What is Estonian Philosophy?

  • Margit Sutrop
Keywords: definition of philosophy, Estonian philosophy, philosophy in Estonia, University of Tartu, family resemblance, open concept, African philosophy, Danish philosophy, Finnish philosophy


The purpose of this article is to inquire what should belong in an encyclopedia article entitled "Estonian philosophy," should one ever endeavour to write it. The question "What is Estonian philosophy?" has two parts. First we have to know what we mean by the concept philosophy and after that how we would specify Estonian philosophy? Relying on a Wittgensteinian approach, I will argue that philosophy is an open concept. Although all philosophical works have some resemblances to other philosophical works, it is impossible to find criteria characteristic of all the varieties of schools and traditions in which philosophizing is carried out. Philosophy should be understood as a certain social practice. There can, however, be a large number of different practices. I will show that if by Estonian philosophy we have in mind a philosophy that is originally and purely Estonian, then at this point such does not exist. If by Estonian philosophy we mean philosophy created in Estonia, regardless of the practitioners' ethnicity and the language in which they wrote, the history of our philosophy is very rich and diverse. People of many different ethnicities have created philosophy in Estonia, articulating their philosophical ideas in Estonian, English, German, Latin, Russian, and Swedish. And if we broaden our concept of Estonian philosophy to also include the work of philosophers of Estonian extraction living abroad, then one could write quite a respectable article on the topic.

How to Cite
Sutrop, M. (2016). What is Estonian Philosophy?. Studia Philosophica Estonica, 8(2), 4-64. https://doi.org/10.12697/spe.2015.8.2.02