Talk:17th-century philosophy

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Wow- but mostly on Iran[edit]

A few things...whoever wrote the bottom comment needs to spellcheck and reread their history. Nonetheless, I just want to pose a question to the wiki community and provide my own take on it.

The question is: What do we think about the presence of the Iranian philosophy on this page?

I am an Iranian and a Modern European Intellectual history major, but still, I think they should be separated. If they are separated, I think the Iranian article should be revised to take out the "ooh, look, we discovered existentialism before Sartre" crap. Although I am not familiar with the idea, this phrasing is absolutely absurd. To say that an idea shares similarities to existentialism is a completely different thing than to consider knowledge production as a race. Furthermore, to say that ideas can be treated outside of their context is absurd. The whole point of this article isn't 'philosophy' or a certain school of philosophy but a certain temporal context. Thus, "Existence before essence" is not the same in 1960s France than it is in early 19th C. Denmark, or ancient Rome. Let's not be hasty here.

Navidnak (talk) 12:29, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

someone else's stuff[edit]

I think it´s necessary to explain through the text the need to separate the Age of Reason from The Enlightment. Some of the authors of this 17th philosophy page are considered colaborators of The Enlightment.

redirect issues[edit]

"Age of Reason" doesn't redirect here - it links to the disambig page.

old page[edit]

This page is about unworkable, as it is primarily a gloss based on what it admits is an oversimplification by Kant. Leaving text here and reworking.


In Western Philosophy, the modern period is usually taken to start with the seventeenth century — more specifically, with the work of René Descartes, who set much of the agenda as well as much of the methodology for those who came after him. The period is typified in Europe by the great system-builders — philosophers who present unified systems of epistemology, metaphysics, logic, and ethics, and often politics and the physical sciences too.

Kant was to classify his predecessors into two schools: the Rationalists and the Empiricists, and Early Modern Philosophy, as seventeenth- and eighteenth-century philosophy is often known, is frequently characterised in terms of a supposed conflict between these schools. This division is a considerable oversimplification, and it's important to be aware that most philosophers involved didn't think of themselves as belonging to these as schools, but as being involved in a single philosophical enterprise.

Rationalism is said to be characterized by reasoning from axiomic, or at least strongly likely, basic ideas. The three main Rationalists are normally taken to have been Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, and Gottfried Leibniz, while the three main Empiricists were John Locke, and in the eighteenth century George Berkeley and David Hume. The former were distinguished by the belief that, in principle (though not in practice), all knowledge can be gained by the power of our reason alone; the latter rejected this, believing that all knowledge has to come through the senses, from experience. Thus the Rationalists took mathematics as their model for knowledge, and the Empiricists took the physical sciences.

This emphasis on epistemology is at the root of Kant's distinction; looking at the various philosophers in terms of their metaphyical, moral, or linguistic theories, they divide up very differently. Even sticking to epistemology, though, the distinction is shaky: for example, most of the Rationalists accepted that in practice we had to rely on the sciences for knowledge of the external world, and many of them were involved in scientific research; the Empiricists, on the other hand, generally accepted that a priori knowledge was possible in the fields of maths and logic, and of the main three, only Locke has any scientific training or expertise.

This period also saw the birth of some of the classics of political thought, especially Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan, Locke's Two Treatises of Government, and Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu's L'Esprit des Lois.

The seventeenth century in Europe saw the culmination of the slow process of detachment of philosophy from theology. Thus, while philosophers still talked about – and even offered arguments for the existence of – god, this was done in the service of philosophical argument and thought. (In the Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, eighteenthth-century philosophy was to go still further, leaving theology and religion behind altogether.)

You should have seen it before (check the history page). What I left was something of a stop-gap; however, given the hysteria about original research hereabouts, and given that 17th-century philosophy is still standardly presented in terms of the Rationalist–Empiricist distinction, both in university courses and in books, I thought it wise not to depart radically from that scheme. I'd planned to come back to the page, if only to add something about non-European philosophical trends, but also to widen the scope of the European section. I'll just watch for a while, instead. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 22:37, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I've put in what I call "large stubs" before myself. But I am aiming to make this article a far more detailed presentation of the material, roughly starting with the rise of the counter-reformation and with Galileo, and moving forward, with links to the next article, since in many books, articles etc. the two centuries are thought of as one period. Stirling Newberry
But not in philosophy (not that I've seen anyway; what books did you have in mind?) — and there's pretty near unanimity concerning Descartes' position as the beginning of modern philosophy. Still, I said I'd just watch for a while, so I should shut up. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 23:24, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)
On this side of the puddle the Enlightenment is often taught as beginning with Descartes and Hobbes, or at the latest with Locke, and frequently the "Seventeenth century" means the baroque through the Peace of Westphalia. As you may note from both pages, it isn't an issue that I have strong feelings about, however, I do have strong feelings about documenting all of the available usages. Within political philosophy Machiavelli is listed as the first modern, and within the philosophy of science Galileo. I've also seen divisions where modern philosophy ends with the rise of Hegel's philosophy. In fact, that was the "modern philosophy" article on wiki when I arrived. A relatively typical version of what is taught here can be found [1] which lists Descartes as the beginning of the French Enlightenment.
And there are other disciplines that make divisions. Since in history the "modern" period begins with the Renaissance, philosophers from that time forward are, ipso facto, modern philosophers.
Hence my policy has been to document as many usages as I can find consistent sources for, on the reasoning that a person will come to the article looking for an explanation of a particular usage or context, and should be able to find it. Stirling Newberry 02:49, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I must admit that I've never seen Galileo referred to as the first modern philosopher of science (that title is often given – slightly hyperbolically I think – to Francis Bacon), though I have seen him described as the father of modern mechanics. Similarly with Machiavelli (in so far as that title is given at all, Hobbes is more likely), though he's sometimes referred to in U.S. circles as the first political scientist.
Given that this is an article on seventeenth-century philosophy, though, rather than on modern philosophy, Machiavelli surely doesn't belong here on any definition, any more than Hegel does (he was either still studying or only just doing some teaching by the end of the century). Suárez might just sneak in as the earliest philosopher of the century (I can't remember off-hand how much work he did in the last decade or so of his life). I'd have said that Mary Wollstonecraft (or Jeremy Bentham, depending on how you calculate things) was the last notable philosopher of the century.
As for the Enlightenment — I'm afraid that here too there's a tendency to misuse terms in an attempt either to cram material under a course title or to attract students, but I've checked five reference works by my desk, and only one of them even suggests that the beginnings of the Enlightenment could be discerned in Hobbes, Locke, & Descartes. The others simply confirm that the Enlightenment movement began in eighteenth-century France.
There's room for many points of view and opinions in an article like this, and I'd not want to push my own further than is proper — but on the question of whether someone whose dates were 1469–1567 should appear in an article on the seveteenth century (except in passing as an influence on Hobbes & co.) I'd dig my heels in. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 11:08, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Yes —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:56, 8 January 2010 (UTC)

Browne a philosopher[edit]

Any casual acquaintance with the text of this writer plus three hundred years of being defined so entitles him to be re-instated on this page!Norwikian 07:34, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

Redirect from Age of Reason[edit]

I just added a redirect from Age of Reason, as it links from Metaphysics and confused the hell out of me. I would rather the more general "17th-century philosophy" umbrella take this one, with relevant links outward to the enlightenment.


What's the distinction between the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment?Cheesy 08:05, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

{refimprove} and {expand} tagging[edit]

I found myself reconciling terminology in this and Age of Enlightenment for us ignorant in philosopy courses today.

I added two IMPROVEMENT tags --

  1. Expand -- Considering the extent of change as the modern world was born from the fuedal institutions and the birth of the Modern nation-states in the era, the length is merely a good stub. Certainly, philosophy of the era would tie into such momentous changes in western culture. I should add stub templates as well! Yikes, guys! Give this some TLC, please. The era is facinating, no matter what continent you may be standing on during it!
  2. and refimprove -- One cite in a century article is laughable! Ahem!
  3. Note the trailing embedded comment:
It is often called the "Age of Reason" and is considered to succeed the Renaissance philosophy era and precede the Age of Enlightenment, but, some consider it as the earliest part of the Enlightenment era in philosophy, extending that era to two centuries. <!-- and begging the question why centuries and eras line up at all! Seems likely to be shakey reasoning, unphilosophical even; combines two different methods of classification! Kick that around! Love, user:Fa... ---> (emphasis added)

In any event, if you all can justify the centuries lining up with era names nice and tidy, it probably makes sense that it would be philosophers who could pull that significant feat off successfully! (But I have my cynical doubts!) Cheers! // FrankB 15:10, 7 October 2007 (UTC)