By Frederick Copleston

Conceived initially as a major 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 objective of its writer to common acclaim because the top background of philosophy in English.

Copleston, an Oxford Jesuit of huge 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 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 incorrect by means of writing a whole heritage of Western philosophy, one crackling with incident and intellectual pleasure -- and person who offers full place to every philosopher, proposing his idea in a beautifully rounded demeanour and exhibiting his links to those that went earlier than and to people who came after him.

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

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

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II, pp. I48-g (II, 3, 24, 4). I Ibid. BRITISH EMPIRICISM 60 nature, as it would be of the imaginary ones assumed in the definitions. ' For example, it is not true that a line as defined by the geometer can exist. But it does not follow that the geometer intuits some peculiar mathematical entity. When he defines the line as having length but not breadth, he is deciding, for his own purposes, to ignore the element of breadth, to abstract from it, and to consider only length. Hence both axioms and postulates are derived from experience.

To pretend that it violates the worker's freedom to work for as many hours as he likes is absurd. 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.

And as the inference is invalid unless the conclusion is precontained in the premisses, no new truth can be discovered in this way. Syllogistic reasoning can ensure logical consistency in thought. For example, if someone speaks in such a way as to show that he is really asserting both that all X's are Y and that a particular X is not Y, we can employ the forms of syllogistic reasoning to make clear to him the logical inconsistency of his thought. But no new truth is, or can be, discovered in this way.

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