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Western philosophy refers to the philosophical thought and work of the Western world. Historically, the term refers to the philosophical thinking of Western culture, beginning with the ancient Greek philosophy of the pre-Socratics. The word philosophy itself originated from the Ancient Greek philosophía (φιλοσοφία), literally, "the love of wisdom" (φιλεῖν phileîn, "to love" and σοφία sophía, "wisdom").

Ancient

The scope of ancient Western philosophy included the problems of philosophy as they are understood today; but it also included many other disciplines, such as pure mathematics and natural sciences such as physics, astronomy, and biology (Aristotle, for example, wrote on all of these topics).

Pre-Socratics

The pre-Socratic philosophers were interested in cosmology; the nature and origin of the universe, while rejecting mythical answers to such questions.[1] They were specifically interested in the arche (the cause or first principle) of the world. The first recognized philosopher, Thales of Miletus (born ca. 625 BCE in Ionia) identified water as the arche (claiming "all is water"). His use of observation and reason to derive this conclusion is the reason for distinguishing him as the first philosopher.[2] Thales' student Anaximander claimed that the arche was the apeiron, the infinite. Following both Thales and Anaximander, Anaximenes of Miletus claimed that air was the most suitable candidate.

Ionia, source of early Greek philosophy, in western Asia Minor

Pythagoras (born ca. 570 BCE), from the island of Samos off the coast of Ionia, later lived in Croton in southern Italy (Magna Graecia). Pythagoreans hold that "all is number", giving formal accounts in contrast to the previous material of the Ionians. The discovery of consonant intervals in music by the group enabled the concept of harmony to be established in philosophy, which suggested that opposites could together give rise to new things.[3] They also believed in metempsychosis, the transmigration of souls, or reincarnation.

Parmenides argued that, unlike the other philosophers who believed the arche was transformed into multiple things, the world must be singular, unchanging and eternal, while anything suggesting the contrary was an illusion.[4] Zeno of Elea formulated his famous paradoxes in order to support the Parmenides' views about the illusion of plurality and change (in terms of motion), by demonstrating them to be impossible.[5] An alternative explanation was presented by Heraclitus, who claimed that everything was in flux all the time, famously pointing out that one could not step into the same river twice.[6] Empedocles may have been an associate of both Parmenides and the Pythagoreans.[7] He claimed the arche was in fact composed of multiple sources, giving rise to the model of the four classical elements. These in turn were acted upon by the forces of Love and Strife, creating the mixtures of elements which form the world.[7] Another view of the arche being acted upon by an external force was presented by his older contemporary Anaxagoras, who claimed that nous, the mind, was responsible for that.[8] Leucippus and Democritus proposed atomism as an explanation for the fundamental nature of the universe. Jonathan Barnes called atomism "the culmination of early Greek thought".[9]

In addition to these philosophers, the Sophists comprised teachers of rhetoric who taught students to debate on any side of an issue. While as a group, they held no specific views, in general they promoted subjectivism and relativism. Protagoras, one of the most influential Sophist philosophers, claimed that "man is the measure of all things", suggesting there is no objective truth.[10] This was also applied to issues of ethics, with Prodicus arguing that laws could not be taken seriously because they changed all the time, while pure mathematics and natural sciences such as physics, astronomy, and biology (Aristotle, for example, wrote on all of these topics).

Pre-Socratics

The pre-Socratic philosophers were interested in cosmology; the nature and origin of the universe, while rejecting mythical answers to such questions.[1] They were specifically interested in the arche (the cause or first principle) of the world. The first recognized philosopher, Thales of Miletus (born ca. 625 BCE in Ionia) identified water as the arche (claiming "all is water"). His use of observation and reason to derive this conclusion is the reason for distinguishing him as the first philosopher.[2] Thales' student Anaximander claimed that the arche was the apeiron, the infinite. Following both Thales and Anaximander, Anaximenes of Miletus claimed that air was the most suitable candidate.

Ionia, source of early Greek philosophy, in western Asia Minor

Pythagoras (born ca. 570 BCE), from the island of Samos off the coast of Ionia, later lived in Croton in southern Italy (Magna Graecia). Pythagoreans hold that "all is number", giving formal accounts in contrast to the previous material of the Ionians. The discovery of consonant intervals in music by the group enabled the concept of harmony to be established in philosophy, which suggested that opposites could together give rise to new things.[3] They also believed in metempsychosis, the transmigration of souls, or reincarnation.

Parmenides argued that, unlike the other philosophers who believed the arche was transformed into multiple things, the world must be singular, unchanging and eternal, while anything suggesting the contrary was an illusion.[4] Zeno of Elea formulated his famous paradoxes in order to support the Parmenides' views about the illusion of plurality and change (in terms of motion), by demonstrating them to be impossible.[5] An alternative explanation was presented by Heraclitus, who claimed that everything was in flux all the time, famously pointing out that one could not step into the same river twice.[6] Empedocles may have been an associate of both Parmenides and the Pythagoreans.[7] He claimed the

The pre-Socratic philosophers were interested in cosmology; the nature and origin of the universe, while rejecting mythical answers to such questions.[1] They were specifically interested in the arche (the cause or first principle) of the world. The first recognized philosopher, Thales of Miletus (born ca. 625 BCE in Ionia) identified water as the arche (claiming "all is water"). His use of observation and reason to derive this conclusion is the reason for distinguishing him as the first philosopher.[2] Thales' student Anaximander claimed that the arche was the apeiron, the infinite. Following both Thales and Anaximander, Anaximenes of Miletus claimed that air was the most suitable candidate.

Pythagoras (born ca. 570 BCE), from the island of Samos off the coast of Ionia, later lived in Croton in southern Italy (Magna Graecia). Pythagoreans hold that "all is number", giving formal accounts in contrast to the previous material of the Ionians. The discovery of consonant intervals in music by the group enabled the concept of harmony to be established in philosophy, which suggested that opposites could together give rise to new things.[3] They also believed in metempsychosis, the transmigration of souls, or reincarnation.

Parmenides argued that, unlike the other philosophers who believed the arche was transformed into multiple things, the world must be singular, unchanging and eternal, while anything suggesting the contrary was an illusion.[4] Zeno of Elea formulated his famous paradoxes in order to support the Parmenides' views about the illusion of plurality and change (in terms of motion), by demonstrating them to be impossible.[5] An alternative explanation was presented by Heraclitus, who claimed that everything was in flux all the time, famously pointing out t

Parmenides argued that, unlike the other philosophers who believed the arche was transformed into multiple things, the world must be singular, unchanging and eternal, while anything suggesting the contrary was an illusion.[4] Zeno of Elea formulated his famous paradoxes in order to support the Parmenides' views about the illusion of plurality and change (in terms of motion), by demonstrating them to be impossible.[5] An alternative explanation was presented by Heraclitus, who claimed that everything was in flux all the time, famously pointing out that one could not step into the same river twice.[6] Empedocles may have been an associate of both Parmenides and the Pythagoreans.[7] He claimed the arche was in fact composed of multiple sources, giving rise to the model of the four classical elements. These in turn were acted upon by the forces of Love and Strife, creating the mixtures of elements which form the world.[7] Another view of the arche being acted upon by an external force was presented by his older contemporary Anaxagoras, who claimed that nous, the mind, was responsible for that.[8] Leucippus and Democritus proposed atomism as an explanation for the fundamental nature of the universe. Jonathan Barnes called atomism "the culmination of early Greek thought".[9]

In addition to these philosophers, the Sophists comprised teachers of rhetoric who taught students to debate on any side of an issue. While as a group, they held no specific views, in general they promoted subjectivism and relativism. Protagoras, one of the most influential Sophist philosophers, claimed that "man is the measure of all things", suggesting there is no objective truth.[10] This was also applied to issues of ethics, with Prodicus arguing that laws could not be taken seriously because they changed all the time, while Antiphon made the claim that conventional morality should only be followed when in society.[11]

The Classical period of ancient Greek philosophy centers on Socrates and the two generations of students following him.

Socrates experienced a life-changing event when his friend, Chaerephon visited the Oracle of Delphi where the Pythia told him that no one in Athens was wiser than Socrates. Learning of this, Socrates subsequently spent much of his life questioning anyone in Athens who would engage him, in order to investigate the Pithia's claim.[12] Socrates developed a critical approach, now called the Socratic method, to examine people's views. He focused on issues of human life: eudaimonia, justice, beauty, truth, and virtue. Although Socrates wrote nothing himself, two of his disciples, Chaerephon visited the Oracle of Delphi where the Pythia told him that no one in Athens was wiser than Socrates. Learning of this, Socrates subsequently spent much of his life questioning anyone in Athens who would engage him, in order to investigate the Pithia's claim.[12] Socrates developed a critical approach, now called the Socratic method, to examine people's views. He focused on issues of human life: eudaimonia, justice, beauty, truth, and virtue. Although Socrates wrote nothing himself, two of his disciples, Plato and Xenophon, wrote about some of his conversations, although Plato also deployed Socrates as a fictional character in some of his dialogues. These Socratic dialogues display the Socratic method being applied to examine philosophical problems.

Socrates's questioning earned him enemies who eventually accused him of impiety and corrupting the youth. He was tried by the Athenian democracy, was found guilty, and was sentenced to death. Although his friends offered to help him escape from prison, Socrates chose to remain in Athens and abide by his principles. His execution consisted of drinking poison hemlock. He died in 399 BC.

After Socrates' death, Plato founded the Platonic Academy and Platonic philosophy. As Socrates had done, Plato identified virtue with knowledge. This led him to questions of epistemology on what knowledge is and how it is acquired.[13] Plato believed that the senses are illusionary and could not be trusted,[13] illustrating this point with the allegory of the cave. He thought that knowledge had to be sourced from eternal, unchanging, and perfect objects, which led to his theory of forms.[13] Alfred North Whitehead claimed that "Philosophy is footnotes to Plato".[14]

Socrates had several other students who also founded schools of philosophy. Two of these were short-lived: the Eretrian school, founded by Phaedo of Elis, and the Megarian school, founded by Euclid of Megara. Two others were long-lasting: Cynicism, founded by Antisthenes, and Cyrenaicism, founded by Aristippus. The Cynics considered the purpose of life is to live in virtue, in agreement with nature, rejecting all conventional desires for wealth, power, and fame, leading a simple life free from all possessions. The Cyrenaics promoted a philosophy nearly opposite that of the Cynics, endorsing hedonism, holding that pleasure was the supreme good, especially immediate gratifications; and that people could only know their own experiences, beyond that truth was unknowable.

The final school of philosophy to be established during the Classical period was the Peripatetic school, founded by Plato's student, Aristotle. Aristotle wrote widely about topics of philosophical concern, including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, aesthetics, poetry, theater, music, rhetoric, politics, and logic. Aristotelian logic was the first type of logic to attempt to categorize every valid syllogism. His epistemology comprised an early form empiricism.[15] Aristotle criticized Plato's metaphysics as being poetic metaphor, with its greatest failing being the lack of an explanation for change.[16] Aristotle proposed the four causes model to explain change - material, efficient, formal, and final - all of which were grounded on what Aristotle termed the unmoved mover.[15] His ethical views identified eudaimonia as the ultimate good, as it was good in itself.[17] He thought that eudaimonia could be achieved by living according to human nature, which is to live with reason and virtue,[17] defining virtue as the golden mean between extremes.[17] Aristole saw politics as the highest art, as all other pursuits are subservient to its goal of improving society.[18] The state should aim to maximize the opportunities for the pursuit of reason and virtue through leisure, learning, and contemplation.[19] Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great, who conquered much of the ancient Western world. Hellenization and Aristotelian philosophy have exercised considerable influence on almost all subsequent Western and Middle Eastern philosophers.

Hellenistic and Roman philosophy

Hellenistic and Roman Imperial periods saw the continuation of Aristotelianism and Cynicism, and the and emergence of new philosophies, including Pyrrhonism, Epicureanism, Stoicism, and Neopythagoreanism. Platonism also continued, but came under new interpretations, particularly Academic Skepticism in the Hellenistic period and Neoplatonism in the Imperial period. Roman philosophy was heavily influenced by the traditions of Greek philosophy. In Imperial times, Epicureanism and Stoicism were particularly popular.[20]

The various schools of philosophy proposed various and conflicting methods for attaining eudaimonia. For some schools, it was through internal means, such as calmness, ataraxia (ἀταραξία), or indifference, apatheia (ἀπάθεια), which was possibly caused by the increased insecurity of the era.[21][22] The aim of the Cynics was to live according to nature and against convention with courage and self-control.[23] This was directly inspiring to the founder of Stoicism, Zeno of Citium, who took up the Cynic ideals of steadfastness and self-discipline, but applied the concept of apatheia to personal circumstances rather than social norms, and switched shameless flouting of the latter for a resolute fulfillment of social duties.[24] The ideal of 'living in accordance with nature' also continued, with this being seen as the way to eudaimonia, which in this case was identified as the freedom from

The various schools of philosophy proposed various and conflicting methods for attaining eudaimonia. For some schools, it was through internal means, such as calmness, ataraxia (ἀταραξία), or indifference, apatheia (ἀπάθεια), which was possibly caused by the increased insecurity of the era.[21][22] The aim of the Cynics was to live according to nature and against convention with courage and self-control.[23] This was directly inspiring to the founder of Stoicism, Zeno of Citium, who took up the Cynic ideals of steadfastness and self-discipline, but applied the concept of apatheia to personal circumstances rather than social norms, and switched shameless flouting of the latter for a resolute fulfillment of social duties.[24] The ideal of 'living in accordance with nature' also continued, with this being seen as the way to eudaimonia, which in this case was identified as the freedom from fears and desires and required choosing how to respond to external circumstances, as the quality of life was seen as based on one's beliefs about it.[25][26] An alternative view was presented by the Cyrenaics and the Epicureans. The Cyrenaics were hedonists and believed that hat pleasure was the supreme good in life, especially physical pleasure, which they thought more intense and more desirable than mental pleasures.[27] The followers of Epicurus also identified "the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain" as the ultimate goal of life, but noted that "We do not mean the pleasures of the prodigal or of sensuality . . . we mean the absence of pain in the body and trouble in the mind".[28] This brought hedonism back to the search for ataraxia.[29]

Another important strand of thought in post-Classical Western thought was the question of skepticism. Pyrrho of Elis, a Democritean philosopher, traveled to India with Alexander the Great's army where Pyrrho was influenced by Buddhist teachings, most particularly the three marks of existence.[30] After returning to Greece, Pyrrho started a new school of philosophy, Pyrrhonism, which taught that it is one's opinions about non-evident matters (i.e., dogma) that prevent one from attaining ataraxia. To bring the mind to ataraxia, Pyrrhonism uses epoché (suspension of judgment) regarding all non-evident propositions. After Arcesilaus became head of the Academy, he adopted skepticism as a central tenet of Platonism, making Platonism nearly the same as Pyrrhonism.[31] After Arcesilaus, Academic Skepticism diverged from Pyrrhonism.[32] The Academic Skeptics did not doubt the existence of truth; they just doubted that humans had the capacities for obtaining it.[33] They based this position on Plato's Phaedo, sections 64–67,[34] in which Socrates discusses how knowledge is not accessible to mortals.[35]

Following the end of the skeptical period of the Academy with Antiochus of Ascalon, Platonic thought entered the period of Middle Platonism, which absorbed ideas from the Peripatetic and Stoic schools. More extreme syncretism was done by Numenius of Apamea, who combined it with Neopythagoreanism.[36] Also affected by the Neopythagoreans, the Neoplatonis

Following the end of the skeptical period of the Academy with Antiochus of Ascalon, Platonic thought entered the period of Middle Platonism, which absorbed ideas from the Peripatetic and Stoic schools. More extreme syncretism was done by Numenius of Apamea, who combined it with Neopythagoreanism.[36] Also affected by the Neopythagoreans, the Neoplatonists, first of them Plotinus, argued that mind exists before matter, and that the universe has a singular cause which must therefore be a single mind.[37] As such, Neoplatonism become essentially a religion, and had much impact on later Christian thought.[37]

Medieval philosophy roughly extends from the Christianization of the Roman Empire until the Renaissance.[38] It is defined partly by the rediscovery and further development of classical Greek and Hellenistic philosophy, and partly by the need to address theological problems and to integrate the then-widespread sacred doctrines of Abrahamic religion (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) with secular learning. Some problems discussed throughout this period are the relation of faith to reason, the existence and unity of God, the object of theology and metaphysics, the problems of knowledge, of universals, and of individuation.

A prominent figure of this period was Augustine of Hippo, one of the most important Church Fathers in Western Christianity. Augustine adopted Plato's thought and Christianized it. His influence dominated medieval philosophy perhaps up to the end of era and the rediscovery of Aristotle's texts. Augustinianism was the preferred starting point for most philosophers up until the 13th century. Among the issues his philosophy touched upon were the problem of evil, just war and what time is. On the problem of evil, he argued that evil was a necessary product of human free will.[39] When this raised the issue of the incompatibility of free will and divine foreknowledge, both he and Boethius solved the issue by arguing that God did not see the future, but rather stood outside of time entirely.[40]

An influential school of thought was that of <

A prominent figure of this period was Augustine of Hippo, one of the most important Church Fathers in Western Christianity. Augustine adopted Plato's thought and Christianized it. His influence dominated medieval philosophy perhaps up to the end of era and the rediscovery of Aristotle's texts. Augustinianism was the preferred starting point for most philosophers up until the 13th century. Among the issues his philosophy touched upon were the problem of evil, just war and what time is. On the problem of evil, he argued that evil was a necessary product of human free will.[39] When this raised the issue of the incompatibility of free will and divine foreknowledge, both he and Boethius solved the issue by arguing that God did not see the future, but rather stood outside of time entirely.[40]

An influential school of thought was that of scholasticism, which is not so much a philosophy or a theology as a methodology, as it places a strong emphasis on dialectical reasoning to extend knowledge by inference and to resolve contradictions. Scholastic thought is also known for rigorous conceptual analysis and the careful drawing of distinctions. In the classroom and in writing, it often takes the form of explicit disputation; a topic drawn from the tradition is broached in the form of a question, oppositional responses are given, a counterproposal is argued and oppositional arguments rebutted. Because of its emphasis on rigorous dialectical method, scholasticism was eventually applied to many other fields of study.[41][42]

Anselm of Canterbury (called the 'father of scholasticism') argued that the existence of God could be irrefutably proved with the logical conclusion apparent in the ontological argument, according to which God is by definition the greatest thing in conceivable, and since an existing thing is greater than a non-existing one, it must be that God exists or is not the greatest thing conceivable (the latter being by definition impossible).[43] A refutation of this was offered by Gaunilo of Marmoutiers, who applied the same logic to an imagined island, arguing that somewhere there must exist a perfect island using the same steps of reasoning (therefore leading to an absurd outcome).[44]

<

Boethius also worked on the problem of universals, arguing that they did not exist independently as claimed by Plato, but still believed, in line with Aristotle, that they existed in the substance of particular things.[28] Another important figure for scholasticism, Peter Abelard, extended this to nominalism, which states (in complete opposition to Plato) that universals were in fact just names given to characteristics shared by particulars.[45]

St. Thomas Aquinas, painting by Carlo Crivelli, 1476

Thomas Aquinas, an academic philosopher and the father of Thomism, was immensely influen

Thomas Aquinas, an academic philosopher and the father of Thomism, was immensely influential in medieval Christendom. He was influenced by newly-discovered Aristotle, and aimed to reconcile his philosophy with Christian theology.[46] Aiming to develop an understanding of the soul, he was led to consider metaphysical questions of substance, matter, form, and change.[46] He defined a material substance as the combination of an essence and accidental features, with the essence being a combination of matter and form, similar to the Aristotelian view.[47] For humans, the soul is the essence.[47] Also influenced by Plato, he saw the soul as unchangeable and independent of the body.[47]

Other Western philosophers from the Middle Ages include John Scotus Eriugena, Gilbert de la Porrée, Peter Lombard, Hildegard of Bingen, Robert Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, Bonaventure, Peter John Olivi, Mechthild of Magdeburg, Robert Kilwardby, John Scotus Eriugena, Gilbert de la Porrée, Peter Lombard, Hildegard of Bingen, Robert Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, Bonaventure, Peter John Olivi, Mechthild of Magdeburg, Robert Kilwardby, Albertus Magnus, Henry of Ghent, Duns Scotus, Marguerite Porete, Dante Alighieri, Marsilius of Padua, William of Ockham, Jean Buridan, Nicholas of Autrecourt, Meister Eckhart, Catherine of Siena, Jean Gerson, and John Wycliffe. The medieval tradition of scholasticism continued to flourish as late as the 17th century, in figures such as Francisco Suárez and John of St. Thomas. During the Middle Ages, Western philosophy was also influenced by the Jewish philosophers Maimonides and Gersonides; and the Muslim philosophers Alkindus, Alfarabi, Alhazen, Avicenna, Algazel, Avempace, Abubacer, Ibn Khaldūn, and Averroes.

The Renaissance ("rebirth") was a period of transition between the Middle Ages and modern thought,[48] in which the recovery of ancient Greek philosophical texts helped shift philosophical interests away from technical studies in logic, metaphysics, and theology towards eclectic inquiries into morality, philology, and mysticism.[49][50] The study of the classics and the humane arts generally, such as history and literature, enjoyed a scholarly interest hitherto unknown in Christendom, a tendency referred to as humanism.[51][52] Displacing the medieval interest in metaphysics and logic, the humanists followed Petrarch in making humanity and its virtues the focus of philosophy.[53][54]

At the point of passage from Renaissance into early/classical modern philosophy, the dialogue was used as a primary style of writing by Renaissance philosophers, such as Giordano Bruno.[55]

The dividing line between what is classified as Renaissance versus modern philosophy is disputed.[56]

Modern

The term "modern philosophy" has multiple usages. For example, Thomas Hobbes is sometimes considered the first modern philosopher because he applied a systematic method to political philosophy.[57][58] By contrast, René Descartes is often considered the first modern philosopher because he grounded his philosophy in problems of knowledge, rather than problems of metaphysics.[59]

Giordano Bruno.[55]

The dividing line between what is classified as Renaissance versus modern philosophy is disputed.[56]

The term "modern philosophy" has multiple usages. For example, Thomas Hobbes is sometimes considered the first modern philosopher because he applied a systematic method to political philosophy.[57][58] By contrast, René Descartes is often considered the first modern philosopher because he grounded his philosophy in problems of knowledge, rather than problems of metaphysics.[59]

Enlightenment philosophy[60] is distinguished by its increasing independence from traditional authorities such as the Church, academia, and Aristotelianism;[61][62] a new focus on the foundations of knowledge and metaphysical system-building;[63][64] and the emergence of modern physics out of natural philosophy.[65]

Early modern (17th and 18th centuries)

Portrait of David Hume, by Allan Ramsay, 1754

Some central topics of Western philosophy in its early modern (also classical modern)early modern (also classical modern)[66][67] period include the nature of the mind and its relation to the body, the implications of the new natural sciences for traditional theological topics such as free will and God, and the emergence of a secular basis for moral and political philosophy.[68] These trends first distinctively coalesce in Francis Bacon's call for a new, empirical program for expanding knowledge, and soon found massively influential form in the mechanical physics and rationalist metaphysics of René Descartes.[69]

Other notable modern philosophers include Baruch Spinoza, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, John Locke, George Berkeley, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant.[67][70][71][72] Many other contributors were philosophers, scientists, medical doctors, and politicians. A short list includes Galileo Galilei, Pierre Gassendi, Blaise Pascal, Nicolas Malebranche, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, Christiaan Huygens, Isaac Newton, Christian Wolff, Baruch Spinoza, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, John Locke, George Berkeley, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant.[67][70][71][72] Many other contributors were philosophers, scientists, medical doctors, and politicians. A short list includes Galileo Galilei, Pierre Gassendi, Blaise Pascal, Nicolas Malebranche, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, Christiaan Huygens, Isaac Newton, Christian Wolff, Montesquieu, Pierre Bayle, Thomas Reid, Jean le Rond d'Alembert, Adam Smith, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

The approximate end of the early modern period is most often identified with Kant's systematic attempt to limit metaphysics, justify scientific knowledge, and reconcile both of these with morality and freedom.[73][74][75]

Late modern philosophy is usually considered to begin around the pivotal year of 1781, when Gotthold Ephraim Lessing died and Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason appeared.[76]

Friedrich Nietzsche, photograph by Friedrich Hartmann, c. 1875

German philosophy exercised broad influence in this century, owing in part to the dominance of the German university system.[77] German idealists, such as Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and the members of Jena Romanticism (Friedrich Hölderlin, Novalis, and Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel), transformed the work of Kant by maintaining that the world is constituted by a rational or mind-like process, and as such is entirely knowable.[78][79] Arthur Schopenhauer's identification of this world-constituting process as an irrational will to live influenced later 19th- and early 20th-century thinking, such as the work of Friedrich Nietzsche.

The 19th century took the radical

German philosophy exercised broad influence in this century, owing in part to the dominance of the German university system.[77] German idealists, such as Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and the members of Jena Romanticism (Friedrich Hölderlin, Novalis, and Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel), transformed the work of Kant by maintaining that the world is constituted by a rational or mind-like process, and as such is entirely knowable.[78][79] Arthur Schopenhauer's identification of this world-constituting process as an irrational will to live influenced later 19th- and early 20th-century thinking, such as the work of Friedrich Nietzsche.

The 19th century took the radical notions of self-organization and intrinsic order from Goethean science and Kantian metaphysics, and proceeded to produce a long elaboration on the tension between systematization and organic development. Foremost was the work of Hegel, whose Phenomenology of Spirit (1807) and Science of Logic (1813–16) produced a "dialectical" framework for ordering of knowledge.

As with the 18th century, developments in science aro

The 19th century took the radical notions of self-organization and intrinsic order from Goethean science and Kantian metaphysics, and proceeded to produce a long elaboration on the tension between systematization and organic development. Foremost was the work of Hegel, whose Phenomenology of Spirit (1807) and Science of Logic (1813–16) produced a "dialectical" framework for ordering of knowledge.

As with the 18th century, developments in science arose from philosophy and also challenged philosophy: most importantly the work of Charles Darwin, which was based on the idea of organic self-regulation found in philosophers such as Smith, but fundamentally challenged established conceptions.

After Hegel's death in 1831, 19th-century philosophy largely turned against idealism in favor of varieties of philosophical naturalism, such as the positivism of Auguste Comte, the empiricism of John Stuart Mill, and the historical materialism of Karl Marx. Logic began a period of its most significant advances since the inception of the discipline, as increasing mathematical precision opened entire fields of inference to formalization in the work of George Boole and Gottlob Frege.[80] Other philosophers who initiated lines of thought that would continue to shape philosophy into the 20th century include:

The three major contemporary approaches to academic philosophy are analytic philosophy, continental philosophy and pragmatism.[81] They are neither exhaustive nor mutually exclusive.

The 20th century deals with the upheavals produced by a series of conflicts within philosophical discourse over the basis of knowledge, with classical certainties overthrown, and new social, economic, scientific and logical problems. 20th century philosophy was set for a series of attempts to reform and preserve, and to alter or abolish, older knowledge systems. Seminal figures include Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, and Jean-Paul Sartre. The publication of Husserl's Logical Investigations (1900–1) and Russell's The Principles of Mathematics (1903) is considered to mark the beginning of 20th-century philosophy.[82] The 20th century also saw the increasing professionalization of the discipline and the beginning of the current (contemporary) era of philosophy.[83]

Since the Second World War, contemporary philosophy has been divided mostly into analytic and continental traditions; the former carried in the English speaking world and the latter on the continent of Europe. The perceived conflict between continental and analytic schools of philosophy remains prominent, despite increasing skepticism regarding the distinction's usefulness.

Analytic philosophy