Weird History

The Greatest Minds of All Time  

Walter Graves
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List Rules Vote up the individuals who you think had the most influential ideas throughout history.

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
1
Leonardo da Vinci is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. 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 ...more
2
Isaac Newton is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. 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 ...more
3
Albert Einstein is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. 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 ...more
4
Galileo Galilei is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. 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 ...more
5
Aristotle is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. 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. At eighteen, he joined Plato's Academy in ...more
6
Plato is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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 ...more
7
Nikola Tesla is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. 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 ...more
8
Archimedes is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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 ...more
9
Socrates is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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 ...more
10
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. 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 ...more
11
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. 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 ...more
12
Michelangelo is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. 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 ...more
13
Johann Sebastian Bach is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. 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 ...more
14
Marie Curie is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. 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 ...more
15
Pythagoras is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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 ...more
16
Johannes Kepler is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. 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 ...more
17
Ludwig van Beethoven is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. 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 ...more
18
Charles Darwin is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. 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 ...more
19
Immanuel Kant is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. 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 ...more
20
Stephen Hawking is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
age 77
Stephen William Hawking CH CBE FRS FRSA (8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018) was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical ...more
21
Benjamin Franklin is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. 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, ...more
22
Max Planck is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Polar Bear added Dec. at 89 (1858-1947)
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 ...more
23
Homer is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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 ...more
24
Nicolaus Copernicus is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. 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 ...more
25
Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. 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 ...more