The Most Popular Philosophy, Ranked

Choose the philosophy you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on May 21, 2024 06:47
When we consider the abundance of philosophical thought across cultures and times, people often find themselves surrounded by a range of beliefs and theories. This can make it challenging to identify which perspectives resonate most with global audiences. A dynamic ranking of popular philosophies provides clarity by reflecting collective preferences and insights, offering a snapshot of philosophical leanings that appeal to the masses today. Through your participation, this list remains reflective of current trends and evolving thoughts in philosophy. Voting on your preferred philosophies helps gauge what stirs minds and prompts discussions around the world. This participatory approach not only enriches the understanding of philosophical popularity but also encourages a community of thinkers to actively engage with diverse ideologies.

What Is the Most Popular Philosophy?

  1. 1
    This ancient Greek philosophy has gained tremendous popularity in recent years due to its practical approach to dealing with life's challenges. It teaches that we should focus on what we can control and accept what we cannot, leading to a more peaceful and fulfilling life.
    Stoicism is a philosophical school of thought that was founded in ancient Greece in the 3rd century BCE. It emphasizes the development of self-control, resilience, and acceptance of one's fate. Stoics believe that the key to a good life is achieved through aligning oneself with nature and focusing on virtue, wisdom, and ethical behavior. By detaching oneself from desires and emotions, one can attain inner peace and tranquility.
    • Virtue Ethics: Stoicism places a strong emphasis on ethics, with virtue seen as the highest good.
    • Logos: The concept of 'logos' plays a significant role in Stoicism, representing the rational order of the universe.
    • Discipline of Desire: Stoics advocate for the discipline of desire, encouraging individuals to align their desires with reason and to focus on what is within their control.
    • Acceptance of Fate: Stoics promote the acceptance of fate or external events beyond one's control, emphasizing the importance of focusing on internal attitudes and responses.
    • Emotional Resilience: Stoicism teaches individuals to cultivate emotional resilience and to approach challenging situations with equanimity.
  2. 2
    The teachings of Buddha emphasize mindfulness, compassion, and the pursuit of inner peace. It has become increasingly popular in the Western world due to its non-dogmatic approach and practical application in everyday life.
    Buddhism is a major religion and philosophy practiced in Myanmar. It encompasses various teachings, beliefs, and practices based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who is known as the Buddha.
    • Number of Followers: Approximately 87% of Myanmar's population identifies as Buddhist
    • Central Belief: The Four Noble Truths – the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering
    • Key Teachings: The Eightfold Path, the Middle Way, Dependent Origination
    • Veneration of Buddhas: Respect and reverence for various Buddhas and bodhisattvas
    • Monastic Order: Theravada Buddhism is the predominant monastic tradition
  3. 3
    This philosophy focuses on the individual's search for meaning in a seemingly meaningless world. It emphasizes personal responsibility and choice, leading to greater freedom and authenticity.
    Existentialism is a philosophical movement that emphasizes individual existence, freedom, and choice. It explores the nature of human existence and the meaning of life in a subjective and personal manner. Existentialists believe that individuals create their own meaning and purpose in life through their actions and experiences.
    • Existential angst: Existentialism often focuses on the anxiety and despair that arises from the human experience of confronting the meaninglessness and absurdity of existence.
    • Freedom and responsibility: Existentialism emphasizes the importance of individual freedom and the responsibility individuals have in making choices and taking action.
    • Authenticity: Existentialists encourage individuals to live authentic lives by embracing their freedom, making meaningful choices, and accepting the consequences of their actions.
    • Existence precedes essence: Existentialism rejects the idea that humans possess an innate essence or predetermined purpose. Instead, individuals define themselves through their actions and choices.
    • Subjectivity: Existentialism values subjective experience, emphasizing individual perspectives and personal interpretations of reality.
  4. 4
    This ancient Chinese philosophy emphasizes living in harmony with the natural world and finding balance between opposing forces. It teaches that we should let go of our desires and accept things as they are.
    Taoism, also known as Daoism, is a philosophical and religious tradition that originated in ancient China. It is based on the teachings of Laozi, a Chinese philosopher believed to have lived in the 6th century BCE. Taoism emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao, which is often translated as 'the Way' or 'the way of nature.' It advocates for spontaneity, simplicity, and humility, and emphasizes the balance of yin and yang forces in the world.
    • Beliefs: Harmony with the Tao
    • Philosophy: Spontaneity, simplicity, and humility
    • Key Texts: Tao Te Ching
    • Deities: Deities are lesser emphasized in Taoism compared to other major religions
    • Yin and Yang: Emphasis on the balance and interdependence of opposing forces
  5. 5
    This philosophy emphasizes the value and dignity of human beings, as well as the importance of reason, science, and individual freedom. It is often associated with secularism and atheism.
    Humanism is a philosophical movement that emphasizes the inherent value and agency of human beings. It focuses on human interests, values, and dignity, while rejecting supernatural beliefs. Humanism celebrates reason, ethics, and compassion as distinctly human qualities, promoting human flourishing and well-being. It encourages individuals to take personal responsibility for shaping their own lives and society, advocating for equality, justice, and the pursuit of knowledge.
    • 1: Emphasizes the value and agency of human beings.
    • 2: Rejects supernatural beliefs.
    • 3: Focuses on reason, ethics, and compassion.
    • 4: Promotes human flourishing and well-being.
    • 5: Encourages personal responsibility.
  6. 6
    This philosophy emphasizes the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. However, it also teaches that true pleasure comes from living a simple and virtuous life.
    Epicureanism is a philosophy that emphasizes the pursuit of happiness and pleasure as the ultimate goal of human life. It was founded by Epicurus, a Greek philosopher who lived from 341 to 270 BCE. Epicureanism places great importance on minimizing pain and living a simple and virtuous life. Here are ten important specifications of Epicureanism:
    • Hedonism: Belief that pleasure and absence of pain are the highest good and ultimate aim of life.
    • Ataraxia: The goal of achieving tranquility and freedom from distress.
    • Materialism: Doctrine that only material things exist and that mental states are simply the result of physical processes.
    • Atomism: Belief that everything in the universe is made up of indivisible and indestructible particles called atoms.
    • Friendship: Valuing close and trustworthy friendships as an essential component of a happy life.
  7. 7
    This ancient Chinese philosophy emphasizes the importance of social harmony, respect for authority, and the pursuit of personal morality. It has had a significant influence on Chinese culture and society for thousands of years.
    Confucianism is a philosophical and ethical system developed by Confucius, a Chinese philosopher, in the 5th century BCE. It is predominantly focused on social harmony, ethics, and morality, promoting the idea of self-improvement and cultivating virtue.
    • Ren: Emphasizes benevolence, kindness, and empathy towards others.
    • Li: Promotes ritual propriety, etiquette, and respect for traditional customs.
    • Xiao: Stresses filial piety and respect for elders and ancestors.
    • Junzi: Advocates for the ideal of the noble person and moral leadership.
    • Zhong: Highlights loyalty and dedication towards one's country or organization.
  8. 8
    This philosophy emphasizes practicality and usefulness over abstract theory. It teaches that knowledge should be tested by its practical application and that truth is constantly evolving.
    Pragmatism is a philosophical movement that emphasizes the practical consequences of beliefs and ideas. It focuses on the application and usefulness of concepts, theories, and actions rather than their abstract or theoretical coherence. Pragmatism promotes the idea that the value of any belief or doctrine lies in its ability to produce practical results and solve real-world problems. It emphasizes thinking in terms of practical consequences and the practical effects of our actions.
    • Instrumentalism: Pragmatism advocates viewing theories, concepts, and ideas as instruments or tools for achieving practical outcomes.
    • Fallibilism: Pragmatism acknowledges the fallibility of knowledge and promotes a willingness to revise beliefs and ideas based on new information and experiences.
    • Experimentalism: Pragmatism encourages experimentation and empirical testing as a way to validate theories and ideas.
    • Anti-dogmatism: Pragmatism rejects the notion of absolute or universal truths, emphasizing that beliefs and ideas should be evaluated based on their practical consequences.
    • Meaning as arising from experience: Pragmatism centers on the idea that the meaning of concepts, ideas, and theories is derived from their practical consequences and experiential verification.
  9. 9
    This philosophy holds that life has no inherent meaning or value, and that all beliefs and values are ultimately meaningless. It has become popular in certain counterculture movements and is often associated with existentialism.
  10. 10
    This philosophy emphasizes the greatest good for the greatest number of people. It teaches that actions should be judged based on their consequences and the amount of happiness they create.
    Utilitarianism is a consequentialist moral theory that focuses on maximizing overall happiness and minimizing overall suffering. It revolves around the principle of utility, which states that actions are right insofar as they promote the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people.
    • Happiness as ultimate good: Utilitarianism sees happiness (or pleasure) as the ultimate intrinsic good.
    • Consequentialism: Utilitarianism judges actions solely based on their consequences.
    • Quantitative approach: It seeks to measure happiness and suffering, aiming to maximize the overall net happiness.
    • Greatest Happiness Principle: The primary principle is to act in a way that produces the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people.
    • Equal consideration of interests: All individuals' interests and well-being are considered equally.

Missing your favorite philosophy?


Ranking factors for popular philosophy

  1. Historical impact
    Consider the influence a particular philosophy has had on culture, societies, and human thought throughout history. A highly popular philosophy may have shaped the development of various civilizations or prompted significant intellectual and cultural movements.
  2. Number of adherents
    This refers to the number of people who explicitly or implicitly follow a certain philosophy in their beliefs, actions, and values. A larger number of adherents often indicates greater popularity.
  3. Influence on other philosophers and thinkers
    Examine whether a particular philosophy has had a notable impact on the ideas and works of other prominent philosophers, theorists, or intellectuals. A widely influential philosophy is likely to be considered more popular.
  4. Relevance to contemporary issues
    Determine if a philosophy is still applicable and influential in addressing or solving current issues and problems in the world, such as ethical dilemmas, political challenges, or social dynamics. Greater relevance to current issues implies a higher level of popularity.
  5. Presence in academic and public discourse
    Assess the extent to which a philosophy is studied, discussed, and debated in schools, universities, and public forums. A frequently discussed or taught philosophy tends to be more popular.
  6. Recognition by major institutions, awards, or events
    Consider whether a philosophy, its proponents, or its related works have been recognized or honored by major institutions, awards, or events, like the Nobel Prize or significant conferences. Such recognition can indicate popularity.
  7. Enduring appeal
    Gauge whether a philosophy has retained its vitality and appeal throughout the centuries, showing that it has resonated deeply with generations of people. An enduring and timeless philosophy is often considered more popular.
  8. Accessibility and comprehensibility
    Assess how easy it is to understand and examine a particular philosophy. An accessible and comprehensible philosophy is more likely to be popular, as it can reach wider audiences and generate interest.
  9. Adaptability and applicability
    Determine if a philosophy can be applied or adapted to different cultures, beliefs, and lifestyles, which indicates its compatibility and appeal across various contexts.
  10. Cultural impact
    Consider the influence of a particular philosophy on the arts, literature, or other cultural expressions, as the broader impact on society is also an indicator of its popularity.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular philosophy. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or philosophy is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 186 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each philosophy once every 24 hours. The rank of each philosophy is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most popular philosophy

Philosophy is a study of general and fundamental problems that concern existence, values, reason, mind, and language. It is a broad field that has been explored by great thinkers throughout history. The word philosophy comes from the Greek word philosophia, meaning "love of wisdom". Since ancient times, philosophers have grappled with fundamental questions about life, such as the nature of reality, the meaning of human existence, and the nature of morality. Over time, different schools of thought have emerged, each with its own unique perspective on these questions. Some of the most well-known philosophical traditions include ancient Greek philosophy, which gave birth to the works of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, as well as Eastern philosophical traditions such as Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. Today, philosophy continues to be a source of inspiration and guidance for people from all walks of life. From ethics and political philosophy to metaphysics and epistemology, there is no shortage of fascinating and thought-provoking topics to explore in this endlessly fascinating field.

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