One of George Santayana’s initial works, The Sense of Beauty, spoke about aesthetics, an oft-repeated topic in his later works. The Spanish-born American philosopher and Harvard professor is remembered for his quote “Only the dead have seen the end of war,” which has often been misattributed to Plato.
Miguel de Unamuno was a Spanish essayist, poet, playwright, novelist, and philosopher. His most famous novel was Abel Sánchez: The History of a Passion, a modern retelling of the Biblical Cain and Abel story. He was a significant figure in the Spanish literary and intellectual circles and served as rector of the University of Salamanca.
Philosopher and humanist José Ortega y Gasset was a major figure of the 20th-century Spanish literary renaissance. Apart from introducing concepts such as ratiovitalism, he also believed in the philosophy "I am I and my circumstance." Invertebrate Spain and The Revolt of the Masses remain his best works.
Ramon Llull was a mathematician, polymath, writer, philosopher, logician, and mystic from the Kingdom of Majorca. He served as a tutor to King James II of Aragon and was later made seneschal to the future King James II of Majorca. He was a prolific writer, with more than 250 works in Catalan, Latin, and Arabic to his name.
Teresa of Ávila, also known as Saint Teresa of Jesus, was a Spanish noblewoman who later turned into a Carmelite nun. She was posthumously named a Doctor of the Church. She co-established the Discalced Carmelite Order. Her written works include The Interior Castle and her own autobiography.
7 Ibn Hazm
One of the main figures of the Ẓāhirī school of jurisprudence, Ibn Hazm had penned masterpieces such as The Ring of the Dove. The Spanish Muslim polymath was from an influential family and grew up to write on varied topics, such as history, religion, medicine, and ethics.
A prominent figure of the Hebrew school of poetry and a Neoplatonic philosopher, Solomon ibn Gabirol lived during the Jewish Golden Age of Spain. His works include elegies, religious and secular poems, proverbs, and philosophical treatises. Legends claim that he was either murdered by another poet or by a horseman.
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.
Francisco de Vitoria was a Spanish Roman Catholic theologian, philosopher, and jurist of Renaissance Spain. He founded the School of Salamanca, a tradition in philosophy. He made tremendous contributions to the theory of just war and international law. His works have been interpreted by various scholars to support contrary policies. He taught at the universities of Valladolid and of Salamanca.
12 Ibn Tufail
Ibn Tufail was a 12th-century Arab polymath from Andalusia and a significant figure of the Islamic Golden Age. Best known for his philosophical romance Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān, he had also penned medical works in Arab and had been the court physician of Abū Yaʿqūb Yūsuf.
13 Judah Halevi
Spanish Jewish poet, physician, and philosopher Judah Halevi is remembered for his significant contributions to the development of Hebrew poetry. Best known for Sefer ha-Kuzari and his poems in Dīwān, he was greatly influenced by Arabian literature. His travels eventually took him to Egypt, where he died.
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.
Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda was a Spanish Renaissance humanist, philosopher, and theologian. Born into a family of Old Christians with humble origins, he went on to pursue studies in theology and canon law at the Universidad de Alcalá. He also obtained a doctorate in arts and theology from the Collegio de San Clemente in Bologna.
Born a woman, Paul B. Preciado initially identified himself as a lesbian and later announced his slow transition to being a man. A celebrated author and philosopher, he has penned books such as Testo Junkie, written columns on gender and sexuality, and taught subjects such as gender theory.
Francisco J. Ayala is a Spanish-born American evolutionary geneticist and molecular biologist, best known for his investigation on the process of genetic variation and natural selection at molecular level. He also undertook research on public health, providing new ideas on the prevention and treatment of diseases and expounded how Darwin’s theory of evolution is well-matched to religious theory of creation.
Juan Luis Vives was a Spanish (Valencian) scholar and Renaissance humanist. He had a very difficult childhood and witnessed several members of his family being executed as Judaizers. He studied at the University of Paris and became a professor of humanities at the University of Leuven. He placed emphasis on memory and is acknowledged for integrating psychology and medicine.
Born to a Spanish Catholic mother and an Indian Hindu father in Barcelona, Raimon Panikkar grew up to be a Catholic priest and a philosophy professor. An expert in comparative religion, he compared the tenets of Catholicism and Hinduism in his doctoral thesis. He also penned several spiritual texts.
Spanish Arab philosopher and scholar Avempace excelled in a variety of subjects, such as astronomy, music, medicine, and poetry. His treatise on botany Kitāb an-Nabāt described how plant sexes differ. His other works include Tadbīr al-mutawaḥḥid. He was believed to be an atheist by many.
An important figure of the Spanish Enlightenment, statesman author Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos began his career as a criminal judge before returning to his native province, where he completed his best known work, arguing for agricultural reforms. As Minister of Justice he argued against Inquisition and as an important member of the Supreme Central Junta, actively opposed the French invasion.
Best known for his treatises Sefer ha-kabbala and Sefer ha-emuna ha-rama, Abraham ben David Halevi ibn Daud was a 12th-century Spanish-Jewish philosopher, historian, and physician. Also known as Rabad I, or Ravad I, he was the first real Aristotelian Jew. Some historians believe he died a martyr.
Spanish-Salvadoran Jesuit priest and human rights activist Ignacio Ellacuría contributed massively to the development of Latin America’s liberation theology. While teaching at the Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas, he also faced severe army backlash for his political activism. He was eventually assassinated by an elite army unit.
Spanish-Jewish philosopher Hasdai Crescas was a teacher of Jewish law. Born into a family of Talmud scholars, he once also served as the crown rabbi in Aragon. He criticized the Aristotelian rationalist tradition of Judaism and is remembered for his iconic work Or Adonai, or The Light of the Lord.
Bahya ibn Paquda is best known as the author of Al Hidayah ila Faraid al-Qulub, or Duties of the Heart, an Arabic treatise of Jewish philosophy, also considered the first written work on Jewish ethics. Islamic mystics inspired him to look for the existence and nature of God.
A twelfth century philosopher and translator of Arabic to Medieval Latin, Dominicus Gundissalinus lived in various Spanish towns before moving to Toledo, where he collaborated with Abraham Ibn Daud and Johannes Hispanus to translate around twenty Arabic works into Latin, including Avicenna's Liber de philosophia prima De anima and Ibn Gabirol's Fons vitae. Later, he also wrote several philosophical treaties.
Xavier Zubiri was a prominent member of the Madrid school of Spanish philosophers. While he initially studied theology and philosophy, Zubiri was also well-versed in physics and biology. His works such as Intelligence and Logos and Nature, History, God studied reality as a mixture of science, religion, and philosophy.
33 Joseph Albo
Born in Aragon, Spain, Jewish philosopher and theologian Joseph Albo is remembered for his iconic work Sefer ha-ʿiqqarim, or Book of Principles, which laid down the fundamental principles of Judaism. He had also been part of the famous Disputation of Tortosa between Christians and Jews.
Moses ibn Ezra, or Abū Hārūn Mūsā, was one of the best Spanish Jewish poets and a pioneer of secular verse. He had fallen in love with his niece, but she had been married off to someone else, inspiring him to write poetry which spoke of love and old age.
Spanish philosopher Jaime Luciano Balmes is best known for iconic work Protestantism and Catholicism Compared in Their Effect on the Civilization of Europe, penned in defense of Catholicism. An expert in civil and canon law, he initially taught math and physics, and was criticized by Catholics for being too liberal.
Five-time Nobel Prize in Literature-nominated Spanish historian and literary critic Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo was also a professor of Spanish literature. He also owned a library of around 45,000 books. Interestingly, a law was passed just to let him become a professor at the tender age of 22.
Known for his works on math, philosophy, and astronomy, Catalan Jewish philosopher and scientist Abraham bar Hiyya was one of the first to enrich Hebrew scientific literature. Apart from translating books from Arabic to Latin, he had also penned works such as Liber Embadorum, a treatise on geometry and algebra.
39 José Cadalso
José Cadalso was a colonel of the Royal Spanish Army in the 18th century. He was also a well-known author, playwright, poet, and essayist. As an army man, he traveled through Italy, Germany, England, France, and Portugal and studied the literature of these countries. He is credited to have made massive contributions to Spanish Enlightenment literature.
Spanish philosopher and author Eugenio d'Ors y Rovira initially studied law but later worked as a journalist and gained fame with the column Glossari. Over the years, he gained excellence as an essayist and a caricaturist, too. He penned works such as The Secret of Philosophy.
41 Eugeni d'Ors
Simeon ben Zemah Duran was the first Spanish Jewish rabbi to earn a regular salary from the community, going against the trend of the rabbi’s post being honorary. He excelled in subjects such as philosophy, math, and medicine, and is best remembered for his commentary Magen Avot.