Contemporary philosophy


Many philosophical currents emerged between the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries , these are known as contemporary and many of them have been maintained until today. They are currents that try to find a series of answers to the concerns of a social , political and economic nature that arise in the human being.


What is contemporary philosophy?

The contemporary philosophy is one of the stages of Western philosophy comprising the period beginning at the end of the nineteenth century to today . It is a stage of transition to modern life, to the scientific revolution and the critique of current philosophy.

  • What does it consist of
  • Characteristics of contemporary philosophy
  • Background
  • History
  • Main topics
  • Currents
  • Problems of contemporary philosophy
  • Schools
  • Who is the father of contemporary philosophy
  • Other representatives
  • Importance

What does it consist of

Contemporary philosophy were all the philosophical currents that emerged at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century and which have also been closely related to a series of historical and social events that have been important to the world. These currents are mainly focused on the search for answers to concerns related to the human being when he faces a society that is in constant change.


Characteristics of contemporary philosophy

Among the main characteristics of contemporary philosophy the following are mentioned:

  • It shows a rejection of everything that is considered transcendental and spiritual .
  • It has a large number of currents
  • It is based on concerns and questions regarding philosophy as a reflective practice.
  • He confronted absolute rationalism , existentialism and irrationalism .
  • It was divided into two main branches, continental and analytical philosophy .
  • The area of ​​philosophy was professionalized .
  • He rejected all kinds of transcendental belief .
  • It focuses on a completely earthly plane and leaves out the religious and the spiritual.


The main antecedents of contemporary philosophy include aspects related to the thought of Augusto Comte, consolidating itself as a science thanks to the socialist doctrine established by Karl Marx. The appearance of philosophers who established that science became, in addition to theoretical, practical.


The history of contemporary philosophy had several phases which were:

  • Ancient age : in this stage classical philosophy was given and it is given with the passage from myth to logos to avoid ignorance. It is here that we find important authors such as Socrates , Plato and Aristotle.
  • Middle Ages : in this stage medieval philosophy develops and its main theme was God, faith and reason. He had a more theocentric type of worldview where it was established that the world had been created from nothing and the category of divine and human person arises here.
  • Modern age : here we find the Renaissance, Humanism , the beginning of modernity including rationalism and empiricism, the Enlightenment and Romanticism.

Main topics

The main subject that is treated in contemporary philosophy is man and tries to explain his essence and nature. Man is seen as a being and also as an animal. It also puts the truth itself in question, as well as its existence, the dimension of reality and philosophy.


The most important currents that emerged in contemporary philosophy are the following:

  • Analytical philosophy : it developed in the early twentieth century and was characterized mainly by the analysis of language and knowledge through the development of logic as well as its justification. A current that was opposed to idealism, dialectics and continental philosophy. Branches such as the philosophy of mind and language, logical positivism , and epistemology are derived from analytic philosophy .
  • Continental Philosophy : It is made up of several philosophical branches that were against analytical philosophy and developed during the 19th and 20th centuries in the western part of Europe . It is characterized by using speculation , going against science , having no analysis and following the ideas of Immanuel Kant . Other branches such as phenomenology, structuralism, hermeneutics and existentialism derive from it.

Problems of contemporary philosophy

Contemporary philosophy presented several problems related to specific themes, these were the following:

  • The world : the world is seen as a security system that makes it possible for human beings to establish concrete and clear relationships related to the reality in which they live.
  • God : modernity creates confusion in religious matters, modern man created a world without God and this caused inhumanity to become present.
  • Politics and its role in relation to the world . In this case, politics is seen as a social dimension of all the activities that man does and is also related to education, culture and the common good.
  • The problems of the current world that establish a series of questions related to morality and freedom , science and technology.


The schools that emerged with contemporary philosophy were the following:

  • Positivism : a system that was based on experience and empirical knowledge about natural phenomena.
  • Dialectical materialism : investigates the nature of truth through the use of critical analysis of concepts and hypotheses .
  • Historicism : a current that recognizes that history has a supreme and fundamental value in nature and in the human being.
  • Vitalism : also known as voluntarism, it is a doctrine that ensures that human life is a fundamental reality within existence.
  • Personalism : a movement that focuses on the supreme value that the human being has, which in turn has a series of values ​​and qualities of its own.
  • Existentialism : affirms that existence comes before essence. It gives greater importance to human existence.
  • Phenomenology : establishes that the empirical data provided by phenomena related to consciousness are what can guide the essence of things.

Who is the father of contemporary philosophy

Edmund Husserl is considered the father of contemporary philosophy, he was a philosopher and logician of German origin whose thinking was based on the will to try to resolve the classic opposition that existed between rationalism and empiricism . He also proposed a more naturalistic attitude through a method in which the viewer, disinterested in himself, had the ability to rebuild consciousness and the world in which he lived.

Other representatives

Some representatives of contemporary philosophy are mentioned below.

Jean-Paul Sartre

He revolutionized the philosophy of the twentieth century with his work ” El Ser y la Nada “, an ontological treatise where being as an individual was reduced to nothing, making it free from the weight caused by transcendence and giving it responsibility and freedom .

Jurgen Habermas

His theory is based on critical theory and he made a great contribution to the theory related to communicative action. It establishes that social interaction is not conditioned by rituals or sacred thoughts, on the contrary, it is determined by language . This makes it possible to promote social interaction and culture.

Slavoj Žižek

His philosophy is based on Lacan’s psychoanalytic structuralism and Hegel’s ideas. It makes it known that man must be able to recognize, support and filter reality in his own fiction.


Contemporary philosophy is important because through the different currents that arose through it, it has been possible to answer many of the different questions related to social issues and actions that must be carried out by man to be able in this way to achieve a common good . It is a current that has managed to create a point at which it is possible to recognize the true power that reason has to analyze and transform the world . In addition, thanks to this philosophy, a series of new currents have been created in the field of philosophy that have focused their approaches on the human being, in its essence and a greater importance was given to the field of language .

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