A philosopher is someone engaged in the study of philosophy. Have you ever wondered about the meaning of life? This is the type of weighty question a philosopher tackles.

In ancient Greek, the word philosopho meant a “lover of wisdom.” Thales of Miletus, who lived in the 7th century B.C., generally gets credit for being the first western philosopher, though he is much less well known than Socrates, Plato or Aristotle. René Descartes, famous for his declaration, “I think, therefore I am,” is considered the first modern philosopher, though he lived in the 17th century.

Definitions of philosopher
  1. noun
    a specialist in philosophy
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    Pierre Abelard
    French philosopher and theologian; lover of Heloise (1079-1142)
    a presocratic Athenian philosopher who maintained that everything is composed of very small particles that were arranged by some eternal intelligence (500-428 BC)
    a presocratic Greek philosopher and student of Thales who believed the universal substance to be infinity rather than something resembling ordinary objects (611-547 BC)
    a presocratic Greek philosopher and associate of Anaximander who believed that all things are made of air in different degrees of density (6th century BC)
    Hannah Arendt
    United States historian and political philosopher (born in Germany) (1906-1975)
    one of the greatest of the ancient Athenian philosophers; pupil of Plato; teacher of Alexander the Great (384-322 BC)
    Abul-Walid Mohammed ibn-Ahmad Ibn-Mohammed ibn-Roshd
    Arabian philosopher born in Spain; wrote detailed commentaries on Aristotle that were admired by the Schoolmen (1126-1198)
    Abu Ali al-Husain ibn Abdallah ibn Sina
    Arabian physician and influential Islamic philosopher; his interpretation of Aristotle influenced St. Thomas Aquinas; writings on medicine were important for almost 500 years (980-1037)
    Viscount St. Albans
    English statesman and philosopher; precursor of British empiricism; advocated inductive reasoning (1561-1626)
    Jeremy Bentham
    English philosopher and jurist; founder of utilitarianism (1748-1831)
    Henri Louis Bergson
    French philosopher who proposed elan vital as the cause of evolution and development (1859-1941)
    Bishop Berkeley
    Irish philosopher and Anglican bishop who opposed the materialism of Thomas Hobbes (1685-1753)
    Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius
    a Roman who was an early Christian philosopher and statesman who was executed for treason; Boethius had a decisive influence on medieval logic (circa 480-524)
    Giordano Bruno
    Italian philosopher who used Copernican principles to develop a pantheistic monistic philosophy; condemned for heresy by the Inquisition and burned at the stake (1548-1600)
    Martin Buber
    Israeli religious philosopher (born in Austria); as a Zionist he promoted understanding between Jews and Arabs; his writings affected Christian thinkers as well as Jews (1878-1965)
    Ernst Cassirer
    German philosopher concerned with concept formation in the human mind and with symbolic forms in human culture generally (1874-1945)
    ancient Greek philosopher who succeeded Zeno of Citium as the leader of the Stoic school (300-232 BC)
    Isidore Auguste Marie Francois Comte
    French philosopher remembered as the founder of positivism; he also established sociology as a systematic field of study
    Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas Caritat
    French mathematician and philosopher (1743-1794)
    Kong the Master
    Chinese philosopher whose ideas and sayings were collected after his death and became the basis of a philosophical doctrine known a Confucianism (circa 551-478 BC)
    Greek philosopher who developed an atomistic theory of matter (460-370 BC)
    Jacques Derrida
    French philosopher and critic (born in Algeria); exponent of deconstructionism (1930-2004)
    Rene Descartes
    French philosopher and mathematician; developed dualistic theory of mind and matter; introduced the use of coordinates to locate a point in two or three dimensions (1596-1650)
    John Dewey
    United States pragmatic philosopher who advocated progressive education (1859-1952)
    Denis Diderot
    French philosopher who was a leading figure of the Enlightenment in France; principal editor of an encyclopedia that disseminated the scientific and philosophical knowledge of the time (1713-1784)
    an ancient Greek philosopher and Cynic who rejected social conventions (circa 400-325 BC)
    Greek philosopher who taught that all matter is composed of particles of fire and water and air and earth (fifth century BC)
    Greek philosopher who was a Stoic (circa 50-130)
    Greek philosopher who believed that the world is a random combination of atoms and that pleasure is the highest good (341-270 BC)
    Ernst Heinrich Haeckel
    German biologist and philosopher; advocated Darwinism and formulated the theory of recapitulation; was an exponent of materialistic monism (1834-1919)
    David Hartley
    English philosopher who introduced the theory of the association of ideas (1705-1757)
    Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
    German philosopher whose three stage process of dialectical reasoning was adopted by Karl Marx (1770-1831)
    a presocratic Greek philosopher who said that fire is the origin of all things and that permanence is an illusion as all things are in perpetual flux (circa 500 BC)
    Johann Friedrich Herbart
    German philosopher (1776-1841)
    Johann Gottfried von Herder
    German philosopher who advocated intuition over reason (1744-1803)
    Thomas Hobbes
    English materialist and political philosopher who advocated absolute sovereignty as the only kind of government that could resolve problems caused by the selfishness of human beings (1588-1679)
    David Hume
    Scottish philosopher whose sceptical philosophy restricted human knowledge to that which can be perceived by the senses (1711-1776)
    Edmund Husserl
    German philosopher who developed phenomenology (1859-1938)
    Greek philosopher and astronomer; she invented the astrolabe (370-415)
    William James
    United States pragmatic philosopher and psychologist (1842-1910)
    Immanuel Kant
    influential German idealist philosopher (1724-1804)
    Soren Aabye Kierkegaard
    Danish philosopher who is generally considered. along with Nietzsche, to be a founder of existentialism (1813-1855)
    Chinese philosopher regarded as the founder of Taoism (6th century BC)
    Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz
    German philosopher and mathematician who thought of the universe as consisting of independent monads and who devised a system of the calculus independent of Newton (1646-1716)
    John Locke
    English empiricist philosopher who believed that all knowledge is derived from sensory experience (1632-1704)
    Titus Lucretius Carus
    Roman philosopher and poet; in a long didactic poem he tried to provide a scientific explanation of the universe (96-55 BC)
    Raymond Lully
    Spanish philosopher (1235-1315)
    Ernst Mach
    Austrian physicist and philosopher who introduced the Mach number and who founded logical positivism (1838-1916)
    Niccolo Machiavelli
    a statesman of Florence who advocated a strong central government (1469-1527)
    Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon
    Spanish philosopher considered the greatest Jewish scholar of the Middle Ages who codified Jewish law in the Talmud (1135-1204)
    Nicolas de Malebranche
    French philosopher (1638-1715)
    Herbert Marcuse
    United States political philosopher (born in Germany) concerned about the dehumanizing effects of capitalism and modern technology (1898-1979)
    Karl Marx
    founder of modern communism; wrote the Communist Manifesto with Engels in 1848; wrote Das Kapital in 1867 (1818-1883)
    George Herbert Mead
    United States philosopher of pragmatism (1863-1931)
    John Stuart Mill
    English philosopher and economist remembered for his interpretations of empiricism and utilitarianism (1806-1873)
    James Mill
    Scottish philosopher who expounded Bentham's utilitarianism; father of John Stuart Mill (1773-1836)
    Baron de la Brede et de Montesquieu
    French political philosopher who advocated the separation of executive and legislative and judicial powers (1689-1755)
    George Edward Moore
    English philosopher (1873-1958)
    Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
    influential German philosopher remembered for his concept of the superman and for his rejection of Christian values; considered, along with Kierkegaard, to be a founder of existentialism (1844-1900)
    William of Ockham
    English scholastic philosopher and assumed author of Occam's Razor (1285-1349)
    Greek philosopher and theologian who reinterpreted Christian doctrine through the philosophy of Neoplatonism; his work was later condemned as unorthodox (185-254)
    Jose Ortega y Gasset
    Spanish philosopher who advocated leadership by an intellectual elite (1883-1955)
    a presocratic Greek philosopher born in Italy; held the metaphysical view that being is the basic substance and ultimate reality of which all things are composed; said that motion and change are sensory illusions (5th century BC)
    Blaise Pascal
    French mathematician and philosopher and Jansenist; invented an adding machine; contributed (with Fermat) to the theory of probability (1623-1662)
    Charles Sanders Peirce
    United States philosopher and logician; pioneer of pragmatism (1839-1914)
    Ralph Barton Perry
    United States philosopher (1876-1957)
    ancient Athenian philosopher; pupil of Socrates; teacher of Aristotle (428-347 BC)
    Roman philosopher (born in Egypt) who was the leading representative of Neoplatonism (205-270)
    Greek philosopher and mathematician who proved the Pythagorean theorem; considered to be the first true mathematician (circa 580-500 BC)
    Willard Van Orman Quine
    United States philosopher and logician who championed an empirical view of knowledge that depended on language (1908-2001)
    Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
    Indian philosopher and statesman who introduced Indian philosophy to the West (1888-1975)
    Thomas Reid
    Scottish philosopher of common sense who opposed the ideas of David Hume (1710-1796)
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    French philosopher and writer born in Switzerland; believed that the natural goodness of man was warped by society; ideas influenced the French Revolution (1712-1778)
    Bertrand Arthur William Russell
    English philosopher and mathematician who collaborated with Whitehead (1872-1970)
    Arthur Schopenhauer
    German pessimist philosopher (1788-1860)
    Albert Schweitzer
    French philosopher and physician and organist who spent most of his life as a medical missionary in Gabon (1875-1965)
    Lucius Annaeus Seneca
    Roman statesman and philosopher who was an advisor to Nero; his nine extant tragedies are modeled on Greek tragedies (circa 4 BC - 65 AD)
    ancient Athenian philosopher; teacher of Plato and Xenophon (470-399 BC)
    Herbert Spencer
    English philosopher and sociologist who applied the theory of natural selection to human societies (1820-1903)
    Oswald Spengler
    German philosopher who argued that cultures grow and decay in cycles (1880-1936)
    Benedict de Spinoza
    Dutch philosopher who espoused a pantheistic system (1632-1677)
    Rudolf Steiner
    Austrian philosopher who founded anthroposophy (1861-1925)
    Dugald Stewart
    Scottish philosopher and follower of Thomas Reid (1753-1828)
    Sir Rabindranath Tagore
    Indian writer and philosopher whose poetry (based on traditional Hindu themes) pioneered the use of colloquial Bengali (1861-1941)
    Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
    French paleontologist and philosopher (1881-1955)
    Thales of Miletus
    a presocratic Greek philosopher and astronomer (who predicted an eclipse in 585 BC) who was said by Aristotle to be the founder of physical science; he held that all things originated in water (624-546 BC)
    Greek philosopher who was a student of Aristotle and who succeeded Aristotle as the leader of the Peripatetics (371-287 BC)
    Simone Weil
    French philosopher (1909-1943)
    Alfred North Whitehead
    English philosopher and mathematician who collaborated with Bertrand Russell (1861-1947)
    Bernard Arthur Owen Williams
    English philosopher credited with reviving the field of moral philosophy (1929-2003)
    Ludwig Josef Johan Wittgenstein
    British philosopher born in Austria; a major influence on logic and logical positivism (1889-1951)
    Greek philosopher (560-478 BC)
    Zeno of Citium
    ancient Greek philosopher who founded the Stoic school (circa 335-263 BC)
    Zeno of Elea
    ancient Greek philosopher who formulated paradoxes that defended the belief that motion and change are illusory (circa 495-430 BC)
    Simone de Beauvoir
    French feminist and existentialist and novelist (1908-1986)
    Albert Camus
    French writer who portrayed the human condition as isolated in an absurd world (1913-1960)
    Martin Heidegger
    German philosopher whose views on human existence in a world of objects and on Angst influenced the existential philosophers (1889-1976)
    Jean-Paul Sartre
    French writer and existentialist philosopher (1905-1980)
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    a philosopher who subscribes to nativism
    a member of a group of ancient Greek philosophers who advocated the doctrine that virtue is the only good and that the essence of virtue is self-control
    eclectic, eclecticist
    someone who selects according to the eclectic method
    a philosopher who subscribes to empiricism
    a specialist in epistemology
    aesthetician, esthetician
    a philosopher who specializes in the nature of beauty
    ethician, ethicist
    a philosopher who specializes in ethics
    existential philosopher, existentialist, existentialist philosopher
    a philosopher who emphasizes freedom of choice and personal responsibility but who regards human existence in a hostile universe as unexplainable
    member of a Hindu sect practicing gymnosophy (especially nudism)
    someone who believes the doctrine of free will
    a philosopher who subscribes to the doctrine of mechanism
    a philosopher who specializes in morals and moral problems
    an advocate of the doctrine that the world can be understood in scientific terms
    someone who does not believe the doctrine of free will
    a philosopher who has adopted the doctrine of nominalism
    a philosopher who believes that no single explanation can account for all the phenomena of nature
    any philosopher who lived before Socrates
    a philosopher who believes that universals are real and exist independently of anyone thinking of them
    a Scholastic philosopher or theologian
    any of a group of Greek philosophers and teachers in the 5th century BC who speculated on a wide range of subjects
    a member of the ancient Greek school of philosophy founded by Zeno
    advocate of transcendentalism
    one who practices yoga and has achieved a high level of spiritual insight
    Karl Popper, Popper, Sir Karl Raimund Popper
    British philosopher (born in Austria) who argued that scientific theories can never be proved to be true, but are tested by attempts to falsify them (1902-1994)
    Calvinist, Genevan
    an adherent of the theological doctrines of John Calvin
    egalitarian, equalitarian
    a person who believes in the equality of all people
    someone who believes in rule by an elite group
    determinist, fatalist, predestinarian, predestinationist
    anyone who submits to the belief that they are powerless to change their destiny
    an adherent of philosophical pragmatism
    someone who believes that the value of a thing depends on its utility
    type of:
    bookman, scholar, scholarly person, student
    a learned person (especially in the humanities); someone who by long study has gained mastery in one or more disciplines
  2. noun
    a wise person who is calm and rational; someone who lives a life of reason with equanimity
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