18th Century Philosophers

Find out more about the greatest 18th Century Philosophers, including Immanuel Kant, Voltaire, Adam Smith, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Olympe de Gouges.

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.
8
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 Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant.
8
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.

 4 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.

 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. 

 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 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.

 10 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. 

 11 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.

 12 Raja Ram Mohan Roy

Raja Ram Mohan Roy.
4
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.

 13 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.

 14 Johann Gottfried Herder

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

 15 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

 16 Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards.
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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.

 17 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.

 18 Ethan Allen

Ethan Allen.
3
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.

 19 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.

 20 Comte de Saint-Germain

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

 21 Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton.
0
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.

 22 William Godwin

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

 23 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.

 24 Charles Fourier

Charles Fourier
3
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.

 25 Émilie du Châtelet

Émilie du Châtelet
3
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: December 17, 1706
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 10, 1749

 26 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.

 27 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.

 28 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.

 29 Wilhelm von Humboldt

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

 30 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.

 31 Moses Mendelssohn

Moses Mendelssohn
3
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: September 6, 1729
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dessau, Dessau-Roßlau, Germany
Died: January 4, 1786

 32 Germaine de Staël

Germaine de Staël
3
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: April 22, 1766
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: July 14, 1817

 33 Jean Le Rond d’Alembert

Jean Le Rond d’Alembert.
3
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher
Birthdate: November 16, 1717
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 29, 1783

Jean le Rond d'Alembert was a French mathematician, physicist, philosopher, and music theorist. He is credited with coming up with d'Alembert's formula, a solution to the one-dimensional wave equation, which is named after him. His life and work inspired Andrew Crumey's 1996 novel, D'Alembert's Principle.

 34 James Mill

James Mill
3
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: April 6, 1773
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Angus, Scotland
Died: June 23, 1836

James Mill was a Scottish economist, historian, philosopher, and political theorist. Mill is credited with co-founding the Ricardian school of economics. He is also credited with writing The History of British India, which classifies Indian history into three parts: British, Muslim, and Hindu. The classification has played an influential role in the field of Indian historical studies.

 35 Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
3
Famous As: Writer, Philosopher, Playwright, Poet, Librarian, Theologian, Dramaturge, Literary critic, Journalist
Birthdate: January 22, 1729
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kamenz
Died: February 15, 1781

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was a noted German dramatist, critic, and author, remembered especially for his contribution towards liberating German theatre from the influence of its classical and French counterpart. Known for such literary masterpieces like Miss Sara Sampson; Emilia Galotti; Minna von Barnhelm; Nathan the Wise; Laocoön; Hamburg Dramaturgy, he is now considered an outstanding representative of the Enlightenment era.

 36 John Austin

John Austin
3
Famous As: jurist, philosopher
Birthdate: March 3, 1790
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Suffolk
Died: December 1, 1859

English legal theorist John Austin, who aimed at transforming law into a true science, is considered by many as creator of the school of analytical jurisprudence. His book The Province of Jurisprudence Determined received significant attention posthumously, while his analytical approach to jurisprudence and theory of legal positivism also influenced American and British law following his death.

 37 Johann Friedrich Struensee

Johann Friedrich Struensee
3
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: August 5, 1737
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Halle, Germany
Died: April 28, 1772

Eighteenth-century German physician Johann Friedrich Struensee was the official physician of King Christian VII of Denmark, who was mentally unstable. He later started dominating the court and also began an affair with Queen Caroline Matilda. In spite of introducing several reforms, he was eventually beheaded, following a coup.

 38 Maria Gaetana Agnesi

Maria Gaetana Agnesi.
3
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher, Theologian
Birthdate: May 16, 1718
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Milan
Died: January 9, 1799

Italian mathematician Maria Gaetana Agnesi, daughter of an affluent silk trader, was well-versed in a number of languages as a child. Most of her work was regarding algebra, calculus, and the Witch of Agnesi. She was also the first female academic to write a math book and to teach math.

 39 William Paley

William Paley
3
Famous As: Philosopher, Theologian, University teacher
Birthdate: July 14, 1743
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Peterborough
Died: May 25, 1805

 40 Baron d'Holbach

Baron d'Holbach
3
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: December 8, 1723
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Edesheim, Germany
Died: January 21, 1789

 41 William Whewell

William Whewell
3
Famous As: Economist, Physicist, Historian, Philosopher, Writer, University teacher, Mathematician
Birthdate: May 24, 1794
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lancaster
Died: March 6, 1866

William Whewell was an English polymath, scientist, philosopher, theologian, and historian of science. He worked in a wide range of fields, publishing works in the disciplines of physics, mechanics, geology, economics, and astronomy. He also wrote poetry, sermons, and theological tracts. He is credited with coining the terms linguistics, physicist, consilience, scientist, catastrophism, and uniformitarianism.

 42 Christian Wolff

Christian Wolff
3
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: January 24, 1679
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Wrocław, Poland
Died: April 9, 1754

 43 Thomas Reid

Thomas Reid
3
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: May 7, 1710
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Strachan, Scotland, Great Britain
Died: October 7, 1796

 44 Shah Waliullah Dehlawi

Shah Waliullah Dehlawi
3
Famous As: Muslim Scholar
Birthdate: February 21, 1703
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Delhi, India
Died: August 20, 1762

 45 Roger Joseph Boscovich

Roger Joseph Boscovich
2
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: May 18, 1711
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dubrovnik, Croatia
Died: February 13, 1787

Italian astronomer and mathematician Roger Joseph Boscovich was one of the first European scientists to accept Newton’s gravitational theory. His contributions to astronomy include the application of geometry to compute the orbit of a planet and the equator of a rotating planet. He also laid the foundation of the atomic theory.

 46 Anton Wilhelm Amo

Anton Wilhelm Amo
2
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: 1703 AD
Birthplace: Axim
Died: 1759 AD

 47 Jean Meslier

Jean Meslier
2
Famous As: Priest
Birthdate: June 15, 1664
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Mazerny, France
Died: June 17, 1729

 48 Richard Price

Richard Price
2
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: February 23, 1723
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Llangeinor, Wales
Died: April 19, 1791

 49 Bernard Mandeville

Bernard Mandeville
2
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: November 15, 1670
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: January 21, 1733

 50 Dimitrie Cantemir

Dimitrie Cantemir
2
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: October 26, 1673
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dimitrie Cantemir, Romania
Died: September 1, 1723