In your opinion who are the top 10 people that changed the world?tell me who like gavrilo princip-started wwi,which led to ww2,and the cold war and many other things or st paul-spread...

In your opinion who are the top 10 people that changed the world?

tell me who

like gavrilo princip-started wwi,which led to ww2,and the cold war and many other things

or st paul-spread christianity

i dont know but tell me what they did too

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37 Answers | Add Yours

rrteacher's profile pic

Posted on

Favorite son of the humanities: My point was mainly that we shouldn't be so reductionist as to say that ideas are prime movers. They are formed in specific contexts. You said Princip was, essentially, a product of historical forces, or, to put it another way, his environment. I'm saying we should recognize that philosophers are too. I'm also not persuaded that common people are incapable of creating ideas. Social historians have written reams about concepts such as "moral economies" that have been at least as consequential in Western society as canonical "great ideas." 

rrteacher's profile pic

Posted on

While I picked philsophers and religious thinkers in my response, the idea that it is "ludicrous" that common people can affect history is pretty much at odds with the past 40 years of historiography. People's actions may be shaped by larger forces, but post 33 seems to think that human agency plays little role in history. Further, in his zeal to discredit another perfectly legitimate argument, favorite son of the humanities also ignores a major contradiction in his own. If Gavrilo Princip can be dismissed as merely a product of larger historical forces, then so can Socrates. But ultimately, it does not diminish the genius of Socrates, Locke, Marx, or Mill to point out the obvious fact that their thought was influenced by underlying social factors. The ideologies that politics is "based on" were not formed in a vacuum. 

lhc's profile pic

Posted on

So many great names mentioned in previous posts.  I'm thinking Osama bin Laden.  Not that he deserves kudos for his life and work, but if the criteria is that it in some way changed the world, I think one could make the argument that his leadership, organizational skills, resource management, and hate-mongering achieved a notorious end that was an international and political game-changer to say the least. 

mwestwood's profile pic

Posted on

Sigmund Freud and Charles Darwin cannot be left off the list of top influential people who wrought change. With his analysis of dreams as a method to crack the human psyche, Freud was much ahead of his time.  Also, his contention that repressed carnal desires in the psyche are responsible for much of the adults' actions was a monumental inroad in clinical psychology. His psychoanalytical theory of the Id, Ego, and Superego is one of the most influential theories of modern times.

Another extremely influential theory is modern times is that of Charles Darwin, whose theory of evolution and its basic mechanism, Natural selection, has greatly changed people's thinking about many issues in human behavior.

pohnpei397's profile pic

Posted on

I agree with everything posted so far.  But we should also look at people who changed the world for the worse.  The two most obvious candidates for this are Hitler and Stalin, perpetrators of two of the worst mass killing sprees ever.  They changed the way we think about the world we live in.

e-martin's profile pic

Posted on

The above list is a great place to start. Those thinkers certainly changed the world intellectually, politically, and socially. We might also look to some scientists, engineers and inventors who have changed the world in more practical ways.

Thomas Edison helped change the world with electricity and the light bulb. Alexander Graham Bell helped with the telephone. Even Bill Gates helped to shape the world we live in with his work on personal computers. 

rrteacher's profile pic

Posted on

I'll throw a few in in no particular order. Most of these stimulated religious, intellectual, or cultural change:

  • Jesus
  • Muhammad
  • Plato
  • Gutenberg
  • Luther
  • Paul
  • Newton
  • Galileo
  • Einstein
  • Marx
  • Locke
astrosonuthird's profile pic

Posted on

ah! it is absulutely right.


Issac Newton


Johannes Kepler


Albert Einstein


they were all very important people in science and should be at the top ten.

angel-girl's profile pic

Posted on

Jesus! :)

Mother Theresa


Newton and his apple!

Steve Jobs and the lovely apple gadgets

The first few emperors in China

Adolf Hitler (note: I didn't say whether in a good or bad way)

Who can forget Einstein?

That's all I know :))

favorite-son-of-the-humanities's profile pic

Posted on

@RR teacher: hmmm, I wasn't phrasing my argument in a common/extraordinary dichotomy, but in retrospect that's a fair classification of it. I would say that the reason I fundamentally don't see everyone's beloved "common man" as affecting history profoundly is that we are comparing apples and oranges: while average joes may be capable of actions they are incapable of creating ideas, which have wider and deeper consequences. Sure you can argue causality, but only a fool would say that the fleeting actions of a madman have the same relevance after 2000 years as the musings of a brilliant thinker. Regardless of the flow of causality, ideas>actions.

favorite-son-of-the-humanities's profile pic

Posted on

Specific philosophers that changed history greatly would be:

---Jesus of Nazareth (central figure of western history)


---Karl Marx



----John Locke

After philosophers in importance would be great leaders. Of particular note:

---Abraham Lincoln

---Winston Churchill


---Joseph Stalin

----Themosticles (sp)

---Cardinal Richelieu

----Elizabeth I

----George Washington

---Peter the Great

---Pitt the elder

favorite-son-of-the-humanities's profile pic

Posted on

It seems to me that the answers to the OP are giving a bit too much historical significance to those who were the products (as opposed to the creators) of their times. It is ludicrous, for example, to say that Princip deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as Churchill and Jesus as an individual who changed history because he "caused" WW1; any one with even a rudimentary grounding in Euro history could tell you that he was merely the catalyst for a conflict with decades-old roots in German nationalist. Had the workings of providence conspired to remove him from the historical equation, a similar conflict would have erupted, delayed for a few years at most, initiated by a comparable nonentity. In a similar vein,  scientists should not be remembered as "game changers" because science is purportedly objective; that is to say, without Einstein there could still be relativity whereas without Joyce there can be no Ulysses. Though scientific inventions may affect history, they are not synonymous with great scientists.

The people that most affect history, as far as I am concerned, are philosophers, for ultimately the direction a society takes is determined by philosophy. This is because the three primary fields of human achievement---art, science and politics---are all fundamentally products, in their advanced forms, of philosophy (e.g. Socratic method leads to the scientific method, art reflects philosophical traditions, politics is based on ideological struggles). 

academy633's profile pic

Posted on

It is difficult to name ten people who have had the greatest impact on our lives.  I have divided my list among five areas (there may be more) and listed those who have had the greatest impact on me. 

Religion                Philosophy             Politics             Science      Arts

Abraham              Aristotle                Washington      da Vincil     Rembrandt 

Moses                 Plato                      Jefferson          Newton      Michelangelo

Jesus                  Locke                     Madison           Einstein      Dali

Muhammad          Marx                      Stalin               Darwin       van Gogh

Luther                 Nietsche                 Hitler               Freud         FL Wright

ML King               Whitehead              Napoleon         Salk           Monet

Gandhi                                             Mao                 Galileo


                                                                             W Reed


prashantl's profile pic

Posted on

I think the greatest one arguably should be Aryabhatta, because without the zero that he sort of invented and discovered, half of the things around you would not exist today. 

astrosonuthird's profile pic

Posted on

Hey Hey! What the hell are you saying. you are saying that Plato is einstein.




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