The Evolution of Western Thought

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Throughout modern history no other period of human evolution has had a greater effect on the way people think than the enlightenment. The philosophers and great thinkers of the enlightenment changed the logic of the human mind for the better and propelled a period of mass advancement in all aspects of society. Western thought progressed over time to help build a more intellectual society. Modern philosophers such as Max Horkheimer and Immanuel Kant incorporated their views of Western Thought into their political writings.

Western Thought

Western thought is defined as the rational and critical inquiry into basic principles. Western thought is often divided into the four main branches of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and aesthetics. Metaphysics is the investigation of ultimate reality. Epistemology is the study of the origins, validity, and limits of knowledge. Ethics studies the origins, validity, and limits of knowledge. Aesthetics is the study of the nature of beauty in the fine arts. Western philosophy is usually considered to have begun in ancient Greece as an assumption about the underlying nature of the physical world. In its earliest form it was indistinguishable from natural science.

Gradually, further developments were made in the field of philosophy throughout time. Modern philosophy brought about a new era of thought. The word “modern” in philosophy originally meant “new”. Modern philosophy was considered to be new thought from the previous medieval time period. Many advancements had been made in the intellectual, religious, political, and social aspects of life in Europe to justify the beliefs of 16th and 17th century thinkers. The explorations of the world, the Protestant Reformation, the r...

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...l benefit. Kant argued that human beings should act as members of an ideal “kingdom of ends” in which every person is treated as an end in himself or herself, and never as a means to someone else’s ends. In addition, everyone should govern their conduct as if their actions were to be made law—a law that applies equally to all without exception. Kant wrote of a freedom of action based on moral order and equality. Both Kant and Horkheimer’s moral philosophies contributed to modern political ideas about freedom and democracy.

Works Cited

Horkheimer, Max. Eclipse of Reason. New York. Oxford University Press.


Kant, Immanuel. Political Writings. Cambridge. University Press. 1970.

Bernstein, J.M. Max Horkheimer. Taylor & Francis Group. 21 Jan. 2003

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