I am wondering if this is something that other people think. It seems to me that during a period of time from the late 19th century to the early 20th, there are a large number of philosophers who were thought to be relatively influential in their time but whose influence has declined. The philosophers I am thinking of are Bergson, Spencer, Dewey, Santayana, James, Moore, Royce, Lotze, Russell,Peirce, Comte, Lewis, and Whitehead. Maybe I am just being biased since these were relatively recent? But it seems like there is a bit of a dead zone between the end of German idealist philosophy (with Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Marx) and contemporary philosophy (Heidegger, Wittgenstein, etc.).

  • 3
    You must be in parallel cultural universe if you think Russell has been forgotten. May 5, 2016 at 22:57
  • Bergson, Dewey, James, Moore, Russel, Peirce, Compte and Lewis were mentioned and cited/read in courses I took in the last two semesters, a seminar on Whitehead was offered during my time here. To sum it up: I do not think so, at least not generally. You may mention Jaspers, Dilthey and Misch or Scheler and Plessner (as opponents of Heidegger!) here, too. Besides, how are Heidegger and Wittgenstein contemporary?
    – Philip Klöcking
    May 5, 2016 at 23:01
  • 1
    Every period has its share of forgotten philosophers. Late 19th early 20th century is no different, but let's not forget that Frege, Russell are among the most discussed (as historical figures) in contemporary analytic philosophy.
    – E...
    May 5, 2016 at 23:22
  • 1
    @EliranH: Not mentioning Carnapp in this series seems unforgivable to me ;)
    – Philip Klöcking
    May 5, 2016 at 23:34
  • regarding Russell Alexander: i was thinking of his ideas about logical atomism. these ideas seem to have not really continued for very long.
    – user20502
    May 5, 2016 at 23:59

1 Answer 1


One way to interpret "influence has declined" is that philosophers on the list were "superseded" by their successors, although "influence has transformed" seems more appropriate. Russell and Moore are the founders of analytic philosophy which still dominates the Anglophone countries. Comte is the founder of positivism, the logical positivism of the Vienna circle (Reichenbach, Carnap, Neurath) was partly inspired by him (along with Mach and Mill). Peirce, James and Dewey are the founders of philosophical pragmatism, which transformed into logical pragmatism (Glock's term) after merging with logical positivism in 1950s. Quine and Davidson are the more recent carriers of that mantle, and the late Wittgenstein helped. Bergson is an inspiration for existentialists, especially for Merleau-Ponty. However, Comte worked earlier than Marx and Nietzsche, Wittgenstein was Russell's younger contemporary and heir apparent, who ended up repudiating him like Aristotle Plato. Husserl rose to prominence at about the same period, and Heidegger was to him as Wittgenstein was to Russell. So I don't really see a gap.

If you want a gap look at the continental philosophy after 1950s. The big names, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre, Foucault, Derrida, Lacan, Deleuze, Badiou are all conspicuously French. Of course, there is Gadamer and the Frankfurt school, but that is a far cry from Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Husserl or Heidegger. Perhaps, Nazism in Germany and the flight of intellectuals left a lasting mark on German speaking philosophy.

  • There still were Plessner, Löwith, Ahrendt and others (do not forget the later Habermas), who especially argued against e.g. Heidegger and Gehlen (Nazis). Especially Ahrendt is rather well known as far as I understand.
    – Philip Klöcking
    May 5, 2016 at 23:55
  • Maybe its just me then. I guess it just seemed to me that at the library there tended to be no new editions of these works, and their ideas were not really written about.
    – user20502
    May 6, 2016 at 0:19
  • @user20502 You are right in the sense that these thinkers are less referred to directly. But there is a distinction between links in chains of transmission and giants that initiate their own chains in any time period, just think of lesser known contemporaries of Aristotle and Plato, Descartes and Leibniz, or Kant and Hegel. In the last decade there has been a resurgence of interest in Peirce in philosophies of mind and science in connection with his work on heuristic reasoning in cognition, see references in Thagard's paper cogsci.uwaterloo.ca/Articles/Thagard.brains-models.2010.pdf
    – Conifold
    May 6, 2016 at 17:38

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .