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

By Frederick Copleston

Conceived initially as a significant presentation of the improvement of philosophy for Catholic seminary scholars, Frederick Copleston's nine-volume A historical past Of Philosophy has journeyed a long way past the modest goal of its writer to common acclaim because the most sensible background 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 life of God and the opportunity of metaphysics, knew that seminary scholars have been fed a woefully insufficient diet of theses and proofs, and that their familiarity with such a lot of history's nice thinkers was once reduced to simplistic caricatures. Copleston set out to redress the incorrect by way of writing an entire heritage of Western philosophy, one crackling with incident and intellectual pleasure -- and one who offers full place to every philosopher, proposing his inspiration in a beautifully rounded demeanour and exhibiting his links to those that went ahead of and to people who came after him.

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

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Example text

But this does not prevent Mill from presenting the sixth book, which deals with the logic of the moral sciences, as an application to them of the experimental method of the physical sciences. ' If it is asked whether Mill's point of view is that of an empiricist, the answer obviously depends to a great extent on the meaning which is given to this term. As Mill himself uses the term, he is not, or at any rate does not wish to be, an empiricist. Thus in the System of Logic he speaks of 'bad generalization a posteriori or empiricism properly so called' " as when causation is inferred from casual conjunction.

2. So I). BRITISH EMPIRICISM on the one hand we have a logic of consistency, on the other hand a logic of discovery. In reality, however, the situation is much more complicated than this preliminary account suggests. ' It is indeed obvious that to concede the major and minor premisses and deny the conclusion would involve one in logical inconsistency. But Mill sometimes speaks as though to assume the truth of the major premiss is to assume the truth of the conclusion in such a way that to know the truth of the major is already to know the truth of the conclusion.

It is indeed obviously true that he would choose to work for an excessive length of time, if the alternative were to starve. But it by no means follows that he would not choose to work for shorter hours, provided that the reduction were universally enforced by law. And in enacting such a law the legislator would be acting for the good of the worker and in accordance with his real desire. Given his belief in the value of voluntary associations and of initiative uncontrolled by the State, together with his rooted mistrust of bureaucracy, Mill would hardly take kindly to the idea of the so-called Welfare State.

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