The problem with speculating lies within the very meaning of such; that is, absolutes either fail to exist or are otherwise unknown. One is therefore able to conclude that, given the inherent neutrality of such, no individual may hold an ideological position which is greater than that of any other. Therefore, one may be equally justified in positioning President Obama as the most influential of modern man.
Although the preceding rebuttal is widely acknowledged and often accepted, this writer finds such to be ostensible at-best. The problem with this is that, upon establishing one’s bias exclusively through relativistic philosophies, one effectively fails in his obligation of obtaining objective knowledge and, as such, understanding. Consequently, the writer positions that is it only through the use of logical analysis that one may effectively yield insight into the factors--or lack thereof--which ultimately form one’s bias.
Supporting this writer’s decision in accrediting Stephen Hawking with such distinction, one must consider that which constitutes the greatest of lasting influence; influence as it relates not only to humanity in the short-term, yet that of the entirety of humanity's descendants henceforth. In accomplishing this, Stephen Hawking has made profound contributions on that which some have referred to as “the road to grandiose” as well as “the path traversed by the gods of men.” Perhaps one may simply know this road by its most common reference; Science.
As with any concept, opposite extremes must exist. Unfortunate as it may be, there lies a much more sinister foe than that of mere ignorance. A foe so great that, by its