An overview of the modern western philosophy starting with descartes

Martin Heidegger[ edit ] Martin Heidegger rejected the philosophical basis of the concepts of "subjectivity" and "objectivity" and asserted that similar grounding oppositions in logic ultimately refer to one another.

An overview of the modern western philosophy starting with descartes

While final causes are not relevant to physics or chemistry, they are still found in biology e. In the realm of political philosophy, Aristotle argued in favour of democracy, albeit with limited suffrage compared to modern democracies. Meanwhile, with the rapid expansion of Christianity after when Constantine granted the religion official tolerancetheologians began to assemble a comprehensive Christian view of the universe by blending the revelations of scripture with Greek and Roman philosophy; until the High Middle Ages, their preferred philosophical source was Plato.

These early Christian thinkers included Saint Augustine, one of the two most influential theologians in Western history along with Thomas Aquinas. Beginning in the High Middle Ages, these writings were reabsorbed from the Islamic world.

The most influential scholastic was Thomas Aquinas, whose works which provide a comprehensive account of all existence, including several logical proofs of God helped reawaken European insterest in Aristotle, and have ever since comprised the foundation of Roman Catholic doctrine.

Descartes was a staunch rationalist; that is, he believed that knowledge of reality could only be attained through reasoned analysis of innate knowledge i.

Descartes also argued in favour of mind-body dualism, the view that the mind has an existence beyond the physical, and can therefore outlive the body. Dualism is yet another philosophical notion whose roots lie in ancient Greece. He pithily stated this argument as "cogito, ergo sum" "I think, therefore I am".

To think about a specific green tree is to think concretely; the concepts of "tree" and "green", on the other hand, are abstractions. While the natural sciences examine the concrete world and discover abstract laws that govern its behaviour, the field of mathematics is purely abstract.

Consequently, many philosophers who tend toward rationalism including Plato have been passionate mathematicians, as part of their efforts to understand reality. Descartes was no exception to this rule; most famously, he developed the Cartesian coordinate system, which united algebra and geometry.

Medieval political theory, which was founded like medieval philosophy in general on scripture, focused largely on determining ideal Christian political arrangements. Modern political philosophy emerged when thinkers set aside scripture and analyzed politics in an immediate, practical, realistic fashion.

The primary figure in this transition was Niccolo Machiavelli, the "father of modern political thought". Machiavelli described how a ruler may exploit human selfishness and cruelty, expanding and maintaining power via ruthless manipulation.

According to Kant, the human mind is structured according to innate "categories", which it imposes on the physical world in order to make sense of it.

Apart from the notion of the mind "shaping" reality, Kant is known as the most famous advocate of deontological ethics, which assert that actions are inherently right or wrong; this position stands in opposition to consequentialism, which argues that the morality of an action depends on the results.

In order to determine whether an action is morally right, Kant proposed a rule called the categorical imperative, which essentially states that an action is right for an individual provided that it would be right if everyone took that action.

The Enlightenment also gave rise to social contract theory and liberalism, arguably the two most important ideas in the history of political philosophy. Social contract theory provides a criterion by which to judge whether or not a government is legitimate.

First, one must imagine how humans behaved prior to the formation of government when people lived in a "state of nature". While these humans had no restrictions on their behaviour, they lacked protection against the harmful behaviour of others. This compelled them to come together and form a "social contract", whereby they accepted the authority of a government in exchange for its protection.

Although this thought experiment does not describe how governments have actually developed, it can be used to judge whether or not a government is legitimate. All one need do is specify the contents of the social contract: A government that fails to abide by the contract can be declared invalid, and be legitimately overthrown by its people.

An overview of the modern western philosophy starting with descartes

Social contract theory thus rejects the notion of a "divine right" to rule, under which citizens have no right to protest or revolt.

Locke argued that these freedoms are inherent "natural rights". Hobbes and Locke both lived through the English Revolution, the most critical event in the long struggle between Parliament and the monarchy for governing authority. Up until the rise of liberalism, states across the world had generally emphasized the collective over the individual, repressing freedom in favour of unity, stability, and security.

Modern Western governments are liberal democracies; that is, democracies that embrace the philosophy of liberalism. Liberalism is thus one of the two pillars of modern Western government along with democracy; see History of Democracy.

The instrument through which liberalism and democracy, for that matter is realized is law, which furnishes citizens with freedoms and protects those freedoms from being violated by others including the government itself.

A country features "rule of law" if it has a strong legal system to which all are subject, including the government; the alternative is "rule of man", in which government power is unrestricted. As the "father of liberalism", Locke may be the most influential of all political philosophers.

An encyclopedia of philosophy articles written by professional philosophers.

His work in particular the Second Treatise of Government was widely embraced by political revolutionaries of the age including those of England, France, and the United Statesand lies at the roots of all modern-day liberal democracies. Most political parties in modern democracies, whether left- or right-leaning, are supporters of liberalism; they simply differ in their interpretations and policies.

The third great social contract theorist was Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a supporter of liberalism who envisioned an idyllic state of nature.Along with J.G. Fichte and, at least in his early work, F.W.J.

von Schelling, Hegel (–) belongs to the period of German idealism in the decades following Kant. The most systematic of the post-Kantian idealists, Hegel attempted, throughout his published writings as well as in his lectures.

Postmodernism is a broad movement that developed in the mid- to lateth century across philosophy, the arts, architecture, and criticism and that marked a departure from modernism. The term has also more generally been applied to the historical era following modernity and the tendencies of this era.

(In this context, "modern" is not used in the sense of "contemporary", but merely as a name.

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In fact, much of western philosophy since Descartes has tried to reconcile the scientific worldview with traditional notions of free will, meaning, God, and morality.

Kant’s Epistemology – Kant argues that rationalism is partly correct—the mind starts with certain innate structures. Western philosophy: Western philosophy, history of Western philosophy from its development among the ancient Greeks to the present. This article has three basic purposes: (1) to provide an overview of the history of philosophy in the West, (2) to relate philosophical ideas and movements to their historical background.

Philosophy (from Greek φιλοσοφία, philosophia, literally "love of wisdom") is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras (c. – BCE). Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation.

René Descartes (—) René Descartes is often credited with being the “Father of Modern Philosophy.” This title is justified due both to his break with the traditional Scholastic-Aristotelian philosophy prevalent at his time and to his development and promotion of the new, mechanistic sciences.

Emmanuel Levinas (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)