C. S. Lewis was a British writer whose books have sold millions of copies worldwide after having been translated into over 30 languages. His works, such as The Chronicles of Narnia, have inspired the works of other famous authors. Lewis' work continues to attract readership and he was ranked 11th on The Times' 50 greatest British writers since 1945 list.
Bertrand Russell was a British polymath and Nobel laureate. His work, which is spread across various fields, has had a considerable influence on philosophy, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, mathematics, linguistics, and logic. Russell is also credited with leading the revolt against idealism in Britain and is regarded as one of the founders of analytic philosophy.
Alan Watts was a British writer, philosopher, and speaker. He is credited with popularizing Hinduism, Taoism, and Buddhism in the Western world. A prolific writer, Alan Watts wrote one of Buddhism's first bestselling books, The Way of Zen. He also explored psychedelics and human consciousness in his works, such as The Joyous Cosmology and The New Alchemy.
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.
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.
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.
Herbert Spencer was the man behind the expression “survival of the fittest,” after reading Charles Darwin's iconic work On the Origin of Species. The British anthropologist, sociologist, and philosopher introduced the concept of Social Darwinism, which applied the theory of evolution to societies and social classes.
12 George Boole
George Boole is remembered for pioneering Boolean algebra, a tool used in digital computer circuits. More of a self-taught mathematician, Boole began teaching at 16 and later grew up to be a math professor at Queen’s College, Cork. His work in differential equations and algebraic logic was groundbreaking.
Samuel Coleridge was an English poet, philosopher, theologian, and literary critic. He is credited with co-founding the Romantic Movement in England along with his friend William Wordsworth. Despite struggling from bouts of depression and anxiety throughout his adult life, Samuel Coleridge had a major influence on American transcendentalism and writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson.
14 William Penn
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.
Philosopher and author Roger Scruton is best remembered for his work as an editor of The Salisbury Review and for his countless books on topics such as art, sexuality, and political philosophy. He also taught at Boston University and other institutes, and was a skilled pianist and composer, too.
17 John Dee
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.
Alfred North Whitehead was a British mathematician and philosopher, best known for his collaboration with his student Bertrand Russell on Principal of Mathematics, a three-volume work on the foundations of mathematics. Also known for his pioneering works on process philosophy and metaphysics, he is credited with developing a comprehensive metaphysical system that differs from most Western philosophies.
20 Robert Hooke
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.
William of Ockham, also known as Doctor Invincibilis, is chiefly remembered as one of the pioneers of nominalism. The 14th-cenntury Franciscan friar was also a scholar and philosopher, and laid the foundation of Occam’s razor. His written works include Summa logicae and his commentary on his own lectures, Sentences.
British historian and philosopher Isaiah Berlin is best remembered for his concepts of liberal theory and value pluralism. He is also considered a pioneer of intellectual history. Initially a philosophy lecturer, he later deviated to political science. He also penned iconic works such as The Hedgehog and the Fox.
25 J. L. Austin
Philosopher J. L. Austin is remembered for his study on ordinary-language philosophy and is also considered a pioneer of the theory of speech acts. His lectures at Harvard were later collected in How to Do Things with Words. He died of cancer while developing a theory on sound symbolism.
26 Derek Parfit
Philippa Foot is remembered as a forerunner of what is now known as virtue ethics. Granddaughter of American president Grover Cleveland, Foot laid down the Trolley problem and believed that the morality of any act is related to its rationality. She was also associated with the charitable organization Oxfam.
British philosopher and mathematician Frank P. Ramsey was the son of a famed mathematician and later laid down the Ramsey theory of mathematical logic. The Cambridge alumnus also translated Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus but died at age 26, probably due to a liver infection he contracted while swimming.
29 A.J. Ayer
Educated at the prestigious Eton College and the University of Oxford, A.J. Ayer grew up to popularize logical positivism. During World War II, he had been an MI6 spy. Known for his bestselling work Language, Truth, and Logic, he promoted ideas such as emotivist ethics and the verification principle.
Noted 20th-century political philosopher H. L. A. Hart was a practicing lawyer and had also worked with MI5 during World War II. Known for his iconic works such as The Concept of Law and Law, Liberty and Morality, he made significant contributions to the field of legal positivism.
31 G. E. Moore
English philosopher G. E. Moore was one of the pioneers of analytic philosophy. Best known for his iconic works such as Principia Ethica, he also taught moral science and philosophy. Moore was also a sworn agnostic and was part of the Cambridge Apostles, a secret society of British intellectuals.
32 Gilbert Ryle
33 John Austin
Considered oneof the top 25 most influential contemporary philosophers, Simon Critchley has a wide range of interests, which includes continental philosophy, philosophy and literature, psychoanalysis, ethics, and political theory. A prolific writer, he is also the Hans Jonas Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research and Professor of Philosophy at the European Graduate School.
39 Mary Midgley
A British analytic philosopher and literary critic, Galen John Strawson works primarily on philosophy of mind and metaphysics, propagating that neither free will nor moral responsibility exists. Author of eleven books and innumerable articles, he has also served as a consultant editor and book reviewer for many well-known magazines. Currently, he is teaching at the University of Texas, Austin
42 Colin McGinn
Best known for his work on new mysterianism and the philosophy of mind, British philosopher Colin McGinn has been a renowned philosophy professor. He has penned several books, including novels and short stories. He is an animal rights activist, too. However, his career was marred by a sexual harassment accusation.
43 R. M. Hare
Best known for his theory on universal prescriptivism, British moral philosopher R. M. Hare initially studied classics at Balliol College, Oxford. He had also been part of World War II and captured by Japan. Essays on Political Morality remains one of his most significant works.
Known as a pioneer of physicalism, British-Australian philosopher J. J. C. Smart laid the foundation of the Type Identity theory. A professor of philosophy, who spent most of life teaching at prestigious universities such as the Australian National University, Smart was also a skilled player of both cricket and hockey.
A prominent 19th century English philosopher of the absolute Idealist school and a fellow of Merton College, Oxford, Francis Herbert Bradley was an opponent of the British Empiricist theories and utilitarian trends. Well-known for his non-pluralistic approach to philosophy, he devoted his life to writing, publishing five books in his lifetime, most significant among them being Appearance and Reality.
46 Peter Geach
Born to a philosophy professor, Peter Geach followed in his father’s footsteps to master the subject and teach at various universities, such as the University of Birmingham. Best known for his work on the theory of identity, he married renowned philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe and also collaborated with her.