General Characteristics of 20th Century PhilosophyJune 28, 2021
It is, of course, not possible to show the general characters of all current currents of thought.
This is especially true of some of the currents in the XIX. century, or more generally, the line of the moderns (1600-1900).
However, other schools are trying to establish something radically new according to these movements. However, there are general characters that apply to most, if not all philosophers, at least.
Whitehead describes the phenomenon of splitting into two branches, which is quite typical of the modern period. He seems completely justified when he asserts it. Thus the divide between them is overcome, and subjectivism as we have seen, as we have seen, suffers a decisive defeat. Roughly speaking, a trend is emerging towards an organic and undifferentiated understanding of reality. With the gradual structure of reality, different layers of existence are formally accepted. In addition, there may be other features that clearly define contemporary thought, although they do not have a general value.
Among them, let’s consider the following:
a) Anti-positivist attitude: One of the features that can be observed almost everywhere has been turning away from material philosophers and some idealist philosophers. From this point of view, philosophers of life, phenomenologists, existential philosophers and metaphysicians are preferred. While they oppose the natural sciences in a general way any value that is the source of philosophical knowledge, the metaphysicians are content with giving a certain place to the natural sciences.
b) Analysis: XIX. Contrary to the twentieth century, contemporary philosophers specifically use analysis, and often do so in distinctly new ways.
c) Realism: Metaphysicians, most of the philosophers of life, philosophers of matter and some of the existential philosophers are realists. There are only idealists in the opposite attitude. The form of realism they advocate is direct realism: it gives man the power to grasp existence directly. Again, Kant’s distinction between being-phenomenon has been denied by almost all philosophers.
d) Pluralism: Today’s philosophers, in general, are pluralists. They oppose the idealist and materialist conception of unity of the 20th century. But here, too, there are exceptions: for example, the metaphysicians Alexander and the idealists Croce are monists. However, they only constitute a minority, and their impact diminishes when examined.
e) Actualism: Nearly all contemporary philosophers are pragmatists. His main interests are on becoming, increasingly on becoming conceived as a phenomenon of historicity. Science, which was regarded as the definitive criterion of the irrationalist teachings at the turn of the century, had been replaced by history. Contemporary philosophy, being performative, denies the existence of substances. Its only privileged case is the Thomasists and some English neorealists. Many philosophers even go further in their actualism and deny even the existence of immutable ideal forms. This is the case for the philosophy of matter and life, many idealist philosophers and all existential philosophers. However, performativeism has been bitterly criticized by other schools, especially neo-Kantianists, phenomenologists, and metaphysicians.
f) Personalism: In most cases, attention is focused on human existence. Except for the philosophers of the philosophy of matter, all the philosophers of our age have declared that they are spiritualists and they emphasize the unique dignity of human existence. Existential philosophers present this personalism especially in the form of tragedy, and many phenomenologists and metaphysicians also firmly defend it. The opposition of contemporary philosophy with the past emerges at this particular point: Contemporary philosophy is much closer to the real existence of man than the philosophies that preceded it.
Apart from these immanent characters in the teachings themselves, many external characters also determine contemporary philosophy. Contemporary philosophy appears to be a highly specialized, extraordinarily productive philosophy whose various schools are closely intertwined.
a) Specialization: Among the philosophers by profession, there is almost no philosopher whose work can be compared with the closeness of the works of Plato or Descartes in terms of simplicity. All schools (with the exception of dialectical materialism – in some ways pragmatism) have a specialized level of thought that includes an abstract and rich vocabulary, working with complex, subtle concepts. This is especially noticeable among existential philosophers and neo-positivists, and they are fundamentally distinctive features of these two new teachings. The same can be said of idealists, phenomenologists, and metaphysicians. Some philosophical claims of our age, in terms of their external appearance, XV. Reminiscent of the fine procedures of the twentieth century scholastic as well as an Aristotle’s specialized technique.