April 4, 2009

Major Philosophers and Theologians

Filed under: Uncategorized — kevinocoin @ 8:23 am

Now that I am finished my formal schooling, I hope to have more time to pursue at a more leisurely a reflective pace, things intellectual. I have read a great deal in the course of my undergraduate and graduate degrees, but I feel I lack exposure to the building blocks of Western thinking. I mean, I am somewhat aware of the gist of Augustine’s thinking, but what did he really write? I know the basic categories of Nietzsche’s philosophy, but what was he really all about? Therefore, I have decided to dedicate myself to reading the major works of the great philosophers and theologians of the Western world. This could very well take me the rest of my life, but an important exercise like this cannot be rushed. I have selected a list of forty of each, simply because any fewer than 40 would leave out important figures, but more than 40 becomes unwieldy.

As an aside, I mention that there is only one woman in this entire list. It was not my intention to exclude women, but the reality is that those who are considered “great” and have attained acceptance in the Western intellectual canon have not historically been female (though they do appear much more often as novelists and poets), for which I do believe our thinking and understanding is the poorer.

I should also say that many of these people were equally philosophers and theologians, but I tried to fit each into the list that seemed most fitting.

I will be interested to hear from my readers re: additions or alterations to the list, which could happily mean a crusty old white guy being bumped from the list by a woman. The list is as follows (in no particular chronological or thematic order):


Peter Abelard

St. Anselm

Karl Barth

St. Augustine of Hippo

Thomas Aquinas

John Calvin

Martin Luther

Paul Tillich

Jurgen Moltmann

Wolfhart Pannenberg

B.B. Warfield

Karl Rahner

Reinhold Niebuhr

Carl F. H.Henry

Adolf von Harnack

Rudolf Bultmann

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Friedrich Schleiermacher

John Henry Newman

Henri Nouwen

Soren Kierkegaard

Charles Hodge

John Wesley

Jonathan Edwards

Ulrich Zwingli


Gregory the Great

Charles Finney


Clement of Alexandria


Thomas Torrance

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza

Ignatius of Loyola

Bernard of Clairvaux

John Chrysostom

St. Jerome

Hans Urs von Balthasar

Gregory of Nyssa



John Stuart Mill



Rene Descartes

Sir Francis Bacon

Thomas Hobbes

John Locke

Blaise Pascal


David Hume

Immanuel Kant

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Karl Marx

Friedrich Nietzsche

Sigmud Freud

Bertrand Russell

Jean-Paul Sartre

Martin Heidegger

Albert Camus

Michel Foucault

Jacques Derrida

Marcus Aurelius

Baruch Spinoza

Gottfried Leibniz

Thomas More


Karl Popper


Alfred Whitehead

Edmund Burke


Duns Scotus

William of Ockham

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Arthur Schopenhauer

George Berkley

Alvin Plantinga

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Adam Smith


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