This paper is a review of the book: John J. Mearsheimer, The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities. Mearsheimer observes that in the aftermath of the Cold War, the U.S. adopted a profoundly liberal foreign policy dedicated to turning as many countries as possible into liberal democracies. Mearsheimer concludes that the liberal hegemony of the past twenty-five years does not work: it has left a legacy of futile wars, failed diplomacy, and diminished prestige for the United States.
Edward Pols long ago established himself as a philosopher of first rank. His carefully wrought studies have succeeded each other with regularity, The Recognition of Reason, Whitehead’s Metaphysics, Meditation on a Prisoner: Towards Understanding Action and Mind, and The Acts of Our Being: A Reflection on Agency and Responsibility. While clearly within a tradition that can be traced through modernity to the middle ages and to classical philosophy, Pols is no slave to the past. He recognizes the perennial character of (...) fundamental philosophical problems, their complexity, and the challenge they offer to the contemporary investigator. This perspicacity does not lead him to deny the worth of past efforts, but positions him to frame old problems in a new way. His insight is rooted in a profound grasp of the processes of human knowing and in a rare metaphysical sense. (shrink)
By examining selected works by Stephen Gaukroger, Alfred North Whitehead, Lynn White, Jr., Benjamin Farrington, and Paul Gans, the author discusses the formation of Western culture and the intellectual tools and the social conditions that contributed to its being. He concludes that a metaphysics and a realistic epistemology—based on an ancient Greek confidence in the human intellect, in its ability to reason to truths that acknowledge the immaterial character of human intellection—is required for the West to retain its identity and (...) develop its own culture. (shrink)
This paper is a review of the book: James V. Schall, The Universe We Think In. The author discusses the reasons and consequences of modern philosophy’s propensity to neglect the innate or purposeful direction of human life.
The thesis to be entertained here can be set forth simply. To address the question, “Is there Christian philosophy?”, it is necessary, first, to acknowledge that there is no such thing as “Christiainity.” As a sociological category “Christianity” may have some content. People the world over profess to be Christian. But, when we look to the content of belief we find so little in common between professed Christians that the designation becomes almost meaningless. Professed Christians subscribe to a multiplicity of (...) faiths with varying degrees of sophistication; they adhere to tenets many of which are contradictory, many irrational, many unexamined. Orthodox Christianity is difficult to define even within the Roman Catholic community where a premium is placed on universality, unity, and apostolic mandate. That is my first observation: the lack of unity in Christianity that might give meaning to the term ‘Christian philosophy’. (shrink)
The subtitle of this work better indicates its content than the lead title itself. The author is more interested in those social and political structures which promote the common good than he is in the concept itself, although the text is not lacking in philosophical analysis. In a first chapter Cicero is allowed to frame the issues which Miller subsequently explores in the thought of Pitt, Abercromby, Pownall, Rutherforth, Brown, Priestley, Locke, Hume, Price, and in the thought of many others. (...) Liberty, law, security, patriotism, colonization, toleration, and the role of religion in promoting the common good are topics frequently addressed by the eighteenth century authors considered. The level of political discourse in eighteenth century Britain is shown to be serious, achieving a depth rivaling ancient Rome itself. (shrink)
It is not by accident that the dust jacket of this volume carries a reproduction of an etching which depicts the storming of the Bastille, for one of the difficult tasks Larry May has assigned himself is an ontological description of the mob.
Within the past two decades Alasdair MacIntyre has emerged as one of the most important moral philosophers in the English-speaking world. Through a series of works, After Virtue, Whose Justice, Which Rationality?, First Principles, Final Ends and Contemporary Philosophical Issues, and Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry, he has brought moral discourse back to earth from an abstract, idealized realm in which philosophers limited themselves to the analysis of language and formal arguments or invented imaginary situations which presumably gave direction (...) to affairs in the real world. (shrink)
Real Ethics is a hard-hitting critique of contemporary moral theory from a realist point of view by John M. Rist, Professor Emeritus of philosophy and classics at the University of Toronto. His previous works include Plotinus: The Road to Reality, The Mind of Aristotle, and Augustine: Ancient Thought Baptized. Addressing what he calls the deception, equivocation, outright lying, and humbug that pass for contemporary moral discourse—humbug that extends from the universities into the marketplace, legislative assemblies, and juridical bodies—Rist offers a (...) defense of traditional Christian morality grounded in classical metaphysics. In rather forceful language he writes that there is “no need to look in the public lavatory for the lowest common denominator.” The habits of what was low life morality have become the norms of moral and political discourse. “In the wake of any clear sense of what ‘low life’ might suggest, intellectuals are becoming ‘downwardly mobile’ and while losing their grip on an overall concept of virtue, often see such a direction as in itself virtuous and high minded or sentimentally as solidarity with the marginalized or dispossessed.”. (shrink)
This is the 1992 Marquette Aquinas lecture, the fifty-third in a distinguished series sponsored by the Wisconsin Alpha Chapter of Phi Sigma Tau. Though presented as a lecture, it is clearly the outline of a project that draws upon Ernan McMullin's considerable knowledge of the history of the philosophy of science and his realistic assessment of contemporary scientific inquiry. His is a large canvas and he admittedly paints with wide brush strokes. His major thesis, contra the positivism that lingers in (...) some quarters, is that nothing other than a realist philosophy of science will enable one to make sense of contemporary natural science. A very literal reading of Aristotle leads him to distance himself from the Stagirite in certain respects, but McMullin's is fundamentally an Aristotelian analysis of science. To have science is not merely to know what is given in experience and codified in laws of nature, but to have an explanation of the given in terms of its proper causes. It is not enough to know that copper is malleable, conducts electricity, takes on a certain hue under such and such circumstances, and has a melting point of 1083 degrees centigrade. To have scientific knowledge of a material which has been used since antiquity is to know why it has these properties. Such knowledge is not obtained by simple observation, but is gained by the inference which leads to the postulation of an unobserved structure. McMullin believes that empiricists in the tradition of Bacon, Hume, and Mill are hard pressed to explain the inferential leap from observed effect to inferred cause. In passing he notes, "Though Bacon is trying very hard to separate himself from the Aristotelian tradition, one can still catch echoes of [Aristotle's] epagoge". Reviewing Mill's logic of science, McMullin observes that at the same time Mill was writing that causal relations hold only between observables, "the growing reliance of natural scientists on non-inductive inference to and from observables was leading to dramatic advances in fields like optics, chemistry and theory of gases". (shrink)
This book is a translation of the sixth and final edition of Étienne Gilson’s Le Thomisme: Introduction à la philosophie de saint Thomas d’Aquin. Gilson published the first edition of this work in 1919. Subsequent modifications and editions appeared in 1922, 1927, 1929, 1942, 1944, 1956, with the final sixth edition appearing in 1965. The 1965 edition may be regarded as his chef d’oeuvre, the culmination of Gilson’s long effort to present succinctly and comprehensively the philosophical thought of Thomas Aquinas. (...) As new editions appeared, the editors explain, older interpretations were discarded, out of date controversies were suppressed, new insights gained and incorporated into the ever-enlarged versions. (shrink)
An ambitious work, based on a lifetime of reading and research, Science, Language and the Human Condition provides a strong defense of a realist theory of knowledge, opposing various forms of contemporary positivism and subjectivism. Kaplan identifies with the pragmatic tradition of Peirce, James, and Dewey, and acknowledges a particular intellectual debt to Morris Cohen. He views that tradition as fundamentally Aristotelian in orientation, as one that recognizes a plurality of methods of inquiry as well as the open-ended character of (...) science. Encyclopedic in his treatment of contemporary figures and movements, Kaplan calls for a synoptic view of the world and the recognition of objective moral values in that world. He affirms the possibility of knowledge both of nature and of the moral order. But as he puts it, knowledge is not a seamless whole. Knowledge is pragmatically constructed in terms of multiple purposes and levels of certainty. While our knowledge of the world is objective, no single way of knowing yields absolute certainty. Thus Kaplan is equally critical of those positivists who would adhere to the model of mathematical physics as the only source of reliable knowledge and of those system builders such as Hegel and Marx whose global vision is inevitably obscurantist. He is just as harsh in dealing with Derrida and with the deconstructionist movement. (shrink)
William A. Wallace’s credentials as a Galileo scholar are well established. With seven books to his credit, notably Prelude to Galileo, Galileo and His Sources and Galileo’s Logic of Discovery and Proof, he is certainly one of the world’s foremost students of Galileo and his period. It is this period, that of late medieval and sixteenth-and seventeenth-century science, that most interests him. Hence the title of this work. Wallace’s extensive knowledge of what was being accomplished in philosophy and science at (...) university centers such as Salamanca, Coimbra, Oxford, Paris, Padova, and Rome are here brought to bear on the years spanning Soto and Galileo. Wallace moves from late scholasticism with its high confidence in intellect and is ability to achieve certitude in science, through the eclecticism spawned by the nominalism of Ockham and the Oxford “Calculators,” to the resurgence of confidence in intellect and scientific certitude claimed again in the Iberian Peninsula and in Italy, and that at the very time it was being questioned in England. (shrink)
Not even the subtitle of this work hints at its richness. Redpath begins with Descartes, making it clear that it is not without reason that Descartes is called “the father of modern philosophy.” Although Descartes is his starting point, Redpath quickly moves to an analysis of the work of Leibniz, Spinoza, and Malebranche. He contrasts these Cartesians with the “more hard-headed empiricists,” Hobbes, Newton, Locke, and Hume. Berkeley’s critique of Locke is examined in detail; so too is Rousseau’s Emile, but (...) the bulk of the volume is devoted to Kant and Hegel. (shrink)
This paper is a review of the book: Stanley Corngold, Walter Kaufmann: Philosopher, Humanist, Heretic. The author concludes that Corngold’s book acquaints the reader not only with the thought of Walter Kaufmann, but also with the thought of a prominent, late twentieth century generation that in effect rejected the source of the very culture that nourished it.