We are long overdue.............

While this topic is more inter-reflective than hardcore philosophy, I think it is a peritnent issue that needs to be discussed:

All throughout the eras and time-periods in history, there has pretty much been one or two major philosopher born for every given 100+ years of time. The last major (at least in my humble opinion) philosopher to be born was Wittgenstein… who was born back in 1889.

…ironically, Wittgenstein once remarked that he was the “last philosopher”, since he felt that he had covered in the only area of philosophy that remained to be widely examined: Language.

To an extent, he was partly right. He was one of the first and the last of the major philosophers to put a primary focus on the study of language. And, if you think about it, the other modern philosophers have not yet established (formally) any new area of philosophy. Martin Hiedeggar, for example, did not “found” the area of existentialism, but rather, he only added to & expounded on the theory of existentialism…which had previously been examined by Jean Paul Sartre and even Friedrich Nietzsche. Granted, he did do a lot of work in the area of phenomenology, but that’s a whole seperate issue…

[b]My point:
Humanity has now entered the new Millenium. We have been without any major philosopher since 1976. Decent Philosophical works are no longer standard reading materials in more & more highschools.

Were is the next philosopher? Will there ever come in our lifetime another great & notable philosopher? If so, when will he appear? Or, will philosophy be slowly forgotten about, or gradually watered-down until it so mundane that it is no longer worth studying?[/b]

Or, Is old Beemer becoming an impatient babbler? :wink:


I think you short change a few, among them Gilles Deleuze, though now passed (1925-1995).



Well, I’ll admit that there have been some more recent major philosophers than Wiggy and Hiedeggar, but none of any similar magnitude.

If I was being extremely thorough, I would have mention Ayn Rand(sp?) (although she is not my favorite by any stretch), and even Jaques Derrida(sp?), but passed away just a few months ago.

But such people did not leave as major of influence of mankind as philosophers such as Wittgenstein, Sartre, Hiedeggar, Nietzsche, etc…

…catch my drift? :?

Or am I being to picky over who I consider as “Major” philosophers? :?


I catch your drift and my first impression was in sympathy with you. But firstly, philosophers gain importance and force over time. Socrates was nothing more than a babbling troublemaker and he turns out to be the father of Western Rational thought. Wittgenstein was special, not only for the gift of his thought, but the pseudo-mystical aura he created around himself, his presence in a center of learning, and the obscure form (epigramic) in which he presented his ideas may have lead to much of his current prominence, but history may prove Derrida for instance a more influential thinker over time, for other reasons (not something I agree with per se). I also think that you short change Heidegger a bit, even though granting him standing. It is the radicalness of the thought that will prove its foundational position for great movements in the future, and that very radicalness may make it hard for us to recognize it now. If one really wants to look for the next philosopher of importance, it probably would be a search best conducted by examining radical trends in art and literature and culture, and then look for similar aspects in philosophy. Art and literature give body to larger movements and change which will ground themselves in philosophy that reflects them. For this reason I imagine that Deleuze may be more important than we realize.

Further one would have to deal with Philosophy’s great divide with Science, and ask if we should broaden the category to simply “thinker”. Many of the great philosophers of the past were either scientists, or proto-scientists. Was Freud a philsopher? Was Jung? Was Einstein? Is Chomsky now? Or Hawking? Does the penchant for constructing experiments, or mathematical models to prove your ideas suddenly eliminate you from being a philosopher?


Good question Guy, and an excellent reply, Dunamis.

You know some where some guy is sitting in his basement with the greatest philosophy in the universe on a three inch floppy disk…and he’ll never be known. Damn shame, really.

I put all my money on physics and neurology and base any philosophy I might think up on those discernible limits.

I’d probably guess that Wittgenstein had so much fun because he was making a circus out of language, showing what has happened to meaning after a four hundred year gang-bang of intellectualism.

So yeah, Guy, I agree pretty much. Philosophy isn’t dead as an activity, but it is at an almost complete stand-still in language.

We need new words, frankly. What ever happened to the days when a guy like Kant would walk up to you and say “hey, check this out, I made a new word today. Its “transcendental.” Cool, eh? And here’s what it means…etc., etc.”

Science my friend. Always keep a bag of science with you where ever you go. You gotta be careful with these “philosophers,” there’s no telling what they might try to pull.

…this one’s so good, I’m going to put into my sigtnature when I get a chance! :wink:

But, in the same sense, it does provide some sense of encouragment if one every thinks that philosophy will ever die out completely.

My opinion is that philosophy’s death is neither immanent nor possible. Rather, I think that it is the common man’s abilitiy and desire to reason on a philosophical level <---- This, I feel, is what is dying out. By the next millenium (assuming the earth has not yet been destroyed by God or some rouge astroid), I fear people will have computers making all decisions except those decisions which are critical to basic life functions. Or, at the very least, mankind will be dis-interested in philosophy.

Of course, man’s increasing dis-interest can be explained by the fact that a lot less was known in in 386 b.c. than in 2005. Mankind, in general, seems to be far too easily pleased. Perhaps we have too many mundane things/activites to distract us from fruitfull philosophical-thinking. Or perhaps we are made extremely lazy by the growing number of things (can someone say…the internet :wink: ) that are supposed to make things convient for us.

My concern lies with the next generations to come…

…and sure, my own generation is not much better-off than the next generation to come…

In conclusion, my predictions for the future culture of the next generation:

Due to the inability to maintain national-soverenignty, the U.S. will eventually need to merge many of it’s powers with the other large nations in order to prevent a Nuclear Holocost. A Global Diplomacy and Market is the future, like it or not. I personally am repulsed by such an idea, but the U.S.A. is selling itself away to other countries more and more each year.

—> Children will be taught how to read by learning entire individual words, one at a time. This will replace the traditional method of teaching children how to spell-out a word based upon individual letter sounds/pronunciation. Instead of teaching kids that “R E A D” spells, “read”, they will learn to reconize the word when they see it. The alphabet will slowly lose it purpose once a few current generations have completely died out.

—> The sciences will be held as king. “Logical” will be equated to mean nothing more than “generally comprehendable”. Math will be a treasured practice. People hang on to any and all known Mathematical principles, since they are not easily considered to be relative…unlike everyelse.

—> And finally, Philosophy, the great love of wisdom, will be virtually non-existent among the majority of common people like you and me. ILP and even PhilosophyForums.com will be deserted. Philosophy, if it is to continue at all will continue in the minds of a very few, elite…yet unknown dying professor…or…

…to quote yourself…:

This is all my humble babble. Sorry that it was long-winded. Much thanks to whoever takes the time to read the majority of it… :wink:


“My opinion is that philosophy’s death is neither immanent nor possible. Rather, I think that it is the common man’s abilitiy and desire to reason on a philosophical level <---- This, I feel, is what is dying out.”

When, at any time in history, has the common man’s ability and desire to reason on a philosophical level, have anything to do with philosophy? Athens Greece - a third of society was made up of illiterate slaves; 13th century Europe - a huge population was grunting in fields under illiterate lords; 17th century cities were burdened by disease, overcrowding and death, almost completely illiterate. My god, as far as the common man is concerned we are at the acme of philosophical heights so far reached.


Good Point Dumamis, but my bigger point was: Common Man will eventually lose his desire to think on a philosophical level.

Mind you, those illiterate peoples —from the slave, to the lords — had a LOT less mundane things in their lives to distract them from thinking on a deeper level…on a more frequent basis.

Back then, most of the days activities required some form of mental-calculations. Back then, a king and his advisors would need to plan a strategy to wage a future war. They had no computers or calculators to help them design the seige-machines, or the positions of the troops in battle, etc.

The slaves had all day in toiling in hard labor in the fields. I speculate that it was during their days of toiling in the fields that they would spend much time in philosophical disccussion…I mean, they really had nothing else to do that was much funner.

Other forms of entertainment included writing and excessive partying (depending on which period of time in history you want to talk about). They had virtualy nothing and virtually everything to talk about.

My point is: the ancient greeks, even the illiterate ones, had the “will” and the desire to exercise there minds.

Of course, this is not to say that we, today, could put desire for philosophy into everyone by simply halting the natural developments (in technology, medicine, work, entertainment, etc.). That would be both impossible and absurd.

However, does the fact that television-programming is getting dumber mean that we can no longer find ways to stimulate our interest in the higher thinkings? Do we have to let philosophy grow increasing uncommon just because more things to distract us are being invented each day? I say No. :wink:

And lastly, Science should NEVER be thought of as a suitable replacment for any aspect of Philosophy. Science goes along side philosophy, Science and philosophy are not seperate things, in the truest sense. Science cannot be without philosophy; nor can philosophy be without the sciences.


“My point is: the ancient greeks, even the illiterate ones, had the “will” and the desire to exercise there minds.”

It’s just my opinion, but I think you are quite far from characterizing “historical” common man accurately. If you want to criticize society, I think there are a lot better ways of doing so than comparing the middle class to the mental activity of slaves and serfs, and imagining that the “will” of those of the past was the bedrock of the philosophy those cultures produced. If anything, it was on the backs of the relatively unabstractly oriented minds of the many, that the abstractions of the few thrived, (if I was forced to generalize about history and philosophy). If forced, it perhaps can be argued even that the luxury of contemplation given to so many by the production and spread of wealth may spell the doom of philosophy as it is traditionally understood, rather than the reverse.


Fitting the occasion:

  • Sartre, Search for a Method (1960)

Meh…you got me. :wink: I yhink I got a bit carried away with my almost-dogmatic predictions of the future. Sorry… :blush: :stuck_out_tongue:

Hmm what about Habermas or Rorty or Kripke or Gadamer etc?

You are not serious?

Colin McGinn comes immediately to mind (The Making of a Philosopher: My Journey through Twentieth-Century Philosophy (New York: Perennial, 2002). There are a dozen others.

Can you see my difficulties?
Homo Mysticus

Okay, as I have said earlier, I realize I’ve excluded many philosophers…

but, I do not humbly feel that those philosophers who I have excluded were as influential as philosophers such as Wittgenstein, Sartre, Hiedeggar, etc…

I have heard of Wittgenstien, Sartre, Hiedeggar before…but I have never heard of many of these people you named off. I say this to stand as evidence that such people really do not carry as much a weight as influence as do those philosophers with whom I’m familular with.

In the area of Influence, there is no comparison. It is like trying to consider a chevrolet to be in the Highly-prestigious Ultra-luxery car class just because your chevy comes with leather seats.

I am a philosopher. Colin Mcginn was an even greater philosophy (by a long stretch, obviously). But niether of us will be remembered or appreciated in the same manner that the Wittgenstein, or Sartre, etc. will be.

catch my drift?

Just my humble thoughts, anyways…:wink:

“I am a philosopher. Colin Mcginn was an even greater philosophy (by a long stretch, obviously). But niether of us will be remembered or appreciated in the same manner that the Wittgenstein, or Sartre, etc. will be.
catch my drift?”

So what! How many books have you published? Journals? How do you know Mcginn won’t be remembered along side of the great ones? Have you read him? Wittgenstein was considered a quack by many and his works were published long after this death.
Yes, you are drifting.

Can you see my difficulties?
Homo Mysticus

I’ve found this list inserted in the pages of my book. I’ve forgotten where I’ve gotten it. But here goes:

Top Ten Philosophers of All Time:

  1. Aristotle–for using logic to explain nature and its phenomena.

  2. Descartes—for saying one’s own existence is the only thing that can’t be doubted.

  3. Marx—for creating the basis for political revolutions around the world, the Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital.

  4. Nietzsche—for providing a “solution” to humanity by creating the uebermensch.

  5. Rousseau—for saying man is born inherently good, but society corrupts him.

  6. Socrates—for the Socratic Method, abstract concepts and contradictions.

  7. Confucius—for creating The Analects, the ruler should ensure what’s good for his people.

  8. Foucault—for saying ‘man is soon bound to be extinct’, and that madness is a human invention.

  9. Sartre—for saying “man is condemned to be free”, and for asking the distinction between “being” and “being a human being”.

  10. Machiavelli—for advocating the end justifies the means, moral consequences be damned in his The Prince.

Not my list. But I might agree. I think I agree.

Wittgenstein is missing (!).

I would exclude 5&8 on the grounds that they are silly.

Can you see my difficulties?
Homo Mysticus

I think Husserl cannot be forgotten. phenomenology is a completelynew way of understanding the world. husserl changes the kantian transcendental logic question into a completely new format.
same with charles sanders peirce.
i think deconstruction and derrida could be new. it does sorta fit along with bmw guy’s perspective.


“Not my list. But I might agree. I think I agree.”

I think it is unimaginable for any list to not include, in fact start with, Plato; and yes there is a difference between Plato and Socrates. Wasn’t it Whitehead who said that all of Western Civilization was a series of footnotes to Plato? Even if you don’t agree with trends under his influence, no one really even compares just in terms of impact. Beyond even the pure total of imitators and reactionaries he inspired, he even nearly invented the “novel” as a form, and the reintroduction of his texts into 16th century Italy almost uniquely provided the philosophical framework that brought the Rennaisance forth. More than half the philsophers on the list are inconceivable without him.


p.s. yes, Husserl’s importance may become immense as history unfolds. Phenomenology, despite analytical philosophy’s early attempts, may prove philosophy’s firmest tie to science.

Perhaps it is only a matter of time. These are ancient philosophers from the past which we hold in high reguard today due to the fact that their philosophies have been passed down through the ages. Modern day philosophers lack credibility in current day existance. They do not have the glorification that people such as Sartre and Hiedeggar have received because they are new to the philosophical realm. You must also take into consideration that today, we are (for the most-part) an Empirical society that relies on hard-based evidence to accept a theory. Back in those days, philosophy was held in higher reguard, it was like a science in its day.