The Liberal Institute: Proto-Liberal Intellectuals
The Liberal Institute
Other Liberal Thinkers

Liberal thinkers, with very few exceptions, fall cleanly into six categories. Four are historical, two are current. But even the best of these is far from pure. The strongest thinker, Aristotle (384-322 BC), never once said there was no such thing as god. And he discussed the "soul" endlessly. The next strongest thinker, Ayn Rand (1905-1982 AD), disbelieved in relativity, evolution, and the Big Bang. And she created a cult more than a philosophic school.

But atheism and science are integral to liberalism. The unreasonableness and rank illiberalism of mythology and pseudo-science are anathema to a healthy lifestyle and civilized society. The attitudes, beliefs, and practices of Aristotle and Rand were sometimes highly irrational. So even the finest of proto-liberal thinkers are far from being true or pure liberals.

Still, we have to work with what we've got, so here is the best so far:

Greeks
1. Aristotle
2. Socrates
3. Democritus
4. Epicurus
5. Zeno
6. Theophrastus
7. Demosthenes
8. Euclid
9. Euripides
10. Sophocles

Romans
1. Cicero
2. Lucretius
3. Aurelius
4. Virgil
5. Horace
6. Seneca
7. Juvenal
8. Terence
9. Publius
10. Ulian

Europeans
1. John Locke
2. Voltaire
3. Adam Smith
4. Denis Diderot
5. Francis Bacon
6. d'Alembert
7. Montesquieu
8. Helvetius
9. d'Holbach
10. Pierre Bayle

Americans
1. Thomas Jefferson
2. Benjamin Franklin
3. John Adams
4. Thomas Paine
5. James Madison
6. John Jay
7. Albert J. Nock
8. John Quincy Adams
9. Gouveneur Morris
10. John Marshall

Austrians/Libertarians
1. Ludwig von Mises
2. Frederic Hayek
3. Henry Hazlitt
4. Murray Rothbard
5. Robert Nozick
6. Frederich Bastiat
7. Lysander Spooner
8. Jacob Hornberger*
9. Robert Poole*
10. James Bovard*

Objectivists
1. Ayn Rand
2. David Kelley*
3. Stephen Hicks*
4. Leonard Peikoff*
5. Chris Sciabarra*
6. Nathaniel Branden*
7. Robert Bidinotto*
8. Robert Tracinski*
9. John Lewis*
10. Yaron Brook*

*magnificently still living