generally known as Michel Foucault, was a French philosopher, historian of ideas, ...more

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#1,799 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time #299 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time #41 of 256 The Best Gay Authors

3
Albert Schweitzer is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Dec. at 90 (1875-1965)

Birthplace: Kaysersberg, France

Albert Schweitzer (14 January 1875 – 4 September 1965) was an Alsatian polymath. He was a theologian, organist, writer, humanitarian, philosopher, and physician. A Lutheran, Schweitzer ...more

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#358 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time #189 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time #143 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive

4
Simone de Beauvoir is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Dec. at 78 (1908-1986)

Birthplace: Paris, France

Simone Lucie Ernestine Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir (UK: , US: , French: [simɔn də bovwaʁ] (listen); 9 January 1908 – 14 April 1986) was a French writer, intellectual, existentialist philosopher, ...more

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#341 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #350 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time #399 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time

5
Albert Camus is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Dec. at 47 (1913-1960)

Birthplace: Dréan, Algeria

Albert Camus (; French: [albɛʁ kamy] (listen); 7 November 1913 – 4 January 1960) was a French philosopher, author, and journalist. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature at the age of 44 in 1957, ...more

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The Best Albert Camus Quotes #64 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #381 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time

6
Henry David Thoreau is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Dec. at 45 (1817-1862)

Birthplace: Concord, Massachusetts

Henry David Thoreau (see name pronunciation; July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) was an American essayist, poet, and philosopher. A leading transcendentalist, Thoreau is best known for his book Walden, ...more

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The Best Henry David Thoreau Quotes #71 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #665 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time

7
René Descartes is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Dec. at 54 (1596-1650)

Birthplace: Descartes, Indre-et-Loire, France

René Descartes ( day-KART, also UK: DAY-kart, French: [ʁəne dekaʁt] (listen); Latinized: Renatus Cartesius; adjectival form: Cartesian ; 31 March 1596 – 11 February 1650) was a French ...more

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#72 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time #29 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Timelisted on 16 Famous Bodies From History Found In Inconspicuous Places

8
Jean-Jacques Rousseau is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Dec. at 66 (1712-1778)

Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (UK: , US: ; French: [ʒɑ̃ˈʒak ʁuˈso]; 28 June 1712 – 2 July 1778) was a Genevan philosopher, writer and composer. His political philosophy influenced the progress of the ...more

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The Best Jean-Jacques Rousseau Quotes #260 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #318 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time

9
Voltaire is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Dec. at 84 (1694-1778)

Birthplace: Paris, France

François-Marie Arouet (French: [fʁɑ̃swa maʁi aʁwɛ]; 21 November 1694 – 30 May 1778), known by his nom de plume Voltaire (; also US: , French: [vɔltɛːʁ]), was a French Enlightenment ...more

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The Best Voltaire Quotes #88 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #68 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time

10
Blaise Pascal is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Dec. at 39 (1623-1662)

Birthplace: Clermont-Ferrand, France

Blaise Pascal ( pa-SKAL, also UK: -⁠SKAHL, PASK-əl, -⁠al, US: pah-SKAHL, French: [blɛz paskal]; 19 June 1623 – 19 August 1662) was a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and ...more

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#120 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time #40 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time #11 of 19 Historical Figures Who Were Accomplishing Feats Of Greatness A Lot Younger Than You Thought

11
Auguste Comte is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Dec. at 59 (1798-1857)

Birthplace: Montpellier, France

Isidore Marie Auguste François Xavier Comte (pronounced [oɡyst kɔ̃t] (listen); 19 January 1798 – 5 September 1857) was a French philosopher and writer who formulated the doctrine of ...more
12
Montesquieu is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Dec. at 66 (1689-1755)

Birthplace: La Brède, France

Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu (; French: [mɔ̃tɛskjø]; 18 January 1689 – 10 February 1755), generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a ...more

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#364 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time #269 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time #47 of 90 The Best French Authors

13
Roland Barthes is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Dec. at 65 (1915-1980)

Birthplace: Manche, Normandy, Lower Normandy, Cherbourg-Octeville

Roland Gérard Barthes (; French: [ʁɔlɑ̃ baʁt]; 12 November 1915 – 26 March 1980) was a French literary theorist, philosopher, critic, and semiotician. Barthes' ideas explored a diverse ...more

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#125 of 256 The Best Gay Authors #32 of 50 The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time

14
Pierre Abélard is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Dec. at 63 (1079-1142)

Birthplace: Palets

Peter Abelard (; Latin: Petrus Abaelardus or Abailardus; French: Pierre Abélard, pronounced [a.be.laːʁ]; 1079 – 21 April 1142) was a medieval French scholastic philosopher, theologian, ...more
15
Denis Diderot is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Denis Diderot Dec. at 71 (1713-1784)

Birthplace: Langres, France

Denis Diderot (French: [dəni did(ə)ʁo]; 5 October 1713 – 31 July 1784) was a French philosopher, art critic, and writer, best known for serving as co-founder, chief editor, and contributor to ...more

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The Best Denis Diderot Quotes #295 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #356 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time

16
Michel de Montaigne is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Michel de Montaigne Dec. at 59 (1533-1592)

Birthplace: Château de Montaigne, Saint-Michel-de-Montaigne, France

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Lord of Montaigne ( mon-TAYN, French: [miʃɛl ekɛm də mɔ̃tɛɲ]; 28 February 1533 – 13 September 1592) was one of the most significant philosophers of the French ...more

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The Best Michel De Montaigne Quotes #122 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #231 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time

17
Émile Durkheim is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Émile Durkheim Dec. at 59 (1858-1917)

Birthplace: Épinal, France

David Émile Durkheim (French: [emil dyʁkɛm] or [dyʁkajm]; 15 April 1858 – 15 November 1917) was a Jewish sociologist in France. He formally established the academic discipline and—with W. ...more
18
Claude Lévi-Strau... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Dec. at 101 (1908-2009)

Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium

Claude Lévi-Strauss (; French: [klod levi stʁos]; 28 November 1908 – 30 October 2009) was a Belgium-born French anthropologist and ethnologist whose work was key in the development of the ...more
19
Nicolas de Caritat, marq... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Dec. at 51 (1743-1794)

Birthplace: Ribemont, France

Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, Marquis of Condorcet (French: [maʁi ʒɑ̃n‿ɑ̃twan nikola də kaʁita kɔ̃dɔʁsɛ]; 17 September 1743 – 29 March 1794), known as Nicolas de Condorcet, was a French ...more
20
Simone Weil is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Dec. at 34 (1909-1943)

Birthplace: Paris, France

Simone Adolphine Weil (; French: [simɔn vɛj] (listen); 3 February 1909 – 24 August 1943) was a French philosopher, mystic, and political activist. The mathematician André Weil was her ...more
21
Allan Kardec is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Dec. at 65 (1804-1869)

Birthplace: Lyon, France

Allan Kardec (French: [kaʁdɛk]) is the pen name of the French educator, translator and author Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail ([ʁivɑj]; 3 October 1804 – 31 March 1869). He is the author of ...more

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#108 of 134 The Most Controversial Writers of All Time #17 of 320 Famous People Buried at Pere Lachaise Cemetery

22
Julien Offray de La Mett... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Dec. at 42 (1709-1751)

Birthplace: Saint-Malo, France

Julien Offray de La Mettrie (French: [ɔfʁɛ də la metʁi]; November 23, 1709 – November 11, 1751) was a French physician and philosopher, and one of the earliest of the French materialists of the ...more
23
Didier Eribon is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Age: 65

Birthplace: Reims, France

Didier Eribon (born 10 July 1953) is a French author and philosopher, and a historian of French intellectual life. He lives in Paris.
24
Pierre Bourdieu is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Dec. at 72 (1930-2002)

Birthplace: Denguin, France

Pierre Bourdieu (French: [buʁdjø]; 1 August 1930 – 23 January 2002) was a French sociologist, anthropologist, philosopher and public intellectual.Bourdieu's work was primarily concerned ...more

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#346 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time #254 of 320 Famous People Buried at Pere Lachaise Cemetery

25
Gabriel Marcel is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Famous Philosophers from France
Dec. at 84 (1889-1973)

Birthplace: Paris, France

Gabriel Honoré Marcel (1889–1973) was a French philosopher, playwright, music critic and leading Christian existentialist. The author of over a dozen books and at least thirty plays, ...more