10 groundbreaking ideas from history’s most influential philosophers

Greetings! Welcome to the exciting world of philosophy, where the most brilliant minds of history have pondered life’s greatest mysteries. 

From the nature of existence to the concept of reality, these great thinkers have left behind a legacy of revolutionary ideas that have shaped the world as we know it. 

Before we dive into the philosophical rabbit hole, let me give you a heads-up on what to expect. We’ll be covering a range of topics from metaphysics to ethics, we will explore 10 of the most influential philosophers and their groundbreaking ideas. 

So, buckle up and get ready for a wild philosophical ride!

1) Plato’s Theory of Forms

Let’s start with Plato’s Theory of Forms, a concept that will blow your mind faster than a tuba in a library. 

According to this theory, there is an ideal version of every object, idea, or concept that exists in a realm beyond the physical world. 

Basically, there’s a perfect chair out there somewhere, and we’re all just sitting on knockoff versions of it. Hint: it’s probably not in IKEA’s latest catalog. 

Take some time to contemplate the abstract concepts that you encounter in your daily life. Try to understand their essence and how they relate to the physical world. 

This will help you develop a deeper understanding of the world around you, and maybe even impress your philosophy professor. Or your next Bumble date.

2) Aristotle’s Golden Mean

Next up, we have Aristotle’s Golden Mean, a concept that’s all about balance. 

According to Aristotle, virtues are the middle ground between two extremes. For example, courage is the middle ground between cowardice and recklessness. 

So, if you want to be a true badass, find that sweet spot in the middle.

Identify the areas in your life where you tend to swing between extremes and work on finding the middle ground. 

This could involve developing habits that promote moderation, such as regular exercise or drinking only one cup of coffee in the morning.

3) René Descartes’ Cogito Ergo Sum

Now, let’s talk about René Descartes’ famous phrase “Cogito Ergo Sum,” or “I think, therefore I am.” This is basically the philosophical equivalent of “I drink coffee, therefore I exist.” 

Descartes believed that the only thing he could be sure of was his own existence because he could doubt everything else. 

So, the next time you’re feeling lost in the world, just remember that you exist because you think.

Reflect on your beliefs and values, and ask yourself why you hold them. 

This will help you develop a deeper understanding of yourself and your worldview. Plus, it’s always good to know why you’re existing in the first place.

4) Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative

Real talk: Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie but is actually a moral principle. 

Kant believed that we should always act in a way that we would want others to act in similar circumstances. So basically, if you wouldn’t want someone to do it to you, don’t do it to them.

Before making a decision, consider how your actions will affect those around you. 

This will help you develop a more ethical and compassionate approach to life, and maybe even prevent you from being a total jerk.

5) Friedrich Nietzsche’s Will to Power

Another idea that comes in handy in the realm of personal growth is Friedrich Nietzsche’s Will to Power. It’s a concept that emphasizes the importance of personal empowerment and self-mastery. 

According to Nietzsche, the ultimate goal of human existence is to achieve personal greatness and overcome limitations. Basically, it’s like a self-help book on steroids.

Be like Nietzsche and strive for personal excellence and embrace challenges as opportunities for growth. 

Identify areas where you can improve yourself, and set ambitious but realistic goals. This will help you cultivate a sense of purpose and fulfillment in your life.

6) John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism

Next up, let’s talk about John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism, which is basically a fancy way of saying “the greater good.” 

According to Mill, the best course of action is the one that maximizes overall happiness or pleasure, rather than individual desires or interests. 

So, if you want to be a true hero, think beyond yourself and consider how your actions will affect others.

Before making a decision, think about how it will affect others and the world around you. 

This will help you develop a more compassionate and socially responsible approach to life. 

Plus, it’s always nice to know you’re making the world a better place.

7) Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existentialism

From what I understand, Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existentialism is a philosophy that’s all about personal freedom and responsibility, like a Choose Your Own Adventure book for adults. 

According to Sartre, we are responsible for creating our own meaning in life and must take responsibility for our choices and actions. 

So, if you want to live a life that’s true to you, take ownership of it.

Be like Sartre, take responsibility for your choices and actions, and strive to create a life that reflects your values and passions. 

This will help you live a more authentic and fulfilling life, and maybe even inspire others to do the same.

This is an idea that really helped me navigate a challenging time in my life. 

You see, previously, I had been living my life based on routine and stability, and suddenly, when the pandemic happened everything changed. I felt like I had lost control of my own narrative.

After months of stress, I began to realize that I had been living my life based on external factors, rather than my own desires and passions. 

The pandemic forced me to confront the reality that life is unpredictable and uncontrollable and that the only thing I could control was my own mindset and actions, much like Sartre would. 

I took ownership of my life and started to pursue my passions, even in the midst of the pandemic. I started writing, boxing, and exploring new hobbies that brought me joy and fulfillment. 

I focused on the present moment, rather than worrying about the future or dwelling on the past.

Sartre’s philosophy taught me the importance of personal freedom and responsibility to embrace uncertainty and create my own path in life, even in the midst of a global crisis.

I find myself no longer a victim of circumstance, but rather, a creator of my own destiny. Merci, Jean-Paul. Merci beaucoup. 

8) Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time

Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time is a complex philosophical work that explores the nature of human existence and the concept of Being. 

Heidegger believed that human beings have a unique relationship with Being and that our understanding of Being shapes our experience of the world. 

Basically, it’s like The Matrix, but with more philosophy and less Keanu Reeves (and Lawrence Fishburne.)

On occasion, sit back and reflect on your experiences and contemplate the nature of your existence. 

This will help you develop a deeper sense of purpose and connection to the world around you, and maybe even make you feel like a wise philosopher.

9) Simone de Beauvoir’s Feminism

Finally, a much-needed woman’s perspective. 

Simone de Beauvoir’s Feminism is a philosophical and political movement that’s all about gender equality and the empowerment of women, like a Beyoncé single but with a bit more philosophy. 

According to de Beauvoir, women have historically been oppressed and marginalized by patriarchal societies and must fight for their rights and freedom. 

In her groundbreaking book, “The Second Sex,” she explores the social, cultural, and psychological factors that contribute to women’s oppression.

To break free from these limitations, Beauvoir encourages women to become aware of their situation and embrace their own autonomy, or ability to make choices and decisions for themselves. 

Her powerful analysis of the concept of “woman” provoked and inspired people to see women and their role in society in a whole new light.

10) Confucianism’s Ethics

Last but not least, we have Confucianism’s Ethics, a philosophical and religious tradition that emphasizes the importance of moral and ethical behavior. 

According to Confucianism, individuals must strive to cultivate virtues such as compassion, wisdom, and integrity, in order to live a meaningful and fulfilling life.

Cultivate virtues such as empathy, honesty, and respect, and strive to live in harmony with others and the world around you. 

This will help you live a more fulfilling and meaningful life, and maybe even inspire others to do the same.


Congratulations! You’ve just finished a quick philosophical journey through history’s greatest thinkers and their groundbreaking ideas. From Plato’s Theory of Forms to Confucianism’s Ethics, these concepts have provided us with valuable insights into the nature of existence, knowledge, ethics, and reality. 

By applying these ideas in our daily lives, we can cultivate a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world, and live more fulfilling and meaningful lives.

And remember, philosophy doesn’t have to be dry or boring. So, go forth and philosophize, and maybe even impress your friends with your newfound wisdom. 

Who knows, you may even become the next great philosopher of our time, or at the very least, the most interesting person at your next party.

Picture of Daniel Mabanta

Daniel Mabanta

Daniel Mabanta is a freelance writer and editor, entrepreneur and an avid traveler, adventurer and eater. He lives a nomadic life, constantly on the move. He is currently in Manila, Philippines and deciding where his next destination will be.

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