The Fifth Cycle of Philosophy

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Information about The Fifth Cycle of Philosophy
Education

Published on March 18, 2014

Author: BarrySmith3

Source: slideshare.net

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​In a lecture, delivered in Vienna in 1894 and dedicated "to the academic youth of Austria-Hungary", Franz Brentano outlined four phases of advance and decline which he saw as providing the key to the understanding of the history of Western philosophy. In the first cycle, in antiquity, the initial advancing phase culminated in the work of Aristotle, and was followed by three phases of decline​,​ terminating in the irrational mysticism of the Neo-Pythagoreans. These four phases then repeated themselves: in the Middle Ages, ​beginning with Aquinas and ​ending with the "learned ignorance" of Nicholas of Cusa​;​ and then in the modern period, ​beginning with Bacon and reaching its low point in the work of Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. In the contemporary era we are currently witnessing the end of ​the fourth cycle in the work of (for example) Derrida, Rorty.

The Fifth Cycle of Philosophy Barry Smith

The Four Phases of Philosophy rapid practical scepticism mysticism progress interest 2

Brentano’s Four Phases In a lecture, delivered in Vienna in 1894 and dedicated "to the academic youth of Austria-Hungary", Franz Brentano outlined four phases of advance and decline which he saw as providing the key to the understanding of the history of Western philosophy. These phases are, as he conceived matters, repeated in successive cycles. In the first cycle, in antiquity, the advancing phase was brought to its culmination with Aristotle. It was followed by three phases of decline – culminating in the irrational mysticism of the Neo-Pythagoreans.

First Cycle Thales to Stoicism and Pyrrho, Neo-Pythagoreans, Aristotle Epicureanism Eclectics Neo-Platonists 4

Second Cycle The next cycle in the Middle Ages was brought to its culimination with Aquinas, and ended with the "learned ignorance" of Nicholas of Cusa. 5

Second Cycle up to Scotism Ockham, Lull, Aquinas Nominalists Nicholas of Cusa 6

Third Cycle In the modern period the cycle begins its ascending phase with Bacon and reaches its lowest point with Berkeley and the German idealists 7

Third Cycle Bacon, Rationalists Hume, Berkeley, Kant Locke Reid German Idealism 8

Fourth Cycle Brentano did not, of course, live to see the Fourth Cycle, which he himself initiated, and whose lowest point was reached with Derrida, Rorty, and their heinous ilk. More precisely, we can distinguish two sub- divisions of this Fourth Cycle, a Continental and an Analytic.

Fourth Cycle (Continental) Brentano Husserl Heidegger Derrida and Polish School the French 10

Fourth Cycle (Analytical) Frege Vienna Circle Wittgenstein 2 Rorty Wittgenstein 1 Quine Russell 11

The Fifth Cycle . Phases of renewal are associated with the rediscovery of science, of empiricism, of rigour and clarity. Phases of decline are associated with competing schools and sects, with mysticism and obfuscation, and with relativisms and idealisms of various sorts. Each final phase of decline, with its ultimate collapse into nonsense, gives rise to the call for a new phase of renewal. 12

The Fifth Cycle With the collapse of deconstructionism and postmodernism and of the view of philosophy as a competitive production of maximally absurd jokes, we can already discern the beginnings of a new, advancing phase in the history of philosophy. 13

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