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The Greatest Minds of All Time

Updated August 28, 2018 749.4k votes 63.8k 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
    19,059
    5,062

    Leonardo da Vinci

    Dec. at 67 (1452-1519)

    BirthplaceVinci, Italy

    Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian polymath, painter, sculptor, architect,...  more
  • Isaac Newton2
    15,513
    4,203

    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
  • Galileo Galilei3
    10,668
    3,072

    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
  • Socrates4
    6,757
    2,029
    Socrates (; Ancient Greek: Σωκρᾰ́της, romanized: Sōkrátēs, [sɔːkrátɛːs]; c. 470 – 399 BC) was...  more

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  • Albert Einstein5
    17,731
    5,332

    Albert Einstein

    Dec. at 76 (1879-1955)

    BirthplaceUlm, Germany

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

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  • Nikola Tesla6
    15,899
    3,063

    Nikola Tesla

    Dec. at 87 (1856-1943)

    BirthplaceSmiljan, Croatia

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

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  • Archimedes7
    7,118
    2,259
    Archimedes of Syracuse (; Greek: Ἀρχιμήδης; c. 287 – c. 212 BC) was a Greek mathematician,...  more
  • Pythagoras8
    5,464
    1,689
    Pythagoras of Samos (c. 570 – c. 495 BC) was an ancient Ionian Greek philosopher and the...  more

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  • Aristotle9
    9,327
    3,292

    Aristotle

    Dec. at 62 (383 BC-321 BC)

    BirthplaceStagira, Greece

    Aristotle (; Greek: Ἀριστοτέλης Aristotélēs, pronounced [aristotélɛːs]; 384–322 BC) was a...  more
  • Marie Curie10
    7,543
    2,637

    Marie Curie

    Dec. at 67 (1867-1934)

    BirthplaceWarsaw, Second Polish Republic

    Marie Skłodowska Curie ( KEWR-ee, French: [kyʁi], Polish: [kʲiˈri]; born Maria Salomea...  more
  • Alan Turing11
    4,066
    1,242

    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
  • Carl Friedrich Gauss12
    3,342
    1,052

    Carl Friedrich Gauss

    Dec. at 78 (1777-1855)

    BirthplaceBraunschweig, Germany

    Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss (; German: Gauß [ˈkaɐ̯l ˈfʁiːdʁɪç ˈɡaʊs] (listen); Latin: Carolus...  more
  • Nicolaus Copernicus13
    4,204
    1,394

    Nicolaus Copernicus

    Dec. at 70 (1473-1543)

    BirthplaceToruń, Poland

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

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  • Johannes Kepler14
    4,842
    1,615

    Johannes Kepler

    Dec. at 59 (1571-1630)

    BirthplaceWeil der Stadt, Germany

    Johannes Kepler (; German: [joˈhanəs ˈkɛplɐ, -nɛs -]; December 27, 1571 – November 15, 1630)...  more
  • Wilhelm Röntgen15
    1,523
    389

    Wilhelm Röntgen

    Dec. at 78 (1845-1923)

    BirthplaceRemscheid, Germany

    Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (; German: [ˈvɪlhɛlm ˈʁœntɡən]; 27 March 1845 – 10 February 1923) was a...  more
  • Euclid16
    1,945
    561
    Euclid (; Ancient Greek: Εὐκλείδης – Eukleídēs, pronounced [eu̯.kleː.dɛːs]; fl. 300 BC),...  more
  • Ludwig van Beethoven17
    5,750
    2,018

    Ludwig van Beethoven

    Dec. at 57 (1770-1827)

    BirthplaceBonn, Germany

    Ludwig van Beethoven ( (listen); German: [ˈluːtvɪç fan ˈbeːthoːfn̩] (listen); baptised 17...  more
  • Plato18
    8,948
    3,496
    Plato (; PLAY-toe Greek: Πλάτων Plátōn, pronounced [plá.tɔːn] in Classical Attic; 428/427 or...  more

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  • Michelangelo19
    6,159
    2,349

    Michelangelo

    Dec. at 89 (1475-1564)

    BirthplaceCaprese Michelangelo, Italy

    Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian...  more
  • Michael Faraday20
    2,572
    819

    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
  • Johann Sebastian Bach21
    5,583
    2,346

    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

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  • Johannes Gutenberg22
    2,699
    1,087

    Johannes Gutenberg

    Dec. at 70 (1398-1468)

    BirthplaceMainz, Germany

    Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg (; c. 1400 – February 3, 1468) was a German...  more
  • Max Planck23
    3,472
    1,304

    Max Planck

    Dec. at 89 (1858-1947)

    BirthplaceKiel, Germany

    Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, ForMemRS (German: [ˈplaŋk]; English: ; 23 April 1858 – 4 October...  more

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  • Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz24
    3,313
    1,385

    Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz

    Dec. at 70 (1646-1716)

    BirthplaceLeipzig, Germany

    Gottfried Wilhelm (von) Leibniz (sometimes spelled Leibnitz) (; German: [ˈɡɔtfʁiːt ˈvɪlhɛlm...  more
  • René Descartes25
    2,673
    1,133

    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

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