Talk:History of Western philosophy

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November 3, 2004 Peer review Reviewed


The present bold headings at the end of the history of philosophy article constitute a proposed outline of the rest of the article. I would suggest that we give several introductory paragraphs about philosophy in each period, to be kept consistent with the introductory paragraphs in the articles about each period; the articles can go into more depth. That's just my idea, though; you might have a better one.

The "general outline" began life on philosophy and should be kept up-to-date with the philosophy page. I.e., if you make changes to those paragraphs, then please, change the paragraphs on philosophy as well.

By the way, I, as someone who has studied the history of philosophy (esp. Descartes, Hume, and Reid) a fair bit, am very excited about the prospects of writing about the history of philosophy in a wiki/hypertext format. It really does seem the best way to do it! --LMS

The following content didn't really fit when the stuff from Philosophy was moved here. But I want it stored for now:

Ancient philosophy was dominated by the trio of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. In medieval philosophy, topics in metaphysics and philosophy of religion held sway, and the most important names included Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. Modern philosophy, generally means philosophy from 1600 until about 1900, and which includes many distinguished early modern philosophers, such as Rene Descartes, John Locke, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant. Nineteenth-century philosophy is often treated as its own period, as it was dominated by post-Kantian German and idealist philosophers like Georg Hegel, Karl Marx, and F. H. Bradley; other important thinkers were John Stuart Mill, Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche.

In the twentieth century, philosophers in Europe and the United States took diverging paths. The so-called analytic philosophers, including Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, were centered in Oxford and Cambridge, and were joined by logical empiricists emigrating from Austria and Germany (e.g., Rudolph Carnap) and their students and others in the United States (e.g., W. V. Quine) and other English-speaking countries. The continental philosophy was led by the German phenomenologists Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger, followed soon by Jean-Paul Sartre and other existentialists; this led via other "isms" to postmodernism, which dominates schools of critical theory as well as philosophy departments in France and Germany.

John Dewey was an American philosopher and founder of the school of philosophy known as pragmatism. He had an enormous influence on American education - indeed, he is sometimes referred to as the "father of American education".

Important contemporary (or almost contemporary) philosophers include Karl Popper who investigated questions surrounding the scientific method, Peter Singer who formulated a radical practical ethics, John Rawls with his theory of distributive justice, and Robert Nozick, a libertarian political philosopher.

Evercat 00:01 May 10, 2003 (UTC)

Shouldn't this page be the History of Western Philosophy? : ChrisG 12:15, 20 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Moved Contents[edit]

As Chris observed, this article was about Western philosophy. At first I added a note stating the article focuses on Western Philosophy, intendeding to add sections later, but I decided to turn it into a disambiguation page instead, linking to the various traditions and moving the previous contents to The History of Western Philosophy. Perhaps we can lengthen and edit this article later, I hope the move doesn't bother anyone. -- Simonides 23:14, 21 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Started discussion on panel. Cleaned up usage, disambiguated, began working on removing inherent POV and internal consistencies. EG "Early Modern Philosophy" was, on the panel listed as "17th century philosophy" and then talked about Kant. Who, last I checked, didn't live in the 17th century. See discussion on the panel for outline of why this was done. Stirling Newberry

Cut will restore in pieces as article is fit back together. Chauvinism and confrontationalism are unwiki and lead to real problems of logic and structure. Stirling Newberry 14:48, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)

The 20th Century brought on a host of radical changes to societies and knowledge, from the arts to physics. 20th century philosophy reflected both the range from radicalism to conservatism that existed in other sections of society.
One set of approaches, coming out of mathematics and positivism, set the basis of philosophy as the abstract process itself: mathematical logic, analytic reasoning. Widely associated with Anglo-American Philosophy, this strain parallelled the increasing focus on technology and the need to structure diverse material in an orderly manner. Analytic philosophers, including Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, were centered in Oxford and Cambridge, and were joined by logical empiricists emigrating from Austria and Germany (for example, Rudolf Carnap) and their students and others in the United States (such as, W. V. Quine, Donald Davidson, and Saul Kripke, and other English-speaking countries (for example, A. J. Ayer). Gottlob Frege, a German who never worked in the English-speaking world, is arguably the foundation of this tradition, but it began with Russell and Moore in Cambridge at the turn of the century. Russell, A.N. Whitehead, and Wittgenstein (an Austrian) did groundbreaking philosophical work in math and logic. This quickly connected them with the Logical Positivists, a group of scientists and philosophers in Vienna centred around Carnap, Otto Neurath, and Moritz Schlick, and with the logical empiricists in Berlin, centred around Reichenbach and Hempel, and later with a number of schools of logicians that sprang up in Poland.
During the thirties members of these various groups migrated to the United States, helping to lay the grounds for American analytic philosophy. W.V. Quine , who was influenced by all of these (particularly Carnap) is perhaps the key figure here. Also during the thirties Ludwig Wittgenstein came to doubt the philosophical tenability of the very elaborately logic-based philosophy he had earlier done, and stressed the importance of studying ordinary language and practical usage, as being crucial to untangling philosophy. His work was initially influential at Oxford, and after the posthumous publication of his many manuscripts, has spread through all of philosophy.
Another set of approaches were rooted in the phenomenologist Germans Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger and heavily influenced by Sigmund Freud and Friedrich Nietzsche, followed soon by Jean-Paul Sartre and other existentialists. Existentialism's fundamental question was that of the morality of individuals in a world where effect was often so disproportionate to cause: the smallest error could lead to gruesome death, mass catastrophe's could wipe out millions. The essential understanding was that it was the internal life of the mind which was most fundamental, and that presence and personal responsibility were the most important roots of morality.

"Western" or "western"[edit]

I moved this page from History of Western Philosophy. Obviously (see Wikipedia:Manual of Style) the capitalization of the "p" was incorrect, but now I wonder, before going through and fixing redirects, whether I should have left the capital "W" intact. Opinions? Michael Hardy 18:54, 6 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Capital 'W' sounds right to me. It refers to a location - sorta. I'm no expert though, I haven't had a look at the Wikipedia protocols on this.
PS - Whoa, you wrote that YEARS ago! Oh well, what I said is still vaild. I'm posting it. Stringman5 03:48, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
I just came to post something about the W being capitalised. I think this is incorrect, because Western isn't a proper noun, and therefore it's against the style manual. I'm happy to change it unless anyone suggests otherwise. Wikidea 09:17, 4 October 2007 (UTC)


The recent editor is correct in saying that Pythagoras did not "invent" the Pythagorean Theorem, though he is often credited with the first abstract proof. On the other hand, he was based in Italy, in the Greek colony of Crotona. Rick Norwood (talk) 12:42, 3 April 2008 (UTC)