‘Prospect’ magazine, a magazine synonymous with everything intellectual (“the magazine of ideas”), has recently published its latest annual ranking of the world’s greatest thinkers. Last year’s winner was the economist and philosopher Amartya Sen, but Sen is notably absent from this year’s pantheon, which rewards impact over the past year. There are one or two surprises (there’s a hint in the quote below), and two women make this year’s list (as was the case last year). Check out the top ten shown below.
“The internal mayhem I’m feeling is spilling out everywhere. I loved it, and felt very connected to activism.” Russell Brand
1. Thomas Piketty
Piketty is a French economist whose seminal book, ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’, generated much controversy and interest. The book’s central thesis is that capitalism has a tendency to produce inequalities of income and wealth distribution.
2. Yanis Varoufakis
Syriza’s victory in Greece’s January elections were largely attributed to Yanis Varoufakis, who has a doctorate in game theory. Now installed as Greece’s finance minister, Varoufakis is busy trying to sell his party’s proposal for the restructuring of Greek debt to the Eurozone leaders.
3. Naomi Klein
Although Klein is particularly associated with her ongoing charge against the excesses of computer capitalism, she is also an ardent environmentalist; her book, ‘This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate’, has seen her flex her environmentalist credentials and win the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction.
4. Russell Brand
Some have raised their eyebrows at the inclusion of the British author of ‘My Booky Wook’, revolution advocate and anti-establishment-baiting activist Russell Edward Brand in this elite ranking. Variously derided as an opportunist not to be taken seriously and an apathetic whinger, and hailed by others as a “charismatic figure on the populist left”, he is now officially one of the world’s top intellects, voted for by some of the brainiest people around. His particular bones of contention are that the poor are being shafted, the rich are getting richer and the planet is being ruined.
5. Paul Krugman
American Nobel laureate and Princeton professor, Krugman is a regular voice on debates about global economic policies, his key stance being anti-austerity.
6. Arundhati Roy
The second woman on the list, Man Booker Prize winner Roy has written extensively on the status of women in India, corporate corruption, and the cruelties inherent in the caste system in India.
7. Jürgen Habermas
Habermas has been widely lauded for boldly stating that the EU is in desperate need of reform. His most recent work is a collection of essays entitled ‘The Lure of Technocracy’.
8. Daniel Kahneman
Kahneman is a Nobel Prize winner, a psychologist and author of the critically acclaimed ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’, published in 2012. He has been described as the most influential psychologist in the world today.
9. John Gray
British-born academic John Gray has been described as the West’s “prophet of doom”; he is known for arguing that the West inhabits a world of “liberal delusion” and has written a number of books on the subject.
10. Atul Gawande
Gawande is not only a respected thinker, but he is also a surgeon and staff writer for ‘The New Yorker’. He has called for greater understanding within his profession about the limits of human fallibility and of medicine, and writes often on the subject of medical ethics.
See also: The 10 Greatest Living Geniuses
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