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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
42 Hans Küng
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.