Early modern philosophy

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Early modern philosophy (also classical modern philosophy) [1] [2] is a period in the history of philosophy at the beginning or overlapping with the period known as modern philosophy.

Modern philosophy

Modern philosophy is philosophy developed in the modern era and associated with modernity. It is not a specific doctrine or school, although there are certain assumptions common to much of it, which helps to distinguish it from earlier philosophy.



The early modern period in history is roughly 1500–1789, but the label "early modern philosophy" is typically used to refer to a narrower period of time. [3]

The early modern period of modern history follows the late Middle Ages of the post-classical era. Although the chronological limits of the period are open to debate, the timeframe spans the period after the late portion of the post-classical age, known as the Middle Ages, through the beginning of the Age of Revolutions and is variously demarcated by historians as beginning with the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, with the Renaissance period, and with the Age of Discovery, and ending around the French Revolution in 1789.

In the narrowest sense, the term is used to refer principally to the philosophy of the 17th century and 18th century, typically beginning with René Descartes. 17th-century philosophers typically included in such analyses are Thomas Hobbes, Blaise Pascal, Baruch Spinoza, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, and Isaac Newton. The 18th century, often known as the Age of Enlightenment, included such early modern figures as John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume. [2]

17th-century philosophy philosophy during the 17th century

17th century philosophy is generally regarded as seeing the start of modern philosophy, and the shaking off of the medieval approach, especially scholasticism. It succeeded the Renaissance and preceded the Age of Enlightenment. It is often considered to be part of early modern philosophy.

René Descartes 17th-century French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist

René Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist. A native of the Kingdom of France, he spent about 20 years (1629–1649) of his life in the Dutch Republic after serving for a while in the Dutch States Army of Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange and the Stadtholder of the United Provinces. One of the most notable intellectual figures of the Dutch Golden Age, Descartes is also widely regarded as one of the founders of modern philosophy.

Thomas Hobbes 17th-century English philosopher

Thomas Hobbes, in some older texts Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, was an English philosopher, considered to be one of the founders of modern political philosophy. Hobbes is best known for his 1651 book Leviathan, which expounded an influential formulation of social contract theory. In addition to political philosophy, Hobbes also contributed to a diverse array of other fields, including history, jurisprudence, geometry, the physics of gases, theology, ethics, and general philosophy.

The term is sometimes used more broadly, including earlier thinkers from the 16th century such as Niccolò Machiavelli, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Michel de Montaigne, and Francis Bacon. [4] Some definitions also broaden the range of thinkers included under the "early modern" moniker, such as Voltaire, Giambattista Vico, Thomas Paine. By the broadest definition, the early modern period is said to have ended in 1804 with the death of Immanuel Kant. Considered in this way, the period extends all the way from the last Renaissance philosophers to the final days of the Age of Enlightenment.

Niccolò Machiavelli 16th-century Italian politician and writer

Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was an Italian diplomat, politician, historian, philosopher, humanist, writer, playwright and poet of the Renaissance period. He has often been called the father of modern political science. For many years he served as a senior official in the Florentine Republic with responsibilities in diplomatic and military affairs. He wrote comedies, carnival songs, and poetry. His personal correspondence is renowned by historians and scholars. He worked as secretary to the Second Chancery of the Republic of Florence from 1498 to 1512, when the Medici were out of power. He wrote his best-known work The Prince in 1513, having been exiled from city affairs.

Martin Luther Saxon priest, monk and theologian, seminal figure in Protestant Reformation

Martin Luther, was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk, and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation.

John Calvin French Protestant reformer

John Calvin was a French theologian, pastor and reformer in Geneva during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism, aspects of which include the doctrines of predestination and of the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation of the human soul from death and eternal damnation, in which doctrines Calvin was influenced by and elaborated upon the Augustinian and other Christian traditions. Various Congregational, Reformed and Presbyterian churches, which look to Calvin as the chief expositor of their beliefs, have spread throughout the world.

See also


  1. Jeffrey Tlumak, Classical Modern Philosophy: A Contemporary Introduction, Routledge, 2006, p. xi: "[Classical Modern Philosophy] is a guide through the systems of the seven brilliant seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European philosophers most regularly taught in college Modern Philosophy courses".
  2. 1 2 Richard Schacht, Classical Modern Philosophers: Descartes to Kant, Routledge, 2013, p. 1: "Seven men have come to stand out from all of their counterparts in what has come to be known as the 'modern' period in the history of philosophy (i.e., the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries): Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Kant".
  3. Marshall Berman. 1982. All That Is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN   0-671-24602-X. London: Verso. pp. 16–17. ISBN   0-86091-785-1. Paperback reprint New York: Viking Penguin, 1988. ISBN   0-14-010962-5.
  4. Brian Leiter (ed.), The Future for Philosophy, Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 44 n. 2.

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