19th-century philosophy  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
19th century literature

In the 18th century the philosophies of The Enlightenment began to have a dramatic effect, the landmark works of philosophers such as Immanuel Kant and Jean-Jacques Rousseau influencing a new generation of thinkers. In the late 18th century a movement known as Romanticism sought to combine the formal rationality of the past, with a greater and more immediate emotional and organic sense of the world. Key ideas that sparked this change were evolution, as postulated by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Erasmus Darwin, and Charles Darwin and what might now be called emergent order, such as the free market of Adam Smith. Pressures for egalitarianism, and more rapid change culminated in a period of revolution and turbulence that would see philosophy change as well.

Proto-existentialism

Existentialism as a philosophical movement is properly a 20th-century movement, but its major antecedents, Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche wrote long before the rise of existentialism. In the 1840s, academic philosophy in Europe, following Hegel, was almost completely divorced from the concerns of individual human life, in favour of pursuing abstract metaphysical systems. Kierkegaard sought to reintroduce to philosophy, in the spirit of Socrates: subjectivity, commitment, faith, and passion, all of which are a part of the human condition.

Like Kierkegaard, Nietzsche saw the moral values of 19th-century Europe disintegrating into nihilism (Kierkegaard called it the levelling process). Nietzsche attempted to undermine traditional moral values by exposing its foundations. To that end, he distinguished between master and slave moralities, and claimed that man must turn from the meekness and humility of Europe's slave-morality.

Both philosophers are precursors to existentialism, among other ideas, for their importance on the "great man" against the age. Kierkegaard wrote of 19th-century Europe, "Each age has its own characteristic depravity. Ours is perhaps not pleasure or indulgence or sensuality, but rather a dissolute pantheistic contempt for the individual man."

List of philosophers

The 19th century was host to a variety of religious and philosophical thinkers, including:





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "19th-century philosophy" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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