20th-century philosophy saw the development of a number of new philosophical schools—including logical positivism, analytic philosophy, phenomenology, existentialism, and poststructuralism. In terms of the eras of philosophy, it is usually labelled as contemporary philosophy (succeeding modern philosophy, which runs roughly from the time of René Descartes until the late 19th to early 20th centuries).
As with other academic disciplines, philosophy increasingly became professionalized in the twentieth century, and a split emerged between philosophers who considered themselves part of either the "analytic" or "Continental" traditions. However, there have been disputes regarding both the terminology and the reasons behind the divide, as well as philosophers who see themselves as bridging the divide, such as process philosophy advocates and neopragmatists. In addition, philosophy in the twentieth century became increasingly technical and harder for lay people to read.
Analytic philosophy is a generic term for a style of philosophy that came to dominate English-speaking countries in the 20th century. In the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Scandinavia, Australia, and New Zealand, the overwhelming majority of university philosophy departments identify themselves as "analytic" departments.
Epistemology in the Anglo-American tradition was radically shaken up by the publication of Edmund Gettier's 1963 paper "Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?" This paper provided counter-examples to the traditional formulation of knowledge going back to Plato. A huge number of responses to the Gettier problem were formulated, generally falling into internalist and externalist camps, the latter including work by philosophers like Alvin Goldman, Fred Dretske, David Malet Armstrong, and Alvin Plantinga.
Logical positivism (also known as logical empiricism, scientific philosophy, and neo-positivism) is a philosophy that combines empiricism—the idea that observational evidence is indispensable for knowledge—with a version of rationalism that incorporates mathematical and logico-linguistic constructs and deductions of epistemology. The Vienna Circle was a group that promoted this philosophy.
Neopragmatism, sometimes called linguistic pragmatism is a recent philosophical term for philosophy that reintroduces many concepts from pragmatism. The Blackwell dictionary of Western philosophy (2004) defines "Neo-pragmatism" as follows: "A postmodern version of pragmatism developed by the American philosopher Richard Rorty and drawing inspiration from authors such as John Dewey, Martin Heidegger, Wilfrid Sellars, W.V.O. Quine, and Jacques Derrida. It repudiates the notion of universal truth, epistemological foundationalism, representationalism, and the notion of epistemic objectivity. It is a nominalist approach that denies that natural kinds and linguistic entities have substantive ontological implications.
Ordinary language philosophy is a philosophical school that approaches traditional philosophical problems as rooted in misunderstandings philosophers develop by distorting or forgetting what words actually mean in everyday use. This approach typically involves eschewing philosophical "theories" in favour of close attention to the details of the use of everyday, "ordinary" language. Sometimes called "Oxford philosophy", it is generally associated with the work of a number of mid-century Oxford professors: mainly J. L. Austin, but also Gilbert Ryle, H. L. A. Hart, and Peter Strawson. The later Ludwig Wittgenstein is ordinary language philosophy's most celebrated proponent outside the Oxford circle. Second generation figures include Stanley Cavell and John Searle.
Continental philosophy, in contemporary usage, refers to a set of traditions of 19th and 20th century philosophy from mainland Europe. This sense of the term originated among English-speaking philosophers in the second half of the 20th century, who used it to refer to a range of thinkers and traditions outside the analytic movement. Continental philosophy includes the following movements: German idealism, phenomenology, existentialism (and its antecedents, such as the thought of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche), hermeneutics, structuralism, post-structuralism, French feminism, the critical theory of the Frankfurt School and related branches of Western Marxism, and psychoanalytic theory.
Existentialism is generally considered a philosophical and cultural movement that holds that the starting point of philosophical thinking must be the individual and the experiences of the individual. For Existentialists, religious and ethical imperatives may not satisfy the desire for individual identity, and both theistic and atheistic existentialism tend to resist mainstream religious movements. Sometimes coined the Father of existentialism, Soren Kierkegaard introduced the concerns of the existentialist from a theistic perspective as a Christian philosopher concerned with the individual's understanding of God and the resulting implications for the human condition. The individual's life gains significance only in relation to the love of God. Common themes are the primacy of experience, Angst, the Absurd, and authenticity.
Western Marxism, in terms of 20th-century philosophy, generally describes the writings of Marxist theoreticians, mainly based in Western and Central Europe; this stands in contrast with the Marxist philosophy in the Soviet Union. While György Lukács's History and Class Consciousness and Karl Korsch's Marxism and Philosophy, first published in 1923, are often seen as the works that inaugurated this current. Maurice Merleau-Ponty coined the phrase Western Marxism much later.
Phenomenology is the study of the phenomena of experience. It is a broad philosophical movement founded in the early years of the 20th century by Edmund Husserl. Phenomenology, in Husserl's conception, is primarily concerned with the systematic reflection on, and study of, the structures of consciousness and the phenomena that appear in acts of consciousness. This phenomenological ontology can be clearly differentiated from the Cartesian method of analysis, which sees the world as objects, sets of objects, and objects that act and react upon one another.
Post-structuralism is a label formulated by American academics to denote the heterogeneous works of a series of French intellectuals who came to international prominence in the 1960s and '70s. The label primarily encompasses the intellectual developments of prominent mid-20th-century French and Continental philosophers and theorists.
Structuralism is a theoretical paradigm that emphasizes that elements of culture must be understood in terms of their relationship to a larger, overarching system or "structure." Alternately, as summarized by philosopher Simon Blackburn, Structuralism is "the belief that phenomena of human life are not intelligible except through their interrelations. These relations constitute a structure, and behind local variations in the surface phenomena there are constant laws of abstract culture".
While the Vienna Circle's early form of logical empiricism (or logical positivism or neopositivism: these labels will be used interchangeably here) no longer represents an active research program, recent history of philosophy of science has unearthed much previously neglected variety and depth in the doctrines of the Circle's protagonists, some of whose positions retain relevance for contemporary analytical philosophy.
The Black Notebooks (German: Schwarze Hefte) are a set of notebooks written by German philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) which were first published in 2014. They were edited by Peter Trawny. Originally a set of small notebooks with black covers in which Heidegger jotted observations (some have said "sketches"), they have been collated into a 1,000-page transcript. The first notebook is missing. The subsequent notebooks will be published in the Gesamtausgabe. So far, fourteen notebooks have been published encompassing the years 1931–1941 (GA 94–96). The notebooks from 1942–1945 are in private possession, but they have already been prepared for publication. The notebooks alleged by Trawny to contain explicitly antisemitic content, reigniting the debate about Heidegger's Nazism and its relationship to his philosophical project. Critics of this claim have countered it by pointing to the sketchbook character of the Black Notebooks and the intention of the author for them to remain private and unpublished ruminations on the cultural and philosophical ideas received via time and place. Others have cited an antisemitism that does not qualify as racial, social, interpersonal or political, but rather exists only in a certain use of received concepts and German philosophical commentary up to his time.
For instance, Jesús Adrián Escudero in his "Heidegger’s Black Notebooks and the Question of Anti-Semitism" has countered that "In Heidegger's case, it is a type of anti-Semitism that could be qualified as "religious," "cultural," or "spiritual." In a letter to Hannah Arendt, in which he comments on the rumors about his anti-Semitism, it reads: "As to the rest, in matters related to the university I am as much an anti-Semite as I was ten years ago in Marburg. This anti-Semitism even found the support of Jacobstahl and Friedländer. This has nothing to do with personal relationships (for example, Husserl, Misch, Cassirer and others)." When Heidegger speaks of "Judaization" (Verjudung), he does so from a given cultural context".Continental philosophy
Continental philosophy is a set of 19th- and 20th-century philosophical traditions from mainland Europe. This sense of the term originated among English-speaking philosophers in the second half of the 20th century, who used it to refer to a range of thinkers and traditions outside the analytic movement. Continental philosophy includes German idealism, phenomenology, existentialism (and its antecedents, such as the thought of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche), hermeneutics, structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, French feminism, psychoanalytic theory, and the critical theory of the Frankfurt School and related branches of Western Marxism.It is difficult to identify non-trivial claims that would be common to all the preceding philosophical movements. The term continental philosophy, like analytic philosophy, lacks clear definition and may mark merely a family resemblance across disparate philosophical views. Simon Glendinning has suggested that the term was originally more pejorative than descriptive, functioning as a label for types of western philosophy rejected or disliked by analytic philosophers. Nonetheless, Michael E. Rosen has ventured to identify common themes that typically characterize continental philosophy.
First, continental philosophers generally reject the view that the natural sciences are the only or most accurate way of understanding natural phenomena. This contrasts with many analytic philosophers who consider their inquiries as continuous with, or subordinate to, those of the natural sciences. Continental philosophers often argue that science depends upon a "pre-theoretical substrate of experience" (a version of Kantian conditions of possible experience or the phenomenological "lifeworld") and that scientific methods are inadequate to fully understand such conditions of intelligibility.
Second, continental philosophy usually considers these conditions of possible experience as variable: determined at least partly by factors such as context, space and time, language, culture, or history. Thus continental philosophy tends toward historicism (or historicity). Where analytic philosophy tends to treat philosophy in terms of discrete problems, capable of being analyzed apart from their historical origins (much as scientists consider the history of science inessential to scientific inquiry), continental philosophy typically suggests that "philosophical argument cannot be divorced from the textual and contextual conditions of its historical emergence".
Third, continental philosophy typically holds that human agency can change these conditions of possible experience: "if human experience is a contingent creation, then it can be recreated in other ways". Thus continental philosophers tend to take a strong interest in the unity of theory and practice, and often see their philosophical inquiries as closely related to personal, moral, or political transformation. This tendency is very clear in the Marxist tradition ("philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it"), but is also central in existentialism and post-structuralism.
A final characteristic trait of continental philosophy is an emphasis on metaphilosophy. In the wake of the development and success of the natural sciences, continental philosophers have often sought to redefine the method and nature of philosophy. In some cases (such as German idealism or phenomenology), this manifests as a renovation of the traditional view that philosophy is the first, foundational, a priori science. In other cases (such as hermeneutics, critical theory, or structuralism), it is held that philosophy investigates a domain that is irreducibly cultural or practical. And some continental philosophers (such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, the later Heidegger, or Derrida) doubt whether any conception of philosophy can coherently achieve its stated goals.Ultimately, the foregoing themes derive from a broadly Kantian thesis that knowledge, experience, and reality are bound and shaped by conditions best understood through philosophical reflection rather than exclusively empirical inquiry.Cultural turn
The cultural turn is a movement beginning in the early 1970s among scholars in the humanities and social sciences to make culture the focus of contemporary debates; it also describes a shift in emphasis toward meaning and away from a positivist epistemology. The cultural turn is described in 2005 by Lynette Spillman and Mark D. Jacobs as "one of the most influential trends in the humanities and social sciences in the last generation". A prominent historiographer argues that the cultural turn involved a "wide array of new theoretical impulses coming from fields formerly peripheral to the social sciences", especially post-structuralism, cultural studies, literary criticism, and various forms of linguistic analysis, which emphasized "the causal and socially constitutive role of cultural processes and systems of signification".Dasein
Dasein (German pronunciation: [ˈdaːzaɪn]) is a German word that means "being there" or "presence" (German: da "there"; sein "being"), and is often translated into English with the word "existence". It is a fundamental concept in the existential philosophy of Martin Heidegger, particularly in his magnum opus Being and Time. Heidegger uses the expression Dasein to refer to the experience of being that is peculiar to human beings. Thus it is a form of being that is aware of and must confront such issues as personhood, mortality and the dilemma or paradox of living in relationship with other humans while being ultimately alone with oneself.Doxa
Doxa (ancient Greek δόξα; from verb δοκεῖν dokein, "to appear", "to seem", "to think" and "to accept") is a Greek word meaning common belief or popular opinion. Used by the Greek rhetoricians as a tool for the formation of argument by using common opinions, the doxa was often manipulated by sophists to persuade the people, leading to Plato's condemnation of Athenian democracy.
The word doxa picked up a new meaning between the 3rd and 1st centuries BC when the Septuagint translated the Hebrew word for "glory" (כבוד, kavod) as doxa. This translation of the Hebrew Scriptures was used by the early church and is quoted frequently by the New Testament authors. The effects of this new meaning of doxa as "glory" is made evident by the ubiquitous use of the word throughout the New Testament and in the worship services of the Greek Orthodox Church, where the glorification of God in true worship is also seen as true belief. In that context, doxa reflects behavior or practice in worship, and the belief of the whole church rather than personal opinion. It is the unification of these multiple meanings of doxa that is reflected in the modern terms of orthodoxy and heterodoxy. This semantic merging in the word doxa is also seen in Russian word слава (slava), which means glory, but is used with the meaning of belief, opinion in words like православие (pravoslavie, meaning orthodoxy, or, literally, true belief).Fundamental ontology
In Being and Time, Martin Heidegger made the distinction between ontical and ontological. Ontical refers to a particular area of Being, whereas ontological ought to refer to Being as such. The history of ontology in Western philosophy is, in Heidegger's terms, properly speaking, ontical, and ontology ought to designate fundamental ontology. He says "Ontological inquiry is indeed more primordial, as over against the ontical inquiry of the positive sciences". It is from this distinction he developed his project of fundamental ontology (German: Fundamental ontologie)Hauntology
Hauntology (a portmanteau of haunting and ontology) is a concept coined by philosopher Jacques Derrida in his 1993 book Spectres of Marx. The term refers to the situation of temporal, historical, and ontological disjunction in which the apparent presence of being is replaced by a deferred non-origin, represented by "the figure of the ghost as that which is neither present, nor absent, neither dead nor alive." The concept is derived from Derrida's deconstructive method, in which any attempt to locate the origin of identity or history must inevitably find itself dependent on an always-already existing set of linguistic conditions—thus making "haunting the state proper to being as such."In the 2000s, the term was taken up by critics in reference to paradoxes found in late modernity, particularly contemporary culture's persistent recycling of retro aesthetics and incapacity to escape old social forms. Critics such as Mark Fisher and Simon Reynolds used the term to describe art preoccupied with this temporal disjunction and defined by a "nostalgia for lost futures."Indeterminacy of translation
The indeterminacy of translation is a thesis propounded by 20th-century American analytic philosopher W. V. Quine. The classic statement of this thesis can be found in his 1960 book Word and Object, which gathered together and refined much of Quine's previous work on subjects other than formal logic and set theory. The indeterminacy of translation is also discussed at length in his Ontological Relativity. Crispin Wright suggests that this "has been among the most widely discussed and controversial theses in modern analytical philosophy". This view is endorsed by Putnam who states that it is "the most fascinating and the most discussed philosophical argument since Kant's Transcendental Deduction of the Categories".Three aspects of indeterminacy arise, of which two relate to indeterminacy of translation. The three indeterminacies are (i) inscrutability of reference, and (ii) holophrastic indeterminacy, and (iii) the underdetermination of scientific theory. The last of these, not discussed here, refers to Quine's assessment that evidence alone does not dictate the choice of a scientific theory. The first refers to indeterminacy in interpreting individual words or sub-sentences. The second refers to indeterminacy in entire sentences or more extensive portions of discourse.Language, Truth, and Logic
Language, Truth, and Logic is a 1936 work of philosophy by Alfred Jules Ayer. It brought some of the ideas of the Vienna Circle and the logical empiricists to the attention of the English-speaking world.
In the book, Ayer defines, explains, and argues for the verification principle of logical positivism, sometimes referred to as the criterion of significance or criterion of meaning. Ayer explains how the principle of verifiability may be applied to the problems of philosophy.Law, Legislation and Liberty
Law, Legislation and Liberty is a work in three volumes by Nobel laureate economist and political philosopher Friedrich Hayek. In it, Hayek further develops the philosophical principles he discussed earlier in The Road to Serfdom, The Constitution of Liberty, and other writings. Law, Legislation and Liberty is more abstract than Hayek's earlier work, and it focuses on the conflicting views of society as either a design, a made order ("taxis"), on the one hand, or an emergent system, a grown order ("cosmos"), on the other. These ideas are then connected to two different forms of law: law proper, or "nomos" coinciding more or less with the traditional concept of natural law, which is an emergent property of social interaction, and legislation, or "thesis", which is properly confined to the administration of non-coercive government services, but is easily confused with the occasional acts of legislature that do actually straighten out flaws in the nomos.Law of holes
The first law of holes, or the law of holes, is an adage which states that "if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging". Digging a hole makes it deeper and therefore harder to get back out, which is used as a metaphor that when in an untenable position, it is best to stop carrying on and exacerbating the situation.List of Slovene philosophers
Slovene philosophy includes philosophers who were either Slovenes or came from what is now Slovenia.Noneism
Noneism, also known as modal Meinongianism, is a theory in logic and metaphysics first coined by Richard Routley and appropriated again in 2005 by Graham Priest.Philosophy in the Soviet Union
Philosophy in the Soviet Union was officially confined to Marxist–Leninist thinking, which theoretically was the basis of objective and ultimate philosophical truth. During the 1920s and 1930s, other tendencies of Russian thought were repressed (many philosophers emigrated, others were expelled). Joseph Stalin enacted a decree in 1931 identifying dialectical materialism with Marxism–Leninism, making it the official philosophy which would be enforced in all Communist states and, through the Comintern, in most Communist parties. Following the traditional use in the Second International, opponents would be labeled as "revisionists".
From the beginning of Bolshevik regime, the aim of official Soviet philosophy (which was taught as an obligatory subject for every course[source?]), was the theoretical justification of Communist ideas. For this reason, "Sovietologists", among whom the most famous were Józef Maria Bocheński, professor of philosophy at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas and Gustav Wetter, have often claimed Soviet philosophy was close to nothing but dogma. However, since the 1917 October Revolution, it was marked by both philosophical and political struggles, which call into question any monolithic reading. Evald Vasilevich Ilyenkov was one of the main philosophers of the 1960s, who revisited the 1920s debate between "mechanicists" and "dialecticians" in Leninist Dialectics and Metaphysics of Positivism (1979). During the 1960s and 1970s Western philosophies including analytical philosophy and logical positivism began to make a mark in Soviet thought.Russian cosmism
Russian cosmism is a philosophical and cultural movement that emerged in Russia in the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.Scientism
Scientism is an ideology that promotes science as the purportedly objective means by which society should determine normative and epistemological values. The term scientism is generally used critically, pointing to the cosmetic application of science in unwarranted situations not amenable to application of the scientific method or similar scientific standards.
In the philosophy of science, the term scientism frequently implies a critique of the more extreme expressions of logical positivism and has been used by social scientists such as Friedrich Hayek, philosophers of science such as Karl Popper, and philosophers such as Hilary Putnam and Tzvetan Todorov to describe (for example) the dogmatic endorsement of scientific methodology and the reduction of all knowledge to only that which is measured or confirmatory.More generally, scientism is often interpreted as science applied "in excess". The term scientism has two senses:
The improper usage of science or scientific claims. This usage applies equally in contexts where science might not apply, such as when the topic is perceived as beyond the scope of scientific inquiry, and in contexts where there is insufficient empirical evidence to justify a scientific conclusion. It includes an excessive deference to the claims of scientists or an uncritical eagerness to accept any result described as scientific. This can be a counterargument to appeals to scientific authority. It can also address the attempt to apply "hard science" methodology and claims of certainty to the social sciences, which Friedrich Hayek described in The Counter-Revolution of Science (1952) as being impossible, because that methodology involves attempting to eliminate the "human factor", while social sciences (including his own field of economics) center almost purely on human action.
"The belief that the methods of natural science, or the categories and things recognized in natural science, form the only proper elements in any philosophical or other inquiry", or that "science, and only science, describes the world as it is in itself, independent of perspective" with a concomitant "elimination of the psychological [and spiritual] dimensions of experience". Tom Sorell provides this definition: "Scientism is a matter of putting too high a value on natural science in comparison with other branches of learning or culture." Philosophers such as Alexander Rosenberg have also adopted "scientism" as a name for the view that science is the only reliable source of knowledge.It is also sometimes used to describe universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or the most valuable part of human learning—to the complete exclusion of other viewpoints, such as historical, philosophical, economic or cultural worldviews. It has been defined as "the view that the characteristic inductive methods of the natural sciences are the only source of genuine factual knowledge and, in particular, that they alone can yield true knowledge about man and society". The term scientism is also used by historians, philosophers, and cultural critics to highlight the possible dangers of lapses towards excessive reductionism in all fields of human knowledge.For social theorists in the tradition of Max Weber, such as Jürgen Habermas and Max Horkheimer, the concept of scientism relates significantly to the philosophy of positivism, but also to the cultural rationalization for modern Western civilization. British novelist Sara Maitland has called scientism a "myth as pernicious as any sort of fundamentalism."The Society of the Spectacle
The Society of the Spectacle (French: La société du spectacle) is a 1967 work of philosophy and Marxist critical theory by Guy Debord, in which the author develops and presents the concept of the Spectacle. The book is considered a seminal text for the Situationist movement. Debord published a follow-up book Comments on the Society of the Spectacle in 1988.Traditionalist School
The Traditionalist School is a group of 20th- and 21st-century thinkers concerned with what they consider to be the demise of traditional forms of knowledge, both aesthetic and spiritual, within Western society. The principal thinkers in this tradition are René Guénon, Ananda Coomaraswamy and Frithjof Schuon. Other important thinkers in this tradition include Titus Burckhardt, Martin Lings, Jean-Louis Michon, Marco Pallis, Huston Smith, Hossein Nasr, Jean Borella, and Julius Evola. A central belief of this school is the existence of a perennial wisdom, or perennial philosophy, which says that there are primordial and universal truths which form the source for, and are shared by all the major world religions.Value judgment
A value judgment (or value judgement) is a judgment of the rightness or wrongness of something or someone, or of the usefulness of something or someone, based on a comparison or other relativity. As a generalization, a value judgment can refer to a judgment based upon a particular set of values or on a particular value system. A related meaning of value judgment is an expedient evaluation based upon limited information at hand, an evaluation undertaken because a decision must be made on short notice.