A philosophical movement
is either the appearance or increased popularity of a specific school of philosophy
, or a fairly broad but identifiable sea-change in philosophical thought on a particular subject. Major philosophical movements are often characterized with reference to the nation
, or historical era in which they arose.
Talk of a philosophical movement can often function as a shorthand for talk of the views of a great number of different philosophers (and others associated with philosophy, such as historians, artists, scientists and political figures). On the other hand, most philosophical movements in history consisted in a great number of individual thinkers who disagreed in various ways; it is often inaccurate and something of a caricature to treat any movement as consisting in followers of uniform opinion. More often the defining ideas of any philosophical movement are templates on which individual thinkers develop their own particular ideas.
Like specific doctrines and theories, movements are often given names with "ism" suffixes. What makes a movement identifiable and interesting as distinct from a specific theory is simply that a movement consists in a large flourishing of intellectual work on one or more ideas, in a fairly specifiable time and place. Following is short list of major philosophical movements, in rough chronological order:
The Ancient World
The Modern World
- The Renaissance itself, which aimed to revive Classical Greek and Roman ideas
- Rationalism, dominant on continental Europe following Descartes
- Empiricism, dominant in Britain following Hobbes
- The Enlightenment which drew attention to the importance of science and reason to human life
- French materialism
- German idealism, fifty years from Kant's major work through the death of Hegel
- Continental Philosophy
- Utilitarianism -- Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill
- Existentialism -- Søren Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Sartre
- Phenomenology Sartre, Heidegger
- Logicism -- Gottlob Frege
- Logical Positivism (with the Vienna Circle, Logical Atomism (Russell), and Ideal Language Philosophy (Wittgenstein))
- Analytic Philosophy -- Gottlob Frege, W. V. O. Quine
- Modernism (more a movement in the arts, but worth noting for its connection with below)
The Renaissance, Enlightenment, and Romanticism are broader cultural "movements" that happened to characterised by fairly distinctive philosophical concerns.
Movements in Eastern Philosophy
See Eastern philosophy for a list of Asian philosophical movements.