Famous Swiss Intellectuals & Academics

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 1 Carl Jung

Carl Jung
18
Famous As: Psychiatrist
Birthdate: July 26, 1875
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kesswil, Switzerland
Died: June 6, 1961

Widely regarded as the father of analytical psychology, Carl Jung is one of the most important contributors to symbolization and dream analysis. The concepts of socionics and a popular psychometric instrument called Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) were developed from Jung's theory. Apart from working as a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Carl Jung was also an artist, craftsman, builder, and prolific writer.

 2 Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau
6
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.

 3 Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget
7
Birthdate: August 9, 1896
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Died: September 16, 1980
Swiss psychologist and academic Jean Piaget is remembered for his work on child development and genetic epistemology, consisting of his theory of cognitive development. He also established the International Center for Genetic Epistemology and was the director of the International Bureau of Education. He was an honorary Harvard doctorate.
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 4 Paracelsus

Paracelsus
4
Famous As: Physician, Botanist, Astrologer
Birthdate: December 17, 1493
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Einsiedeln, Switzerland
Died: September 24, 1541
German-Swiss physician and alchemist Paracelsus, son of a poor chemist, grew up into a key figure of the German Renaissance. Known as the "father of toxicology," he explored the importance of chemistry in medical science. His interest in chemistry was ignited by his stint at the Bergschule in childhood. 
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 5 Alain de Botton

Alain de Botton
5
Famous As: Philosopher, Author
Birthdate: December 20, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Zürich, Switzerland

Swiss-born British philosopher and author, Alain de Botto,n is best known for his work, Essays in Love, which has sold millions of copies worldwide. He is one of the founders of the educational company, The School of Life, launched in 2008. He is a recipient of  "The Fellowship of Schopenhauer", an annual writers' award from the Melbourne Writers Festival. 

 6 Mikhail Bakunin

Mikhail Bakunin
6
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: May 30, 1814
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Russia
Died: July 1, 1876

Mikhail Bakunin was a Russian socialist and anarchist. He is credited with founding an anarchist school of thought called collectivist anarchism. Regarded as one of the most influential personalities of anarchism, Mikhail Bakunin has had a major influence on thinkers like Peter Kropotkin, Herbert Marcuse, Errico Malatesta, Neil Postman, E. P. Thompson, and A. S. Neill.    

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 7 Karl Barth

Karl Barth
4
Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: May 10, 1886
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Basel, Switzerland
Died: December 10, 1968

Swiss theologian Karl Barth is best remembered for his iconic work The Epistle to the Romans. His opposition to the German National Socialism got him suspended as a professor at the University of Bonn. Along with Eduard Thurneysen, he revolutionized Protestant ideals. He also delivered sermons to prisoners in Basel.

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 8 Jacques Piccard

Jacques Piccard
3
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: July 28, 1922
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Brussels
Died: November 1, 2008

Oceanic engineer Jacques Piccard is remembered for his revolutionary inventions such as the mesoscaphe and the bathyscaphe, which he had built for under-sea exploration. The son of renowned engineer and explorer Auguste Piccard, he was initially an economics teacher but later began collaborating with his father on various inventions.

 9 Jacob Burckhardt

Jacob Burckhardt
3
Famous As: Former Historian whose best known work is The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (1860)
Birthdate: May 25, 1818
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Basel, Switzerland
Died: August 8, 1897

Swiss cultural historian and historiographer Jacob Burckhardt is best remembered for his work on the history of Italian Renaissance, Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien. Born to a Protestant clergyman, he initially studied theology but later switched to history. He was associated with the University of Basel for most of his life.

 10 Billy Meier

Billy Meier
4
Famous As: Ufologist
Birthdate: February 3, 1937
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Bülach

Swiss national Billy Meier made headlines back in the 1970s, when he claimed he had come in contact with aliens from the Pleiades and had photographic evidence. He even launched a UFO-based religious movement. Labeled a fraud by many, he also claims to be a reincarnation of various religious prophets.

 11 Ferdinand de Saussure

Ferdinand de Saussure
4
Famous As: Linguist
Birthdate: November 26, 1857
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland
Died: February 22, 1913

Known as the father of linguistics, Ferdinand de Saussure laid down the concept of semiotics. He distinguished between parole and langue, leading later thinkers to explore structuralism. His only book was his dissertation on vowels in Indo-European languages, with the rest being collections of his lectures.

 12 Jakob Ammann

Jakob Ammann
3
Famous As: Tailor
Birthdate: February 12, 1644
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Erlenbach im Simmental
Died: April 22, 2017

Swiss Elder Jakob Ammann gave rise to what is now known as the Amish branch of Anabaptism. While he had initially joined the Anabaptist movement, Ammann, a hard-liner, later branched out because of his belief in the strict doctrines of Anabaptism, such as social avoidance.

 13 Sepp Blatter

Sepp Blatter
6
Famous As: Functionary, Economist
Birthdate: March 10, 1936
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Visp

Swiss sports administrator Sepp Blatter has been a well-known face in football. Once the FIFA president, he was often plagued by criticism for his controversial statements and was also publicly heckled multiple times. He has also headed the Swiss Ice Hockey Federation and has organized the Olympics, too.

 14 Nathaniel Philip Rothschild

Nathaniel Philip Rothschild
0
Famous As: Financier, Economist and Banker
Birthdate: July 12, 1971
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London, United Kingdom

 15 Byung-Chul Han

Byung-Chul Han
3
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: 1959 AD
Birthplace: Seoul, South Korea

Born in South Korea, Byung-Chul Han initially studied metallurgy but was fascinated by philosophy after moving to Germany. In his works, he deals with themes such as tiredness and transparency. Though one of the most translated philosophers, he keeps details about his private life away from the media.

 16 Hans Urs von Balthasar

Hans Urs von Balthasar
5
Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: August 12, 1905
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lucerne, Switzerland
Died: June 26, 1988

Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar was one of the chief figures behind the formation of the Community of St. John. He also co-launched the Catholic journal Communio and penned numerous books on themes such as classical literature. Declared a cardinal, he died shortly before his investiture.

 17 Tariq Ramadan

Tariq Ramadan
7
Famous As: Academic
Birthdate: August 26, 1962
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland

Swiss academic Tariq Ramadan made headlines when he was accused of raping several women, including a disabled lady. He was also fined for revealing the name of one of his alleged victims in a book and an interview. The former Oxford professor had previously established Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

 18 Emma Jung

Emma Jung
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: March 30, 1882
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Died: November 27, 1955

Better known as Carl Jung’s wife, Emma Jung was the daughter of one of the most affluent businessmen in Switzerland. Though she initially wished to study natural sciences, being a woman in her time, she couldn’t. Later a co-owner of a luxury watch company, she helped her husband financially in his career.

 19 Karl Jaspers

Karl Jaspers
3
Famous As: Psychiatrist
Birthdate: February 23, 1883
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Oldenburg, Germany
Died: February 26, 1969

Twentieth-century Existentialist Karl Jaspers had initially followed in his father’s footsteps to study law, but had then switched to medicine. One of the pioneers of clinical psychiatry, he applied phenomenology to study mental illnesses and also developed psychopathological research. He was highly influenced by Immanuel Kant’s ideas.

 20 Max Frisch

Max Frisch
3
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: May 15, 1911
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Zurich, Switzerland
Died: April 4, 1991

Jerusalem Prize-winning Swiss playwright and novelist Max Frisch had initially quit his studies in literature to become a journalist. He later also worked as an architect, before taking to writing full-time. He is known for his works such as Andorra and Santa Cruz and his frequent use of irony.

 21 Toni Wolff

Toni Wolff
3
Famous As: Psychologist
Birthdate: September 18, 1888
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Zürich
Died: March 21, 1953

Denied formal education for being a woman, Toni Wolff later became one of psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s closest collaborators. She entered Jung’s life as a patient of depression after her father’s death. She later headed the Psychologischer Club Zürich as its president and is often described as an intellectual rival of Jung’s wife.

 22 Benjamin Constant

Benjamin Constant
3
Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: December 25, 1767
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lausanne, Switzerland
Died: December 8, 1830

Swiss-French activist and author Benjamin Constant is best remembered for penning the classic French novel Adolphe, which was one of the earliest psychological novels. Initially the chamberlain to the duke of Brunswick, he later supported the French Revolution and became a Member of the Chamber of Deputies.

 23 Philipp Hildebrand

Philipp Hildebrand
3
Famous As: Banker
Birthdate: July 19, 1963
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bern, Switzerland

While he once headed the Swiss National Bank, Swiss banker Philipp Hildebrand had to resign later due to the controversy surrounding the currency trading practices of his former wife. He is now dating Russian-Swiss billionaire Margarita Louis-Dreyfus and heads BlackRock as its vice chairman. He is also part of G30.

 24 Marc Faber

Marc Faber
3
Famous As: Economist, Non-fiction writer
Birthdate: February 28, 1946
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Zürich

Better known as Doctor Doom, Swiss economist Marc Faber was associated with companies such as White Weld & Co., before launching his own business. Known for his books such as The Great Money Illusion and his investment newsletters, he has also been in the news for his racist comments.

 25 Frithjof Schuon

Frithjof Schuon
3
Famous As: Metaphysician
Birthdate: June 18, 1907
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Basel, Switzerland
Died: May 5, 1998

Swiss-born German philosopher and metaphysician Frithjof Schuon was a major figure of the Traditionalist School of thought. He also propagated Religio Perennis and wrote extensively about his belief in God, the absolute principle. Most of his work was penned in French and very few in his mother tongue, German.

 26 Alice Miller

Alice Miller
4
Famous As: Psychologist
Birthdate: January 12, 1923
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Piotrków Trybunalski, Poland
Died: April 14, 2010

Apart from being a renowned psychologist, Alice Miller became an international sensation with her debut book, The Drama of the Gifted Child, a bestseller. A Holocaust survivor, who had lost her father in a Jewish ghetto, she analyzed child abuse, including education, violence, and parental abuse.

 27 Johann Heinrich Lambert

Johann Heinrich Lambert
3
Famous As: Mathematician, Polymath
Birthdate: August 26, 1728
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mulhouse, France
Died: September 25, 1777

Johann Heinrich Lambert was a Swiss polymath whose contributions to the fields of physics, mathematics, map projections, astronomy, and philosophy are considered important by many scholars. He is credited with introducing hyperbolic functions into trigonometry. He is also credited with inventing a hygrometer, which is used to measure the quantity of water vapor in soil and air.

 28 Conrad Gessner

Conrad Gessner
3
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: March 26, 1516
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Zürich, Switzerland
Died: December 13, 1565

Born to a poor fur dealer, Conrad Gessner was sent to study under an uncle who dealt in medicinal herbs. He then studied theology but later grew up to become a Renaissance polymath, excelling in subjects such as natural history and medicine. His Bibliotheca universalis remains a major work in bibliography.

 29 Marie-Louise von Franz

Marie-Louise von Franz
3
Famous As: Psychologist
Birthdate: January 4, 1915
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Died: February 17, 1998

Jungian psychologist Marie-Louise von Franz met Carl Jung when she was 18 and was at once engaged in intellectual exchange. She later penned books such as Number and Time, which analyze Jung’s research on the unus mundus and archetypes, which he, in his later years, had handed over to von Franz.

 30 Theodore Beza

Theodore Beza
3
Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: June 24, 1519
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Vezelay, Burgundy, France
Died: October 13, 1605

One of the best Latin poets of his time, Theodore Beza soared to fame with his poetry collection Juvenilia. He later adopted Calvinism and succeeded John Calvin as the main spiritual leader of the Republic of Geneva. He is remembered as a major force behind the spread of Calvinism in Europe.

 31 Heinrich Wölfflin

Heinrich Wölfflin
2
Famous As: Art Historian
Birthdate: June 21, 1864
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Winterthur, Switzerland
Died: July 19, 1945

 32 Heinrich Bullinger

Heinrich Bullinger
2
Famous As: Theologian, Writer
Birthdate: July 18, 1504
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bremgarten, Switzerland
Died: September 17, 1575

Swiss reformer Heinrich Bullinger is remembered for his role in the spread of Zwinglianism, or the teachings of reformer Huldrych Zwingli. He later succeeded Zwingli in Zurich. He also played a major role in the First and Second Helvetic Confession and in bringing about the Reformed tradition.

 33 Johann Kaspar Lavater

Johann Kaspar Lavater
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: November 15, 1741
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Zürich, Switzerland
Died: January 2, 1801

Best known for his research on physiognomy, Johann Kaspar Lavater was also a theologian and an author. He had penned books such as Aussichten in die Ewigkeit and several epic and lyric poems. He died of a grenade wound during the French occupation of Switzerland.

 34 Henri Frédéric Amiel

Henri Frédéric Amiel
2
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: September 27, 1821
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland
Died: May 11, 1881

Best known for his popular Journal Intime, Henri Frédéric Amiel was orphaned at an early age and traveled with various European intellectuals to gain knowledge. Apart from teaching aesthetics and moral philosophy, he also wrote volumes of philosophy and poetry, apart from criticism of major philosophers.

 35 Arnold Henry Guyot

Arnold Henry Guyot
1
Famous As: Geologist, Geographer
Birthdate: September 28, 1807
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Boudevilliers, Switzerland
Died: February 8, 1884

 36 Philip Schaff

Philip Schaff
2
Famous As: Church historian, Translator, Theologian, University teacher, Writer, Bible translator
Birthdate: January 1, 1819
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chur
Died: October 20, 1893

Swiss-American theologian Philip Schaff is remembered for his works such as The Creeds of Christendom. He believed that the positive aspects of both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism could be blended into an ecumenical form of spirituality. He later founded and headed the American Society of Church History.

 37 Jean Charles Léonard de Sismondi

Jean Charles Léonard de Sismondi
2
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: May 9, 1773
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland
Died: June 25, 1842

 38 Johann Jakob Bachofen

Johann Jakob Bachofen
2
Famous As: Antiquarian
Birthdate: December 22, 1815
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Basel, Switzerland
Died: November 25, 1887

 39 Isaac Casaubon

Isaac Casaubon
2
Famous As: Scholar
Birthdate: February 18, 1559
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland
Died: July 1, 1614

 40 William B. Helmreich

William B. Helmreich
2
Famous As: Professor
Birthdate: 1945 AD
Birthplace: Zurich, Switzerland
Died: March 28, 2020

Fond of exploring his neighborhood as a child, William B. Helmreich walked through all five boroughs of New York as an adult to write The New York Nobody Knows. The Swiss-born American academic and author was a reputed professor of sociology. He lost his life to COVID-19 at age 74.

 41 Harald Szeemann

Harald Szeemann
2
Famous As: Artist, art historian
Birthdate: June 11, 1933
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bern, Switzerland
Died: February 18, 2005

 42 Hans Küng

Hans Küng
3
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Sursee

Catholic priest Hans Küng was extraordinarily liberal for his time and went against traditional Christian dogmas. The Vatican eventually censored him for his views, and he was barred from teaching as a Catholic theologian. He is remembered for his book such as On Being a Christian.

 43 Miel de Botton

Miel de Botton
0
Famous As: Singer, Songwriter
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Zürich, Switzerland

The daughter of asset management pioneer Gilbert de Botton, Miel de Botton is not just a qualified clinical psychologist but also a talented singer and a generous philanthropist. She also has a law degree from Oxford and has had a 6-year stint as a family and drug-addiction therapist.

 44 Thomas Erastus

Thomas Erastus
2
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: September 7, 1524
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Aargau, Switzerland
Died: December 31, 1583

While he initially studied theology, the 1544 plague drove him to study medicine, too. He is said to have been a pioneer of Erastianism, a union between the church and the state. In his writings, he also often opposed philosopher Paracelsus and his views.

 45 Georges Cottier

Georges Cottier
1
Famous As: Theologian, Archbishop
Birthdate: April 25, 1922
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Carouge, Switzerland
Died: March 31, 2016

Papal theologian and Catholic cardinal Georges Cottier had initially taught at the Universities of Geneva and Fribourg. He was also part of the Second Vatican Council and had led the International Theological Commission as its secretary. He retired at age 83 and passed away a decade later.

 46 Isabelle de Charrière

Isabelle de Charrière
1
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: October 20, 1740
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Utrecht, Netherlands
Died: December 27, 1805

Isabelle de Charrière was born to a Dutch noble family but later married her brother’s Swiss teacher and settled in Switzerland. A fine novelist, known for works such as Trois Femmes and Caliste; ou, lettres écrites de Lausanne, she critiqued social conventions and aristocratic privilege.

 47 Waldo R. Tobler

Waldo R. Tobler
0
Famous As: Geographer
Birthdate: November 16, 1930
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Portland, Oregon, United States
Died: February 20, 2018

 48 Hans-Ulrich Obrist

Hans-Ulrich Obrist
1
Famous As: curator, art critic, art historian, writer
Birthdate: 1968 AD
Birthplace: Zürich

 49 Gilberto Agustoni

Gilberto Agustoni
1
Famous As: Theologian, Catholic priest
Birthdate: July 26, 1922
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Schaffhausen
Died: January 13, 2017

Catholic cardinal Gilberto Agustoni initially studied theology in Rome but later moved to Fribourg due to World War II. He had served as part of the Roman Curia, had been the Secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy, and was named as part of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

 50 Richard Avenarius

Richard Avenarius
1
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: November 19, 1843
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: August 18, 1896

Remembered as the founder of empirio-criticism, or critical positivism, German-Swiss philosopher Richard Avenarius had a life-long association with the University of Leipzig. He penned influential volumes such as Kritik der reinen Erfahrung and advocated for pure experience. He was supposedly a distant-relative of composer Richard Wagner.