Today I am racing with my (very delayed) study for a test the day after tomorrow on Contemporary Philosophy, hence my previous post and, hopefully, my next few. So I was looking for a single book from which I could extract, in my typical “borderline plagiaristic way”, material enough for quick summary posts and a decent understanding. I was lucky to mention that to a colleague who had just bought a book that seemed to be exactly what I needed: “German Philosophy 1760-1860: The Legacy of Idealism“, by Terry Pinkard. I gave him a ride home, borrowed the book (a real physical one!) and came home, not eager to read it, I must admit, but enjoying the fact that I had a mission that could now be accomplished. Like I said, I am late, so I am doing this sort of speed reading, highlighting just the minimum and not even taking notes when I simply had to stop and write this post. The reason is: I saw evil. I saw evil on page 44.
Historical modernity and modern philosophy are not in sync. The former begins at that great confluence of inventions, conquests, and discoveries that characterize the second half of the 15th century, most importantly, Gutenberg’s press, the fall of Constantinople, and the discovery of America; the latter begins only in the 17th century with Bacon, Hobbes and Descartes. The Renaissance humanism of the 15th and 16th centuries, as well as the Protestant Reformation can be regarded only as a transitional period leading to modern philosophy proper in the 17th and 18th centuries. After Kant dies (1804), we can say that reason has failed, and that the foundations of the irrationality so pervasive today begin. It is that period of growing irrationality from Kant to after the Great Wars that we will call here contemporary philosophy; the period after that, you can give it the name you want.