INTERMISSION: Great Rivals in History

Combining the previous two Intermissions, here we focus on the real life mano a mano battles from history. I present two different tables, each depicting the push and pull of history’s great military, political, religious, philosophical, scientific, and artistic leaders.

Great Rivals in History

Any historic rivalry that has a book written about it – be it a chapter or the whole book – made the preliminary list. Next I made sure to only include one-on-one battles and only those where both individuals were listed in the Pantheon.World database. Read how Pantheon determines their HPI rankings here. I will continue to update this list as I discover more books dedicated to historical rivals. Download the full list below:

Here are the top 15 rivalries on the list, according to the average HPI of the combatants:

Leonardo da VincivsMichelangelo
Isaac NewtonvsGottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz
Nikola TeslavsThomas Edison
Mahatma GandhivsWinston Churchill
Albert EinsteinvsNiels Bohr
Alexander the GreatvsDarius III
Joseph StalinvsLeon Trotsky
Sigmund FreudvsCarl Jung
Henri MatissevsPablo Picasso
Elizabeth I of EnglandvsMary I of Scotland
Julius CeasarvsPompey
Richard I of EnglandvsSaladin
Rene DescartesvsPierre de Fermat
Galileo GalileivsPope Urban VIII

Plato vs Aristotle

Plato vs Aristotle ranked second on the list above, but when Pantheon released their first rankings back in 2015, Aristotle ranked #1 and Plato #2. Undoubtedly, they are among the most influential individuals in human history. In the document below I chart the lineages that both men spawned and how their dueling philosophies have defined Western civilization to this day. From Plato to Polybius to Plotinus to Saint Augustine to Leonardo to Galileo to Rousseau to Marx to Bohr to Artificial Intelligence. From Aristotle to Archimedes to Ptolemy to Saint Aquinas to Machiavelli to Locke to Adam Smith to Darwin to Einstein to the Human Genome.

This quote from a 1947 journal article sums them up nicely, “Aristotle is second to none in logic, psychology, biology, and natural science generally. His patient accumulation of data in almost every province of knowledge is probably unequaled. He does not, however, rise to the heights of Plato’s vision in ethics, political science, or metaphysics, where Plato is at his best.” And as Arthur Herman states in his book, The Cave and the Light, which inspired this list, “One path – Plato’s path – sees the world through the eyes of the religious mystic as well as the artist. It finds its strength in the realm of contemplation and speculation and seeks to unleash the power of human beings’ dreams and desires. The path of Aristotle, by contrast, observes reality through the sober eyes of science and reveals the power of logic and analysis as tools of human freedom. ‘The fact is our starting point,’ he said, and meant it.” Lastly, as Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote in 1830, “Every man is born an Aristotelian or a Platonist. I do not think it is possible that any one born an Aristotelian can become a Platonist; and I am sure no born Platonist can ever change into an Aristotelian. They are two classes of men beside which it is next to impossible to conceive a third.” Download the detailed list of significant Platonists and Aristotelians here: