So who were the greatest of the greats? A new poll is available, and its top thirty reads thus:
13. J.S. Mill
19. B. Russell
28. F. Bacon
30. D.K. Lewis
There were 87 names available to voters, and all 87 were ranked, although the supervisor of the poll, Brian Leiter, highlighted the top 30 I've provided here.
A couple of quick points to start, though I'll say more about these results tomorrow.
First, I am of course dismayed that William James didn't make the top 30. He came respectably close to making the cut (in the mid 30s out of the 87). But I certainly think he was deserving of higher placement than, say, Russell, Frege, Augustine, or Bacon.
The top of the list is quite conventional. It begins with Aristotle and Plato. One is reminded of Raphael's painting with those two figures at the center foreground -- Aristotle gesturing horizontally with his arm, indicating his this worldly concerns, Plato gesturing vertically with his finger, indicating otherworldly concerns.
Then the three best known names of early-modern European philosophy get posts 3-5 and then we go back to ancient Athens for Socrates. It is nice to know the time-tested verities still win polls.