20th Century Philosophy

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The philosopher ( Popowa , 1915)

The 20th century was characterized by a strong heterogeneity of philosophical currents. Many philosophers belong to several "schools" in the course of their lives, so that they cannot always be clearly assigned to one philosophical direction.

A larger turning point in the philosophy of the 20th century formed the Second World War .

Non-philosophical impulses

The 20th century was the scene of several physical upheavals. The first came from the atomic physicist Max Planck with the publication of his discovery of the quantum of action in 1900. However, Einstein's theory of relativity , which resulted in a complete renewal of the worldview , had a fundamental influence on philosophical thought in the 20th century . With Einstein it became clear that the irrevocable laws of nature , here Newton's mechanics , on which all physics was based for over 200 years , can be replaced by new theories. Space and time were suddenly no longer absolute and could only have arisen with the emergence of matter, ie the cosmos. One of Einstein's basic beliefs was that theories determine what can be observed .

The further development of this revolutionary new worldview led through Werner Heisenberg's quantum mechanics and his uncertainty relation, as well as Niels Bohr's quantum theory on the constitution of atoms and molecules, according to which one and the same object can be recorded with mutually exclusive test arrangements, to the realization that physical phenomena are only can be calculated with probabilities. After that , the question of the determination of the physical world, which Planck and Einstein ( God does not throw the dice ) assumed to be certain, was open again. a. relevant to the discussion in philosophy of mind .

It is noteworthy that these natural scientists, including Erwin Schrödinger (wave mechanics), Wolfgang Pauli (theories arise through understanding empirical material, through looking at inner symbolic images) and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker (the basic condition of every experience is time) are to be counted have not only thought about their epistemological implications mostly from a platonic point of view, but also considered the moral-political consequences in philosophical works and sometimes published them against the current.

Sigmund Freud , Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav Jung also brought about radical changes in thinking in the field of depth psychology . Even if these theories are exposed to considerable criticism in the sense of scientificity, instincts, imprints and the subconscious play a significant role in contemporary thinking. In the second half of the 20th century, more and more peeled biology as the formative science out. Important keywords are evolution , molecular biology , genetic engineering and neurosciences , the theoretical foundations of which in turn mean shifts in the way people see themselves.

If one compares the world at the beginning and the end of the 20th century, a picture emerges of extreme upheavals in technical, social and political terms. As a reaction to wars of enormous proportions and the phenomenon of genocide , Kant's idea of ​​the League of Nations as a supranational contractual community seems at least to have a chance, even if the nation-state egoisms are still unbroken in many respects. One threat appears to be the extraordinary population growth , the consequences of which cannot be foreseen at the beginning of the new millennium. The class society of the 19th century has turned into a mass and consumer society , where in the industrialized countries there is hardly any concern about personal existence , but where there are many fears of being marginalized by unemployment. In contrast, there is hunger and hardship in the so-called underdeveloped countries, which are confronted by undisguised disinterest and egoism from the rich countries .

As a consequence, the scientific, technical and social developments of the 20th century have given rise to new discussions in ethics , as they are expressed in questions of technology assessment , genetic ethics or environmental ethics . Humanity is confronted with the mass annihilation of National Socialism , the atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki , the confrontation between hunger and extreme wealth, environmental disasters such as Chernobyl or an impending climate catastrophe . This problem was created in the 20th century without any concrete solutions in sight. From a philosophical point of view, it can be stated that there are only a few contributions that seek solutions. The philosophical conversation fluctuates more between commentary analysis and theoretical discourse. Bertrand Russell , Albert Einstein , Albert Schweitzer , Theodor W. Adorno and Hans Jonas stand out as tireless fighters against the equanimity of everyday life .

Language as a paradigm of 20th century philosophy

If you want to summarize the philosophy of the 20th century under one rubrum, despite its diversity and contradictions, then it is the language that runs through almost all philosophical positions as a formative element. This began with Gottlob Frege (the sentence as the smallest unit of meaning) and was mainly through Ludwig Wittgenstein (all philosophy is language criticism - the thought is the meaningful sentence) to the "linguistic turn" in the philosophy of language. Together with the approach of analytical philosophy ( Bertrand Russell's theory of labels), this led to a completely new perspective on philosophy. But even with Edmund Husserl , the linguistic development of the examined objects is an essential component of phenomenology . Maurice Merleau-Ponty sees a special sign in language. Philosophical anthropology deals with humans as being gifted with language ( Max Scheler , Helmuth Plessner ). For Ernst Cassirer , language as a symbolic form is the starting point for opening up culture and people. Hermann Schmitz redrafted phenomenology. He was currently addressing the everydayness of human 'atmospheres', which Husserl had excluded, as emotional-collective constitutional spaces.

Martin Heidegger is known for his exalted use of language. For him, speech was the existential aspect of speaking. Hermeneutics was developed into an independent language philosophy by Hans-Georg Gadamer . In logical empiricism an attempt was made to develop an independent scientific language with logical consistency ( Rudolf Carnap ). Karl Popper took on basic elements of the linguist Karl Bühler in his Critical Rationalism . George Edward Moore, on the other hand, coined the Ordinary Language Philosophy, with which he also influenced Wittgenstein's pragmatic turnaround, who once again created a new paradigm with the language of everyday use and the language game, that of the Oxfords Gilbert Ryle and John Langshaw Austin with the theory of speech acts has been recorded. John Searle developed a bundle theory of reference and Noam Chomsky contributed to the discussion with his theory of generative grammar.

In France, the linguistic influence of structuralism ( Saussure ) and post-structuralism ( Jacques Derrida ), which Michel Foucault led into the likewise text-oriented postmodernism, which extends to the deconstructivist feminist philosophy of Judith Butler . The analytic philosophy of language finds its continuation in Fred Dretske's explanation of representation with the help of the information concept, in Donald Davidson's theory of meaning of the conditions of truth and in the language pragmatics of Robert Brandom , Richard Rorty and Hilary Putnam .

In Germany one finds the transcendental language pragmatics of Karl-Otto Apel as an independent thesis , to which the discourse philosophy of Jürgen Habermas is a reflex. The logical propaedeutics of the Erlangen school ( Paul Lorenzen ) should also be mentioned. Language as a symbolic form is experiencing a revival and the interpretationism of Hans Lenk and Günter Abel is aiming in a similar direction .

Neuscholasticism and Neuthomism

The neo-Thomism as the hard core of the neo-scholasticism is a broad flow of Christian philosophy in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Pope Leo XIII. With his encyclical Aeterni patris of 1879, he appointed the medieval church philosopher Thomas Aquinas to be the first doctor of the church and recommended his teaching for every Catholic priestly training. As a result, interest in medieval scholasticism grew and a number of neo-Homist philosophies emerged. Outstanding representatives of this movement were Joseph Maréchal , Jacques Maritain , Étienne Gilson and Erich Przywara .


Neo-Kantianism is the philosophical movement initiated primarily by Otto Liebmann and Friedrich Albert Lange , which turns against materialism with reference to the transcendental logic and epistemological writings of Immanuel Kant .

The demand was made to go back directly to Immanuel Kant and to develop a philosophy that met the demands of the then modern sciences . Another characteristic of Neo-Kantianism is the newly awakened interest in a validity theoretical foundation of the humanities and the interest in a philosophical foundation of political theory . Marburg Neo-Kantianism, for example, provides the theoretical basis for Eduard Bernstein's revisionism and Max Adler's Austromarxism . Neo-Kantianism was also of considerable importance in the field of Russian philosophy of the early 20th century, as it kept the middle between orthodox-mystical metaphysics and atheistic materialism .

Neo-Kantianism at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century was mainly represented in Germany by two schools, the Marburg School with Hermann Cohen , Paul Natorp , Karl Vorländer , Rudolf Stammler and Ernst Cassirer and the Southwest German School with Wilhelm Windelband and Heinrich Rickert . Added to this is the criticism that has not developed its own school. Important representatives of criticism were Alois Riehl , Hans Vaihinger and Richard Hönigswald .


Edmund Husserl (1900)

Edmund Husserl (1859–1938) is the founder of phenomenology , a philosophy that appears as “strict science” and which made him one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century. He urged the philosophers to abstain from the hasty interpretation of the world and, in the analytical consideration of things, to adhere to what appears immediately to the consciousness . In doing so, he broke with the psychologism still prevalent around 1900 , which saw the laws of logic as an expression of psychological conditions that made objectivity impossible.

He did not shine as an academic teacher, but philosophized to an unusually high degree by writing, approx. 40,000 pages, which are filled with his analyzes, have been gradually published from his estate as “Husserliana” since 1950. Husserl's students were Edith Stein , Dietrich von Hildebrand , Ludwig Landgrebe and Roman Ingarden . He had the greatest influence on the existential philosophers and phenomenologists Martin Heidegger , Emmanuel Levinas , Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jean-Paul Sartre .

In sociology , his thoughts were developed further in the work of Georg Simmel , Alfred Schütz , and most recently Heinrich Rombach . Phenomenology influenced the material ethics of values as an analysis of the essence of the ethical ( Moritz Geiger , Hans Reiner , Max Scheler ), found its way into psychology ( Alexander Pfänder ) and law ( Adolf Reinach ).

Philosophical history and culture criticism

Oswald Spengler (1880–1936) was a German historical philosopher and cultural historian whose main topic is the morphological view of the world as history. This is focused in his main philosophical work as a monumentally elaborated theory . Central theses are the inability of his time to work creatively, the consequent obligation to preserve the culture created by previous generations, the probation in the face of the political challenges in times of decay, in which the "look across cultures" shows the way should. Epistemologically , he referred to Goethe . Another representative of the philosophical criticism of history and culture was the Spanish philosopher, sociologist and essayist José Ortega y Gasset (1883–1955), who as a cultural philosopher built on Friedrich Nietzsche , Wilhelm Dilthey and the philosophy of life .

Philosophical anthropology

Max Scheler (1874–1928) was a German philosopher and sociologist. In 1913 he published his work on the material ethics of values. He replaces the Kantian ethics of duty with his ethics of values ​​by adding an emotional sense of value to the theoretical and practical. For him, the moral is based on a concrete value determination in a personalistic way. In doing so, he continued phenomenological philosophy, including important moments in time.

In his 1928 published work “The position of man in the cosmos”, he divides the human psyche into four layers according to the gradual structure of organic nature, into feeling urge, instinct , associative memory and practical intelligence. He opposed these with a completely different principle of the spirit, whereby the human being is completely "removed" from the natural context. However, life and the spirit are dependent on each other: the spirit permeates life with ideas that would give life its meaning . On the other hand, life would first enable the spirit to give it an activity and to realize it in life.

Helmuth Plessner (1892–1985) was a German philosopher and sociologist as well as a major exponent of philosophical anthropology. With the posthumous publication of the ten-volume “Gesammelte Schriften” (1981–1985), his work is one of the most discussed approaches of the 20th century, especially his concept of a “philosophical anthropology”. Arnold Gehlen (1904–1976) was a German philosopher and sociologist. He is still an influential thinker on an anthropological skepticism founding conservatism . In the 1960s he was best known as the antipode of the Frankfurt School , and here in particular by Theodor W. Adorno .

Philosophy in a dialogical context

Philosophy of dialogue (also Dialogic philosophy and philosophy of dialogue ) is a philosophy in Judeo-Christian tradition that the Dialogik is at the center of reflection and these sharp in more or less deferred to the dialectic sees Kant and Hegel. In its ethical form, it poses the question of how a humane future can be shaped through meaningful dialogues . The most important representatives of the dialogue philosophy are Martin Buber , Ferdinand Ebner , Franz Rosenzweig , Gabriel Marcel and Kuno Lorenz .

Critical realism

Proponents of critical realism start from the epistemological position that a real world exists, but in contrast to naive realism do not assume that it is objectively presented as it appears to humans. Rather, knowledge of the real world is determined and limited by the way people perceive it . However, in the course of the research process, people's knowledge comes closer and closer to reality , but without fully reaching it.

A prominent representative of critical realism was Nicolai Hartmann (1882–1950), a German philosopher of German-Baltic descent. He was originally a Neo-Kantian and a student of Hermann Cohen and Paul Natorp , but he soon developed his own philosophy. He published a large number of works in which he wanted to create a large-scale philosophical system (an ontology ) to overcome the opposition between materialism and idealism , which, however, clearly bore objective-idealistic traits. Continue to call are Alois Riehl , Oswald Külpe , Hans Albert and George Santayana .

Social philosophy

Max Weber (1864–1920) was a German lawyer , economist and sociologist . He is considered a co-founder of German sociology . His conceptualizations areoften taken as a basis insociology and political science , e.g. B. his definitions of power and domination , the concept of the ideal type as well as the division of moral action into ethics of conviction and responsibility . Another sociologically oriented philosopher was Georg Simmel (1858–1918), who is often included in the philosophy of life .

Walter Benjamin (1892–1940) was a German philosopher, social theorist, literary critic and translator . Through the emphatic relation of philosophy to language , Benjamin attempted to transform the prevailing scientifically oriented concept of knowledge in such a way that it would again be able to use theological experiences. In contrast to the positivistic model of philosophy, whichis based on the individual sciences,Benjamin's model opposes the ubiquitous reification of language into a mere sign system .

In contrast to the historical philosophy of idealism with its fetishization of the concept of progress shared by Marxism , according to which the immanent course of history should be an already progressive one, automatically and inexorably flow out of the horror of “prehistory” into human relationships, Benjamin calls for a Copernican turn that would help the Jewish doctrine of "remembrance" to its right. Philosophy has to direct one's gaze to the ruins of history and the historical catastrophes, to everything that has been betrayed, suppressed and forgotten.

The sociologist Niklas Luhmann (1927–1998) was one of the founders of sociological systems theory . The smallest elements of social systems , Luhmann postulates, are not acting people, but communication . A social system controls itself by constantly producing communications and keeping them connected. Mental systems ( consciousness ) cannot communicate, they think; only social systems ( interaction , organization , society) can stimulate each other communicatively. Luhmann's system theory has sparked a sometimes heated debate not only in sociology. From an epistemological perspective, it is criticized that the theory runs empty due to its tautological, descriptive approach and does not tell us more about the world than what we already know or could know about it based on scientific knowledge.

Neopositivism and Logical Empiricism

The experimental physicist Ernst Mach , for whom the chair for the "Philosophy of Inductive Sciences" was established in Vienna, is due to his positivist views and his theory of sensations as the forefather of the Vienna Circle , who developed his basic view with the term "Logical Empiricism" Epistemology described. Mach's indirect successor Moritz Schlick set up an informal colloquium between philosophers and natural scientists at the suggestion of Friedrich Waismann and Herbert Feigl . a. Regularly Otto Neurath , Victor Kraft , Felix Kaufmann and the physicist Philipp Frank and later Rudolf Carnap and the mathematicians Kurt Gödel and Karl Menger participated. There was a joint programmatic publication on the “Scientific World View” and the magazine “Knowledge”. Russell's analytical approach, Frege's logic, the relationship between mathematical and physical geometry and, quickly, Wittgenstein's view that philosophy must be a criticism of language were discussed. Wittgenstein and Popper were in contact with the Vienna Circle, but were by no means members, and in some cases had different positions.

The philosopher Rudolf Carnap (1891–1970) was one of the main exponents of logical empiricism . For Carnap, the task of philosophy consisted in the logical analysis of (scientific) language, whereby he was one of the first theorists to try to make the groundbreaking logical work of Gottlob Frege , Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead usable for epistemological and scientific-theoretical questions .

Carnap tried to show that all terms that relate to the physical outside world , the mental states of others or to cultural-social processes can ultimately be traced back to an intrinsic psychological basis, ie to terms that relate to the respective subjective stream of experience of an observer . On the basis of verificationist semantics, he raised the charge of futility against the traditional problems of metaphysics as well as against ethical statements.

Under the influence of Otto Neurath , he later developed a physicalistic conception of language, within which the primary reference objects are no longer self-psychic phenomena, but intersubjectively accessible physical objects. In 1934, Carnap pleaded for philosophy to be replaced by the logic of science - that is, by the logical analysis of the language of science. He had a lasting influence on the development of analytical philosophy .

Ideas of a scientific philosophy based on logical empiricism were also represented in the Berlin group around Hans Reichenbach and Carl Gustav Hempel, as well as by the Warsaw logicians Jan Łukasiewicz and Alfred Tarski . Tarski was particularly known for the truth theory he developed .

Analytical and Philosophy of Language

Analytical philosophy is a collective term for certain philosophical approaches that have been developed since the beginning of the 20th century. These approaches are part of a tradition that initially operated mainly with ideal languages ( formal logics ) or by analyzing the common everyday language . In the beginning, many school-educating representatives were close to logical empiricism ( Vienna Circle and others). There was a skepticism about metaphysical terms. Analytical instruments have been increasingly used in all disciplines of philosophy since the mid-20th century at the latest. A Demarcation continental approaches ( continental philosophy ) is largely become impossible regarding theoretical assumptions. Exact delimitations are also often controversial with regard to methodological approaches.

Thank God Frege

The German mathematician , logician and philosopher Gottlob Frege (1848–1925), who is often referred to as the greatest logician after Aristotle , is considered to be the forerunner of analytical and linguistic philosophy . With him began a new epoch in the history of logic, after the Aristotelian syllogistics had been considered the measure of all things for more than 2,000 years. In the area of ​​philosophy of language, the distinction between meaning (in Frege: sense) and relation or reference (in Frege: meaning) goes back to Frege.

Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead

Together with his college friend George Edward Moore, Bertrand Russell (1873–1958) is considered the founder of analytical philosophy . Based on mathematical-logical questions, he tried together with Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) to trace mathematics back to pure logic . In addition, he developed a logical atomism as an epistemological position . In contrast to Moore, Russell tried to develop a scientific language based on pure logic and was an essential source of ideas for logical empiricism and the work of Rudolf Carnap. As a teacher and discussion partner, Russell also had a significant influence on Ludwig Wittgenstein. Whitehead, on the other hand, subsequently developed a metaphysics based on processes , which he published in the widely acclaimed work Process and Reality .

George Edward Moore

George Edward Moore (1873-1958) was an English philosopher. Together with Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein, he was one of the fathers of analytic philosophy in the successor to Gottlob Frege . The starting point for Moore was the critical examination of the idealism prevailing in England at the time, which he countered with the basic understanding of common sense and for whose point of view he countered with the method of logical analysis of linguistic expressions.

Moore has criticized most other ethical philosophers for making a fundamental mistake called the naturalistic fallacy . Nor can one equate the good with happiness or joy, because these terms can always have a content that does not correspond to the good . Moore concluded that good cannot be equated with any other value. In support of his arguments, Moore taught that one could use moral intuition to determine exactly what was good.

Moore was also the first to point out Moore's paradox , named after him , that lies in the statement: "It's raining, but I don't think it will."

Like Russell, Moore was a teacher and essential interlocutor for Wittgenstein, whom he also helped with the drafting of his manuscripts in Norway .

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Ludwig Wittgenstein, 1930

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951) was one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century; under the influence of his works, the (linguistic) analytic philosophy emerged .

Wittgenstein creates a completely new understanding of language . Language is understood by him and his students as an unmanageable conglomerate of individual "language games" that each obey their own rules , but nevertheless overlap due to their "family similarities" (e.g. speaking about games with speaking about sports). Philosophical problems are nothing more than "pseudo-problems" d. H. only “linguistic confusion” that can be cleared out of the world by recourse to the normal, that is, colloquial use of the terms and words . This becomes possible by uncovering the internal rules of a language game , i.e. the rules for using the individual words and sentences in it.

Few philosophers have thought so intensely about the nature of "philosophy" and " philosophizing " as Wittgenstein, especially in his later phase. He considered most of the problems in philosophy to be homemade: mainly due to superficial grammatical similarities , many can be led to conclusions that end in theoretical dead ends. For example, the grammatical similarity between sentences like “I have a chair” and “I have an idea” can lead to the perception that one “has” an idea in the same way as a chair, which can ultimately lead to an idea as being To be understood as an object, albeit as an "object of a special kind". This particular object is then often searched for in the form of metaphysical-epistemological "theories" or through introspective brooding . Wittgenstein's goal is to resolve such tensions.

For Wittgenstein, philosophizing is not an “explanatory” activity , ie he does not set up any theories of any kind in order to then represent and defend them. From his point of view, it is a "therapeutic" activity that has the sole task of resolving philosophical problems. All that Wittgenstein tried to convey in his late work were methods and techniques for solving philosophical problems and intellectual tensions.

Elizabeth Anscombe

Elizabeth Anscombe (1919–2001) was a British philosopher who made important contributions to action theory and virtue ethics , and a student of Ludwig Wittgenstein .

Elizabeth Anscombe graduated from St Hugh's College, Oxford University in 1941. In her first year as an undergraduate , she converted to Catholicism .

After Wittgenstein's death in 1951, Elizabeth Anscombe became one of the three administrators of Wittgenstein's philosophical legacy, alongside Rush Rhees and GH von Wright . In this function, they were responsible for the posthumous editing and publication of a large number of notes and manuscripts with posthumous works by Wittgenstein, which she also translated into English (including the Philosophical Investigations ). From 1970 to 1986 Anscombe taught as a professor of philosophy at Cambridge University .

Gilbert Ryle

The British philosopher Gilbert Ryle (1900–1976), together with John Langshaw Austin, are considered to be the main proponents of ordinary language philosophy ("philosophy of normal language"). Following Ludwig Wittgenstein, this attempted to solve philosophical problems by analyzing everyday language use .

In Ryle's main work the thesis is developed that philosophy since René Descartes has been caught up in the myth of a “ghost in the machine”: the idea of ​​a spirit (or a soul or an ego) that is supposed to be different from the physical body. If this assumption were true, no one could know whether there is also a spirit in the other. Nor would it be understandable how the immaterial mind should interact with a material environment . After all, it is not clear how a non-spatial mind could be in a physical (i.e. spatial) object. Ryle suggested identifying mental states with behavioral dispositions.

Ryle also found the classic formulation of the idea of ​​the category error . A category error is committed when a term belonging to the wrong category is used in a certain context .

Willard Van Orman Quine

Quine (1908–2000) started with the continuation of formal logic based on the Principia Mathematica of Russell and Whitehead, whose theory Quine generalized. In epistemology , the Duhem claim that it is not individual elements of a theory but only a theory as a whole that can be refuted is of particular importance. Theories must therefore prove themselves as a whole against experience ( holism ). Quine's basic position is strictly empirical in the sense that an object exists if there is an accepted way of denoting the object (scientific realism). So there is no language-independent reality . In a strictly logical investigation, Quine came to the "refutation of the two dogmas of empiricism", according to which (1) a distinction between analytical and synthetic statements is objectively unfounded and (2) it is not possible to trace statements back to concepts of experience. Every element of observation is theory-laden and every theoretical statement is empirically-laden. From this it can be concluded that even mathematical statements can be subject to changes through experience. This leads Quine to the so-called epistemological naturalism , according to which scientific theoretical foundations can only be made meaningful in the respective science itself.

John Langshaw Austin

Austin (1911–1960) is considered to be one of the main exponents of the language-analytical phenomenalism that followed on from the late Wittgenstein and is characterized by a pronounced conceptual analysis. The linguistic aspect is also expressed in the theory of speech acts developed by Austin , in which he showed that utterances contain not only statements, but also actions that do not fall under the standard true or false can be assessed.

Herbert Paul Grice

Grice (1913–1988) was an English philosopher. He is best known for his work in the philosophy of language , especially for his analysis of the meaning of the speaker and the development of the concepts of conversational implicature and the principle of cooperation . Along with Austin , Ryle and Strawson, Grice is one of the most important representatives of the so-called Ordinary Language Philosophy .

Peter Strawson

For Strawson (1919–2006) the category of the single thing (particular) played an essential role, with which he linked the concept of existence , because only the single thing experiences an individual spatiotemporal determination. The individual is opposed to the person who made the identification of material objects, i.e. H. who undertakes reality (ontological realism). For Strawson, philosophy is descriptive metaphysics insofar as it also allows abstract entities such as facts, numbers or quantities to exist, which can be subjects of judgment, i.e. can be described. Strawson rejected an idealistic justification of such entities as well as a materialistic or dualistic conception of the person, because behind it a worldview hides outside the given.

Richard Mervyn Hare

Hare (1919–2002) examined in particular the language of morality , in which he saw a divergent mode compared to predicative sentences. Moral language is neither the description of natural facts (naturalism), nor does it serve to grasp intuitive aspects ( intuitionism ), but it is above all prescriptive, as it is particularly expressed in imperatives . While imperatives relate to concrete individual situations, value judgments contain a universalisability that can be subjected to a rational discourse. The reflection on value judgments led Hare further to metaethical considerations such as interpersonal comparability and a justification of utilitarianism .

Michael Dummett

Dummett (1925-2011) was a British philosopher and logician . He has made significant contributions to the philosophy of mathematics , logic, the philosophy of language , metaphysics and the history of analytical philosophy . Furthermore, Michael Dummett has developed a voting process and published fundamental scientific work on the Tarock family of cards . He was also interested in immigration law and the style of the English language .

Existential philosophy

Existential philosophy describes a philosophical direction that has the existence of man in the broadest sense at the center of its thinking . Various positions are described within existential philosophy, but they are all characterized by the fundamental priority of illuminating the actual existence, above all speculative idealism or the scientific belief of positivism . Existentialism as a special form of expression of the French existential philosophy can be distinguished from existential philosophy in the general sense .

At the beginning of the 20th century, three philosophers in particular appeared as existential-philosophical stimulators , some of whom also linked to the great forerunner of existential philosophy and existentialism Søren Kierkegaard: Maurice Blondel , Leo Schestow and Nikolai Alexandrowitsch Berdjajew .

Karl Jaspers

The German philosopher and psychiatrist Karl Jaspers (1883–1969) is regarded as an outstanding exponent of existential philosophy, which he strictly distinguished from Sartre's existentialism. Important sources of the philosophy of Karl Jaspers are Kierkegaard , Spinoza , Nietzsche and above all Kant, but he reproaches him for not grasping the dimension of interpersonal relationships , especially love .

The key term for Jaspers is the encompassing, which is reflected in the existence of man as well as in the transcendence of the whole of the world, without man ever being able to grasp it in its entirety . The existence of man is determined by freedom, which can neither be proven nor refuted, but which constantly places man in decision-making situations and reveals itself in his practice. Through freedom, man chooses himself. Being self also includes communication in relation to others. “Nobody can be saved alone.” On the way to oneself, people come across borderline situations . He learns that with the questionable nature of the factual scientific world orientation he is reaching the abyss of the utterly incomprehensible. Death, struggle, suffering and guilt reveal the hopelessness to prevent failure. Only by accepting this situation can man come to his actual existence.

Martin Heidegger
Martin Heidegger (1960)

The existential philosophy of Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) provided important impulses for the philosophy of the 20th century. Heidegger's entire work is determined by the question of being or the question of the “meaning of being”, that is, the question of what we mean when we say “is”, “am” etc. According to Heidegger, this question has never been adequately addressed in the history of ontology (theory of being).

Heidegger's early philosophy is based on the phenomenological method, which he expands into what is known as existential ontology and thereby reinterprets. This attempt culminates in “ Being and Time ” (1927); he seeks access to the question of being in existence . This is how Heidegger calls the being of a certain being, namely of the being that “ever I am”. Heidegger breaks with the philosophical tradition of starting from the general category “human” and instead illuminates the “Dasein” that each of us is.

Heidegger's intention in “Being and Time” is to arrive at the question of being by targeting time as the transcendental horizon of the question of being. However, the fragmentary work does not get to this point. The traditional part of the work is limited to the ontological analysis of Dasein, the exposure of “ care ” as the being of Dasein and the emphasis on “temporality” as the meaning of this “care”.

From the mid-1930s, Heidegger's work took him into what is known as the “turn”. Heidegger believed that he had recognized that his previous philosophizing remained within the framework of traditional philosophy. After the turn, Heidegger's thinking leads away from any “scientific” methodology towards a reflection on “being as such” and the “history of being”, the content of which has not yet been satisfactorily assessed.

Heidegger himself protested against the designation “existential philosophy” for his thinking, although it was precisely from him that the most important impulses for this direction of philosophy emanate. Instead, he speaks of thinking about being: The essence of man is “ek-sistence”, that is, “standing out” in being, and can only be fully understood in terms of being itself.

Jean-Paul Sartre

The author Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980), who was primarily active as a narrator, playwright, essayist and philosopher, is considered to be the most important and representative French intellectual of the 20th century.

The main point of his earlier theses is that man is condemned to freedom : he makes a choice in every one of his actions, be it just that, to live or to die. Sartre denies external constraints based on external social, natural or divine directives - these are constructions that do not relieve people of responsibility for what they do. He says: “Hell is the others”: the expectations and projections that are directed towards us by fellow human beings manipulate our actions when we try to do justice to them - out of convenience, because we evade responsibility, ourselves always having to reinvent. He formulates his thesis most succinctly with the sentence “Existence precedes essence” (“L'existence précède l'essence”) - only man's bare existence is predetermined; he has to invent what defines him in the end.

The situation of man is thus characterized by absolute freedom or: “Man is condemned to be free”. Man is what he makes himself. From this follow some statements: So man is fully and completely responsible. First of all for his individuality , because he “draws his face” with what he does. But then at the same time for the whole of humanity, because with his decisions he designs a model , a “type” of the human being. To that extent he is always a legislator .

Simone Weil

Simone Adolphine Weil (1909–1943) was a French philosopher, lecturer and teacher, as well as a Social Revolutionary of Jewish descent. She was politically and socially strongly committed and combined action and contemplation . Her brother was the mathematician André Weil .

At first she was an agnostic trade unionist and at the same time a critic of Marxism . She later developed into a well-known mystic . She has never given up the unity of politics and religion . She saw life as a search for the absolute . Her thinking was shaped by Christian mysticism as well as by Platonic and Buddhist insights, as well as by the Jewish tradition, which she did not admit to. The idea of ​​“décréation” goes back to them, the “total self-emptying of man before God”.

Simone de Beauvoir

Simone-Lucie-Ernestine-Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir (1908–1986) was a French writer , philosopher and feminist . The politically active author of numerous novels, stories, essays and memoirs is considered a representative of existentialism . With her two existentialist novels L'Invitée (1943; German: She came and stayed ) and Le Sang des autres (1945), filmed in 1984 by Claude Chabrol as The Blood of Others , Simone de Beauvoir gained recognition as a writer. The world success The Other Sex (1949) is considered a milestone in feminist literature and made her the best-known intellectual in France. Her essays are also considered to be important contributions to the respective subject.

Albert Camus

Albert Camus (1913–1960) was a French writer and philosopher who did not count himself among the representatives of existentialism , although, especially at the beginning, his work is very close to this philosophical current.

For Camus, the futility of the world is a fact. Every great system that was created by man to give meaning to the world has failed. This is especially true for belief in a god. On the one hand, only the human can play a role for humans and the superhuman cannot be recognized by them ( agnosticism ). On the other hand, the theodicy question, to which there is no satisfactory answer, proves that no metaphysical force (e.g. a god) is involved in the course of world history . What remains is a random , chaotic world.

For Camus, death is an absolute end that, like life, has no meaning. Death is the only fatality that is already given and from which one cannot escape. Man is in an absurd situation. The absurd consists of the tension between the absolute senselessness of human life (and death) on the one hand and the unfulfilled longing of humans for meaning or meaningful action. Although there is no “way out” of the absurd situation, the absurd can still be overcome: By accepting the absurd situation by people. The symbol for this “absurd person” is the mythological figure of Sisyphus .


Hermeneutics can be described as the epistemology of the humanities , which, in contrast to abstract explanations in the natural sciences, emphasizes the understanding of texts, in particular, because its topic is not the knowledge of laws, but the examination of given, often historical conditions and events.

Hans-Georg Gadamer in conversation with Wassili Lepanto (left), around 2000

Hans-Georg Gadamer took up thehermeneutics foundedby Schleiermacher as a theory of the interpretative development of meaning andfurther developedby Wilhelm Dilthey (act of empathy = empathetic understanding) and Wilhelm Windelband and connected it in particular with theaspect of the hermeneutic circle raisedby his teacher Heidegger , according to the every understanding of the text always includes a reference to the interpreter, d. H. an understanding that is identical to the original is not possible for the interpreter due to his or her own prior understanding. Only with this prior understanding does the interpreter make the text meaningful for himself.

With reference to Humboldt and Herder, Gadamer understood language as a “world view” with which man opens up the world. It is reconstructed in conversation with the object . Every text - regardless of the accuracy of what is said - has a claim to truth that is normally accepted. Understanding a text means absorbing its whole meaning in questions from the interpreter and answers to the text. Gadamer referred to this as horizon merging. This merging of horizons, which takes place in everyday events as well as in dealing with the texts of foreign cultures , is the condition of the possibility of understanding , i.e. a transcendental prerequisite. For Gadamer, understanding and understanding are forms of human life that precede reflection and thus philosophy and (natural) sciences.

After the publication of his fundamental work " Truth and Method " (1960), Gadamer's expansion of hermeneutics received extensive attention, especially in Italy and France, and is now considered to be decisive for hermeneutics. On the other hand, there are critical voices from the scientific camp as well as z. B. by Karl-Otto Apel and Jürgen Habermas as well as by Hans Albert , who mainly oppose Gadamer's claim to universality and the lack of a solution to the question of validity. A naturalist like Richard Rorty , on the other hand, valued Gadamer because hermeneutics enables other than purely behavioral access to the psychic of others.


In philosophy, pragmatism denotes a school of thought that was founded in America by Charles Sanders Peirce and William James and subsequently continued primarily by John Dewey and George Herbert Mead . Dewey and Mead's ideas also lay the foundations for the Chicago School of Sociology . According to pragmatism, it is the practical consequences and effects of a life-world action or a natural event that determine the meaning of a thought. At the same time, human knowledge is fundamentally fallible for the pragmatists ( fallibilism ). Accordingly, the truth of a statement or opinion (belief) is determined on the basis of the expected or possible results of an action. Human practice is also understood as a foundation of theoretical philosophy (i.e. in particular epistemology and ontology ), since it is assumed that theoretical knowledge also arises from the practical handling of things and remains dependent on them. In the basic philosophical ideas there are considerable differences between the positions of the individual pragmatists, which saw the similarities more in the pragmatic method than in a unified theoretical structure.

While Peirce, James, Dewey and Mead partly still belong to the 19th century, the trend of pragmatism continued in the 20th century, partly also in Germany, especially at FCS Schiller , Willard Van Orman Quine , Karl-Otto Apel and Jürgen Habermas , Richard Rorty and Robert Brandom continued.

Neo-Marxism and Critical Theory

The term neo-Marxism is used to summarize different scientific schools of thought that were formed from the 1920s onwards and, based on this, also isolated political currents that tie in with the work of Karl Marx, but deviate from a dogmatic interpretation (e.g. "Scientific Socialism", the “Marxist Orthodoxy” formulated by Karl Kautsky, Marxism as “Proletarian Weltanschauung” etc.).

George Lukács

George Lukács (1885–1971) was a Hungarian philosopher, literary scholar and critic . Lukács is considered (together with Ernst Bloch , Antonio Gramsci and Karl Korsch ) to be an important innovator of a Marxist philosophy and theory in the first half of the 20th century.

Among the theorists influenced by Lukács , in addition to the authors of the so-called Frankfurt School , who benefited significantly from Lukács' work, Ágnes Heller , Leo Kofler and Lucien Goldmann .

Ernst Bloch

Ernst Bloch (1885–1977) was the philosopher of concrete utopias , the principle of hope . At the center of his thinking is the person who thinks beyond himself. Man's consciousness is not just the product of his being, it is rather endowed with “surplus”. This “surplus” finds its expression in social, economic and religious utopias, in the fine arts, in music .

As a Marxist , Bloch sees socialism and communism as the instruments to put this “surplus” into practice. Atypical for a Marxist is his strong focus on metaphysics . At the center of his considerations is the “not-yet-being”, which is characteristic of our now. The human being, the society has "not yet arrived at itself" because we still feel lack, sense our not having. Everything that is, however, surrounds a “court of meaning” of its unrealized possibilities, which can “get us on the way” to transform not-having into having.

Antonio Gramsci

Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) was an Italian writer , journalist , politician, and Marxist philosopher . He is one of the founders of the Communist Party of Italy (Partito Comunista Italiano) . From April 6, 1924 until his arrest by fascists on November 8, 1926, he was a member of the Italian Parliament. During his time in prison, Gramsci wrote texts with philosophical, sociological and political considerations that fill 32 notebooks. They have become known as prison notebooks and constitute an important work of Marxist thought .

Karl Korsch

Alongside Georg Lukács , Ernst Bloch and Antonio Gramsci, Karl Korsch (1886–1961) is considered to be the most important innovator of Marxist philosophy and theory in the first half of the 20th century.

As a law professor who was barely allowed to teach, he was a social philosopher , with a committed interlude as a politician and parliamentarian. In 1923 he co-founded the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt am Main. In contrast to critical theory , he took on a mediating role between the scientific claim of positivism and the socialist theory and practice of the materialist dialectic according to Karl Marx .

Herbert Marcuse

Herbert Marcuse (1898–1979) was a German-American sociologist and philosopher. The youth writings of Karl Marx influenced Marcuse's philosophy very much. In 1932 he and Marx criticized capitalism as the ultimate crisis of human being. Under capitalist conditions, the essence and existence of man diverge, man is alienated and cannot develop freely.

Marcuse later examines the “ ideology of the advanced industrial society ”. He states both in science and in public discourse a “one-dimensional” and “positive” or positivistic thinking. Science, in particular, flees for fear of value judgments or political interference in empirical and quantitative thinking. Fundamental, qualitative reflection on social problems and tasks would not take place in this technocratic science of domination. So instead of attacking and criticizing inequality in capitalism and the nuclear threat, these problems would only be managed and thus reproduced over and over again. Marcuse opposes this with “negation”: on the one hand, denial through criticism, on the other hand, the refusal to play the game and the search for the qualitatively different.

Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer
Horkheimer, Adorno and Habermas

Theodor W. Adorno (1903–1969) was a German philosopher, sociologist, music theorist and composer . After 1945 he assumed the leading intellectual role at the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research , which Max Horkheimer (1895–1973) had previously held. Together with him he published the fragment collection Dialectic of the Enlightenment in 1947 . In this main work of the critical theory of this phase, the two authors tried to develop a philosophy of history of the society “after Auschwitz ” in view of the Shoah , the industrially organized extermination of the European Jews , which was to replace the version of historical materialism they represented in the 1930s .

The Third Reich as a world historical event was the collapse of all previous culture for Adorno as for Horkheimer. Philosophy could no longer be pursued as before. This is how the “ Negative Dialectic ” culminates , Adorno's late work only after his return, because also in the establishment of a new categorical imperative that “ Hitler imposed on people”: “To organize your thinking and actions so that Auschwitz does not repeat itself, nothing Something similar happens. ”Adorno's philosophy is now only supposed to be a final asylum of the spirit in the face of the predominance of resurrected metaphysics.

Jürgen Habermas

Jürgen Habermas (* 1929) is a German sociologist and philosopher. Habermas' theory of "system and lifeworld" contains a directed logic of the stages of human development . There are three stages of development.

First of all, there are traditional societies in which the “ lifeworld ” is not yet separated from the “system”, which structure their reproduction in such a way that, for example, the division of labor is not very advanced. In the second stage, the “system” develops out of the “lifeworld”. The bureaucratic state and the market use the control media “ power ” and “money” to impose a certain logic of action on people (“ colonization of the living environment ”). In the third stage, the industrial societies, the conflicts between “system” and “lifeworld” emerge openly: “Today the imperatives of business and administration conveyed via the media of money and power penetrate into areas that somehow break when you get them decoupled from communication-oriented action and switched to such media-controlled interactions. "

Axel Honneth

Axel Honneth (* 1949) is a German social philosopher and director of the Institute for Social Research (IfS) at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main . He is the most important living representative of contemporary critical theory.

Honneth's research area is social philosophy . At the center of his work is a theory of recognition , which is based on the Jenenser writings of the young Hegel and the symbolic interactionism of George Herbert Mead , which he unfolds in his most famous book, The Battle for Recognition .

Critical Rationalism

Karl Popper (born July 28, 1902 in Vienna, † September 17, 1994 in London) was an Austrian , later British philosopher and scientific theorist. Popper presented his views on the philosophy of science in the work Logic of Research (1934). Popper claims in it that scientific progress occurs when hypotheses can be of any origin (e.g. flashes of inspiration, creative processes), but must be subjected to strict testing. In an evolutionary selection process, those theories that are “ closer to the truth ” prevail. However, certain or probable knowledge does not arise here; all knowledge is unfounded, and only about its degree of probation , i.e. H. a statement can be made about the range of tests to which the theory has been subjected and withstood.

In his work “The Open Society and Its Enemies” from 1945 he accounts in detail with the thought models of Plato , Hegel and Marx , which in his opinion promoted totalitarian systems. As a counter-image to these “closed societies”, he designs an “ open society ” that is not planned on the drawing board, but rather pluralistic and develops in an endless process of criticism and improvement. The term “open society” has entered political language.

Another representative of critical rationalism is Hans Albert (* 1921), a German philosopher and sociologist, in whose thinking epistemology is of great importance. A fundamental assumption of his philosophical view is that no assertion or statement (proposition), regardless of the origin of a statement, can be traced back to a reliable justification. It is not possible to claim ultimate justification for any statement . Thus there is no guarantee of secure knowledge. With the help of his Munchausen Trilemma, Hans Albert puts forward the thesis that every attempt to make an assertion a truth that is ultimately founded and therefore completely uncritical must fail. All people are wrong - no one is infallible.

Philosophy of science

Thomas Samuel Kuhn (1922–1996) was an American physicist , scientific theorist and historian. According to Kuhn, a prevailing general scientific guiding principle ( paradigm ) in science is closely linked to a sociologically relatively clearly demarcated scientific community. This community defend and propagate its associated paradigm. Normal science, according to Kuhn, is problem solving . If difficulties and contradictions accumulate in this work, conflicts and discussions increase (crises) and finally there are paradigm shifts in which existing paradigms are discarded and replaced by others. According to Kuhn, the replacement of paradigms does not take place through the logical refutation of the old theory , but rather through the confrontation with a new theory around which a new scientific community is formed. Kuhn's distinction between pre-paradigmatic phases of scientific development, phases in the formation of a paradigm and phases in the transition to a new paradigm point to the important problem of rhythms in the development of theories.

The Austrian philosopher and science theorist Paul Feyerabend (1924–1994) saw science, alongside religion or art , for example , as just one of many ways to gain knowledge . For Feyerabend the conclusion can be drawn from the history of ideas that the practice of gaining knowledge and changing knowledge in an often irrational and anarchic way violated existing scientific theoretical principles and was therefore successful. Feyerabend emphasizes the importance of intuition and creativity as a prerequisite for gaining and advancing knowledge, both must not be useless and misleading due to a certain dogmatic rationality and epistemological -methodological rules and constraints, which in turn are not sacrosanct, but rather are subject to change in the process of knowledge be restricted.

The constructivism of the Erlangen school (or methodical constructivism ) is an epistemological approach . With the Logical Propädeutik was developed by Wilhelm Kamlah and Paul Lorenzen , a philosophy of language tries new approach. The Erlangen school was looking for an enlightening new foundation of reason between Popper's critical rationalism and the ultimate foundation intended by the transcendental pragmatics of Karl-Otto Apels and found a coalition partner in the Frankfurt School (“Grand Coalition”). With the dialogical logic , the protophysics , the constructive mathematics , the theory of ethical-political and technical culture a partly controversial constructive philosophy of science was drafted.


Several currents in 20th century philosophy are called constructivism . Due to the common name, they are sometimes mistakenly mistaken for the same. Most variants of constructivism assume that a detected object from the viewer itself through the process of recognizing constructed is. Expressed in the terminology of philosophy, they take a nominalistic position on the problem of universals .

Whereas in Radical Constructivism (represented by Ernst von Glasersfeld , Heinz von Foerster , Humberto Maturana , Francisco Varela and Paul Watzlawick ), with recourse to Jean Piaget, the human ability to recognize objective reality is disputed on the grounds that every individual is his own Reality "constructed" in their own head, supporters of Erlangen constructivism ( Wilhelm Kamlah , Paul Lorenzen and Kuno Lorenz ) believe in a common method of construction: that with the help of a special language and scientific method it is possible to overcome "the naive finding of the world" and to be replaced by "methodical knowledge and science construction". Whether this jointly constructed also exists independently of its construction or merely proves a consensus is a different problem. Constructivism in Erlangen is essentially inspired by constructive mathematics , which, like radical constructivism, takes a nominalistic view.

Philosophy of mind

The philosophy of mind deals with the nature of spiritual or mental states, their effects and causes . The central question is about the relationship between mental and physical states. In addition to these ontological questions, the philosophy of mind also deals with the epistemological questions about the knowability of the mind. The philosophy of the movement of the mind through history (as it found a particular climax in Hegel's Phenomenology of Mind, for example ) is thematically separated from it. In the philosophy of spirit, spirit is understood as mind and not as world spirit .

The core of the philosophy of mind is the mind-body problem, sometimes called the "mind-body problem". It consists in the question of how the mental states (or the spirit, the consciousness , the psychic , the soul ) relate to the physical states (or the body , the brain , the material , the body ). Are these two different substances ? Or are the mental and the physical ultimately one? These are the central questions of the philosophy of mind.


Ferdinand de Saussure

The structuralism is a research method of spiritual science and an important flow in art and architecture , especially in the 1950s to the early 1970s. It is based on the basic assumption that phenomena do not occur in isolation but are related to other phenomena. These connections need to be uncovered; more precisely, the phenomena form a structured (structurable) connection. In this case, however, the structure is constructed in a model by the observer . The structure does not exist on the level of reality , but only on the level of the model.

The structuralist method is widely recognized in disciplines such as linguistics or anthropology . On the other hand, attempts to expand the method to all cultural studies disciplines were and are controversial. Structuralism actually makes the provocative claim to describe linguistic, sign and cultural phenomena with scientific precision .

The founding work of structuralism was not, as is often read, written by the linguist Ferdinand de Saussure (1857–1913), but was written by two of his colleagues who tried to reconstruct Saussure's linguistic thinking on the basis of several lecture notes.

Claude Lévi-Strauss

The French ethnologist and anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908–2009) is considered to be the real founder of structuralism . Lévi-Strauss compares the relationship between linguistics and language with the relationship between anthropology and culture and postulates the transferability of linguistic constructs to ethnology . He argued that culture is like language: only an outsider can recognize and interpret the underlying rules and structures.

All people have a cross-cultural tendency to classify their environment . The schemes used are interculturally transferable and demonstrate the uniformity of the structures of human thought . One of these universal systems of thought is binary opposition, that is, thinking in pairs of opposites. According to him, the most fundamental antagonism is the opposition between " nature " and "culture". By analyzing the myths of the peoples , Lévi-Strauss suspects, the researcher can advance to the universal, that is to say for all human beings, thought structures.

Jacques Lacan

Jacques Lacan (1901–1981) was a French psychoanalyst who reinterpreted and radicalized the writings of Sigmund Freud . One of his important theses is that the unconscious has a symbolic structure - that of language. In general, his theories revolve around the attempt to think about what is absent in what is present and to think dialectically. He is building on the work of the linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, from whom he takes the terminology (signifier, signified , sign, opposition and difference).

Lacan describes the universe of the subject consisting of the areas of the imaginary and the symbolic - these areas are supplemented by the area of ​​the real. The real is not to be confused with the reality , but forms the completely inaccessible ground of its existence for the subject.

The French philosopher Louis Althusser (1918–1990), who subjected Karl Marx's work to a structuralist reading, was influenced by the psychoanalysis of Jacques Lacan .

Roland Barthes

Roland Barthes (1915–1980) was a famous French literary critic, writer , philosopher and semiotic of the 20th century. His work spans structuralism as well as poststructuralism. Barthe's book S / Z is often called the masterpiece of structuralism in literature. Here, in the analysis of a narrative by Honoré de Balzac, sentence by sentence and word for word, different code systems and levels of meaning are assigned.


In the second half of the 20th century, especially as a result of structuralism and the so-called 68er movement , very open (for critics also: arbitrary) currents of philosophy emerged with poststructuralism . As with Jacques Derrida ( Différance , deconstruction ) or Gilles Deleuze ( rhizome , virtualities ), they would like to examine the unstable, fragile and in flux in the world and understand what the criticism of myths and codifications and politics entails brings. Jean-François Lyotard proclaims the age of postmodernism , Jean Baudrillard sees the world slide into hyperreality . As a current current trend in philosophy, post-structuralism and its status are often still the subject of bitter debates ( philosophy of the present ).

Outstanding representatives of poststructuralism are Michel Foucault , Jacques Derrida , Gilles Deleuze , Félix Guattari , Jean-François Lyotard , Roland Barthes , Jacques Lacan , Louis Althusser , Jean Baudrillard , Slavoj Žižek , Ernesto Laclau , Julia Kristeva , Chantal Mouffe , Judith Butler , Luce Irigaray , Paul de Man , Christian Metz , Saul Newman and Hélène Cixous .

Feminism and Feminist Philosophy

Feminism describes both an academic and a political movement that advocates equality , human dignity , the self-determination of women and against sexism . In addition, feminism refers to political theories that - beyond individual concerns - focus on the entirety of social conditions, a fundamental change in the social and symbolic order and gender relations. At the same time, they allow interpretations and arguments for social criticism .

Significant representatives of a feminist philosophy were or are Simone de Beauvoir ( The opposite sex ), Germaine Greer ( The female eunuch ), Julia Kristeva , Alice Schwarzer ( The small difference and its big consequences ) and Judith Butler ( The discomfort of the sexes and bodies of Weight ).

Other representatives are: Hélène Cixous , Bracha Ettinger , Patricia Hill Collins , Donna Haraway , Sandra Harding , Nancy Hartsock , Luce Irigaray , Lynn Hankinson Nelson , Dorothy Smith , Alison Wylie , Martha Nussbaum , Herta Nagl-Docekal , Seyla Benhabib .


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