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The 15th-16th century Dutch philosopher and theologian Erasmus was known as the "Prince of" these Renaissance thinkers who revived the study of ancient Greek and Roman literature as a means of moral and intellectual development in Western Europe.
This 15th-16th century Italian political theorist is best known for The Prince, in which he advised political rulers to use any means necessary to secure their power.
In his seminal 1620 work Novum Organum, this English philosopher laid the groundwork for the modern scientific method.
In his 1651 work Leviathan, this English political theorist argued that life for humans in their natural state is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short," and held that therefore people ought to enter into a social contract in which they cede some of their rights to a strong, centralized sovereign authority, ideally a monarch.
This 17th century French rationalist famously wrote, "cogito, ergo sum," or "I think, therefore I am." He is also known for positing a duality between mind and body, for his significant contributions to mathematics, and for his influence on Isaac Newton.
A brilliant mathematician and scientist who helped pioneer probability theory and made substantial contributions to fluid dynamics, today this 17th century Frenchman is probably best known for his "wager" regarding belief in God.
This 17th century English empiricist is known as the "father of liberalism."
This 17th century Dutch rationalist of Portuguese Jewish origin is most famous for being a pantheist who regarded God and nature as one and the same substance.
This 17th-18th century German rationalist is famous for arguing that ours is the best of all possible worlds and that the world is made up of an infinite number of simple substances known as monads. However, he is probably most famous for discovering calculus independent of but at roughly at the same time as Isaac Newton.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
This 18th century French political philosopher pioneered the idea of separation of powers.
This 18th century Anglo-Irish philosopher denied the existence of matter, holding that only ideas and the minds that perceive them exist.
This 18th century French satirist is famous for Candide (1759), which satirized the notion that ours is the best of all possible worlds, and his acerbic wit.
This 18th century Scottish philosopher is known for formulating the is-ought problem in ethics, holding that emotions rather than reason determine people's moral beliefs, articulating the problem of induction, and his general skepticism.
This 18th century Swiss philosopher argued that political sovereignty should lie in the people collectively and that governments should derive their powers from the general will of the people.
This 18th century Scottish thinker wrote The Theory of Moral Sentiments but is most famous for An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, which laid the foundations of free market economic theory and the science of economics in general.
This 18th century German philosopher is famous for his three Critiques, and in particular for his argument that there is a universal moral law that is binding on all people which can be known a priori, by the use of reason independent of observable experience.