A philosophical movement is either the appearance or increased popularity of a specific school of philosophy, or a fairly broad but identifiable sea-change in philosophical thought on a particular subject. Major philosophical movements are often characterized with reference to the nation, language, or historical era in which they arose.
Talk of a philosophical movement can often function as a shorthand for talk of the views of a great number of different philosophers (and others associated with philosophy, such as historians, artists, scientists and political figures). On the other hand, most philosophical movements in history consisted in a great number of individual thinkers who disagreed in various ways; it is often inaccurate and something of a caricature to treat any movement as consisting in followers of uniform opinion. More often the defining ideas of any philosophical movement are templates on which individual thinkers develop their own particular ideas.
In contrast to the idea of a philosophical movement, the Renaissance, Enlightenment, and Romanticism are broader cultural "movements" that happened to be characterized by fairly distinctive philosophical concerns: although they are movements with philosophical cores, they extend beyond the field of philosophy into art and culture more broadly, hence are not specific enough to philosophy to be considered movements within it.
Like specific doctrines and theories, movements are often given names with "ism" suffixes. What makes a movement identifiable and interesting as distinct from a specific theory is simply that a movement consists in a large flourishing of intellectual work on one or more ideas, in a fairly specifiable time and place. Following is short list of major philosophical movements, in rough chronological order:
Ancient philosophical movements
- Academic Skepticism
Medieval philosophical movements
Modern philosophical movements
- German idealism
- Logical Positivism
Contemporary philosophical movements
- Deconstructionism (See also deconstructivism).
- Process philosophy