The Greatest Modern Day Thinker

Who is the greatest modern day thinker? Most of the responses are silly—Homer Simpson, Stan on South Park, L. Ron Hubbard, etc. The striking thing is that so few people nominate anyone contemporary philosophers tend to take seriously. Depending on how loosely one defines “modern day,” within philosophy Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Rudolf Carnap, W. V. O. Quine, Wilfrid Sellars, Saul Kripke, and David Lewis all strike me as plausible answers. Of those, only Kripke is living, and three comments do nominate him. Some nominate economists (e.g., Milton Friedman) or scientists (e.g., Einstein, Feynman). Whom would you nominate?

6 thoughts on “The Greatest Modern Day Thinker

  1. Henry Hazlitt
    Bertrand Russel
    F.A. Hayek
    Murray Rothbard
    Albert Einstein

    BTW Friedman is NOT an economist, is reason is backwards [inductive.]

  2. He is not well-known, and is recently deceased, but the French philosopher and theologian Marie Dominique-Philippe would be on my list. He wrote the actual text of the dogma of the Assumption, but he was actually metaphysician and a philosopher of the *method* of philosophy. He devoted much writing to exposing ideologies as systematic distortions in method. I met him in the early 90’s in, of all places, Laredo, TX, and he was extremely nice.

  3. I. Newton.
    John Henry Newman.
    R. Feynman.
    A. Einstein.
    R. Descartes was a very good mathematician. I assume he’s a “modern thinker.”
    K. Godel.
    L. Wittgenstein.

    Most anyone from Pittsburgh, PA., with roots traceable to Europe.

  4. I would put Jacques Maritain at the top of any list, having read his “Man & The State” as well as some chapters in “The Degrees of Knowledge” – both highly recommended. Within this site, under Ethics heading, can read of his involvement in drafting the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
    Cheers, Tom

  5. I’m not sure how much influence he had on writing the UN Declaration, but if he did then he certainly should not go on any great thinker list.

    Its essentially a list of of negative rights up to Article 21 and a list of the contradictory positive rights to 28. And then there is article 29:

    Article 29.

    (1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
    [So much for rights. They are over ridden by unenumerated and therefore unlimited duties.]

    (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
    [This is essentially a statement of harms principle, but it doesn’t work with posiive rights.]

    (3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations
    [Drafters intent? Are you kidding?]

  6. Thanks Ed, I’ll have to delve into a closer look at both the claim that he was all that involved in it – as well as a better understanding of what it stands for as a declaration .
    Cheers, Tom

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