While taking a break from reading Ortega, I decided to revisit this list, and make a new one, not that it really matters. My last one was way too influence by the academic in me. I didn't enjoy most of the philosophers I studied during my undergrad.
1. Socrates/Plato -- even though it is obvious that Plato often disagreed with Socrates and used him as a voice box for ideas that he wouldn't hold himself, you cannot really just look at Socrates without Plato.
2. Ralph Waldo Emerson - What can I say? I just love transcendentalism. I also especially like Emerson's views on individuality, thinking, and aesthetics.
3. Jose Ortega y Gasset - His doctrine of perspectivism remains one of the best versions of that thinking. But he was not just limited to that. He had unique ideas on metaphysics, epistemology, social philosophy, and also threw in a bunch of sociology and anthropology as well. Everyone should read The Revolt of the Masses
if they get a chance. It is an often overlooked classic. For Ortega's ghost, it may have been most unfortunate that there were/are? very few Spanish philosophers. Other than Miguel de Unamuno, often cited as one of the founders of existentialism--and a key influence on Ortega--it is difficult to think of another major Spanish philosopher.
4. John Stuart Mill - On Liberty
and The Subjection of Women
are two of my favorite philosophy books. My views on democracy and rights of majorities and minorities were pretty much lifted straight from Mill. Reading Mill always gets me thinking about how society could be better.
5. Nietzsche - He is difficult for me to place. I wrote my senior capstone project on the eternal recurrence (bad choice) and I agree much of N's philosophy and psychology--even if he was incapable of forming "real" arguments. I also appreciated the style in which N appeared to write (unfortunately, I cannot read German). But in the thousands of pages I have read by and about Nietzsche, I would say that one third to half was mostly trash. Unnecessary filler that would have been better for having more editing and drafting. Oh well, the mess remains for everyone to uncover.
6. Hume - Pretty much all my views on human understanding are directly derived from Hume. Most of my ideas on observations, beliefs, inference, and on the limits to the God we can picture rationally are put forth in
An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
. I am not a big fan of Hume's ethics and morality though. But his version of empiricism
7. Peter Kropotkin - Much of my social and political philosophy comes from Russian anarchism that opposed Marxism--Mikhail Bakunin being the other major), but then much of the rest of my social and political philosophy comes from the Marx line.
8. David Harvey - Geographer, Political Philosopher and Anthropologist, Harvey is most widely known for his Marxist urban theory that he exposes in his geographic and political work. His explanation of dialectics is excellent, and his blend of a vast array of fields allows him to ground his ideas firmly in reality.
9. Noam Chomsky - Of course, he may be the most polarizing character in the modern world. But his work in political philosophy was always needed as a major critique to modern society. Chomsky is much like David Harvey in his criticism of the modern urban world, but Chomsky focuses in on much more of the day to day realities rather than the foundations on which society has been built. Chomsky is not afraid to say what needs to be said, and often has much evidence he brings to pound home his points.
10. Epictetus - For the little 25 pages or so that survived in The Enchiridion
, one of Epictetus' students relays the perfect philosophy to live by in a world in which everyone's business is everyone else's business. Sure, the philosophy is rather cold, but sometimes the best way to get through live is not concerning yourself with others that should be of no concern to you.
Anyway, sorry Kierkegaard and Kant. I did not like you enough.
And, Thomas Nagel almost made my list just for "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?" It looks like you can read that here.