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A SHORT HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY

ARCHIBALD B. D. ALEXANDER - 1922 - Table of contents

Diccionario filosófico
Voltaire.
Complete edition

Diccionario de Filosofía
Brief definition of the most important concepts of philosophy.

 

A Dictionary of English Philosophical Terms Francis Garden

Biografías y semblanzas Biographical references and lives of philosophers

Brief introduction to the thought of Ortega y Gasset

History of Philosophy Summaries

Historia de la Filosofía
Explanation of the thought of the great philosophers; summaries, exercises...

Historia de la Filosofía
Digital edition of the History of Philosophy by Jaime Balmes

Historia de la Filosofía
Digital edition of the History of Philosophy by Zeferino González

Vidas, opiniones y sentencias de los filósofos más ilustres
Complete digital edition of the work of Diogenes Laertius

Compendio de las vidas de los filósofos antiguos
Fénelon

A brief history of Greek Philosophy
B. C. Burt

 

A SHORT HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY

 

INTRODUCTION

Part I. GREEK PHILOSOPHY


Its origin and character

PHYSICAL PERIOD
MONASTIC THEORIES
PLURALISTIC THEORIES

MORAL PERIOD
THE SOPHISTS
SOCRATES. Cynics and Cyrenaics

SYSTEMATIC PERIOD
PLATO
ARISTOTLE

Part II. PHILOSOPHY IN THE GRECO-ROMAN WORLD

ETHICAL THEORIES
Stoicism. Epicureanism
Scepticism

RELIGIOUS TENDENCIES
Roman Moralists: Seneca, Epictetus, M. Aurelius
Alexandrian Mystics: Philo, Plotinus, Proclus

Part III. PHILOSOPHY OF MIDDLE AGES

THE PATRISTIC PERIOD Augustine and Church Fathers

SCHOLASTIC PERIOD Nominalism and Realism

PLATONIC INFLUENCE
Anselm, Abelard, Peter Lombard

ARISTOTELIAN INFLUENCE
1. Alexander of Hales, Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas
2. Duns Scotus, Francis of Assisi, William of Occam
 

Part IV. REVIVAL OF PHILOSOPHY

TRANSITION PERIOD
1. Revival of Learning
2. Reformation
3. Rise of Sciences
Bruno, Böhme, Montaigne

REALISTIC TENDENCY
Bacon
Gassendi
Hobbes

IDEALISTIC TENDENCY
Descartes

PANTHEISTIC TENDENCY
Geulinx, Occasionalism
Malebranche, Pantheism
Spinoza, Acosmism

Part V. PHILOSOPHY OF THE ENLIGHTENMENT

[Introduction]

SECT. I. ENLIGHTENMENT IN BRITAIN
Empiricism-Locke
Development of empiricism-Berkeley
Sceptical Conclusion-Hume

THEOLOGICAL AND ETHICAL QUESTIONS
Natural Philosophy
Theological Controversy
Ethical Theories
Scottish Philosophy

SECT. 2. ENLIGHTENMENT IN FRANCE
Earlier Rationalism
Bossuet, Fontenelle, Bayle, Montesquieu, Condillac, Helvetius
Materialistic Tendencies
Voltaire, Diderot, D'Alembert,  La Mettrie, Holbach, Rousseau

SECT. 3. ENLIGHTENMENT IN GERMANY
INDIVIDUAL IDEALISM—LEIBNITZ

FOLLOWERS OF LEIBNITZ
Thomasius, Tschirnhausen, Wolff

POPULAR PHILOSOPHY
Mendelssohn, Nicolai
Lessing

Part VI. GERMAN IDEALISM


SECT. I. CRITICAL PHILOSOPHY—KANT
INTRODUCTION

KANT'S THEORETIC PHILOSOPHY

KANT'S MORAL PHILOSOPHY

PHILOSOPHY OF ART AND RELIGION

SECT. 2. DEVELOPMENT OF IDEALISM

PHILOSOPHY OF FEELING
Hamann, Herder, Jacobi
Schiller and Humboldt

SUBJECTIVE IDEALISM—FICHTE
1. Science of Knowledge
2. Its Theoretic Principles
3. Its Practical Sphere

OBJECTIVE IDEALISM—SCHELLING
1. Philosophy of Nature
2. Philosophy of Identity
3. Mythology and Revelation

ROMANTIC SCHOOL
1. Novalis and Schlegel
2. Baader and Krause
3. Schleiermacher

 

SECT. 3. ABSOLUTE IDEALISM—HEGELIANISM
CONCEPTION AND METHOD
STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT
REACTION AGAINST HEGELIANISM
1. Herbart
2. Beneke
3. Schopenhauer

Part VII. MOVEMENTS SINCE HEGEL TO THE PRESENT


GERMAN THOUGHT—AFTER HEGEL
1. Influence of Hegelianism
2. Materialistic Tendency—Haeckel
3. Idealistic Tendency
Fechner, Lotze, Hartmann, Wundt
4. Modern Psychology
5. Neo-Kantianism
Dühring, Schuppe, Ritschl
6. Eucken and Activist Tendency

FRENCH THOUGHT—FROM THE REVOLUTION
1. Cousin and Eclecticism
2. Comte and Positivism
3. Religious Philosophy
4. Philosophy of Development—Taine, Renan, Fouillée

BRITISH PHILOSOPHY IN THE VICTORIAN ERA
1. Utilitarianism—Bentham and Mill
2. Evolution—Darwin and Spencer. Maurice, Newman, Martineau
3. Influence of German Idealism. Caird, Green, Bradley, etc.

THE TREND OF THOUGHT IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
Anti-Conceptualism—Bergson
Pragmatism—Wm. James
Neo-Realism. Revival of Idealism in Italy. The Philosophy of the Gifford Lectures

 

CONCLUSION

 

BOOKS OF REFERENCE

 

A SHORT HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY - Archibald B. D. Alexander

 

CONCLUSION

We have traced the progress of European speculation from its earliest beginnings in Greece to the present day. We have sought to show that the history of philosophy is not a mere arbitrary collection of theories about the world and things in general, but a strictly rational development, an evolutionary process which conforms to certain distinguishable principles of mental growth. It is true that during this long period philosophers always seem to be asking the same primary questions and to be dealing with the same fundamental problems, just as if no answer had been given and no solution offered; but if we look at the history of thought as a whole, we cannot fail to discern a distinct advance from the earlier naive questionings of a Thales and a Heraclitus to the more complex and elaborate reasonings of a Kant and a Spencer. We have seen that no single answer is valid for all time, for no sooner does the mind attain to a certain mental position than new elements and new factors emerge which modify and enlarge the problem and demand a restatement of the truth. Just as at each stage of the individual life—in childhood, youth, and manhood—a different view of the world is taken, so in the larger life of the race there can be traced successive stages of growth in experience and outlook. We cannot say that the child's view is false and that the man's is true. The man sees all that the child sees, but his vision is fuller, richer, and more matured. So it is that the human race marches onward, changing its notions, enlarging its conceptions, modifying its ideals, and replacing its earlier partial opinions with clearer and more adequate convictions. It may be said that the significance of each system of philosophy which has appeared in history is that it emphasizes some truth which others have neglected; and if it again has to be complemented by another aspect which it, in its turn, has overlooked, we can see how philosophy advances through statement and opposition to a larger comprehension, from abstract and partial views to broader and richer conceptions.

 

  While the history of philosophy presents many systems, it exhibits but one philosophy. It has sometimes taken the form of materialism and sometimes of idealism. Thinkers have now started from the external world and now from the mind itself; some have begun with the individual, others with the universal. But whatever has been the starting-point and whatever the goal reached, every form of philosophy has been an effort to grasp the unity of things, to search for the first principles of reality, to discover the meaning and purpose of all that is.

What the history of philosophy, therefore, affords is a series of successive efforts of the spirit of man to attain to a consciousness of itself and the world to which it is related, or what is the same thing, to attain to a rational conception of existence. We have, therefore, sought to show that each system of philosophy, though inadequate in itself, is a necessary stage in the evolution of thought. The successive systems are closely connected. Each can only be explained as the product of its predecessors, and can only be justified as containing the promise and potency of a higher truth.

The objection has sometimes been raised to the study of philosophy that it leads to no practical results. It is but a collection of individual theories which afford no certainty of truth. One philosophy refutes another, and we are no nearer the truth after thousands of years than we were at the beginning. Let us withdraw ourselves, it is said, from all such sophistries, and betake ourselves to the guidance of our own common sense. But what is this common sense of which the ordinary man vaunts himself? It is in reality a number of vague assumptions borrowed unconsciously from old exploded theories—assertions, opinions, beliefs, accumulated, no one knows how, and accepted as settled judgments. We do not escape philosophy by refusing to think. Some kind of theory of life is implied in the words, "soul," "duty," "freedom," "power," "God", which the unreflecting mind is daily using. In employing these terms we are implying, though we may not know it, a system of philosophy. It is useless to say we can dispense with philosophy, for that is just to content ourselves with bad philosophy. "To ignore the progress and development in the history of philosophy," says T. H. Green, "is not to return to the simplicity of a pre-philosophic age, but to condemn ourselves to grope in the maze of cultivated opinion, itself the confused result of those past systems of thought which we will not trouble ourselves to think out." He who would be satisfied with the first unreflective view of things can never hope to know reality as it truly is. As long as human thought exists, philosophy will exist. The yearning for knowledge, the desire to lift the veil of nature and penetrate her secrets, is an everlasting impulse in the human soul. There is a divine unrest, a witness to our infinitude, which compels us to search for the hidden truth, to pierce below the seeming to the real; and the aim of all philosophy is just, as Plato said, to correct the assumptions of the ordinary mind and to grasp in their unity and cohesion those ultimate principles which the mind feels must lie at the root of all reality.

It is impossible to forecast what direction philosophic thought will take in the future, or to foresee how the world-problem will present itself to the next generation. It is obvious we are on the eve of great changes in the political and social world, not less than in the sphere of religious enquiry. Already science has revolutionized many of our accepted beliefs, and new problems as to the relation of mind and matter and of God and man are pressing for solution.

Philosophy has often been divided into different departments, according as we regard existence from the point of view of nature, mind or God, but it is only for the sake of convenience that they are thus isolated. Each involves the other. Nature is a necessary manifestation of spirit, and is really included in it. Indeed, all questions of metaphysics run up into questions of ethics and theology. To know God and ourselves in God is the goal of all thought. But no adequate or satisfactory view will be obtained by seeking to divorce, as the Ritschlian school has sought to do, metaphysics from theology. The rationality of religion rests on the possibility of an ultimate synthesis in which man and nature are regarded as the manifestation of one spiritual principle.

The philosophy of the future must take the whole of experience for its content. It must not isolate itself, as it has too much done in the past, from practical life, nor refuse the findings of scientific discovery. It must be ready to accept any facts which history has revealed or any theory which science has established. The philosopher cannot ignore any manifestation in the past, whether in nature or humanity. His theory of the universe must be wide enough to embrace the facts of Christianity as well as the results of evolution. He will not be discomfited by the conclusions of biological development, nor dismayed by the verdicts of physiological research. A crass materialism is no longer possible, nor is a purely subjective idealism valid. A solution will not be obtained by suppressing one of the factors, but rather by reaching a higher unity in which nature and spirit, mind and matter, are reconciled. At the same time, it is of the very nature of philosophy that thought is ultimate, that, in short, existence can mean nothing else than existence for a conscious self—a thinking being. The opposition between mind and matter, between the thinking subject and the external world, is only apparent, or is at least one which is to be transcended in the higher unity of consciousness. For man is not merely a natural being among others, but a being in whom nature is at once completed and transcended. If, in one sense, he is a part of the world, in another sense he is greater than it. He is a link in the chain of being, but he is also a link which is conscious of what he is. He is a being who only knows himself as he knows the objective world, and who only realizes himself as he makes himself the agent of a divine purpose to which all things are contributing.

In the sphere of metaphysics the old problems as to the nature of reality and the limits of knowledge; in the domain of psychology, the relation of the nervous system to mental acts, and the investigation of the subconscious processes and motor effects of the psychical life; in the department of ethics, the questions as to the connection of determinism and freedom, of intellect and will; in the realm of social and political science, the enquiries into the relation of the individual to society, and the place of man in the State; and, finally, on the religious side, the problem of the meaning of God and His revelation to man—these are the questions which still press for an answer in the light of our past experience and progress. It may be that some great mind will come forth who will lift thought to a higher level and give to mankind a conception of life more comprehensive than any which has yet been offered. But as in the past so in the future, no philosopher can undo the results which have already been obtained, or dispense with the labours of those great thinkers whose aims and ideals it has been the object of this history to unfold.

The Trend of Thought in the Twentieth Century                 A Short History of Philosophy. Books of Reference

 

 

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