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
15,620 4,101
Leonardo da Vinci is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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
14,876 4,728
Albert Einstein is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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
12,734 3,523
Isaac Newton is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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
8,897 2,624
Galileo Galilei is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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
7,671 2,780
Aristotle is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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
7,670 3,102
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
12,919 2,825
Nikola Tesla is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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
6,771 3,470
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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
6,219 1,935
Archimedes is listed (or ranked) 9 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

10
5,035 1,478
Socrates is listed (or ranked) 10 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

11
5,390 1,953
Michelangelo is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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

12
6,129 2,174
Marie Curie is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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

13
6,531 3,460
Charles Darwin is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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

14
5,486 3,101
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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

15
4,418 1,356
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
4,689 1,632
Ludwig van Beethoven is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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
4,167 1,932
Johann Sebastian Bach is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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

18
3,534 1,398
Johannes Kepler is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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
6,082 3,067
Stephen Hawking is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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
3,433 1,223
Nicolaus Copernicus is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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
4,154 1,760
Benjamin Franklin is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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

22
3,084 1,775
Immanuel Kant is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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

23
2,617 1,051
Max Planck is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Polar Bear added 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
2,461 1,481
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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
2,522 1,374
Homer is listed (or ranked) 25 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

26
3,139 1,822
Friedrich Nietzsche is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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
2,163 1,039
Hippocrates is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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

28
3,013 1,762
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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

29
6,167 3,412
Jesus Christ is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
GarryMarley added 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

30
2,578 1,353
Confucius is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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
2,657 906
Alan Turing is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
speroe added 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
1,921 1,177
Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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

33
1,983 974
René Descartes is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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

34
2,142 1,215
Voltaire is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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

35
1,907 703
Michael Faraday is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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

36
1,370 618
Werner Heisenberg is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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
1,406 464
Louis Pasteur is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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

38
2,942 2,650
Thomas Edison is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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

39
1,353 796
Johannes Gutenberg is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
sebbzor added 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

40
1,976 953
Alexander Graham Bell is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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

41
1,657 734
Carl Friedrich Gauss is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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
1,528 614
Blaise Pascal is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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

43
1,611 1,049
Leo Tolstoy is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
sudeeshab added 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

44
1,602 912
Gregor Mendel is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Srinidhi S U added 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
1,997 1,125
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
GarryMarley added 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
1,619 751
Sun Tzu is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Polar Bear added 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
1,737 755
Niels Bohr is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time

48
1,704 748
Mark Twain is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Died at 75 (1835-1910) Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the ...more

49
1,241 708
Fyodor Dostoyevsky is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
Died at 60 (1821-1881) Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky, sometimes transliterated Dostoevsky, was a Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist and philosopher. Dostoyevsky's literary works explore human ...more

50
1,356 903
Sophocles is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Minds of All Time
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