Philosophy in the 21st Century is reacting to two major forces affecting its way of life. The first, a dismantling or destructive force, comes primarily from Academia, while the second, a rebuilding or constructive force, comes mainly from the diversity of voices and media through which philosophers can now communicate and share ideas. The last generations of academic philosophers who are situated under Contemporary Philosophy are now either nearing the end of their careers or are no longer with us. Theirs were philosophically powerful generations of "Post-Structuralism" and "Deconstruction", with new directions in the Philosophy of Science and other areas. However, both the newer generations of thinkers and the fiscal concerns of Universities are beginning to push philosophical thinking away from the academies.
Philosophy DeconstructedThe legions of philosophers who have been trained in the Western Universities, many to assume teaching posts within those Universities, are bringing to an end the "Contemporary" period, mainly through the proliferation of writings which have done little to advance the genres, but also because of the budgetary constraints of Universities. Academic philosophers are now at least as concerned with the future of their department, the future of their jobs, as with any pressing issues of philosophical import, and this greatly restricts what can be said or written.
But the end of contemporary Philosophy also arises from the development of Philosophy itself, which as seen whole areas, such as Metaphysics, cut away through deconstruction, while others, such as Philosophy of Science, lure the younger minds into the "hard" and "soft" scientific fields which Philosophy itself spawned, unaware they are doing Metaphysics. Add to this the piercing questions on history and method from contemporary thinkers such as Richard Rorty, Daniel Dennett, Michel Foucault, Jean Baudrillard, and Jacques Derrida, just to name a very few. Once Ancient, Medieval and Modern Philosophy was destructured, desexualized, dissected and deconstructed, and once those achievements were trumpeted in the secondary literature ad nauseum, what were philosophers to do?
Philosophy RedirectedOut of necessity, 21st century thinkers are finding philosophical inspiration from diverse sources. The most common objection new students have to learning Philosophy is to being forced to read the works of "old, dead, white men". The newer thinkers participating in philosophy are not all white, nor all men, nor are they all from the United States or even from the Western nations. Along with a global economy has also come a global community of thinkers, with diverse, multi-cultural cross-currents of traditions.
Along with the new diversity of sources, philosophers are finding new a whole new set of media through which to communicate. From the explosion of the Internet itself there are now new media, CD-ROMs or DVDs, e-books, and interactive websites. And beyond writing alone, there are new directions in Music, Theatre, Art, and Film. Philosophy itself is seeping out around the blockages provided by academic excess, and finding new voices in a plurality of ways. A philosopher need no longer be limited to books printed on paper, or ideas handed down through departmental traditions.
The new century will need this diversity of voices and media, because the questions which are already looming large are not easy to answer, either with the standard toolkit of the Western philosophers, the faith-based interpretations of Middle Eastern Philosophy, or the cool distance of Eastern approaches. Already bioethicists are struggling with the implications of international cloning, increased illness and longer life; Political thinkers are struggling with the clash of cultures on a global scale; Philosophical scientists are grappling with the environmental and engineering issues of managing a planet, and beyond. These thinkers address philosophical concerns in new ways, and may not be famous...yet.
- Azizah Al-Hibri (born ?)
- Wendy Kaminer (born ?)
- Toril Moi (born ?)
- Susan Neiman (born ?)
- Julia Kristeva (born 1941)
- Shirley Geok-Lin Lim (born 1944)
- Bernard-Henri Levy (born 1948)
- Naomi Shihab Nye (born 1952)
- Azar Nafisi (born 1955)
- Jean-Pierre Ady Fenyo (born 1964)
- Wachowski Brothers (Larry, 1965, Andy, 1967)
- M.R.M. Parrott (born 1966)
- Sherman Alexie (born 1966)
Some content adapted from the Wikinfo article "New_philosophy" under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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