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
Isaac Newton is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. at 84 (1643-1727)
Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/27) was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, theologian, and author (described in his own day as a "natural philosopher") ...more
2
Leonardo da Vinci is listed (or ranked) 2 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
3
Aristotle is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. at 62 (383 BC-321 BC)
Aristotle (; Greek: Ἀριστοτέλης Aristotélēs, pronounced [aristotélɛːs]; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, the founder of the Lyceum ...more
4
Plato is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Plato (; PLAY-toe Greek: Πλάτων Plátōn, pronounced [plá.tɔːn] in Classical Attic; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in ...more
5
Albert Einstein is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. at 76 (1879-1955)
Albert Einstein ( EYEN-styne; German: [ˈalbɛɐ̯t ˈʔaɪnʃtaɪn] (listen); 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity, one of the ...more
6
Galileo Galilei is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. at 78 (1564-1642)
Galileo Galilei ( GAL-il-AY-oh, also US: -⁠EE-oh, Italian: [ɡaliˈlɛːo ɡaliˈlɛi]; 15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642) was an astronomer, physicist and engineer, sometimes described as a polymath ...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 (; Greek: Ἀρχιμήδης; c. 287 – c. 212 BC) was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer. Although few details of his life are known, he is ...more
9
Socrates is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Socrates (; Ancient Greek: Σωκρᾰ́της, romanized: Sōkrátēs, [sɔːkrátɛːs]; c. 470 – 399 BC) was a classical Greek (Athenian) philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western ...more
10
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. at 52 (1564-1616)
William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest ...more
11
Michelangelo is listed (or ranked) 11 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
12
Johann Sebastian Bach is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. at 65 (1685-1750)
Johann Sebastian Bach (31 March [O.S. 21 March] 1685 – 28 July 1750) was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He is known for instrumental compositions such as the Art of Fugue, ...more
13
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. at 35 (1756-1791)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791), baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the classical era. Born in ...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 ( KEWR-ee, French: [kyʁi], Polish: [kʲiˈri]; born Maria Salomea Skłodowska; 7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934) was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who ...more
15
Charles Darwin is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. at 73 (1809-1882)
Charles Robert Darwin, (; 12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. His proposition that ...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 (; German: [joˈhanəs ˈkɛplɐ, -nɛs -]; December 27, 1571 – November 15, 1630) was a German astronomer, mathematician, and astrologer. He is a key figure in the 17th-century ...more
17
Pythagoras is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Pythagoras of Samos (c. 570 – c. 495 BC) was an ancient Ionian Greek philosopher and the eponymous founder of Pythagoreanism. His political and religious teachings were well known in Magna ...more
18
Ludwig van Beethoven is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. at 57 (1770-1827)
Ludwig van Beethoven ( (listen); German: [ˈluːtvɪç fan ˈbeːthoːfn̩] (listen); baptised 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the ...more
19
Homer is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Homer (; Ancient Greek: Ὅμηρος Greek pronunciation: [hómɛːros], Hómēros) is the legendary author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, two epic poems that are the central works of ancient ...more
20
Nicolaus Copernicus is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. at 70 (1473-1543)
Nicolaus Copernicus (; Polish: Mikołaj Kopernik; German: Nikolaus Kopernikus; Niklas Koppernigk; 19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543) was a Renaissance-era mathematician and astronomer, who ...more
21
Johannes Gutenberg is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
sebbzor added Dec. at 70 (1398-1468)
Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg (; c. 1400 – February 3, 1468) was a German blacksmith, goldsmith, inventor, printer, and publisher who introduced printing to Europe with the ...more
22
Immanuel Kant is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. at 80 (1724-1804)
Immanuel Kant (; German: [ʔɪˈmaːnu̯eːl ˈkant, -nu̯ɛl]; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was an influential German philosopher in the Age of Enlightenment. In his doctrine of transcendental ...more
23
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. at 83 (1749-1832)
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (, also US: GURT-ə, GAYT-ə, -⁠ee; German: [ˈjoːhan ˈvɔlfɡaŋ fɔn ˈɡøːtə] (listen); 28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832) was a German writer and statesman. His works ...more
24
Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Dec. at 70 (1646-1716)
Gottfried Wilhelm (von) Leibniz (sometimes spelled Leibnitz) (; German: [ˈɡɔtfʁiːt ˈvɪlhɛlm fɔn ˈlaɪbnɪts] or [ˈlaɪpnɪts]; French: Godefroi Guillaume Leibnitz; 1 July 1646 [O.S. 21 June] – 14 ...more
25
Max Planck is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Polar Bear added Dec. at 89 (1858-1947)
Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, ForMemRS (German: [ˈplaŋk]; English: ; 23 April 1858 – 4 October 1947) was a German theoretical physicist whose discovery of energy quanta won him the Nobel Prize ...more