A History of Western Philosophy Book 3

Author: Jack Thomson, Publisher: Phoenix

A History of Western Philosophy Book 3: The Nineteenth Century from German Romanticism and Idealism to Marxist Materialism and Darwinian Evolution

A history of Western philosophy is a progressive story of the best answers to the most interesting and important questions we have asked in our attempts to understand the world and our experience in it from the beginning of our time on Earth. Examples of such questions are:

  • What can we know, and how can we come to know it?
  • What is the fundamental nature of our world and ourselves?
  • How can we best live and organise our individual and collective lives most satisfyingly and happily?

From early childhood to very old age we all ask philosophical questions because we feel the need to understand our human situation and condition.

This history is divided into 11 major Parts presented in 7 separate Books, covering the main developments in science and philosophy over the past 2,500 years. During this time, some radically different schools of thought have emerged, all integrally related to the history of the times, societies and cultures from which they arose.

Book 3: The Nineteenth Century from German Romanticism and Idealism to Marxist Materialism and Darwinian Evolution

The nineteenth century saw a great expansion in the range of subjects deemed appropriate for philosophical investigation. Romanticism in Germany and England was a reaction to the growing scientific determinism. It emphasised emotion and imagination over reason as the most important guides to the truth of the human condition and focused on responses to nature in poetry, music and the literary arts. Romanticism led to Idealism, the belief that our reality is fundamentally mental rather than material. The major idealist philosopher was Georg Hegel who constructed a great metaphysical system of thought. His great virtue was his recognition of the important relationship between the processes of history and our lives and culture. Karl Marx built on Hegel’s philosophy of history and morality by reversing his mentor’s claim that the ideas in a society determined its forms of life and material production. Marx held that the ideological superstructure is determined by its economic base rather than being its cause.

Other major developments in the nineteenth century included Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution; Søren Kierkegaard’s insistence that religious faith was irrational, and that passion was a more reliable guide to truth than any provable belief; Arthur Schopenhauer’s claim that the human will was an evil and destructive power; and Friedrich Nietzsche who repudiated God and proposed that we have to make our own meanings from within ourselves.

More Information
Edition 1st
Date of Publication 2018
ISBN 9781925169171
Subject Philosophy