Professor Errol E. Harris, past-President of The Hegel Society of America, accepted the invitation of the Philosophy Department of Villanova University to occupy their Chair of Christian Philosophy for the 1982 spring semester. The following paper was presented as his inaugural address to that department.
Spinoza's writings on metaphysics, ethics, and politics have had a remarkably diverse reception in recent times and have contributed to the current dialogue among philosophers, intellectual historians, and literary theorists. Errol E. Harris has written a brief and simplified introductory presentation of the major branches of Spinoza's philosophy. Spinoza's ideas are put forward in plain language and supported by convincing argument. Technicalities are either clearly explained or entirely avoided. Professor Harris also shows the student how Spinoza succeeded (...) in reconciling the insights of both the British empiricists and the continental rationalists. (shrink)
Harris offers his unique interpretation of Spinoza as a dialectical thinker and addresses other commentators' misunderstandings of some of Spinoza's primary principles. The opening chapters discuss Spinoza's metaphysics and epistemology, the problem of relating finite to infinite in his system, the infinity of the attributes of substance, human nature and the body-mind relation, politics, and religion. The latter part of the book addresses Spinoza's influence on later philosophers and their interpretations of his doctrine. In the course of his discussion, (...)Harris stresses Spinoza's holism and its implication both within and beyond Spinoza's own writings. (shrink)
In his review of Phillip Grier’s anthology, Dialectic and Contemporary Science, Darrel Christensen expresses his regret that I “did not find occasion… to give more attention… to the sorts of well-informed and pointed criticism that E. McMullin raised.. in ‘Is the Progress of Science Dialectical?’” In that book it would hardly have been possible or appropriate, for me to have done so, because I did not write it, and although the editor invited me to respond to the authors who contributed, (...) Ernan McMullin was not one of them. The paper to which Christensen refers was presented to the first meeting of the Hegel Society of America in 1970, at which I was present; but after so long an interval of time I cannot now remember if or how, I responded to it. So far as my recollection serves, my own paper, although distributed to those attending the meeting, was not read and was not fully discussed. So there may well be some need for taking up Christensen’s challenge, even at this late hour. (shrink)
1 My first teacher of philosophy, at what is now Rhodes University in South Africa, was Arthur R. Lord, a man who deserves to be well known, though today few people will ever have heard of him. He was himself a pupil of J.A. Smith and E.F. Carritt at Oxford in the early years of this century, during the heyday of British Idealism. In 1911 he won the Green Moral Philosophy Prize with a voluminous dissertation on the passions, which I (...) read in typescript when I was a student, but which was never published and disappeared after his death in 1940. (shrink)
Harris elucidates the important philosophical implications of the Anthropic Principle. Tracing the continuous development of the principle from physics through biology and psychology, he examines the case for the thesis that intelligent life is necessarily involved from the very beginning of physical reality and that the entire process of natural evolution comes to consciousness of itself in the human mind.
This sequel to the highly acclaimed Cosmos and Anthropos demonstrates the impact on social, ethical, and theological doctrines of the twentieth-century scientific revolution, particularly the Anthropic Principle. Harris reviews the main arguments put forward in the Western philosophical tradition for the existence of God, as well as the critique of those arguments, and shows that the conflict between religion and science since the seventeenth century has resulted more from the implications of the Copernican-Newtonian scientific paradigm than from any insuperable (...) divergence of dogma or ultimate aim. (shrink)
This is an English translation of Schelling's Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature, one of the most significant works in the German tradition of philosophy of nature and early nineteenth-century philosophy of science. It stands in opposition to the Newtonian picture of matter as constituted by inert, impenetrable particles, and argues instead for matter as an equilibrium of active forces that engage in dynamic polar opposition to one another. In the revisions of 1803 Schelling incorporated this dialectical view into a (...) neo-Platonic conception of an original unity divided upon itself. The text is of more than simply historical interest: its daring and original vision of nature, philosophy, and empirical science will prove absorbing reading for all philosophers concerned with post-Kantian German idealism, for scholars of German Romanticism, and for historians of science. (shrink)
The Coherence Theory of Truth does not stand upon its own feet; it is the corollary of a metaphysic, without which it has no claim to credence and is without cogency. Likewise, no critique of the theory can have weight against it if it merely assumes an incompatible metaphysic which it does not validate and unless it can demonstrate the falsity of that on which the Coherence Theory rests. If metaphysics is simply a matter of taste and temperament discussion and (...) criticism become futile, but that metaphysics is simply a matter of taste and sentiment is an exploded doctrine. It can obviously not be maintained because it rests upon a metaphysic in its turn, for it follows from the belief that the world and the human mind are such that we can acquire knowledge of facts originally only through particular sense impressions which can never by their nature convey to us ultimate general truths about reality. This is a metaphysical presupposition and is thus incompetent to extrude metaphysics from the sphere of rational knowledge. (shrink)
Following kant, idealists establish the transcendental unity of the subject as the prior condition of experience of objects. this is necessarily all-inclusive and the finite self becomes one of its phenomena, which cannot be identified with the transcendental ego, nor yet be wholly divorced from it. this is the basis of kant's paralogism of reason. t h green, f h bradley and edmund husserl are all victims of this paralogism, each in his own way. green fails to avoid it by (...) identifying the transcendental subject with the divine spiritual principle; bradley, admitting the problem's insolubility, propounds an incoherent theory of finite centers of experience; and husserl's device of 'mundanization' proves illegitimate and ambiguous under inspection. (shrink)
One of Kant’s major contributions to modern philosophy was the recognition that genuine knowledge is never a mere patchwork of items of information, whether gathered from empirical sources or from intellectual, whether inductively inferred or deductively derived from first principles. “If each and every single representation were completely foreign, isolated and separate from every other,” he declared, “nothing would ever arise such as knowledge, which is a whole of related and connected elements.” Of this fact, Hegel was unshakably convinced. “The (...) Truth,” he maintained, “is the whole”; but it is no undifferentiated, featureless whole, no Schellingian night in which all cows are black. “The true form in which the truth exists can only be the scientific system itself”. (shrink)
A revival of interest in Hegel is long overdue. Both the Analytic movement and the post-World War II access of interest in Existentialism resulted from a reaction against Hegelian idealism, but disagreement with a philosopher’s theories is no good reason for neglecting to study them - in fact, to disagree without knowledge is to risk serious error, and to criticize without understanding is merely to reveal lack of scholarship. It is therefore all to the good that attention should be drawn (...) to Hegel’s writings, and Prof. Weiss has chosen an interesting way of doing this by writing a brief commentary on Hegel’s treatment, in the Lectures on the History of Philosophy, of Aristotle’s De Anima. This portion of Hegel’s writing is especially crucial for the understanding of his philosophy, for not only is he strongly influenced by Aristotle’s thought and, in a sense, himself the Aristotle of post-renaissance philosophy, but the conception of Mind or Spirit is the key notion of Hegel’s system, as ‘Ousia’ is that of Aristotle’s. Aristotle identifies this ultimately with pure activity, the realization of all potentiality, which is pure form without matter, the activity of God and of active reason in man; and this may be likened to Hegel’s Absolute Spirit. (shrink)
The term ‘Empiricism’ has had at least two different, though not unconnected, applications in modern thought, one to scientific method and the other to philosophical theory. My intention in this lecture is to try to show that, while these two applications of the term have a common source, their actual referents are widely divergent and in large measure even mutually incompatible.
There has been much discussion, one way and another, in recent philosophy, of what has come to be known as ‘the transcendental turn’. Apart from allegations of parallelism between Kant and Wittgenstein, there is the whole development of Phenomenology and Existentialism which relates to this issue. Husserl’s philosophy as a whole centres upon the phenomenological reduction, or epoche, which establishes the ultimate and irreducible nature of the transcendental subject, the primary constituting source of all conscious experience. This again has been (...) criticized by Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, who seek to substitute for the transcendental Ego a more ambiguous existential being-in-the-world to bridge the antithesis between the in-itself and the for-itself. (shrink)
Not unexpectedly, the October meeting of the Society at The Pennsylvania State University proved to be most enjoyable. The host institution, known for many years as a center of Hegelian scholarship, provided the Society with every opportunity and facility for the success of its meeting. The modern conference center, and its staff, was efficient without any sacrifice of cordiality. Certainly every member who attended the meeting and there were about one hundred, will recall the pleasant reception and banquet - both (...) of which were held in the attractive Nittany Lion Inn. Professor Joseph Kockelmans, as local chairman, has earned the gratitude of the Society. The book-display, organized by Kevin M. Clark, was both extensive and informative. (shrink)
There is a sense in which the philosophy of religion is the consummation and the final fruition of the whole of Hegel’s system of philosophy. It could not be superseded except by “the philosophy of philosophy” and that is the system as a whole. It is not without significance that Hegel embarked on these lectures late in his career and after he had thought out and publishd the entire system in two distinct forms, the Phenomenology and the Encyclopedia. And in (...) dealing with the philosophy of religion Hegel is, perhaps, at his best. His style is more lucid and understandable than anywhere else in the corpus of his writings, certainly much more so than in the Phenomenology, and the theory he unfolds rounds off and completes his entire doctrine, confirming his view that not only is religion essential to philosophy, but that essentially, and in the last resort, they are one and the same. To have at our disposal a good translation of this work into English is, therefore, of inestimable value and is long overdue. This is unquestionably a good translation, well and clearly set out, voluminously documented as to its various sources, leaving virtually nothing to be desired. (shrink)
To include Hegel as a process philosopher is not common, but is perfectly correct. Becoming, the unity of Being and Nothing, is the pervading principle of the dialectic, which, Hegel assures us, is in its turn “the principle of all movement, all life and all activity in the actual world”. The revival of Hegel studies in America and Britain is well under way and process studies have persisted healthily ever since the heyday of Whitehead, but this book is the first (...) attempt, to my knowledge, to bring the two together and to establish their unity of outlook. The attempt may cause some process philosophers a degree of unease, because Hegel has so long been misunderstood as advocating an Absolute exclusive of all but apparent movement and change; and some still do similarly misunderstand Whitehead as rejecting all ultimate wholeness and finality. A book which corrects these errors and stresses the similarity and close parallelism between the thought of these two great philosophers is to be welcomed. (shrink)
The resignation from the editorship of the Owl by Frederick Weiss is news that will be received with much regret by all members of the Hegel Society and with dismay by quite a few. Under Rick’s direction the Owl has become something more than a simple news letter. Rather, I think we may claim that it is a distinguished and much valued organ of Hegelian studies in America and elsewhere, even despite its modest dimensions. From this source we have had (...) news, not only of the Society and its members, but of everything of interest and concern to Hegelian scholarship; and not only news, but also views and opinions about current literature and translations from the foremost Hegelian shcolars. Just how important a publication the paper has become was immediately felt when Rick’s predicament that led to his resignation resulted in a back-log and delays in the appearance of the newsletter. The Society’s Treasurer was at once inundated with inquiries about, and anxious requests for, forthcoming numbers, both from Libraries and from individuals. (shrink)
An adequate review of a work as large and as complex as Dr. Petry’s translation of Hegel’s Naturphilosophie would need to perform at least three tasks. It should critically assess his account of Hegel’s development and philosophical system given in the long introduction; it should comment on the faithfulness and adequacy of the translation of the text, and it should estimate the value of the voluminous notes and commentary. So stupendous an accomplishment as Dr. Petry’s warrants a longer and more (...) detailed discussion than this reviewer can undertake, limited as he is in competence and the availability of space and time. But some attempt, even if too brief to be satisfactory, will be made to fulfill all three of the above tasks. This is the second full length translation of the Naturphilosophie that has appeared in English within a year - after nearly two centuries of complete dearth. So there is also some call for comparison between Dr. Petry’s translation and that of A. V. Miller, and so far as this can be done at all here, it will be only very partial and only when needed to throw light on special issues. (shrink)
No author could fail to be grateful for so considerate and thoughtful a review of his book as Professor di Giovanni has written of mine in the Spring 1985 Owl, with its generous praise in the first paragraph. But I am somewhat bewildered by his description of my interpretation of Hegel as “foreign.” To whom is it foreign? I ask myself. Clearly, from what di Giovanni says, it is not foreign to the British idealists and their epigoni. Is it foreign (...) to Americans, and if so, to which? Is it foreign to Germans? - surely not to such as Rudiger Bubner, with whom I usually find myself in close agreement. Is it foreign to Hegel? - if so, then I have certainly failed in my avowed purpose. (shrink)