Outline of the history of Western philosophy
Philosophy has a long history. Generally, philosophers divide the history of Western philosophy into ancient philosophy, medieval philosophy, modern philosophy, and contemporary philosophy. Ancient philosophy was dominated by the trio of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. In medieval philosophy, topics in metaphysics and philosophy of religion held sway, and the most important names included Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. Modern philosophy, generally means philosophy from 1600 until about 1900, and which includes many distinguished early modern philosophers, such as Rene Descartes, John Locke, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant. Nineteenth-century philosophy is often treated as its own period, as it was dominated by post-Kantian German and idealist philosophers like Georg Hegel, Karl Marx, and F. H. Bradley; two other important thinkers were John Stuart Mill and Friedrich Nietzsche.
In the twentieth century, philosophers in Europe and the United States took diverging paths. The so-called analytic philosophers, including Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, were centered in Oxford and Cambridge, and were joined by logical empiricists emigrating from Austria and Germany (e.g., Rudolph Carnap) and their students and others in the United States (e.g., W. V. Quine) and other English-speaking countries. The continental philosophy was led by the German phenomenologists Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger, followed soon by Jean-Paul Sartre and other existentialists; this led via other "isms" to postmodernism, which dominates schools of critical theory as well as philosophy departments in France and Germany.
John Dewey was an American philosopher and founder of the school of philosophy known as pragmatism. He had an enormous influence on American education - indeed, he is sometimes referred to as the "father of American education".
Important contemporary (or almost contemporary) philosophers include Karl Popper who investigated questions surrounding the scientific method, Peter Singer who formulated a radical practical ethics, John Rawls with his theory of distributive justice, and Robert Nozick, a libertarian political philosopher.