Modern Philosophy

Modern philosophy refers to the philosophy that originated in Western Europe in the 17th century and later spread to other parts of the world. Modern philosophy began in the 17th century and ended in the 20th century. This period was marked with a lot of philosophical writings and works from some of the greatest men of that era. The main players in modern philosophy during its earlier years can be grouped in to two namely the rationalists and the empiricists.

The rationalists were mainly from France and Germany and they argued that all knowledge must start from certain innate ideas in the mind. The major names in this school of thought included Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, Nicholas Malebranche and Gottfried Leibnitz. The Empiricists on the other hand believed that knowledge must start with sensory experience and the major advocates of this thought included George Berkeley, David Hume and John Locke. Philosopher Immanuel Kant came out with a philosophical system which he claimed would unite the two schools of thought and align their ideas but his effort never paid off as the two ideologies never got successfully harmonized.

The bulk of philosophy in the early 17th century was dominated by scholasticism and was basically written by theologians who based most of their work on writings by great philosophers like Plato and Aristotle. Some of the writings were also derived from early church literature.

Types of Modern Philosophy

Modern philosophy is divided into various types with the major types being political philosophy and religious philosophy. Modern philosophy can also be categorized geographically into western and eastern philosophy.

Political philosophy

This refers simply to the study of topics related to politics such as liberty, justice, rights, law, property etc. It also defines what the above topics are concerned with, why they are needed, what makes a governance system legitimate, the freedoms and rights that should b protected by governments, the duties and responsibilities of citizens just to mention a few. In simple terms, political philosophy is often used to refer to a general or specific view about aspects related to politics. Some of the greatest political philosophers include Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean Jacks Rousseau, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, James Mill and Jeremy Bentham.

Religious Philosophy

This refers to philosophy or thinking that is mainly inspired by religion. Each religion has got its own philosophies for example there is Christian philosophy, Buddhist philosophy, Hindu philosophy, Islamic and Jewish philosophies. Early religious writings and literature form the base and source of material for most of the modern religious philosophy. Religious philosophers basically came out with writings to guide their followers and to control immorality in society by coming up with sort of a daily guide for the believers of their various religions. Some of the prominent religious thinkers of that era include Ireaneaus of Lyons, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Augustine of Hippo just to mention a few.

Western or European Philosophy

It refers to the philosophical work of the western world or Europe in particular. The term western philosophy was invented to refer to the thinking of the western world starting from Greek philosophy. Western philosophy covered such topics as mathematics, natural sciences like biology, physics and astrology. The philosophy also targeted fields like social life, law and order, governance etc. Western philosophers have been divided into various categories depending on the topics that they cover like logic, Ethics, physics, meteorology etc. Some of the greatest western philosophers included Aristotle,. Engels, Marx etc.

Eastern Philosophy

Eastern philosophy covers the philosophical findings and writings of South and East Asia. It includes Chinese philosophy, Indian philosophy, Korean philosophy, Japanese philosophy and at times Persian/ Iranian philosophy. Eastern philosophy was leaning more to religious sects with most of the philosophers trying to explain their beliefs and relations between humans and their gods. Unlike Western philosophy which covers a variety of topics, eastern philosophy concerns itself more with religious issues and was more interested in explaining the differences between the natural world and the universal patterns.

There are other small categorizations of philosophy or philosophical thinking and these include idealism, phenomenology, pragmatism, Analytic philosophy etc. These schools of thought all have their different beliefs and writings, all of them trying to explain certain occurrences in the universe and the relationships between man and God, man and fellow man, man and his surroundings etc. Modern philosophical writings have had a great impact on our lives today as most of the ideas coming up at the moment are derived from the period of renaissance.