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Some of the audience sent in their reasons for their nominations in the vote and they make fascinating reading ...

Read your comments

He defined God in an eastern way without the concept of sin.

I'd be amazed to see what list you got from working philosophers of who (a) they'd vote for and (b) who they work on. as a working philosopher myself, i'd be inclined to think that Marx wouldn't be in the top 10, and that hardly any of the top 10 that we got are the main research interests of the majority of working philosophers. Hardly any working philosopher takes Nietzche to offer much decent philosophical insights. I know this is true of my own department.

P. Hernandez
NIETZSCHE, because he gave Western civilization a lovely kick in the butt and encouraged humankind to think freely and independently. We need more of this medicine these days, rather than uncreative and authoritarian doctrines that encourage us to think like slaves and to follow the flock.

As a sociologist I consider three main persons - Karl Marx, Max Weber and Emile Durkheim. But I don't think that Marx bigger than Weber or any other. Each philosopher (scholar) took his own niche. They're not comparable.

Pete Stockwell
How many votes were cast for the short-listed candidates; how many women were on the short-list; and why was Julia Kristeva (my first choice) excluded altogether?

Dr Paul Camster
It seems strange that a `practical` philosopher like Marx could be allowed to win,but RebeccaR was erased on 19May although her very practical philosophical belief system was proven to work and could even identify religious fanaticism. It was even uploaded with web urls so that readers could check it out. Could it be a question of gender and ethnic origin or because it was demonstrated that Descartes and Harvey`s supposed natural science philosophies were actual extreme political systems leading to warcrimes in their lifetimes? What`s it all mean,what`s it all about,where will it all end?

Anonymous Voter
A fair result overall but Popper in the top 10! His only real idea was flawed; falsificationalism is not itself falsifiable.

Kant taught us never to treat people as means to our own ends. He urged us to think for ourselves and not to allow outsiders to determine our thoughts or actions but to think autonomously and not heteronomously.

Eric Longley
Revealing the material and social origins of commodification, human alienation was, in my view, one of Marxs enduring contributions to understanding. Marx give the notion of alienation a solid materialistic grounding, he showed how our social conditions necessarily gave rise to alienation. Marx has since been followed by many others not least, Lefebrve, Debord, Lukacs, Adorno, Benjamin and Gramsci in developing the concept of alienation and its counterpart, in some ways, ideology. The work of Karl Marx (although interestingly his birth certificate shows Carl Marx) is broader than just philosophy but has very important repercussions for philosophy. Marx has influenced the study of history, geography, literature, philosophy and sociology just to mention a few. In Capital and other works Marx developed an understanding of how capitalism as an economic mode of socio-economic reproduction, actually operated aalong with its consequent results for humanity. As a critical thinker Marx has been unparalled, his influence today is both conscious and pervasive in modern society. In economics, ethics and understanding of society Marx's influence is persistent, since his death all social analysis has been a response or reply direct or indirect to Marxs theoretical revealations.

Marie T.
Karl Marx, because of my dwindling intelligence & non-ability to think critically for myself.

Gurmit Singh
I voted Ayn Rand, because of the calrity and purpose she bought to Man's life. She pushed Man's ambition above and beyond.

When he said that Religion is the opium of the masses, it was and still is interpreted as a reason against religion as such but I think that it goes beyond that and into spiritualism itself. It can be easily said that spiritualism itsef is opium in that it is an escape mechanism from reality just like achohol and opium.

pete stockwell
My first choice, Julia Kristeva, didn't get a mention. From the short-list I voted for David Hume, not for his common sense, but for the philosophical rigour with which he examined such common sense notions as cause and effect. He also gets my vote for preferring backgammon to philosophy. But I'm delighted Marx won. His analysis of the mechanics of capitalism was a unique contribution to human understanding, and one of the most important intellectual forces of the 20th century. The process of reification and alienation could recently be observed in the referendums in France and Holland.

CJD Roberts
William of Occam His principle or "Razor" pervades all of philosophy. In fact, it is a psychological necessity. Marx? The greatest philosopher? You've got to be kiddin'.

Well, I know it's too late to vote but I'd like to state a few things anyway. Great idea! I'd like to see something truly extensive, in this area, on TV. I'd probably vote Socrates, I'm not that well informed, I suppose, about any of the philosophers but having been something of a school dropout, with a general sense of inadequacy I have, over the years, tried to salvage what I can and feel some comfort that I've apparently developed something of a dialectical approach apparently not a million miles short of Socrates. Another guy that comes to mind is Heraclitus. Apparently he took to the wilderness, as it were, because was too at odds with much of what Ephesian society was about. I won't claim to have a hotline to the 'Logos' but I think I can relate.

Ben Cummins
Friedrich Nietzsche Astounding Philosopher, with Arthur C Schoepenhauer in a close second. "Men for centuries have asked the eternal question - Precisely what happens to us when we die? I answer - Exactly what happens to us before we are born". I had read across the works of David Hume, Bertrand Russell, Immanuel Kant, Rene Descartes, Foucalt, Sartre, Kierkegaard, et al, and I have found no other to have such coarse, logical and constructive way of writing as Nietzsche, and none quite so creative and poetic as Schoepenhauer. I'm also amazed Descartes did not make it in this poll at all.

Andrew Bilkins
Marx. BBC's biography of Marx misrepresents his ideas.

Chris McShee
Marx, he laid the basis for the contemporary capitalist society with his Base/Superstructure model, and he was correct in theorising the history of the working class correlates to the history of class struggle. In sociological terms his grounded but sometimes abstract thesis on the Economy, Politics and History has been intertwined, re-worked, re-hashed and embelished by contemporaries over the world. However, one question that crossed my mind: Was he a philosopher?

Mohammed aslool
Sankara Muthali can you name a black philosopher please?

John S
I didn't vote because I find the idea of the 'greatest' philosopher to be nonsensical for surely obvious reasons. MB's attempt to change this to 'favourite' philosopher may have persuaded me to vote had it been used consistently.

Ayn Rand,...i found her ideas to be reasonal and practical....i found something similar to Pareto's Principle.....only few humans are actually pulling on this world.

Shopenauer. perchè mi è vicino

Toby Churchill
Tom Lehrer but I'm surprised so many people voted - I'd always thought philosophy was just a nietzsche interest

I voted for Marx. It should (but isn't) be evident that capitalism is doomed to failure, ultimately, since it is based on greed, exploitation and inequality. Every one who has ever considered the long term future of the human race has recognised that equality and the redistribution of wealth are the only serious issues facing a stable and well-adjusted society at peace with each other as well as themselves. It's not rocket science to realise that we are heading in the wrong direction at present. Solutions? Bulldoze Oxbridge and incarcerate the Establishment mafia it spawns? Shoot Bush? Return Palestine to the Palestinians (that does, of course, INCLUDE the jewish population, who are just another Arabic tribe!)? Stop importing oil, minerals and foods from the undeveloped world at give-away prices? Other answers on a postcard... Marx foresaw it all and had some of the answers, however unpalatable they might seem in the present time. ANON.

John Chaplain
Socrates should have won because of this logic: "Because I did not choose to live, perhaps I cannot choose to die either. So in the consideration of perceived death, either there will be life-reincarnation, or there will not be life-reincarnation. Simply because there is a possibility there might be life-reincarnation, means that I should care more about poverty on the Earth, because I might be reborn into poverty on the Earth." ( I would contend that the root of Marxism is the desire to remove alienation and increase quality of consciousness as a whole, but it is only Socrates who outlines why we should do this. Marx's reasons are abstract and related to a Hegelian description of the teleological course of history, with no real foundation. It is for this reason Socrates should have won the vote, not Marx

David Barnett, Ph.D.
As a scientist I have to believe in the existence of an objective world. Scientists look for models of the world. The power of science lies in the insistance on testing those models for consistency with it. I voted for Karl Popper for his commitment to objectivity. Everyone, whether conscious of it or not, has a philosophy (model of the world). Without it we would would be paralysed by an inability to interpret what our senses tell us. Unfortunately, our philosophical models often fail reality and consistency tests but with religious tenacity we fail to discard them. The discord between a failed philosophy and reality leads to untold misery. This is why I find the persistence of the socialist ideas of Marx so disturbing. His is a religious fantasy rather than objective philosophy. So little do his followers understand human nature and motivations, that to attempt to create their world requires large doses of force. My nominee was Locke, whose philosophy was wide ranging, well observed and objective. In the social area, Locke provided a way to minimise the use of force by recognising and valuing the individual. It was the heart of the English enlightenment whose practical power has stood the test of more than 300 years. It was disappointing that Locke did not even make the shortlist. When I saw this, I feared for our society which no longer understands its own roots. My fears are compounded by the victory for the fantasies of Marx. In a world with Al Qaida seeking to destroy our liberal society, how can we defend ourselves if we have no clear vision of what it is we are defending? Philosphy is important.

Iris Chen
Immanuel Kant. He though that "the truth" should be able to be examined, which I love very much and totally agree.

Julianno Sambatti
I have chosen Popper, because of the great synthesis of the rational criticism he was able to provide. He really taught us how to think and how to learn. He was also able to come up with a consistent criticism against Marxism and other non-rational theories. This criticism could be summarized by this: We should fight to eliminate concrete evils rather than for establishing abstract goods. He was great. I wish I had read him earlier in my life.

James Rainbird
I think the voting system was defective - it seemed to me that a single Marx enthusiast could have logged hundreds of votes.

so - the nation's favorite philosopher is shaping up to be marx. the nation's favorite book is lord of the rings. presumably the nation's favorite pastime is smoking dope and watching kids tv - ironically the nation should grow up and emotionally leave uni the nation's

Aristotle. The greatest and most sensible philosopher of all time. Not only did he manage to reign in the all too prevalent philosophical tendency of sacrificing common sense intuitions to theoretical commitments but he also helped establish the western analytical tradition of philosophy. From the masterful and practical advice of ‘Nichomachian Ethics’ to the prescient proto-functionalist account of mind of ‘De Anima’ Aristotle explores many of the important themes that philosophers struggle with today.

Kevin McCarthy
I demand that Strindberg be included as he has the best web site. -

KARL POPPER because of the clarity he brought to the concept of truth in science, together with KURT GOEDEL for demonstrating the futility of searching for absolute provable truth.

Ian g
The very idea of 'the' greatest philosopher is highly problematic. The obvious questions to be asked are 'greatest in what regard', greatest in what area of philosophical concern, and so on. Why should we expect political philosophers to be judged by the same (and what could they be?) criteria as a philosophyer of language, of logic, of maths, of science? Aren't the characteristics that are essential to making a contribution to ethics quite different from those required to illluminate issues in the philosophy of language? We could go on. In the end any choice is down to a fusion of appreciation of the intellectual worth of a contribution to the subject and a pro feeling toward one's preferred candidate. Any such judgement probably says more about the chooser than the chosen. For me, David Hume and, more latterly, Bertrand Russell. Make of that what you will. Ian g

Art Vanderlay
Shopenhauer - For giving the world a logical explanation of what motivates us every moment of the day - i.e. procreation and self preservation. Through his writings you can see what really is the driving force in the 'biped' world.

For the titanic Summa Theologiae

Mark Pilling
Plato. The last true philospher? Successors built edifices without acknowledging their assumed axioms, OR set about demolishing the edifices of others. What else was (is) there to do?

Sankara Muthali
Shouldn't this poll say Greatest [White] Philosophers?

Ben Jackson
20th Century: Russel, Quine, Wittgenstein, Popper, Kripke and Lewis. 20th/21st century relatively unknown: Peter Simons, William Lycan, Graeme Priest and Crispin Wright. Pre 20th: Hume, Kant, Hegel, Aristotle and Parmenides. I think it is unfortunate how underrepresented Quine is, especially when pseudo-philosophers such as Derrida and Ayn Rand have garnered so many votes. Personally, I think that Humean thought has withstood the test of time better than any other pre-twentieth century philosopher so he gets my vote.

Tony D'Arcy
Karl Marx. Not that I voted for any philosopher, as Marx said philosphers have interpreted the world in many different ways, the point is to change it. To confuse Marx's ideas with those of Soviet Russia, China etc. as The Times has recently done, is to misunderstand or more likely to misrepresent his ideas. Let's blame Marx for everything that happened in Russia, China etc. since 1917, and this does away with his ideas... doesn't it? As Marx said in his own lifetime referring to the French 'Marxists', "If those people are marxists then I am not a marxist". But as has happened if enough clever people throw enough mud then some of it will stick, and we can all happily blame Marx for nearly all of the deaths in the 20th century. Read Marx for yourself and don't read someone else's summary. Marx, not a philosopher but what a thinker!

John Polacheck
David Hume. His humane rationalism may not be the cure for what haunts humanity, but in this time's it would go a long way. I was disappointed that Adam Smith didn't make the list but Marx did.

Charlie Mansfield
Why has no woman philosopher been shortlisted even though many nominated Simone de Beauvoir? Further, several entries for de Beauvoir have now been erased from your website.

Anonymous mouse in Sweden
Amazed that nobody has suggested Shakespeare, but I suppose it depends how (closely) you read... I would propose Denis Diderot, for his work on the Encyclopedie ("siege engine of the Enlightenment") and also for his glib plagiarism of other authors. Wittgenstein is a close second, in my book, but you can find a lot of what he said (and more) in Diderot, especially Rameau's nephew. But Shakespeare, he's perhaps too large to be able to be seen (a problem, I would imagine). Wot, no Deleuze?

Richard Crowder
I'd like to vote for Socrates, who established the tradition of critical inquiry with which all philosophy worthy of the name begins. He also was no mere theorist, but chose to die rather than live in a way that he considered unworthy of him. But I see no mechanism on the site where I can record my vote, except this.

Chris M.
Plato, and not (only?) because I'm prematurely fusty. Nor because I conflate 'most important/influential' with 'greatest', either (in which case Aristotle would have to take the prize). Rather, because no philosophical writings I've come across so powerfully instigate philosophical reflection. Plato's writings may lack the clarity of Mill's, the precision of Kant's, the vehemence of Nietzsche's, or the systematicity of Aquinas' - but why do these characteristics, praiseworthy though they might be in their own right, make their possessors great philosophers? If Plato is correct that philosophy is essentially pedagogical, and I think he is, then I can't but give him the prize.

Greg Sever
NIETZSCHE - he called for the self-overcoming man. Instead of having the power of your convictions, he wrote, have the power to overcome your convictions.

There's a huge bias towards bourgeois philosophers in the anglo world: even (especially! ;) at the BBC -- as we live in reactionary times, and the bourgeois media reflects this fact. And so Marx doesn't get nearly the proper treatment (or even respect), or even the most basic understanding his significance as a thinker warrants, at the hands of people with agendas other than objective consideration of the facts. but in spite of western thought being generally so skewed in favor of those whose arguments support the present system, the objective importance of Karl Marx' thought is only going to become more apparent over time -- well after more partisan considerations have passed, in their turn, into the dumpster of history...

Rob Schebel
Hume understood better than any other that morality is grounded in universal human empathy. His skepticism lends sobriety to philosophy -- a trait none of the other candidates share.

Bruce Goodman
SOCRATES - any other choice is just a silly popularity vote: a bit like saying that Ronald Reagan is the greatest American who ever lived. Socrates: not for popularity but for thought.

I voted David Hume for the following reason. While Hume found it near impossible to prove the truth of things like causation and morals outside of his empirical framework, he did not deny the objective truth that must exist. He recognized his limits but still acknowledged that truth was there outside of his musings.

David Paternostro
Thomas Aquinas- a wonderful champion of common sense and a magnificent clarity of style. To say that his philosophy was ahead of its time is not to do it justice- it is as without time as any philosophy can be.

Andrew Cresswell
Karl Marx alone had the genius to see that the critical feature of human society was its economic organization, and that although this would change over time as one dominant class replaced another, people in the dominated class had the power to intervene to alter the course of history. Surely no other philosophical insight has been so profound or has had such an impact - both for good and ill - on the course of human history?

Andy Little
PLATO, hands down. He is the sempiturnal well that nourishes Western thought. He spawned the classical Stiocs and Skeptics; inspired the early Christians; fueled the Renaissance; and, in the long aftermath of Descartes and Hobbes, nursed Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Heidegger in reawakening our thinking. Of course he won't win, but he predicted that. The primary obstacle to the rule of the wisest is the inability of the unwise to recognize him.

21st century youth
KARL MARX A spectre is haunting Europe and the world. In all of the achievements of humanity as an ideal from women's rights to worker's unions and religious /racial issues Marx has played a principal role in us gaining what little we have. As time goes on, particularly within the past decade or so, it is becoming more and more clear that Marx has not died and he never will. Also, he was correct in his predictions and that whether we like it or not the world as a whole will eventually evolve into socialism even if not with the direct pressure of the working class. The global activism that we have seen in the past decade alone shows that even those unaware of Marxism want all that is basic to humanity and therefore basic to Marxism. The sheer act of the World Powers tightening their rein on all social movements is a reaction to a greater socialist movement that is just beginning to wake. When an important international weekly news magazine, The Economist, desperately calls out to it's readers to "STOP MARX" it becomes quite clear that he is a feared and most important figure. This is because just his, Marx's, simple act of winning a pole on the radio waves represents the progressive enlightenment of today's society and the great fear that this has caused in all those renouncing him. When a most highly praised exhibit at galleries around the world, Massive Change: The Future of Global Design, heralds that life on this planet will improve for all, that technology, design and humane acts are changing the world on a massive scale it is speaking of eventual Socialism. That economies will be redesigned to bear on the world's problems, liberating the word "wealth" form strictly economic terms, and that "in designing networks of communication, production, exchange and entrepreneurship, we have the potential to create shared wealth on an order of magnitude the world has never seen" is Socialism. Marx is humanity's greatest historian, scientist, and philosopher.

Anthony Edwards
Immanuel Kant. I think that, despite his being depicted as rational and logical, he was also aware of the spiritual. For him, beliefs in freedom, in God and immortality were necessary to give life meaning.

Murray Reams
Aristotle. The Aristotelian worldview held from the classical age through the early modern period--throughout these centuries, Western philosophy consisted of attempts to either reconcile or expand upon Aristotelian though

Jane Henderson
A.J. Ayers - happy memories of those wonderful lectures.

Barry Nyhan
Aristotle. I think that the work of Alisdair MacIntyre demonstrates the relevance of Aristotle to day in a world ( in particular the Western world) that is lost in post-modernist relativism. Aristotle's moral and political philosophy is centred on building community, which is the foundation for civilisation and politics. We are loosing ourselves in individualistic neo-liberalism to day. Aristotle is a universal philospher who has influenced Christian ( Aquinas) and Islamic ( Averroes)traditions but can also offer a secular /humanisticphilosphy of life acceptable to all.

Glad Camus listed. Still dip into "La Peste", French 'A' level text of nearly 30 years ago. Rings true and, strangely, reassures. Yet his own relationships with the women in his life....

Vincent Morris
The following text from the beginning of Chapter XV, Capital, footnote 4 of the chapter, needs to be pondered on in full, as it sets out the whole difficulty of intellectual investigation. "Technology discloses man's mode of dealing with Nature, the process of production by which he sutstains his life,and thereby also lays bare the mode of formation of his social relations, and of the mental conceptions that flow from them. Every history of religion even, that fails to take account of this material basis, is uncritical. It is, in reality, much easier to discover by analysis the realthly core of the misty creations of religion, than conversely, it is,to develop from the actual relations of life the corresponding celestial forms of those relations. The latter method is the only materialistic, and therefore the only scientific one. The weak points in the abstract materials of natural science, a materialism that excludes history and its process, are at once evident from the absract and ideological conceptions of its spokesmen, whenever they venture beyond the bounds of their own speciality." Note especially, "than conversely it is to develop from the actual relations of life the corresponding celestialised forms of the those relations." Marx poses the question of how? people come to believe what they do, with a generosity which marks him as the most human and humane of all thinkers. He places us all on an equal footing, all faced with the same duty to work in mind and body, to seek and seek... His work is a testimony to that method, and it is because of that method that Capital is the most genrous compendium in existence of respect for the hard work of others: see the chapters on thelengthening of the working day and his encomium of Leonard Horner,Factory Inspector, who fixed for ever in England the testimony of the hideousness of exploitation the many by the few...That is philos and sophos, philosophy, the love of wisdom. Wisdom is the goal of us all, but come from intellectual effort : "It is much easier to discover by analysis,than conversely it it is to develop the the actual relations of life..." MARX.

Jamie Johnston
Aristotle is, for my money, the only European thinker who offers a satisfactory understanding of the world and how to live in it. Few philosophers are both subtle enough to do justice to the complexities of human life and practical enough to help us live it. Aristotle was one. Confucius, whose ideas in many ways converge with Aristotle's, was another: luckily for me your scandalously Eurocentric shortlist relieves me of the need to choose between the world's two greatest philosophers!

Huw Kyffin
Bertrand Russell For his revolutionary work in the foundations of maths and philosophy and for his passionate engagement with major political issues throughout his long life - from opposing the slaughter of the first world war to being arrested on a CND march in his 90s.

gillian summerson
Simone Weil If you have to ask why, you have not read her work.

The utterly sublime genius of Friedrich Hölderlin wasn't an option on the shortlist. Nietzsche was the next best choice, being heavily influenced by Hölderlin's dual role as philosopher and poet.

Neil McCutcheon
Nietzsche is to Philosophy what Darwin is to Science. He also had a huge influence on 20th Century literature and politics. And he's still "the most dangerous man in Europe!" Exciting, if unsettling, always provocative, and with a critique of conventional morality demands to be answered before the project of reconstructing moral philosophy can begin.

Michael Wilson
ISAIAH BERLIN, who was relevant and wide-ranging in the modern context, as opposed to the time when many questions now a matter of science were being thought about in the range of philosophy

tony briscoe
Karl Marx said that "Philosophers have interpreted the world: the point, however, is to change it". Theory without practice is sterile. Practice without theory is blind. Marx was a supreme materialist, who did indeed change the world. We would be the poorer without his analysis and methodology

Harry Dewulf
I voted without hesitation for Bertrand Russell; I won't give all the reasons; suffice to say that (with Wittgenstein) he's the first truly modern philosopher, and the instigator of a now well established movement that attempts to apply genuine scientific rigour to philosophical thinking, and the first to promote philosophy as something to be discussed and studied by philosophers, not promulgated and decreed. Russell is the great humble student philosopher.

Nick Hostettler
Marx's most significant contribution is to the form of philosophical realism we need in order to understand the nature of modern society. In understanding our form of life better, we can also understand the kind of philosophies it tends to produce. Marx, more than any other sociological thinker, with the exception of Gramsci, enables us to understand ourselves in relation to our history and society. He enables us to see that philosophy too emerges from, and is shaped by, our conditions of existence. The bulk of philosophers have been unable either to fully appreciate their own social and historical being or to realise its full significance. Marx is much maligned and misunderstood. His reputation is still marred by nonsense about 'determinism' and 'reductionism'. Contemporary thinking on Marx has laid all this to rest and has made it possible for us to go back and discover him afresh. Finally, Marx is the philosopher of our times. As global capitalism threatens our very existence, the writer of Capital has more to offer our needs than ever before.

Ian Flintoff
I'd only vote for Kant because Rousseau didn't make it to the short list - which is preposterous. If anyone was responsible for the progress of thought in the modern world, and still deeply relevant to the problems of today, it is Jean-Jacques. Typically, as with the short-sighted of his own time, he is once again misjudged and underestimated.

anthony carroll
Marx gave us insight into the society we live in now. He wasn't interested in the individual mind as such but in how people related to each other in society - in social relationships. His work has often been misunderstood, even misappropriated by individuals like Lenin and Mao who used his name for the prestige it had. Their societies were based like any other capitalist society on buying and selling and the exploitation by a class who owned and controlled of the working class who produced, as a class, all that we see around us, from the table the 'In Our Time' experts sit around to the building that surrounds them.The working class to a Marxist, of course, means all who have to sell their labour in order to live. By this definition this includes what many call the 'middle class'. It applies across all nations. Marx was thinking in terms of the whole world, not nation states.

Karl Capp
Plato – this view is on behalf of my son Kristopher (18) who argued recently that most of what we think we know about Socrates comes from Plato. It could well have been that Plato’s ideas were attributed to Socrates in order to avoid persecution – Socrates was sentenced to death and died for his philosophy. Socrates wrote nothing down and so not only do we have a truly great philosopher in Plato but also someone who was touched by who he thought was the greatest philosopher. Their legacy was left in the hands of Aristotle, Plato’s young student and so without Plato, philosophy would have been not only different, but a great deal poorer as a result.

michael stringer
I would like to have nominated Merleau Ponty. I believe that his work on Perception shows the way for a resoltion of the rationalist/empericist debate and a revised theory of knowledge.

The current passion for 'the truth' in politics and the media is manifest nonsense. Only read Gorgias...

Derek Moore
Epicuras gave us a rational program to live one's life by, the most important service of philosophy.

Foucault's analysis of power enables us to understand the world in a much better way.

Bob Harvey
Aquinas. Partly because he managed to combine philosophy and religion, but mainly because his writings remain so relevant today. His ideas have carried the load of years far better than, say, Wittgenstein or Russel.

Nick Megoran
Soren Kierkegaard: quite simply, the most incisive, most brilliant, most honest thinker who ever wrote. He captures the eseence of the human condition. Reading him when I was on the verge of suicide persuaded me that life before God was worth living, and worth living with all the passion we can muster.

Dr. Laurence Sandt
Of course such a vote is a near to impossible choice, could one truly state that objectively one of these great thinkers is more important an influence on our current being... Actually perhaps you could, but than again where's Benthem or Rawls. So if I have to pick one, I opt for the one I judge to be the kindest and most open of them all - Karl Popper

AYN RAND - I'm surprised she was not on the list as she is objectively a more valid thinker and philosopher of this age than a few of the people listed.

it is a toss up b/w the existentialists Nietzsche and Sartre. F.Nietz. lived like no other person on this earth. He gave up his german citizenship because of the anti-semetic movement and remained stateless for the remainder of his life. Nobody could critique religion and mankind like he did. It is practically impossible not to get wrapped up in his works and become upset and anxious about your own life...which brings us to Jean Paul Sartre who felt everybody we should be in a constant state of anxiety (not fear or sadness), but always bettering ourselves, never settling. His discussion of The Gaze (from the other)was something that always stayed with me. Not many people are as introspective as he that they look at themselves through the eyes of a passer-by. It is quite interesting and Sartre has done much for existentialism and finding meaning to life...(not that meaning -means- life MUST have "meaning")

Jonny Bussell
I voted for Sartre because I am a philosophy student and his work is the easiest to discuss with people who haven't read a lot of philosophy. Also over the summer I am working in a call centre and Hell is other people!

Nietzsche. No man had yet delved so wholly and honestly into the depths of society and the self. He had the most balls out of any other philosopher. His prophetic words and unkanny ability to read society, as well as exposing and laying bare human motivation.

Phil Walden
Hegel is the greatest philosopher because his dialectical logic and his contradiction make him a true advocate of truth.

I nominate Swami Vivekananda as the greatest philosopher. 'Mon Prince,' the secretary of Mr. Leggett, a close disciple of Swami Vivekananda, would call Swamiji. When Swamiji objected to it and clarified that he was not a prince but only a Hindu monk, he replied, 'You may call yourself like that, but I have dealt with many Princes and I know how they look and move about and I am sure you are one of them.'1 Many similar instances can be found in the life of Swamiji. Once, during his wanderings, Swamiji reached Trivandrum with a letter of introduction to one Prof. Sundararaman. On reaching his house, Swamiji met a boy of about 14 years and asked him, 'Is Prof. Sundararaman here? I have a letter to be delivered to him.' Swamiji's voice was rich and full and sounded like a bell. The boy looked up and saw Swamiji and somehow in his boyishness and innocence thought that Swamiji was a Maharaja. He took the letter and ran up to his father Sundararaman who was upstairs and told him, 'A maharaja has come and is waiting below. He gave this letter to be given to you.' Sundararaman laughed and said, 'Maharajas will not come to houses like ours.' But the boy insisted, 'Please come. I have no doubt that he is a maharaja.' Sundararaman remarked, 'What a naive and simple boy you are!' and came down. He met Swamiji, saluted him and took him upstairs. After a pretty long conversation with Swamiji, Sundararaman said to his son Ramasamy, 'My boy, what you said is right. He is no doubt a maharaja, but not a king over a small extent or area of territory. He is a king of the boundless and supreme domain of the soul.'2 Summing up the achievements of Swamiji, Romain Rolland says: 'In two words equilibrium and synthesis, Vivekananda's constructive genius may be summed up. He embraced all paths of the spirit, the four yogas in their entirety, renunciation and service, art and science, religion and action from the most spiritual to the most practical. Each of the ways that he taught had its own limitations but he himself had been through them all and embraced them all. As in a chariot drawn by four horses, he held the reins of all the four ways of truth, and travelled towards unity along them all simultaneously. He was personification of the harmony of all human energy.' A bridge between man and God So Swamiji can be described in very simple terms as a bridge between man and God. Swamiji's favourite theme was bringing about the unity of human race through God. He repeatedly pointed out that the civilisations of the world had shown signs of vigour and growth whenever the principle of unity of man had been well expressed and had degenerated whenever this principle had been forgotten. And so Swamiji laid utmost stress on the evolution and unity of mankind. Of all the creations in the world, the single thing that most impressed him was man. He found greater delight in reading a man than anything else. But his concept of man again, like his own personality, was limitless. He defined man as 'an infinite circle whose circumference is nowhere but whose centre is located in one spot.'13 He told his disciples that only incidentally they belonged to a certain country or gender, but in actuality they were all children of the one God.

Sergio Pauluzzi
Kant is still unsurpassed in his perception and criticism of our central 'core' as human beings (pure and practical reason)

Robert S. Hartman
By laying the foundations for the ushering of moral philosophy into Value Science, and thus bringing closer the day when Ethics will be an exact science, this philosopher has provided what the world now needs most -- an eventual empirical science of Ethics. The project, once actualized, and established as a respectable scientific discipline, will tend to bring the world closer to the time when people are civil to each other, behave decently, and mostly engage in win-win relationships. Wars will be far less likely. People will know their values clearly, and will emphatically insist on a hierarchy of values which places the individual person at the top, things next below, and ideologies and 'noble causes' -- used as rationalizations for morally questionable behavior -- last.

Corinna Wagner
Mary Wollstonecraft, Though often rejected as not a 'true' philosopher, her penetrating social criticism cut through the artificial gender divide and redefined what it meant to be a philosopher. Her argument that unequal power relations made virtuous actions impossible remains of perennial interest.

Luis Cardenas
Descartes, i think i exist, is what make us different to the animals and the base of our world

Graham Clarke
I voted for Nietszche because he throws everything into doubt, we are the inventors of our own tablets of stone. In particular however the outcome of this vote is thrown into doubt for me since I was able to vote at least twice for Nietszche without being prevented. So any lobbyist for any particular philosopher might spend their waking hours voting and thus insuring their preferred philosopher got a good ranking.

Sally Reygan
Plato has got to be the bedrock of all philosphical thought, either to argue for or against his ideas - he stimulated discussion and debate, made people think, and surely that is the role of a great philospher.

J. Lawry
I voted for Bertrand Russell. This is because in is early work culminating in Principia Mathematica he basically invented the notation of modern logic. In this respect he has had a major impact on twentieth century, philosophy, mathematics and computer science.

Carlo Marchiori
I'm disappointed no philosopher from the great Stoa tradition have made it into the final nominations. Stoa was at the root of the scientific revolution of the ellenistic period and gave a great contribution to the development of logics beyond Aristotle. They also had very a pragmatic and tolerant view of life. I would have voted for Chrysippus. So I voted for Epicurus, since epicureism shares with stoicism a materialistic conception of life, even though the two traditions are, in my opinion erroneusly, considered as opposed to one another.

margherita magnelli
nietzsche.he spoke about life in its biggest power. he also spoke about men, creator of his values and his future

Andrea Arnaldi
SAINT THOMAS - A giant of the human reflection concerning God and the human reason

Marta Landolfi
DAVID HUME.perchè è stato un anticipatore della teoria quantitativa della moneta .Egli intuì che il valore della stessa era legato alla quantità di moneta in circolazione.

Even in the 21st century Aquinas has something to teach us about being and mind. The ethics of virtue have resonance even in our post-religious times. Virtue can be learnt. If we reject an absolute or metaphysical basis for ethics - and are equally unconvinced by the various humanisms that are attempts to cling on to metaphysics without God - then the notion that we can base our morality on ancient wisdom and that it can be taught is inspirational. Also, although I no longer believe in God, the principle of a First Cause still has great appeal...before the Big Bang there was??!!

Charles Darwin counted Hume as a central influence.

anna scriattoli
Nietzsche for the clear idea that God is death. I mean metaphisics and all absolutism is death. I think that concept has long time period

Francesco Mangano

john G. Brooks
Martin Heidegger why are there being's instead of nothings'

Raoul de la Bedoyere
Kant.His idea that man should never be treated as a means,is the nearest we have to moral concensus. His observations on the conditional nature of space/time are the basis of modern relativism. Ta.

David Hume
David Hume for his great work "A Treatise of Human Nature"

Giuliana Prosperi
KANT: His gnoseology links the Empirists, such as Locke, Hume and Berkeley, to a more wide scientific project touching our neurosciences. So Kant is still valable and original 'in our time'.

Ros Williams
Aristotle. To me he is the father of philosophy as we know it. But a very difficult choice for someone like me who doesn't really *know it* enough to make a sensible choice.

Immanuel Kant
He explained that human beings are not "equipped" with the means to know whether or not god exists

Gabriele Alese
HEGEL is the most remarkable and influential philosopher for our time; he deeply explored the link between individuals and society, religion and time, and his dialectic logic is the baseline for every philosopher of the last century.

Chris Perks
I voted for Wittgenstein, mainly because he showed the world that many of the philosophical problems that had baffled the world for centuries, were in fact down to misunderstandings and / or misuse of language, rather than metaphysical, ontological issues etc. This encouraged far more interest in the Philosophy of Language, an important area that had often been overlooked in previous times. I also like the fact that he wrote one book and declared that he'd solved all the problems of philosophy, only to come back a couple of years later to explain that he'd got it all wrong, and that he needed to start over again. Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.... ...

h madison
Friedrich Nietzsche. He was critical in toppling the religious domination of Christianity, and had important ideas that are still relevant today.

Roger White
Even though I am currently working on Wittgenstein, I voted for Aristotle. I first narrowed down the field by the consideration that there are some thinkers who force you to think about the issues they are discussing in a radically new way - even if you end up disagreeing with them. This produced for me a short list of Aristotle, Kant, Frege and Wittgenstein. Then I considered the range of issues that they discussed: here Aristotle and Kant stood out as the two who could talk illuminatingly about the whole range of philosophical issues. Finally I plumped for Aristotle as simply the first person to have created the serious and disciplined study of so many branches of philosophy - ranging from the creation of logic, the first extended work of literary theory, the first sustained philosophy of biology.

Stefano Sacconi
Undoubtedly Karl Marx is the greatest philosopher in the mankind history. He wasn't only "a journalist who knew something about economics": the person who has judged him this way doesn't know at all what Economics and Philosophy are. Perhaps she thinks that an economist and a bookkeeper are the same. Marx understood most, and in every case much more than any other thinker, about the nature of mankind and its perpective. He showed that mankind is its history, because men make by themselves their history but they do it in determined conditions. All his thought starts from there and is a development of this original departure. Also the communism, that Marx thought as a supreme product of human liberation, in his conception is not a "system", but a long term passage from a necessity-led to a freedom-led human society. It's not so easy to understand, but no philosopher had a so compreghensive thought about mankind. I.e. about the world.

Jim Hanson
DIOGENES. If ours is a cynical age, then surely he is the philosopher of that age.

John Darwin
NAGARJUNA It is disappointing to see the western-centricity of the list prepared here. There are some powerful thinkers from other traditions, one of whom is Nagarjuna, the Indian philosopher who in the first century CE was saying things that remain very relevant today, and foreshadow current debates on epistemology and post-modernism. Let's take a global view!

Dharma Deva
P R SARKAR Combines spiritual, psychic (mental) and physical aspects of life in one comprehensive whole.

james Redwood-Davies
LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN He dissolved the problems. He showed us how philosophical problems arise from some sort of confusion about the way language works, which began when people first started asking philosophical questions. "Philosophical Investigations" is a series of brilliant thought experiments designed to encourage the reader to think for themselves and grasp this fact. Many current philosophers haven't come to terms with his writings, and continue to tie themselves in knots. But for those who listened, Wittgenstein really did "Show the fly the way out of the fly bottle"

Simon Hyde
MAURICE MERLEAU PONTY Brilliant Marxist and existential phenomenologist. His work on the body is fantastic as is his analysis of space and time.

Maria Pinschof
SPINOZA He truly opened my mind as a philosophy student 50 years ago, and his impact has endured, that is - although I forget the detail of his writing - I remain influenced by his overall approach.

Brett Harrison
ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER 1788-1860. without his 'will'and the will of other things, how else was Hegelian blind 'Giest' to be thwarted. Also responsible for another remarkable follow up act in Nietzsche and 'the will to power'!!

Simone Weil - arguably one of the most advanced spiritual thinkers of the 20th century, providing compelling insights into a range of Greek philosophical questions (and Greek literature generally). Her writings towards the end of her life tend towards the "mystical" (focusing heavily on Plato, amongst others, as an anticipator of Christian thought). But these are no less interesting than her earlier writings, which reflect a wide range of influences, including marxism and the Upanishads!

Jack Adams
ALAN TURING Simply for taking "thought" and making it a process so simple a machine could do it. Thus creating this modern era.

DELEUZE & GUATTARI Both lyrical and mad, they describe/take apart meaning and our existence in such a way it makes you uncomfortable. Viseral. The first time my mind was ever changed.

Jeremy Corney
Pythagoras for applying numbers to the World, not least triangles and music.

Mik Bailey
P R Sarker. Because his philosophy is the tidiest blend of socio, psycho, spiritual and economic theories, all bound in to one beautiful world organising treatise.

Andrew Turner
J S MILL while his was only a minor contribution compared to the great systems of Plato, Hegel or Kant, what he said he said elegantly and thoughtfully. His work shows an appreciation for subtlety of argument and good common sense.

Julie Gubbins
AVERROES If his teachings were more widely known they might help our present religious wars.

Charles Miller
KIERKEGAARD What can you say about a guy who combined the humor of Socrates with the passion of Paul the Apostle? He set the table for the likes of Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Sartre, Levinas, et al.

DIOGENES OF CORINTH. He lived a life which exposed the absurdities of human conventions.

Tim Scott
BLAISE PASCAL Truly post-modern philosopher of the 17th Century! Acknowledges faith is not unreasonable, but transcends reason - it is supra-rational. Or to quote the man himself "The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of...We know truth, not only by reason, but also by the heart." Recognises that Reason and Rationality is not the Ultimate Authority. Also neatly summarised the origin of evil: "I have discovered that all human evil comes from this, man's being unable to sit still in a room."

Carol Haigh
HAN-GEORG GADAMER. He belived that philosophy should be made more accesible to people and accused Heidegger of making things too difficult. He deserves a nimination just for that!

Clark Forden
PRABHAT RAINJAN SARKAR Progressive Utilisation Theory, NeoHumanism, Microvita, and much, much, more. Mr. Sarkar is an phenom, yet to be discovered and widely accepted. His contributions to Humanity are vast and need to be given serious consideration.

Alex Butler
Plato - because we all begin at Plato, and then once we have finished being arrogant and pompous, we return to Plato, realising that he was always right.

Adam Jones
PETER SINGER In terms of his relevence to society and its understanding of itself Singer is the most significant philosopher to the Western world as it is today. He is informing against inherited ethics, and is approaching the issues of bioethics from a rational, rather than paranormal, perspective.

Kent Pedersen
PRABHAT RANJAN SARKAR When the world was devoid of any modern philosophy, he gave the philosophy of Ananda Marga and that of the Progressive Utilisation Theory. A unifying universal philosophy.

Dorian Jones
MARX I thought the idea of beauty as cultural currency was a pretty good one.

Eric K
Friedrich Nietzsche. For his method, his wit and his arrogance

David Brown
HEIDEGGER – for the radicalism, severity and breadth of his thinking – ranging over art, poetry, science, technology, and past philosophy – questioning our assumptions (“questioning is the piety of thought”) showing things in a new light. Heidegger’s thought is guided by the oldest question ‘What is what is?’, his language is inventive, and he resists academic pidgeon-holing. Hannah Arendt puts it well: “The gale that blows through Heidegger’s thinking – like that which, after thousands of years, blows to us from Plato’s work – is not of our century. It comes from the primordial, and what it leaves behind is something perfect which, like everything perfect, falls back to the primordial”.

Terry Sessford
JEREMY BENTHAM A humanitarian of true wisdom and compassion, who did not merely pontificate on the injustices of his day but actively worked for social reform and the righting of wrongs. Moreover, his progressive ethical framework encompassed all living creatures and the wider environment, in contrast to the narrow anthropocentric position of many philosophers. We urgently need someone of Bentham's calibre today.

R. A. Evans
RENE DESCARTES, because dualism is still in business baby!

David Thistlethwaite
MICHAEL POLANYI Polanyi is not famous, but he's cleared up the epistemological mess left by the others, abolishing the subjective/objective divide which plagues arts and science and poisons every sphere of thought.

Martin Radford
Averroes - Because we need to remember this man now more than ever.

jim thow
ERIC CANTONA. He was the first to postulate with resorting to logical empiricism that the proximity of seagulls to trawlers is due not, a priori to the trawler itself, but to a sardine based reward system. He also dispoved Clough's theormem at Leicester that it only takes a second to score a goal.

Jon Harvey
Aristotle: for still being crucial to thought on ethics, the arts science 2,500 years on! And to respond to Melvyn's email, as a classicist I'm bigging up the Greeks!

alan johnstone
Joseph Dietzgen a humble worker who as Karl Marx said is " our philospher "

Katherine Francis
ADAM SMITH. Smith is a much misunderstood philosopher, too easily catagorised as simply the defender of the free market by those who concentrate only on the 'Wealth of Nations' and ignore his other works. His economic and social philosophy both argue for social engagement and a consideration of the rights of others when making decisions. In particular, his work attacks slavery and defends the right of women to be considered as individuals with moral worth, rather than as property. Smith encourages us to think of ourselves as members of a community with a responsibility to others. Also, his work has one of the most inspiring statements of philosophy I've ever come across: "Man naturally desires, not only to be loved, but to be lovely..." (Theory of Moral Sentiments).

Sean Davitt
KRISHNAMURTI Joined together the wisdom of the east with the technological world of the west. In plain simple English for the modern world to understand and take the responsibilty to act for themselves and not wait for salvation from another source.

Mark Parnell
ALBERT CAMUS Illustrated how life can be worth living without hope or meaning;less a philosopher who tackled great problems (though ne did tackle suicide) but one who more importantly considered what they actually meant to us.

Peter Jezard
THOMAS HOBBES From 'sense-data' to the first modern concept of 'nation-state' Just about the ONLY philosopher to attempt an argument 'beyond belief'. In other words to attempt to explore ideas using the then 'New (mechanistic)Rational' in what Oackshott describes as a "Totally coherent system of thinking" Second Nomination Peter Jezard B.Sc For exploring how to account for consciousness in both particle and Quantum Wave world views, without recourse to egocentric 'Belief' arguments.

Monique Borg
Henri BERGSON for making intuition the means of knowing time and life Bertrand RUSSEL for the clarity of his philosophy, for being a pacifist ... and enjoying life

Ian Dodkins
Chuang Tzu (530 BC?). Western philosphers of the time were questioning reality based on a set of assumptions; and if the assumptions were not the same they inevitably disagreed. Chuang Tzu (probably also the author of the Tao te Ching (Lao Tzu being a character Chuang Tzu created)), made the starting point that these assumptions could not be made, and thus rejected all speculation. Thus he produced an entirely liberal philosophy, with a dependence of ideas and our purpose on fulfilling our own 'inner nature'. He also preceeded Wittgenstein in understanding that much philosophical discussion came down to the definition of words - and that although words are useful, they are not in themselves reality (only a model of it).

Barry Miller
I nominate E.F Schumacher. As the author of 'Small is Beautiful' he laid out an alternative economic and social system which puts the environment and people at its heart. In doing so he made a major contribution to the development of the the environmental movement which is so important today.

katharine muir
HERACLITUS - who was in at the beginning (for the West), who left us fragments and mysteries so that we have to imagine into the gaps - about the best possible induction to thinking psychoanalytically, as I suspect we all have to after Freud. Also one of the few philosophers to inspire a catchy poem: They told me, Heraclitus, they told me you were dead. They brought me bitter news to hear and bitter tears to shed...

Frank Preut
MICHEL FOUCAULT, who in spite of his complex thinking was able to stand up uncompromisingly for what he believed in and because he has taught us so many important things about power in our post-revolutionary (? post-humanistic? post-historic?) age. The 21st century will be Foucauldian.

Sean McHugh
Ludwig Wittgenstein - for distinguishing between wisdom and word games.

Brian Dowd
SOREN KIERKEGAARD the first modern Western philosopher to show that existence is greater than reason. His work on the nature of faith is second to none. A wonderful philosospher for the present day.

Joshua Lowe
JURGEN HABERMAS The only philosopher asking the big questions. (Please stop nominating Popper: philosophy of science has long since escaped that dead-end, and he knew nothing of social science, as he readily admitted.

Chris Hancox
IMMANUEL KANT Because his thought led to straigtforward guidance for our intercactions which are more easily understood than carried out. His Categorical Imperative (I should act in such a way that I would will it that my actions constitute a universal law) describes how I cannot treat others in a way which I would find unacceptable for myself. Now consider the people who accept things for others which they would not want for themselves or their families. And Kant describes "Good will" - good in itself, acting in a way which is thoughtfully right. But if one acts "good" in order to get praise or accolades, then it is not done with good will. Superb.

NIETZSCHE "only a shallow man does not judge by appearences"

Bob Britchford
KARL POPPER Straight-thinking, clear-writing man. The greatest philosopher of science. He showed that neither Marx nor Freud were "scientific" as they claimed. Also pointing out the flaws in the philosophy of Plato, Heraclitus and others he is the most important philosopher for all scientists and for our age.

Stephanie Marriott
ALBERT EINSTEIN. I know he's best known as a scientist, but I would call him a thinker, and I believe many of his sayings come from philosophical thought, rather. For example, "Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding." "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing." "Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."

Bertrand Russell
Analytic philosophy. The Theory of Descriptions. Social issues. Shows great wit in his writing. Honest and generous. His essay "In Praise of Idleness" should be on the school curriculum.

Jai Clare
ARISTOTLE: with Plato where it all starts, but unlike Plato, he was relatively sane... Aristotle STILL affects our everyday. Imagine what he would be doing he if was around now. We still need and read his work.

Matthew Broome
WITTGENSTEIN. For being a genius, trying to give philosophy 'peace', and providing powerful arguments against scepticism and reductionism. Also, for his passion, morality, and inensity.

Craig Mackenzie
WITTGENSTEIN He showed why most of philosophy was based on a mistake.

richard keane
Kermit the Frog: at least his epigrams made us laugh.

Jonathan P. Bird
Karl Popper Open Society, open thought learning even from those are incorrect.

Clive Hendry
Arthur Schopenhauer, for expanding on what Kant wrote about the importance of aesthetics and different ways of perceiving.

Peter E Pormann
AL-KINDI, the philosophers of the Arabs. First Muslim philosopher, and extremely original thinker

Richard Gibson
A.J.AYER - "a sentence had literal meaning if and only if the proposition it expressed was either analytic or empirically verifiable." How many men can have claimed to have written a text that "solve all the problems of philosophy" by the age of 26?

David Grogan
Karl Marx Although associated with state capitalism and a misguided, perhaps,teleological view of history, Marx is still the strongest input into the elitist conservative view which has sired dictatorship and tyranny at theexpense of the common person. His fading from popularity since 1989 has left the stage free for the oppressions of neo-conservatism and the lethal rise of US hegemony (see Iraq` Afghanistan, Latin America etc etc etc)

Warren Jones
NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI He is the only philosopher who's ideas are still practicably relevant to the true nature of man throughout the ages.

Peter McKechnie
BERTRAND RUSSELL for clarity of thought, and being comprehensible to mere mortals.

Alan Keith
David Hume for his down to earth common sense

KARL MARX dialectical materialism offers us the greatest dynamic analysis of our place in the world and our ability to transform it for the good of humanity.

Nick Sweeney
DAVID HUME Prodigious insight combined with utter humanity in the face of his own metaphysical conclusions. The anti-nihilist.

Immanuel Kant(1724-1804) The last phylosopher because He defenitely located the place of phylosophy in our cognition

Francis Sales
Neitzsche, because he questioned everything. love him or hate him....he encourages one to unravel everything.

Leslie Butler
SENECA Acceptance without fatalism. Pragmatism without cynicism.An adult approach to ideals in a real world.

Marshall Newman
VOLTAIRE-In this age it is good to recall his "Essay on Toleration," with its maxim, "we must tolerate all but intolerance."

Soren Kierkegaard for 'The Sickness Unto Death', being an immensely important [founding] (and daring) existential work.

Lisa Guenther
LEVINAS, for reminding us that ethics is above all a response to the other person.

Alex Cline
NIETZCHE He was just downright lovely/crazy. "One must have chaos in one's soul to give birth to a dancing star." Good stuff.

Morgan Parris
Bertrand Russell He had an excellent grasp of political, mathmatical, and scientific philosophy and was an excellent critic of religion and social problems. His writings are intelligent and thought provoking while being witty and enjoyable.

aristotle Everything since that is worth anything still has large parts owing to / based on Aristotle. He seems as valid today as any philosopher.

John Howes
Karl Popper. The poverty of historicism and the open society and its enemies

PLATO Because of the form of the good...

Jeff Hughes
NIETZSCHE - in tethering us to the ground he provided the conditions for unbounded freedom.

Ben Reed
BILL HICKS: he made accessible the idea that even trivial choices matter because they affect you and the rest of the world. He bared his soul to ridicule but became a beacon of sense to his audience.

Christine Lopes
IMMANUEL KANT Kant's critical method is a historic turning point: It determines the value of philosophies before and after it.

Chris Dunderdale
FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE - Challenges the mind to reveal itself as the true creator.

samuel coleridge
PETER SINGER probably more avote for the greatest influence, but this australian has influenced both thought and action across the globe, from animal and human rights to political ethics. and of course, he is vitrioled, so therefore of great influence!

Stephen Tiley
The greatest Philosopher is without doubt Ludwig Wittgenstein. Why? Well, he showed us the limits of what we can and cannot say. He demonstrated the meaningfulness, and more importantly, the meaningless of many statements and questions posed by many philosophers throughout history. He demonstrated the clarity of thought that can only come through clarification of our own thoughts, and an an acute awareness of the importance the use of language has in structuring our thoughts and reasoning processes. 'The limits of my language are the limits of my world' he once famously remarked. And the limits of sense from nonsense are the limits of what it means to do philosophy, from what it means to participate in doing nothing. This man has not only changed the nature of philosophy and the way we view philosophy, but the very way we do philosophy. Without him, we would still be asking meaningless meta-questions, wit no answers and no resolutions. Surely it is no coincidence that philosophers have been posing the same questions for the past two and a half thousand years and offering no resolutions: what is truth? What is right? What is good? These questions are meaningless, and to participate in a quest to answer them is itself a meaningless task. The 'continental' philosophers still pursue these questions, and it is a shame that many 'academics'have mis-used Wittgenstein's great philosophical methods. But, be that as it may, Wittgenstein unquestionably the most important philosopher. And this bbc radio4 survey should acknowledge him as such.

Allan Jones
DOGEN ZENJI Because he founded the Soto school of Zen Buddhism. Centuries before Schopenhauer, Heidegger, Wittgenstein and others,he realised that life and death are the same, and that the best response is to sit silently in the posture of zazen.

Kolya Wolf
KARL POPPER For being the first to navigate the narrow channel between the Scylla of craving absolute certainty and the Charybdis of repudiating the very existence of truth.

iszi lawrence
MICHEL FOUCAULT power-knowlege relations show us how the modern world was and is being made. Vital for post-structuralism and the latest schools of thought

David Schofield
ISSAC NEWTON because understanding the physical world and acting effectively on that understanding has primacy in my ranking of things human - everything else is smart words and dull detail.

Russell Manley
CHARLES SANDERS PEIRCE, founded semiotics and pragmatism, philosopher of science (Popper said little Peirce hadn't said in the previous century). A genius almost a century ahead of his time, even predicting quantum effects as early as the 1880's. Arguably the earliest cognitive scientist. Almost unknown in the general population at present, he will be remembered when many other more famous nominees are long forgotten.

IMMANUEL KANT. For laying down the foundation for so much important moral philosophy.

BERTRAND RUSSELL A highly ethical atheistic philisophy. There really shouldn't be any excuse for anyone believing in god after they've read 'Why I am not a Christian'

Goderis Jan
PLATO Because he is the father of Western philosophy, besides the many reasons already mentioned by the many commentators.

Matthew Knight
WITTGENSTEIN A philosopher so clever he was able to predict how he would be misunderstood by Dennett forty years before he was. A pity we do not yet have access to a copy of the Investigations which has not been defaced by Anscombe.

Keith Tayler
WITTGENSTEIN He was 'profoundly' wrong, all the others were 'just' wrong.

Henri Krishna
SOREN KIERKEGAARD - Trying to explain would be like trying to describe the leap of faith, augenblink; the moment of vision, in which the eternal breaks through into the temporal

John Puntis
KARL MARX realised that philosophers interpreted the world, but that the point was to change it

John Slocombe
KARL MARX Still Hope!

pete rowlands
Baruch Spinoza His Monist and pantheistic view will, I believe, ultimately transpire to be so. For this, and because of his gentle nature

Linda Bates
BOETHUS His Consolation has resonated with truth since the 6th century AD through the Mediaeval period (what would Chaucer have been without Boethus?) and to the present day.

Neil Willett
NIETZSCHE He tears up centuries of painstakingly accumulated human thought in single paragraphs, he is the greatest and he lost his mind for being so.

Sam Exley
Albert Camus, the human psyche is the route of all phillosophy. Camus has shown me more clearly than anyone else how erratic human behavior can be and therefore how fallible all thought is.

Nick Hempleman
ROBERT OWEN Whilst a very practical philosopher, Owen saw the horror of the Industrial Revolution and formulated not only a prognosis of it but also a philosophical and tangible solution. Whilst Marx writing much later was merely a critic of capitalism (with globally disastrous results),Owen laid the foundations for Co-operation and socialism.

James Baring
SPINOZA Spinoza advanced the study of philosophy more than any other man. Scientific developments allow us to update Spinoza's philosophy. Other philosophers find a place within his.

Alan Pitt Clark
Baruch SPINOZA 'Whatever is, is in God, and nothing can exist or be conceived without God' (Qicquid est, in Deo est, et nihil sine Deo esse necque concipi potest); 'It is the nature of reason to perceive things under a certain species of eternity' (De natura Rationis est, res sub quaedam aeternitatis specie percipere); Truth is its own standard (Veritas norma sua est).

Betty Hayward
SOCRATES He was couragous, honest and died not betraying his beliefs. A truely honerable man.

Delyth Clark
socrates Without Socrates we would not have philosophy

Maurice Price
KANT - An unerring ability to slide through the onion layers of thought to cast light on reason itself

J Ham
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY Great revolutionary thinker who anticipated many philosophical minds way ahead of their times. Athiest and revolutionary when it was unfashionable and dangerous.

M Squires
FRANZ KAFKA Wrote about the struggle with this bizarre life that we all face

Nigel Price
Friedrich Schiller Read the Aesthetic Education of Man and you will know why.

Paul Novelle
JOHN RAWLS!!! How could you leave this man off the list!! His 'Theory of Justice' reignited the tired utilitarian debate by offering the first concrete liberal egalitarian alternative worth noting for more than hundred years!! ALSO where is Isiah Berlin, Nozick... I could go on!!

Neil Simons
JEAN ROUSSEAU The much overlooked founder of contempory philosophy This guy though flawed is responsible for existentialism,socialism, and psychoanalysis.he set the foundations for 19 and 20 centuary philosohy

Gary Edwards.
DAVID HUME: for his clear, witty and humane exposition of the fault lines that undermine dogmatic assertion. A refreshing figure in a field that is often obscure, stony faced and other worldly; a timely teacher when authority beyond rational warrant once again influences the powerful.

James Vincent
ALBERT CAMUS for making the absurd tangible and applicable to daily life - the ultimate question - suicide or survive

lucy chaplin
SIGMUND FREUD - A pioneer. He was not afraid of changes to perception toward his theories.

Dante Alighieri
Why should we not call poets philosophers? When Dante reached the Empyrean he saw there Divine Wisdom. Throughout his journey Love was the means by which he arrived at Wisdom. Love and Wisdom Philo-Sophia. Dante should be included in this list because he challenged the way poetry was regarded. In writing in the vulgar tongue, he - for the first time - brought philosophy and theology to the layman who had little knowledge of Latin. Without Dante, what would the history of European literature have looked like? No Chaucer? No Petrarch? No Milton? No Blake? Philosophy is the development of ideas and Dante certainly played a great role in opening the doors of wisdom and words to a great number of people over the past seven hundred years of literary history.

BARUCH SPINOZA He sought to bring together science and religion and was one the first philosophers to seek out the hidden sources of our feelings and actions.

GOTTFRIED WILHELM LEIBNIZ - Everyone talks about how Newton invented calculus and how amazing that was, but fewer people realise that Leibniz (a German) actually invented it at around the same time - though there have long been disputes between Britain and the Continent as to who invented it first! Leibniz also developed the 'best of all possible worlds' theory, and despite his amazing philosophical achievements, is not as well-known as some of his contemporaries.

Terri Irwin
STEVE IRWIN. His great life philosophy on crocs, sheilas and so on. Some quotes: "Crikey!" "Crocodiles are just like people!". Think his equal rights to animals and humans are particularily endearing. Woooooo!

Paul MacEachern
Zeno of Elea - who set out arguments intended to show the contradictions that result from supposing that there is such a thing as change. The paradoxes have consquences for subsequent metaphysical, epistemological, and ontological positions on the nature of the physical world.

Stuart Kent
JOHN STUART MILL He advised 'do whatever you like -but don't upset anybody'. A universal directive.

David Ashcroft
KURT GODEL For proving that nothing can be proved, and providing the doubt required to prompt research

Rebecca Bilbao
BERGSON - for the positive force of creativity and chaos.

john flynn
thales of miletus (620-550) he may have been something of an excentric but was still the true originator...thales.ideas abd the causes of ideas vote THALES

Hilly Beavan
PROF PETER SINGER With his book "Animal Liberation" Peter Singer widened the humanitarian debate to include nonhuman animals - and started a whole new way of thinking about animals and their rights. This spark was the catalyst for major change in the way animals are treated, onging today.

Margaret Norman
Spinoza - advocates pursuit of 'a clear understanding of the nature of men, of their place in the universe and of the nature of the activity which is essential to men as human beings.' Now that's what we should be pursuing Melvyn. By the way he calls it 'the intellectual love of God'.

Philip Talbot
I am minded inconclusively to fill the void of this nomination space ... somewhere between ... the tears of HERACLITUS ... and the laughter of DEMOCRITUS ... possibly ...

Michael Gadd
Ghandi for his role in the development of Non violent direct action

Colin Daly
LOCKE For providing the philosophy behind the founding of the USA

Anthony Kent
DESCARTES, for his fundamental influence on the course of modern philosophy

Liam Hennessy
ALFRED NORTH WHITEHEAD He presents a new way of looking at reality, our experience of it and our place in it. One famous quotation is that in every occasion of experience "the many become one and are increased by one."

Osho the mystic Simple because he was alive and gaced us with his most profound mind. Not only did he question, but he actually had answers

Nigel Kahn
His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. for making the goal of most philosophical searching -- to live at peace with oneself and others -- available on the level of practical experience, through his techniques of consciousness.

THOMAS AQUINAS - Dazzling intellect, extraordinary conviction. A giant in a world of pygmies.

Matthew Burgess
SCHOPENHAUER Schopenhauer represents the peak of a philosophical lineage stretching back to Descartes, the fullest development yet realised of the insights of Kant, the greatest recognition of the value of art, and the deepest sympathy with the profound wisdom of eastern philosophy, particularly Buddhism.

John Taylor
MAURICE MERLEAU-PONTY. Philosophy has always been about the endeavour to establish truth, a reaction against the tyranny of rhetoric and propaganda. Merleau-Ponty, through his phenomenological study of bodily perception finally overcomes the dichotomies that have plagued the Cartesian tradition. By establishing the human body as our connection to the world we become no longer a transcendental ego or merely a causally determined body, but a free and positively active part of the Universe. By removing the barriers that feed fear and propaganda he undermines these weapons and finally achieves the path to truth which we have sought for so long.

Rupert Ferguson
ADAM FERGUSON (1723-1816) the friend of Hume, Gibbon and Adam Smith and a writer who features in the background of Marx, Lessing and Adam Smith, Ferguson's work as an historian and writer on politics and social science not only laid the foundations for the modern science of sociology but provides vital advice for our own generation by warning of the dangers to a society of uncontrolled and unregulated commerce pursued for its own sake.

John Stout
William Of Occam for his razor: if only people would think and apply the principle!

kat hadj
EPICURUS For giving us simple, achievable and timelessly honest guidance on how to live a self-respecting life, and for recognising, over 2,000 years ago, how inherently opposed to this advertising can be.

Terri Rawlings
JIDDHU KRISHNAMURTI who said Truth is unapproachable through any organisation, creed,dogma, priest or ritual nor through philosophical knowledge or psychological technique. Only through understanding the contents of our own minds through observation and not through intellectual anlysis or introspective dissection.

Ian Powell
MONTAIGNE ...Because he makes me smile... and because he isn't on your list, which would make him smile!

J. Kellan
SPINOZA beause he had the courage to do what descartes would, or could, not. To see that a'prime first mover' neccessitates that god is eternal is false logic set upon conceit. Because he dared to stand up and be excommunicated from the jewish faith. For his views. Like socrates, yet so much less well known. He deserves our respect for daring to put god in its place.

Tom Coates
DERRIDA - for his work on the edges and limits of reason and language and for opening up the binaries that contain and constrain us.

Ronald Haak
LEIBNIZ, who belongs on any short list of the highest ornaments not only of philosophy, but of all categories of western civilization, along with Shakespeare and Mozart. Along with his breadth and concision, Leibniz is the only philosopher that REPAIRS MY MIND. This is what first attracted me to him as I riffled through the Everyman edition of Selections. So many sentences simply jumped out as miracles of lucid concision. In the past 20 years, we've been blessed with enormously illuminating commentaries on Leibniz (in English) that make him accessible in ways that were denied to earlier generations of general readers. And there is a second reason for my choosing Leibniz: he was locked in combat with the modern-minded shock troops of DesCartes and Newton, and the latter won the day, bequeathing to us the alarming world we now live in. So in terms of historical effects, he's a loser --- and we're poorer for it. If you insist on asking who's the most influential philosopher of all time, it has to be Plato. I might mention I'm a general reader who reads for pleasure and private satisfaction, with no connection to professional philosophy.

Richard Elen
Alfred Korzybski, 1879-1950. Korzybski developed the concept of 'General Semantics', which can be described as "a general system of evaluation - that is to say, a systematic methodology for individuals to use in understanding how they relate to the world around them, how they react to this world, how they react to their reactions, and how they adjust their behavior accordingly. In other words, you could say that general semantics is concerned with how well we integrate the world 'out there' (outside our skin) with the world 'in here' (inside our skin)."

J.D. Anderson
NAGARJUNA (13TH CENTURY BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHER) Because Eastern philosophers are largely ignored in the West and the Madhyamaka philosophy inspired many of the great philosophers of Europe eg Heidegger to a more holistic and humanitarian ethos.

Francis Murphy
THOMAS AQUINAS - Achieved a philosophical synthesis unmatched in its breadth, depth and cohesion.

Raj Mohindra
SUN TZU - if philosphy is the understanding of the principles behind the action then my vote is for a man who has made the greatest contribution to the question of how to deal with conflict.

Joe Macare
AYN RAND It's a question you'll never know the answer to, if you have to ask 'Why ?' I suppose ! Suffice it to say that The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged disabused me, personally, of a lot of silly ideas I'd had when I was still a student, and had yet to make my way in the world of business. Ayn Rand's thoughts helped me make sense of what was initially a fairly confusing situation, in a way that say, Karl Marx, Plato, and the supposedly great religions of the world never quite could. Philosophy should be practical, I think, above all it should be that, and Rand is never less than than entirely practical - I imagine I'd still be sitting around the place smoking 'dope' if it wasn't for her, but now I run my own company ! In your face, Immanuel Kant ! ( or should I say 'can't' ?!!!

Alex Henshaw
W.V.O QUINE One of the most influential philosophers of the 20th Century, and rightly so. Contributed greatly to logic, metaphysics and epistemology, and forever remembered for his famous slogan "to be is to be the value of a bound variable".

Ron Culley
ROBERT BURNS. Poet philosopher. Not only did he understand the human condition, most importantly, he explained it in a way which remains peerless. Thousands of dinners are held annually in his memory. Not too many Wittgenstein Suppers abound! He challenged the accepted orthodoxies of the day; the church, the state, the monied, the priviledged and championed the poor and the oppressed. When Thomas Paine was writing 'The Rights Of Man', Burns' riposte commented, "Amid this mighty fuss just let me mention, the Rights of Woman merit some attention". Burns was the original feminist.

Simon King
HOBBES: He correctly identified how the social contract defines day to day existence in Leviathan

Jon Gemmell
TONY BENN For his understanding of the parliamentary process - what it is, and what it could be.

Angela `Brown
DESCARTES The Meditations is one of the most compelling and lucid readings in philosophy. It provided philosophers with enough material to discuss for a few hundred years. And all this on less than a100 pages.

Kevin Murray
MIKHAIL BAKHTIN as someone who challenged the neoplatonist legacy of Hegel and constructed a sophisticated system for a dialogical understanding of meaning

STEPHEN KEARNS. For groundbreaking contributions to multiple fields: ontology, free will, philosophy of action, ethics, aesthetics.

David Barnett, Ph.D.
JOHN LOCKE (1632-1704) is mportant for the political philosophy of liberalism. He providied the philosophical foundations for the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688 in England and the American Revolution of 1776. " Whereas his contemporary, Hobbes, was unable to provide a way of limiting the excesses of government (necessary evil), Locke provided a clear identification of the legitimate functions. The American Declaration of Independence is suffused with Lockean philosophy. Locke's Treatises on Government should be required reading for all politicians of the "free world.

sara blackwood
Noam Chomsky:I'd like to think his influence in analysing propaganda and the manipulation of politics and business will allow us to be truly free and understand what that really means without evoking existentialist forces.

Russell Simpson
JACQUES DERRIDA He pulled apart the pretence of the old- school, high-browed maxims and left meaning to the individual. No-one can be vested with the authority to dictate meaning other than yourself.

Paul Wadey
JACQUES LACAN. For two and one half reasons: (1.) Effectively fusing together, thus completing, the projects of both, Freudian psychoanalysis and Jungian analytical psychology (2.), as Lacan's apprehension of the psychology of the human condition can appear to be not just some poetic claim toward an anaclisis of clinical and theoretical praxis, but itself a coherent applied philosophy for both pure and practical reasoning in coincidence. (2.5.) Doing so with such desirous, sceptical, and vividly abstract language as to remind the individual of the fruitlessness of running through a swamp whilst ones Wellingtons are patently full of porridge.

Lesley Newson
CHARLES DARWIN because his insights into the processes of life and culture generate testable hypotheses which allow us find solutions to philosphical questions. It is a tribute to the power of his ideas that he is generally not considered a philosopher.

Ian Barker
IMRE LAKATOS His Conjectures and Refutations illuminates goes beyond his ostensible subject of Mathematics. It illuminates what it is to think both logically and imaginatively. (But I might have gone for Popper for similar reasons)

Heraclitus - I find the idea of flux and chimera fascinating - although I sometimes think he might have been smoking some of the herbs on the hillside he was sitting on.

Timothy Ayles
ST THOMAS AQUINAS Although owing much to the philosophy of Aristotle and his Islamic interpreters (e.g. Avicenna/Averroes), he was able to combine this with the tradition of the Catholic Church (e.g. Augustine) to found and define the main Christian philosophical scheme that continues to dominate Roman Catholic (and other) teaching and philosophy today.

JEAN BAUDRILLARD - philosophy for today

tom fisher
BENTHAM He invented utilitarianism which is still the only practical philosophy which can actually guide us about how we should live

Michael Lawlor
A. J. Ayer Logical Positivism is an approach that does not tie itself up in knots with linguistic navel-gazing.

Simon Beard
ADAM SMITH. He took the ideas of morals and a very basic version or human motivation and used them to create a modal of society which is truely grand in proportions and unlike most such modals has remained largely unchanged and still justifiable for over 200 years.

Will Buckingham
MICHEL SERRES: a philosopher who leaves you feeling cheerful? Is it possible?

italo nobile
Hegel because has built the most complete philosophical system and has deeply thought about all the philosophical matters

Richard Bramham
NONE My reason for not nominating any one philosopher can be summarised by quoting the Japanese haiku poet, Basho, "Seek not the sages of the past. Rather, seek what they sought."

Jane Thorp
EPICURUS Epicurus because he had the right idea about the work/life balance, not wanting too much wealth, just sufficient to live happily and enjoy friendship. A philosopher for our time.

Danny Banks
MIYAMOTO MUSASHI. Author of 'A Book of Five Rings'. This is an extremely elegant and practical philosophy and, what's more, it is concise! I've read bits of many of the other philosophers mentioned already, but rarely refer to them outside academic discussion.

Tina Grace
GHANDI ""Be the change you want to see in the world" says it all.

C Salomons
LUCRETIUS. How many philosophers could write a whole philosophical system in epic verse and thereby have such an effect on subsequent Latin poetry?

George Gallagher
Thomas Aquinas : the greatest synthesis of theology and philosophy and European culture. Without a doubt the most influential philosopher in the world. Christianity and Catholicism in particular were largely shaped by his thinking.

Edward Nelson
PAUL FEYERABEND The philosopher that actually managed to contribute something to the practice of science rather than attempting to define and restrict it.

Laurie Johnston
JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU - profound influence on the French Revolution and thus on all our lives.

Sabra Knape
BERNARD LONERGAN Insight, a Study of Human Understanding, is in my opinion the greatest philosophical achievement of the 20th century. Lonergan leads readers to revisit insights of various kinds and in the process to appropriate their own rational self-consciousness. He equips and sharpens philosophical consciousness.

Paul Skokowski
GOTTFRIED WILHELM LEIBNIZ He 'discovered' monads, which are 're-created from moment to moment by continual fulgurations of the Divinity'. That's enough to win greatest philosopher hands down.

Kevin Marman
GIANBATTISTA ZWANGLI Formulated the Paradox of the Self-Alienated Self – essentially, the idea that identity is impossible in either a social or an individual context, and as such a person is always a stranger to himself or herself AND to everyone else. Individual identity is intrinsically impossible, since the social being is always playing a socially-imposed role; on the other hand, the isolated being has no social context by which to formulate an individual identity. The only people, therefore, who can develop any form of self-recognition are those who voluntarily play roles other than those normatively prescribed for them (actors, confidence tricksters, etc) - the irony being that they then become themselves by adopting an alternative identity: that is, by being NOT themselves.

Jim Allen
PARMENIDES. Other philosophers may have had more influence on history (if the question had been "most important" rather than "greatest", Aristotle is the obvious choice), but Parmenides was the first to address the basic questions of existence and to rigorously apply the principle of reason to the world, no matter how much this would seem to conflict with "common sense". He raises, even if he doesn't solve, the question; "This is what the world _ought_ to be like if we just _think_ about it - why doesn't it _look_ that way?" - the fundamental issue of metaphysics throughout the ages.

Chris Sedgwick
DEMOCRITUS Basically, despite their enornmous influence for centuries, Plato and Aristotle were wrong about almost everything and Democritus was right about almost everything

Christine Wilson
MARY MIDGLEY; not because I agree with everything she advocates, but because she infuses all of her thought with a strong dose of common sense. She would never allow the force of logic to override compassion. Her writing is eloquent and her conclusions support the dignity of life.

Richard Seymour
Lao Tzu Understood through direct, personal experience what physicists today are only beginning to grasp: the nature of the universe, of the invisible and its physical manifestations. He was able to take the wisdom of the universe and reduce it wo words while losing nothing.

Peter Craig
Simone Weil She covered familiar topics in philosophy - the Good, the beautiful, Justice but also unfamiliar ones, such as working in a factory, colonialism and the responsability of the writers for 1940. Although she was only 34 when she died she wrote eloquently about science, mathematics,languages ancient and modern, including Sanscrit and the soul's quest for God or as she would have put it God's quest for the individual soul.

DAVID HUME The sceptic who questioned the very foudation of religious belief.

anne rushton
CONFUCIUS Long lasting and may underpin a New Enlightenment.

Sam Huang
Lee Tung-hui. Because of his "Taiwan Experience" can offer an alternative to the western and eastern dominated philosophical thinkging.

Charles Allen Wyman
LAO-TZU The TAO TE CHING is a practical philosophy text for living and for interacting with the difficulty that is the great disconcerting hulk of humanity. It is, in one volume, the simplest and most complex philosophical text ever penned, because it requires an epiphanic turn of the head for even adequate comprehension. Its dissolution of black and white contradiction (read: most of Western philosophy) into continuum constitutes perhaps the only patent human truth. (This is one of the few cases where I feel vaguely comnfortable using the word truth without quotation marks.) No metaphysics in the Tao, no strict definition of terms--just clarion wisdom. Once you get IT, you've got it, and you'll have it. The rest is gravy.

Edward Pettit
HERMAN MELVILLE Many writers are accidental philosophers. Melville may not offer a consistent methodology, but his writing again and again raises fundamental questions of human existence and purpose.

Vernon Wilkins
AUGUSTINE He is the greatest philosopher of all time because he understood GRACE

mary cooper
MARX- because (for me) he explains more about how our present-day world works than any other philosopher I know of.

Andrew Watkinson-Trim
SOCRATES: "Why?" because that IS the question - and he asked it first and most fearlessly.

Michael Stiber
RENE DESCARTES for applying mathematical methods to philosophy and, really, inventing modern philosophy.

Mark Bassett
Daniel Dennett. Ok he may not be the greatest but he is my favourite (which you seem to think is the same thing -see your question.) He writes beautifully and with great clarity, unlike most other philosphers. He also takes physicalism seriously and challenges dualism in all its forms, overt or covert. (We are all really dualists at heart.)

Deborah Honan
NIETZSCHE Just discovered him and his ideas; excited the hell out of me. He suggests a sense of freedom that is extemely appealing, and an excitement of life.

Tim Pendry
MARTIN HEIDEGGER Heidegger concentrated on the question of being as it was seen from the perspective of a mind thinking in the world as that world is presented to that mind in its raw state - rather than from the position of a mind creating a working hypothesis for itself in order to understand the world as a tool for itself. His philosophical approach permits us to preserve a zone of being in ourselves that cannot ever be explained in terms of scientific measurement and logical analysis on the one hand or those absolutes that are designed to explain (as if there were some key to understanding being) what is ultimately inexplicable. His philosophy is a greater guide to the question of whether aliens or machines can have 'souls' than any essentialist attempt to do so. If an alien or a machine can see the universe as Heidegger encouraged us to do, then it is a 'soul' - whether such a 'soul' (not an essence but just a continuous existential response to the experience of being) is of any importance in itself is another matter. Even his refusal to apologise for his ill-judged flirtation with the Nazi experiment is a standing challenge to a culture in which apparent error (as opposed to a crime) is constantly revisited out of its context and is not respected as a way of learning to be true to one's self-creation, to expect that each moment of existence is a journey which can only be judged inwardly as authentic when it is completed (and of course it never is). Heidegger shatters all the forms of essentialism that are used for community reasons to bind persons together. These bindings are not bad bindings but they are not true statements about what we are in ourselves. If we lose ourselves entirely in the community without having chosen to do so as an expression of our relationship to existence, we do indeed lose ourselves. Heidegger permitted us an awesome freedom that allows us to make those essentialist choices that work for us as social animals without losing our own direct and personal relationship with existence as raw experience. As for his importance today, his legacy of authenticity allows many still, small voices to resist the "chatter" of public opinion or of commentators and action intellectuals and make our own decisions about issues of war and peace, society and the proper conduct of human relationships. So, vote for Martin Heidegger ...

Mike Gorski
WITTGENSTEIN asked the best questions with the most far reaching consequences

Keith Douglas
ARISTOTLE, for literally attempting to understand everything in a systematic and rational fashion. While we need no longer think that is possible to emulate this completely, the ideal is still inspiring.

Don Cowell
LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

Nick Owen
Socrates because all western philosophy is a footnote to Plato, and he took it from Socrates

Tim Bywater-Lees
THE MAN DOWN PUB. Alcohol can bring the greatest insight that disappears by the next morning

John Snowdon
KARL MARX/FREDERICK ENGELS A politico-economic philosophy that is about change as well as analysis. Still relevant, time to reclaim them from the Bolsheviks.

Andrew Wyllie
HEGEL. A wonderfully lucid account of the dialectical relationship between the self and society.

Martin Palmer
Thomas Aquinas Knew when to stop and yet managed to reconcile Greek, Islamic and Christian theology

Terry Sessford
JEREMY BENTHAM A humanitarian of true wisdom and compassion, who did not merely pontificate on the injustices of his day but actively worked for social reform and the righting of wrongs. Moreover, his progressive ethical framework encompassed all living creatures and the wider environment, in contrast to the narrow anthropocentric position of many philosophers. We urgently need someone of Bentham's calibre today.

Richard Camilleri
LAO TZU He knew, "that to know when enough is enough is enough to know."

Cliff Cunningham
PETRUS RAMUS. The emphasis on Ramist logic, precision and testing encouraged the scientific spirit in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was the basis of the scientific revolution that has shaped modern civilization.

Simon Harpham
Wittgenstein - He aimed to eliminate confusion caused by taking concepts out of context, focussing on one conceptual model to the exclusion of others, overlooking relationships between concepts, or failure to observe the whole situation from which a concept arises. In a world populated with half-truths and over-hasty generalisations he stresses the whole picture as a means of gaining insight.

Tony Franks
Jean Paul Sartre Because he places moral responsibility squarely with the individual, this is increasingly important in an age that continuously attempts to explain and excuse poor moral behaviour.

Alan Burton
CHARLES DARWIN It is only Darwin who has successfully explained to my satisfaction why it is I exist.

Brett Hannam
ROBERT NOZICK Nozick made the search for individual freedom a respectable activity for adults.

Robin Faichney
WITTGENSTEIN Philosophical Investigations "is a model of thinking so intense, so pure, so self-critical that even its mistakes are gifts." (Daniel Dennett)

Edward M. Smith
CICERO A very human philosopher, and the greatest synethsizer of all time, without whom so much would be lost, and yet also so original.

Jon Townsin
JEAN-PAUL SARTRE Sartre, because he leaves us no opportunity other than to accept accountability for ourselves and our actions. This, in a world where every body seems to want freedom and few seem ready to accept the responsibility for it.

David May
RABINDRANATH TAGORE. For his universalism and a recognition that we are both intellect and emotion - either functioning without the other will lead to disaster.

Adam Gilinsky
JOHN STUART MILL Although it is invidious to single out just one philosopher... JSM, the proponent of Liberty, without which any philosophical enquiry would be pointless... He toppled mysticism and authoritarian moral precepts and placed every individual in control of their own moral compass, coupled with an appreciation of the social environment which above all determines our fate in life.

Nathan Sansom
ROUSSEAU - because he challenged the prevailing orthodoxy with irony, wit, intelligence and emotion.

Gary King
SPINOZA - a man who fearlessly stuck to reason as the path to truth and didn't let himself be deterred by his many self-serving detractors who sneered at him from their safe organised religions. The 'Ethics' is a difficult, wonderful testimony to the power of rational human thought. Oh, and he turned down a professorship and remained a relatively impecunious lens-grinder to safeguard his independence.

Alistair Brown
ARISTOTLE. I am not sure whether by nominating one of the ancients I am conflating "greatest" (in terms of the most intellectually brilliant) with the most "important" (that is, one who provided the foundations on which all subsequent philosophy must inevitably be founded). But with that caveat, I would hover between Aristotle and Plato, but nominate the former because he set the terms for so many fields which we now recognise as independent modern disciplines - biology, meteology, anatomy and, not least, literary criticism.

Saadi Haeri
El-Ghazali of Persia author of 'The Destruction of Philosophers'. He anticipated Bunyan's Holy War and Pilgrim's Progress, influenced Ramon Marti, Thomas Aquinas, Francis of Assisi, Chaucer and Pascal.

Steve Middleton
THOMAS HOBBES. Despite writing in the C17th it all seems far too relevant to the C20th - especially the bit about 'continual fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short'. No one can ever say this philosopher didn't have a sense of humour!

Peter Bolt
BOETHIUS:(AD 480 -525)"The schoolmaster of the West" written in his prison cell awaiting execution. "The Consolation of Philosophy" has been acclaimed by almost all other Philosophers. To me his offering of `divine reason` as opposed to a `divine creator` offers the only pragmatic solution to an increasingly global problem.Who or what is truth ?

David Taylor
DAVID HUME. Real genius involves making the complex simple and "grasp-able". That's exactly what Hume does.

Fintan Clancy
Roger Bacon He dis-proved the ancient belief that a goose feathers could cut diamonds by trying to cut various diamonds with various goose feathers. This kick-started empirical reductionist thought on which modernity and scientific progress (and a previously unimaginable increase in living standards) is based.

Julian Winn
Thales. The man who argueably started Western Philosophy by being the metphorical stream that has led to the current sea of Western philosophical ideas.

William Millar
FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE, although he is the most misread philosopher, he did have a massive influence (probably the biggest) on other works of philosophy literature and paralleled by no other philosopher ever.

James Pursey
ARISTOTLE Sometimes it seems that Aristotle invented philosophy, and much of what we would today call 'science'. The breadth of his enquiry is staggering, and it seems that everything any philosopher had to say afterwards was in one way or another influenced by him.

Julian WInn
Thales. The man who argueably started Western Philosophy by being the metphorical stream that has led to the current sea of Western philosophical ideas.

Puneet K
Patanjali for giving us the Yoga Sutras several milenia ago. The philosophy of a yogi has endured and is relevant to human existance ever since it was written.

Dr Sam Strain
JOHN CALVIN As a Christian theologian/philosopher he put the case for a thorough-going rational framework for the human condition which transcends time being as relevant now as then in such challenging areas areas as evil, suffering and human freewill

Guy Peppin
Epicurus. Because Stoisicim has a rather strong grip on the western world, and makes life unbearably dull!

Nichola Clarke
ARISTOTLE Subsequent philosophy always harks back to him; he didn't have the same depth of scholarship to lean on but still came out with perennially interesting thought on issues that obsess us to this day, such as weakness of the will. He still feels fresh today (just read the Ethics).

Daniel Wood
Plato- The Repubilic, Syposium and Phaedo. Arguably works of art and thought.

NIETZCHE. More than any other thinker he grapples with the profound implications of the decline in religious belief. he's also a very witty writer and his thougts pro and contra Wagner should be read by anyone with an interest in the composer

Les Ferguson
WITTGENSTEIN:So complex and yet so compelling.Incomprehensible, for the most part, but mystically so attractive. A bit like the eastern philosophers, abstract and profound at the same time.

David Malarkey:
SOCRATES, for the wonderful way he went and the fact that he got up the noses of everyone who thought they knew the answers. I think he probably started the sort of game we now call philosophy.

Hugh Costello
Socrates: for waging war, with wit and verve, on false beliefs

peter edwards
WITTGENSTEIN Because his was a kind of meta-philosophy, he philosophised on the tools of philosophy (i.e. language)

Lynn Neve
PLATO -because of his clarity and comprehensibility, because he covered pretty well everything, and because of his brilliant metaphors (man in cave) which stick in your head long after you have stopped remembering to care what existentialism means.

Neil Darby
JEAN-PAUL SARTRE Sartre taught us that we may be condemned to be free, but through that freedom we can define ourselves and therefore change the world. But, as we are free, we are responsible for our freedom, for our actions.

Anonymous please
GOTTLOB FREGE Godfather of modern logic. His work forms the start of the many succesful formal approaches to the philosophy of language, mathematics, proof theory and linguistics. Without Frege, no Russell, no Wittgenstein etc.

Christine Chrystal
A C GRAYLING I always read his Guardian column (now sadly missed) and as someone generally unfamiliar with the writings of philosophers found I could identify with him, particularly regarding religion.

Richard Leigh
AVICENNA CONFUCIUS PLOTINUS My knowledge of these is pretty minimal. I enter the names in order to start a debate about who counts as a philospoher. Russell's "History of Western Phil" ignores the renaissance (was Ficino worthless,for instance?) the neoplationists, and anyone outside the established list. When I studied at Birkbeck the Prof, Dr Hamlyn, admitted to an interest in Schopenhauer as if it were a sort of harmless hobby for which an old man might be forgiven. Treat this email as another eccentricity if you will!

Kevin Woolley
WILLIAM OF OCCAM Because of his coining of what has come to be know as Occam's Razor - Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate. On this seemingly small contribution rests the edifice of science and hence our modern world.

Andrew Clark
LAO-TZU "by attaining the height of abstraction we gain the fullness of rest."

Mike Wood
Immanuel Kant The Kantian "Copernican Revolution" is not only a profound metaphysical insight but opens the way genuinely for 20th century thought- Schopenhauer, Hegel, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Freud, Heidegger,Marx, Max Weber, Karl Popper, Chomsky and so on walk through the door that kant Opened

Simon Gilbert
DAVID HUME Reading Dialogues concerning Natural Religion was an eye opener for me. Its expression of reasonable scepticism was the antidite to the discourse of dogmatic and confident assertion which tends to take centre stage in the world. I like his reasonable humanity, expressed with such elegance.

simon mapp
Wittgenstein. A good all rounder! engineer - Architect - painter - craftsman - teacher - Philosophy should stem from real life experience!

Julia Rabbitts
NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI Clear, concise, realistic, sceptical, no nonsence, friendly and rational

Paul Mullins
CONFUCIUS I like his blend of social responsibility and the individuality to be found in thinking and questioning for ones self.

John Connell
NIETZSCHE A revolutionary of human thought and poet of the spirit.

Ian Cox
GEORGE IVANOVITCH GURDJIEFF Okay, maybe he's not a philosopher - but what's the definition of 'philosopher' anyway? Gurdjieff affected my thinking about the world and existence - the meaning of life etc etc - his teachings have echoed down through the decades although too few people seem to know about him. So this nomination will probably get nowhere but it represents a small not of personal recognition of the great man!

Ben Pickle
Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh

Peter Little
IMMANUEL KANT ....because I consider that his world-view best encapsulates all the varied thoughts, feelings and intuitions which seem to me to offer a tentative picture of being a person in this baffling life!

Peter van Woerkom
CICERO He may not have been the world's most original philosopher, but his works have had the most effect on our civilization, especially in the case of On Duties, one of the ten most published books in world history

Anthony Murphy
PLATO It is difficult to overestimate his importance ad influence on western philosophy. His notions of forms and and ultimate Reality also bear close links with eastern philosophy, which is becoming increasingly influential in the west. Plato is as relevant today as he ever was.

Anthony Martin
BERTRAND RUSSELL He was not afraid to get involved in the issues of his day, such as nuclear weapons.

KARL MARX The vastness of his ideas, the spheres that they transformed, yet the extent to which they remained grounded in tangeble realities was simply unprecendented.

HEIDEGGER - so heavyweight and high, yet so flawed and human.

Craig Caldock
AVICENNA (IBN SINA). He was perhaps the greatest of the Medieval Arabic thinkers. A sort of Arabia Da Vinci. Ibn Sina significantly advanced the fields of Medicine and Logic.

Enrique Garcia
Epicurus - The first philosopher to look square in the face of human nature.

Ken Taylor
Immanuel Kant For his contribution to the theories or knowledge and the staarter of some of the more analytic philosophies of today.

Chris Whiley
DAVID HUME because he dealt with the big questions in language anyone can understand and was a really nice man to boot.

Michael Bennett
Jurgen Habermas With his theory of communicative action Habemas is the only philosopher able to provide the possibility of establishing a core set of values that avoids the sterility of absolutist philosophy and the emptiness of postmodernism.

Dan Lawrence
John Stuart Mill Clarity of vision and the collaborative nature of his work with his wife

Geoffrey Odds
ALBERT CAMUS The Outsider The Plauge

Robin Hilliard
SOCRATES - his humanity, his humor and his wily contempt for dogma and dogmatists.

BARUCH SPINOZA To be reminded that all is dependent on all else, and that everything is ulitimately God, gives me daily guidance

David Morrison
Friedrich Nietzsche Contrary to the canards and myths which still abound, Nietzsche was the apotheosis of Enlightenment thought, who regarded reason as the highest manifestation of the will to power. Not only that, but his great psychological insights prefigured much of the work of psychoanalysis.

John Damon
KARL MARX Because his ideas have influenced the 20th century more than any other thinker, and continue to inspire thinkers in many diverse fields.

Michael Howley
SPINOSA Spinosa's metaphysical system is more rigorously deductive than anything that came before. His view of the nature of the physical world is probably nearer the truth than any other philosopher since.

EMMANUEL LEVINAS The man couldn't write to save his life, but he was the guy who finally taught philosophy that ethics comes first!

Michael Rought-Brooks
ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER The philosopher who allowed ideas from other cultures to influence his work - not dismising them as irrational. Most importantly for recognizing the pain and uselessness of life.

Rebecca Faern
FREDERICH NIETZSCHE I cast my vote as a woman who knows the core of man when reading Nietzsche. He has been fooled, misunderstood and deliberated, insane. His doctrines infuse an epiphany of all that could be good in the world, yet judgements close his Absolutes into binary divides that could never exist in a Nietzschean world. I vote for Nietzsche because people still shake their heads and fear his being 'Beyond Good & Evil'? I vote for Nietzsche because of his fundamental knowing of the sacred in all life, a knowing that rests throughout all his ideas. I vote for Nietzsche because of his assertion that anything which comprimises this sacred nature of life, is an evil that should never have become a part of human consciousness. I vote for Nietzsche because 'he IS dynamite' yet to be cast alight, yet to burn his flame of Eternal Recurrence into a better Now.

Rimas Norvaisa
JOHN SEARLE, because I believe that philosophy should make things as clear as possible, and he does ir best.

L Chase
JS MILL For his ability to write for the public and insuring that theory has practical implications

1. Me - philosophers are no more to be trusted than politicians or anyone else for that matter; everyone therefore ought to be their own favourite philosopher. 2. Jean-Paul Sartre - I don't quite see why he sees individual responsibility as grounds for gloom rather than satisfaction. This apart, however, nobody else in my opinion comes close to mirroring human experience.

Cliff Unger
DAVID HUME He is easy to read and understand. He exemplifies critical thinking.

joe lutes
GWF HEGEL maybe not my absolute favorite, but i'd have to say the greatest in terms of depth, originality, influence. "after hegel we philosophize in a void." -merleau-ponty

johann stein
NOAM CHOMSKY. He is simply the most important political philosopher of the last 100 years. His work on linguistics is well recognised as groundbreaking however its application to the modern political process has stripped away the jargon and soft thinking that we are all guilty of. Meticulous detail and analysis are the hallmarks of his work and he is still alive!

JACQUES DERRIDA Because he is the foremost critical thinker who has most recently died.

Craig Porter
ANAXAGORAS. The most important ideas in western philosophy can be traced back to Anaxagoras.His ideas influenced Socrates who taught Plato who in turn taught Aristotle.His banishment from Greece for his atheistic beliefs also reinforces that not only did he believe in his philosophy yet he lived it also.

Alex Andrews
Søren Kierkegaard - because life is an act of faith and not of reason.

Samuel Reed
DAVID HUME, because his naturalism has been able to incorporate almost all advances in science, and provides a incredibly affirming answer to sceptical and relativist worries.

Eric Berg
H.L.A HART Neglected by the mainstream but still with immense importance in the field of legal philosophy. He revolutionised Jurisprudencial thought of the law in its Normative and Descriptive elements.

andrew stone
MARVIN MINSKY for the future, the philosophy of how machine thinking will develop, and how our relationship to our mechanical offspring will be, Minsky's work can only become more important

Andrew Hugill
EPICURUS because his observations about the universe were based almost entirely on the imagination, in the absence of experimental evidence, and yet have turned out to be remarkably close to the mark (e.g. 'clinamen')

Beth Hockham, Exeter Uni
EDMUND BURKE because his contribution to the philosophy of aesthetics was to argue that our enjoyment of beauty is not based upon any measure of intellectual clarity but based upon our imaginations being engaged by the qualities of obscurity and suggestiveness. I think its a beautiful idea and encourages us to to take into account that anyone can enjoy the beauty of the world, no matter what race,background ethnicy or age. Perhaps we should take his words into account more nowadays in this century of inequalities, racism and ageism.

Stuart Jenkins
Wittgenstein, because he was original, radical, mystical, had a passion for truth, and is far too clever to understand - as philosophers should be.

Hazel Speed
PROTAGORAS - because of his 'One Man' doctrine that two people can have different perspectives and views on things and both could be right as they each see things.

Jonathan Baines
DUNS SCOTUS In a blazing vision his name came unto me and his philosophy now is as essential to my continuing life (such as it is) as the very air.

Ken Ashman
TERRY PRATCHET Quite simply the best insight into the human spirit is provided by reading any of Pratchett's books. Read them all and you will be convinced you have no idea what is going on - the perfect kind of philosophy.

David Hawkey
WITTGENSTEIN Rebelled against the logico-scientific view of language that still dominates linguistics departments, but did it in such a nice conversational way.

Properly disputed St. Augustine's views - God allowed human beings an innate sense of good and evil.

Tim Tempest
ARISTOLE - for the Ethics and the concept of virtue as process not a fixed state, that is a state of 'becoming' and not a state of 'being'

Jeff Lewis
Freidrich Nietzsche A great antidote to the purely rational, who by definition, miss out half the meaning of everything. He rescued the idea of value and valuing

Fiona Nogawa
NICHIREN DAISHONIN 13th century Japanese priest who grasped profoundly how life works, the true nature of suffering and how to transform it. Wrote wonderful, warm letters of encouragement to his followers but was fearless when it came to standing up to corrupt authorities, bothsecular and religious.

Richard Child
KANT: His emphasis on the need to treat individuals as 'ends-in-themselves' forms the fundamental basis of contemporary liberal thought. Couple this with his distinction between the noumenal and phenomenal worlds, and the influence this has on our understanding of morality, and Kant's place as the founder of liberal political philosphy is indisputable.

Andrew wood
DAVID HUME Chosen not for any system building because of his example of how to do philosophy as a critical activity.

PLATO His thought combines in an incredibly powerful way the most prominent manifestations of human nature: Beauty, Art, Virtue, Love, Friendship, Divine Madness. His Philosophy is alien to any arid display of systematic rationality. Plato's dialogues are authentic jewels,not only from a philosophical, but also from a literary point of view. They provide an exhaustive portrait of human reason,pervaded by the power of beauty and enchantment.

Des Sharratt
POPPER His philosophy of science is actually a philosophy of all rational thought - if what you say is incapable of being proved one way or the other, best not to say it. He also stood up to Wittgenstein, whose philosophy seems to be pretty destructive, despite its influence on others.

Gavin Clarke
LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN For ending philosophy (twice).

Jonathan Allenby
GILLES DELEUZE Gilles Deleuze moved philosophy on from an obsession with Platonic forms and categories. His writings on mind and becoming prefigured many current debates and discourses in neuroscience, physics, maths and biology, where chaos theory, complexity and emergence have superceded concerns with representation and Platonic categories. Following Deleuze, it is possible to think of the world without constantly worrying about language and representation. Whilst he drew heavily on figures such as Bergson and Nietzsche, he was unique and explosive, particularly in his revolutionary collaboration with Felexi Guattari - in Milles Plateux, and Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. As Rosi Braidotti - contemporary theorist and radical feminist has rightly suggested - the twenty-first century is, and will continue to be, a Deleuzian century.

Albert Camus
In understanding that the choices we make affect others, and therefore the importance of engagement

Des Sharratt
POPPER His philosophy of science is actually a philosophy of all rational thought - if what you say is incapable of being proved one way or the other, best not to say it. He also stood up to Wittgenstein, whose philosophy seems to be pretty destructive, despite its influence on others.

Bob Mahoney
SHAFTESBURY, 3RD EARL OF His complex writings influenced Hutcheson, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant, to name but a few, yet nowadays he is rarely read. He needs his profile increased.

Ken Thomas
PLATO The Father of Western Philosophy and the Socratic rock upon which all else is derived

David Jones
Rousseau - a much underrated and misinterpreted philosopher. His disection of man in the state of nature is a classic, and the way in which society has corrupted man is exceptional.

Keith Farman
WITTGENSTEIN A genius with the humility to question his own deepest assumption to arrive at a conception still greatly misunderstood and undervalued in application outside philosophy.

tony ward
PYTHAGORAS. He's got the right angle.

Ed King
NIETZSCHE: His bleak cynicism is paradoxically uplifting. Statements such as "It's not that you lied to me that hurts, but that I can no longer believe you" (Beyond Good and Evil) sum up the current politcal climate perfectly.

Nigel Bakewell
KARL MARX: His works were literally revolutionary. I consider that they will certainly be revisited in the future.

Ludwig Wittgenstein ... because he showed us that so much more was possible

Gavin Orland (BA Hons 1st Class, Philosophy, Durh
Bertrand Russell For outstanding philanthropy, clarity of thought (and writing), general knowledge and intelligence, and for making significant contributions to virtually every area of philosophy.

eric wainwright
EMPEDOCLES willing to die to prove a philosophical theory

Carl Upsall
Immanuel Kant represents the turning point in western philosophy and laid the foundations built on by philosophers from Hegel and Marx to Frege and Wittgenstein and through to great American philosphers like WVO Quine. He also helped to secularise moral debate. His final achievement was to be the nattiest dresser with his famous canary-yellow waistcoat.

Dr. Roy Jackson
David Hume. His contribution to, especially, the problem of induction is an important counter to rationalist views of innate ideas

Ursula Haskins
MONTESQUIEU - French Enlightenment philosopher who elaborated the theory of the separation of powers ('The Spirit of Laws' 1755), and thus the founding principles of all western democracies. His advocation of this system was based on an admiration of the English constitution - I can't help wondering what he would think of its current condition!

P.J. Hampson
THOMAS AQUINAS Genius, productivity and vision in synthesising Aristotelianism and Christianity.

NIETZSCHE, because he had the courage to question everything, including his own questions, while although most philosophers claim to question everything, but don't (least of all, themselves). Plus, he's one of the few people who can combine serious thought with seriously good writing. Despite being misrepresented, he was humane, modest and, I think, the kind of person I would have liked to know.

Without him there would be no 21st century

Richard Ball
LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN for his later works in which he shows the fly the way out of the fly-bottle

Lao Tzu
He made the Way clear & straightforward. Nothing else said.

James Aczel
KARL POPPER He challenged accepted wisdom on the notion of "justification"; distinguished science from pseudo-science; and defended democracy when it was unfashionable.

David Barchard
PLATO, of course. All subsequent philosophy is usually described as merely footnotes to what he wrote. An astonishing feat for a mind in such an early society.

Simon Bowes
Wittgenstein - his method: pure philosophy rather than tinkering with premises of a logical argument.

Ian McPherson
PLATO Ten main reasons: 1. Ability to criticise and develop his own thinking. 2. Writing playful, ironic dialogues. 3.Insight into analogies between individual self-constitution and constitution of society (city-state). 4. Insight that those most fit to rule are those who least want to rule. 5. The power of the allegory of the Cave (Republic), with insight into need to return to the Cave. 6. His story (thought experiment) of Gyges' ring: compare 'The Invisible Man', and 'Lord of the Ring'. 7. His responsiveness to Socrates and provocation of Aristotle, between unique teacher and unique student. 8. The richness which allows his repeated recovery or revival in different times,places and cultures. 9. His appreciation of the equal potential of women as guardians of communities and of what matters most for us all. 10. His ability to encourage strong critics and strong (mis)readings: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Popper et al.

Stephanie Wardle
BERTRAND RUSSELL Because he wrote, walked & talked like a member of the human race, not a brain in a vat(see Kant, Emmanuel). AND he was in CND & went on protest marches.Did it all. Go Bertrand, go!

John Pemberthy
SOCRATES He understood that truth is ultimately unknowable and yet that the quest for it gives life meaning and purpose. I also love his witty exchanges with Athenian worthies captured by Plato.

Paul Jabore
KARL POPPER For what he wrote on the limits of knowledge, falsifiability and the dangers of utopias.

Ray Thompson
MACHIAVELLI To understand politics and politicians read The Prince. Perfidy and Power personified.

Vito Graffagnino
THOMAS AQUINAS The "saint of common sense" as described by G.K. Chesterton, he was an intellectual giant whose philosophy is rooted in reality.

Thea Sandall
IMMANUEL KANT because of his view that "I ought never to act except in such a way that I can also will that my maxim should become a universal law" is such a perfect rule for the whole of life's relationships, from families, through communities and nations, to the whole world.

Elisabeth Keen
PYTHAGORAS He had interesting ideas about science, the afterlife, etc. He was one of the early philosophers

Rick Light
MARCUS AURELIUS Such clear and simple thought and beautifully written. And if I'm honest, very easily to comprehend.

Bill Mann
DAVID HUME (1711-1776). His attempt to reconcile the two philosophical shifts, metaphysics and empiricism, is his claim to fame. He had the advantage of living at the right time and place, in an age of reason/sensibility,in Edinburgh. His coverage of a wide range of issues in a age of pre-specialisation, gave him an advantage. He seized the moment. He was so esteemed in his own time he got a publisher's advance of today's equivalent of £2 million to write a history of England, no small achievement for a Scot. He was popular in the best sense of the term; he mingled with all classes in his daily routine, which was the big advantage of living in Old Town of Edinburgh. He taught us lessons about living in society and dealing with everyday issues. How to behave became 'what is useful and agreeable to ourselves and to others', a philosophy of common sense.His death was a classic; having lived a philosophy of secularism and humanism,he died the same way, passing on peacefully without the need for the consolations of religion. Single-handedly he created the secular age we now live in. 'Le bon David' redefined the human condition in secular terms in a way that is still relevant today, and which may still offer insights into current worries, e.g. religious fundamentalism.

Peter Speirs
Rene Descartes An unwitting atheist

John Gallagher
SOCRATES Socrates showed us that the wiser you are, the less you can be certain of anything. Humility is the key to a greater freedom.

Richard Caves
Spinoza - His insight into metaphysics and the fundamental nature of things has not really been surpassed or explained as eloquently as any coming before or after him. The full significance of his ideas on shaping subsequent thought seem a little over looked, but more important are the concepts of his that should have shaped future philosophy but have remained underdeveloped.

Rob Walsh
KENAN MALIK. his books are striking and polemical defenses of the ideas of humanism in a modern context, as well as intellectually some of the most stimulating things ive ever read.

David Vernon
ARISTOTLE - laid the fundamentals and foundations of Western thought.

Richard Broadbent
St. Thomas Aquinas: Incredibly hard to read, but you have to give him credit for fusing medieval ecclesiastical philosophy with Aristotelian pragmatism. His ability to reconcile faith and reason as well as his insights into law, morality and political life speak through the ages. His willingness to draw upon Islamic sources, (who had preserved the writings of Aristotle), to reinvigorate Western philosophy is an example we could all learn from in this modern era.

Roger Bull
ZENO OF CITIUM Founder of that most satisfying of schools - Stoicism, which later gave us writers of the quality of Seneca and Marcus Aurelius. Also he opposed slavery and was in favour of the equality of the sexes. Finally, as he had the good sense not to leave a word behind, from his 20 or so books, one can never be disappointed by him.

steve smith
DERRIDA, because he explains why there is an absence of presence on my birthday

pat proctor
JEREMY BENTHAM 1748-1832 he recognised the autonomy of other species.

Chris Pawley
HOFSTADTER, DOUGLAS For his book Godel, Escher & Bach. Roams over all disciplines; logic, computer science, consciousness, building artifical minds. Seems like philosophy at work in the moden day to me. Excellent book.

Nicholas Aleksander
THOMAS PAINE. Where would modern political thought (not to mention the existence of the USA) be if Paine had not written "Common Sense", "The Rights of Man" etc.? As many as a half million copies of Common Sense were distributed in the N American colonies (which at that time had a population of only a few million). It must be (proportionately) one of the most widely read and influential political writings. It directly influenced the US Declaration of Independence and persuaded many "moderate" Americans (such as Geo Washington) to fight for independence. The Rights of Man resonates down the centuries and is as relevant today as it was when it was written.

Gordon T Mellor
Plato: for mapping the terrain of the intellect

Hugh Jackson
IMMANUEL KANT for creating such a beautifully intricate and instrumental moral theory

James Beaumont
SENECA A classic voice whose thoughts on life are always useful for life today.

Professor Julian Wolfreys
Jacques Derrida - because he's done more to change the way we "think" we see philosophy

Gillian Laird
DAVID HUME I like the thought that you can't prove anything. I find that exciting and a little bit scarey.

J. R. Thompson
C. S. Peirce, who challenged the common assumption that knowledge must be based on a set of incorrigible first principles, and prepared the way for Popper's later work on falsifiablilty.

Matthew Robertson
My choice is Soren Kirekegaard. Although he isn't the most well renowned of philosophers, he began a movement which highlighted the importance of the internal, subjective world in the face of faceless systems and social constructs; a relevant message for todays times in the face of an increasingly conformist society. His views on faith and religious belief also propounded the importance of true devotion to God and not simply 'going to Church on sundays and Christmas'.

Simon Burrows
Thomas Hobbes. He is the certainly the greatest English philosopher, but I think the greatest of all politicial philosophers. His basic principle- that man could only enjoy the benefits of civilization by submitting to the rule of law, whilst at the same time retaining his ultimate right to self preservation is the basic tenet of liberal democracy. Leviathan and De Cive are undoubtedly still the greatest works on political philosophy in the "individualist" tradition. Hobbes was the first philosopher of the modern, that is to say capitalist/mercantilist age. His views on international law and natural rights still resonate today. Without his legacy our lives really would be poor, solitary, nasty, brutish and short.

Olivia, in East London
I nominate Martin Heidegger as Greatest Philosopher. He so thouroghly investigated the very question of existence in Being and Time by stripping away all pre-conceived philosophical assumption to the extent that he reinvents the very medium of his message. His ontology encompasses everything. What a crafty German.

M. Smith
Immanuel Kant The most influential philosopher since Aristotle. Made major contributions to ethics, metaphysics, political philosophy, epistemology, in fact, to practically all branches of philosophy. An important figure in the history of science as well, proposing what has become the accepted theory of planet formation and the existence of galaxies. It has to be Kant -- "the starry sky above me and the moral law within me."

Sheila Bonas
George Berkley I prefer philosophers that spark you off to think for yourself, rather than the 'all-wise' or inpenetrable varieties. The mad Bishop's 'idealist' philosophy is crazy, but he writes in a way that's engaging and accessible and makes you think for yourself. You may instinctively want to disagree with his rejection of a 'material' world, but in challenging his position, you are forced to justify your own assumptions and engage in actually doing philosphy, not just admiring philosophy.

shane luffman
Parmenides of Elea 475 B.C, is the Greek father of metaphysics "Whatever can be spoken or thought of necessarily is, since it is possible for it to be, but it is not possible for nothing to be." Note that what-is is defined not just in terms of the thinkable, but equally in terms of the speakable. So "thinkable" does not mean sensory experiences or images or the like, but only that which can be logically and precisely thought of, all of which can also be precisely described verbally. Parmenides a truly remarkable chap.

Paul Frank
Simone De Beauvoir Social structure and the meaning of love is the greatest insight into how humans form relationships and the true nature of love as revealed within this work is ever more relevent in todays world.

Nige Belshaw
Shopenhauer. He has an ultimately pessimistic look at life. We are restricted by our own senses to what we can understand. The thing out there can never be revealed to us. BUT we might get a whiff of this understanding through music which takes us somewhere we "the thing out there" may be understood. Great Stuff

mike hakata
Friedrich Nietszche Nietzcher called for the "re-evaluation of all values". He called for the end of the tyrnanny of the Same and embrace difference, difference that extends in all directions, without end, eternally. Nietzche was the first philosopher to affirm life, affirm the world, without judgment. Nietszche was as important to the thought of the last 150 years as Plato was to thinking before him. His influence will stretch well into to the next millenium. The difference between Plato and Nietzche is that the former was the philosopher of 'vertical' thought and the latter the philosopher of the 'horizontal'. Nietzche revealed that the world is made up purely of values. He revealed that all preceding thought was negative, declaring the empircal world worthless. Nietzche affirmed life as creative and positive. We are all creative and all creators. Life involves and endless engagement with the world that is forever changing. Change is more important than the Same. Questioning is the engine of change. Creativity is a force, and the world is the sum total of all creatrive forces, impossible to saturate. Nietzche called for us to embrace our invention and our creativity. Say "Yes" to life as if it were to return eternally.

Locke: Lucid and full of humanity.

Andrew Bilewycz
Viktor Frankl Why? Because he pointed-out that whatever the circumstances, the individual is always personal choice. And that this was by definition not governed to always gravitate to the lowest common denominator. And that making these choices defined, and were defined by, the meaning in our lives. Tough, self-determing, yet so human; so real, to the point of making humour part of the course. So gentle, because, in the end, we all have to make hard choices, for our own good. A brilliant philospher who saw his ideas cast in the fires of the concentration camps. A viable alternative to the governing ideas of our consumer age.

karl marx
'philosophers have sort to explain the world, the point is to change it.'

First really modern view of individual free will and responsibility

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