Twenty Non-western Intellectuals: You may not know about them


  1. Shirin Ebadi, Iran: (Born 21 June 1947) is an Iranian lawyer, a former judge and human rights activist and founder of Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran. On 10 October 2003, Ebadi was awarded the Noble Peace Prize for her significant and pioneering efforts for democracy and human rights, especially women’s, children’s and refugee rights. She was the first ever Iranian to receive the prize.
  2. Ramachandra Guha, India: (Born 29 April 1958 inDehra Dun) is an Indian historian and writer whose research interests include environment, social, political and cricket history. His well know work is India After Gandhi.
  3. Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore: (16 September 1923 – 23 March 2015) Lee Kuan yew the founding father and the first Prime Minister and the Founding Father of independent Singapore. He worked as elected Member of Parliament for nearly 60 years until his death in 2015. Under his leadership, the country being described as transitioning from the third world to the first world in a single generation.
  4. Minxin Pei, China: (1957)is an expert on governance in the People’s Republic of China, U.S.-Asia relations, and democratization in developing nations. He currently serves as the director of the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies at Claremont McKenna College and is a former senior associate with the Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International peace. Famous works: “From Reform to Revolution”, “China’s Trapped Transition”
  5. Ashis Nandy, India (Bengali, 1937) An Indian political psychologist, social theorist and critic. A trained clinical psychologist, Nandy has provided theoretical critiques of European colonialism, development, modernity, secularism, Hindutwa, science, technology, nuclearism, cosmopolitanism, and utopia
  6. Muhammad Yunus, Bangladesh: (June 28, 1940) Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, banker, economist and civil society leader who awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for founding the Grameen Bank and pioneering the concepts of microcredit and microfinance. His famous books, “Banker to the Poor”, “Creating the World without Poverty”
  7. Aroj Ali Matubbar Bangladesh: (1900–1985) was a self-taught philosopher and apostate of Bangladesh. He studied for only a few months. He gathered most of his knowledge on varied subjects, including science and philosophy, through his own readings and research.
  8. Absar Ahmad, Pakistan (born 1945) is a distinguished Pakistani philosopher. He has been chairperson of the philosophy department twice and also a visiting professor at universities in Uganda, USA and Pakistan. His main publications are: The Concept of Mind in Contemporary Philosophy, Kant and Kierkegaard: A Comparative Study, Knowledge Morality Nexus and a book on moral philosophy in Urdu.
  9. Tariq Rahman, Pakistan: Dr. Tariq Rahman born in 4 Feb, 1949. He is Pakistani academic, columnist and intellectual, presently he is Dean at the Beacon-house National University, Lahore. He is a highly published scholar. His most famous book is Language and Politics in Pakistan, published by Oxford, Pakistan. He joined the army as an officer in 1971. However, he decided to leave the army due to the military action in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.
  10. Arai Hakuseki,Japan: (1657 – 1725) was a Confucian, scholar-bureaucrat, academic, administrator, writer and politician in Japan. Hakuseki’s published writings encompass 237 works in 390 publications in 6 languages and 3,163 library holdings.
  11. Fujiwara Seika, Japan: (1561 –1619) was aJapanese neo-Confucian and philosopher in the Edo Period. Fujiwara Seika is regarded as the father of Tokugawa Neo-Confucianism.
  12. Confucius, China: (551- 479 B.C.) Confucius was an influential Chinese philosopher, teacher and political figure known for his popular aphorisms and for his models of social interaction. Confucianism later became the official imperial philosophy of China, and was extremely influential during the Han, Tang and Song dynasties.
  13. Han Feizi, China: (280- 233bce) the greatest of China’s Legalistic philosophers. To Han Feizi it was axiomatic that political institutions must change with changing historical circumstances.
  14. Abdel Rahman Badawi, Egypt: (1917- 2002) Egyptian philosopher and academic who, was generally regarded as Egypt’s first and foremost existential philosopher. A prolific writer and translator, with about 120 monographs and translations in philosophy, viewed as the first existentialist philosopher.
  15. Ali Mazrui, Kenya: (1933-2014) was an academic professor, and political writer on African and Islam Studies and North-South relations. Kenya His Research Interests include: African politics; international relations; comparative politics and political theory.
  16. Henry Odera Oruka, Kenya: (1944- 1995) was a Kenyan philosopher who is best known for Sage Philosophy, a project started in the 1970s in an attempt to preserve the knowledge of the indigenous thinkers in traditional African communities.
  17. Al-Ghazali:(1058–1111) to the Western medieval world was a Muslim Theologian, jurist, philosopher, and mystic of Persian descent.  Al-Ghazali has been referred to by some historians as the single most influential Muslim after the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Al-Ghazali contributed significantly to the development of a systematic view of Sufism and to its integration and acceptance in mainstream Islam.
  18. Omar Khayyam: (1048- 1131), was a Persian Mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, and poet. He also wrote treatises on mechanics, geography, mineralogy, music, and Islamic theology. Outside Iran and Persian-speaking countries, Khayyam has had an impact on literature and societies through the translation of his works and popularization by other scholars.
  19. Arda Denkel, Turkey:(1949–2000) was a Turkish philosopher. He studied at the University of Oxford. His famous work, The Natural Background of Meaning. He also authored several other books and articles in both Turkish and English, including his Object and Property.
  20. Park Gyu-Su, Korea: (1807–1877) was a scholar, a bureaucrat, a teacher, a politician and a diplomat of Joseon Dynasty Korea. He was known as a pioneer of the enlightenment group.



I have tried to collect names of Philosophers from credible sources. Since, I have collected names from many different sources it is getting difficult to cite them all. The biography and other information about most of the philosophers are taken from online encyclopedias of different countries and some of the information is also taken from some random online sources.


8 thoughts on “Twenty Non-western Intellectuals: You may not know about them

Add yours

  1. love this list although Dr.Mazrui’s work was more Zanzibarian centered but still we love him as a kenyan.
    Love this list ,it was quite an education for me and just goes to show that knowledge is food for all our souls, black, white,male or female.We all need it.

  2. I always disliked the lack of information on non-western cultures when I was growing up. It’s better now, but as you are showing us, there is so much to learn. I think I would enjoy a no-western philosophy overview course – that would be great! Thanks for following my blog – I appreciate it!

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