philosophy 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
15,095 3,952
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 ...more

2
14,378 4,605
Albert Einstein is listed (or ranked) 2 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 ...more

3
12,313 3,441
Isaac Newton is listed (or ranked) 3 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 ...more

4
8,654 2,532
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 ...more

5
7,438 2,691
Aristotle is listed (or ranked) 5 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 ...more

6
7,464 3,006
Plato is listed (or ranked) 6 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 ...more

7
12,479 2,757
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 ...more

8
6,583 3,368
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 ...more

9
6,049 1,883
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 ...more

10
6,335 3,356
Charles Darwin is listed (or ranked) 10 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 ...more

11
5,307 3,001
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 11 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 ...more

12
5,235 1,888
Michelangelo is listed (or ranked) 12 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 ...more

The Most Historically Important Perverts Of All Time

13
4,832 1,431
Socrates is listed (or ranked) 13 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 ...more

14
5,941 2,113
Marie Curie is listed (or ranked) 14 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 ...more

15
4,278 1,306
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 ...more

16
4,538 1,568
Ludwig van Beethoven is listed (or ranked) 16 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 ...more

17
4,044 1,868
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 ...more

The Greatest U.S. Presidents of All Time

18
3,433 1,354
Johannes Kepler is listed (or ranked) 18 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 ...more

19
5,869 2,957
Stephen Hawking is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Stephen Hawking age 76 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

20
3,329 1,186
Nicolaus Copernicus is listed (or ranked) 20 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 ...more

21
3,003 1,710
Immanuel Kant is listed (or ranked) 21 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 ...more

22
3,995 1,711
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, ...more

The Worst U.S. Presidents

23
2,515 1,011
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) 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

24
2,385 1,436
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 ...more

25
2,436 1,335
Homer is listed (or ranked) 25 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 ...more

26
3,033 1,759
Friedrich Nietzsche is listed (or ranked) 26 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, ...more

27
5,933 3,279
Jesus Christ is listed (or ranked) 27 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 ...more

The Most Beautiful Women of All Time

28
2,084 1,015
Hippocrates is listed (or ranked) 28 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 ...more

29
2,904 1,714
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 ...more

30
2,482 1,315
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 ...more

31
2,525 880
Alan Turing is listed (or ranked) 31 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 ...more

32
1,865 1,147
Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz is listed (or ranked) 32 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 ...more

60+ Times Rebels Ignored the Rules

33
2,078 1,186
Voltaire is listed (or ranked) 33 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 ...more

34
1,895 948
René Descartes is listed (or ranked) 34 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 ...more

35
2,845 2,560
Thomas Edison is listed (or ranked) 35 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 ...more

36
1,303 598
Werner Heisenberg is listed (or ranked) 36 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 ...more

37
1,828 685
Michael Faraday is listed (or ranked) 37 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 ...more

19 Everyday Things That Are Making You Dumber

38
1,289 773
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 ...more

39
1,904 928
Alexander Graham Bell is listed (or ranked) 39 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 ...more

40
1,321 448
Louis Pasteur is listed (or ranked) 40 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 ...more

41
1,593 718
Carl Friedrich Gauss is listed (or ranked) 41 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, ...more

42
1,549 1,017
Leo Tolstoy is listed (or ranked) 42 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 ...more

The Most Bizarre Deaths in the Ancient World

43
1,468 600
Blaise Pascal is listed (or ranked) 43 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 ...more

44
1,548 891
Gregor Mendel is listed (or ranked) 44 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 ...more

45
1,896 1,075
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
GarryMarley added Abraham Lincoln Died at 56 (1809-1865) Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the United States through its Civil War—its bloodiest war ...more

46
1,546 719
Sun Tzu is listed (or ranked) 46 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 ...more

47
1,320 875
Sophocles is listed (or ranked) 47 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 ...more

48
1,774 1,605
Martin Luther is listed (or ranked) 48 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 ...more

49
1,672 734
Niels Bohr is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time

50
1,569 1,675
George Washington is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Obamasux44X added George Washington Died at 67 (1732-1799) George Washington was the first President of the United States, the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, and one of the Founding Fathers of the ...more