17th Century Intellectuals & Academics

Find out more about the greatest 17th Century Intellectuals & Academics, including John Locke, Voltaire, René Déscartes, Thomas Hobbes and Francis Bacon.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 John Locke

John Locke
Famous As: Father of Classical Liberalism
Birthdate: August 29, 1632
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Wrington, Somerset, England
Died: October 28, 1704
John Locke, also known as The Father of Liberalism, was a prominent Enlightenment Age philosopher. A qualified physician, Locke postulated the theory of mind, empiricism, and the idea of tabula rasa. His ideas influenced the social contract theory, the works of Kant and Rousseau, and the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

 2 René Déscartes

René Déscartes
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher and Writer
Birthdate: March 31, 1596
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: La Haye en Touraine, Touraine, France
Died: February 11, 1650
René Descartes, the father of modern philosophy, laid down the idea of rationalism, later followed by Spinoza and Leibniz. Descartes also contributed to the field of analytical geometry and led to the Cartesian coordinate system being named after him. His Meditations on First Philosophy is still taught at many universities.
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 3 Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: January 22, 1561
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Strand, London, England
Died: April 9, 1626

Francis Bacon was a Renaissance philosopher and author who was known as the Father of Empiricism, because of his belief in the scientific method and theory that scientific knowledge can only be created through inductive reasoning and experience. He was later knighted and served as the first Queen's counsel.

 4 Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: April 5, 1588
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Westport, Wiltshire, England
Died: December 4, 1679

Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher. Widely regarded as the co-founder of modern political philosophy, Hobbes is best known for his influential book Leviathan. Apart from political philosophy, Thomas Hobbes also contributed immensely to various other fields, such as ethics, theology, geometry, history, and jurisprudence.

 5 Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: June 19, 1623
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Clermont-Ferrand, France
Died: August 19, 1662

Blaise Pascal was a French physicist, mathematician, philosopher, and inventor. A child prodigy, Pascal's work on projective geometry, at the age of 16 is commendable. He is one of the earliest inventors of the mechanical calculator, which he did when he was still a teenager. His work on probability theory influenced the development of social science and modern economics.

 6 Baruch Spinoza

Baruch Spinoza
Famous As: Dutch philosopher
Birthdate: November 24, 1632
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Dutch Republic
Died: February 21, 1677
Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza is best remembered for his rationalist ideas and his posthumously released book Ethics. He opposed Rene Descartes’s ideas and believed that God was an abstract entity. He was later expelled from the Jewish society, while his books were banned by the Catholic Church.

 7 George Berkeley

George Berkeley
Famous As: philosopher
Birthdate: March 12, 1685
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: County Kilkenny, Ireland
Died: January 14, 1753

George Berkeley was an Anglo-Irish philosopher who is credited with popularizing a theory called immaterialism, which claims that material substance like tables and chairs can't exist without being perceived by the mind. Berkeley influenced several philosophers like David Hume. Also remembered for his humanitarian work, George Berkeley worked towards creating homes for abandoned children in London.

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 8 Gottfried W. Leibniz

Gottfried W. Leibniz
Famous As: Polymath, Mathematician
Birthdate: July 1, 1646
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany
Died: November 14, 1716
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a significant logician, mathematician, and philosopher of the Enlightenment era. He laid down his own concepts of differential and integral calculus. He was behind the invention of the mass-produced mechanical calculator and modified the binary number system. He also laid down a separate library cataloging system.

 9 Robert Hooke

Robert Hooke
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: July 28, 1635
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Freshwater, Isle of Wight
Died: March 3, 1703

Scientist Robert Hooke, also called England's Leonardo, initially gained recognition as an architect, conducting surveys following the Great Fire of London. He also taught geometry and was part of the Royal Society. He assisted Robert Boyle and eventually developed his own microscope, thus becoming the first to visualize micro-organisms.

 10 William Penn

William Penn
Famous As: Founder of the Province of Pennsylvania
Birthdate: October 14, 1644
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England
Died: July 30, 1718

William Penn was a writer and one of the earliest members of the Quakers. He is credited with founding the Province of Pennsylvania. He also oversaw the planning and development of the city of Philadelphia. Penn has several universities and schools named in his honor, including the William Penn University in Iowa. 

 11 John Dee

John Dee
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher
Birthdate: July 13, 1527
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Tower Ward, London
Died: February 29, 1609

Anglo-Welsh mathematician, occultist, astronomer, teacher, astrologer and alchemist John Dee is best-remembered as advisor to Queen of England, Elizabeth I. Dee coined the term British Empire and advocated its formation by founding of English colonies in the New World. He had one of the largest libraries in England at the time and wrote on astrology, geography, trigonometry, navigation and calendar reform.

 12 Robert Boyle

Robert Boyle
Famous As: Founder of Modern Chemistry, Boyle's Law
Birthdate: January 25, 1627
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ireland
Died: December 30, 1691

Robert Boyle was an Anglo-Irish chemist, natural philosopher, inventor, and physicist. Regarded as the first modern chemist, Boyle is often counted among the founders of modern chemistry. One of the pioneers of the scientific method, Robert Boyle is also remembered for his books, including The Sceptical Chymist, which is viewed as a keystone book in chemistry.

 13 Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: February 15, 1564
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pisa, Italy
Died: January 8, 1642

An Italian astronomer, engineer, and physicist, Galileo Galilei is widely regarded as the father of observational astronomy, the father of the scientific method, the father of modern physics, and the father of modern science. He is credited with popularizing the telescope, which changed the course of history.

 14 Juana Inés de la Cruz

Juana Inés de la Cruz
Famous As: Poet, Nun, Writer, Mathematician, Philosopher, Feminist, Composer
Birthdate: November 12, 1651
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tepetlixpa
Died: April 17, 1695

 15 Roger Williams

Roger Williams
Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: December 21, 1603
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: London, United Kingdom
Died: 1683 AD

Roger Williams was a 17th-century Puritan minister and theologian. He founded Providence Plantations, which later became the US state of Rhode Island. He advocated for fair dealings with Native Americans and believed in religious freedom. He disapproved of perpetual chattel slavery. After being expelled by the Puritan leaders, he founded the First Baptist Church in America. 

 16 Richard Hooker

Richard Hooker
Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: March 25, 1554
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Heavitree, England
Died: November 3, 1600

 17 Jean-Baptiste Colbert

Jean-Baptiste Colbert
Famous As: Economist, Politician
Birthdate: August 29, 1619
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Reims
Died: September 6, 1683

Born into a merchant family in France, Jean-Baptiste Colbert grew up to hold various administrative posts. Patronized by Cardinal Mazarin, he became affluent and later became one of the most efficient administrators during the regime of Louis XIV. He also established the French merchant navy.

 18 Isaac Watts

Isaac Watts
Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: July 17, 1674
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Southampton, Kingdom of England
Died: November 25, 1748

 19 John Amos Comenius

John Amos Comenius
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: March 28, 1592
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nivnice, Czechia
Died: November 15, 1670

 20 Richard Baxter

Richard Baxter
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: November 12, 1615
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Rowton, Shropshire, England
Died: December 8, 1691

Richard Baxter was an English poet, theologian, hymnodist, controversialist, and Puritan church leader. He was one of the most influential and important leaders of the Nonconformists. Today, he is commemorated in the Church of England with a feast day on 14 June.

 21 John Law

John Law
Famous As: economist, banker, statistician
Birthdate: April 21, 1671
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Edinburgh
Died: March 21, 1729

 22 Hans Sloane

Hans Sloane
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: April 16, 1660
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Killyleagh, Northern Ireland
Died: January 11, 1753

British doctor Hans Sloane traveled to Jamaica as a personal physician of the 2nd duke of Albermarle and was soon engrossed in the natural species of the region. He documented his collections, and they eventually helped form the British Museum. He is also known as the inventor of drinking chocolate.

 23 Giambattista Vico

Giambattista Vico
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: June 23, 1668
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Naples, Italy
Died: January 23, 1744

Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico is regarded as a pioneer of what is now known as cultural anthropology, or ethnology. He brought together history and the social sciences in his work Scienza nuova. A poor bookseller’s son, he studied by candlelight but grew up to be a major Counter-Enlightenment figure.

 24 Francesco Redi

Francesco Redi
Famous As: Physician, Naturalist, Poet, Writer, Painter, Entomologist, Parasitologist
Birthdate: February 18, 1626
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Arezzo, Italy
Died: April 22, 1698

Called the founder of experimental biology and father of modern parasitology, Italian physician, biologist, naturalist and poet Francesco Redi did the first major experiment to challenge spontaneous generation. His book Esperienze intorno alla generazione degl'insetti includes most of his famous experiments, while his poem book Bacco in Toscana is counted among the finest works of 17th-century Italian poetry.   

 25 Jakob Ammann

Jakob Ammann
Famous As: Tailor
Birthdate: February 12, 1644
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Erlenbach im Simmental
Died: April 22, 2017

 26 Maria Sibylla Merian

Maria Sibylla Merian
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: April 2, 1647
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Free City of Frankfurt, German
Died: January 13, 1717

 27 Thomas Browne

Thomas Browne
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: October 19, 1605
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England
Died: October 19, 1682

Thomas Browne was an English author and polymath who wrote several books on varied fields, such as religion, medicine, science, and the esoteric. Browne incorporated different styles of writing depending upon the genre he was working on. Over the years, his writing has influenced several other writers like Herman Melville. Browne's works have been admired by personalities like William Osler.

 28 Lady Margaret Lucas Cavendish

Lady Margaret Lucas Cavendish
Famous As: philosopher, scientist, poet, science fiction writer
Birthdate: 1623 AD
Birthplace: Colchester, England
Died: December 15, 1673

Lady Margaret Lucas Cavendish was an English poet, philosopher, playwright, fiction writer, and scientist. Margaret, who had the audacity to publish her works without using a pen name at a time when female writers remained anonymous, was ahead of her time. Not surprisingly, she was considered eccentric and earned the nickname Mad Madge. Her works gained popularity in the 1980s.

 29 Elena Cornaro Piscopia

Elena Cornaro Piscopia
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: June 5, 1646
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Venice, Italy
Died: July 26, 1684

 30 Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort

Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort
Famous As: Priest
Birthdate: January 31, 1673
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Montfort-sur-Meu, France
Died: April 28, 1716
Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort is known as a preacher and was made a missionary apostolic by Pope Clement XI. The French Roman Catholic priest also authored several books which later became classic Catholic titles and influenced several popes. An early writer in the field of Mariology, he published Secret of the Rosary and True Devotion to Mary about Marian devotions.

 31 Matthew Henry

Matthew Henry
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: October 18, 1662
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Flintshire, Wales
Died: June 22, 1714

Born in Wales, to a Church of England cleric who had been ejected by the Act of Uniformity, Matthew Henry grew up to be a Nonconformist minister. He is best remembered for his iconic work Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, a six-volume commentary on the Bible.

 32 Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
Famous As: Bishop
Birthdate: September 27, 1627
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dijon, France
Died: April 12, 1704

 33 Athanasius Kircher

Athanasius Kircher
Famous As: Scholar
Birthdate: May 2, 1602
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Geisa, Germany
Died: November 28, 1680

Known as the last Renaissance man, Athanasius Kircher was a German Jesuit priest who taught at the Roman College for 4 decades. He was also obsessed with Sinology and Egyptology, and studied everything from fossils to microbes. He was also interested in medicine and invented machines such as the magnetic clock.

 34 François Quesnay

François Quesnay
Famous As: Philosopher, Economist, Physician, Encyclopédistes
Birthdate: June 4, 1694
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Méré, Yvelines
Died: December 16, 1774

François Quesnay was a French economist and physician. He was a proponent of the Physiocratic school. He is best known for publishing the "Tableau économique" (Economic Table), in which he set forth the foundations of the ideas of the Physiocrats. He also wrote extensively on Chinese politics and society. He was married to a woman named Marianne Woodsen. 

 35 Nicolas Malebranche

Nicolas Malebranche
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: August 6, 1638
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 13, 1715

 36 Giambattista della Porta

Giambattista della Porta
Famous As: Scholar, Polymath
Birthdate: November 1, 1535
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vico Equense, Italy
Died: February 4, 1615

Giambattista della Porta was an Italian scholar, polymath, and playwright. He was active in Naples at the time of the Scientific Revolution and Reformation in the 16th century. He was knowledgeable in different fields, including occult philosophy, astrology, meteorology, alchemy, mathematics, and natural philosophy. In his later years, he collected rare specimens and grew exotic plants. 

 37 Shaykh Aḥmad Sirhindī

Shaykh Aḥmad Sirhindī
Famous As: Islamic scholar
Birthdate: June 26, 1564
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sirhind, India
Died: December 10, 1624

 38 Christian Wolff

Christian Wolff
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: January 24, 1679
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Wrocław, Poland
Died: April 9, 1754

 39 Baltasar Gracian

Baltasar Gracian
Famous As: Prose writer
Birthdate: January 8, 1601
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Belmonte de Gracián, Spain
Died: December 6, 1658

Spanish baroque author and philosopher Baltasar Gracian was a leading proponent of the conceptismo style. Inspired by his priest uncle, he took Jesuit vows. His notable works include Subtlety and the Art of Genius and the three-part novel The Critick, with the latter written under a pseudonym.

 40 François Fénelon

François Fénelon
Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: August 6, 1651
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Sainte-Mondane, France
Died: January 7, 1715

 41 Jean Meslier

Jean Meslier
Famous As: Priest
Birthdate: June 15, 1664
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Mazerny, France
Died: June 17, 1729

 42 Marin Mersenne

Marin Mersenne
Famous As: Philosopher, Theologian, Mathematician, Musicologist, Music theorist, Physicist
Birthdate: September 8, 1588
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Oizé
Died: September 1, 1648

 43 Francisco Suárez

Francisco Suárez
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: January 5, 1548
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Granada, Spain
Died: September 25, 1617

Spanish Jesuit priest, philosopher, and theologian Francisco Suárez was born to an affluent lawyer and had initially studied law. However, he joined the Jesuits later, following which he taught philosophy and theology. Known for writing Disputationes Metaphysicae, he was a prime figure of the School of Salamanca movement.

 44 Francis Hutcheson

Francis Hutcheson
Famous As: philosopher, economist
Birthdate: August 8, 1694
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Saintfield
Died: January 14, 1747

 45 Pierre Bayle

Pierre Bayle
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: November 18, 1647
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Carla-Bayle, France
Died: December 28, 1706

 46 Bernard Mandeville

Bernard Mandeville
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: November 15, 1670
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: January 21, 1733

 47 Dimitrie Cantemir

Dimitrie Cantemir
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: October 26, 1673
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dimitrie Cantemir, Romania
Died: September 1, 1723

 48 Antoine Galland

Antoine Galland
Famous As: Archaeologist
Birthdate: April 4, 1646
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Rollot, France
Died: February 17, 1715

 49 Gerrard Winstanley

Gerrard Winstanley
Famous As: Religious Reformer
Birthdate: October 19, 1609
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Wigan, United Kingdom
Died: September 10, 1676

 50 Pierre Gassendi

Pierre Gassendi
Famous As: Philosopher, Mathematician, Astronomer, Professor, Astrologer
Birthdate: January 22, 1592
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Champtercier
Died: October 24, 1655

French Catholic priest and astronomer Pierre Gassendi is remembered for his efforts to reconcile atomism with Christian ideals and for his anti-Aristotelianism. His studies included research on Epicurean philosophy. Apart from observing the transit of Mercury, he also studied the speed of sound and horizontal momentum.