An examination of the contemporary Italian movement associated with M. P. Sciacca, and the serious application of dialectical and phenomenological methods to unveil the structure of "intentionality" or "spirit." An appraisal of Sciacca together with a sample critique of Dante follows a competent summary of the prevailing positions.--D. B. B.
In the introductory chapter of his essay on Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill says his aim is to contribute towards the understanding of utilitarianism and towards ‘such proof as it is susceptible of’. He immediately adds that ‘this cannot be proof in the ordinary and popular meaning of the term’ because ‘ultimate ends are not amenable to direct proof’. A proof that something is good has to show that it is ‘a means to something admitted to be good without proof’. But, (...) he goes on, this does not imply that a formula of ultimate ends can only be accepted on ‘blind impulse, or arbitrary choice’. It can be rationally discussed and subjected to proof in a wider sense of that word. ‘Considerations may be presented capable of determining the intellect either to give or withhold its assent to the doctrine; and this is equivalent to proof.’. (shrink)
Everybody supports freedom—even authoritarians, though what they call freedom looks suspiciously like bondage. Rousseau begins The Social Contract with a flourish: ‘Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.’ He ends up by trying to persuade us that the chains, the restraints of law and organized society, are necessary for true freedom. He wants us to believe that true freedom, the freedom essential for human existence, is not the happy-go-lucky freedom of Liberty Hall, do as you like, but (...) the straight and narrow path of duty, of conformity to law. The universal popularity of the idea of freedom does not mean that everybody is really agreed about it. Plato, Rousseau, Hegel and his followers—they all talk of a true or genuine freedom, but they oppose this to Liberty Hall, to doing as you please. (shrink)
What darkness was the ‘Enlightenment’ supposed to have removed? The answer is irrational forms of religion. Most of the ‘enlightened’ took the view that revealed religion was irrational and that natural religion could be rational; but some were sceptical about natural religion too. Hume was the most honest and the most penetrating thinker of the latter group. His biographer, Professor E. C. Mossner, is not alone in believing that the Dialogues concerning Natural Religion is ‘his philosophical testament’.
We hear nowadays in literary criticism of a type of novel that is an ‘anti-novel’ and of a type of hero who is an ‘anti-hero’. I recently read an article which argued, rather well in my opinion, that the later philosophy of Wittgenstein is an anti-philosophy. One could say the same of the philosophie positive of Auguste Comte, who is often called the father of sociology. The principle with which Comte starts off his philosophy, ‘the fundamental law of mental development’, (...) would put an end to philosophy as traditionally conceived, and would replace it by science. According to Comte, human inquiry goes through three stages. In the first stage, the theological or fictive, men try to give explanations in terms of supernatural beings. At the second stage, the metaphysical or abstract, theological explanation has given way to explanation in terms of abstract entities such as Absolute Motion or Absolute Justice. In the third stage, the scientific or positive, metaphysical explanations have given way to scientific explanations, that is to explanations which do not refer to any unobservable entities but instead simply correlate observable phenomena with each other. This is a picture of intellectual history in which philosophy takes the place of theology and then science takes the place of philosophy. (shrink)
Professor Maurice Cranston, who died suddenly on 5 November 1993, was a man of many talents. Pre-eminent as a biographer of Locke and Rousseau, he was also distinguished for his own contribution to political philosophy and for his capacity to expound the political thought of others in clear, simple language. He did this with great success not only in the lecture room but also in numerous broadcast talks and discussions, notably on the Third Programme of the BBC. In his academic (...) work he was particularly well informed on French political thought, contemporary as much as classical, and he wrote extensively on Sartre and more briefly on Camus and Foucault. He was himself fluent in the French language and he translated Rousseau's Social Contract and Discourse on Inequality for the Penguin Classics series. He was proficient in German and Italian too, and he knew enough Danish to translate a book on Wittgenstein written in that language. His love of literature often led him to illustrate philosophical points with apt examples from classical novels. He even wrote a couple of novels himself in his youth. It will be plain from this brief catalogue that he was an eminently civilized person. He was, in addition, an exceptionally friendly man and engagingly modest about his own abilities. (shrink)
En avril 1775, alors que le ministère Turgot rencontre les plus vives oppositions et attaques et va devoir affronter les émeutes liées au prix du blé, les amis de Turgot, D'Alembert et Condorcet, sont à des postes clés de la cité savante : le premier comme secrétaire perpétuel de l'Académie française, le second comme adjoint du secrétaire perpétuel de l'académie royale des sciences de Paris, Grandjean de Fouchy, dont le retrait est attendu. Dans une lettre à Joseph-Louis de Lagrange, alors (...) directeur de la classe de mathématiques à l'académie de Berlin, D'Alembert se plaint que Condorcet et lui essuient des « tracasseries » à l'Académie des sciences. Au même moment, Mme Grandjean de Fouchy, demande à D'Alembert six mille francs pour éviter l'expulsion de leur logement. Comment ces différents événements interfèrent-ils ? (shrink)