A History of Philosophy [Vol IX] by Frederick Copleston

By Frederick Copleston

Conceived initially as a major presentation of the improvement of philosophy for Catholic seminary scholars, Frederick Copleston's nine-volume A heritage Of Philosophy has journeyed a long way past the modest function of its writer to common acclaim because the most sensible background of philosophy in English.

Copleston, an Oxford Jesuit of monstrous erudition who as soon as tangled with A. J. Ayer in a fabled debate concerning the life of God and the opportunity of metaphysics, knew that seminary scholars have been fed a woefully insufficient diet of theses and proofs, and that their familiarity with such a lot of history's nice thinkers used to be reduced to simplistic caricatures. Copleston set out to redress the inaccurate via writing an entire background of Western philosophy, one crackling with incident and intellectual pleasure -- and person who offers full place to every philosopher, featuring his suggestion in a beautifully rounded demeanour and displaying his links to those that went prior to and to people who came after him.

The results of Copleston's prodigious labors is a historical past of philosophy that's not likely ever to be passed. Thought journal summed up the overall contract between students and scholars alike while it reviewed Copleston's A heritage of Philosophy as "broad-minded and aim, accomplished and scholarly, unified and good proportioned... we won't suggest [it] too highly."

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It is only to be expected however that there should have been other thinkers who were convinced that the revolution ought to 1. 51 52 FROM THE REVOLUTION TO AUGUSTE COMTE be carried further, not indeed in the sense of a renewal of bloodshed but in the sense that the ideals of the revolution needed to be realized in a reformation of the structure of society. Liberty might have been achieved by the revolution; but the realization of equality and fraternity was by no means so conspicuous. These would-be social reformers who were convinced that the work of the revolution needed to be extended, were idealists, l and their positive proposals have often been described as utopian, especially by Marx and his followers.

For Reid the former were not the positive data on which knowledge is grounded, but rather postulates arrived at through an analysis of what actually is given in experience, namely perception. Perception always carries with it a judgment or natural belief, about, for example, the existence of the thing perceived. If we insist on starting with SUbjective impressions, we remain shut up in the sphere of SUbjectivism. Perception however comprises within itself a judgment about external reality. This judgment stands in need of no proof2 and is natural to all mankind, thus belonging to the principles of 'common sense'.

In Saint-Simon's opinion, the last kings of France had had the good sense to ally themselves with the rising industrial class instead of with the nobility, the transition to a new system could have been affected peaceably. In point of fact however the old regime was swept away in a violent revolution. At the same time a political system cannot disappear entirely, unless a new system, capable of taking its place, is waiting, so to speak, in the wings. In the case of the French revolution the new system, destined to take the place of the old, was not ready.

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