The controversy in the American Philosophical Association between the analysts and the pluraliste, a controversy initiated by the so-called pluraliste, invites philosophers to explore the meanings of pluralism in philosophy. Toward this public end I propose the present modest sketch of the history of pluralism.
Stressing the immediacy of Being, Hegel placed it categorially first in his logic. But the immediacy of Being, its presence no matter which content or lack of content be presented, signals a purity which ironically deprives it of every specific reality. Hence Hegel emphasized that Being, immediate and pure, is vacuous and collapses into Nothing. Extending a philosophical argument derived from Parmenides and Plato, Hegel further inferred Becoming from the dialectic of Being and Nothing, as though with static concepts he (...) could create the concrete flux. (shrink)
REASON AND REVOLUTION, to which Henry F. May has called attention in his noteworthy book, The Enlightenment in America, mentioned in the first article in the present series, marks the period of American colonial history from 1763 to 1776. The Declaration of Independence, I have maintained, is a consummate expression of these Enlightenment features, influenced by the thought of John Locke and others in philosophy. From cautious moderation the American movement of protest against British rule climaxed in a revolution. The (...) dynamic structure of the epoch unfolded as a kind of sorites, of which the major premises are a general philosophy of rights and a particular theory of the British Empire, the minor premises are numerous allegedly factual violations of these theoretical premises, and the conclusion is a decisive act of separation or independence. Since, however, the Enlightenment mode of revolution rested, to reiterate May's statement, on "the belief in the possibility of constructing a new heaven and earth out of the destruction of the old," the moment in history expressed by the Declaration of Independence logically leads to other moments, one of which is the formation of the American republic as both a federal and national union. This singular moment is crystallized in the Constitution of the United States, a document equal in importance to the Declaration of Independence as a symbol of the Enlightenment. (shrink)
This book is offered to "college students" and "other interested readers" as "an aid to rediscover America in its moral, religious and intellectual dimensions". The author concentrates on what he deems were "the major moral and religious problems which interested our forefathers...: the problem of the nature of God and his relation to the world, the problem of the form and content of morality, the problem of how we become enlightened about the things we claim to know, and the problem (...) of the nature and importance of human freedom". The method the author employs is not, however, to examine these topics as they unfold throughout 18th and 19th century American thought, but to explore in depth the thinking of three major figures: Jonathan Edwards, Thomas Jefferson, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. The approach to each of these thinkers is mainly appreciative and expository, with generous excerpts from their writings quoted in the text, although there is a respectable measure of illuminating interpretation and thoughtful criticism. (shrink)