Important thinkers responsible for liberalism and political modernism generally include Machiavelli, Bacon, Hobbes, Descartes, Locke, Kant, Sade, and Nietzsche. The succession of their views set forth the self-destruction of the liberal and modern tradition. That tradition started by rejecting the transcendent and accepting sole concern for the things of this world for the sake of securing power and other material goods. It ended with the unknowability of this world and the pure exertion of will as the sole principle of whatever can be real for us.
Important American figures include Emerson, Dewey, Rawls and Rorty. In one way or another their views also reflect the collapse of purely this-worldly rationality into incoherence.