18th Century Intellectuals & Academics

Find out more about the greatest 18th Century Intellectuals & Academics, including Immanuel Kant, Adam Smith, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, David Hume and Jeremy Bentham.

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 Voltaire

Voltaire.
10
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: November 21, 1694
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 30, 1778
18th-century historian, author, philosopher, and advocate of freedom of speech Voltaire was a leading figure of the French Age of Enlightenment. He often ran into trouble for his criticism of the French nobility and the Roman Catholic Church. He once went to Britain on voluntary exile, fearing imprisonment in France.

 2 Adam Smith

Adam Smith.
10
Famous As: Economist and Philosopher
Birthdate: June 16, 1723
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kirkcaldy, Scotland
Died: July 17, 1790

Widely considered The Father of Economics, Adam Smith was a Scottish philosopher and economist. A pioneer of political economy, Adam Smith played a major role during the Scottish Enlightenment. His book The Wealth of Nations is regarded as the first modern work of economics and a forerunner of today's academic discipline of economics.

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 3 Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
4
Famous As: Philosopher, Writer, & Composer
Birthdate: June 28, 1712
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland
Died: July 2, 1778

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, composer, and writer. His political philosophy influenced aspects of the French Revolution. He also helped develop modern economic, political, and educational thought. His writing inspired a transformation in French drama and poetry. His works also influenced such writers around the world as Tolstoy. His works as a composer were acknowledged by composers like Mozart.

 4 Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant.
9
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: April 22, 1724
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Königsberg, Germany
Died: February 12, 1804

Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher whose works in fields like aesthetics and metaphysics have made him an important and influential personality in Western philosophy. His views continue to influence contemporary philosophy. Kant has had a major influence on prominent philosophers like Hegel, Schelling, Reinhold, and Fichte. Kant's work on mathematics is cited by Albert Einstein as an early influence.

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 5 David Hume

David Hume.
5
Famous As: Philosopher & Historian
Birthdate: April 26, 1711
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: August 25, 1776

Scottish Enlightenment philosopher, historian, and economist, David Hume, is considered one of the most important philosophers to write in English. His book, A Treatise of Human Nature, is counted among the most influential works in the history of philosophy. His works have influenced numerous thinkers, including German philosopher Immanuel Kant and Christian philosopher Joseph Butler.

 6 Arthur Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer.
4
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: February 22, 1788
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gdańsk
Died: September 21, 1860

Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher. He was among the first Western philosophers to affirm important tenets of Indian philosophy, such as denial of the self and asceticism. Schopenhauer's work has had a tremendous posthumous impact on disciplines like science, literature, and philosophy. His work influenced personalities like Albert Einstein, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Sigmund Freud, George Bernard Shaw, and Leo Tolstoy. 

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 7 Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.
7
Famous As: Philosopher, Philosophy Historian
Birthdate: August 27, 1770
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Stuttgart, Duchy of Württemberg, Germany
Died: November 14, 1831
German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel worked on ideas such as absolute idealism; the philosophy of spirit, or Geist; and the master–slave dialectic. His views influenced later thinkers and intellectuals, such as Karl Popper and Karl Marx, with the latter using Hegel’s views on the civil society.
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 8 Montesquieu

Montesquieu.
4
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: January 18, 1689
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Château de la Brède, La Brède, Aquitaine, France
Died: February 10, 1755

French Enlightenment political philosopher, historian, judge, and man of letters Montesquieu remains the main source of the separation of powers system that is followed in many constitutions across the globe. His treatise The Spirit of the Laws on political theory greatly influenced work of many others, including drafting of the U.S. Constitution by the founding fathers of the United States.

 9 John Wesley

John Wesley.
4
Famous As: Anglican Cleric and Christian Theologian
Birthdate: June 17, 1703
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Epworth, England
Died: March 2, 1791

John Wesley was an English cleric, evangelist, and theologian. He is best remembered for leading a revival movement called Methodism within the Church of England. He is credited with founding societies that eventually became the dominant form of the Methodist movement, which remains relevant today. He continues to be the main theological influence on Methodists all over the world.

 10 Jeremy Bentham

Jeremy Bentham.
4
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: February 15, 1748
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Spitalfields
Died: June 6, 1832
Philosopher and jurist Jeremy Bentham is remembered as the pioneer of modern utilitarianism. He believed in economic freedoms, women’s rights, animal rights, the separation of the church and the state, and freedom of expression. Bentham wished for his body to be dissected and then to be displayed as an auto-icon.

 11 Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke.
4
Famous As: Statesman
Birthdate: January 12, 1729
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Died: July 9, 1797

Anglo-Irish statesman and philosopher, Edmund Burke, was a member of parliament (MP) in the House of Commons of Great Britain for several years. He supported  Catholic emancipation and strongly opposed the French Revolution. He felt revolution destroyed the fabric of good society and traditional institutions of state and society. He is considered the philosophical founder of modern conservatism. 

 12 Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards.
5
Famous As: Preacher, Theologian, Philosopher
Birthdate: October 5, 1703
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: East Windsor, Connecticut, United States
Died: March 22, 1758

Jonathan Edwards was an American philosopher, revivalist preacher, and Congregationalist Protestant theologian. Considered one of America's most prominent and influential philosophical theologians, Jonathan Edwards played a major role in shaping the Evangelical Revival of the 1730s and 1740s. His theological work is credited with paving the way for a new school of theology called the New England theology.

 13 Thomas Robert Malthus

Thomas Robert Malthus.
6
Famous As: Political Economist
Birthdate: February 13, 1766
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Surrey, England
Died: December 23, 1834

Thomas Robert Malthus was an English economist and demographer, who viewed poverty as man’s unavoidable destiny. Author of An Essay on the Principle of Population; he believed that increase in national food production results in feeling of well-being, leading to population growth, which in turn results in poverty. Commonly referred as Malthusianism, it made immediate impact on British social policy.

 14 Denis Diderot

Denis Diderot.
4
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: October 5, 1713
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Langres, France
Died: July 31, 1784

Denis Diderot revolutionized the Age of Enlightenment as the co-founder of Encyclopédie, which was banned for questioning religion. He had flirted with the idea of joining the theater and becoming a priest, and even studied law, but later devoted himself to languages, literature, and philosophy.

 15 Edward Gibbon

Edward Gibbon.
4
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: April 8, 1737
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London, England
Died: January 16, 1794

 16 George Whitefield

George Whitefield.
4
Famous As: Evangelist, Theologian
Birthdate: December 16, 1714
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Gloucester, England
Died: September 30, 1770

 17 Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton.
4
Famous As: Founding Father of the USA, Political Philosopher
Birthdate: January 11, 1755
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Nevis, British West Indies
Died: July 12, 1804

Known as America’s one of the most influential Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and served as the first secretary of the treasury. He also fought in the American Revolutionary War and was considered as a leading votary of the strong central government.

 18 Charles Wesley

Charles Wesley.
3
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: December 18, 1707
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Epworth, Lincolnshire, England
Died: March 29, 1788

 19 Raja Ram Mohan Roy

Raja Ram Mohan Roy.
5
Famous As: Socio-religious Reformer
Birthdate: May 22, 1772
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Radhanagore, West Bengal, India
Died: September 27, 1833

Raja Ram Mohan Roy was an Indian social and religious reformer. He is credited with co-founding the Brahmo Sabha, a social-religious reform movement. Often referred to as the Father of the Bengal Renaissance, Roy has had an influential role in fields like politics, education, and religion. In 2004, he was ranked 10th in BBC's Greatest Bengali of all time poll.

 20 Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft.
4
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: April 27, 1759
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Died: September 10, 1797

Mary Wollstonecraft was an English writer, advocate of women's rights, and philosopher. Wollstonecraft, who attracted a lot of attention for her unconventional personal relationships, is widely considered a founding feminist philosopher. Although her unorthodoxy initially attracted criticisms, her advocacy of women's equality became increasingly important during the 20th century. Modern-day feminists cite her works and her life as important influences.

 21 Johann Gottlieb Fichte

Johann Gottlieb Fichte
3
Famous As: Philosopher, University teacher
Birthdate: May 19, 1762
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rammenau
Died: January 29, 1814

 22 Johann Gottfried Herder

Johann Gottfried Herder
3
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: August 25, 1744
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Morąg, Poland
Died: December 18, 1803

 23 Alexander von Humboldt

Alexander von Humboldt.
17
Famous As: Geographer
Birthdate: September 14, 1769
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Berlin
Died: May 6, 1859

As a child, Alexander von Humboldt was sickly and a bad student. After failing to shine in economics and engineering, he grew up to revolutionize the domain of geography. He is remembered for his research on magnetic storms and his treatise on nature, Kosmos. He also spoke about climate change.

 24 Friedrich Schiller

Friedrich Schiller.
4
Famous As: Poet, Playwright, Historian & Philosopher
Birthdate: November 10, 1759
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Marbach am Neckar, Germany
Died: May 9, 1805

Friedrich Schiller was a German poet, physician, philosopher, playwright, and historian. Schiller is best remembered for his friendship with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and the two discussed issues concerning aesthetics. Schiller's discussions with Goethe paved the way for a period, which came to be known as Weimar Classicism. Friedrich Schiller is also widely regarded as Germany's most prominent classical playwright.

 25 Joseph Priestley

Joseph Priestley.
4
Famous As: Discoverer of Oxygen
Birthdate: March 24, 1733
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Birstall
Died: February 6, 1804

Best remembered for his contribution to the chemistry of gases, Joseph Priestley was an English scientist, clergyman, political theorist and educator, who has been credited with discovering oxygen independently, publishing his findings before Carl Wilhelm could. A prolific writer, he has authored 150 works on various subjects including electricity. He also contributed immensely to the advancement of political and religious thoughts.

 26 Ethan Allen

Ethan Allen.
4
Famous As: Revolutionary War Hero
Birthdate: January 21, 1738
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Litchfield, Connecticut
Died: February 12, 1789

As a child, Ethan Allen was fond of deciphering passages from the Bible. He grew up to co-establish Vermont and led the Green Mountain Boys during the American Revolutionary War. After failing to achieve Vermont’s separation from New York, he tried to unite Vermont with Canada.

 27 Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab

Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab
4
Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: 1703 AD
Birthplace: Al Uyaynah, Saudi Arabia
Died: June 22, 1792

 28 Thomas Carlyle

Thomas Carlyle.
4
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: December 4, 1795
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire, Scotland
Died: February 5, 1881
Initially a math teacher, Thomas Carlyle later abandoned the profession when a sudden spiritual awakening led him to writing. His parents wanted him to become a clergy, but he ended up becoming one of the greatest Victorian essayists and authors ever, known for works such as Sartor Resartus.

 29 Comte de Saint-Germain

Comte de Saint-Germain
5
Famous As: Adventurer
Birthdate: 1691 AD
Birthplace: Sárospatak, Hungary
Died: February 27, 1784

 30 Noah Webster

Noah Webster.
4
Famous As: Lexicographer
Birthdate: October 16, 1758
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Died: May 28, 1843

Noah Webster was an American textbook pioneer, lexicographer, political writer, English-language spelling reformer, author, and editor. Dubbed the Father of American Scholarship and Education, Webster's books have been credited with teaching the art of spelling and reading to five generations of American children. Thanks to his work as a spelling reformer, his name became synonymous with dictionary in the US.

 31 William Godwin

William Godwin.
4
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: March 3, 1756
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Wisbech
Died: April 7, 1836

 32 Jules Michelet

Jules Michelet
3
Famous As: Historian, Archivist, Writer, Diarist, Professor, Translator
Birthdate: August 21, 1798
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris
Died: February 9, 1874

 33 Charles Lyell

Charles Lyell.
4
Famous As: Lawyer
Birthdate: November 14, 1797
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Angus
Died: February 22, 1875

 34 Jean-François Champollion

Jean-François Champollion.
4
Famous As: Philologist
Birthdate: December 23, 1790
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Figeac
Died: March 4, 1832

Jean-François Champollion was a French orientalist, philologist, and scholar. A founding figure of Egyptology, Champollion is credited with deciphering the Egyptian hieroglyphs, which paved the way for several research and studies in the field of Egyptology. Not surprisingly, Champollion is often referred to as the Founder and Father of Egyptology.  

 35 Charles Fourier

Charles Fourier
4
Famous As: Economist, Sociologist, Philosopher
Birthdate: April 7, 1772
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Besançon
Died: October 10, 1837

French social theorist Charles Fourier is regarded as one of the pioneers of utopian socialism. Apart from advocating social reconstruction based on phalanges, or Fourierism, he is also credited with coining the term feminism with respect to women’s rights. The Social Destiny of Man remains one of his notable works.

 36 Mary Somerville

Mary Somerville
4
Famous As: Mathematician, Linguist, Translator, Astronomer, Scientist
Birthdate: December 26, 1780
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Jedburgh
Died: November 28, 1872

One of the two pioneering female honorary members of the Royal Astronomical Society, Mary Somerville was a 19th-century polymath and science writer. Though she specialized in math and astronomy, she was also well-versed in botany and geology. The Connection of the Physical Sciences remains her most notable work.

 37 Émilie du Châtelet

Émilie du Châtelet
4
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: December 17, 1706
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 10, 1749

 38 Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine.
0
Famous As: Founding Father of the United States
Birthdate: January 29, 1737
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Thetford, England
Died: June 8, 1809

English-born American political activist, philosopher, and revolutionary, Thomas Paine, is credited to have penned some of the most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution. His works inspired the common people of America and motivated them to fight for independence from British rule. He was ostracized for criticizing Christianity and died a lonely man.

 39 Marquis de Condorcet

Marquis de Condorcet.
3
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher
Birthdate: September 17, 1743
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Ribemont, France
Died: March 28, 1794

French mathematician and philosopher Marquis de Condorcet was a champion for liberal economy and women’s rights. He was a significant contributor of the Encyclopédie and was part of the Academy of Sciences. He is also remembered for his political activities in the wake of the French Revolution.

 40 Mikhail Lomonosov

Mikhail Lomonosov.
3
Famous As: Scientist, Poet, Geologist, Astronomer
Birthdate: November 19, 1711
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lomonossowo, Russia
Died: April 15, 1765

Russian polymath Mikhail Lomonosov was born to a fisherman father and left his village later to satiate his hunger for knowledge. Apart from reforming Russian language and literature, he also made the first colored glass mosaic in his country and discovered the atmosphere of Venus. He loved simple life.

 41 Isaac Watts

Isaac Watts
3
Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: July 17, 1674
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Southampton, Kingdom of England
Died: November 25, 1748

 42 Carl Ritter

Carl Ritter.
3
Famous As: Co-founder of Modern Geography
Birthdate: August 7, 1779
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Quedlinburg, Germany
Died: September 28, 1859

Carl Ritter was a German geographer considered one of the founders of modern geography. He taught history at the University of Berlin and was one of the mentors of the explorer Heinrich Barth, who traveled in Northern and Western Africa. A prolific researcher and writer, Ritter produced a staggering amount of geographical literature in his lifetime. 

 43 Thomas Bayes

Thomas Bayes
3
Famous As: Mathematician, Statistician
Birthdate: 1702 AD
Birthplace: London
Died: April 7, 1761

 44 Novalis

Novalis.
3
Famous As: Philosopher & Poet
Birthdate: May 2, 1772
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Oberwiederstedt, Electorate of Saxony, Germany
Died: March 25, 1801

Poet and philosopher Friedrich Leopold, better known as Novalis, was a significant figure of German Romanticism. He narrated the loss of his 15-year-old fiancé to tuberculosis in his Hymns to the Night. He himself died of the disease a few years later. He was also well-versed in natural sciences.

 45 Giovanni Battista Piranesi

Giovanni Battista Piranesi
3
Famous As: Archaeologist
Birthdate: October 4, 1720
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Venice, Italy
Died: November 9, 1778

 46 Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau

Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau
3
Famous As: Journalist, Politician, Diplomat, Writer, Economist
Birthdate: March 9, 1749
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Le Bignon-Mirabeau
Died: April 2, 1791

Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau was the son of renowned economist Victor Riqueti. A bout of small pox disfigured his face permanently but that didn’t stop him from rising as a leader of the French Revolution. However, posthumously, he was proved to be a royalist.

 47 Wilhelm von Humboldt

Wilhelm von Humboldt
3
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: June 22, 1767
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Potsdam, Germany
Died: April 8, 1835

 48 John Witherspoon

John Witherspoon
3
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: February 5, 1723
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Gifford, Scotland
Died: November 15, 1794

John Witherspoon was a Scottish American slaveholder, Presbyterian minister, and Founding Father of the United States. A signatory to the Declaration of Independence, Witherspoon also signed the Articles of Confederation. He also played a crucial role in shaping public policy in the United States of America.

 49 Hans Sloane

Hans Sloane
3
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.

 50 Giambattista Vico

Giambattista Vico
3
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.