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The Most Famous


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This page contains a list of the greatest Turkish Philosophers. The pantheon dataset contains 1,081 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.

Photo of Thales of Miletus

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

With an HPI of 87.23, Thales of Miletus is the most famous Turkish Philosopher.  His biography has been translated into 106 different languages on wikipedia.

Thales of Miletus ( THAY-leez; Greek: Θαλῆς; c. 626/623 – c. 548/545 BC) was an Ancient Greek pre-Socratic philosopher from Miletus in Ionia, Asia Minor. Thales was one of the Seven Sages, founding figures of Ancient Greece, and credited with the saying "know thyself" which was inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Many regard him as the first philosopher in the Greek tradition, breaking from the prior use of mythology to explain the world and instead using natural philosophy. He is thus otherwise credited as the first to have engaged in mathematics, science, and deductive reasoning.The first philosophers followed him in explaining all of nature as based on the existence of a single ultimate substance. Thales theorized that this single substance was water. Thales thought the Earth floated in water. In mathematics, Thales is the namesake of Thales's theorem, and the intercept theorem can also be known as Thales's theorem. Thales was said to have calculated the heights of the pyramids and the distance of ships from the shore. In science, Thales was an astronomer who reportedly predicted the weather and a solar eclipse. He was also credited with discovering the position of the constellation Ursa Major as well as the timings of the solstices and equinoxes. Thales was also an engineer; credited with diverting the Halys River.

Photo of Heraclitus

2. Heraclitus (-535 - -470)

With an HPI of 82.80, Heraclitus is the 2nd most famous Turkish Philosopher.  His biography has been translated into 93 different languages.

Heraclitus (; Greek: Ἡράκλειτος Herákleitos; fl. c. 500 BC) was an ancient Greek pre-Socratic philosopher from the city of Ephesus, which was then part of the Persian Empire. Little is known of Heraclitus's life. He wrote a single work, only fragments of which have survived. Most of the ancient stories about him are thought to be later fabrications based on interpretations of the preserved fragments. His paradoxical philosophy and appreciation for wordplay and cryptic, oracular epigrams has earned him the epithets "the dark" and "the obscure" since antiquity. He was considered arrogant and depressed, a misanthrope who was subject to melancholia. Consequently, he became known as "the weeping philosopher" in contrast to the ancient philosopher Democritus, who was known as "the laughing philosopher". The central ideas of Heraclitus' philosophy are the unity of opposites and the concept of change. He also saw harmony and justice in strife. He viewed the world as constantly in flux, always "becoming" but never "being". He expressed this in sayings like "Everything flows" (Greek: πάντα ρει, panta rei) and "No man ever steps in the same river twice". This changing aspect of his philosophy is contrasted with that of the ancient philosopher Parmenides, who believed in "being" and in the static nature of reality. Like the Milesians before him – Thales with water, Anaximander with apeiron, and Anaximenes with air – Heraclitus chose fire as the arche, the fundamental element that gave rise to the other elements. He also saw the logos as giving structure to the world.

Photo of Anaximander

3. Anaximander (-610 - -546)

With an HPI of 81.49, Anaximander is the 3rd most famous Turkish Philosopher.  His biography has been translated into 87 different languages.

Anaximander ( AN-ak-sih-MAN-dər; 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. Anaximander was also involved in the politics of Miletus and was sent as a leader to one of its colonies.

Photo of Diogenes

4. Diogenes (-404 - -322)

With an HPI of 81.46, Diogenes is the 4th most famous Turkish Philosopher.  His biography has been translated into 77 different languages.

Diogenes ( dy-OJ-in-eez; Ancient Greek: Διογένης, romanized: Diogénēs [di.oɡénɛːs]), also known as Diogenes the Cynic (Διογένης ὁ Κυνικός, Diogénēs ho Kynikós) or Diogenes of Sinope, was a Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Cynicism. He was born in Sinope, an Ionian colony on the Black Sea coast of Anatolia in 412 or 404 BC and died at Corinth in 323 BC.Diogenes was a controversial figure. He was banished, or fled from, Sinope over debasement of currency. He was the son of the mintmaster of Sinope, and there is some debate as to whether or not he alone had debased the Sinopian currency, whether his father had done this, or whether they had both done it. After his hasty departure from Sinope he moved to Athens where he proceeded to criticize many conventions of Athens of that day. There are many tales about him following Antisthenes and becoming his "faithful hound". 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 authenticated 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. 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 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. He modeled himself on the example of Heracles, believing that virtue was better revealed in action than in theory. 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.

Photo of Anaxagoras

5. Anaxagoras (-500 - -428)

With an HPI of 78.41, Anaxagoras is the 5th most famous Turkish Philosopher.  His biography has been translated into 78 different languages.

Anaxagoras (; Greek: Ἀναξαγόρας, Anaxagóras, "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. In later life he was charged with impiety and went into exile in Lampsacus. Responding to the claims of Parmenides on the impossibility of change, Anaxagoras introduced the concept of Nous (Cosmic Mind) as an ordering force. He also gave several novel scientific accounts of natural phenomena, including the notion of panspermia, that life exists throughout the universe and could be distributed everywhere. 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.

Photo of Epictetus

6. Epictetus (50 - 135)

With an HPI of 76.38, Epictetus is the 6th most famous Turkish Philosopher.  His biography has been translated into 66 different languages.

Epictetus (, EH-pick-TEE-təss; Greek: Ἐπίκτητος, Epíktētos; c. 50 – c. 135 AD) was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He was born into slavery at Hierapolis, Phrygia (present-day Pamukkale, in western Turkey) and lived in Rome until his banishment, when he went to Nicopolis in northwestern Greece, where he spent 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 simply a theoretical discipline. To Epictetus, all external events are beyond our control; he argues that 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.

Photo of Xenophanes

7. Xenophanes (-570 - -475)

With an HPI of 76.12, Xenophanes is the 7th most famous Turkish Philosopher.  His biography has been translated into 69 different languages.

Xenophanes of Colophon ( zə-NOF-ə-neez; Ancient Greek: Ξενοφάνης ὁ Κολοφώνιος [ksenopʰánɛːs ho kolopʰɔ̌ːnios]; c. 570 – c. 478 BC) was a Greek philosopher, theologian, poet, and critic of Homer from Ionia who travelled throughout the Greek-speaking world in early Classical Antiquity. As a poet, Xenophanes was known for his critical style, writing poems that are considered among the first satires. He also composed elegiac couplets that criticised his society's traditional values of wealth, excesses, and athletic victories. He also criticised Homer and the other poets in his works for representing the gods as foolish or morally weak. His poems have not survived intact; only fragments of some of his work survives in quotations by later philosophers and literary critics. Xenophanes is seen as one of the most important pre-Socratic philosophers. A highly original thinker, Xenophanes sought explanations for physical phenomena such as clouds or rainbows without references to divine or mythological explanations, but instead based on first principles. He also distinguished between different forms of knowledge and belief, an early instance of epistemology. Later philosophers such as the Eleatics and the Pyrrhonists also saw Xenophanes as the founder of their doctrines, and interpreted his work in terms of those doctrines, although modern scholarship disputes these claims.

Photo of Gregory of Nazianzus

8. Gregory of Nazianzus (329 - 389)

With an HPI of 75.27, Gregory of Nazianzus is the 8th most famous Turkish Philosopher.  His biography has been translated into 65 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 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 of Nazianzus 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 was considered the patron saint of Kotromanić dynasty and medieval Bosnia during the first half of the 15th century, while Saint George, the miracle-worker, has been the patron saint since at least mid-13th century, although confirmed by the papacy much later in 1461. St. Gregory the Great was also considered the patron of both the state and dynasty in the late 15th century.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.

Photo of Anaximenes of Miletus

9. Anaximenes of Miletus (-585 - -525)

With an HPI of 74.33, Anaximenes of Miletus is the 9th most famous Turkish Philosopher.  His biography has been translated into 74 different languages.

Anaximenes of Miletus (; Greek: Ἀναξιμένης ὁ Μιλήσιος; c. 586/585 – c. 526/525 BC) was an Ancient Greek, Pre-Socratic philosopher from Miletus in Anatolia (modern-day Turkey). He was the last of the three philosophers of the Milesian School, after Thales and Anaximander. These three are regarded by historians as the first philosophers of the Western world. Anaximenes is known for his belief that air is the arche, or the basic element of the universe from which all things are created. Little is known of Anaximenes' life and work, as all of his original texts are lost. Historians and philosophers have reconstructed information about Anaximenes by interpreting texts about him by later writers. All three Milesian philosophers were monists who believed in a single foundational source of everything: Anaximenes believed it to be air, while Thales and Anaximander believed it to be water and an undefined infinity, respectively. It is generally accepted that Anaximenes was instructed by Anaximander, and many of their philosophical ideas are similar. While Anaximenes was the preeminent Milesian philosopher in Ancient Greece, he is often given lower importance than the others in the modern day. Anaximenes held that air could change into other forms through either rarefaction or condensation. Condensation would make the air denser, turning it into wind, clouds, water, earth, and finally stone. Rarefaction would make the air less dense as it eventually becomes fire. Anaximenes also developed a model of the Earth, describing it as a flat disc floating atop the air while the Sun and stars are also flat and float alongside it. He described the Sun as revolving around the Earth, causing it to be obscured by higher lands during the night. As one of the Milesian philosophers, Anaximenes was one of the earliest figures to develop science. He influenced many of the Pre-Socratic philosophers that succeeded him, such as Heraclitus, Anaxagoras, Diogenes of Apollonia, and Xenophanes. He also provided early examples of concepts such as natural science, physical change, and scientific writing.

Photo of Ibn Taymiyyah

10. Ibn Taymiyyah (1263 - 1328)

With an HPI of 73.77, Ibn Taymiyyah is the 10th most famous Turkish Philosopher.  His biography has been translated into 60 different languages.

Ibn Taymiyya (January 22, 1263 – September 26, 1328; Arabic: ابن تيمية), birth name Taqī ad-Dīn ʾAḥmad ibn ʿAbd al-Ḥalīm ibn ʿAbd al-Salām al-Numayrī al-Ḥarrānī (Arabic: تقي الدين أحمد بن عبد الحليم بن عبد السلام النميري الحراني) was a Sunni Muslim ʿālim, muhaddith, judge, proto-Salafist theologian, ascetic, and iconoclastic theologian. 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 legal jurist of the Hanbali school, Ibn Taymiyya's condemnation of numerous folk practices associated with saint veneration and visitation of tombs made him a contentious figure with rulers and scholars of the time, and he was imprisoned several times as a result.A polarizing figure in his own times and in the centuries that followed, Ibn Taymiyya has emerged as one of the most influential medieval scholars in late modern Sunni Islam. He was also noteworthy for engaging in fierce religious polemics that attacked various schools of Kalām (speculative theology); primarily Ash'arism and Maturidism, while defending the doctrines of Athari school. This prompted rival clerics and state authorities to accuse Ibn Taymiyya and his disciples of tashbīh (anthropomorphism); which eventually led to the censoring of his works and subsequent incarceration.Nevertheless, Ibn Taymiyya's numerous treatises that advocates for "creedal Salafism" (al-salafiyya al-iʿtiqādīyya), based on his scholarly interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, constitute the most popular classical reference for later Salafi movements. Ibn Taymiyya asserted through his treatises that there is no contradiction between reason and revelation, and denounced the usage of philosophy as a pre-requisite in seeking religious truth. As a cleric who viewed Shi'ism as a source of corruption in Muslim societies; Ibn Taymiyya was also known for virulent anti-Shia polemics through treatises like Minhaj al-Sunna, wherein he denounced Imami Shi'ite creed as heretical. Ibn Taymiyya declared a fatwa to wage Jihad against the Shi'ites of Kisrawan and personally fought in the Kisrawan campaigns, accusing Shi'ites of acting as the fifth-columinists of Frank Crusaders and Mongol Ilkhanates.Within recent history, Ibn Taymiyya has been widely regarded as a major scholarly influence in revolutionary Islamist movements, such as Salafi-Jihadism. Major aspects of his teachings such as upholding the pristine monotheism of the early Muslim generations and campaigns to uproot what he regarded as shirk (idolatry); had a profound influence on Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the founder of the Wahhabist reform movement formed in Arabian Peninsula, and on other later Sunni scholars. Lebanese Salafi theologian Muhammad Rashid Rida (d. 1935 C.E/ 1354 A.H), one of the major modern proponents of his works, designated Ibn Taymiyya as the Mujaddid (renewer) of the Islamic 7th century of Hijri year. Ibn Taymiyya's doctrinal positions, such as his Takfir (declaration of unbelief) of the Mongol Ilkhanates, allowing jihad against other self-professed Muslims, were referenced by Islamic social movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood to justify social uprisings against contemporary governments across the Muslim world.

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 Thales of Miletus, Heraclitus, and Anaximander.

Living Philosophers

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Deceased Philosophers

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