Modern Philosophy definition/Schools and Philosophers/Historical context

Modern philosophy is all philosophy developed in the so-called Modern Era, between the 15th century (encompassing the late Renaissance periods) and the 19th century. Modern Philosophy definition

With the emergence of new sciences at the time, modern philosophy was marked by the centrality of reason as a source of knowledge and its full capacity to understand reality.

With this, modern philosophy breaks with medieval thought, which subordinated reason to faith. The philosophers who inaugurated this new period of philosophy were Nicolas Machiavelli (1469-1527) and René Descartes (1596-1650).

Schools and Philosophers of Modern Philosophy

Modern philosophy, like other phases of philosophy, can be divided into schools of thought that organize the different philosophical currents of the time. The main schools of modern philosophy are: rationalism , empiricism and idealism. Modern Philosophy definition


Rationalists believed that human knowledge does not depend on experiences to be formed, since there are ideas that go beyond the information absorbed with experiences.

Thus, rationalism addresses the effects of intuition and deduction in the formation of human knowledge, classifying them as a priori knowledge.

Rationalists conceived that reason was the only sure source of knowledge, asserting that experiences were particular and flawed, making true knowledge impossible.

Examples of modern rationalist philosophers : René Descartes, Baruch Spinoza and Immanuel Kant.


Empiricists argued that all knowledge can only be built from experience. For this reason, empiricism is dedicated to observation and verification as a scientific method. That is, that all hypotheses and theories are tested and observed (scientific experience) before being considered knowledge. Modern Philosophy definition

Examples of modern empiricist philosophers : John Locke, George Berkeley, David Hume and Francis Bacon.


Idealism is the philosophical school that understands that reality as we know it is the result of the human mind.

In epistemological terms, idealism defends the limits of knowledge are the limits of the mind, so the perception of reality will always be limited.

Examples of modern idealistic philosophers: Arthur Schopenhauer, Hegel and Immanuel Kant.

Historical context

The period is marked by the strengthening of sciences such as astronomy, mathematics and physics. The worldview gradually shifts from Theo centrism (God as the center of the world) to anthropocentrism (man as the center of the world), reducing the power of the Catholic Church. Modern Philosophy definition

The great events of the time (Great Navigations, end of feudalism, Protestant Reformation, etc.) produced the favorable historical context for the emergence of revolutionary ideas.

Thus, modern philosophy serves as theoretical support for the heyday of science and for the development of thought that would culminate in bourgeois revolutions.

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