Who are the most influential thinkers in world?
Identify leaders in your chosen discipline, research top professors in your area of study, and search for schools based on the luminaries who most inspire you!
Note: These rankings change dynamically as our artificial intelligence system learns new things and incorporates new publications and citations. Academics are constantly doing research and publishing new insights, with the result that our measure of influence is subject to continual adjustments. For quality assurance reasons, however, we forgo real-time changes, with most public updates happening only quarterly. In any case, don’t be surprised to see our rankings change over time.Methodology: How and Why We Rank by Influence …
1857 - 1913 (56 years)
Ferdinand de Saussure was a Swiss linguist, semiotician and philosopher. His ideas laid a foundation for many significant developments in both linguistics and semiotics in the 20th century. He is widely considered one of the founders of 20th-century linguistics and one of two major founders of semiotics, or semiology, as Saussure called it.
1928 - Present (93 years)
Noam Chomsky currently holds joint appointments at MIT as Institute Professor Emeritus, and the University of Arizona as Laureate Professor. Chomsky completed his university studies between the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard.
1818 - 1883 (65 years)
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist and socialist revolutionary. Born in Trier, Germany, Marx studied law and philosophy at university. He married Jenny von Westphalen in 1843. Due to his political publications, Marx became stateless and lived in exile with his wife and children in London for decades, where he continued to develop his thought in collaboration with German thinker Friedrich Engels and publish his writings, researching in the reading room of the British Museum. His best-known titles are the 1848 pamphlet
1930 - 2018 (88 years)
Thomas Kennerly Wolfe Jr. was an American author and journalist widely known for his association with New Journalism, a style of news writing and journalism developed in the 1960s and 1970s that incorporated literary techniques.
1937 - 2005 (68 years)
Hunter Stockton Thompson was an American journalist and author, and the founder of the gonzo journalism movement. He first rose to prominence with the publication of Hell's Angels , a book for which he spent a year living and riding with the Hells Angels motorcycle club to write a first-hand account of the lives and experiences of its members.
1896 - 1982 (86 years)
Roman Osipovich Jakobson was a Russian Empire-born American linguist and literary theorist.A pioneer of structural linguistics, Jakobson was one of the most celebrated and influential linguists of the twentieth century. With Nikolai Trubetzkoy, he developed revolutionary new techniques for the analysis of linguistic sound systems, in effect founding the modern discipline of phonology. Jakobson went on to extend similar principles and techniques to the study of other aspects of language such as syntax, morphology and semantics. He made numerous contributions to Slavic linguistics, most notably
1941 - Present (80 years)
George Philip Lakoff is an American cognitive linguist and philosopher, best known for his thesis that people's lives are significantly influenced by the conceptual metaphors they use to explain complex phenomena.
1925 - 2018 (93 years)
Michael Alexander Kirkwood Halliday was an English-born linguist who developed the internationally influential systemic functional linguistics model of language. His grammatical descriptions go by the name of systemic functional grammar. Halliday described language as a semiotic system, "not in the sense of a system of signs, but a systemic resource for meaning". For Halliday, language was a "meaning potential"; by extension, he defined linguistics as the study of "how people exchange meanings by 'languaging'". Halliday described himself as a generalist, meaning that he tried "to look at lan
1916 - 2009 (93 years)
Walter Leland Cronkite Jr. was an American broadcast journalist who served as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for 19 years . During the 1960s and 1970s, he was often cited as "the most trusted man in America" after being so named in an opinion poll. Cronkite reported many events from 1937 to 1981, including bombings in World War II; the Nuremberg trials; combat in the Vietnam War; the Dawson's Field hijackings; Watergate; the Iran Hostage Crisis; and the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, civil rights pioneer Martin Luther King Jr., and Beatles musician John Lennon. He was also k
1847 - 1911 (64 years)
Joseph Pulitzer was a Hungarian-born American newspaper publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the New York World. He became a leading national figure in the Democratic Party and was elected congressman from New York. He crusaded against big business and corruption, and helped keep the Statue of Liberty in New York.
1908 - 1965 (57 years)
Edward Roscoe Murrow , born Egbert Roscoe Murrow, was an American broadcast journalist and war correspondent. He first gained prominence during World War II with a series of live radio broadcasts from Europe for the news division of CBS. During the war he recruited and worked closely with a team of war correspondents who came to be known as the Murrow Boys.
1951 - 2021 (70 years)
Rush Hudson Limbaugh III was an American radio personality, conservative political commentator, author, and television show host. He was best known as the host of The Rush Limbaugh Show, which was nationally syndicated on AM and FM radio stations.
1932 - Present (89 years)
Gay Talese is an American writer. As a journalist for The New York Times and Esquire magazine during the 1960s, Talese helped to define contemporary literary journalism. Talese's most famous articles are about Joe DiMaggio and Frank Sinatra.
1839 - 1914 (75 years)
Charles Sanders Peirce was an American philosopher, logician, mathematician and scientist who is sometimes known as "the father of pragmatism". He was known as a somewhat unusual character.Educated as a chemist and employed as a scientist for thirty years, Peirce made major contributions to logic, a subject that, for him, encompassed much of what is now called epistemology and the philosophy of science. He saw logic as the formal branch of semiotics, of which he is a founder, which foreshadowed the debate among logical positivists and proponents of philosophy of language that dominated 20th-c
1884 - 1939 (55 years)
Edward Sapir was an American anthropologist-linguist, who is widely considered to be one of the most important figures in the development of the discipline of linguistics in the United States.Sapir was born in German Pomerania, in what is now northern Poland. His family emigrated to the United States of America when he was a child. He studied Germanic linguistics at Columbia, where he came under the influence of Franz Boas, who inspired him to work on Native American languages. While finishing his Ph.D. he went to California to work with Alfred Kroeber documenting the indigenous languages the
1915 - 1980 (65 years)
Roland Gérard Barthes was a French literary theorist, essayist, philosopher, critic, and semiotician. Barthes' ideas explored a diverse range of fields and he influenced the development of many schools of theory, including structuralism, semiotics, social theory, design theory, anthropology and post-structuralism. He was particularly known for developing and extending the field of semiotics through the analysis of a variety of sign systems, mainly derived from Western popular culture.
1858 - 1942 (84 years)
Franz Uri Boas was a German-born American anthropologist and a pioneer of modern anthropology who has been called the "Father of American Anthropology". His work is associated with the movements known as Historical Particularism and Cultural Relativism.
1899 - 1961 (62 years)
Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American novelist, short-story writer, journalist, and sportsman. His economical and understated style—which he termed the iceberg theory—had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his adventurous lifestyle and his public image brought him admiration from later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He published seven novels, six short-story collections, and two nonfiction works. Three of his novels, four short-story collections, and three nonf
1940 - Present (81 years)
Thomas John Brokaw is a retired American network television journalist and author. He first served as the co-anchor of The Today Show from 1976 to 1981 with Jane Pauley, then as the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News for 22 years . In the previous decade he served as a weekend anchor for the program from 1973 to 1976. He is the only person to have hosted all three major NBC News programs: The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, and, briefly, Meet the Press. He formerly held a special correspondent post for NBC News. He occasionally writes and narrates documentaries for other outlets.
1899 - 1965 (66 years)
Louis Trolle Hjelmslev was a Danish linguist whose ideas formed the basis of the Copenhagen School of linguistics. Born into an academic family , Hjelmslev studied comparative linguistics in Copenhagen, Prague and Paris . In 1931, he founded the Cercle Linguistique de Copenhague. Together with Hans Jørgen Uldall he developed a structuralist theory of language which he called glossematics, which further developed the semiotic theory of Ferdinand de Saussure. Glossematics as a theory of language is characterized by a high degree of formalism. It is interested in describing the formal and semant
1943 - Present (78 years)
Robert Upshur Woodward is an American investigative journalist. He started working for The Washington Post as a reporter in 1971 and currently holds the title of associate editor.While a young reporter for The Washington Post in 1972, Woodward teamed up with Carl Bernstein; the two did much of the original news reporting on the Watergate scandal. These scandals led to numerous government investigations and the eventual resignation of President Richard Nixon. The work of Woodward and Bernstein was called "maybe the single greatest reporting effort of all time" by longtime journalism figure Gen...
1927 - Present (94 years)
William Labov is an American linguist, widely regarded as the founder of the discipline of variationist sociolinguistics. He has been described as "an enormously original and influential figure who has created much of the methodology" of sociolinguistics. He is a professor emeritus in the linguistics department of the University of Pennsylvania, and pursues research in sociolinguistics, language change, and dialectology. He retired in 2015, but continues to publish research.
1931 - Present (90 years)
Daniel Irvin Rather Jr. is an American journalist and former national evening news anchor. Rather began his career in Texas, becoming a national name after his reporting saved thousands of lives during Hurricane Carla in September 1961. Rather spontaneously created the first radar weather report by overlaying a transparent map over a radar image of Hurricane Carla. In his first national broadcast, he helped initiate the successful evacuation of 350,000 people.
1897 - 1993 (96 years)
Kenneth Duva Burke was an American literary theorist, as well as poet, essayist, and novelist, who wrote on 20th-century philosophy, aesthetics, criticism, and rhetorical theory. As a literary theorist, Burke was best known for his analyses based on the nature of knowledge. Further, he was one of the first individuals to stray away from more traditional rhetoric and view literature as "symbolic action."
1924 - 1984 (60 years)
Truman Garcia Capote was an American novelist, screenwriter, playwright, and actor. Several of his short stories, novels, and plays have been praised as literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's and the true crime novel In Cold Blood , which he labeled a "nonfiction novel". His works have been adapted into more than 20 films and television dramas.
1967 - Present (54 years)
Glenn Edward Greenwald is an American journalist, author, and lawyer.In 1996, he founded his own law firm, which concentrated on First Amendment litigation. He began blogging on national security issues in October 2005, while he was becoming increasingly concerned with what he viewed to be attacks on civil liberties by the George W. Bush Administration in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. He became a vocal critic of the Iraq War and has maintained a critical position of American foreign policy.
1915 - 2001 (86 years)
Joseph Harold Greenberg was an American linguist, known mainly for his work concerning linguistic typology and the genetic classification of languages.Life Early life and education Joseph Greenberg was born on May 28, 1915 to Jewish parents in Brooklyn, New York. His first great interest was music. At the age of 14, he gave a piano concert in Steinway Hall. He continued to play the piano frequently throughout his life.
1835 - 1910 (75 years)
Samuel Langhorne Clemens , known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. He was lauded as the "greatest humorist the United States has produced," and William Faulkner called him "the father of American literature". His novels include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn , the latter often called "The Great American Novel".
1942 - Present (79 years)
Lyle Richard Campbell is an American scholar and linguist known for his studies of indigenous American languages, especially those of Central America, and on historical linguistics in general. Campbell is professor emeritus of linguistics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
1809 - 1849 (40 years)
Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer, poet, editor, and literary critic. Poe is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the macabre. He is widely regarded as a central figure of Romanticism in the United States and of American literature as a whole, and he was one of the country's earliest practitioners of the short story. He is also generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre and is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. Poe was the first well-known American writer to earn a living through...
was a Sanskrit philologist, grammarian, and revered scholar in ancient India, variously dated between the 6th and 4th century BCE.Since the discovery and publication of his work by European scholars in the nineteenth century, Pāṇini has been considered the "first descriptive linguist", and even labelled as “the father of linguistics”.
1971 - Present (50 years)
Julian Paul Assange is an Australian editor, publisher, and activist who founded WikiLeaks in 2006. WikiLeaks came to international attention in 2010 when it published a series of leaks provided by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. These leaks included the Baghdad airstrike Collateral Murder video , the Afghanistan war logs , the Iraq war logs , and Cablegate . After the 2010 leaks, the United States government launched a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks.
1889 - 1974 (85 years)
Walter Lippmann was an American writer, reporter and political commentator. With a career spanning 60 years he is famous for being among the first to introduce the concept of Cold War, coining the term "stereotype" in the modern psychological meaning, as well as critiquing media and democracy in his newspaper column and several books, most notably his 1922 book Public Opinion.
1812 - 1870 (58 years)
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded by many as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. His works enjoyed unprecedented popularity during his lifetime and, by the 20th century, critics and scholars had recognised him as a literary genius. His novels and short stories are widely read today.
1887 - 1949 (62 years)
Leonard Bloomfield was an American linguist who led the development of structural linguistics in the United States during the 1930s and the 1940s. He is considered to be the father of American distributionalism. His influential textbook Language, published in 1933, presented a comprehensive description of American structural linguistics. He made significant contributions to Indo-European historical linguistics, the description of Austronesian languages, and description of languages of the Algonquian family.
1872 - 1970 (98 years)
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell was a British polymath. As an academic, he worked in philosophy, mathematics, and logic. His work has had a considerable influence on mathematics, logic, set theory, linguistics, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, computer science and various areas of analytic philosophy, especially logic, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of language, epistemology and metaphysics. Russell was also a public intellectual, historian, social critic, political activist, and Nobel laureate.
Paul James Sidwell is an Australian linguist based in Canberra, Australia who has held research and lecturing positions at the Australian National University. Sidwell, who is also an expert and consultant in forensic linguistics, is most notable for his work on the historical linguistics of the Austroasiatic language family, and has published reconstructions of the Bahnaric, Katuic, and Palaungic proto-languages. Sidwell is currently the President of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society.
1934 - Present (87 years)
Billy Don Moyers is an American journalist and political commentator. He served as the ninth White House Press Secretary under the Johnson administration from 1965 to 1967. He also worked as a network TV news commentator for ten years. Moyers has been extensively involved with public broadcasting, producing documentaries and news journal programs. He has won numerous awards and honorary degrees for his investigative journalism and civic activities. He has become well known as a trenchant critic of the corporately structured U.S. news media.
1866 - 1936 (70 years)
Lincoln Austin Steffens was an American investigative journalist and one of the leading muckrakers of the Progressive Era in the early 20th century. He launched a series of articles in McClure's, called "Tweed Days in St. Louis", that would later be published together in a book titled The Shame of the Cities. He is remembered for investigating corruption in municipal government in American cities and for his leftist values.
1923 - 2018 (95 years)
Morris Halle was a Latvian-born Jewish American linguist who was an Institute Professor, and later professor emeritus, of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The father of "modern phonology", he was best known for his pioneering work in generative phonology, having written "On Accent and Juncture in English" in 1956 with Noam Chomsky and Fred Lukoff and The Sound Pattern of English in 1968 with Chomsky. He also co-authored the earliest theory of generative metrics.
1904 - 1976 (72 years)
Harry Hoijer was a linguist and anthropologist who worked on primarily Athabaskan languages and culture. He additionally documented the Tonkawa language, which is now extinct. Hoijer's few works make up the bulk of material on this language. Hoijer was a student of Edward Sapir.
1944 - Present (77 years)
Carl Bernstein is an American investigative journalist and author.While a young reporter for The Washington Post in 1972, Bernstein was teamed up with Bob Woodward; the two did much of the original news reporting on the Watergate scandal. These scandals led to numerous government investigations and the eventual resignation of President Richard Nixon. The work of Woodward and Bernstein was called "maybe the single greatest reporting effort of all time" by longtime journalism figure Gene Roberts.
1950 - Present (71 years)
Karl Christian Rove is an American Republican political consultant, policy advisor and lobbyist. He was Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff during the George W. Bush administration until his resignation on August 31, 2007. He has also headed the Office of Political Affairs, the Office of Public Liaison, and the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives.
1878 - 1968 (90 years)
Upton Beall Sinclair Jr. was an American writer, political activist and the 1934 Democratic Party nominee for Governor of California who wrote nearly 100 books and other works in several genres. Sinclair's work was well known and popular in the first half of the 20th century, and he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1943.
1888 - 1965 (77 years)
Thomas Stearns Eliot was a poet, essayist, publisher, playwright, literary critic and editor. Considered one of the 20th century's major poets, he is a central figure in English-language Modernist poetry.
1935 - Present (86 years)
Henry G. Widdowson is a British linguist and an authority in the field of applied linguistics and language teaching, specifically English language learning and teaching.Career He gained a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Edinburgh in 1973.
1942 - Present (79 years)
Charles Peete Rose Jr. is an American retired television journalist and talk show host. From 1991 to 2017, he was the host and executive producer of the talk show Charlie Rose on PBS and Bloomberg LP.
1879 - 1940 (61 years)
Lev Davidovich Bronstein , better known as Leon Trotsky , was a Ukrainian-Russian Marxist revolutionary, political theorist and politician. Ideologically a communist, he developed a variant of Marxism which has become known as Trotskyism.
1914 - 1996 (82 years)
Paul Rand was an American art director and graphic designer, best known for his corporate logo designs, including the logos for IBM, UPS, Enron, Morningstar, Inc., Westinghouse, ABC, and NeXT. He was one of the first American commercial artists to embrace and practice the Swiss Style of graphic design.
1897 - 1941 (44 years)
Benjamin Lee Whorf was an American linguist and fire prevention engineer. Whorf is widely known as an advocate for the idea that differences between the structures of different languages shape how their speakers perceive and conceptualize the world. This principle has frequently been called the "Sapir–Whorf hypothesis", after him and his mentor Edward Sapir, but Whorf called it the principle of linguistic relativity, because he saw the idea as having implications similar to Einstein's principle of physical relativity. The idea, however, follows from post-Hegelian 19th-century philosophy, espe...
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