The year 1959 was one of philosophic celebrations. Many volumes, monographs, and papers marked the centennial of John Dewey. France, rather more than the United States, similarly celebrated Henri Bergson’s birth. And all over the world scholars commemorated the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species. One is tempted to see in all this the end of an era and to expect new beginnings in the next decade.
However, the fortunes of philosophy do not change with football game rapidity. No evidence exists to support predictions of any great upheaval. Provided that the political situation permits a continuance of civilized living, the sixties will not differ much from the fifties. No doubt an old era has ended; but it did not end abruptly in centenary celebrations. Somewhat of a new era may well be upon us; but it did not commence January 1, 1960. Rather, the situation calls for an estimate of the coming success or failure of philosophic trends already under way.
To dispose of some preliminary matters, I would say that neo-realism, despite the protests of its aging exponents, as well as the older neo-Hegelianism, has no future. Marxism is indeed a serious political threat, though not an intellectual one. The movements now in existence that promise to exert influence in the next decade are instrumentalism, logical positivism, existentialism, and neo-orthodoxy. The first two are definitely secular, the fourth is clearly religious, while existentialism, though sometimes atheistic, is so closely related to neo-orthodoxy that it fits better into the second classification.
John Dewey was fundamentally disturbed by the nineteenth century scientism which reduced the universe to “nothing but” atoms in motion. Since atoms ...1
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