17th Century Philosophers

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Find out more about the greatest 17th Century Philosophers, including John Locke, Voltaire, René Déscartes, Thomas Hobbes and Francis Bacon.
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 1 
John Locke
(English Philosopher and Physician, Popularly Known as the ‘Father of Liberalism’)
John Locke
23
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
(French Philosopher, Mathematician and Inventor of ‘Analytic Geometry’)
René Déscartes
13
Birthdate: March 31, 1596
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Descartes, 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.
 3 
Francis Bacon
(Philosopher, Statesman and Lord High Chancellor of England)
Francis Bacon
10
Birthdate: January 22, 1561
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: The 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.

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 4 
Thomas Hobbes
(English Philosopher and One of the Founders of Modern Political Philosophy)
Thomas Hobbes
11
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
(One of the Greatest Mathematicians of All Time Who Invented the Mechanical Calculator)
Blaise Pascal
8
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
(One of the Most Important Philosophers of the Early Modern Period)
Baruch Spinoza
7
Birthdate: November 24, 1632
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
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
(philosopher)
George Berkeley
5
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.

 8 
Miyamoto Musashi
(Japanese Swordsman and Philosopher Who Became Popular Through His Unique Double-Bladed Swordsmanship)
Miyamoto Musashi
5
Birthdate: 1584 AD
Birthplace: Harima Province, Japan
Died: June 13, 1645

Miyamoto Musashi was a Japanese swordsman, writer, strategist, and philosopher. Widely regarded as a Kensei, Musashi became famous through his stories of bravery, which involves his undefeated streak of 61 duels. He is also credited with founding the Niten Ichi-ryū school of swordsmanship. His life has inspired several films, TV series, stage plays, and video games.

 9 
Gottfried W. Leibniz
(German Mathematician Who Developed the Present Day Notation for the Differential and Integral Calculus)
Gottfried W. Leibniz
4
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.
 10 
Robert Hooke
(Philosopher)
Robert Hooke
6
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.

 11 
John Dee
(Mathematician, Philosopher)
John Dee
5
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
(Founder of Modern Chemistry, Boyle's Law)
Robert Boyle
4
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 
Juana Inés de la Cruz
(Mexican Writer, Philosopher, Composer and Poet of the 'Baroque Period')
Juana Inés de la Cruz
6
Birthdate: November 12, 1648
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tepetlixpa, Mexico
Died: April 17, 1695

Mexican nun Juana Inés de la Cruz was one of the finest authors of the Latin American colonial era. Initially the lady-in-waiting of Mexico’s viceroy, she later took her vows. She built a huge library and penned masterpieces such as the poem Primero sueño and the religious drama El divino Narciso.

 14 
Hugo Grotius
(Dutch Lawyer, Philosopher and Diplomat Known for His Significant Philosophical Contributions to the Field of International Law)
Hugo Grotius
3
Birthdate: April 10, 1583
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Delft, Netherlands
Died: August 28, 1645

Best known for his iconic book De jure belli ac pacis, or The Rights of War and Peace, Hugo Grotius was a Dutch humanist and author, who had also been a jurist. Due to his involvement in the Calvinist debate, he was exiled to France, where he penned most of his significant works.

 15 
John Amos Comenius
(Czech Philosopher and Pedagogue Regarded as the 'Father of Modern Education')
John Amos Comenius
3
Birthdate: March 28, 1592
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nivnice, Moravia, Czech Republic
Died: November 15, 1670

John Amos Comenius was a Czech philosopher, theologian, and pedagogue. Regarded as the father of modern education, Comenius is credited with introducing many educational concepts and innovations such as education for women, equal opportunity for poor children, and universal and practical instruction among other innovations. He also led schools and served as an adviser for governments across Protestant Europe.

 16 
Giambattista Vico
(Italian Philosopher Best Known for His 'Verum Factum' Principle)
Giambattista Vico
3
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.

 17 
Jakob Ammann
(Tailor)
Jakob Ammann
3
Birthdate: February 12, 1644
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Erlenbach im Simmental
Died: April 22, 2017

Swiss Elder Jakob Ammann gave rise to what is now known as the Amish branch of Anabaptism. While he had initially joined the Anabaptist movement, Ammann, a hard-liner, later branched out because of his belief in the strict doctrines of Anabaptism, such as social avoidance.

 18 
Elena Cornaro Piscopia
4
Birthdate: June 5, 1646
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Venice, Italy
Died: July 26, 1684
 19 
Lady Margaret Lucas Cavendish
(philosopher, scientist, poet, science fiction writer)
Lady Margaret Lucas Cavendish
3
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.

 20 
Jakob Böhme
(German Philosopher and Theologian)
Jakob Böhme
3
Birthdate: April 24, 1575
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Stary Zawidów, Poland
Died: November 17, 1624

German mystic and philosopher Jakob Böhme is best remembered for his works such as On the Election of Grace and Mysterium Magnum. While he was initially a shoemaker’s apprentice, he later focused on studies on mysticism and free will. He inspired both German idealism and romanticism greatly.

 21 
Christian Wolff
(Philosopher)
Christian Wolff
3
Birthdate: January 24, 1679
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Wrocław, Poland
Died: April 9, 1754
 22 
Baltasar Gracian
(Spanish Jesuit and Baroque Prose Writer and Philosopher)
Baltasar Gracian
2
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.

 23 
Nicolas Malebranche
(Philosopher)
Nicolas Malebranche
3
Birthdate: August 6, 1638
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 13, 1715
 24 
William Petty
(British Economist, Philosopher and Physician Known for His Methods of Political Arithmetic')
William Petty
2
Birthdate: May 26, 1623
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Romsey, Hampshire, England
Died: December 16, 1687

Initially a physician and anatomy professor, William Petty also taught music. However, he later established himself as a noted economist and became famous for his works such as Treatise of Taxes and Contributions. He was a surveyor under Oliver Cromwell and was a pioneer of political arithmetic.

 25 
Jean Meslier
(Priest)
Jean Meslier
2
Birthdate: June 15, 1664
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Mazerny, France
Died: June 17, 1729
 26 
Marin Mersenne
(Mathematician)
Marin Mersenne
2
Birthdate: September 8, 1588
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Oizé, France
Died: September 1, 1648
 27 
Francisco Suárez
(Leading Theological and Philosophical Light of Spain’s Golden Age)
Francisco Suárez
2
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.

 28 
Elisabeth of the Palatinate
2
Birthdate: December 26, 1618
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Heidelberg, Electorate of the Palatinate
Died: February 11, 1680
 29 
Pierre Gassendi
(Philosopher, Mathematician, Astronomer, Professor, Astrologer)
Pierre Gassendi
2
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.

 30 
Tommaso Campanella
(Philosopher Known for His Work 'la Città Del Sole' an Important Early Utopian Work)
Tommaso Campanella
2
Birthdate: September 5, 1568
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Stilo, Italy
Died: May 21, 1639

Tommaso Campanella was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, astrologer, and poet. His heterodox views often brought him into conflict with the authorities, and he was imprisoned for several years. In prison, he wrote The City of the Sun, a utopia describing an egalitarian theocratic society. He also defended astronomer Galileo Galilei in his first trial. 

 31 
Pierre Bayle
(Philosopher)
Pierre Bayle
2
Birthdate: November 18, 1647
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Carla-Bayle, France
Died: December 28, 1706
 32 
Bernard Mandeville
(Dutch Philosopher, Political Economist and Satirist)
Bernard Mandeville
2
Birthdate: November 15, 1670
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: January 21, 1733

Anglo-Dutch social philosopher Bernard Mandeville is best remembered for his satirical work The Fable of the Bees. A qualified physician just like his father, he later settled in London, where he gained fame with his writings. He believed that even the most negative actions are capable of producing positive outcomes.

 33 
Ahmad Sirhindi
(Indian Scholar, Jurist and Philosopher)
Ahmad Sirhindi
7
Birthdate: May 26, 1564
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Sirhind, Punjab, India
Died: December 10, 1624

Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi was an Indian Islamic scholar. A member of the famous Naqshbandī Sufi order, Sirhindi was widely known as a reviver for his work in resurrecting Islam during Mughal Emperor Akbar's reign. He is also remembered for his contributions to Sufi practices and epistemology. There is a shrine named Rauza Sharif dedicated to Sirhindi in Sirhind, Punjab, India.

 34 
Yamamoto Tsunetomo
(Philosopher, Writer)
Yamamoto Tsunetomo
2
Birthdate: June 11, 1659
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Japan
Died: November 30, 1719
 35 
John Aubrey
(Antiquary)
John Aubrey
2
Birthdate: March 12, 1626
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kington St Michael, Wiltshire, England
Died: June 7, 1697
 36 
Algernon Sidney
(Diplomat, Politician, Writer)
Algernon Sidney
2
Birthdate: January 15, 1623
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Baynard's Castle, London
Died: December 7, 1683
 37 
Mary Astell
(Writer, Philosopher, Feminist)
Mary Astell
2
Birthdate: November 12, 1666
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Newcastle upon Tyne
Died: May 11, 1731
 38 
Gerrard Winstanley
(British Protestant Religious Reformer, Political Philosopher and Activist )
Gerrard Winstanley
2
Birthdate: October 19, 1609
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Parish of Wigan, Lancashire, England
Died: September 10, 1676

Protestant reformer Gerrard Winstanley is best known for leading the Diggers, a group of English agrarian communists. Initially a cloth merchant, he was later drawn to communism, believing that land should be available to the poor, and penned The Law of Freedom in a Platform. He also advocated for universal religious tolerance.

Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke
2
Birthdate: September 16, 1678
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Battersea, London, England
Died: December 12, 1751
 40 
Samuel von Pufendorf
(Jurist and Political Philosopher Known for His Commentaries & Revisions of the Natural Law Theories)
Samuel von Pufendorf
2
Birthdate: January 8, 1632
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Zwönitz, Germany
Died: October 26, 1694

Samuel von Pufendorf was a German jurist, economist, political philosopher, and historian. Among Pufendorf's major achievements are his revisions and commentaries of the natural law theories of Hugo Grotius and Thomas Hobbes. In Germany, Samuel von Pufendorf is best remembered as a precursor of an intellectual and philosophical movement called the Age of Enlightenment

 41 
Justus Lipsius
(Belgian Scholar Who Mostly Wrote on the Revival of 'Stoicism')
Justus Lipsius
2
Birthdate: October 18, 1547
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Overijse, Belgium
Died: March 23, 1606

Belgian scholar Justus Lipsius chaired history and philosophy at the University of Jena and was later associated with the universities of Leiden and Leuven. His works mostly revolved around the revival of Stoicism, which led to the Neostoicism movement. His best-known works include De constantia and Politicorum libri sex.

 42 
Jean de La Bruyère
(Philosopher)
Jean de La Bruyère
2
Birthdate: August 16, 1645
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 11, 1696
 43 
James Harrington
(British philosopher)
James Harrington
2
Birthdate: January 3, 1611
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Upton, England
Died: September 11, 1677
 44 
Henry More
(Philosopher)
Henry More
2
Birthdate: October 12, 1614
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lincolnshire, England
Died: September 1, 1687
 45 
Joseph Glanvill
(Philosopher)
Joseph Glanvill
1
Birthdate: 1636 AD
Birthplace: Plymouth, England
Died: November 4, 1680
 46 
Georg Ernst Stahl
1
Birthdate: October 22, 1659
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Ansbach, Germany
Died: May 14, 1734
Anna Maria van Schurman
1
Birthdate: November 5, 1607
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Cologne, Germany
Died: May 4, 1678
 48 
António Vieira
(Diplomat)
António Vieira
2
Birthdate: February 6, 1608
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lisbon, Portugal
Died: July 18, 1697
 49 
Kenelm Digby
(British Courtier, Philosopher, Astrologer and Diplomat)
Kenelm Digby
2
Birthdate: July 11, 1603
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Gayhurst, England
Died: June 11, 1665

Apart from being a diplomat, Kenelm Digby was also a renowned philosopher and astrologer. Though he had enrolled in Oxford, he quit without a degree. One of the greatest Catholic intellectuals of his time, he also served as a privateer and then as a naval administrator.

 50 
Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi
(Syrian Author and Pan-Arab Solidarity Supporter)
Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi
1
Birthdate: 1855 AD
Birthplace: Aleppo, Ottoman Empire
Died: June 13, 1902
Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi was a Syrian author and one of the most important intellectuals of his time. A Pan-Arab solidarity supporter, Al-Kawakibi's criticisms of the Ottoman Empire was the basis for Pan-Arab nationalism. Among his most influential books are Mother of All Villages and The Nature of Despotism. Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi’s ideas influenced many Pan-Arab nationalists like Gamal Abdel Nasser.