I thought it might be interesting to think about who the greatest achiever of all time is in philosophy.
Who would you suggest?
Certainly one thing that will likely be disputed is the very concept of “greatest achiever”. Or perhaps the concept of achievement. Or the extent to which achievements are comparable, such that we can identify the “greatest.”
Questions certainly abound there, and are worth asking, but even philosophers sometimes put aside such questions, at least temporarily, or may have a sense, based on implicit answers to them, of who has made more or less significant contributions to philosophy.
Cowen himself suggests the following metrics for assessing the greatness of achievers:
1. Quality of work.
2. Superiority over contemporaries.
3. Superiority over time (subsequent generations, subsequent centuries).
4. Quantity of work.
6. Consistency of work and achievement.
7. Number and degree of obstacles or other problems to solve in order to achieve so much.
8. Being so great that, eventually, one could only learn from oneself.
9. Never experiencing true “defeat”.
On those metrics, who would you pick? Or if you’d suggest alternative metrics, what are they, and what do they imply about who is among the greatest achievers in philosophy?
Readers may also be interested in this related post: “Are History’s ‘Greatest Philosophers’ All That Great?“