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Modern philosophy: authors and works

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Modern philosophy: authors and works

We will take a trip through the history of the modern philosophy and we will see who are the main authors and the most important works of an era, which are characterized by breaking with the previous tradition and placing the subject at the center of the discourse philosophical. The problem of knowledge will be the starting point of modern philosophy, which began, on the philosophical level, in the midst of the Scholastic crisis.

Is he beginning of humanism and Renaissance philosophy, which, together with the Copernican revolution, related to the New Science, causes a change of mentality, which departs from the old prejudices and the argument from authority. If you want to know more about authors and works of modern philosophy, continue reading this lesson from a TEACHER.

You may also like: Rationalism in modern philosophy


  1. Main authors of modern philosophy
  2. Renaissance philosophers
  3. Modern Philosophy: Rationalism
  4. Modern philosophy. Empiricism
  5. Idealism and the End of Modern Philosophy

Main authors of modern philosophy.

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Whitehead, he affirmed regarding the history of modern philosophy that it is “the history of the development of Cartesianism in its double aspect of idealism and mechanism”. Discardsis the father of modern philosophy, which ends with the idealists Hegel Y Kant.

Other representative authors of the time would be Galileo, Hobbes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Bacon, Locke, Hume, John, Stuart Mill, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Voltaire or Bacon, the latter, the author of the phrase “Knowledge is power”, Summarizes the desire for knowledge of the time, for scientific knowledge, opposed to the dogmatism of Scholasticism.

Reason departs from faith, is born gnoseologyand a new concept of truth, understood now as subjective, inside the subject's mind and not outside of it. The human being is a being rational and autonomous, able to dominate nature thanks to knowledge. God, he's left out of the speech. It is the origin of modernity.

QAnyone who reads Galileo and Descartes will be in a better position to discover the truth than if he had explored the entire genre of ordinary authors.

, affirmed the rationalist philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Confidence in knowledge and in the power of reason was absolute and the desire for knowledge, unlimited. The center of nature is no longer God, but the human being, who, thanks to reason, is capable of transforming it at will. Scientific knowledge now takes the place of faith.

Philosophers of the Renaissance.

Pico della Mirandola, Nicolas de Cusa, Giordano Bruno, Galileo Galilei, Nicolas Machiavelli, Michel de Montaigne orFrancisco Suarez, are some of the main representatives of the Renaissance. These authors are humanists, that is, they place the human being at the center of the philosophical debate.

One of the most representative works of the time, is without a doubt, "Oratio de hominis dignitate " ("discourse on the dignity of man" or "human dignity") by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, who contains some theses contrary to Christian doctrine, which caused a certain controversy in its moment. The work consists of 900 theses, with which he wants to demonstrate the power of reason and place the human being at the center of the Universe. It is considered "the Renaissance manifesto":

Nature encloses other species within laws established by me. But you, whom nothing limits, by your own will, into whose hands I have given you, you define yourself. I placed you in the middle of the world so that you could better contemplate what the world contains. I have made you neither celestial, nor terrestrial, nor mortal, nor immortal, so that you yourself, freely, in the manner of a good painter or a skilled sculptor, can finish off your own form "

Other important works will be "Dialogue on the two highest systems of the Ptolemaic and Copernican world, from Galileo, “Prince" from Machiavelli”, “By umbris idearum", from Giordano Bruno or "The essays", from Michel de Montaigne

The problem of the origin of knowledge will be the starting point of modern philosophy. According to some authors, the origin of knowledge is reason, while for others, it is sensible experience. The debate between rationalism and empiricism, which will be overcome with the idealism Kantian.

Modern philosophy: rationalism.

The rationalism in modern philosophy begins begins modern philosophy, which represents a break with medieval thought and with all tradition above, based on doctrines that, for Descartes, either made no sense or were totally false. Thus, el father of rationalism, tries to start the philosophy from scratch, away from all its beliefs, and starting from the doubt, as a method (doubt of reality, God, mathematics, consciousness) reaches the conclusion that in the act of doubting, he is thinking, and that is precisely the only thing he does not know about. may doubt. The thought, is the guarantee of the existence of the subject.

The Cogito ergo sum, is positioned as the first obvious truth in the history of philosophy. From the subject and his ideas, he realizes that some of his ideas do not come from the subject, so they have to come from God. The next step is to prove his existence by appealing to his goodness, which would not allow him to deceive the human being into believing in a lie. Therefore, God has to exist and is the guarantee of the existence of reality and objective truth.

The plays most important of Rene Descartes They are: Rules for the direction of the spirit, Discourse on Method, Metaphysical Meditations, The Principles of Philosophy, The Passions of the Soul, The Treatise on Man or Philosophical letters.

Other rationalist authors are Christian Wolff, Baruch Spinoza or Gottfried Leibniz.

Modern philosophy. Empiricism.

For empiricism it is understood that theory that affirms that the knowledge comes from the sensible experience. The empiricist philosophers emphasize the value of the senses and bet, unlike the rationalists, on inductive thought. Only through experience is it possible to have a knowledge, not certain but probable, of reality.

The mind, they claimed, is a clean sweep, denying the existence of innate ideas. Ideas originate from experience and the only way of knowledge is the senses, this being its only foundation.

The main representatives of empiricism would be John Locke (Essay on human understanding), George Berkeley (Treatise on the principles of human understanding), David hume (Treat of human nature) or Francis Bacon (Novum Organum).

Idealism and the end of modern philosophy.

This current of thought defends that reality it's just one mental construction, immaterial, that is, an idea. It is therefore not possible to know anything outside the human mind, and the ideas and beliefs of human beings are what shape society. All that exists is the mind or spirit. Idealism assumes a overcoming rationalism and empiricism, and denies all physicalist theories and all dualism, which do not give priority to the mental.

In 1781,Immanuel Kantpublished the Critique of Pure Reason, which ends the eternal debate between rationalism and empiricism by proposing a novel alternative: knowledge begins with experience, but does not originate in the same, but in the mind of the subject, which has structures prior to all sensible experience and which constitute the conditions of possibility of all knowledge.

All of Kant's work constitutes a true revolution, a turning point, a before and after from the philosophical point of view (theory of knowledge, ethics, politics), but his work, He also had repercussions in the field of physics, considering space and time as pure forms of sensibility that make the human being knows things the way he knows them, they give a structure to the objects of knowledge, in order to be known. Space allows the representation of objects and time allows the perception of internal states in a temporal sequence.

Other great representatives of idealism are Johann Gottlieb Fichte (The destiny of man), Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (Transcendental Idealism System) , Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (The phenomenology of the spirit), Arthur Schopenhauer (ANDThe world as will and representation).

If you want to read more articles similar to Modern philosophy: authors and works, we recommend that you enter our category of Philosophy.


Antiseri. D, Reale. G. History of philosophical and scientific thought. Ed. Herder. 2010

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