By Frederick C. Copleston

Conceived initially as a significant presentation of the advance of philosophy for Catholic seminary scholars, Frederick Copleston's nine-volume A historical past Of Philosophy has journeyed a long way past the modest function of  its writer to common acclaimas the easiest historical past of philosophy in English.Copleston, an Oxford Jesuit of gigantic erudition who as soon as tangled with A.J. Ayer in a fabled debate in regards to the lifestyles of God and the potential for metaphysics, knew that seminary scholars have been fed a woefully insufficient nutrition of theses and proofs, and that their familiarity with such a lot of history's nice thinkers used to be decreased to simplistic caricatures.  Copleston got down to redress the incorrect by way of writing an entire heritage of Western philosophy, one crackling with incident and highbrow pleasure - and one who supplies complete position to every philosopher, offering his inspiration in a fantastically rounded demeanour and displaying his hyperlinks to those that got here after him.

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Additional resources for A History of Philosophy, Vol. 4: Modern Philosophy From Descartes to Leibniz

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We have seen that the philosophy of the Enlightenment in France was inclined to be more extreme than eighteenth-century thought in England. Deism tended to give place to atheism, empiricism to become outspoken materialism. When, however, we turn to the Enlightenment (Aufklarung) in Germany, we find a rather different atmosphere. Leibniz was the first great German philosopher, and the first phase of the Enlightenment in Germany consisted in a prolongation of his philosophy. His doctrine was systematized, not without some changes in its contents, let alone in its spirit, b y Christian Wolff (1679-1754).

When, for example, A is always followed by B, in such a way that when A is absent B does not occur and that when B occurs it is, as far as we can ascertain empirically, always preceded by A, we speak of A as the cause and of B as the effect. To be sure, the idea of necessary connection also belongs to our idea of causality. B u t we cannot point to any senseimpression from which it is derived. The idea can be explained with the help of the principle of association: it is, so to speak, a subjective contribution.

And they looked on philosophy as an instrument of liberation, enlightenment and social and political progress. T h e y were, in short, rationalists more or less in the modern sense, freethinkers with a profound confidence in the power of reason to promote the betterment of man and of society and with a belief in the deleterious effects of ecclesiastical and political absolutism. Or, to put the matter another way, the liberal and humanitarian rationalists of the nineteenth century were the descendants of the characteristic thinkers of the Enlightenment.

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