24 votes

Absolute all time favorite Philosopher/Thinker

Ok, so in keeping with the trend on this forum to ask for the opinion of fellow DP'ers about their Favorite __________

This is going to be a tough one for me. There are many area's of philosophy. Many aren't even considered a philosophy, even though this is quite absurd. When i start pondering this question, the first thing comes to mind is "In what capacity?". I appreciate the Economic philosophy of Murray Rothbard and Adam Smith, The spiritual philosophy of Akbar the Great and Ghandi, John Wycliff as well as enlightened atheist thinkers of the 1700's. Moral Philosophy of Ayn Rand, and yet also that of Henry David Thoreau.

Shakespeare is known for incredibly complex and compelling analysis of the human condition(not to mention a blast to read), Tolstoy was brilliantly intricate and aware before he was an intellectual. The scientific philosophy of Leonard Susskind, Issac Newton, and of course Albert Einstien. I could go on. I could bring up many thinkers that are alive today. Many people who don't spend their time pondering the questions of existence, and morality, spirituality, and yet are better equiped to answer them than some of the names i have already listed. For the record, there are opinions of these thinkers that i don't share. Its generally the approach that is so admirable.

In the end i must choose. Its an artificial mandate that i impose on myself for the purpose of this thread.

Today i choose Blaise Pascal. Specifically for his work on faith, reason and totality.

What about you?

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I would have to go with

Frank Zappa.

SteveMT's picture

Without a doubt, Thomas Paine.

Thomas Paine was the first to systematically question religious dogma. He turned organized religion upside down, and it has never recovered not even to this day, IMO. If one book changed the world, the Age of Reason did that and is still doing that. Thomas Paine freed our minds to accept the beliefs that ABSOLUTELY:
God is good.
God is merciful.
God is logical.
God is consistent.
God is truth.

You may be interested in this

You may already know this, but are you aware that Thomas Paine was very likely the man that authored the Declaration of Independence - rather than Jefferson?

SteveMT's picture

Yes. Paine penned many anonymous works.

Paine penned many anonymous works that only later he begrudgingly admitted to writing. Paine also got slavery abolished in Pennsylvania.

The Declaration of Independence: Was It Written by Thomas Paine?
by Walton Williams
It was not till just before his death that he said, "I wrote it." In a manual sense that was doubtless true. The opening and closing sentences and certain alterations he may have actually originated, but as to the main body of the document it can be said as it was said of old: "The hand is the hand of Esau, but the voice is the voice of Jacob." The hand is the hand of Jefferson, but the voice is the voice of Thomas Paine.

The fact that Paine never claimed the authorship is in perfect keeping with his character. He was ever a most secretive man. Most of his works at this stage in his career were anonymous. Common Sense was published anonymously, and The Crisis practically so. His contributions to the Pennsylvania Magazine were signed by fictitious names and initials. Many letters he is known to have written and others that are believed to be his he never acknowledged to the time of his death.

Moreover, to have made this claim in relation to the Declaration of Independence would have embarrassed his friend, Jefferson, which, both for personal and political reasons, he would have been unwilling to do.
Thomas Paine (1737-1805), whose 1775 article "African Slavery in America" was the first article published in what would become the United States which advocated abolishing slavery and freeing the slaves.
1779-1780. Thomas Paine was appointed clerk to the Pennsylvania Assembly, and the next year his state was the first to achieve one of his ardent goals when it abolished slavery and emancipated 6,000 men and women. (See Preamble to Act for Abolition of Slavery in Pennsylvania, 1780.)


I like to think about these things for myself and find that too much exposure to other's ideas before I develop my own tends to reduce originality.

Albert Einstein

Source: Stanford.edu

•"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction."
•"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
•"Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love."
•"I want to know God's thoughts; the rest are details."
•"The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax."
•"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."
•"The only real valuable thing is intuition."
•"A person starts to live when he can live outside himself."
•"I am convinced that He (God) does not play dice."
•"God is subtle but he is not malicious."
•"Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character."
•"I never think of the future. It comes soon enough."
•"The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility."
•"Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing."
•"Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind."
•"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."
•"Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds."
•"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."
•"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."
•"Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it."
•"The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."
•"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education."
•"God does not care about our mathematical difficulties. He integrates empirically."
•"The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking."
•"Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal."
•"Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding."
•"The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible."
•"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
•"Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school."
•"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."
•"Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater."
•"Equations are more important to me, because politics is for the present, but an equation is something for eternity."
•"If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut."
•"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe."
•"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."
•"Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods."
•"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."
•"In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep."
•"The fear of death is the most unjustified of all fears, for there's no risk of accident for someone who's dead."
•"Too many of us look upon Americans as dollar chasers. This is a cruel libel, even if it is reiterated thoughtlessly by the Americans themselves."
•"Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism -- how passionately I hate them!"
•"No, this trick won't work...How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?"
•"My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind."
•"Yes, we have to divide up our time like that, between our politics and our equations. But to me our equations are far more important, for politics are only a matter of present concern. A mathematical equation stands forever."
•"The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking...the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker."
•"Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence."
•"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."
•"A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeeded be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death."
•"The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge."
•"Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."
•"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."
•"One had to cram all this stuff into one's mind for the examinations, whether one liked it or not. This coercion had such a deterring effect on me that, after I had passed the final examination, I found the consideration of any scientific problems distasteful to me for an entire year."
•"...one of the strongest motives that lead men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the fetters of one's own ever-shifting desires. A finely tempered nature longs to escape from the personal life into the world of objective perception and thought."
•"He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action. It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder."
•"A human being is a part of a whole, called by us _universe_, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."
•"Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts." (Sign hanging in Einstein's office at Princeton)

Adam Smith & the Pursuit of Happiness

I'd say that Adam Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment contributors in general. Not long ago I read a book called 'How the Scots Invented the Modern World' about the Scottish Enlightenment period that truly impressed me.

Smith took Hutcheson's idea that Altruism is that which makes Mankind happy and combined it with Hume's thought that Self Interest is ultimately that which makes Mankind happy. What he showed was that it is a combination of pursuing Self Interest AND Altruism that leads to happiness. One without the other leads to a need to pursue the other at some point.

From this Pursuit of Happiness Smith showed that people's interaction with each other, especially in tune with commerce and Division of Labor, could be a Win/Win (Positive Sum Game) if the trade is unmolested by too much Central Planning. It is a result of the Golden Mean of Self Interest and Altruism.

In Book 4 of 'The Wealth of Nations' he truly encourages the Colonies to Declare Independence and Jefferson included much of Smith's philosophy in our Founding Document. Smith in my opinion is not only a great thinker, he is also a Founding Father.

The hidden Philosopher is the Greatest!

Only a few on Daily Paul have ever heard of him. They won't admit it I'll bet. "Frank Wallace". I will say no more.


Étienne de La Boétie

La Boétie’s writings include a few sonnets, translations from the classics, and an essay attacking absolute monarchy and tyranny in general, Discours de la servitude volontaire ou le Contr'un (Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, or the Anti-Dictator).
The essay asserts that tyrants have power because the people give it to them. Liberty has been abandoned once by society, which afterward stayed corrupted and prefers the slavery of the courtesan to the freedom of one who refuses to dominate as he refuses to obey. Thus, La Boétie linked together obedience and domination, a relationship which would be later theorised by latter anarchist thinkers. By advocating a solution of simply refusing to support the tyrant, he became one of the earliest advocates of civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance. Lew Rockwell summarizes La Boétie’s political philosophy as follows:
To him, the great mystery of politics was obedience to rulers. Why in the world do people agree to be looted and otherwise oppressed by government overlords? It is not just fear, Boetie explains in “The Discourse on Voluntary Servitude,” for our consent is required. And that consent can be non-violently withdrawn.
This post have some of his writings:


Nearly forgot about him!

Glad you reminded me!

very nice



Last year I would have said

Last year I would have said Nietzsche and Hayek, this year not so sure. I do not even know what I do not know.

You just had to

put voices of Rummy in my head!

It was this thread that introduced me to lysander spooner

But even so, today:

Rothbard is king.


Tough question....

Hume, Husserl, Rothbard, Bastiat....?

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

Self bump

Not because I want to keep this on the front page Michael, but just because I am so pleased with this discussion. That reminds me, why haven't you weighed in yet?

When I say philosopher, all I mean is intellectual, or thinker, or seeker of truth. I chose Pascal for a reason guys. The human capacity of understanding is limited. When we refer to philosophy, we automatically assume that our understanding is limited and thus our ability to arrive at true knowledge isn't possible(and so we have faith).

Either way, when some hear philosophy they seem to tend to associate a pretense, or a naivety with their belief system. May I remind, this is a pretentious and naive perspective.

We are all here philosophers, unless we care more about the opinions that others have of us than we do about the opinions we have of ourselves.


Many Good ones at LRC

If there is a holy anarcho trinity? Butler Shaffer would be my candidate for great apostle.

Forest Gump

Stupid is as stupid does.

But, I'm not particularly attached to any religion.
And, Philosopy is Religion.
Both [Philosophies and Religions] claim to possess Universal Truth,
which tends to discourage an independent search for Knowledge.

The one point on which all Philosophers/Professor-Priests tend to agree is that the Final Solution to the problems of mankind is to determine by which BOOK or PRINCIPLE, someone will rule the world.
The thing NONE of them ever seem to realize is that the very IDEA of ONE book or ONE set of principles, which will be universally IMPOSED ON ALL OF HUMANITY, is itself the problem.

Every time someone comes along with the "universal solution", or a "universal philosophy", bloodshed and horror come next...
Every time someone says, "All mankind must be united.", he always has a document or a set of principles that MUST BE IMPOSED on all mankind, to unite all mankind. And, it inevitably leads to viciousness.

There is no evil in the world that has not been the result of such thinking.

Cyril's picture

Joseph Stalin.

Joseph Stalin.

For providing us with the most outstanding example (to date) of the utterly absurd horror of the collectivist state that can only be run by cold blooded thieves, thugs, murderers, devouring everything that makes humanity.

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

reading this topic; I was

reading this topic; I was asking myself who my fav. philosopher was, as I couldnt name one. I think I side with you- as those whose philosophy fails/does the most harm teaches us the most. Stalin, Mao, Il-Sung.

And don't forget Stalin's words of wisdom

Quoth ungentle Joe: "The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything."

That's right up there with Chairman Mao's famous quote: "Power comes from the barrel of a gun."

Gotta wonder: has Barack Obama said anything remotely as true or perceptive? Ever?

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...


I guess people have to figure out if they are an idealist or realist...or perhaps a hybrid of both to reply imo.

Perhaps it could be argued to pick out the best aspects from both lol

Therefore, I still have some more considering to do.


you had me going there for a bit, Pascal?

what does gas pressure regulation and servo mechanisms have to do with philosophy?

thanks for the refresher course.

Pascals law is really pretty neat, it has to do with power amplification. it mostly utilizes surface area and atmospheric pressure.... a diaphragm would be a good example.


Goucho Marx; Quote me as saying I was mis-quoted.

The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made.

Before I speak, I have something important to say.

Military intelligence is a contradiction in terms.

Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/g/groucho_marx.htm...

I would never have expected

to find a Marxist at the Daily Paul.

Groucho also said:

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...

Well, no self-respecting Marxists would be here.

I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member. Groucho Marx

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
~ John Muir

The way, the truth and the life

Jesus Christ

Isaiah 2:4
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.




Jesus Christ

no one else compares


"Ah, women. They make the highs higher and the lows more frequent."