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The Greatest Minds of All Time

Updated August 28, 2018 746.8k votes 63.7k voters 1.6m views1.4k items

List RulesVote 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.
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  • Leonardo da Vinci1
    19,014
    5,054

    Leonardo da Vinci

    Dec. at 67 (1452-1519)

    BirthplaceVinci, Italy

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  • Isaac Newton2
    15,477
    4,162

    Isaac Newton

    Dec. at 84 (1643-1727)

    BirthplaceWoolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, United Kingdom

    Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/27) was an English mathematician,... more on Wikipedia
  • Galileo Galilei3
    10,648
    3,025

    Galileo Galilei

    Dec. at 78 (1564-1642)

    BirthplacePisa, Italy

    Galileo Galilei ( GAL-il-AY-oh, also US: -⁠EE-oh, Italian: [ɡaliˈlɛːo ɡaliˈlɛi]; 15 February... more on Wikipedia
  • Socrates4
    6,733
    1,979
    Socrates (; Ancient Greek: Σωκρᾰ́της, romanized: Sōkrátēs, [sɔːkrátɛːs]; c. 470 – 399 BC) was... more on Wikipedia

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  • Albert Einstein5
    17,694
    5,282

    Albert Einstein

    Dec. at 76 (1879-1955)

    BirthplaceUlm, Germany

    Albert Einstein ( EYEN-styne; German: [ˈalbɛɐ̯t ˈʔaɪnʃtaɪn] (listen); 14 March 1879 – 18 April... more on Wikipedia

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  • Nikola Tesla6
    15,817
    3,056

    Nikola Tesla

    Dec. at 87 (1856-1943)

    BirthplaceSmiljan, Croatia

    Nikola Tesla was a Serbian American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer,... more on Wikipedia

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  • Archimedes7
    7,101
    2,213
    Archimedes of Syracuse (; Greek: Ἀρχιμήδης; c. 287 – c. 212 BC) was a Greek mathematician,... more on Wikipedia
  • Pythagoras8
    5,448
    1,648
    Pythagoras of Samos (c. 570 – c. 495 BC) was an ancient Ionian Greek philosopher and the... more on Wikipedia

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  • Aristotle9
    9,304
    3,248

    Aristotle

    Dec. at 62 (383 BC-321 BC)

    BirthplaceStagira, Greece

    Aristotle (; Greek: Ἀριστοτέλης Aristotélēs, pronounced [aristotélɛːs]; 384–322 BC) was a... more on Wikipedia
  • Wilhelm Röntgen10
    1,514
    351

    Wilhelm Röntgen

    Dec. at 78 (1845-1923)

    BirthplaceRemscheid, Germany

    Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (; German: [ˈvɪlhɛlm ˈʁœntɡən]; 27 March 1845 – 10 February 1923) was a... more on Wikipedia
  • Alan Turing11
    4,047
    1,197

    Alan Turing

    Dec. at 42 (1912-1954)

    BirthplaceMaida Vale, London, United Kingdom

    Alan Mathison Turing (; 23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954) was an English mathematician, computer... more on Wikipedia
  • Carl Friedrich Gauss12
    3,326
    1,009

    Carl Friedrich Gauss

    Dec. at 78 (1777-1855)

    BirthplaceBraunschweig, Germany

    Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss (; German: Gauß [ˈkaɐ̯l ˈfʁiːdʁɪç ˈɡaʊs] (listen); Latin: Carolus... more on Wikipedia
  • Marie Curie13
    7,487
    2,633

    Marie Curie

    Dec. at 67 (1867-1934)

    BirthplaceWarsaw, Second Polish Republic

    Marie Skłodowska Curie ( KEWR-ee, French: [kyʁi], Polish: [kʲiˈri]; born Maria Salomea... more on Wikipedia
  • Johannes Kepler14
    4,833
    1,601

    Johannes Kepler

    Dec. at 59 (1571-1630)

    BirthplaceWeil der Stadt, Germany

    Johannes Kepler (; German: [joˈhanəs ˈkɛplɐ, -nɛs -]; December 27, 1571 – November 15, 1630)... more on Wikipedia
  • Euclid15
    1,935
    548
    Euclid (; Ancient Greek: Εὐκλείδης – Eukleídēs, pronounced [eu̯.kleː.dɛːs]; fl. 300 BC),... more on Wikipedia
  • Michael Faraday16
    2,565
    806

    Michael Faraday

    Dec. at 76 (1791-1867)

    BirthplaceNewington Butts, United Kingdom

    Michael Faraday FRS (; 22 September 1791 – 25 August 1867) was an English scientist who... more on Wikipedia
  • Plato17
    8,929
    3,492
    Plato (; PLAY-toe Greek: Πλάτων Plátōn, pronounced [plá.tɔːn] in Classical Attic; 428/427 or... more on Wikipedia

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  • Nicolaus Copernicus18
    4,192
    1,387

    Nicolaus Copernicus

    Dec. at 70 (1473-1543)

    BirthplaceToruń, Poland

    Nicolaus Copernicus (; Polish: Mikołaj Kopernik; German: Nikolaus Kopernikus; Niklas... more on Wikipedia

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  • Ludwig van Beethoven19
    5,732
    2,015

    Ludwig van Beethoven

    Dec. at 57 (1770-1827)

    BirthplaceBonn, Germany

    Ludwig van Beethoven ( (listen); German: [ˈluːtvɪç fan ˈbeːthoːfn̩] (listen); baptised 17... more on Wikipedia

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  • Michelangelo20
    6,142
    2,347

    Michelangelo

    Dec. at 89 (1475-1564)

    BirthplaceCaprese Michelangelo, Italy

    Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian... more on Wikipedia
  • Johann Sebastian Bach21
    5,570
    2,340

    Johann Sebastian Bach

    Dec. at 65 (1685-1750)

    BirthplaceEisenach, Germany

    Johann Sebastian Bach (31 March [O.S. 21 March] 1685 – 28 July 1750) was a German composer and... more on Wikipedia

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  • Johannes Gutenberg22
    2,692
    1,078

    Johannes Gutenberg

    Dec. at 70 (1398-1468)

    BirthplaceMainz, Germany

    Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg (; c. 1400 – February 3, 1468) was a German... more on Wikipedia
  • Max Planck23
    3,460
    1,303

    Max Planck

    Dec. at 89 (1858-1947)

    BirthplaceKiel, Germany

    Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, ForMemRS (German: [ˈplaŋk]; English: ; 23 April 1858 – 4 October... more on Wikipedia
  • Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz24
    3,303
    1,382

    Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz

    Dec. at 70 (1646-1716)

    BirthplaceLeipzig, Germany

    Gottfried Wilhelm (von) Leibniz (sometimes spelled Leibnitz) (; German: [ˈɡɔtfʁiːt ˈvɪlhɛlm... more on Wikipedia
  • René Descartes25
    2,664
    1,124

    René Descartes

    Dec. at 54 (1596-1650)

    BirthplaceDescartes, Indre-et-Loire, France

    René Descartes ( day-KART, also UK: DAY-kart, French: [ʁəne dekaʁt] (listen); Latinized:... more on Wikipedia