TORRE DE BABEL EDICIONES

Philosophy, Psychology

and Humanities Web Site


 

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

 

Part IV. REVIVAL OF PHILOSOPHY

Chap. II. Realistic tendency. Hobbes

(3) Thomas Hobbes is connected with Gassendi by his mathematico-physical interpretation of nature. He was born at Malmesbury in England in 1588. He studied in France, where he met Gassendi and Descartes. In his own country he became acquainted with Bacon, Ben Jonson, and other distinguished men of his age. The Civil War, which began in his time, turned his attention to political themes—an interest which dominated his whole philosophy. As a youth he was an ardent student of Euclid, and was powerfully drawn to the new "mechanical philosophy" of Galileo as well as to the teaching of Descartes' Discourse on Method. According to Hobbes geometry is the only certain discipline. In mathematics all our knowledge is rooted, and the law of motion is the principle of all things.

 

Philosophy is simply "the knowledge of effects or phenomena derived from correct conclusions about their causes, or the same knowledge of causes derived from their observed effects. The aim of philosophy is to enable us to predict effects, so that we may be able to utilise them in life." Our knowledge is due to impressions of sense, and these again depend on certain motions in the external world. All knowledge, therefore, can be traced back to the motions of bodies in space. Philosophy deals only with bodies and must leave everything spiritual to revelation. 

The connection between causes and effects leads to the recognition by Hobbes of a causa prima, an ultimate source of all motion, which, as contradictory to the nature of thought, remains inscrutable to us. Faith and reason must not be confounded, and where science ends revelation begins. "All reasoning," he says, "is calculation, and all calculation is reducible to addition and subtraction." Thought consists in a combination of verbal signs which are invented by us to retain our impressions in the mind. Thinking, in other words, is dependent on words, and accurate definition of language is the first requisite of philosophy. "Words," says Hobbes, "are wise men's counters, they do but reckon by them; but they are the money of fools, that value them by the authority of an Aristotle, a Cicero, or a Thomas" (Leviathan, pt. I. chap. IV.). We are constantly being deceived by the counters of our mental currency.

According to Hobbes, there is only one substance— matter. But matter, as we know it, consists of bodies. He holds that the accidents of bodies, extension, form, colour, etc., have really no objective existence, but are the ways by which our senses are affected by bodies. "Matter itself is nothing real, but only a general notion derived from the principal qualities of bodies."

It will thus be seen that though Hobbes insists upon a material explanation of the world, in his very explanation of the way in which the mind perceives things, he seems to transcend his own theory and imply a doctrine of Idealism, assigning to the thinking subject a positive part in the formation of ideas—a line of thought which, had he pursued it, might have anticipated Kant's teaching. But as a matter of fact Hobbes is not interested in any account of perception, and is only concerned in the interests of a complete realism to show that all sensible perceptions are simply the movements of infinitely small particles or atoms that act upon the senses and cause reaction in them.

It is, however, in the sphere of social and political philosophy that the principal distinction of Hobbes as a thinker lies. The world, in his view, consists of natural bodies and political bodies—things and men. Natural philosophy and civil philosophy, therefore, are the two branches of science. Man forms a bridge between nature and society. Accordingly Hobbes planned three systematic treatises, De Corpore, De Homine, and De Cive; but owing to the pressure of political events he was only able to carry out the latter part of his programme.

Hobbes' vigorous materialism reappears in his political theory. The State arises out of atomism. It is an aggregate of bodies, just as matter is a combination of particles. As in the natural world so in the world of mankind, movement and antagonism are the original conditions. Humanity is in a state of strife. The savage state is war of all against all. Self-preservation is the supreme good; death the supreme evil. To promote the one and prevent the other is the first law of nature. Every man regards his neighbour with fear and suspicion. This condition leads men to enter with one another into a kind of treaty or contract, in which each renounces his freedom and limits his desires, on the understanding that all do the same. This social contract becomes, as with Rousseau, the original foundation of the State's constitution. Such a compact, however, can be realized only through the subjection of all to one. Thus the sovereign becomes the State, and his will, law. Right and wrong, good and evil, virtue and vice, have no meaning in themselves. They are only constitutional ideas which exist by the supreme will of the government. Outward morality arises out of this state of peace. Order prevails when all men come to see that they gain by this mutual respect for and united subjection to a common head.

 

The political system of Hobbes, it will thus be seen, was the direct outcome of his materialism. The conception of the State as a vast machine from which was to be excluded every private judgment, every dictate of conscience or religious conviction in so far as it interfered with what the State ordained as right, was a counterpart of that mechanical theory of the universe in which nothing is recognised but the necessary working of material forces. 

His political and social views were framed on the basis of the atomistic philosophy of Bacon. But that which Bacon hinted at, but did not develop, is effected by Hobbes, viz.—the reduction of the whole moral world to natural laws. Hence he calls the state the "mortal God" or "the great Leviathan" which swallows up all individuals. He rejects all ecclesiastical authority, and opposes every religion which seeks to be independent of the State. He is the uncompromising opponent of the Puritans on the one side, and of the Papists on the other. His Leviathan was specially directed against Cromwell, who, by the aid of dependency, had overthrown the monarchy of England.

Religion is only possible through the State. It is the government alone which must determine what is useful or what is hurtful, what is to be revered and what may be believed. The legal worship of God is religion; the illegal worship of Him, superstition. The distinction between morality and legality, on which Kant afterwards laid so much stress, does not exist for Hobbes. There is only one standard for the worth of actions, and that is public law. Neither without nor within man is there any tribunal of truth except the voice of public authority. Religion and morality of themselves do not exist. The natural man is purely selfish. That is good which is the object of his desire; that is bad which is hurtful to himself. All moral definitions are relative. Selfishness alone decides the value of things. Religion is the child of fear, and duty the offspring of self-interest, and both are the creatures of law, the artificial appointments of political expediency.

While Hobbes thus carries the physical postulates of the Organum to their legitimate conclusions in the spheres of morality and religion, reducing their facts to mere laws of nature, it must be conceded that he is very far from being an echo or even an out and out disciple of Bacon. He shows an intellectual vigour and independence of thought which are all his own. He is indeed one of the most original writers of England. He is in many respects much in advance of his age, and in the departments of ethics and politics his influence may be detected in the most different schools of thought. His moral theory determined ethical speculation for more than a generation, and all the great moralists have made his views the starting-point of their own.

In the realm of politics also his influence has been not less marked and various. The writings of Montesquieu, Locke, and Rousseau, as well as those of the English and French political thinkers, cannot be correctly understood without a careful study of Hobbes' position.

His point of contact with Rousseau is especially interesting. Both agree in the theory of a social contract as the foundation of the State. Both would deduce the civil from the natural condition of man. But while Hobbes conceives of men as being at enmity and as making a contract for the sake of mutual safety and preservation, according to Rousseau men are not foes by nature, but are naturally drawn to one another for the sake of mutual advantage and development. With Hobbes the contract is based on the idea that might is right, and therefore the might which would be self-destructive is lodged in the person of one, —the sovereign, who is alone all-powerful. With Rousseau the contract unites all in the enjoyment of equal rights and equal duties. With Hobbes the contract is, as has been remarked, only on one side; with Rousseau it is reciprocal, and the power is lodged in the people themselves. Hence, according to Rousseau, the State is a democracy; according to Hobbes it is an absolute monarchy. These opposite points of view have important bearings on morality. While Hobbes finds in the natural state of man only fear and selfishness, Rousseau sees in nature the source of all morality and religion, and instead of hate and repulsion, regards the natural condition of mankind as one of brotherhood and love.

Hobbes' principal writings are: The Leviathan; or the Matter, Form and Power of a Commonwealth, Ecclesiastical and Civil, published in 1651: De Corpore appeared in 1655, and De Homine in 1658. Three later works—Behemoth, The Common Laws, and a metrical Historia Ecclesiastica, about 1670.

A collected edition of his works in sixteen volumes was published in 1839-45. Hobbes died in 1679.

  Modern philosophy. Realistic tendency. Gassendi           Modern philosophy. Idealistic tendency. Descartes

 

 

© TORRE DE BABEL EDICIONES - Edition: Isabel Blanco  - Legal notice and privacy policy