What philosopher do you think most accurately predicted contemporary thoughts and values?

Expert Answers
teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would absolutely go with Friedrich Nietzsche, not so much on the basis of "God is dead," as the last 40 years have been characterized by a revival of religious faith and religious conflict, especially in the Middle East, but because of his impact on how we understand language.

While Enlightenment philosophers saw language as a clear window pane revealing truth: they thought that to get the precise words down meant to have captured truth itself, Nietzsche turned that concept on his head. Language he said is not a clear window pane but a prison. We are caught, he famously wrote, in a "prisonhouse of language." What he meant by this is that while we need language to think, the language we learn is already tainted by the misconceptions and prejudices of past generations. As young children learning the language, we internalize all its limitations and errors before we are able to evaluate them. We are imprisoned by language that itself limits and distorts our ability to think clearly. In modern times, as we have moved away from the idea that intellectual authority lies in the hands of white European males, this concept has been used by post-colonial and feminist thinkers to show the ways prejudice against darker skinned people as "the other" is ingrained into the language. For example, in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, she makes a heartfelt and impassioned plea for the dignity of the slaves and for freeing them, but does so in the only language she knows, which is cringeworthy in its racism, referring, for example, to the blacks as childlike people who love to sing and dance. 

Nietzsche also understood language not as the expression of truth, but as narrative. It is a story we tell that may or may not be correct and that is always influenced by power: the people who have the power tell a story favorable to themselves. 

This radical questioning of language has had a profound impact on 20th and 21st century thinkers, including post-structuralists such as Derrida (who lived into the 21st century) and Foucault, who have had such an influence on contemporary thought in pointing out that thinking is based on sign (language) structures that are imperfect and thus open to deconstruction, as well as profoundly influenced by power. 

shwetapanda | Student

It actually depends on how people have studied philosophy and their views on contemporary society.

But according to me, it was always and will be Friedrich Nietzsche.

His one line i.e., "God is dead" makes it clear as to why he was the one who so very accurately predicted our contemporary thoughts and values.

He was the greatest philosopher of his times. The question of faith, morality and values will never have a certain answer and we are still face to face with the same question. No doubt, he was an atheist but if we look closely, then there is a social context behind his view rather than religious. We, the modern man, never believe in anything. We are skeptical by nature. We are faithless and hopeless as well. We still debate on whether God exists or not. We don't believe in the idea of God and centrality. 

The message which Nietzsche gave was very much relevant in his society but people were shocked at his statement and we skeptical regarding accepting it and we are still going through it, the only difference being, today some of us have accepted this thing in its whole.

I don't think anything else is the most accurate prediction of contemporary values and thoughts.