19th century the philosophies of the Enlightenment began to
have a dramatic effect, the landmark works of philosophers such as
Immanuel Kant and
Jean-Jacques Rousseau influencing new generations of
thinkers. In the late 18th century a movement known as Romanticism
began; it validated strong emotion as an authentic not of aesthetic
experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as trepidation,
horror and terror and awe. Key ideas that sparked changes in
philosophy were the fast progress of science; evolution, as postulated
by Vanini, Diderot, Lord Monboddo, Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck, Goethe,
and Charles Darwin; and what might now be called emergent order, such
as the free market of
Adam Smith within nation states. Pressures for
egalitarianism, and more rapid change culminated in a period of
revolution and turbulence that would see philosophy change as well.
1 Brief historical outline
1.1 Influences from the late Enlightenment
2 Philosophical schools and tendencies
2.1 German idealism
2.7 British idealism
3 See also
5 Further reading
6 External links
Brief historical outline
With the tumultuous years of 1789–1815, European culture was
transformed by revolution, war and disruption. By ending many of the
social and cultural props of the previous century, the stage was set
for dramatic economic and political change. European philosophy
reflected on, participated in, and drove, many of these changes.
Influences from the late Enlightenment
The last third of the 18th century produced a host of ideas and works
which would both systematize previous philosophy, and present a deep
challenge to the basis of how philosophy had been systematized.
Immanuel Kant is a name that most would mention as being among the
most important of influences, as is Jean-Jacques Rousseau. While both
of these philosophers were products of the 18th century and its
assumptions, they pressed at the boundaries. In trying to explain the
nature of the state and government, Rousseau would challenge the basis
of government with his declaration that "Man is born free, but is
everywhere in chains". Kant, while attempting to preserve axiomic
skepticism, was forced to argue that we do not see true reality, nor
do we speak of it. All we know of reality is appearances. Since all we
can see of reality is appearances, which are subject to certain
necessary and subjective forms of perceptions, Kant postulates the
idea of an unknowable (while at the same time limiting our use of
science and the principle of causality to the appearances). Hegel's
distinction between the unknowable and the circumstantially unknown
can be seen as the beginnings of Hegel's rational system of the
Yet another philosopher of the late Enlightenment that was influential
19th century was
Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749–1827), whose
formulation of nomological determinism is famous up to this day.
Philosophical schools and tendencies
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all 19th-century philosophy.
Main article: German idealism
One of the first philosophers to attempt to with Kant's philosophy was
Johann Gottlieb Fichte, whose development of Kantian metaphysics
became a source of inspiration for the Romantics. In Fichte argues
that the self posits itself and is a self-producing and changing
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, a student of Fichte, continued to
develop many of the same ideas and was also assimilated by the
Romantics as something of an official philosopher for their movement.
But it was another of Fichte's students, and former roommate of
Schelling, who would rise to become the most prominent of the
post-Kantian idealists: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. His work
revealed the increasing importance of historical thinking in German
Arthur Schopenhauer, rejecting Hegel and also materialism, called for
a return to Kantian transcendentalism, at the same time adopting
atheism and determinism, amongst others. His secular thought became
more popular in Europe in the second half of the 19th century, which
coincided with the advents of Darwinism, Positivism,
philological analysis of the Bible.
In the second half of the 19th century, an even more orthodox return
to Kantian thought was espoused by a number of Neo-Kantian
philosophers based in two main locations: the Marburg School and the
Baden School. This trend of thought survived into the beginning of the
next century, influencing 20th century philosophical movements such as
Neopositivism and Phenomenology.
One of the most famous opponents of idealism in the first half of the
19th century was Ludwig Feuerbach, who advocated materialism
Main article: Utilitarianism
19th century Britain,
Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill
promoted the idea that actions are right as they maximize happiness,
and happiness alone.
Main article: Marxism
Karl Marx and
Friedrich Engels in the mid-to-late-19th
Marxism is a sociopolitical and economic view based on the
philosophy of dialectical materialism, which opposes idealism in
favour of the materialist viewpoint. Marx analysed history itself as
the progression of dialectics in the form of class struggle. From this
it is argued that "the history of all hitherto existing society is the
history of class struggles." According to Marx, this began with the
phase of primitive communism (hunter-gatherer society), after which
Neolithic Revolution gave way to slave societies, progressing into
the feudal society, and then into his present era of the Industrial
Revolution, after which he held that the next step was for the
proletariat to overthrow the owners of industry and establish a
socialist society, which would further develop into a communist
society, in which class distinctions, money, and the state would have
withered from existence entirely.
Marxism had a profound influence on the history of the 20th Century.
Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich
Existentialism as a philosophical movement is properly a 20th-century
movement, but its major antecedents,
Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich
Nietzsche wrote long before the rise of existentialism. In the 1840s,
academic philosophy in Europe, following Hegel, was almost completely
divorced from the concerns of individual human life, in favour of
pursuing abstract metaphysical systems. Kierkegaard sought to
reintroduce to philosophy, in the spirit of Socrates: subjectivity,
commitment, faith, and passion, all of which are a part of the human
Like Kierkegaard, Nietzsche saw the moral values of 19th-century
Europe disintegrating into nihilism (Kierkegaard called it the
levelling process). Nietzsche attempted to undermine traditional moral
values by exposing its foundations. To that end, he distinguished
between master and slave moralities, and claimed that man must turn
from the meekness and humility of Europe's slave-morality.
Both philosophers are precursors to existentialism, among other ideas,
for their importance on the "great man" against the age. Kierkegaard
wrote of 19th-century Europe, "Each age has its own characteristic
depravity. Ours is perhaps not pleasure or indulgence or sensuality,
but rather a dissolute pantheistic contempt for the individual man."
Main article: Positivism
Auguste Comte, the self-professed founder of modern sociology, put
forward the view that the rigorous ordering of confirmable
observations alone ought to constitute the realm of human knowledge.
He had hoped to order the sciences in increasing degrees of complexity
from mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, and a new
discipline called "sociology", which is the study of the "dynamics and
statics of society".
Main article: Pragmatism
The American philosophers
Charles Sanders Peirce
Charles Sanders Peirce and William James
developed the pragmatist philosophy in the late 19th century.
The twilight years of the
19th century in Britain saw the rise of
British idealism, a revival of interest in the works of Kant and
Main article: Transcendentalism
Transcendentalism was rooted in Immanuel Kant's transcendence and
German idealism, led by
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.
The main belief was in an ideal spiritual state that 'transcends' the
physical and empirical and is only realized through the individual's
intuition, rather than through the doctrines of established religions.
List of philosophers born in the nineteenth century
^ Comte, Auguste. Course on Positive Philosophy.
Baird, Forrest E. Philosophic Classics: 19th Century Philosophy.
Gardiner, Patrick. ed. 19th-century Philosophy.
Shand, John. Central Works of Philosophy. Vol. 3. The Nineteenth
Century. ISBN 978-0-7735-3053-9
Wikiquote has quotations related to: 19th-century philosophy
Fichte from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Philosophy of psychiatry
Philosophy of perception
Space and time
Schools of thought
Acintya bheda abheda
Foundationalism / Coherentism
Internalism and Externalism
Ordinary language philosophy
Rationalism / Reasonism
Philosophy by region
Women in philosophy
History of the 19th century