The Most Famous

PHILOSOPHERS from Turkey

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This page contains a list of the greatest Turkish Philosophers. The pantheon dataset contains 1,089 Philosophers, 53 of which were born in Turkey. This makes Turkey the birth place of the 7th most number of Philosophers behind Italy and Greece.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Turkish Philosophers of all time. This list of famous Turkish Philosophers is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Turkish Philosophers.

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1. Heraclitus (-535 - -470)

With an HPI of 87.83, Heraclitus is the most famous Turkish Philosopher.  His biography has been translated into 89 different languages on wikipedia.

Heraclitus of Ephesus (; Greek: Ἡράκλειτος ὁ Ἐφέσιος, translit. Hērákleitos ho Ephésios, pronounced [hɛː.rá.kleː.tos ho e.pʰé.si.os]; c. 535 – c. 475 BC, fl. 500 BC) was an Ancient Greek, pre-Socratic, Ionian philosopher and a native of the city of Ephesus, which was then part of the Persian Empire. His appreciation for wordplay and oracular expressions, as well as paradoxical elements in his philosophy, earned him the epithet "The Obscure" from antiquity. He wrote a single work, On Nature, only fragments of which have survived, increasing the obscurity associated with his life and philosophy. Heraclitus's cryptic utterances have been the subject of numerous interpretations. He has been seen as a "material monist or a process philosopher; a scientific cosmologist, a metaphysician and a religious thinker; an empiricist, a rationalist, a mystic; a conventional thinker and a revolutionary; a developer of logic—one who denied the law of non-contradiction; the first genuine philosopher and an anti-intellectual obscurantist."Heraclitus was of distinguished parentage but he eschewed his privileged life for a lonely one as a philosopher. Little else is known about his early life and education; he regarded himself as self-taught and a pioneer of wisdom. He was considered a misanthrope who was subject to depression and became known as "the weeping philosopher" in contrast to Democritus, who was known as "the laughing philosopher". Heraclitus believed the world is in accordance with Logos (literally, "word", "reason", or "account") and is ultimately made of fire. He also believed in a unity of opposites and harmony in the world. He was most famous for his insistence on ever-present change—known in philosophy as "flux" or "becoming"—as the characteristic feature of the world; an idea he expressed in the famous saying, "No man ever steps in the same river twice", or with panta rhei ("everything flows"). This aspect of his philosophy is contrasted with that of Parmenides, who believed in "being" and in the static nature of the universe. Both Heraclitus and Parmenides had an influence on Plato, who went on to influence all of Western philosophy.

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2. Thales of Miletus (-623 - -546)

With an HPI of 87.50, Thales of Miletus is the 2nd most famous Turkish Philosopher.  His biography has been translated into 102 different languages.

Thales of Miletus ( THAY-leez; Greek: Θαλῆς (ὁ Μιλήσιος), Thalēs; c. 624/623 – c. 548/545 BC) was a Greek mathematician, astronomer and pre-Socratic philosopher from Miletus in Ionia, Asia Minor. He was one of the Seven Sages of Greece. Many, most notably Aristotle, regarded him as the first philosopher in the Greek tradition, and he is otherwise historically recognized as the first individual in Western civilization known to have entertained and engaged in scientific philosophy.Thales is recognized for breaking from the use of mythology to explain the world and the universe, and instead explaining natural objects and phenomena by naturalistic theories and hypotheses, in a precursor to modern science. Almost all the other pre-Socratic philosophers followed him in explaining nature as deriving from a unity of everything based on the existence of a single ultimate substance, instead of using mythological explanations. Aristotle regarded him as the founder of the Ionian School and reported Thales' hypothesis that the originating principle of nature and the nature of matter was a single material substance: water.In mathematics, Thales used geometry to calculate the heights of pyramids and the distance of ships from the shore. He is the first known individual to use deductive reasoning applied to geometry, by deriving four corollaries to Thales' theorem. He is the first known individual to whom a mathematical discovery has been attributed.

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3. Diogenes (-404 - -322)

With an HPI of 86.10, Diogenes is the 3rd most famous Turkish Philosopher.  His biography has been translated into 78 different languages.

Diogenes ( dy-OJ-in-eez; Ancient Greek: Διογένης, romanized: Diogénēs [di.oɡénɛ͜ɛs]), also known as Diogenes the Cynic (Διογένης ὁ Κυνικός, Diogénēs ho Kynikós), was a Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Cynic philosophy. He was born in Sinope, an Ionian colony on the Black Sea coast of modern-day Turkey, in 412 or 404 BC and died at Corinth in 323 BC.Diogenes was a controversial figure. His father minted coins for a living, and Diogenes was banished from Sinope when he took to debasement of currency. After being exiled, he moved to Athens and criticized many cultural conventions of the city. He modelled himself on the example of Heracles, and believed that virtue was better revealed in action than in theory. He used his simple lifestyle and behavior to criticize the social values and institutions of what he saw as a corrupt, confused society. He had a reputation for sleeping and eating wherever he chose in a highly non-traditional fashion, and took to toughening himself against nature. He declared himself a cosmopolitan and a citizen of the world rather than claiming allegiance to just one place. There are many tales about his dogging Antisthenes' footsteps and becoming his "faithful hound". Diogenes made a virtue of poverty. He begged for a living and often slept in a large ceramic jar, or pithos, in the marketplace. He became notorious for his philosophical stunts, such as carrying a lamp during the day, claiming to be looking for a man (often rendered in English as "looking for an honest man"). He criticized Plato, disputed his interpretation of Socrates, and sabotaged his lectures, sometimes distracting listeners by bringing food and eating during the discussions. Diogenes was also noted for having mocked Alexander the Great, both in public and to his face when he visited Corinth in 336 BC.Diogenes was captured by pirates and sold into slavery, eventually settling in Corinth. There he passed his philosophy of Cynicism to Crates, who taught it to Zeno of Citium, who fashioned it into the school of Stoicism, one of the most enduring schools of Greek philosophy. No writings of Diogenes survive but there are some details of his life from anecdotes (chreia), especially from Diogenes Laërtius' book Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers and some other sources.

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4. Anaximander (-610 - -546)

With an HPI of 82.87, Anaximander is the 4th most famous Turkish Philosopher.  His biography has been translated into 85 different languages.

Anaximander (; Greek: Ἀναξίμανδρος Anaximandros; c. 610 – c. 546 BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher who lived in Miletus, a city of Ionia (in modern-day Turkey). He belonged to the Milesian school and learned the teachings of his master Thales. He succeeded Thales and became the second master of that school where he counted Anaximenes and, arguably, Pythagoras amongst his pupils.Little of his life and work is known today. According to available historical documents, he is the first philosopher known to have written down his studies, although only one fragment of his work remains. Fragmentary testimonies found in documents after his death provide a portrait of the man. Anaximander was an early proponent of science and tried to observe and explain different aspects of the universe, with a particular interest in its origins, claiming that nature is ruled by laws, just like human societies, and anything that disturbs the balance of nature does not last long. Like many thinkers of his time, Anaximander's philosophy included contributions to many disciplines. In astronomy, he attempted to describe the mechanics of celestial bodies in relation to the Earth. In physics, his postulation that the indefinite (or apeiron) was the source of all things led Greek philosophy to a new level of conceptual abstraction. His knowledge of geometry allowed him to introduce the gnomon in Greece. He created a map of the world that contributed greatly to the advancement of geography. He was also involved in the politics of Miletus and was sent as a leader to one of its colonies.

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5. Anaxagoras (-500 - -428)

With an HPI of 81.75, Anaxagoras is the 5th most famous Turkish Philosopher.  His biography has been translated into 75 different languages.

Anaxagoras (; Greek: Ἀναξαγόρας, Anaxagoras, "lord of the assembly"; c. 500 – c. 428 BC) was a Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. Born in Clazomenae at a time when Asia Minor was under the control of the Persian Empire, Anaxagoras came to Athens. According to Diogenes Laërtius and Plutarch, in later life he was charged with impiety and went into exile in Lampsacus; the charges may have been political, owing to his association with Pericles, if they were not fabricated by later ancient biographers.Responding to the claims of Parmenides on the impossibility of change, Anaxagoras described the world as a mixture of primary imperishable ingredients, where material variation was never caused by an absolute presence of a particular ingredient, but rather by its relative preponderance over the other ingredients; in his words, "each one is... most manifestly those things of which there are the most in it". He introduced the concept of Nous (Cosmic Mind) as an ordering force, which moved and separated out the original mixture, which was homogeneous, or nearly so. He also gave a number of novel scientific accounts of natural phenomena. He deduced a correct explanation for eclipses and described the Sun as a fiery mass larger than the Peloponnese, as well as attempting to explain rainbows and meteors.

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6. Epictetus (50 - 135)

With an HPI of 81.57, Epictetus is the 6th most famous Turkish Philosopher.  His biography has been translated into 63 different languages.

Epictetus (; Greek: Ἐπίκτητος, Epíktētos; c. 50 – c. 135 AD) was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He was born a slave at Hierapolis, Phrygia (present day Pamukkale, Turkey) and lived in Rome until his banishment, when he went to Nicopolis in northwestern Greece for the rest of his life. His teachings were written down and published by his pupil Arrian in his Discourses and Enchiridion. Epictetus taught that philosophy is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. To Epictetus, all external events are beyond our control; we should accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately. However, individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline.

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7. Xenophanes (-570 - -475)

With an HPI of 81.49, Xenophanes is the 7th most famous Turkish Philosopher.  His biography has been translated into 68 different languages.

Xenophanes of Colophon (; Ancient Greek: Ξενοφάνης ὁ Κολοφώνιος [ksenopʰánɛːs ho kolopʰɔ̌ːnios]; c. 570 – c. 478 BC) was a Greek philosopher, theologian, poet, and critic of religious polytheism. Xenophanes is seen as one of the most important Pre-Socratic philosophers. Eusebius quoting Aristocles of Messene says that Xenophanes was the founder of a line of philosophy that culminated in Pyrrhonism. This line begins with Xenophanes and goes through Parmenides, Melissus of Samos, Zeno of Elea, Leucippus, Democritus, Protagoras, Nessas of Chios, Metrodorus of Chios, Diogenes of Smyrna, Anaxarchus, and finally Pyrrho. It had also been common since antiquity to see Xenophanes as the teacher of Zeno of Elea, the colleague of Parmenides, and generally associated with the Eleatic school, but common opinion today is likewise that this is false.Xenophanes lived a life of travel, having left Ionia at the age of 25 and continuing to travel throughout the Greek world for another 67 years. Some scholars say he lived in exile in Sicily. Knowledge of his views comes from fragments of his poetry, surviving as quotations by later Greek writers. To judge from these, his elegiac and iambic poetry criticized and satirized a wide range of ideas, including Homer and Hesiod, the belief in the pantheon of anthropomorphic gods and the Greeks' veneration of athleticism. He is the earliest Greek poet who claims explicitly to be writing for future generations, creating "fame that will reach all of Greece, and never die while the Greek kind of songs survives."

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8. Gregory of Nazianzus (329 - 389)

With an HPI of 80.08, Gregory of Nazianzus is the 8th most famous Turkish Philosopher.  His biography has been translated into 64 different languages.

Gregory of Nazianzus (Greek: Γρηγόριος ὁ Ναζιανζηνός, Grēgorios ho Nazianzēnos; c. 329 – 25 January 390), also known as Gregory the Theologian or Gregory Nazianzen, was a 4th-century Archbishop of Constantinople, and theologian. He is widely considered the most accomplished rhetorical stylist of the patristic age. As a classically trained orator and philosopher he infused Hellenism into the early church, establishing the paradigm of Byzantine theologians and church officials. Gregory of Nazianzus was the patron saint of medieval Bosnia before the Catholic conquest when he was replaced by Gregory the Great.Gregory made a significant impact on the shape of Trinitarian theology among both Greek- and Latin-speaking theologians, and he is remembered as the "Trinitarian Theologian". Much of his theological work continues to influence modern theologians, especially in regard to the relationship among the three Persons of the Trinity. Along with the brothers Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, he is known as one of the Cappadocian Fathers. Gregory is a saint in both Eastern and Western Christianity. In the Catholic Church he is numbered among the Doctors of the Church; in the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches he is revered as one of the Three Holy Hierarchs, along with Basil the Great and John Chrysostom. He is considered one of the Great Fathers in both Eastern and Western Christianity. He is also one of only three men in the life of the Orthodox Church who have been officially designated "Theologian" by epithet, the other two being John the Theologian (the Evangelist), and Symeon the New Theologian.

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9. Ibn Taymiyyah (1263 - 1328)

With an HPI of 79.65, Ibn Taymiyyah is the 9th most famous Turkish Philosopher.  His biography has been translated into 57 different languages.

Taqī ad-Dīn Aḥmad ibn Abd al-Halim ibn Abd al-Salam al-Numayri al-Ḥarrānī (Arabic: تقي الدين أحمد بن عبد الحليم بن عبد السلام النميري الحراني‎, January 22, 1263 - September 26, 1328), known simply Ibn Taymiyyah (ابن تيمية), was a controversial Islamic jurist scholar, muhaddith, theologian, judge, philosopher, economist, and polymath. He is known for his diplomatic involvement with the Ilkhanid ruler Ghazan Khan and for his involvement at the Battle of Marj al-Saffar which ended the Mongol invasions of the Levant. A member of the Hanbali school, Ibn Taymiyyah's iconoclastic views on widely accepted Sunni doctrines of his time such as the veneration of saints and the visitation to their tomb-shrines made him unpopular with many scholars and rulers of the time, under whose orders he was imprisoned several times.A polarising figure in his own times and in the centuries that followed, Ibn Taymiyyah has become one of the most influential medieval writers in contemporary Islam, where his particular interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah and his rejection of some aspects of classical Islamic tradition are believed to have had considerable influence on contemporary ultra-conservative ideologies such as Salafism, and Jihadism. Particular aspects of his teachings had a profound influence on Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the founder of the Hanbali reform movement practiced in Saudi Arabia, and on other later Wahabi scholars. Rashid Rida considered him as the renewer of the Islamic 7th century. Moreover, Ibn Taymiyyah's controversial fatwa allowing jihad against other Muslims is referenced by al-Qaeda and other jihadi groups. Their reading of Ibn Taymiyyah's thought has been challenged by recent scholarship.

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10. Chrysippus (-281 - -208)

With an HPI of 77.57, Chrysippus is the 10th most famous Turkish Philosopher.  His biography has been translated into 44 different languages.

Chrysippus of Soli (; Greek: Χρύσιππος ὁ Σολεύς, Chrysippos ho Soleus; c. 279 – c. 206 BC) was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He was a native of Soli, Cilicia, but moved to Athens as a young man, where he became a pupil of Cleanthes in the Stoic school. When Cleanthes died, around 230 BC, Chrysippus became the third head of the school. A prolific writer, Chrysippus expanded the fundamental doctrines of Zeno of Citium, the founder of the school, which earned him the title of Second Founder of Stoicism.Chrysippus excelled in logic, the theory of knowledge, ethics, and physics. He created an original system of propositional logic in order to better understand the workings of the universe and role of humanity within it. He adhered to a deterministic view of fate, but nevertheless sought a role for personal freedom in thought and action. Ethics, he thought, depended on understanding the nature of the universe, and he taught a therapy of extirpating the unruly passions which depress and crush the soul. He initiated the success of Stoicism as one of the most influential philosophical movements for centuries in the Greek and Roman world. Of his written works, none have survived except as fragments. Recently, segments of some of his works were discovered among the Herculaneum papyri.

Pantheon has 53 people classified as philosophers born between 623 BC and 1950. Of these 53, 1 (1.89%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living philosophers include Seyla Benhabib. The most famous deceased philosophers include Heraclitus, Thales of Miletus, and Diogenes. As of October 2020, 3 new philosophers have been added to Pantheon including Nausiphanes, Sosipatra, and Seyla Benhabib.

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Deceased Philosophers

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Newly Added Philosophers (2020)

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