Saturday, January 29, 2011

Philosophers who have become famous after their deaths?

Still following the situation in Egypt closely (probably too closely, as I have a public talk to give this Friday that needs to be finished). But I don't have much coherent to say at this point, so a thought I have been mulling over.

Are there philosophers that were not considered important in their own lifetime, that have become major sometime after they died?

In art to become famous after you have died is almost a cliche, the most famous example being, of course, Van Gogh. In literature there are any number of examples. Emily Dickinson, for one. Or Franz Kafka, whose obituary referenced him as a writer of the Max Brod school. In math, I can think of at least one major example, Georg Cantor.

In philosophy I haven't been able to come up with any examples. I have come up with plenty that have become more famous, they were already pretty well-known in their lifetime. I can come up with any number who were famous in their lifetime, but fairly ignored now. I am sure there is probably some obvious example that I will feel like an idiot when someone points it out to me.