Famous Italian Philosophers

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The old-world charm and beauty of Italy wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for Italian philosophers who dominated much of the country’s culture, heritage and traditional landscape. What’s more, Italian philosophy exerted a huge influence on Western philosophy and helped shaped much of its structure and ideologies. Right from the ancient times, Italy has been home to some of the world’s most renowned philosophers, whose thinking and ideologies gave people a new dominion from which they could look at things. Philosophers like Cicero, Lucretius, Plutarch and Clement of Alexandria all belong to Ancient Rome. The period of ancient philosophy gave way to medieval philosophy which in turn saw the emergence and dominance of the Renaissance movement that swiftly enrolled entire Europe. It was during this time that Italian philosophy gained new heights with the philosophies of Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli, Tommaso Campanella, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. The Age of Enlightenment witnessed the emergence of Giovani Battista Vico, who in turn became the founder of modern Italian philosophy. Find out more about greatest Italian philosophers through this section.
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 1 
Marcus Aurelius
(Philosopher)
Marcus Aurelius
14
Birthdate: April 26, 0121
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: March 17, 0180

Marcus Aurelius played an important role in the Roman Empire. A Stoic philosopher, Marcus was part of the Five Good Emperors and the last emperor of the Pax Romana—a 200-year-long period of relative peace in the Roman Empire. Also a writer, his work Meditations is regarded by many as one of the greatest works of philosophy.

 2 
Niccolò Machiavelli
(Diplomat & Philosopher Best Known for His Political Treatise 'The Prince')
Niccolò Machiavelli
19
Birthdate: May 3, 1469
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: June 22, 1527
Italian Renaissance philosopher, diplomat, and author Niccolò Machiavelli is remembered for his work The Prince. He believed that the end or the intention behind any action justifies the action. He gave rise to the term Machiavellianism, which signifies the use of deceit and treachery to achieve one’s goals. 
 3 
Thomas Aquinas
(Italian Theologian & Philosopher)
Thomas Aquinas
4
Birthdate: January 25, 1225
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Roccasecca, Italy
Died: March 7, 1274
Dominican friar and Catholic priest Thomas Aquinas was also a Doctor of the Church. He tried to mingle Aristotelian philosophy and Christianity. His works, including Summa Theologica and Disputed Questions on Truth, and his views on the Scriptures have been studied as prominent texts on theology, philosophy, and canon law.
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 4 
Dante Alighieri
(Italian Writer and Philosopher Best Known for His Poem ‘Divine Comedy’)
Dante Alighieri
4
Birthdate: 1265 AD
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: September 14, 1321

Dante Alighieri was an Italian writer, poet, and philosopher. His work Divine Comedy is widely regarded as the greatest literary work ever produced in the Italian language and the most prominent poem of the Middle Ages. Often referred to as the father of the Italian language, Dante Alighieri played a crucial role in establishing the Italian literature.

 5 
Umberto Eco
(Medievalist, Philosopher and Author of 'The Name of the Rose' and 'Foucault's Pendulum')
Umberto Eco
9
Birthdate: January 5, 1932
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Alessandria, Italy
Died: February 19, 2016

Italian novelist Umberto Eco is best remembered for his novels The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum. He also taught at the University of Bologna and had released quite a few children’s books and translations. He was also known for his work on semiotics and medieval studies.

 6 
Antonio Gramsci
(Italian Philosopher Best Known for His Theory of 'Cultural Hegemony')
Antonio Gramsci
9
Birthdate: January 22, 1891
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ales, Italy
Died: April 27, 1937

Antonio Gramsci was an Italian politician, journalist, philosopher, linguist, and writer. A founding member of the Communist Party of Italy, Gramsci went on to serve as the leader of the party before he was arrested by Benito Mussolini's Fascist regime. Since his death, Antonio Gramsci has been the subject of several plays and films.

 7 
Giordano Bruno
(Philosopher & Mathematician Known For His Cosmological Theories)
Giordano Bruno
4
Birthdate: 1548
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Nola, Italy
Died: February 17, 1600

Giordano Bruno was an Italian philosopher, friar, mathematician, cosmological theorist, poet, and Hermetic occultist. Best remembered for his cosmological theories, Bruno insisted that the universe could have no center as it is infinite. In 2004, Herbert Steffen founded the Giordano Bruno Foundation in Bruno's honor.

 8 
Anselm of Canterbury
(Benedictine Monk, Philosopher and Archbishop of Canterbury (1093 - 1109))
Anselm of Canterbury
6
Birthdate: 1033 AD
Birthplace: Aosta, Italy
Died: April 21, 1109

Owing to his quality classical education, Anselm of Canterbury became one of the finest Latinists of his time. As Archbishop of Canterbury, he resisted the English kings and was exiled. He is now remembered as a significant figure in the Investiture Controversy, which pitted the king against the pope.

 9 
Julius Evola
(Philosopher)
Julius Evola
5
Birthdate: May 19, 1898
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: June 11, 1974

Julius Evola was an Italian poet, philosopher, painter, esotericist, antisemitic conspiracy theorist, and occultist. Evola is extremely popular in fringe circles due to his supernatural, magical, and metaphysical beliefs. Due to his traditionalist views on gender, which advocated a purely patriarchal society, Evola is regarded as one of Italy’s most influential fascist racists of all time.

 10 
Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius
(Roman Senator, Magister Officiorum, Historian and Philosopher)
Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius
3
Birthdate: 0477 AD
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: October 23, 0524

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius was a Roman senator, consul, and philosopher of the early 6th century. He worked under the Ostrogothic King Theodoric the Great, who later imprisoned and killed him. In jail, Boethius wrote his Consolation of Philosophy, which is considered a seminal treatise on death, fortune, and other issues. He also translated the works of Plato and Aristotle.  

 11 
Giorgio Agamben
(Philosopher)
Giorgio Agamben
6
Birthdate: April 22, 1942
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
 12 
Vilfredo Pareto
(Economist, Writer, Philosopher, Sociologist, University teacher)
Vilfredo Pareto
3
Birthdate: July 15, 1848
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Paris
Died: August 19, 1923

A qualified civil engineer, Vilfredo Pareto had initially worked for the railways and the ironworks. However, he gradually deviated to philosophy, sociology, and politics and gained fame for his application of math to economic issues and his introduction of Pareto efficiency. Mind and Society remains his best-known work.

 13 
Zeno of Elea
(Philosopher)
Zeno of Elea
3
Birthdate: 0495 AD
Birthplace: Velia, Italy
Died: 0430 AD
 14 
Cesare Beccaria
(One of the Greatest Thinkers of the Age of Enlightenment Known for His Treatise 'On Crimes and Punishments')
Cesare Beccaria
3
Birthdate: March 15, 1738
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Milan, Italy
Died: November 28, 1794

Cesare Beccaria was an 18th-century Italian criminologist, philosopher, jurist, and politician. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest thinkers of the Age of Enlightenment. He is still remembered for his treatise On Crimes and Punishments (1764), a pioneering work in the field of penology. He is considered the father of modern criminal law. 

 15 
Christine de Pizan
(Italian Poet and Court Writer for King Charles VI of France)
Christine de Pizan
3
Birthdate: 1364 AD
Birthplace: Venice, Italy
Died: 1430 AD
Christine de Pizan took up writing at 25, primarily to support her three children following her husband’s death. Starting with ballads, she later narrated the heroics of women in masterpieces such as The Book of the City of Ladies. She was also a court poet of French king Charles VI.
 16 
Giovanni Gentile
(Philosopher)
Giovanni Gentile
4
Birthdate: May 30, 1875
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Castelvetrano, Italy
Died: April 15, 1944
 17 
Bonaventure
(Italian Catholic Franciscan, Bishop, Theologian and Philosopher)
Bonaventure
3
Birthdate: 1221 AD
Birthplace: Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy
Died: July 15, 1274

Bonaventure was an Italian philosopher, scholastic theologian, and Franciscan. A prominent philosopher, Bonaventure wrote on various subjects and his writings are considered substantial. Bonaventure, who served as the Cardinal Bishop of Albano, was canonized by Pope Sixtus IV on 14 April 1482.

 18 
Giacomo Leopardi
(One of the Most Radical and Challenging Thinkers of the 19th Century)
Giacomo Leopardi
3
Birthdate: June 29, 1798
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Recanati, Italy
Died: June 14, 1837

Giacomo Leopardi was one of the greatest lyric poets of the 19th century. Born into a noble family, he mastered several languages and wrote many works by 16, in spite of suffering from a cerebrospinal ailment. Remembered for his iconic works such as A Silvia, he died during a cholera epidemic.

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola
3
Birthdate: February 24, 1463
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Mirandola, Italy
Died: November 17, 1494
 20 
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.

 21 
Elena Cornaro Piscopia
4
Birthdate: June 5, 1646
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Venice, Italy
Died: July 26, 1684
 22 
Antonio Negri
(Philosopher, Politician, Professor, Economist)
Antonio Negri
3
Birthdate: August 1, 1933
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Padua

Italian philosopher Antonio Negri has donned many hats, from teaching law at the University of Padua to being part of the Italian parliament. An Autonomism leader, he was accused of being part of the left-wing militant organization Red Brigades and later fled to Paris. Empire is one of his best works.

 23 
Maria Gaetana Agnesi
(First Woman to Write a Mathematics Handbook and the First Woman Appointed as a University Mathematics Professor)
Maria Gaetana Agnesi
3
Birthdate: May 16, 1718
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Milan, Italy
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.

 24 
Benedetto Croce
(Philosopher, Politician, Art historian, Writer, Literary critic)
Benedetto Croce
3
Birthdate: February 25, 1866
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Pescasseroli
Died: November 20, 1952
 25 
Nicholas of Cusa
(Mathematician, Philosopher)
Nicholas of Cusa
3
Birthdate: 1401 AD
Birthplace: Bernkastel-Kues, Germany
Died: August 11, 1464

Nicholas of Cusa was a German mathematician, astronomer, jurist, theologian, and philosopher. One of the first supporters of Renaissance humanism in Germany, Nicholas of Cusa made significant political and spiritual contributions in European history. He is remembered for his efforts to reform the universal and Roman Church.

 26 
Marsilio Ficino
(Philosopher, Writer, Cleric, Astrologer, Poet)
Marsilio Ficino
3
Birthdate: October 19, 1433
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Figline Valdarno
Died: October 1, 1499
 27 
Hippasus
(Philosopher)
Hippasus
3
Birthdate: 0500 BC
Birthplace: Metapontum, Italy
Died: 0450 BC
 28 
Daniele Bolelli
(Professor)
Daniele Bolelli
2
Birthdate: January 11, 1974
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Milan, Italy

Daniele Bolelli is an Italian writer, academic, martial artist, and podcaster. Born into a family of writers, he studied history at CSULB and Cardiff University before embarking on an academic career. He is known for taking a "renaissance man approach” as a lecturer. He is the author of several books on philosophy and martial arts.  

 29 
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. 

 30 
Altiero Spinelli
(Politician)
Altiero Spinelli
2
Birthdate: August 31, 1907
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: May 23, 1986

Known as one of the EU’s founding fathers, Italian politician Altiero Spinelli was a communist who had spent 16 years in confinement for opposing fascist powers. While in prison, he co-wrote the Ventotene Manifesto. He later represented Central Italy in the European Parliament and was part of the Italian Chamber of Deputies.

 31 
Gianni Vattimo
(Philosopher)
Gianni Vattimo
2
Birthdate: January 4, 1936
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Turin, Italy
 32 
Brunetto Latini
(writer, politician, philosopher, poet, diplomat)
Brunetto Latini
2
Birthdate: 1220 AD
Birthplace: Florence
Died: 1294 AD
 33 
Marsilius of Padua
3
Birthdate: 1275 AD
Birthplace: Padua, Italy
Died: 1342 AD
 34 
Thomas Cajetan
(Leading Theologian and Spokesman for Catholic Opposition to the Teachings of Martin Luther and the 'Protestant Reformation')
Thomas Cajetan
2
Birthdate: February 20, 1469
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gaeta, Italy
Died: August 9, 1534

Thomist school theologian and philosopher Thomas Cajetan began his spiritual career with the Dominican order. Initially a professor of metaphysics, he criticized Scotism. He is best remembered for his commentary on St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica. He also penned critical works and commentaries on Aristotle and others.

 35 
Euhemerus
(Greek mythographer)
Euhemerus
2
Birthplace: Messina
Died: 0250 AD

Euhemerus was a Greek mythographer who served at the court of the Macedonian king, Cassander. Euhemerus is renowned for his efforts to rationalize mythology in historical terms and commonize mythological characters as historical personages. This historical interpretation of mythology came to be known as Euhemerism, although many people before Euhemerus have made attempts to rationalize mythology in historical terms.

 36 
Gian-Carlo Rota
(Italian-American Mathematician and Philosopher)
Gian-Carlo Rota
2
Birthdate: April 27, 1932
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Vigevano, Italy
Died: April 18, 1999

Gian-Carlo Rota went down in history as the first and the only professor of applied mathematics and philosophy at MIT. His illustrious scientific career revolved around research on subjects such as combinatorics, probability, and functional analysis. He had also led the American Mathematical Society as its vice president.

 37 
Alcmaeon of Croton
(Philosopher)
Alcmaeon of Croton
2
Birthplace: Crotone, Italy
 38 
Aristoxenus
(Philosopher)
Aristoxenus
2
Birthdate: 0360 AD
Birthplace: Taranto, Italy
Died: 0300 AD
 39 
Luciano Floridi
(Philosopher)
Luciano Floridi
2
Birthdate: November 16, 1964
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Rome
 40 
Norberto Bobbio
(Italian Philosopher of Law and One of Europe's Leading Liberal Socialist Voices)
Norberto Bobbio
2
Birthdate: October 18, 1909
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Turin, Italy
Died: January 9, 2004

Legal and political philosopher Norberto Bobbio was initially part of the liberal socialist Partito d'Azione but later left politics to focus on academics. He later taught at various institutes and eventually chaired the faculty of political science at Turin. He also won honors such as the Balzan Prize.

 41 
Massimo Cacciari
(Philosopher)
Massimo Cacciari
1
Birthdate: June 5, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Venice, Italy
 42 
Philip Mazzei
(Physician)
Philip Mazzei
1
Birthdate: December 25, 1730
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Poggio a Caiano, Italy
Died: March 19, 1816
 43 
Francesco Algarotti
4
Birthdate: December 11, 1712
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Venice, Italy
Died: May 3, 1764
 44 
Giles of Rome
(Medieval Philosopher, Scholastic Theologian and a Friar of the Order of St Augustine)
Giles of Rome
1
Birthdate: 1243 AD
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: December 22, 1316

Augustinian philosopher and theologian Giles of Rome, known to be a disciple of St. Thomas Aquinas, was a major figure of St. Augustine’s Order of the Hermit Friars. Named Doctor Fundatissimus, which is Latin for the Best-Grounded Teacher, by Pope Benedict XIV, he is also remembered for his commentaries on Aristotle’s Organon.

 45 
Giovanni Botero
1
Birthdate: 1544 AD
Birthplace: Piedmont, Italy
Died: June 23, 1617
 46 
Ferdinando Galiani
(Italian Economist Known for His Contributions to 'Value Theory', 'Interest Theory', and 'Economic Policy')
Ferdinando Galiani
1
Birthdate: December 2, 1728
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Chieti, Italy
Died: October 30, 1787

Ferdinando Galiani had initially been trained to enter church services but later deviated to economics. He is best remembered for his work on value theory. A major figure of the Enlightenment, the economist and diplomat wrote in both Italian and French. His notable works include Della moneta.

 47 
Andrea Cesalpino
(Physician)
Andrea Cesalpino
1
Birthdate: June 6, 1519
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Arezzo, Italy
Died: February 23, 1603
 48 
Pietro Verri
(Italian Economists, Historian, Philosopher and Writer)
Pietro Verri
1
Birthdate: December 12, 1728
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Milan, Italy
Died: June 28, 1797

Author of numerous literary, historical, and economic works, Pietro Verri was a leader of Milanese academy and moving force behind Società dei Pugni. Also a distinguished public administrator and political economist employed with the Milanese government, he has been credited with abolition of tax farming. Some of his important works are Riflessioni sulle leggi vincolanti and Meditazioni sull’ economia politica.

 49 
Vincenzo Gioberti
(Philosopher)
Vincenzo Gioberti
1
Birthdate: April 5, 1801
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Turin, Italy
Died: October 26, 1852
 50 
Favorinus
(Philosopher)
Favorinus
1
Birthdate: 0080 AD
Birthplace: Arles, Italy
Died: 0160 AD