Who is a Philosopher?

Qualities of a true Philosopher.

When you think of who a philosopher is, what comes to your mind?

 Most people think of a philosopher in terms of a university professor with grey hair. Some think a philosopher is that person who has read so many books and have great knowledge.

Others might also consider someone who has a degree in philosophy a philosopher. The truth is each of the attributes described above relates to who a philosopher is, but not limited or restricted to them.

It is possible to possess the above qualities and yet not be a philosopher.

The word philosopher is derived from philosophy. The term philosophy originates from two Greek words, “PHILO” which means love, and “SOPHOS” which means wisdom.

Philo and Sophos put together means love of wisdom. If philosophy means love of wisdom, then a philosopher is someone who loves wisdom.

The term philosopher is not a title; it is a state of mind. It is also true to say it is a kind of personality.

People who love wisdom are open-minded, they question realities, and they are good observers. Their most important tool is reason.

 They learn as much as they can learn about the nature of reality. They consistently seek to know the why and how of things.

They don’t just take whatever they learn hook, line and sinker, they question the authenticity of all information or knowledge passed to them, and sieve the truth out of the lies.
 They pick the truth and discard the lies.

A philosopher doesn’t assume he knows. He doesn’t make claim from false premises. Being a critical thinker and meticulous observer, a philosopher has seen the ignorance of men.

He has seen people who foolishly and ignorantly defend lies, and myth as truth. From their foolishness he learns empathy and realize like Socrates, that “the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. "

A true philosopher doesn’t support biases, prejudices, nepotism and tribalism. He doesn’t have a myopic view of religion as most adherents of organized religion do.

To them, what is true must pass the test of universality. A philosopher rarely engages themselves in the frivolities of life, or in pursuit of worldliness.

Though majority of them are not religious, their level of morality is impeccable.

Through reflection, introspection, exploration, thoughts and observation they come to the realization of their own truth and thus evolve spiritually.

They live their lives not based on the dos and don’ts of the purported holy books of organized religion but based on their own discovered truth.

They understand that the source of all knowledge resides within them and have learned to tap knowledge and inspiration from it through reflection, solitude and meditation.

A philosopher may not necessarily put forth a wise personality. Their look may not look a philosopher, but when they open their mouth to talk, or put pens to paper or lay fingers on keyboard, you would sense the aroma of wisdom exuding from them.

Being a philosopher is not a function of age or academic qualification.

Irrespective of age or degree, what makes you a philosopher is your love for wisdom, your desire and effort to know how the universe works, your  open-mindedness, and ability not to take what you hear or read irrespective of the source hook, line and sinker, but to view them under the microscope of truth,and subject them to the test of universality.

 If you have this mindset, then you are a philosopher.

A true philosopher is one who strictly adheres to the instruction given by Buddha to his followers.

He said to them “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."

List of 7 Popular Philosophers in History and their Popular Quotes

It is important to know that so many great philosophers have passed through this planet.

The philosophers in this list are not picked based on any unique consideration, they were picked randomly as they come to my mind. So if you didn’t see your favorite philosophers in the list, it doesn’t mean they are less a philosopher than these ones.

Here is my list.

1. Socrates

“To know is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge.”

“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves and the world around us.”

“Know thyself”

2. Plato

“For a man to conquer himself is the first and noblest of all victories.”

“Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.”

“Human behavior flows from three sources: desire, emotion and knowledge.”

3. Aristotle

“The aim of the wise is not to secure pleasure but to avoid pain.”

“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing and be nothing.”

“Dignity consists not in possessing honor, but in the consciousness that we deserve them.”

4. Epicurus

“Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.”

“A nice life is not possible without wisdom, morality and justice.”

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he’s not omnipotent
Is he able but not willing?
The he’s malevolent
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”

5. John Lock

“Our incomes are like our shoes; if too small, they gall and pinch us; if tool large cause us to stumble and to trip.”

“No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience.”

“What worries you, masters you.”

6. Rene Descartes

“It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.”

“Hope is the desire of the soul that the dream will come true.”

“I think therefore I am”

7. Albert Einstein

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we use in creating them.”

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one learns in school.”

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

Over to You

What is your take on who a philosopher is?

Do you consider yourself a philosopher?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment box.

If you find this useful, kindly share it with your friends on social media.

Sharing is caring.


  1. Everyone has potential to be a philosopher. I consider myself to be one and my hubby definitely is.

  2. Hi Taiwo, philosophy is something I love and I love the philosophers you have mentioned. As to what I consider a philosopher to be, I guess it's someone who has wise words, and I hope I do sometimes too!

    Enjoy the journey!