By Frederick Copleston
Conceived initially as a significant presentation of the improvement of philosophy for Catholic seminary scholars, Frederick Copleston's nine-volume A background Of Philosophy has journeyed a ways past the modest function of its writer to common acclaimas the simplest 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 in regards to the lifestyles 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 so much of history's nice thinkers used to be lowered to simplistic caricatures. Copleston got down to redress the incorrect via writing a whole heritage of Western philosophy, one crackling with incident and highbrow pleasure - and person who offers complete position to every philosopher, proposing his inspiration in a superbly rounded demeanour and exhibiting his hyperlinks to people who got here after him.
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Extra info for A History of Philosophy, Volume 4: Modern Philosophy: From Descartes to Leibniz
In England David Hartley (1705-57) tried to explain man's mental life with the aid of the principle of association of ideas, combined with the theory that our ideas are faint copies of sensations. He also tried to explain man's moral convictions with the aid of the same principle. And, in general, those moralists who started by assuming that man seeks b y nature simply his own interest, in particular his own pleasure, used the principle to show how it is possible for man to seek virtue for its own sake and to act altruistically.
In accordance with his regular programme he asks from what impression or impressions is our idea of causality derived. And he answers that all that we observe is constant conjunction. When, for example, A is always followed by B, in such a way that when A is absent B does not occur and that when B occurs it is, as far as we can ascertain empirically, always preceded by A, we speak of A as the cause and of B as the effect. To be sure, the idea of necessary connection also belongs to our idea of causality.
In general, we find among the writers of the French Enlightenment either an insistence on constitutionalism, as with Montesquieu, or the hope for an enlightened ruler, as with Voltaire. But in both cases the inspiration of and admiration for British political life is evident, though Voltaire was more impressed by freedom of discussion than b y representative government. Locke had maintained the doctrine of natural rights, that is to say, the natural rights of individuals, which are not derived from the State and cannot legitimately be abolished b y the State.