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Encyclopedia > 17th century philosophy

17th-century Western philosophy is conventionally seen as being dominated by the coming of symbolic mathematics and rationalism to philosophy, many of the most noted philosophers were also mathematicians. Also called "The Age of Reason", some date the beginning of "modern philosophy" from this period, rather than from the Renaissance.

[Someone moved the page titled 18th-century philosophy to 17th-century philosophy, apparently with the result that this strange mix of 17th- and 18th-century philosophers appears on this page. This needs work!]

This article is a part of the
History of Philosophy series.
History of Western philosophy
Pre-Socratic philosophy
Ancient philosophy
Medieval philosophy
Renaissance philosophy
17th-century philosophy
18th-century philosophy
19th-century philosophy
20th-century philosophy
Postmodern philosophy
Contemporary philosophy
Eastern philosophy

The main theme of the period is the rise of the Cartesian method in philosophy, and the subsequent decline of the Scholastic method. It is often characterised in terms of the conflict between the competing schools of Rationalism as represented by Descartes, Leibniz and Spinoza, and Empiricism, represented by Hobbes, Locke, and Montesquieu ,Berkeley and Hume, though this may be a simplification.

Rejecting religious dogma and superstition, thinkers of the Age of Reason applied a new emphasis on empiricism and rationality to their thought. The emergence of modern science -- the "scientific method" -- created a foundation for a new approach to human experience and understanding.

At the end of the era, European humanity had a new conception of existence in an ordered universe. Science and religion conflicted but were not mutually exclusive.

List of philosophers (still incomplete)



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