By Frederick C. Copleston
Conceived initially as a major presentation of the advance of philosophy for Catholic seminary scholars, Frederick Copleston's nine-volume A historical past Of Philosophy has journeyed some distance past the modest function of its writer to common acclaimas the simplest heritage of philosophy in English.Copleston, an Oxford Jesuit of colossal erudition who as soon as tangled with A.J. Ayer in a fabled debate in regards to the lifestyles of God and the potential of metaphysics, knew that seminary scholars have been fed a woefully insufficient nutrition of theses and proofs, and that their familiarity with so much of history's nice thinkers was once decreased to simplistic caricatures. Copleston got down to redress the inaccurate by means of writing an entire background of Western philosophy, one crackling with incident and highbrow pleasure - and person who supplies complete position to every philosopher, providing his idea 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
And just as Locke's empiricism is only a part of his philosophy, so is Berkeley's empiricism only one aspect of his philosophy. For he went on to build up a speculative idealist metaphysic, for which the only realities are God, finite minds and the ideas of finite minds. Indeed, he used his empiricist conclusions as a foundation of a theistic metaphysic. And this attempt to erect a metaphysical philosophy on the basis of a phenomenalistic account of material things constitutes one of the chief points of interest in Berkeley's thought.
The eighteenthcentury philosophers in France were scarcely of the stature of Descartes. B u t their writings, easily understandable by educated people and sometimes superficial, were undeniably influential. They contributed to the coming of the French Revolution. And the philosophers of the Enlightenment in general exercised a 36 A HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY—IV lasting influence on the formation of the liberal mind and on the growth of a secularist outlook. , for good or ill, their ideas exercised a powerful influence.
The personal element could be eliminated, and philosophy would possess the characteristics of universal, necessary and impersonal truth which is possessed b y pure mathematics. Such considerations, as will be seen later, weighed heavily with Descartes. It is commonly maintained today that pure mathematics as such does not give us factual information about the world. To take a simple example, if we define a triangle in a certain way, it must possess certain properties, but we cannot deduce from this the conclusion that there exist triangles possessing these properties.