Thinkers on politics

Thinkers on politics

These thinkers will provide you with brilliant insights into the world, and help you to consolidate your understanding of knowledge & politics.

You can also draw on their ideas to support the discussions within your exhibition commentary, and add depth and authority to the assertions you make about knowledge. To explore them in more detail, consult our Knowledge Heroes resource.

Chinua Achebe (1930 – 2013)

Achebe was a Nigerian poet, novelist and academic, who was outspoken on colonialism and racism. He was a supporter of Biafran independence, but ultimately lost faith in politics due to the way in which he felt that power had corrupted those originally seeking freedom.

Noam Chomsky (b. 1928)

Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, historian, and activist who focuses on social and political issues. Chomsky is also one of the founders of the field of cognitive science. He is one of our knowledge heroes, appearing in the BQ lessons to help us explore the way we acquire language.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (b. 1977)

Adichie (b. 1977) is an award-winning writer and public speaker from Nigeria. She is one of our knowledge heroes, appearing in the BQ lessons to help us to explore how ‘single stories’ can feed into our confirmation bias to hinder us from understanding the world.

Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948)

Gandhi was a lawyer by training, but soon emerged as the key leader of Indian independence from British colonial rule and oppression. His central idea was non-violent civil disobedience, which he advocated alongside religious tolerance and pluralism.

Christopher Hitchens (1949 – 2011)

Hitchens was a British-American, left wing, privately educated, militantly atheist, pro-interventionist (for war in Iraq), writer, drinker, and smoker, whose life proved that people can be many things at the same time, and should never be pigeon-holed. His (critical) views on religion are probably the most interesting to us as TOK learners, for example, his assertion that belief in an omnipotent God leads to the totalitarian subjugation of the individual.

Muhammad Iqbal (1877 – 1938)

Iqbal was born in modern day Pakistan, and combined the arts with politics. Known as the ‘Poet of the East’, he was one of the figures who inspired the Pakistan movement, helping to lead to the establishment of the state in 1947.

Trevor Noah (b. 1984)

Noah is a South African comedian, TV host, and political commentator. His Daily Show is an American satirical news program on Comedy Central. He is one of our knowledge heroes, appearing in the BQ lessons to help us to explore the difference between causation and correlation in the human sciences.

George Orwell (1903 – 1950)

Orwell was the author of (among many other things) Animal Farm and 1984. In many ways, he is the ‘patron saint of  TOK’, because of his huge range of ideas on so many different topics. He is one of our knowledge heroes, appearing in the BQ lessons to help us to explore the relationship between language and knowledge.

Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712 – 1782)

Rousseau was a writer and philosopher whose thoughts on politics are amongst the most influential that have ever been developed. His idea that there should be a social contract between government and governed outlined in the publication of the same title helped to inspire the American (and later, French) revolution.

Make full use of this content in the classroom!

Knowledge Heroes enables you to link these thinkers to the course. For each thinker, you’ll find a notable quote, a description of how their ideas relate to TOK, an associated exhibition prompt, and activities and media sources to explore their work. Access the resource here.

Many of the key thinkers make regular appearances in our TOK newsletter. This helps you to make sense of the most important events going on today, and grasp how TOK concepts manifest in the real world. Read a recent edition here, subscribe to the free version here, and gain access to the premium version by joining