Nameberry Picks: 20 Best Philosophical Baby Names

When someone on our message boards suggested that we do a blog on philosophers’ names a while back, my first reaction was hmm, that sounds a bit heavy!  And maybe just a bit too esoteric?

But it’s names we’re after, and, digging around, I found that there are quite a few usable first name choices in that field, from across time and a wide variety of cultures.  And let’s not forget– Plato, Socrates and Aristotle (as in Onassis) are regularly used as everyday names in modern Greece.

Here are twenty worth considering, together with their philosophical isms—not that you have to plow through all their treatises to use one of their names:

Anselm, St. –Italian monk who founded Scholasticism,

Aristotle ancient Greek philosopher, scientist and logician (not to mention the name of a character in the video game Rygar and in several comics and movies); has the user-friendly nickname Ari, as used for Mr. Onassis

Augustine—St. Augustine of Hippo was one of the most influential Christian thinkers

Benedetto CroceItalian philosopher who made major contributions to the aesthetics of idealism.

Blaise PascalFrench philosopher, mathematician, scientist and theologian

Jiddu Krishnamurti –Indian spiritual philosopher

Josiah RoyceAmerican pragmatist philosopher

Jurgen HabermasModern German philosopher and sociologist

Luce IrigarayContemporary Belgian feminist philosopher

Lucretius –ancient Roman author of an epic philosophical poem on Epicureanism

Ludwig WittgensteinAustrian-born English philosopher concerned with logic and language

Niccolo Machiavelli—Italian Renaissance statesman and philosopher who argued that any act of a ruler to gain and hold power is permissible

Noam Chomsky—Contemporary American linguist, philosopher, and political activist

Philo of Alexandria— Ancient Greek Jew who synthesized Greek philosophy with messianic Hebrew thought

PlatoAthenian father of Western philosophy and student of Socrates (and a major character’s name/nickname in Rebel Without a Cause)

Quintin Meillassoux Contemporary French philosopher of the school of “speculative realism.”

SenecaRoman Stoic philosopher, statesman and dramatist

SimoneErnestineLucieMarie Bertrand de Beauvoir—20th century French Existentialist philosopher and social theorist, best remembered for her feminist treatise The Second Sex

Søren KirkegaardDanish Existentialist philosopher and religious thinker

Zeno of Elea — pre-Socratic fifth century Greek philosopher known for his paradoxes; and Zeno of Citium , founder of the Stoic school of philosophy                                                                                                                                                                           

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11 Responses to “Nameberry Picks: 20 Best Philosophical Baby Names”

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Charlotte Vera Says:

March 29th, 2011 at 4:15 am

The professor of my required university philosophy class introduced me to the thoughts of Alvin Plantinga, his favourite contemporary analytic philosopher.

Hannah Arendt has been described many as a philosopher, although she herself disliked the term and preferred to be known as a political theorist.

Hildegard of Bingen (philosopher, Christian mystic, and Benedictine Abbess) might not have the most wearable name, but she is also known by the more user-friendly Sybil of the Rhine.

Ayn Rand is possibly 20th century’s most famous female philosopher.

Incidentally, I know a female Seneca — I’m not sure that her parents were familiar with the historical figure.

Valentina Says:

March 29th, 2011 at 6:24 am

I love Ludwig (when pronounced the German way). Zeno is also cool, and Noam.

Lola Says:

March 29th, 2011 at 9:05 am

Anselm’s a huge favorite (and is the family patron saint) as is Philo & Blaise. 😀
Niccolo intrigues me, as does the entire Machiavelli family. What an interesting lot they were.

Simple Lucius seems a bit more wearable than Lucretius too. Might just be me, though. And Sibyl thrills me from the few girls.

Lovely set of names today!

pdxlibrarian Says:

March 29th, 2011 at 10:11 am

Some more suggestions:

William James (maybe it won’t be an obvious tribute, but both first and last names are eminently usable)

Henry David Thoreau

John Dewey (Dewey is pretty cute)

A second vote for Hannah Ardent (despite her protestations) and another suggestions on the women’s side, Simone de Beauvoir (LOVE her first name).

And one might check out the character name list for the TV show Lost — packed with brilliant name references to philosophers. Desmond David Hume, anyone?

pdxlibrarian Says:

March 29th, 2011 at 10:12 am

Just saw that you already got Simone de Bouvoir. Including all her names meant that I didn’t recognize it when scanning down the list. 🙂

kgcg31 Says:

March 29th, 2011 at 10:33 am

I love the name Soren . . . and the tie to Kierkegaard just adds to an already great name.

Lisa Says:

March 29th, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Simone is our 8 month old’s MN, partly for de Beauvoir. Soren was high on our boy list for her, and Blaise was an early contender for both our older son and 2nd baby. For us at least, many of these names are highly usable and have great historical reference without sounding elitest.

Meg Says:

March 29th, 2011 at 1:25 pm

I like Emerson, as in Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Leila Says:

March 29th, 2011 at 4:10 pm

I quite like Blaise, Augustine, Simone, Philo, and Zeno. Also, I think that in the same vein as Philo, Hypatia could be included.

Chris Says:

May 21st, 2011 at 8:21 pm

No René Descartes?

UniqueNameLover Says:

September 25th, 2011 at 7:48 pm

A few weeks ago, I met a guy named Aristotle. How awesome is that?

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