The Columbia History of Western Philosophy

The Columbia History of Western Philosophy

Edited by Richard H. Popkin
Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 864
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    The Columbia History of Western Philosophy
    Book Description:

    Richard Popkin has assembled 63 leading scholars to forge a highly approachable chronological account of the development of Western philosophical traditions. From Plato to Wittgenstein and from Aquinas to Heidegger, this volume provides lively, in-depth, and up-to-date historical analysis of all the key figures, schools, and movements of Western philosophy.

    The Columbia History significantly broadens the scope of Western philosophy to reveal the influence of Middle Eastern and Asian thought, the vital contributions of Jewish and Islamic philosophers, and the role of women within the tradition. Along with a wealth of new scholarship, recently discovered works in 17th- and 18th-century philosophy are considered, such as previously unpublished works by Locke that inspire a new assessment of the evolution of his ideas. Popkin also emphasizes schools and developments that have traditionally been overlooked. Sections on Aristotle and Plato are followed by a detailed presentation on Hellenic philosophy and its influence on the modern developments of materialism and scepticism. A chapter has been dedicated to Jewish and Moslem philosophical development during the Middle Ages, focusing on the critical role of figures such as Averroës and Moses Maimonides in introducing Christian thinkers to classical philosophy. Another chapter considers Renaissance philosophy and its seminal influence on the development of modern humanism and science.

    Turning to the modern era, contributors consider the importance of the Kaballah to Spinoza, Leibniz, and Newton and the influence of popular philosophers like Moses Mendelssohn upon the work of Kant. This volume gives equal attention to both sides of the current rift in philosophy between continental and analytic schools, charting the development of each right up to the end of the 20th century.

    Each chapter includes an introductory essay, and Popkin provides notes that draw connections among the separate articles. The rich bibliographic information and the indexes of names and terms make the volume a valuable resource.

    Combining a broad scope and penetrating analysis with a keen sense of what is relevant for the modern reader, The Columbia History of Western Philosophy will prove an accessible introduction for students and an informative overview for general readers.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50034-0
    Subjects: Philosophy, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xv-xx)

    There have been many histories of philosophies, but few presented in one large volume for the educated layman. Two such ventures that have endured for many decades, The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant and Bertrand Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy, are eminently readable, but cover only the high spots of the field. Durant, who was a very popular lecturer on philosophy at Columbia University, primarily discusses only a few of the great men. Nevertheless, his popularization has been a gateway into philosophy for a great many readers during much of this century. Russell wrote his book hastily out...

  5. List of Contributors
    (pp. xxi-xxviii)
  6. 1. Origins of Western Philosophic Thinking
      (pp. 1-6)
      Richard H. Popkin

      Philosophy is the attempt to give an account of what is true and what is important, based on a rational assessment of evidence and arguments rather than myth, tradition, bald assertion, oracular utterances, local custom, or mere prejudice. As with many of the arts and sciences that make up Western civilization and culture, philosophy was first defined as such by the Greeks around the fifth century B.C.E. However, evidence suggests that many of the problems, concepts, and approaches that became known as philosophy in Greece originated in other places and times. Of these sources, three are particularly notable: “Asian” or...

      (pp. 6-20)

      The thought of the pre-Socratics is preserved for us only in secondary sources. Some of the latter, such as Aristotle, wrote not much later than the pre-Socratics. Others, such as Hippolytus, a third-century Christian controversalist, and Diogenes Laertius, a third-century Greek author of The Lives of Eminent Philosophers (hereafter DL), wrote nearly a millennium later. Sometimes there are extant direct quotations, sometimes not, often causing major problems of interpretation. Almost a century after the first edition of the collected evidence about the pre-Socratics by Diels and Kranz, much still remains in dispute, including even what can be considered evidence, primary...

      (pp. 20-23)

      Until relatively recently, the Platonic, Aristophanic, and Aristotelian vision of the sophists as the enemies of sound philosophy was widely accepted. But the bias in these sources is now more broadly appreciated, and we can now adopt, as has G. B. Kerferd, a somewhat more positive view of the sophists.

      Itinerant teachers, the sophists were a major force in fifth-century Greece in the education of the sons of the wealthy and powerful. Despite their common name, they are probably best understood as the strong individuals they were, propounding opinions they thought most valuable in inculcating the various forms of arete...

      (pp. 23-32)

      Socrates (469–399 B.C.E.) was an Athenian of little personal beauty but much charisma. A famous man even by the standards of a city full of famous people, he attracted admirers from throughout the Greek world. He began a revolution in philosophy when he “called philosophy down from the heavens,” as Cicero said, and turned its attention to human affairs in the city and the household. About his biography we have little sure knowledge. He was married, had children, served in Athens’s army, and participated as a normal citizen in the city’s political life. At the age of seventy, he...

    • PLATO
      (pp. 32-52)

      Plato (ca. 427–347 B.C.E.) is one of the major figures in the entire history of Western philosophy. The core of his philosophy is a vision of reality as having two levels or aspects: we register the lower level of change and materiality via sensations that derive a shadow of reality and value from the higher, unchanging, immaterial level; that ideal or formal level is the more truly valuable, knowable, and real and is, therefore, the proper focus of human life and activity.

      Plato is the most famous of those who associated with Socrates. Unlike Socrates, he left behind writings,...

      (pp. 52-72)

      There have been many interpretations of both Plato’s and Aristotle’s philosophies. The picture of Plato just rendered depicts him as a dramatist, prodding people into philosophical thought without giving them a philosophical system. This reading is to be commended for its exposition of what Plato’s dialogues represented during his lifetime. On the other hand, Aristotle, in the preserved texts, presents Plato as a systematic thinker with whom he is at loggerheads and against whose system he offered his own philosophy.

      In considering the treatment of Plato and Aristotle, readers should keep in mind that almost all of Aristotle’s extant works...

      (pp. 72-74)

      A large body of Aristotle’s writings has come down to us, but unlike Plato’s this Corpus Aristotelicum consists mostly of texts in which the philosopher speaks directly, presenting his own ideas along with the arguments and evidence that he believes support them. Instead of the one “knowledge” (episteme) sought by the Socrates of Plato’s dialogues and his single method of dialectic, Aristotle distinguishes many “sciences” (epistemai) and different appropriate methods. Underlying his thought in all fields is a fundamentally biological model derived from the natural process of growth through a regular series of stages and leading to an identifiable stage...

      (pp. 74-91)
      A. A. LONG

      “Hellenistic” is the modern term used to describe the period of Greek civilization that spans the years from 323 to 31 B.C.E. The chronological limits of this epoch are marked by two great events: the death of Alexander the Great on his return from the partial conquest of India, and the battle of Actium at which Octavian (63 B.C.E.–14 C.E.)—soon to become the first Roman emperor Augustus—defeated his rival, Marc Antony. Put another way, the period begins at the time when the peoples of Asia Minor, Egypt, the Middle East, and Persia had come under Greek rule...

      (pp. 91-99)

      Middle Platonism is the name given to the form of Platonism popular in the two to three centuries before Plotinus and his followers, who are now known as Neoplatonists. Whereas the end of Middle Platonism is determined by Plotinus’s reshaping of Platonic philosophy in the third century C.E., there is no secure date of its commencement. The term “middle” is used in contrast with the Platonism of the old Academy, when aspects of Plato’s doctrine were explored and freely developed by his early successors Speusippus, Xenocrates, and Polemo. Most scholars then postulate a hiatus in the Academy’s commitment to even...

      (pp. 100-102)

      Gnosticism was a diverse religious movement, now known mainly from documents found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt. Until nearly 1950 it was known chiefly through the polemic of Christian and Platonist writers against its prominent representatives in the second and third centuries C.E. and through such texts as the Poimandres, a mild and hellenizing gnostic text from the Hermetic writings, and the Coptic Pistis-Sophia treatise. The movement may have originated in the first century, though this remains a matter of debate. Central to gnosticism is the notion of gnosis: privileged religious knowledge or insight that pertains to the salvation of...

      (pp. 102-111)

      When the Christian Emperor Justinian (483–565) ordered the closing of Plato’s Academy in Athens in 529, a nine-hundred-year tradition of pagan Greek philosophy officially ended. That tradition included not only those who wanted to study, defend, and expand Plato’s philosophy as they understood it, but also those who sought a rapprochement or creative union of Platonism with other philosophies, principally Stoicism and Peripateticism.

      Part of the problem in understanding the history of Platonism is that, starting from the first generation of disciples, there were radically different interpretations of Plato’s own teachings. Three factors principally account for this disagreement. First,...

      (pp. 111-118)

      In the broadest sense, the Western intellectual tradition is an amalgam of ideals and modes of thought that are originally Greek and Roman on the one hand, Jewish and Christian on the other. So far we have focused on the Greco-Roman contribution. We now turn to the Judeo-Christian, which necessitates returning to the early centuries of the common era.

      From a modern perspective, in which philosophy is secular and thus perhaps intrinsically opposed to religion, it might seem strange that some Jewish and Christian authors of the first two centuries C.E. should have portrayed their religious groups as philosophical. What...

      (pp. 118-128)

      To speak of early Christian philosophy is to invite a charge of historical solecism. Even among the Greek Christian writers of antiquity, there are few that qualify as philosophers in our contemporary sense. While some Christians had training in the pagan philosophical schools, none could be said to pursue rational dialectic as a means to metaphysical or ethical knowledge independent of the evidence of scriptural revelation. On this limited model, the historian of Christian philosophy would seem to have mistaken the nature of ancient Christian intellectualism and conflated religious apologetics or theology with the technical discipline of philosophy.

      Because it...

      (pp. 128-139)

      No coherent account of early Latin Christian philosophy is possible. To attempt one would be to betray the facts and mislead the reader. From Plato to the Neoplatonists it is both possible and necessary to construct a linear narrative, however ramose and intricate, of filiation and continuity. Greek Christendom can be grafted into that structure more or less plausibly, but Latin Christendom resists decisively. A diverse group of authors from Tertullian (ca. 200) to Cassiodorus, a Roman statesman (ca. 485–550?), offers much of interest to the student of philosophy, but not a straightforward narrative of linear progression.

      The impossibility...

  7. 2. Medieval Islamic and Jewish Philosophy
      (pp. 140-144)

      During the fifth and sixth centuries, the Western Christian Roman world was declining and disintegrating under the pressure of the invasions of the Vandals, the Goths, the Visagoths, the Huns, and others. Centers of learning were destroyed or abandoned, and Europe entered into what has been termed, somewhat misleadingly, “The Dark Ages.” The Eastern Christian world continued as the Byzantine Empire, with Greek as its official language until the fifteenth century.

      On the southern side of the Mediterranean, a new dynamic culture emerged as the Islamic religion—begun by Muḥammad (d. 632) with his reports of his revelations—spread from...

      (pp. 144-149)

      Saʿadyā ben Joseph, the Gaon, was the first important Jewish scholar to undertake a systematic, philosophical formulation of Jewish belief, thus initiating the genre of philosophical theology into Judaism. Born in Egypt, where he was educated and began his literary career, Saʿadyā soon became an acknowledged scholar, especially with his works in Jewish law, Hebrew grammar, and the Bible, including both an Arabic translation of the Bible as well as several biblical commentaries. After a short stay in the Land of Israel he migrated to Iraq, where he was appointed the religious leader (“Gaon”) of the large and venerable Jewish...

      (pp. 149-153)

      Jewish Neoplatonism made its appearance with the very first person to practice Jewish philosophy in the Middle Ages, Isaac Israeli (ca. 855–955). Born in Egypt, in mid-life Israeli moved westward to Qayrawān, the capital of the newly founded Fatimid dynasty. There he became court physician to ‘Ubayd Allāh al-Mahdī, the Isma ‘īlī Shiʿi ruler of the new regime. He wrote medical as well as philosophical treatises though he was better known for the former than the latter. His philosophical writings, particularly his Kitāb al-Ḥudūd (Book of definitions), were known and utilized by a few later Jewish thinkers, notably Moses...

      (pp. 153-157)

      Al-Farābī, also known in the Islamic tradition as the Second Teacher or Master (the first being Aristotle), was born around 870 in Transoxania. He studied philosophy in the Khurasan and later in Baghdad. Among his teachers were two Christians, the Nestorian Yuhanna ibn Haylan, who according to al-Farābī was in the philosophical tradition of the School of Alexandria, and the translator and logician Abū Bishr Matta ibn Yunus. After working mainly in Baghdad, al-Farābī went to Aleppo in 942 at the invitation of the Syrian Prince Sayf al-Dawlah. Later on, he moved to Damascus, where he died around 950 near...

      (pp. 157-163)

      Avicenna (Ibn Sīnā; 980–1037) is a towering figure in the history of Islamic philosophy. The conceptual framework of his philosophy derived largely from Aristotle and Plotinus. He was, moreover, greatly influenced by his predecessor Abū Nasr Muḥammad al-Farābī. No mere imitator, however, Avicenna brought into philosophy new insights both in the realm of analytic thought and in the comprehensive metaphysical synthesis he achieved. Avicenna’s civilization was religiously centered, so part of his intellectual endeavor was to seek a reconciliation between Islam and philosophy. A mystical strain in his thought was not detrimental to such a quest.

      He was born...

      (pp. 163-170)

      Al-Ghazālī has been cast in several different roles by various historians of philosophy; as an interpreter of Arab Neoplatonism, as a critic of those same philosophers, as a precursor of modern Humean scepticism, as a leading figure of Arab Scholasticism (the Kalam), as a major participant in an extended debate over Arab theodicy, and as a Sufi mystic who attempted to make Sufism available to a wider audience. It is possible that the roles that he finally played in the history of philosophy were quite different from any he intended. His critique of causality, advanced primarily to uphold the omnipotence...

      (pp. 170-172)

      Mysticism in Islam is called Sufism, presumably because the early ascetics wore sūf (wool) to mortify the flesh. Sufism could be viewed as a way of realizing in experience the one-and-onliness of Allah, a fundamental article of the Muslim faith.

      What activates the pursuit of this mystical goal is the belief that humans belong to where the mystical goal leads. Rumi (d. 1273) speaks poetically of the reed that has been cut off from its source and ever moans to return to it. Al-Ghazālī relies on the Qurʾānic saying that we are unto God and unto God shall return. Al-Junayd...

      (pp. 172-173)
      Richard H. Popkin

      After al-Ghazālī’s critique of philosophy and the rise of Sufism, the stage for philosophizing moved west to Spain. The Muslim conquest of Spain began in 711 and soon established rich cultural centers in the southern region now called Andalusia. A separate caliphate was set up in Cordoba, which became a great city. In Muslim Spain, the Jews, who were a large minority, were tolerated and encouraged to take part in intellectual society. They wrote philosophy and poetry in Arabic. Two of the first major thinkers in Muslim Spain were Jewish: the Neoplatonist Solomon ibn Gabirol and the critic of philosophy...

      (pp. 173-176)
      T. M. RUDAVSKY

      Medieval Jewish Neoplatonism, which was largely based on the writings of Plotinus and Proclus, dates from the ninth century. (See “Jewish Neoplatonism” above.) It provided the philosophical context for the thought of many cultivated Jews of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and during the Islamic period it was complemented by elements stemming from Islamic religious traditions and some Aristotelian ideas. Serious Jewish thinkers had to deal with Jewish Neoplatonism if only because they saw in the speculations of certain Neoplatonist philosophies epistemological and metaphysical notions that were quite compatible with their own attempts to characterize the nature of God and...

      (pp. 177-183)

      Judah ben Samuel Halevi (ca. 1075–1141) distinguished himself early in his lifetime as an exceptionally gifted poet. Subsequently, he also came to be recognized as an astute critic of both Aristotelian and religious rationalism and an ardent defender of traditional Judaism.

      Born in Tudela in northeastern Spain, Halevi was educated in the Bible, rabbinic literature, grammar, Arabic poetry, philosophy, and medicine. As a young man, he traveled to southern Spain and quickly won fame and patronage within Jewish courtier circles for his prodigious poetic talents. He also went on to prosper as a physician. Nevertheless, even in early adulthood,...

      (pp. 183-188)

      Averroës (1126–1198) is the name given in the West to Abū al-Walīd Muhammad ibn Rushd, who was born in Cordoba, Spain, and died in Marrakesh, Morocco. Both countries—which he knew as al-Andalus and the Maghreb—were part of the Almohad Empire, which had its capital in Fez. The Almohads were a Berber dynasty that overran much of the Iberian peninsula, wresting control from fellow Muslims (and Berbers) in the name of greater orthodox zeal. Yet it was the Almohad ruler himself, Abū Yaʾqūb Yūsuf (r. 1163–1184), who commissioned Averroës in 1168/1169 to write commentaries for him on...

      (pp. 188-196)

      Moshe ben Maimon (Rambam), better known in the West as Maimonides, is the greatest of the medieval Jewish philosophers. Wherein lies his greatness is a point to which we shall return, but for the moment let us situate him in his time and place. Maimonides was born in 1135 or 1138 in Cordoba, the court city first of the Umayyad and then of the Almoravid caliphate. His father Maimon was a dayan, a rabbinic judge, as well as a mathematician and an astronomer. Such a panoply of interests and expertise left its mark on Maimonides, who as well as evincing...

      (pp. 196-200)

      The influence of Averroës, the “Great Sage” and “Chief of the Commentators,” on late medieval and Renaissance Jewish philosophy is such that after Maimonides, the “Great Eagle,” the teachings of Averroës commanded the most attention. Jewish Averroism is more of a general orientation toward Aristotelian teachings as interpreted by Averroës than a rigid set of core teachings. The figures joined under the rubric of Jewish Averroism are a diverse group, eclectically selecting different aspects of the Averroian legacy. The main thinkers in this group are usually deemed to be Isaac Albalag and Shem Tov ben Falaquera of the thirteenth century,...

      (pp. 200-204)

      Rabbi Levi ben Gershom (1288–1344)—known in modern academic circles by his latinized name, Gersonides—was one of medieval Judaism’s most prominent and versatile intellectuals. Nevertheless, we know little about his life. He was born in Bagnols in southern France—a region with a rich Jewish intellectual life in this period—and appears to have spent most of his life there. Among medieval Jewish philosophers, he is generally regarded as second in importance only to Maimonides. His major philosophical work was The Wars of the Lord, a six-part treatise dealing with a wide range of philosophical issues. He also...

      (pp. 204-210)

      The great tradition of Spanish Jewish philosophy, which began in the tenth century, was brought to an end by the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. In the last century of Jewish life in Spain, the three most influential Jewish philosophers were without doubt Rabbi Hasdai Crescas (ca. 1340–1410/1411), Rabbi Joseph Albo (d. after 1433), and Rabbi Isaac Abrabanel (1437–1508).

      Hasdai Crescas was born to an established Jewish family in Barcelona, and studied there with the famed Talmudist and philosopher Nissim ben Reuben Girondi (ca. 1310–1376). He taught rabbinics and philosophy in Barcelona and from...

      (pp. 210-213)

      In response to the elaborations of Greek philosophy developed by Muslim and Jewish philosophers throughout the Middle Ages, a radically contrasting intellectual movement developed first in Spain and then in southern Europe: the study and practice of Kabbalah. This centered around Jewish theosophical texts believed to provide esoteric information about the universe and humanity’s place in it. Originally, Kabbalism was a Jewish movement that rejected Greek philosophies, but some Christians who heard of it believed there could be all-important secrets in the Kabbalistic writings. This led to the development of Christian Kabbalism from the time of Marsilio Ficino (1433–1499)...

      (pp. 213-215)

      Isaac Luria was born in Jerusalem in 1534. His father was an Ashkenazic Jew from Germany or Poland who emigrated to Jerusalem and married into the Sephardic Frances family. After his father’s death, Isaac was taken to Egypt to live with his uncle, and it was there that he began his study of the Zohar and the works of earlier and contemporary Kabbalists, particularly those of Moses Cordovero (1522–1570). During this period he wrote his single work, a commentary on the Sifra di-Zeniʾuta (The book of concealment), a short treatise in the Zohar. This work expresses none of the...

      (pp. 215-217)

      The most philosophical of Kabbalistic writers, Abraham Cohen Herrera (1570?–1635), originally named Alonso Nunez de Herrera, was born in Florence to a wealthy, recently converted New Christian family that had fled Spain in 1492. Either his father or grandfather had been a rabbi in Cordoba. The family became important financial functionaries for the Duke of Tuscany. Young Herrera studied the Platonism of Pico della Mirandola and Marsilio Ficino, and then later, at Dubrovnik (Ragusa), the Lurianic Kabbalah under Israel Sarug, the first of Isaac Luria’s disciples to teach these doctrines in Europe. Herrera became the Sultan of Morocco’s business...

      (pp. 217-218)
      Richard H. Popkin

      The intellectual ferment that developed in the Islamic and Jewish worlds and moved into Christian Europe involved an intertwining of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian ideas with basic patterns provided by the rich heritage of Greek philosophy. The unfolding of these developments continued into the Renaissance. Because of the radical break between Scholasticism (whether Islamic, Jewish, or Christian) and “modern” philosophy starting with René Descartes, there has been a tendency to ignore or underplay the importance of all three strands of medieval thinking, each struggling in its own way with the problems of reconciling rational philosophy and revealed religion. Many motifs...

  8. 3. Medieval Christian Philosophy
      (pp. 219-230)
      Stephen F. Brown

      Philosophically speaking, medieval Christian philosophy descends from the Greeks and Romans. Genetically speaking, medieval Christian philosophers descend from the Goths. This observation, borrowed from Josef Pieper’s Scholasticism (1960), stresses the assimilative character of medieval Christian philosophy. Early Christians who were not Greek or Roman philosophers learned Greek and Roman philosophy and then adapted it to accord with their beliefs and practices. Despite the difficulties and dangers, this was done with great skill by the early Church Fathers: Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Augustine, Pseudo-Dionysius, Boethius, and others. With the fall of Rome and the victory of the Goths, Christians had to...

      (pp. 230-244)
      Stephen F. Brown

      Aristotle and his commentators, as well as Plato and the Platonists, were not total strangers to the Latin West as the universities formed in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. Latin scholars knew not only the reports of the Fathers of the Church concerning the great pagan philosophers, but also a number of directly available Greek philosophical works. Aristotle’s Categories had been translated by Marius Victorinus and also paraphrased by Albinus in the fourth century. Boethius provided a more exact translation of the same work, along with a commentary. At the beginning of the tenth century, a composite edition...

      (pp. 244-251)
      Stephen F. Brown

      John of Fidanza (1217–1274), known as Bonaventure, was a student at the arts faculty of Paris from 1236 to 1242. In 1243, he entered the Order of Saint Francis. Quite likely, he immediately began his theological studies under Alexander of Hales and continued these studies under Odo Rigaud and William of Melitona until 1248. He commented on the Bible as a bachelor from 1248 to 1250, and then on Peter Lombard’s Sentences from 1250 to 1252. He was Regent Master of the Franciscan School of Theology at Paris from 1253 to 1257. In February 1257 he was named General...

      (pp. 251-256)
      Stephen F. Brown

      Born at Rocca Secca Castle, between Naples and Rome, Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) was the youngest son of Landulf, the Count of Aquino, and Theodora, the sister of Frederick Barbarossa. His childhood studies were done at Monte Cassino and his training in the liberal arts at the University of Naples under Martin of Dacia and Peter of Ireland. He became a Dominican friar in 1244 and, after great struggles with his disapproving parents, was sent to study at the Dominicans’ General Study House in Paris in 1245. In 1248, as a student, he followed Albert the Great to Cologne, where...

      (pp. 256-260)
      Stephen F. Brown

      In the late 1260s a more independent philosophical movement appeared in the faculty of arts in Paris. This new approach has received the titles “Latin Averroism” and “Radical” or “Heterodox” Aristotelianism. Bonaventure in his Lenten sermons of 1267 spoke of an improper use of philosophical inquiry in the arts faculty, and in these sermons as well as those of 1268 he specifically indicates erroneous teachings on the eternity of the world and on monopsychism (the theory that there is only one human intellect).

      Until the rise of this new philosophical movement, the arts faculty was a preparatory faculty. In its...

      (pp. 261-267)
      Stephen F. Brown

      The condemnations of 1277 draw interest because of their dramatic character. In the history of philosophy, however, the condemnations themselves deserve a more modest consideration. It is much more important to search the works of the authors involved at the time of the condemnations—Siger of Brabant, Boethius of Dacia, Thomas Aquinas, Henry of Ghent, Godfrey of Fontaines, Giles of Rome, and the many Franciscan followers of Saint Bonaventure—to discover the solid philosophical debates that lie behind the dramatic articles of condemnation. For it is during this period from 1250 to 1300 that the Scholastics achieved their various assimilations...

      (pp. 267-271)
      Stephen F. Brown

      Besides the theories on the unity of the concept of being in the writings of Henry of Ghent and John Duns Scotus, there were other late medieval attempts to resolve this basic issue of metaphysics. Peter Aureoli, a Franciscan who criticized both Henry and Duns Scotus, indicates that the common opinion concerning the unity of being is the one represented by the Dominican Hervaeus Natalis and the Carmelite Gerard of Bologna. They claim that alternative theories, especially that of Duns Scotus, present a glossed version of Aristotle and Averroës, whereas they are ill disposed to deny all that these philosophers...

      (pp. 271-278)

      Another illustration of philosophical vitality and maturity in the early fourteenth century is the battle between realism and nominalism. It is best illustrated through a study of the works of two Englishmen: Walter Burley (ca. 1275–1344) and William of Ockham (1285–1347). Burley spent the central years of his life, from 1310 to 1327, in Paris and wrote a number of his treatises there. The early works on logic, especially his Treatise on Suppositions and the first of his many commentaries on Aristotle’s Perihermenias, announce Burley’s claim that he represents the traditional or common opinions, whereas Ockham is out...

  9. 4. The Renaissance
      (pp. 279-280)

      The term “Renaissance”—like “antiquity,” “Middle Ages,” “Reformation” and “Enlightenment”—is a celebrated name for a major epoch of the premodern West, but the same word has been less conspicuous in the history of Western philosophy. Histories of the subject often leap from William of Ockham to René Descartes (1596–1650) with little or no account of what came between. Ockham’s part in the story, whether his work was the culmination of medieval philosophy or its final crisis, is smaller but no less assured than the place given Descartes for having started a new kind of philosophy. Those who admire...

      (pp. 280-292)

      Renaissance philosophy, written in the Latin preserved by medieval scholars and then reformed along classical lines by the humanists, was, like the philosophy of the High Middle Ages, predominantly Aristotelian. Most writing or teaching recognized by early modern people as philosophy was Aristotelian or Peripatetic or Scholastic in conception, intention, and presentation. Much of what departed from the Aristotelian framework defined itself as non- or anti-Aristotelian, necessarily so since Aristotle had ruled Latin intellectual discourse for so long that most philosophical problems, terminology, and methods came from him and his followers in the Peripatetic tradition. The well-deserved reputation of the...

      (pp. 292-303)

      Lefèvre, Mair, Pomponazzi, and Bruni before them were all proponents of Aristotelian philosophy, and the great cultural movement of the Renaissance called “humanism” touched (or, in Mair’s case, struck) their Aristotelianisms in varying degree. In fact, humanism greatly influenced almost all Renaissance philosophy, though humanism was not itself a philosophy but a curriculum, a pedagogy, and a cultural attitude stressing classical literature, language, and history. To be sure, some humanists were themselves philosophers, and many wrote on philosophical issues—especially moral philosophy—but most were not philosophers and most of their literary output has only marginal philosophical interest. The success...

      (pp. 303-315)

      Whatever their attitudes toward Aristotelian philosophy, Renaissance readers knew it as a various but familiar institution, part of the ancient intellectual heritage passed on to them by the many medieval scholars who had studied Aristotle since the twelfth century. Plato’s recovery, however, was distinctly a Renaissance achievement and mainly the work of a single person: Marsilio Ficino, the most accomplished Hellenist of his time. Earlier Quattrocento work on Plato had begun with a few dialogues and letters Latinized by Leonardo Bruni, the translations of the Republic by the Decembrii (father and son), and the Laws and Parmenides, badly, by George...

      (pp. 315-328)

      That the fortunes of Platonism were not what Marsilio Ficino would have wished followed from the larger circumstances of European culture. The ideal of philosophical harmony that he and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola advocated was ill suited to the religious turmoil of the Reformation and to the political strife among new nation-states that fed on this conflict of creeds. In the sphere of philosophy, Giordano Bruno’s harrowing execution in Rome in 1600 was the most memorable scene in this historical tragedy. Why exactly the church determined to burn the rebel Dominican is unclear, but his books record philosophical provocations that...

  10. 5. Seventeenth-Century Philosophy
      (pp. 329-336)

      As the seventeenth century dawned in Western Europe, intellectuals were being engulfed by a sceptical crisis challenging all their basic principles, assumptions, and beliefs in philosophy, science, and theology. This resulted not only from the wealth of new ideas, new discoveries, and changing life situations occurring in the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Counter-Reformation but also from the effect of the scepticism presented by Michel de Montaigne; by the ancient Greek thinker, Sextus Empiricus; and in Cicero’s Academica, interest in which had recently been revived.

      Sextus Empiricus (ca. 200 A.D.), was mostly unknown in Europe during the Middle Ages, though...

      (pp. 336-345)

      René Descartes was born in 1596 in La Haye, France, into a minor family of the aristocracy. He studied at La Flèche, one of the schools the Jesuits had established as part of their intellectual defense against the ideas of the Reformation. After his schooling, he qualified in law at the University of Poitiers, served in noncombatant roles in the armies of Maurice of Nassau and the Elector of Bavaria, spent some time traveling, and resided in Paris before setting out for the Netherlands in 1628. Throughout his life, he was a productive philosopher and scientist. He is said to...

      (pp. 346-346)
      Richard H. Popkin

      As Descartes was formulating his answer to scepticism and his new philosophy that he hoped would provide a solid and certain underpinning of the new science, others, facing the new questions of the time, offered different answers. Thomas Hobbes, who was in Paris when Descartes’s Meditations appeared, wrote one of the first critiques of Cartesian philosophy while offering his own new materialist philosophy. Pascal, a brilliant young mathematician and scientist, saw new philosophy and science as inadequate to answer humanity’s spiritual needs. The Cambridge Platonist Henry More was first Descartes’s English disciple but then found that Descartes’s system lacked a...

      (pp. 346-351)
      G. A. J. ROGERS

      Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) is one of the greatest of political philosophers, and his most famous work, Leviathan (1651), remains a controversial classic to this day. Hobbes claimed that Leviathan was the first work to make politics a science and that it could be placed alongside the achievements of Galileo in dynamics and William Harvey in physiology. In major respects his claim is justified. The model for his method of presentation was Euclidean geometry, the power of which, it is said, was brought home to him only by chance when he was over forty years old.

      Hobbes’s fame does not...

      (pp. 352-358)

      Blaise Pascal (1623–1662) was born in Clermont, France. In 1654, he went through a religious experience that he annotated on a piece of paper known as the Memorial. It reads, “forget the world and everything except God.” From this time on, Pascal became closer to the Jansenists (followers of Cornelis Jansen, 1585–1638), devoting most of his heart and mind to religious issues and controversies. At the time of his death, Pascal left unfinished and in fragmentary form an apology for the Christian religion, published under the title of Pensées (Thoughts).

      Pascal was deeply engaged in the major debates...

      (pp. 358-363)

      It is often claimed that as modern science developed in the seventeenth century, it came into sharp conflict with the dogmatism of the religious authorities. Galileo’s case is portrayed as the prime example of the warfare between religion and science. However, in contrast with what happened to Galileo, Catholic scientists in France such as Fathers Mersenne and Gassendi and Blaise Pascal advanced new scientific theories without being censured. Recent examination of Galileo’s case suggests that it was probably more a political clash between Galileo and the Jesuits than a confrontation between religion and science.

      There were many clashes between orthodox...

      (pp. 363-366)

      The Kabbala denudata (The Kabbalah unveiled, or, the transcendental, metaphysical, and theological teachings of the Jews) was published in two parts in 1677 and 1684 by the greatest Christian kabbalist of the seventeenth century, Christian Knorr von Rosenroth (1636–1689). This monumental work offered Christians the largest collection of kabbalistic texts published up to that time in a Latin translation that was superior to anything published previously. Von Rosenroth accompanied his translations of kabbalistic texts with explanatory notes and commentaries written by two of his friends, Francis Mercury van Helmont (1614–1698) and Henry More, along with his replies to...

      (pp. 366-373)

      The Cambridge Platonists were a group of mid-seventeenth-century philosopher-theologians, all of whom attended Cambridge University and whose work is in different ways indebted to the Platonic tradition. Henry More and Ralph Cudworth (1617–1688) were the most prominent members of this group. The others included Nathaniel Culverwell (1619–1651), John Smith (1618–1652), Peter Sterry (1613–1672), and the man traditionally regarded as their forerunner, Benjamin Whichcote (1609–1683). Among their younger followers, the most philosophical were John Norris (1637–1711) and Anne Conway (ca. 1630–1679). The Cambridge Platonists were not a school in the strict sense. As a...

      (pp. 373-382)

      Baruch de Spinoza (1632–1677), one of the most influential modern philosophers, was born in the Spanish-Portuguese Jewish community of Amsterdam. He studied at synagogue schools and was a prize student. In 1655, he began having serious doubts about religion. The next year, he was excommunicated from the community. He then lived with a radical Protestant group, the Collegiants. Later, he moved to the area in and around The Hague, where he lived very modestly, wrote his works, and ground lenses. He died of consumption, leaving most of his works unpublished.

      Amsterdam had a free Jewish community, unrestricted by Christian...

      (pp. 382-389)
      G. A. J. ROGERS

      Locke’s place in the history of philosophy rests substantially on his Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689), which was published when he was fifty-seven. In it, he argued the first modern systematic empiricist epistemology and set the agenda for philosophy at least until Kant one hundred years later. He is also one of the foremost political philosophers of the century, and his Two Treatises of Government (also published in 1689) set out principles that lie at the heart of the modern liberal democratic state. In addition to writing major philosophical works, he was the author of influential works in theology, education,...

      (pp. 389-395)

      Nicolas Malebranche (1638–1715) was born in Paris into a large and well-connected family. His father was a counselor to Louis XIV. Malebranche, a gentle, pious, and ascetic person, studied philosophy at the Collège de La Marche and then theology at the Sorbonne. In 1660, he entered the Oratory, a religious order founded in 1611 by Cardinal Pierre de Bérulle (1575–1629). Bérulle, heavily influenced by Saint Augustine, did not, however, establish the Oratory in order to create a particular school of philosophy or theology, although he had himself befriended the young Descartes in 1628. Instead, the order was dedicated...

      (pp. 396-404)

      The last of the great seventeenth-century metaphysicans was Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, born in Leipzig on July 1, 1646. He received his early education at the famous Nicolai School and in the library of his late father, a professor of moral philosophy, who died when Leibniz was six. As a youth, he read widely in classical literature, history, philosophy, and theology, establishing a background of learning on which he drew for the rest of his life.

      In 1661, Leibniz entered the University of Leipzig, attending lectures on Aristotle and Euclid. Influential among his early teachers were Jacob Thomasius (1622–1684), who...

      (pp. 404-412)

      Pierre Bayle was born in the small town of Carla, France, south of Toulouse, near the Spanish border, in 1647. His father was a Calvinist minister. Bayle grew up during the persecutions of Protestants in France under Louis XIV. He began his education at a Calvinist school at Puylaurens, but his father soon sent him to the Jesuit college at Toulouse because there was no longer any serious Calvinist high school left in the area. At the Jesuit school, he began considering the arguments used by Catholics to convince Calvinists that they were in error. On the basis of this,...

      (pp. 412-412)
      Richard H. Popkin

      Besides discussing and developing philosophical and scientific ideas and theories out of the Western philosophical and religious traditions, intellectuals from the latter part of the seventeenth century through the Enlightenment found that they had to confront and understand the worlds outside of Europe that had been discovered or with which Europeans had now established contact. Could all of these cultures fit within the accepted religious accounts? Did any of these cultures have kinds of knowledge and understanding that Europeans had not previously encountered? Did some or all of these cultures throw new light on the nature and destiny of Western...

      (pp. 412-421)

      In Europe during the Age of Reason, China was part of the panorama of newly found cultures and peoples that evoked wonderment. Eventually, the unique features of Chinese history, political structure, and philosophy set it apart. Understanding of China was dominated by the presuppositions of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Jesuit scholarship contributed to a quickening pace in the increase of knowledge about China in the second half of the seventeenth century, and European thinkers were challenged to reconsider many aspects of their own cultural and intellectual heritage. China played important roles in furthering religious scepticism, in fighting dogmatism, in the secularization...

  11. 6. Eighteenth-Century Philosophy
      (pp. 422-423)
      Richard H. Popkin

      At the start of the eighteenth century, three main intellectual trends dominated the philosophical world: the scepticism of Pierre Bayle and Bishop Huet, irreligious scepticism, and a new appreciation of the power of reason in the light of Isaac Newton’s achievements. We will begin this chapter with Newton (1642–1727), whose popular image played a great role in eighteenth-century thought. As Alexander Pope said, “Nature and nature’s mysteries lay hid in the night. / God said, let Newton be, and all was light.”

      Newton himself has turned out to be much more than simply a very brilliant scientist. The massive...

      (pp. 423-431)

      Our understanding of Newton’s views and his place in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century thought has been greatly changed by the availability of his private papers. After Newton’s death, his papers were given to his niece. In 1837, the papers—then belonging to the second Earl of Portsmouth, who had inherited them—were examined by Sir David Brewster. The first volume of Brewster’s Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton (1855) contains material “calculated to throw light on Newton’s early and academical life.” Volume 2 (1855), based upon a “collection of manuscripts and correspondence,” contains forty-six appendixes, with...

      (pp. 431-437)

      One of the most significant intellectual events of the early eighteenth century was the public confrontation between the two greatest mathematicians of the age: Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Beginning with a dispute concerning priority in the invention of the calculus, the Leibniz-Newton debate expanded into a broad-ranging disagreement over fundamental issues in natural philosophy and theology, culminating in Leibniz’s published exchange with Newton’s ally, the theologian Samuel Clarke (1675–1729).

      It is now generally agreed that Newton and Leibniz should be recognized as independent codiscoverers of the calculus. This conclusion was reached only very slowly, however, due to...

    • DEISM
      (pp. 437-445)

      John Leland’s influential A View of All the Principle Deistical Writers (2 volumes, 1754, 1755) shows that deism was founded by Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury and carried through to eighteenth-century intellectual culture by a lineage of radical English thinkers including Thomas Hobbes, Charles Blount (1654–1693), John Toland (1670–1722), Anthony Collins (1676–1729), Thomas Woolston (1670–1733), and Matthew Tindal (1657–1733). The thrust of Leland’s historical account is straightforward: “Deism” was fundamentally an English movement of ideas that denied the value of Christian revelation and promoted a naturalist understanding of religion, theology, and ethics. Deism, then, had...

      (pp. 445-452)

      George Berkeley (1685–1753) was born in Kilkenny, Ireland, and educated at Trinity College of the University of Dublin. He received several degrees from Trinity, was ordained to the Anglican priesthood there in 1710, and was elected a fellow of the college. In addition to serving the college in various functions including librarian, senior Greek lecturer, and Hebrew lecturer, he also traveled on the Continent as a tutor to a young aristocrat. During that time, in 1715 he met with perhaps the most able philosopher of his generation, Nicolas Malebranche. The philosophical works for which Berkeley is best known today...

      (pp. 452-454)

      In the American colonies in the early eighteenth century, there was interest in and concern with Berkeley’s ideas as well as with immaterialist metaphysics and theology. Two of the leading colonial American thinkers of the time, Samuel Johnson and his student Jonathan Edwards, developed forms of idealism, in Johnson’s case directly from Berkeley and in Edwards’s from Johnson and from reading Locke, the Cambridge Platonists, Malebranche, and perhaps Berkeley as well.

      Samuel Johnson (1696–1772), from Connecticut, studied at Yale and was then a tutor there and a minister. He broke with New England Puritanism and joined the Anglican church....

      (pp. 454-462)

      David Hume (1711–1776) was born into a minor Scottish noble family. He attended the University of Edinburgh until he was thirteen or fourteen. After a few unsuccessful attempts to find a career, and after an apparent nervous breakdown, he went to France in 1734 to write down a new perspective in philosophy that he believed he had discovered.

      Before he set forth for France, Hume seems to have had his own personal sceptical crisis, which he described in a letter he prepared for a doctor but never sent, speaking of his suffering from the “disease of the Learned” and...

      (pp. 462-471)

      During the eighteenth century, a new important philosophical outlook developed in France and then spread across Europe and to the American colonies. This outlook saw itself as liberated from the former restrictions of ideas by the church and the state. Influenced at the outset by the radical ideas about religion of Spinoza and the English deists and by Bayle’s sceptical critiques of all sorts of views, avant-garde thinkers in France began developing views very critical of religious knowledge claims and of the social and political authoritarian claims of the state. Further, the new empirical scientific ideas of Newton and his...

      (pp. 472-475)

      Christian Thomasius (1655–1728) and Christian Wolff (1679–1754) are sometimes characterized, in the words of Lewis White Beck, as “the two founders of the German enlightenment.” Both taught during a crucial period at the University of Halle, and both had a number of followers who developed the systems of their respective masters in different and often independent ways. In fact, the early part of eighteenth-century German philosophy was characterized largely by a feud between the “Wolf-fians” and the “Thomasians,” though this dispute was more theological than philosophical. The so-called Thomasians strongly opposed Wolff’s rationalist philosophy on religious grounds. As...

      (pp. 475-480)

      Moses Mendelssohn (1729–1786) was one of the most important of Kant’s contemporaries. Late in his life, he was viewed as the leader of the Enlightenment in Germany and as the most effective defender of the ideals of reason. Today, he is often characterized as one of the most important of the so-called popular philosophers and as the best representative of what some have called the Berlin Enlightenment. However, this view does not do justice to the subtleties of Mendelssohn’s philosophical position. He was far from typical among the German philosophers of the eighteenth century. Born the son of a...

      (pp. 480-486)

      Thomas Reid, the Scottish “Philosopher of Common Sense,” was born in 1710 and educated at Marischal College of the University of Aberdeen. He served as a church pastor and later Marischal College librarian before his appointment in 1751 as professor of philosophy at King’s College, Aberdeen. He was well acquainted with Newtonian science through his maternal uncle, David Gregory, a professor of astronomy at Oxford. In 1758, the Aberdeen Philosophical Society (the “Wise Club”) was formed and Reid’s presentations to that group evolved into his Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense (1764). Also in 1764,...

      (pp. 487-490)

      Turning back to intellectual events, we will see the situation in Germany in philosophy that prevailed just before, during, and immediately following the appearance of Kant’s philosophy.

      Today, Kant is seen as an antisceptical philosopher. Many philosophers believe that Kant is important just because he tried to refute scepticism. According to this view, Kant’s real problem and his overriding concern was with finding a refutation to scepticism. One might therefore assume that scepticism played a large role in the discussion of German philosophy before Kant, and that it had therefore a powerful, if negative, influence on Kant.

      But this is...

      (pp. 490-494)

      The Prussian Academy at Berlin nurtured the philosophical work of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century thinkers ranging from Leibniz and several of the Bernoullis through Maupertius, Lambert, La Mettrie, Voltaire, Leonhard Euler (1707–1783), d’Alembert, Jean Bernard Mérian (1723–1807), Condorcet, Mendelssohn, and Kant, and up to Alexander and Wilhelm Humboldt (1769–1859; 1767–1835), F. W. J. Schelling (1775–1884), Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834), Friedrich Savigny (1779–1861), Wilhelm Dilthey (1833–1911), and Leopold von Ranke (1795–1886). In the twentieth century, academy members included Albert Einstein (1879–1955), Erwin Schrödinger (1887–1961), and Max Planck (1858–1947). The academy was...

      (pp. 494-502)

      Immanuel Kant was born in Königsberg, Prussia, on April 22, 1724, and he remained in that area until his death on February 12, 1804. He went to a Pietist school and then studied philosophy, mathematics, science, and theology at the local university. His early works were primarily in the area of natural philosophy, but he also composed essays on metaphysics and in areas such as logic, ethics, and even aesthetics. A central concern with methodological issues became evident in his Investigations of the Clarity of the Principles of Natural Theology and Morals (1764) and his Dreams of a Spirit-Seer (1766)....

      (pp. 502-508)

      Kant said in the Prologemena to Any Future Metaphysics that all future philosophers would have to accept what he had done, or they would have to refute him (which he did not seem to think was possible). Nonetheless, as we shall see, at the time many thinkers fought against Kant or went beyond him. In contrast to the mainline Enlightenment figures who saw the application of reason and science as the way to understand nature and humanity, three figures offered what might be called anti-Enlightenment philosophy: Giambattista Vico (1668–1744), J. G. Hamann, and Johann Herder.

      Vico was born in...

      (pp. 508-515)

      During the Age of Reason, new theories were developed that form the basis for modern racism. Previously in Christian Europe, justifications for treating peoples of different groups as inferior were based primarily on religious considerations. Anti-Semitism existed already in the Roman Empire, which imposed special taxes on Jews because of their unwillingness to work or fight on the Sabbath or to recognize the gods of Rome. After the Christianization of the Roman Empire in the fourth century, severe restrictions were placed on Jewish communities because of their refusal to accept Jesus as the messiah. Systematic attempts to force Jewish conversion...

  12. 7. Nineteenth-Century Philosophy
      (pp. 516-517)

      The nineteenth century dawned as one of the greatest disruptions in European history was taking place. The effects of the French Revolution were felt everywhere, and Napoleon’s consequent invasions created turmoil from Russia in the east to England, Spain, Portugal, and Italy and had major effects in the German states, Scandinavia, and the Netherlands. The fall of the Napoleonic Empire in 1815 led to decades of attempts to restore European stability. The revolutions of 1848 and the drive to unify Germany and Italy further changed the societies of Europe. The Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871 led to the emergence of...

      (pp. 518-524)

      One of the most important and interesting results of the criticism of Kant’s philosophy in the 1780s and 1790s is the growth of neo-Humean scepticism. Prior to the publication of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason in May 1781, Hume was by no means a neglected figure in Germany. Many of his works had been reviewed by the leading journals, and he was admired for his urbane style and political wisdom. There were several important attempts to refute his scepticism, such as Moses Mendelssohn’s “Über die Wahrscheinlichkeit” and Johann Nicolaus Tetens’s Philosophischen Versuche (Philosophical essays; 1777), and there were even some...

    • The Flowering of Idealism
      • Johann Gottlieb Fichte
        (pp. 524-528)

        Fichte was born on May 19, 1762, in Rammenau in Saxony (in the eastern part of today’s Germany) to a family of only modest means. Through the support of local aristocratic benefactors, he received excellent schooling and attended the universities of Jena, Wittenberg, and Leipzig from 1780 to 1784, studying theology and law without taking a degree. From 1785 until 1793, he was a private tutor in several upper-class homes in Saxony, Prussia, and Switzerland. In 1790, having agreed to give private instruction in Kant’s philosophy, he studied the Critique of Pure Reason, the Critique of Practical Reason, and the...

      • F. W. J. Schelling
        (pp. 528-533)
        DALE E. SNOW

        Schelling came of age at a time when metaphysics was facing a daunting challenge from Kant, and he contributed extensively to the reaction to Kant that became known as German idealism. In the view of Hegel and his followers, Schelling’s importance ended here, as a necessary prelude to Hegel’s system. This assessment appears to have been borne out by the fact that his influence in the English-speaking world has until recently been based upon his early writings. Yet Schelling also explored the limits of idealism in his effort to rethink its possibilities, and his later writings reflect a growing awareness...

      • G. W. F. Hegel
        (pp. 533-541)

        Hegel is one of the few real philosophical giants. It has has been well said that he is a modern Aristotle. His deep learning in many fields, not only philosophy, provides his texts with an unusual encyclopedic character. His thought, like Kant’s, constitutes a peak of German idealism, a period often held to be one of the two richest in the philosophical tradition. Hegel’s life and times were shaped by the French Revolution, arguably the most important political event of the modern period. The post-Kantian German idealists—Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel—all came to maturity after the French Revolution, and...

    • The Turn from Idealism
      • Arthur Schopenhauer
        (pp. 542-546)

        Schopenhauer was born on February 22, 1788, into a wealthy Hanseatic merchant family in what was at the time the free city of Danzig (today’s Gdansk, Poland). In his youth and well into his later years he traveled extensively throughout Europe and lived in France, England, Italy, and Switzerland for extended periods of time. Brought up as the future head of the family firm, he was free to pursue academic studies only after his father’s sudden death (probably by suicide) in 1805, some twelve years after the family had moved to Hamburg. From 1809 until 1813 he went to university,...

      • Søren Kierkegaard
        (pp. 546-549)

        The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855) belongs to the history of German philosophy. With Ludwig Feuerbach and Marx, he is one of the explosively anti-Hegelian thinkers to emerge in the 1840s. Like Marx, he directs his critique both to the logical foundations and the sociocultural ramifications of the Hegelian system. By virtue of his critique of “the public,” “the crowd,” “the age,” and “Christendom,” he develops a non-Marxist, religiously based form of ideology critique.

        Though Kierkegaard’s strange kinship with Marx is only now gaining the attention it deserves, his equally striking linkage to Nietzsche has long been recognized. Since...

      • Ludwig Feuerbach
        (pp. 549-552)

        Ludwig Feuerbach, the German materialist philosopher and theologian, belonged to the Young Hegelians, a group of left-wing philosophers including Arnold Ruge (1802–1880), Marx, Engels, Bruno Bauer (1809–1882), and Edgar Bauer, and others who became active during the breakup of the Hegelian school following Hegel’s death in 1831. The Young Hegelians were characterized by their resistance to the theological reading of Hegel’s thought advanced by the more conservative, rightwing Old Hegelians, a revolutionary inclination in politics, and an interest in a materialist alternative to Hegelian idealism.

        Feuerbach, an uncle of the painter Anselm Feuerbach, was born in Landshut, Bavaria,...

      • Karl Marx
        (pp. 552-556)

        Karl Heinrich Marx, the German philosopher, social and economic theorist, and revolutionary socialist, was born into a middle-class family in Trier in 1818. Marx came from a long line of rabbis on both sides of the family. His father, a lawyer, converted with his family to Lutheranism to avoid losing his job when Marx was six. Marx began to study law in Bonn, where he spent one year before transferring to Berlin to study philosophy and history. There he came under the influence of Hegelianism and became deeply involved in the left-wing Young Hegelian movement. In 1841, he received a...

      (pp. 556-567)

      The nineteenth century can readily be called the century in which philosophy was forced to come to terms with change. The first half of the century was concerned largely with the political changes initiated by the French Revolution and with questions about the adequacy of the Enlightenment conception of reason in coping with such changes. In the second half of the century, we also see the effects of scientific change, of the industrial revolution, and of a more developed historical consciousness. The most startling change of all was the new awareness that nature itself evolves. Although the most radical theory...

    • FRANCE
      (pp. 567-575)

      It is fair to dispute whether the nineteenth century in France begins conceptually before or after the French Revolution. In other words, do the Ideologues—the leading philosophical figures of the turn of the century—still belong to the eighteenth century, or are they already a part of the nineteenth? The majority of them were born between 1745 and 1760, making them approximately thirty to forty years old by the time the Revolution began and ten years older still at the time of the coup d’etat of the eighteenth Brumaire, which gave power to Napoleon. Philosophically, they are the heirs...

      (pp. 575-587)

      Three philosophical influences were at work in Britain in 1800: Scottish common sense, English philosophic radicalism, and German idealism. In the first two thirds of the century, the two homegrown influences had the greater impact by far. They stemmed from philosophers who remain famous figures in the British tradition: Thomas Reid and Jeremy Bentham. But in the last third of the century, there was a dramatic change. Kant and Hegel suddenly came fully into their own, briefly dominated the British philosophical scene, and then fell to the anti-idealist reaction led by G. E. Moore and Bertrand Russell.

      The Scottish philosophy...

      (pp. 587-592)

      At the beginning of the century American philosophy was mainly derived from the Scottish common-sense thought of Thomas Reid and his followers, though Locke and French Enlightenment views had some influence. From around 1830 up to the end of the century, there was a new intellectual ferment in America resulting from the awareness of German philosophy from Kant onward and the adaptation of this outlook to the American intellectual, social, and political situation. The impact of German ideas occurred in two discrete parts of the United States—New England and Saint Louis—forming two distinct movements that interacted and brought...

      (pp. 592-600)

      Three doctrines are associated with American pragmatism in the late nineteenth century: that beliefs are hypotheses and ideas are plans of action; that ideas can be clarified by showing their relation to action; and that beliefs are true when they are successful guides for prediction and action. The first is a theory of mind, the second an account of meaning, and the third a theory of truth. Pragmatism can properly be taken to be any one or combination of these three. The common element is an emphasis on practice and action as opposed to what might be called theoretical considerations....

      (pp. 600-603)

      Dewey, the last major American pragmatist, had a career that lasted from the last decades of the nineteenth century through the first half of the twentieth century. During his lifetime he exerted considerable influence on philosophers, social scientists, and educators alike. Dewey was born in Burlington, Vermont, did his undergraduate studies at the University of Vermont, and received his Ph.D. from John Hopkins in 1884. He taught first at the University of Michigan (1884–1894), next at the University of Chicago (1894–1904), and finally at Columbia University (1904–1931). His first major work was in reforming education by emphasizing...

  13. 8. Twentieth-Century Analytic Philosophy
      (pp. 604-606)
      Avrum Stroll

      The history of twentieth-century analytic philosophy is marked by the rapidity with which major movements suddenly appear, flourish, lose their momentum, become senescent, and eventually vanish. Examples include idealism, in its absolutist and subjectist variants, sense-data theory, logical atomism, neutral monism, and logical positivism. There are, of course, exceptions to this pattern. In ontology, various forms of materialism continue to enjoy widespread support, and naturalized epistemology as developed by W. V. O. Quine and expanded by his followers shows no signs of abatement. Indeed, if anything, the tremendous prestige of science has intensified in the twentieth century. Scientism, which P....

      (pp. 606-610)
      Avrum Stroll

      From the time of classical Greece, logic has been recognized as a fundamental and important element of philosophy because nearly all of us, ordinary persons and scholars alike, engage in processes of reasoning about all sorts of topics. In legal trials, such reasoning is key in determining the guilt or innocence of a person charged with a crime. The matter is ultimately determined by logical reasoning: by finding supporting or disconfirming grounds for accepting or rejecting the charge. There is clearly a difference between good and bad reasoning, as bad reasoning can lead to invalid results, and in a legal...

      (pp. 610-613)
      Avrum Stroll

      It is, of course, obvious that arithmetic employs numbers and allows familiar operations on them, such as addition and subtraction. The natural numbers (positive integers) are derived from a set of five postulates developed by the Italian mathematician Giuseppe Peano in 1889. The postulates include such statements as: 1 is a number; the successor of any number is a number; no two numbers have the same successor. The negative integers are simple constructions from the positive integers, as are fractions, since they are simply combinations of integers. Russell and Whitehead realized that any arithmetic proposition is a consequence of Peano’s...

      (pp. 613-621)
      Avrum Stroll

      According to the theory of descriptions, we must draw a distinction between proper names and what Russell called “definite descriptions.” A definite description is a phrase containing the word “the” in the singular, and it can be used to mention, refer to, or pick out exactly one person, thing, or place. A proper name seems to have the same function as a definite description; it always picks out or denotes a particular individual, and the individual it picks out is its meaning. Thus, in the sentence, “Clinton is tall,” the term “Clinton” means the actual person, Clinton. Though definite descriptions...

      (pp. 621-629)
      Avrum Stroll

      Logical positivism is a radical form of scientism that holds that only the special sciences can make cognitively meaningful statements about the world. It rejects traditional philosophy, especially metaphysics, as at best a pseudo-science and at worst unintelligible; in either case, it is nonsense. Logical positivism asserts instead that philosophy should be restricted to the clarification and explanation of scientific theorizing. On this interpretation, philosophy is a second-order discipline, describing and articulating the essential principles of the first-order discipline: science. Logical positivism bases its outlook on the new logic as the provider of an ideal language and on the notion...

      (pp. 629-642)
      Avrum Stroll

      Previously known to only a small circle of scholars, Wittgenstein has, since his death in 1951, become the most celebrated philosopher of the century. At the personal level, he was like Socrates: austere, intensely self-critical, driven by a relentless dedication to philosophy, and possessed of a commanding presence that elicited reverence and awe in students and colleagues. Further, Socrates published nothing during his lifetime, and during his Wittgenstein published only the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus in 1921 and a short paper, “Logical Form,” in 1929. Wittgenstein’s international status rests mostly upon a legacy of posthumously published work. By 1994, about fifteen volumes...

      (pp. 642-647)
      Avrum Stroll

      Though Russell, Moore, and Wittgenstein lived through the Second World War, the great days of Cambridge philosophy were essentially finished by 1946. A new golden age arose in neighboring Oxford, where a prestigious collection of philosophers assembled: P. F. Strawson, James Urmson, Stuart Hampshire, Paul Grice, Anthony Quentin, David Pears, Michael Dummett, R. M. Hare, G. E. Anscombe, Isaiah Berlin, Brian McGuinness, and Geoffrey Warnock among them. The two most eminent and influential figures in this glittering assemblage were Gilbert Ryle and John L. Austin. Like Wittgenstein, both found the “other minds” puzzle a challenge, and each developed his own...

      (pp. 647-652)
      Avrum Stroll

      Contemporaneously with Austin and Ryle’s postwar developments, Karl Popper and W. V. O. Quine were changing the face of the philosophy of science. Though their views are in important respects wholly different, their works share a type of antifoundationalism. Both argue that there is no such thing as a first philosophy, such as found in Descartes, that serves as a foundation for all other knowledge. Instead, what we can describe as knowledge is constantly changing under the impact of scientific experiment and investigation. Both thus hold that in an important sense science is constantly pulling itself up by its bootstraps....

      (pp. 652-655)
      Avrum Stroll

      In 1947, Carnap’s Meaning and Necessity introduced the forgotten views of Fregean semantics to Western analytical philosophers. Despite Quine’s objections to Frege’s reliance upon such metaphysical or even mysterious entities as sinn, the Fregean philosophy of language gradually came to dominate the field. It slowly replaced Russell’s theory, which was frequently interpreted as a variant of Frege’s but as less consistent. Russell was partly responsible for this misconstrual of his system. He had initially drawn a sharp distinction between proper names and descriptions, in this respect holding a view something like Mill’s in A System of Logic except that Mill...

      (pp. 655-657)
      Avrum Stroll

      Davidson (1917–) and Searle (1932–) are among the most distinguished contemporary philosophers. Several books and conferences have been devoted to their work. Both have written extensively about a wide range of philosophical topics. Davidson, for example, has written on decision theory, action theory (his doctrine of anomalous monism is one of his most creative contributions), metaphor, aesthetics, metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of language. We will focus on his most important achievement, his theory of meaning.

      Searle’s contributions have been equally broad. He has written on issues in philosophy of language, especially on proper names and speech acts, on...

      (pp. 657-666)

      As mentioned earlier, the last quarter of the twentieth century has seen a profound shift in interest among analytical philosophers from questions about meaning and reference to questions about the human mind. To some degree, a similar change has occurred in the philosophy of perception. Such processes or states as thinking, judging, perceiving, believing, and intending are mental activities, and their products or objects—such as representations, meanings, judgments, beliefs, and visual images—are intimately tied to them. Philosophy of language, including the theory of reference, has thus, in effect, been absorbed into philosophy of mind. Concurrent with this change...

  14. 9. Twentieth-Century Continental Philosophy
      (pp. 667-675)

      The focus of contemporary European philosophy appears to confirm Karl Löwith’s judgment that the “true” nineteenth century is found in the thought of Karl Marx, Søren Kierkegaard, and Friedrich Nietzsche. The methodological basis of this judgment, however, lies in a phenomenological hermeneutics established in the early decades of the twentieth century by philosophers—above all Edmund Husserl (1859–1938) and Martin Heidegger (1889–1976)—who did not see the previous century in such terms. Marx, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche were virtually unknown to Husserl. Phenomenology, which came into its own between 1897 and 1913, arose instead from Husserl’s philosophical confrontations with...

      (pp. 675-681)

      The term “phenomenology” appeared in a minor role in eighteenth-century German thought (in the works of J. H. Lambert and Kant) but acquired a major role in Hegel’s early and enduring masterpiece, the Phenomenology of Spirit (1807). But its use to identify a major twentieth-century philosophical method, school, or tradition is traceable to Husserl, who developed his own sense of the term, independent of any of its previous uses. Husserl’s phenomenology has deeply influenced most of the subsequent important philosophers of Europe.

      Husserl received his doctorate in mathematics but also studied philosophy with Brentano, who was concerned with establishing a...

      (pp. 682-691)

      Heidegger is the most prominent and controversial figure in European philosophy in the twentieth century. Born in 1889 in Messkirch, Germany, Heidegger’s grammar-and secondary-school days were spent at Catholic boarding schools in preparation for a career in the clergy. In 1909, he began his studies at the University of Freiburg, first in theology and, after he gave up his plans to enter the priesthood in 1911, then in mathematics, the natural sciences, and philosophy. Hence, two main strands of influence in his early studies were Neo-Scholasticism, as represented by his teacher Carl Braig and his dissertation director Artur Schneider, and...

      (pp. 691-698)

      Our discussion of Continental philosophy of science is here limited in that philosophers who embrace analytic philosophy, logical positivism or logical empiricism, pragmatism, and Popperianism have been discussed above in chapter 8. The same is true for what Foucault and Derrida have contributed to philosophy of science, which is touched on below.

      Within this circumscribed field, then, the ideas of Pierre Duhem had a profound influence on a number of twentieth-century scholars. As a physicist, Duhem (1861–1916) focused on thermodynamics. Later, he turned to the history of astronomy and to physics, and his research there prepared him for his...

      (pp. 698-705)

      Existentialism enjoyed its vintage years immediately following the Second World War as a philosophical movement that attracted professional philosophers, creative artists, and the public at large. Not unlike “postmodernism” fifty years later, “existentialism” became a catch-all term for the cultural and artistic avant-garde and for radical critiques of universal principles and absolute values. In both cases, the expressions came to be so vague as to be almost meaningless and, except for one or two prominent figures, most of the leading philosophers commonly associated with each trend refused the appellation.

      The acknowledged father of French existentialism, Sartre personified French letters for...

      (pp. 705-712)
      G. B. MADISON

      Hermeneutical theory as elaborated in recent decades by Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900–) and Paul Ricoeur is usually referred to as “philosophical hermeneutics.” This is an altogether apt designation in that it points to the feature that serves principally to distinguish the approach taken to hermeneutics on the part of these two thinkers from that of earlier theorists. Earlier variants of hermeneutical theory—most notably those of Schleiermacher and Dilthey—are commonly referred to as “Romantic hermeneutics,” a tradition that has been carried on in the late twentieth century by the Italian scholar Emilio Betti and E. D. Hirsch, Jr., an...

      (pp. 712-721)

      During the twentieth century, many philosophers offered modern ways of conceiving our knowledge and understanding of God and our relation to the divine. From modern Thomists such as the French thinker Étienne Gilson to Protestants such as Paul Tillich and Jews such as Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas, new philosophical theories and insights were applied to the philosophy of religion.

      Philosophizing is theistic if it serves to illuminate a prephilosophic experience of theos (God), just as it is, for example, political if it so serves political experience. Among twentieth-century Continental philosophers, the quest to illuminate an experiential theos took three...

      (pp. 721-730)

      The term “Neo-Marxism” has many varied meanings. Here, it designates certain Western European—mainly idealistic—revisions of orthodox Marxist accounts of historical materialism, most famously articulated in the writings of Karl Kautsky, Georgi Plekhanov, and other thinkers associated with the Second and Third Internationals. The single most defining feature of orthodox (or so-called vulgar) Marxism is an economic determinism that postulates the inevitable collapse of capitalism and the imminent ascendence of the proletariat. Traces of deterministic thinking can be found in the mature writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels as well, but the degree of simplification and reduction is...

      (pp. 730-737)

      One of the areas to which twentieth-century Continental thought has been applied with important results is feminist philosophy. This aspect of philosophy got its crucial start in France, where it has continued to develop new theories and insights.

      We will focus here on three French thinkers who have arguably had the greatest influence on current feminist thought in the English-speaking world: Simone de Beauvoir, Luce Irigaray, and Julia Kristeva. The status of subjectivity and sexual identity has been discussed and problematized to one degree or another each of these thinkers. While this topic has been addressed by other well-known figures...

      (pp. 737-744)

      Many analytic philosophers in the academy of higher education have gone to great lengths to deny poststructuralist philosophers any degree of formal or ceremonial recognition, which ironically has attracted more attention to those philosophers and their concerns. This historical tendency was particularly well exemplified by the bitter disputes surrounding Cambridge University’s award of an honorary doctorate to Jacques Derrida in 1992. In spite of the overt attempts to dismiss poststructuralism from the realm of academic, analytic philosophy, there have been some substantial exchanges between analytic philosophers and poststructuralist philosophers. (See, for example, Derrida’s side of his 1972 debate with John...

      (pp. 745-754)

      “Continental philosophy” names a tradition of thought that has its origins in Europe, although that philosophy is not carried out exclusively on that continent. People who think within this tradition can be found in Japan, China, India, and Thailand, as well as in Mexico, Argentina, England, Canada, and the United States. It has its defining origins in the thought of Nietzsche, Husserl, and Heidegger, although many other philosophers contributed in major ways to its formation in the twentieth century. A primary part of its literature is found in readings of other philosophers such as Heraclitus, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Hegel,...

  15. Epilogue
    (pp. 755-756)

    The two chapters here on twentieth-century philosophy indicate how the course of philosophy looks to specialists in the area. Many new approaches and theories have been put forth and developed in various ways. At this point, it is hard to assess where we are and where we may be going in future philosophizing.

    There has been a tremendous divergence between the concerns and approaches of philosophers in the English-speaking world and those of the French and German worlds. Over the last half century, there has been fairly little contact between these philosophical worlds. In the United States, a kind of...

  16. Epilogue on the History of Philosophy
    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 757-758)

      The three chapters in this appendix deal with matters that do not really fit in the chronologically ordered structure of the rest of this volume. Nonetheless, each deals with a matter of much relevance. Constance Blackwell has been working on the history of the history of philosophy, making us realize that what we call “the history of philosophy” is an enterprise that itself has a history that goes back to the Renaissance; and in the form we usually meet it, it only goes back to the mid-eighteenth century. The development of histories of philosophy, as she shows, has greatly influenced...

      (pp. 758-765)

      Between 1430 and 1833, when Hegel’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy were first published, philosophers used the history of philosophy to define philosophy and to better philosophize themselves. The history of philosophy as a subject has been studied with renewed vigor since 1926. At this time, Emile Bréhier, in a seminal study introducing his Histoire de la philosophie, stated that he had developed a new methodology that rejected Hegelian constructs, as well as those inspired by Auguste Comte. In 1979, Giovanni Santinello wrote that he would not impose an “idea” on historical texts as post-Kantian philosophers have done in...

      (pp. 765-772)

      It was commonplace, during the past few decades, to encounter feminist writing that made a point about histories not being about the achievements of women. “History,” feminists complained, was just that: his story. History regularly overlooked “her story,” or more properly, the stories of women. Readers would read history and then draw the inference that women made no historical mark; that anything of real importance was done by males. In philosophy, that assumption has been pervasive, and despite overwhelming evidence that it is false, it persists. I will attempt here to explain why that assumption has persisted, and to make...

      (pp. 772-778)

      Many current philosophers see no reason to study the history of philosophy. The number of courses in the subject in most English and American universities has declined steadily in the last half century. The knowledge of the history of philosophy required in most graduate programs in philosophy has diminished greatly. Many philosophical practitioners decry the teaching of a litany of dead or false theories. Instead, they want to deal only with what they consider true philosophies. For many, the history of philosophy is seen as “a brief introduction to the history of human stupidity,” which lasted until Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein,...

  17. Index of Names
    (pp. 779-800)
  18. Index of Subjects
    (pp. 801-836)