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History of Western Philosophy, Misc

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From september onwards I'll be teaching a course on epistemology at secondary school level. The approach to epistemology that I have to take (because of curricular demands) is mostly historical, starting with some Ancient philosophers (Plato, Aristotle), skipping the Middle Ages, and ending with Modern philosophy from Descartes to Kant.

I tend to think that the importance of the views espoused by all these historical thinkers lies not in the veracity of their theories, for clearly some things said by Plato or Locke are most likely false. Furthermore the questions they tend to concern themselves with appear in part to have moved over from philosophy to psychology which give them the appearance of unfounded armchair speculation. Rather in my opinion it is only against the background of the broader scientific developments during the time of these philosophers that we can begin to appreciate their significance. However I feel ill-equiped to talk about this background, because I simply don ... (read more)


Reply to NDPR review of Benner, Machiavelli’s Ethics.

Posted on May 5, 2010 by dikaiosis

My book Machiavelli’s Ethics was recently reviewed by Cary J. Nederman in the Notre Dame Philosophical Review. Here is the review:

Nederman published a book on Machiavelli (Machiavelli: A Beginner’s Guide, Oneworld Publications, March 2009) a few months before mine came out. Since our aims and approaches are very different, disagreements are to be expected. However, the review also contains some serious misrepresentations of my arguments. As the NDPR does not have a policy of publishing authors’ replies to reviews, I try to set the record (partly) straight here.    (Comments welcome)

1. Nederman thinks that I deal in an unjustifiably selective way with recent Machiavelli scholarship. He writes, “the way in which the preceding literature is or is not brought to bear on the arguments of this book has, in my opinion, the effect of distorting the record and, at times, of ... (read more)

 I want to invite people’s ideas about the relationship between Platonic philosophy and modern philosophical “idealisms.” I’d also be interested in any comments that people might have about the ramifications of Platonism and “Idealism” in modern literature, in writers like Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley, Yeats, Rilke, Woolf, Eliot and so forth.

 For purposes of division of labor, much scholarly investigation of Plato and his successors and of the modern “idealists” (Berkeley, Kant, Hegel, Bradley, Royce, and so forth) treats the two traditions separately. But they overlap a great deal in substance, and I think that considering what they have in common can do a lot to illuminate the doctrines of each. It might in fact help us to identify a core thought, underlying the two traditions, that’s not just of historical interest but true.

 I regularly put “idealism” in scare quotes because it’s not at all clear what the common thesis of “idealism” as such is supposed to be. We have “subjective ... (read more)

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I've recently discovered this site and I think it's superb. I've been reading philosophy for a few years now, and some of it is beginning to make sense. I read the two volumes of Karl Popper's The Open Society and its Enemies a while ago and I'd like to ask anybody who might be interested a couple of things. Does anybody agree with Popper's attack on Plato - an attack that boils down to claiming that Plato set out the blueprint for totalitarianism? If not, has anyone any thoughts on Popper's motivations for attacking Plato in this way? Does anybody think that the attack is grossly unfair? I don't know enough about Plato or Popper to draw anything like a satisfactory conclusion, so I'd be very interested to know what other people think.

Latest replies:
  • Guy Schultz, 2009-10-21 : Well I've read the first volume on Plato - a number of years ago - and though by no means am I an expert on these ma... (read more)
  • Gary Geck, 2009-11-16 : Since you are asking what people think, i will give you my opinion which is I think that Popper's disagreements ... (read more)
  • Gary Geck, 2009-11-19 : After posting the above, I came across a paper by Dr. Greg Moses titled _By the Dog of Egypt!_ (1996, Presented at SUNY... (read more)
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