A History of Philosophy [Vol VIII]. Modern philosophy, by Frederick Copleston

By Frederick Copleston

Conceived initially as a significant 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 goal of its writer to common acclaim because the most sensible heritage of philosophy in English.

Copleston, an Oxford Jesuit of mammoth erudition who as soon as tangled with A. J. Ayer in a fabled debate concerning the lifestyles of God and the potential for metaphysics, knew that seminary scholars have been fed a woefully insufficient diet of theses and proofs, and that their familiarity with so much of history's nice thinkers was once reduced to simplistic caricatures. Copleston set out to redress the inaccurate by way of writing a whole historical past of Western philosophy, one crackling with incident and intellectual pleasure -- and person who provides full place to every philosopher, providing his notion in a beautifully rounded demeanour and displaying his links to those that went earlier than and to those that came after him.

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

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Extra resources for A History of Philosophy [Vol VIII]. Modern philosophy, empiricism, idealism, and pragmatism in Britain and America

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In other words, the gap between deductive and inductive inference is diminished. But there is more to come. Mill admits that there are cases in which syllogistic reasoning constitutes the whole process of reasoning from premisses to conclusion. These cases occur, for example, in theology and in law, when the major premiss is derived from the appropriate authority, and not by inductive inference from particular cases. Thus a lawyer may receive his major premiss, in the form of a general law, from the legislator and then argue that it applies or does not apply in some particular case or set of circumstances.

We have never come across a case which would refute a mathematical axiom; and the operation of the laws of association is quite sufficient to explain our belief in the necessity of such axioms. In the general class of 'original premisses' Mill makes a distinction between axioms and the postulates involved in definitions. Axioms are exactly true. 'That things which are equal to the same thing are equal to one another, is as true of the lines and figures in 1 Loqic, I, p. 165 (I, I, 8, 5). , I, p.

8 But though Mill may find himself in agreement with Whewel1 when it is a question of attacking Stewart's idea that the theorems of Euclidean geometry are deduced from definitions, agreement immediately ceases when it is a question of our knowledge of the first principles of mathematics. According to Whewell these first principles are self-evident, underived from experience and known intuitively. They constitute examples of a priori knowledge. And this is a position which Mill is unwilling to accept.

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