Philosophy by the Book

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Nineteenth Century Philosophy

Immanuel Kant is the towering figure in the philosophical culture of Continental Europe during the nineteenth century. His transcendental idealism and moral absolutism stimulated reactions in one form or another throughout the century, notably in Schopenhauer, in Hegel and his successors, and in the British idealists, such as Green and Bradley in the latter part of the period.

Kierkegaard and Nietzsche can both be seen as reacting in their writing against Hegelian complacency in philosophy and religion.

In the British Isles, the empiricist and utilitarian traditions were kept vigorous in the work of Austin, both Mills, Spencer, and Sidgwick, while Comte's positivism represents one way philosophy responds to the on-going successes of the sciences.

The scientific developments with the greatest long-term impact on philosophic thought occurred in biology, with both the beginnings of biochemistry, and the bombshell of the Origin of Species.

The nineteenth century also witnessed a great rise in interest in the foundations of mathematics, which led to the development of modern logic, one of the jewels in the crown of twentieth century philosophy. This advance had its beginnings in the work of Frege towards the end of the century.

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