Socrates, Mills, Kierkegaard, and Badiou all have very different methods for approaching the question, “Are there any contemporary philosophers?” Let’s discuss some of the main characteristics of each of these thinkers and why they are relevant today. In addition to the obvious similarities, these thinkers each have their own unique perspectives. Listed below are a few of the most important ideas they shared, and how they differ from one another.
Philosophers have long been celebrated as the height of study. It was once a way for great minds to separate themselves from the rigors of everyday life and concentrate on the lofty questions of life. Though philosophy still aims to explore the depths of human nature and reality, it has gone a long way from its fanciful beginnings. Today, we can appreciate the work of great philosophers such as Aristotle and Heraclitus.
While philosophy has been around for over 2500 years, it is possible to identify living philosophers with great ideas and contributions. One modern-day philosopher is John Chalmers, a professor at the Australian National University. Chalmers’ book ‘Does the mind have its own nature?’ has influenced the field of developmental psychology and the debates over empiricism and rationalism. He remains a prominent public intellectual and continues to write about various philosophical topics.
There are plenty of contemporary philosophers, from those who have worked as public intellectuals to those who have become political activists. A recent example is Thomas Nagel, a prominent philosopher and lawyer from the United States. Born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Nagel is a former Communist Party member who now teaches philosophy and law at New York University. Nagel has been a major figure in the field of philosophy since his early 1970s publication, ‘War and Massacre.
The renowned philosophers of our day have all been considered child prodigies. For example, philosopher Saul Kripke was considered a child prodigy during his time at Harvard. He taught a logic class while he was a student there, and then graduated from Harvard in 1962 with a B.A. in mathematics. He has received honorary doctorates from several universities and has been a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York.
One notable feminist is Martha Nussbaum, who received a Ph.D. from Cambridge in 1972. She is now Professor of Philosophy and Law at the University of Miami. Her work is classified as “pragmatic philosophy”. Her work spans the fields of logic, language, epistemology, and law. She has also published work on feminism and animal rights. She also works in the field of philosophy of science.
Modern philosophy began during the Renaissance and Humanism era, and is primarily centered on earthly experience. Immanuel Kant opens the way to romantic idealism. Modern science and the parallelism of reason and faith becomes problematic during the Renaissance, as philosophical research shows that the results of rational surveys are in direct contrast to dogmas and Revelation. In addition, the principle of authority is challenged.
Thomas Nagel is another contemporary philosopher who has made headlines recently with his book Mind and Cosmos. Nagel is an atheist and does not advocate intelligent design, but he does argue that the theory of natural selection alone cannot account for consciousness. In other words, he sees philosophy as a therapeutic pursuit, soothing and resolving philosophical error. There is no reason to believe that human consciousness could have developed without the assistance of God.
Parfit, who grew up in China, is a philosopher with an international reputation. He obtained his Ph.D. in modern history at Oxford on a fellowship. He subsequently switched to philosophy and became a Fellow of All Souls College. Parfit has taught at many universities around the world, and has based his career at the University of Oxford. Today, he serves as an Emerit Senior Research Professor at All Souls College.
Singer is another example of a philosopher with international appeal. He is widely read outside academia and is regarded as a celebrity philosopher. His controversial ideas have fueled controversy and protest. However, Singer has also become a controversial figure in the world of public discourse. It is unclear whether or not Singer will be able to make a mark on the world of today. But Singer is definitely a contemporary philosopher worth studying.
There are significant similarities between Kierkegaard and modern day philosopher Nietzsche. Both philosophers had definite values, but neither believed that universal truths could be derived from truths about the world. Despite being Christians, Kierkegaard harshly criticised many modern-day Christians and emphasized the importance of the subjective and individual choice in life. The similarities between the two philosophers’ thought process and philosophies are striking, but there are also significant differences.
In addition to his own philosophical thinking, Kierkegaard sought to evade Hegel’s belief in logic and religion. Kierkegaard claimed that most Christian doctrines cannot be explained by reason alone. Rather, he argued that they possess a truth. Ultimately, Kierkegaard’s writings encourage young minds to seek truth for themselves, and to question the truths of religion.
A child of Lutheran parents, Kierkegaard received a classical education, excelling in Latin and history. Although he studied theology at the University of Copenhagen, he found himself more attracted to philosophy. His philosophical writings, however, were always highly literary. Ultimately, Kierkegaard graduated with a Ph.D in 1841. He used his inheritance to fund his education, and he was soon mocked by fellow students on the streets of Copenhagen.
Although his thought is based on a strong sense of self, his criticism of modernity may not sit well with modern philosophers. In his book, The Two Ages (1991), Kierkegaard describes humankind as a “product of relationships” and calls money a “figment of thought” that is “abstract and based on nothing.”
A biography by Clare Carlisle, an avid Kierkegaard reader, traces the influences of Kierkegaard on modern philosophy. Carlisle traces the influences of the great Danish philosopher on the modern era’s major philosophers. Clare’s new book, The Religion of Existence, examines Kierkegaard’s thought and ideas of freedom and faith.
Another similarity between Kierkegaard and modern philosophers is their views on sin. Kierkegaard argued that an individual learns about himself in the presence of God. Ultimately, he said that Adam’s knowledge of freedom comes from his experience of freedom. In addition, Kierkegaard disagreed with Friedrich Hegel’s emphasis on logic and the ability to describe all of reality.
The two philosophers disagreed on the definition of “truth” and the role of action in the pursuit of truth. Kierkegaard believed that truth could not be rooted in objective facts and must be defined by human connection to those facts. Therefore, truth should be based on actions, not just facts. As such, the individual is ultimately responsible for their actions, and is called on to account for them.
Interestingly, Kierkegaard also used categories to direct attention to the issue of how one lives. While what one does may stay the same, how one lives it can be drastically different. For example, being a Christian may be a religious or aesthetic pursuit. For Kierkegaard, these aspects of Christian faith can have very different meanings, whereas being a Christian may involve aesthetic, intellectual, and ethical orientations.