During the late 19th and early 20th centuries two philosophical perspectives emerged to challenge the supremacy of rationalism. One of these was the philosophy of Existentialism developed in Continental Europe, the other was Pragmatism developed in America.
As we discussed in earlier lessons for a time during the 18th Century it seems that the rationality of the Enlightenment triumphed over all other ways of knowing. Many rejoiced that soon the laws that operated behind the universe would all be known and humankind would create the future it wanted.
In our last lesson we transitioned from the Middle Ages into the Enlightenment and the modern age of philosophy. What we found were new variations of the intellectual conflict between the ideal and the real that the early Greeks were wrestling with.
As Western history moved beyond the Middle Ages and approached the dawning of enlightenment the stage had been set for an intellectual struggle that continues with us today. It is a dualistic dilemma of two philosophical positions that are fundamentally conflicting.
The leap that occurred in human consciousness from the time known as The Middle Ages to the Age of Enlightenment is nothing short of miraculous.
During the trial of Jesus it is said that if Jesus had only been willing to deny that he was the king of the Jews his life would have been spared. He refused and was punished by the painful death of crucifixion.
The 20th Century philosopher Alfred North Whitehead has described all of Western philosophy as a footnote to Plato. By this he implies that all of philosophy has either been an extension of, or a refutation of what Plato originally thought.
Over my next seven blog posts I am going to be giving you ‘A Crash Course in Western Philosophy’. In this course you will get a rapid, but fascinating tour through the twists and turns …