Although there is no specific date that defines the turning point for “contemporary philosophy,” the 18th and 19th century scientific revolution empowered people to develop critical thinking, which sparked new developments in philosophy as well as socio-political revolutions. In the early 19th century, the modern social conditions and industrialization became launching points for new ways of thinking about the world. As the 19th century saw wars throughout Europe, global imperial expansion, and the rise of international industry, the philosophers of the time began to experiment with new ways of analyzing the importance of being a human in this specific historical context. They began to ask questions of what it meant to be a person in this type of society. They wondered why society functioned as it did.
The early 20th century saw exponential progress in theories of physics and a greater scientific understanding of the nature of the universe. In addition, this time was marked by humanitarian atrocities during World War I and World War II. These historical events forever changed the way people thought about themselves and their place in the world. The rise of modern metropolises meant that more people were living collectively in large cities while attempting to maintain some type of individuality.
People began to think of themselves in terms of new social theories that valued the individual rather than the group, and social revolutions arose throughout Europe. No longer did people accept oppression based on social class or gender, and equal rights became one of the most demanded social conditions for modern people around the world. Influencing these popular social movements, and influenced by the actions of modern people, contemporary philosophers expanded social consciousness over the last 200 years by promoting new ideas of individual liberty and responsibility.
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