chapter  1
8 Pages


How modern is ‘Modern’ philosophy?

The six philosophers who are the subject of this book are Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley and Hume. They are all standardly referred to as ‘modern’ philosophers, even though the most recent of them died well over 200 years ago. It is a title they used of themselves, and one that was used about them by their contemporaries, but its use today suggests two things, neither of which is obviously true: that there is something which is common to all six of them, and that they are somehow connected to us, but not to the people who went before them – in other words, it suggests that there is such a thing as Modernity, or The Modern Age, to which both we and they belong.