The 15 Most Important And Famous Greek Philosophers

most famous and important greek philosophers

Ancient Greece was an especially prolific period for culture and philosophy In fact, it is not for nothing that the history of Western thought cannot be explained without taking into account the great Greek thinkers.

In this ranking of the 15 most important Greek philosophers We are going to try to synthesize the work of each of the most influential thinkers who left a most outstanding legacy.

Greatest philosophers of Ancient Greece

When we talk about Ancient Greece we are referring to the historical period that goes from the year 1200 BC. C. until the year 146 BC. c when the Doric invasion occurred in the Hellenic region.

Greek culture was so influential that even the Roman Empire adopted much of the thinking left by Plato, Socrates, Heraclitus, and many others.

These thinkers managed to make the thirst for knowledge their way of life. Let’s find out who were the 15 most important Greek philosophers We left out thinkers who would also deserve an honorable mention, such as Gorgias of Leontinos, Diogenes Laertius, Plutarch, Hippocrates, and many others.

15. Heraclitus of Ephesus (540 – 480 BC)


Known by his nickname “The Dark One of Ephesus”, Heraclitus was born in a region of modern-day Türkiye. His work was aphoristic in the form of endless poems, so the knowledge he developed required detailed study.

He contributed valuable knowledge to the world of physics, theorizing about a ‘natural principle’ and the incessant change of matter. His scientific postulates were subject to analysis in later times.

14. Epicurus of Samos (341 – 270 BC)


Epicurus was one of the most famous philosophers of Ancient Greece. He developed atomism and his philosophy of life was rational hedonism In search of hedonic pleasure, she tried to abandon any form of pain based on a frugal and detached life.

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Unfortunately, few of Epicurus’ writings were preserved after his death, so we owe his legacy to the poetry of Lucretius and the correspondence he maintained with another philosopher: Diogenes Laertius.

13. Sophocles (496 – 406 BC)


Born in the city of Colono, Sophocles was a very prominent tragic poet and thinker Although his field of thought was more literature and dramaturgy than philosophy, his works were soaked in reflections and knowledge that other philosophers would later develop. He was the author of the famous Antigone and King Oedipusconsidered authentic masterpieces of Greek tragic theater.

Although he was a prolific writer, only seven of his Greek tragedies were preserved, which became references of the genre for centuries.

12. Anaxagoras of Clazomenas (500 – 428 BC)


Anaxagoras was a pre-Socratic philosopher who pioneered the notion of nous (νοῦς, mind or thought). Born in Clazómenas, in a region of present-day Turkey, he lived in Athens from his adolescence.

For this Greek thinker, the philosophical ideas he worked on always revolved around nature itself. He left us a huge legacy with his descriptions of nature and the universe. In his texts, he argued that every element consisted of or came from another element, and in turn belonged to a whole.

11. Diogenes of Sinope (404 – 323 BC)

Diogenes of Sinope

Born in Sinope, next to the Black Sea, Diogenes the Cynic was one of the philosophers of Ancient Greece with a more ironic and humorous style Although few manuscripts of Diogenes reached us, we know many of his ideas thanks to his faithful disciples and students.

He was prodigious in the art of discussion and oratory, and rejected any conventionalism of his time, taking refuge in a frugal and austere life, although he made no attempt to reform or change what he challenged. His disciple Diogenes of Laertius was the one who recorded the master’s knowledge and theories.

10. Empedocles of Agrigento (495 – 444 BC)


Politician and philosopher, Empedocles devised the theory of the four roots: four basic elements (water, earth, fire and air) which are the essential components of everything that exists. He is also the author of the two “conditions” or “forces” of the world, from which he explained the problems of his time, such as corruption, hatred and love. The first force united what existed, while the second separated it.

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His legacy gave rise to a wave of poets and thinkers who, motivated by the theories of Empedocles and his four elements, initiated the field of atomic physics.

  • Learn more: “The 12 best phrases of Empedocles”

9. Parmenides of Elea (530 – 470 BC)


In a southern region of Magna Graecia, Parmenides was born, a poet and thinker who questioned existence itself “Is it or is it not?”, a question that he tried to answer and that was the subject of analysis by philosophy for centuries, being one of the paradoxes that has caused the most rivers of ink to flow.

In the words of Parmenides, the signs of the path of truth were the concretion of what is and what is not. From this reasoning he explained that a thing that is can never cease to be more than by itself. As we see, it is a somewhat abstract and strange argument but it gave rise to hundreds of theories and speculations in later times.

  • Learn more: “The 16 best phrases of Parmenides of Elea”

8. Pythagoras of Samos (569 – 475 BC)


Recognized as the first pure mathematician in history, Pythagoras’ contributions have been fundamental in the fields of philosophy, geometry and arithmetic The well-known “Pythagorean theorem” is still studied in primary schools, and it explains that “in every right triangle the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the legs.”

This thinker not only contributed to abstract and logical thinking, but also reflected on the moral laws of life, since his school focused many efforts on promoting a just and balanced life.

  • Learn more: “The 35 best famous phrases of Pythagoras”

7. Zeno of Elea (490 – 430 BC)

zenon of elea

Zeno of Elea was especially recognized for his theory of infinity a series of reasonings with which he tried to resolve the paradoxes and dilemmas about plurality and movement, concepts that, from a metaphysical level, he questioned based on thoughtful logical arguments that were recorded in different manuscripts.

This pre-Socratic Greek philosopher began a journey of thought that many of his disciples (including notable names such as Melissus, Democritus and Anaxagoras) continued and expanded after his death.

6. Thales of Miletus (624 – 546 BC)

such of miletus

Teacher of other great Greek thinkers, such as Anaximenes, and father of ancient Greek philosophy, Thales of Miletus theorized about natural philosophy the origin of the subject and also contributed great knowledge in science, geography and mathematics, where he left as a legacy what is known as ‘theory of change’.

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For this important Greek philosopher, water is the main and original element in the world, the beginning of all other things. This idea spread throughout Ancient Greece and dozens of later philosophers developed these notions.

  • Learn more: “The 32 best phrases from Tales of Miletus”

5. Democritus (460 – 370 BC)


Unique scientist and mathematician, Democritus was known as “the laughing philosopher.” contributed great theories and knowledge to the world of mathematics, geometry and astronomy.

Through different experiments and reasoning he was able to draw up his atomic theory of the universe, arguing that atoms are indivisible, whole, homogeneous particles not visible to the naked eye. A consideration that science later demonstrated.

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4. Anaximenes of Miletus (590 – 525 BC)


Anaximenes of Miletus was one of the most important and famous philosophers of Ancient Greece, although he was not only one of the first authors in philosophy but also contributed his wisdom to areas such as biology and geography. He is considered one of the first astronomers in history, since he was able to create the first image of the universe.

This fellow citizen and disciple of Thales of Miletus was studied and analyzed by later philosophers. One of his most important notions was that the beginning of all things was infinite.

3. Aristotle (384 – 322 BC)


Considered the father of biology and logic, Aristotle founded the history of knowledge in the West His legacy consists of more than 200 texts in which he theorizes and develops ideas around seven different areas of knowledge.

The creativity and depth of this philosopher, excellent in his writing and the complexity of his approaches, not only represented a step forward in the thought of Ancient Greece but many later thinkers would base their postulates on the ideas and experiences left by the great Aristotle.

  • Learn more: “The 100 best famous phrases of Aristotle”

2. Socrates (470 – 399 BC)


Socrates, born in Athens, was one of the most important Greek philosophers To him we owe the questions about reasoning itself, in addition to the Socratic method, which allowed thinkers to question their own behavior until they reached more certain and lasting statements.

He was Plato’s teacher, who followed his philosophical keys and developed them.

  • Learn more: “70 great phrases from Socrates to understand his thoughts”

1. Plato (427 – 347 BC)


A disciple of Socrates, Plato developed his teacher’s theology to intertwine it with novel metaphysical approaches Founder of the Academy In Athens, he taught his ethical theories, as well as dialectics and physics, where he also contributed great knowledge.

Through these scientific and philosophical facets, Plato intended to create men who were much more educated and capable of governing themselves.

  • Learn more: “The 80 best phrases of Plato and his philosophy”
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