As opposed to modern philosophy, contemporary philosophy proposes the overcoming of radical rationalism, on the one hand, and transcendental idealism, on the other. As a proposal, it offers to delve into the human condition and the problem of existence, and is characterized by great dynamism in terms of ideas and currents.
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1. What is contemporary philosophy
2. Characteristics of contemporary philosophy
3. Currents of contemporary philosophy
4. Authors of contemporary philosophy What is contemporary philosophy
As with the historical discipline, philosophy divides its theoretical development by times, from the pre-Socratic period to medieval, modern and contemporary philosophy. Contemporary philosophy is the most recent stage of Western philosophy and includes the period from the late nineteenth century to the present.
Contemporary philosophy is characterized, as we will see below, for being a transition stage of modernity, cultural paradigm based on the scientific revolution and the illustration, to postmodernity, critical current of current philosophy.
Since the 20th century was a convulsive stage in history full of wars, conflicts and traumatic phenomena, philosophy has experienced, on the one hand, a professionalization as a discipline called to offer answers to vital anguish and the crisis of civilization , and on the other hand, the development of the thematic exploration around man and society. Characteristics of contemporary philosophy
All the periods in which the history of philosophy is divided contain some particular features that usually mark a rupture. The characteristics of contemporary philosophy are based on the reaction to modernity.1. Great diversity of currents
After the death of Hegel, philosophy experienced one of the great crises of the discipline that was perceived in the questioning of the philosophical foundations of modernity and the appearance of a great diversity of currents that differ and they oppose each other.
The great currents that will appear in the first phase of contemporary philosophy are a reaction to Hegel’s idealism , such as Marxism and positivism. That will give way to an acceleration of philosophical activity and the multiplication of currents as the 20th century progresses. Philosophy is mixed in this period with other disciplines. 2. Crisis of reason
Modern philosophy had been characterized by the enlightened idea that Reason was the new God of men. However, contemporary philosophy is characterized by the increasingly consolidated idea that reason is no longer sovereign because it cannot resolve the great concerns of the human soul.
On the contrary, it is considered that philosophical thought is subject to the subjectivity of each author . The great diversity of currents oppose each other without there being a supreme god, Reason, who decides who has the correct solution. This is the basis for the development of postmodernity. 3. Rejection of the transcendent and spiritual
One of the other characteristics of contemporary philosophy in its theoretical content is the rejection of the transcendent and spiritual, which had marked modern philosophy from Kant to Hegel. This had a mystical and religious dimension for which the new authors lose interest and relegate to the background.
Marxism and nihilism, especially the systems proposed by Marx and Nietzsche , liquidate transcendental beliefs and introduce materialism as a new paradigm. 4. Professionalization of philosophy
It is the only point of continuity with modern philosophy, although the professionalization of the philosophical discipline acquires a more accelerated and academic rhythm in the contemporary era. During this period, philosophy is considered on the same plane as the other great disciplines, and is given academic status and legal regulation .
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Currents of contemporary philosophy
Marxism, vitalism, quietism, naturalism, positivism, neopositivism, historicism and pragmatism are just some of the numerous currents emanating from the enormous dynamism of contemporary philosophy.
They can all be grouped into five large groups that we summarize below. 1. Analytical Philosophy
This is one of the great philosophical currents of the contemporary period and is based on the emphasis on language through formal logic . It takes place mainly in the Anglo-Saxon world and its parents are Bertrand Russell and George Edward Moore. As a system of thought, it emphasizes the following issues:
- The study of language and the logical analysis of concepts.
- Skeptical position on metaphysics : metaphysical statements are meaningless when subjected to logical analysis.
- Connection with empiricism in its spirit, style and focus.
- Affinity towards scientific research as a method of understanding reality.
- Opposition to continental philosophy (especially French and German) that put more emphasis on history and speculation.
Within continental philosophy, existentialism is one of the great currents and is based on the analysis of the human condition, freedom and individual responsibility. From the end of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century, several authors organized around a heterogeneous movement that divided into Christian, atheist, and agnostic existentialism .
All of these issues, however, shared a number of concerns.
- Subjectivism : existentialism is a reaction to Hegelian idealism. The Christian current represented by Kierkegaard claims existence against the absolute in the relationship between man and God.
- Individual responsibility : Atheist existentialism insisted on the rejection of the transcendental or mystical dimension and confronts man with the anguish of death and the responsibility of existence without possible salvation.
- Freedom is a concept shared by atheistic, Christian, and agnostic existentialists and is the principle around which the other themes revolve. Anxiety is redeemed by absolute freedom.
- Anxiety and nothingness Anxiety was a theme conceptualized by Kierkegaard and consolidated by Sartre as “nausea”. Nothingness was a very important idea in French existentialism in the 1930s and 1940s.
We review the characteristics of contemporary philosophy. | Mystic Art Design. 3. Structuralism
Structuralism is one of the most complex currents of contemporary philosophy. It raises the search for structures through which meaning is produced within a culture, that is, practices, phenomena and activities as meaning systems.
Authors such as Claude Levi-Strauss, Louis Althusser and Michel Foucault led this trend and raised the following issues:
- The key role of language in the development of human activity.
- Multidisciplinary work and convergence of philosophy, sociology and anthropology.
- The structures of a given sociocultural system as a determinant of what happens in that system.
- Emphasis on the pre-eminence of order over action.
- Study of structures as symbols through which we create meaning.
Edmund Husserl is the philosopher who at the end of the 19th century recovered and theoretically developed the traditional concept of phenomenology. Until then he appealed to intuitive experience to resolve philosophical questions, but Husserl and his followers give it a transcendental character by setting as its central theme the meaning of the world for the individual.
Transcendental phenomenology will later influence structuralism and existentialism, and focuses, above all, on the following issues:
- The idea of intentionality as a fundamental concept of human existence.
- The importance of the method , consisting of comparing several intentional objects to define a common essence.
- The question about the intentional meaning is answered from the perceptual experiences.
- The reality of a subject as an objective part of the world : making the rational subject compatible with his experience of the world.
theory The current of contemporary philosophy known as critical theory is a system proposed from 1929 in the so-called Frankfurt School by philosophers such as Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer. It is very important because it opens a line of thought for critical Marxist political dissent with Stalinism and dogmatism.
The topics that most interest the philosophers of critical theory are:
- Industrialization and economic modernization as a challenge for socialist man.
- The adaptation of the original socialist doctrine to the historical reality of interwar Europe.
- Knowledge as an understanding of reality , and not as a reproduction of concepts.
- Anti-dogmatism and intellectual dissidence as the engine of knowledge.
- Rejection of the separation between subject and reality : there is no pure theory that remains intact over time.
- Dialectics as an essential method for the construction of knowledge.
Authors of contemporary philosophy
Here are the great thinkers and philosophers of our time, champions of the theories that we have exposed. 1. Martin Heidegger
This is one of the most controversial philosophers in contemporary philosophy. Creator of the concept of “Dasein” (the Being), he is the father of philosophical existentialism and, through his work Being and Time (1927) wondered about what exactly characterizes existence. In this way he recovers ontology, a discipline forgotten since the classical period.
According to Heidegger, human existence is a being-in-the-world (Dasein) on which death acts as a structuring element because it delimits it in a space-time axis. In other words: breaking with modern philosophy and Descartes’s concept of being as a thinking entity isolated from the world, he proposes the interaction between being and the world as the backbone of its essence.
In short, what is new about Heidegger is that he changes the notion of being as thinking for the idea of being as existing. The important thing about being is not thinking, but existing . 2. Friedrich Nietzsche
One of the best known contemporary philosophers and also one of the most controversial (many hold him responsible for the misfortunesof the twentieth century), Nietzsche is an author difficult to classify in a stream. His thought, at the end of the 19th century, was based on the idea of the “death of God” as a symbolic element that recognizes the individual as the only sovereign. Nietzsche’s philosophy is a criticism of traditional morality , which in his opinion enslaved man, and a criticism of Western culture which, according to him, is perverted from its origin for having deified reason. Understanding that European culture has reached its decline, he proposes nihilism as a solution.
Nihilism is the transition from Western culture and traditional morality towards the destruction of higher values and principles, and the justification of the means by the importance of the end. Under this prism Nietzschebuilds the model of the “superman” , which overcomes the intermediate stage, unfinished, which supposes the current man, and gives him “will to power”.
Nietzsche, one of the most relevant contemporary philosophers. | Social media. 3. Jean-Paul Sartre
Undoubtedly an iconic philosopher of contemporary thought, Jean-Paul Sartre revolutionized twentieth-century philosophy by presenting, in 1943, Being and Nothingness, an ontological treatise where he reduced being, as an individual, to the nothing, freeing it from the weight of transcendence and granting it responsibility and, consequently, freedom.
The pessimistic sense of Sartre’s atheistic existentialism, based on the concept of anguish, which he metabolized as “nausea”, evolved into an optimism based onthe idea of freedom as the ultimate goal . He did it, in part, thanks to the experience of the second world war and the triumph over fascism.
Of that period highlights existentialism is a humanism. That is why, as a whole, the existentialist theory of Jean-Paul Sartre, and that of his companion Albert Camus, evolve towards a particular current called humanism . 4. Jurgen Habermas
Jurgen Habermas is one of the most influential philosophers of the second half of the 20th century. His theory is part of critical theory, although belonging to the second generation of the Frankfurt School he focuses more on issues such as linguistics and communication . In fact, his great contribution is the theory of communicative action.
According to Habermas, social interaction ceases to be conditioned by rites and sacred ideas and becomes determined by language. The communicative action is oriented towards the search for an agreement that favors social interaction and cultural reproduction , and ultimately shapes the formation of one’s own personality.
What is relevant about Habermas, and what makes his thought one of the most attractive of our time, is that he turns philosophy into a tool of social criticism. He therefore does not create abstract ideas but plausible methods. For example, he is the creator of the idea of deliberative democracy as an ideal of collective political and social organization. 5. Slavoj Zizek
But if a philosopher has real vigor in the current philosophical debate, this is Slavoj Zizek. Irreverent and controversial, overflowing and brilliant, current and pragmatic, his ideas do not leave anyone different and he accommodates his vast theoretical capacity with current debates. That is why he has become one of the main gurus of a part of the radical left and one of the most influential minds in general.
His philosophy is an update of materialism based on Lacan’s psychoanalytic structuralism and Hegel’s idealism. The main ideas of it is that modern man has to recognize, endure and filter reality within his own fiction of him. That is why he recovers the idea of the transcendental subject, to build a bridge from Hegel to today.
Zizek’s philosophy is a radical critique of postmodernity and its idea of relativism. His proposal aims to recover the idea of the absolute and an effective ontology that manages to explain oppression, violence or exclusion far from radical historicism.
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