Prolegomena to the Study of Modern Philosophy

by Andrej Démuth (Author)
©2016 Monographs 126 Pages
Series: Uni Slovakia, Volume 2


This book is divided into nine chapters trying to draw attention to the various aspects of the understanding of God, to the question of the individual, the ideal state arrangement, and the question of freedom (free will) as well as of history. Special attention is paid to the issue of cognition, the question of reason and sense, as well as language and the issue of a system in philosophy. The chapters are arranged to show the historical characteristics of the issues with an introduction of the key approach and ideas with references.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Author
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Prolegomena to the Study of Modern Philosophy
  • The Question of God in Modern Period Philosophy
  • The Issue of the Freedom of Man
  • The Problem of Cognition in Modern Philosophy
  • Socio-Philosophical Writings of the Modern Period
  • Philosophy of History and the History of Philosophy as a Problem of the Modern Age and Classical German philosophy
  • Sense vs. Reason in Modern Philosophy
  • Understanding Nature in Modern Philosophy
  • Language in Modern Philosophy
  • Modern Philosophy as a Philosophy of Large Systems
  • Bibliography

Prolegomena to the Study of Modern Philosophy

The present work does not attempt to provide a detailed history of modern philosophy or an exhaustive interpretation and analysis of the ideas and works of individual philosophers and philosophies. There are sufficient classic works like these in the international (F. Copleston, Cambridge Companion to Philosophy, Oxford, Routledge, Blackwell) as well as domestic linguistic environment (Dějiny filosofie (The History of Philosophy), OIKOYMENH – Vol. 13). The aim of the present text is rather to focus on briefly introducing the issue – to introduce the reader to the basic problematic issues of modern philosophy, the concepts and their solutions, the fundamental theories and ideas, and the definitions of key notions, ideas, and approaches. Therefore, this is not a typical history-philosophy thesis, but rather an outline of char ← 7 | 8 → acteristics of the thinking in the period – by thematising the main topics of modern-day thinking.

If we discuss the historical approach to philosophy in the modern era, from the beginning we need to point out that defining the modern period is itself associated with a number of challenges concerning delineation. Firstly, the modern period has not yet been defined by an historical event that has been generally accepted as the beginning or end of the period. To this day, historians continue to argue if such an initial milestone exists, and if so, which historical event it is (the discovery of America in 1492, Germany in 1517 (Luther’s theses), the reformation in England in 1485, the reformation in France in 1515, in Spain in 1515, in Sweden in 1523, in Norway in 1536, in Denmark in 1533, in Poland in 1505, in Russia in 1533, in the Netherlands in 1519, Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press in 1452, the fall of Constantinople in 1453). The year 1526, when the Battle of Mohács took place, is an analogical historic milestone within Bohemia and Hungary. Moreover, it is obvious that defining the modern era is also challenging in terms of geography (while a process is ending in one country, it has not yet started in another; in addition, irregular manifestations in various areas – painting vs. philosophy, science, and the like – in the same period and in the same territory can be observed). Another question is what the modern era should be defined against, and what is or is not a part of it (are Humanism and the Renaissance a part of ← 8 | 9 → the modern era, or of its predecessor?) Do we still live in the modern era, or is our age something different? (The English term, “modern”, has been used to denote this period, but it denotes neither Modernism nor the present day contemporary period)?

The modern era has been historically, logically and etymologically delineated against the Middle Ages. Using Jan Werich’s ideas of chronology (the Middle Ages are midway between ancient history and the modern era), the passage of time inevitably leads to a shift from the Middle Ages and thereby to the question of what, in fact, is characterised by it. It seems the period can best be defined by a way of thinking and distinctive topics. We often say that the Middle Ages was a dark age and we simplify the image of the era (it was a period of obscurantism; philosophy played a secondary role as theology’s servant; it was a period of denying and limiting science…). On the other hand, it was during this period that education was institutionalised (universities were established as well as the educational system (Le Goff 1999)), hospitals were founded, and the methodology of thinking was thoroughly précised … (Démuth 2013, 46 – 52). Other cultural as well as institutional structures were also formed during the Middle Ages, thus the period is a corner stone of today’s society. Therefore, it seems the true reason of our perception of the Medieval Period as “dark”, is rather a kind of information paradox – not the dark Middle Ages, but the dark places in the facts ← 9 | 10 → of the period. This is due to the lack of medieval texts translated into the living languages of today (e.g. a lack of works translated into Slovak or Czech, although we have ancient texts), in the nature of ideas and the forms of medieval texts being large tractates, in underestimating the topic – they say, those are only commentaries on ancient classics – but also in the fact that not many readers are able to read these texts in their original form.


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2016 (April)
Knowledge Philosophy Modern Philosophy History
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2016. 126 pp.

Biographical notes

Andrej Démuth (Author)

Andrej Démuth is a Professor of philosophy at the Trnava University. His research focuses on modern philosophy, epistemology and cognitive studies.


Title: Prolegomena to the Study of Modern Philosophy