By Frederick Copleston
Conceived initially as a significant presentation of the advance of philosophy for Catholic seminary scholars, Frederick Copleston's nine-volume A historical past Of Philosophy has journeyed a long way past the modest function of its writer to common acclaimas the easiest heritage of philosophy in English.
Copleston, an Oxford Jesuit of substantial erudition who as soon as tangled with A.J. Ayer in a fabled debate concerning the life of God and the potential of metaphysics, knew that seminary scholars have been fed a woefully insufficient vitamin of theses and proofs, and that their familiarity with such a lot of history's nice thinkers was once diminished to simplistic caricatures. Copleston got down to redress the incorrect by means of writing an entire heritage of Western philosophy, one crackling with incident and highbrow pleasure - and person who offers complete position to every philosopher, offering his suggestion in a fantastically rounded demeanour and exhibiting his hyperlinks to those that got here after him.
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Additional resources for A History of Philosophy, Volume 4: Modern Philosophy: From Descartes to Leibniz
True, he often expresses in. psychological terms questions and answers which would be expressed in a different w a y even b y those who accept him as being in some sense their 'master'. B u t this does not affect the fact that he is one of those philosophers whose thought is a living force in contemporary philosophy. 4. It is in the seventeenth rather than in the eighteenth century that we see the most vigorous manifestation of the impulse to systematic philosophical construction which owed so much to the 43 A HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY—IV new scientific outlook.
But there was another side to Renaissance science besides its use of mathematics. For scientific progress was also felt to depend very largely 011 attention to empirical data and on the use of controlled experiment. Appeal to authority and to tradition was ousted in favour of experience, of reliance on factual data and on the empirical testing of hypotheses. And although we cannot account for the rise of British empiricism merely in terms of the conviction that scientific advance was based on actual observation of the empirical data, the development of the experimental method in the sciences naturally tended to stimulate and confirm the theory that all our knowledge is based on perception, on direct acquaintance with internal and external events.
It is seen to be true in itself, this truth being logically antecedent to experience even though, from the psychological point of view, we may come to an explicit perception of its truth only on the occasion of experience. According to Leibniz, such truths are prefigured, in some undetermined sense, in the mind's structure, even though they are not known explicitly from the first moment of consciousness. They are, therefore, virtually rather than actually innate. But a belief in self-evident principles is not sufficient by itself to characterize the continental metaphysicians of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.