Early modern philosophy

Early modern philosophy (also classical modern philosophy)[1][2] is a period in the history of philosophy at the beginning or overlapping with the period known as modern philosophy.


The early modern period in history is roughly 1500–1789, but the label "early modern philosophy" is typically used to refer to a narrower period of time.[3]

In the narrowest sense, the term is used to refer principally to the philosophy of the 17th century and 18th century, typically beginning with René Descartes. 17th-century philosophers typically included in such analyses are Thomas Hobbes, Blaise Pascal, Baruch Spinoza, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, and Isaac Newton. The 18th century, often known as the Age of Enlightenment, included such early modern figures as John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume.[2]

The term is sometimes used more broadly, including earlier thinkers from the 16th century such as Niccolò Machiavelli, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Michel de Montaigne, and Francis Bacon.[4] Some definitions also broaden the range of thinkers included under the "early modern" moniker, such as Voltaire, Giambattista Vico, Thomas Paine. By the broadest definition, the early modern period is said to have ended in 1804 with the death of Immanuel Kant. Considered in this way, the period extends all the way from the last Renaissance philosophers to the final days of the Age of Enlightenment.

See also


  1. ^ Jeffrey Tlumak, Classical Modern Philosophy: A Contemporary Introduction, Routledge, 2006, p. xi: "[Classical Modern Philosophy] is a guide through the systems of the seven brilliant seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European philosophers most regularly taught in college Modern Philosophy courses".
  2. ^ a b Richard Schacht, Classical Modern Philosophers: Descartes to Kant, Routledge, 2013, p. 1: "Seven men have come to stand out from all of their counterparts in what has come to be known as the 'modern' period in the history of philosophy (i.e., the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries): Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Kant".
  3. ^ Marshall Berman. 1982. All That Is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-671-24602-X. London: Verso. pp. 16–17. ISBN 0-86091-785-1. Paperback reprint New York: Viking Penguin, 1988. ISBN 0-14-010962-5.
  4. ^ Brian Leiter (ed.), The Future for Philosophy, Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 44 n. 2.


External links

17th-century philosophy

17th century philosophy is generally regarded as seeing the start of modern philosophy, and the shaking off of the medieval approach, especially scholasticism. It succeeded the Renaissance and preceded the Age of Enlightenment. It is often considered to be part of early modern philosophy.

Andrew Pyle (philosopher)

Andrew Pyle (born 17 March 1955) is a British philosopher on the history of philosophical atomism.

Pyle is currently a Reader in Early Modern Philosophy at the University of Bristol, where he also received his doctorate. His dissertation was titled Atomism and its Critics: Democritus to Newton. Pyle also writes on the history of science and has given talks within the university on the nature of science historically. Pyle is one of the editors of the Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy.In 2018, Bristol University held an all day conference honouring the thematic themes of Pyle's research


In analytic philosophy, anti-realism is an epistemological position first articulated by British philosopher Michael Dummett. The term was coined as an argument against a form of realism Dummett saw as 'colorless reductionism'.In anti-realism, the truth of a statement rests on its demonstrability through internal logic mechanisms, such as the context principle or intuitionistic logic, in direct opposition to the realist notion that the truth of a statement rests on its correspondence to an external, independent reality. In anti-realism, this external reality is hypothetical and is not assumed.Because it encompasses statements containing abstract ideal objects (i.e. mathematical objects), anti-realism may apply to a wide range of philosophic topics, from material objects to the theoretical entities of science, mathematical statement, mental states, events and processes, the past and the future.

Columbia University Department of Philosophy

The Columbia University Department of Philosophy is ranked 9th in the US and 10th in the English-speaking world, in the 2018 ranking of philosophy departments by The Philosophical Gourmet Report. It has particular strengths in logic, philosophy of mind, metaphysics, philosophy of law, philosophy of biology, general philosophy of science, philosophy of social sciences, philosophy of physics, 17th-century early modern philosophy, and 19th- and 20th-century continental philosophy.

The department is distinguished by its being prone to promote philosophical domains not considered as "mainstream" in other philosophy departments. Not only does it offer advanced research in the wide range of subjects in analytical philosophy but it also has particular strengths in the history of Western philosophy. It also benefits from the presence or activity nearby of other departments' faculty such as Souleymane Bachir Diagne from French and Romance Philology, Joseph Raz and R. Kent Greenawalt from Law School, or Jon Elster from Political Science. Many cross-registered courses allow students to enlarge their scopes in other departments.

The philosophy departments of City University of New York, which is a few blocks away, and New York University have close relations with the faculty. Enrolled doctoral students are able to take courses offered at these universities. The Graduate School is also a member of the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium (IUDC) which provides for cross-registration among member institutions. Participating schools are CUNY Graduate Center, Fordham University, New School for Social Research, New York University (including the Institute of Fine Arts), Princeton University, Rutgers University, and Stony Brook University.

Every year Columbia University and NYU philosophy graduate students organize the Annual NYU/Columbia Graduate Student Philosophy Conference.Columbia University is also the home of the Journal of Philosophy.


In metaphysics, conceptualism is a theory that explains universality of particulars as conceptualized frameworks situated within the thinking mind. Intermediate between nominalism and realism, the conceptualist view approaches the metaphysical concept of universals from a perspective that denies their presence in particulars outside the mind's perception of them. Conceptualism is anti-realist about abstract objects, just like immanent realism is (their difference being that immanent realism does not deny the mind-independence of universals, like conceptualism does).


Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental reality.

In philosophy, it refers to the ontological property of being.

Inductive reasoning

Inductive reasoning is a method of reasoning in which the premises are viewed as supplying some evidence for the truth of the conclusion; this is in contrast to deductive reasoning. While the conclusion of a deductive argument is certain, the truth of the conclusion of an inductive argument may be probable, based upon the evidence given.Many dictionaries define inductive reasoning as the derivation of general principles from specific observations, though there are many inductive arguments that do not have that form.

Jonathan Bennett (philosopher)

Jonathan Francis Bennett (born 17 February 1930) is a British philosopher of language and metaphysics, and a historian of early modern philosophy.

Justin E. H. Smith

Justin E. H. Smith (born July 30, 1972 in Reno, Nevada) is a professor of history and philosophy of science at the University of Paris 7 - Denis Diderot. He has authored several books and is also a regular contributor to The New York Times, Harper's Magazine, n+1, Slate, and Art in America. Smith is an editor-at-large of Cabinet Magazine.Justin E. H. Smith's primary research Interests include Leibniz, early modern philosophy, history and philosophy of biology, classical Indian philosophy, and the history and philosophy of anthropology.

On November 27, 2015, he delivered the annual Pierre Bayle Lecture to the Pierre Bayle Foundation in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, on "The Gravity of Satire."The main-belt asteroid 13585 Justinsmith is named after Justin E. H. Smith.

Lisa Shapiro

Lisa Shapiro (born 1967) is an American and Canadian philosopher and Professor of Philosophy at Simon Fraser University. She is known for her expertise on early modern philosophy.

Miran Božovič

Miran Božovič (born August 12, 1957) is a Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst, associated with the Ljubljana school of psychoanalysis.

Božovič was born in Ljubljana. He holds a degree in comparative literature and philosophy from the University of Ljubljana, and a PhD in philosophy. He teaches early modern philosophy at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana.Božovič has written on several controversial subjects, including Bentham's concept of panopticon, the conceptualizations of the body in early modern philosophy, and the influence of traditional exorcist notions on Descartes' philosophy.

Philosophical realism

In metaphysics, realism about a given object is the view that this object exists in reality independently of our conceptual scheme. In philosophical terms, these objects are ontologically independent of someone's conceptual scheme, perceptions, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc.

Realism can be applied to many philosophically interesting objects and phenomena: other minds, the past or the future, universals, mathematical entities (such as natural numbers), moral categories, the physical world, and thought.

Realism can also be a view about the nature of reality in general, where it claims that the world exists independent of the mind, as opposed to non-realist views (like some forms of skepticism and solipsism, which question our ability to assert the world is independent of our mind). Philosophers who profess realism often claim that truth consists in a correspondence between cognitive representations and reality.Realists tend to believe that whatever we believe now is only an approximation of reality but that the accuracy and fullness of understanding can be improved. In some contexts, realism is contrasted with idealism. Today it is more usually contrasted with anti-realism, for example in the philosophy of science.

The oldest use of the term "realism" appears in medieval scholastic interpretations and adaptations of ancient Greek philosophy.


Philosophy (from Greek φιλοσοφία, philosophia, literally "love of wisdom") is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras (c. 570 – 495 BCE). Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust (if one can get away with it)? Do humans have free will?Historically, "philosophy" encompassed any body of knowledge. From the time of Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle to the 19th century, "natural philosophy" encompassed astronomy, medicine, and physics. For example, Newton's 1687 Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy later became classified as a book of physics. In the 19th century, the growth of modern research universities led academic philosophy and other disciplines to professionalize and specialize. In the modern era, some investigations that were traditionally part of philosophy became separate academic disciplines, including psychology, sociology, linguistics, and economics.

Other investigations closely related to art, science, politics, or other pursuits remained part of philosophy. For example, is beauty objective or subjective? Are there many scientific methods or just one? Is political utopia a hopeful dream or hopeless fantasy? Major sub-fields of academic philosophy include metaphysics ("concerned with the fundamental nature of reality and being"), epistemology (about the "nature and grounds of knowledge [and]...its limits and validity"), ethics, aesthetics, political philosophy, logic and philosophy of science.

Renaissance philosophy

The designation "Renaissance philosophy" is used by scholars of intellectual history to refer to the thought of the period running in Europe roughly between 1355 and 1650 (the dates shift forward for central and northern Europe and for areas such as Spanish America, India, Japan, and China under European influence). It therefore overlaps both with late medieval philosophy, which in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries was influenced by notable figures such as Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas, William of Ockham, and Marsilius of Padua, and early modern philosophy, which conventionally starts with René Descartes and his publication of the Discourse on Method in 1637. Philosophers usually divide the period less finely, jumping from medieval to early modern philosophy, on the assumption that no radical shifts in perspective took place in the centuries immediately before Descartes. Intellectual historians, however, take into considerations factors such as sources, approaches, audience, language, and literary genres in addition to ideas. This article reviews both the changes in context and content of Renaissance philosophy and its remarkable continuities with the past.

Revista Española de Filosofía Medieval

The Revista Española de Filosofía Medieval ('Spanish Journal of Medieval Philosophy - REFIME) is a scholarly publication dedicated to the scientific dissemination of studies and research on medieval philosophy. The paper version of the Revista is printed and distributed by the Publication Service of the University of Zaragoza, Spain, while the free digital edition is distributed by UcoPress - University of Cordoba, Spain. [1]. The Revista is the official organ of the Sociedad de Filosofía Medieval ('Society of Medieval Philosophy'), a society gathering scholars from the Iberian Peninsula as well as North and South America, and Europe. The Revista Española de Filosofía Medieval is published since 1993, and offers papers in Spanish, English, Italian, Portuguese, French, and German, related to the elaboration and transmission of medieval and early-modern philosophy and science, and also dedicated to the late-antique tradition of knowledge.Since 2017, the editorial committee of the Revista Española de Filosofía Medieval is composed by: Jorge Ayala Martínez (University of Zaragoza), Alexander Fidora Riera (ICREA – Autonomous University of Barcelona), Pedro Mantas España (University of Cordoba), and Nicola Polloni (Durham University, UK) as associate editor.

Tullio Gregory

Tullio Gregory (28 January 1929 – 2 March 2019) was an Italian philosopher and historian of medieval and early modern philosophy. He was professor in La Sapienza, Rome, and collaborated with several institutions, either in Italy or abroad. His work and interpretations have shed new light on Medieval thought and on the connection to early modern philosophy (from Montaigne to Descartes).

Vere Claiborne Chappell

Vere Claiborne Chappell (22 March 1930 - 28 January 2019) was an American philosopher and scholar specializing in early modern philosophy, history of philosophy, philosophy of mind and action, and metaphysics.Chappell was born in Rochester, New York in 1930, receiving his PhD from Yale University in 1958.In 2008 a collection of essays was published in honor of his work.Chappell died in North Adams, Massachusetts on 28 January 2019 at the age of 88.

Western philosophy

Western philosophy is the philosophical thought and work of the Western world. Historically, the term refers to the philosophical thinking of Western culture, beginning with Greek philosophy of the pre-Socratics such as Thales (c. 624 – c. 546 BC) and Pythagoras (c. 570 BC – c. 495 BC), and eventually covering a large area of the globe. The word philosophy itself originated from the Ancient Greek: philosophia (φιλοσοφία), literally, "the love of wisdom" (φιλεῖν philein, "to love" and σοφία sophia, "wisdom").

The scope of philosophy in the ancient understanding, and the writings of (at least some of) the ancient philosophers, were all intellectual endeavors. This 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).

Will (philosophy)

Will, generally, is that faculty of the mind which selects, at the moment of decision, a desire from among the various desires present. Will does not refer to any particular desire, but rather to the mechanism for choosing from among one's desires. Within philosophy the will is important as one of the distinct parts of the mind - along with reason and understanding. It is considered central to the field of ethics because of its role in enabling deliberate action.

One of the recurring questions discussed in the Western philosophical tradition is that of free will - and the related, but more general notion of fate - which asks how the will can be truly free if a person's actions have either natural or divine causes which determine them. In turn, this is directly connected to discussions on the nature of freedom itself and to the problem of evil.

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