May discovered Diderot's copiously annotated copy of this anti-materialist tract by Hemsterhuis, known to many contemporaries as "the Dutch Plato"; this edition contains May's interesting introduction, a facsimile of the original text, and a transcription of all of Diderot's comments. The comments bear on infelicities of style as well as of thought, though the latter preponderate: the Lettre is not, alas, the product of a first-rate philosophical intellect. Diderot's strong objections to Hemsterhuis' crude theory of a moral organ can be (...) taken as complementing his Refutation of Helvetius, which dates from the same period.—W. L. M. (shrink)
For Brun, the separation of men from existence, which expresses itself in various forms of anxiety, is the central concern of philosophy. While the separation of men from one another can be partly overcome by language and by modern technology's "conquests," the ontological separation cannot, the philosophic attitude of wonder can never be entirely replaced by nihil mirari. He takes issue with the philosophies of praxis which regard human action as the potential remedy for all separation. The thesis is defended (...) capably and passionately.--W. L. M. (shrink)
Admitting to some departure from the Aristotelian classification, Jolivet divides human activities into three sorts: labor, play, and contemplation. He warns against the naturalizing effect of the Marxist notion of labor, defends play as the essentially superfluous, and argues for including art in his third category. A proper conception of human wisdom involves all three activities, although the speculative remains the highest, and the love of God is wisdom's fullest perfection. Based on a lecture series, the book is a clear, (...) rather non-technical, and contemporary re-working of some venerable ideas.--W. L. M. (shrink)
Pucelle tries to show how the idea of personal liberty is central to Green's ethics. Green's criticisms of other philosophers and the historical context of his philosophy are especially well handled. --W. L. M.
L'ordre du discours is the inaugural lecture read by Foucault when he became the successor of J. Hyppolite at the Collège de France. The booklet is a good introduction to the work of the author. It gives a summary of his key ideas, with here and there a couple of suggestive examples. At the end we find an outline of the work the author hopes to fulfill in the future. Foucault sees human history and human civilization as a big effort (...) of discourse-creation. To engage in a discourse though, is a dangerous activity. This danger might be avoided by diminishing the quality of the discourse. It is, however, tricky to escape discourse itself. Foucault now, analyzes the mechanisms by which civilization tries to maintain the quality of the discourse while at the same time protecting the individual against the dangers of it. The author mentions three series of mechanisms: 1) Exclusion: Not every thing can be said. Things are prohibited of entering the discourse. Societies also exclude persons such as the fools from human discourse. Finally, human talk is divided between true and false talk, of which only true talk is to be taken seriously. 2) Appropriation of the unknown: Certain forms of discourse have been given priority, such as commentaries, pieces written by known authors and pieces fulfilling the formal characteristics of a discipline. 3) Limitation of speakers: Not everybody is allowed to use all forms of discourse. Rituals make sure that only appropriate persons talk. The existence of societies protecting a monopoly on certain forms of discourse or the attempt of doctrinal groups to impose orthodoxy are two further examples of the attempt to limit the possible speakers. This being the case, Foucault claims that his philosophical method will not try to find the truth of a discourse, but rather he will in the future show that there is a discontinuous variety of discourses; that a discourse is essentially a violation of the world of things and that we cannot hope to understand the inner meaning of a discourse. The two most provocative ideas put forward in this booklet are that truth is not in the first place an act of intelligence but an act of the will. Foucault talks of a will to truth. The second provocative idea is that all discourse is a violation of the world of the things. To sacrifice the search of truth for the search of the structure of discourse is the essence of structuralism, of which Foucault is the philosophical standard-bearer.—W. V. E. (shrink)
People talk about rats deserting a sinking ship, but they don't usually ask where the rats go. Perhaps this is only because the answer is so obvious: of course, most of the rats climb aboard the sounder ships, the ships that ride high in the water despite being laden with rich cargoes of cheese and grain and other things rats love, the ships that bring prosperity to ports like eighteenth-century Königsberg and firms such as Green & Motherby. By making the (...) insulting comparison - as I am in the course of doing – between us Kant scholars and a horde of noxious vermin, my more or less transparent aim is to mitigate, or at least to distract attention from, the collective immodesty of what I am saying about us. For my point is that, in the past half-century or so, Kant studies has become a very prosperous ship indeed. Its success has even been the chief thing that has buoyed all its sister ships in the fleet of modern philosophy, most of which are also doing very well. (shrink)
This work, written well within the tradition of contemporary British analysis, attempts to cope with the question of why most philosophical problems, as well as many problems concerning the foundations of the sciences, have not yet been laid to rest. The author holds that most of these problems could be disposed of simply by stating the problem in such a way as would clearly indicate the means or lack of means by which the statement could be tested. --W. S. L.
This volume is intended for use in an undergraduate philosophy course employing the problems' approach. Chapter I provides a clear presentation of Cartesian rationalism. Following the exposition of Descartes' position, there is a section on the standard criticisms levelled by B. Russell. Aune defends the rationalist position with an outline of the traditional arguments for the validity of intuitive knowledge. Chapter I terminates with a list of "Study Questions" and an annotated bibliography suggesting further readings. Chapter II considers classical English (...) empiricism, taking the thought of Hume as paradigmatic. There is a discussion of a priori and a posteriori knowledge as well as a section on the problems of induction and solipsism. Chapter III outlines the attempts of contemporary empiricists to eschew Hume's skepticism by envisioning the world as a construct of our sensory experiences. To avoid the solipsism still implicit in the latter position, a re-evaluation of Hume's theory of perception is offered. Wittgenstein and Strawson are briefly treated in this section. Chapter IV explains the pragmatist's attempt to reduce to the same untenable position the rationalist and empiricist views of the a priori. Chapter V concentrates on the pragmatic theory of justification and includes a treatment of N. Goodman's "new riddle of induction." Aune's book is a readable account of conflicting theories of knowledge and undergraduates should find it of value.--W. J. L. (shrink)
This seems destined, quite naturally and justly, to become a standard group of selections. Included are Chappell's meaty Introduction, My Own Life, Of the Standard of Taste, the Dialogues, and large portions of the Treatise and the two Inquiry's. Where Chappell feels that the Treatise and especially the first Inquiry overlap, he favors the passages from the Treatise. Among the notable exclusions from the latter are most of the discussion of space and time and the better part of Book II, (...) Part II. What is probably most controversial and unfortunate is the editor's omission of all but three sections in "Of Justice and Injustice".--W. L. M. (shrink)
Described as a "documentary history," this anthology begins with Morelly, Rousseau and Babeuf, ends with the contemporary C. A. R. Crosland, and includes writings by twenty-seven other persons and groups in between. The editors display a genius for choosing terse, classical statements of the various positions, while still not excessively reproducing texts, such as some standard Marxian writings, which are easily available elsewhere. There is a superbly documented theme: the inadequacy of any succinct definition of socialism.—W. L. M.
The so-called "early Marx" comes in for sympathetic treatment from an Australian philosopher. Kamenka argues that Marx never lost his ethical vision of human dignity in future society, though "alienation" and related concepts are no longer relied upon in Das Kapital. Midway through the study an ethical position, based on the view that goods produce harmonious systems whereas evils cannot, is outlined and defended. Kamenka maintains that his "positive," non-normative ethic can be made compatible with a Marx purged of his (...) eschatology and of some Hegelian trappings. The concluding stigmatization of Soviet Marxist ethics as being "normative" is perhaps the weakest part of an uneven work. --W. L. M. (shrink)
This book's fourteen short essays are neither very technical nor definitive, as Schaff warns in his forward. They do, however, reveal the struggle of a sincere philosopher, who happens also to be a high official of the Polish Communist Party, against the absolutes that plague him—absolute determinism, total party discipline, the definitive revolution. Schaff here continues his debate with the existentialists, notably Sartre, and contributes some clarification to the problem of "Marxist ethics."—W. L. M.
This is a nonsense book. It summarizes essential tenets of Pölätüöism, which is the definitive reconciliation of modern science and Roman Catholicism, and chronicles the long and eventful life of its founder. Although neither the cleverness nor the taste maintains a uniform excellence, there is much delightful satire on recent philosophy and religion. Pölätüö's interview with Russell, and his paper "On the Reality of the Soul and on the Reality of Onion," are two of the highlights.--W. L. M.
A leading British historian brings considerable philosophical insight to bear in criticizing the cult of facts, treatments of great men in isolation from their societies, and the view that historians should make moral judgments upon their subjects. His esteem for Collingwood and other idealists is tempered by a warning against their excessive subjectivism. Carr upholds the reality of historical causation, and the belief in some progress.--W. L. M.
Well written and excellently documented, this is both a scholarly reconstruction and a forceful statement of the case against the possibility of systems. Of considerable interest is the discussion of the religious motivation of many of the sceptics and Popkin's argument that Descartes was a "sceptique malgré lui."--W. L. M.
Based on the 1963 Storrs Lectures at Yale, these four related essays are an attempt to clarify Fuller's conception of a procedural, non-substantive natural law, which requires that such characteristics as generality, promulgation, non-contradiction, etc., be present in any genuine legal system. These requirements, he indicates, can never all be perfectly met, and hence the "inner morality of law" must remain largely a morality of "aspiration" rather than of "duty." The third essay, entitled "The Concept of Law," is rather disappointing (...) as an answer to possible criticisms and as a half-hearted attack on the book of the same title by Fuller's opponent, Hart; only Fuller's fundamental point, namely, that positivism neglects the notion of purpose in law, comes through very forcefully. In his final chapter, Fuller concludes, tentatively, that promoting communication would probably be the highest goal of any more substantive natural law conception; here, he is weakest of all. Nevertheless, his fine style, his excellent use of cases and other examples, and his sensitivity to crucial issues outweigh the book's inadequacies.—W. L. M. (shrink)
A severe critique of contemporary society as one in which there remains no significant class or group capable of radically opposing things as they are. Marcuse works on the assumption that advanced industrial society is indeed sick, much as some recent sociologists have depicted it to be. He sees evidence of alienation in political and cultural life, in the technical jargon of the bureaucracy, in the technological cult of "operationalism," and especially in contemporary analytic philosophy, which he sees as the (...) triumph of "one-dimensional thought." His conclusion is not optimistic: at this juncture in history, he believes, the only possible task for "critical philosophy" is to be negative.--W. L. M. (shrink)
Two brief essays, one on ethics, the other on beliefs, are presented in the form of short allegories and connecting comments. The approach is that of contemporary British analysis, and the style has a refreshing novelty. Several Thurber-like cartoons and a "Somatic Sonata" complete this brief volume.--W. S. L.
The professed aim is to make a Thomistic theory of knowledge relevant to contemporary analytic movements. Stress is laid on the dynamism of intellection, and on supraphysical esse as the only constituent of divine knowledge and as the essential feature of human knowledge. Miller also argues that knowledge through affective connaturality must be combined with intellection. Little concession is made to those not steeped in scholastic terminology. --W. L. M.
The relevance of utopian speculation to the social sciences is Krysmanski's central concern. Through an analysis of eight 20th century German utopian novels and a briefer examination of related literary forms, he tries to determine the peculiar features of the modern utopian method. He finds it to be of value in uncovering new possibilities for altering society on the basis of new technology.--W. L. M.
This is a worthy addition to P. U. F.'s useful series, "Philosophes." Robinet succeeds in touching, briefly but illuminatingly, on all important aspects of Merleau-Ponty's thought, including the renewed interest in ontological questions in the posthumous Le Visible et l'Invisible. The philosopher's political writings, which have been dismissed as irrelevant by some students of Merleau-Ponty, are shown to be the product of an inquiry into our "perception of history." Of note, also, are Robinet's remarks concerning his subject's historical antecedents, among (...) whom he regards Malebranche as especially important.—W. L. M. (shrink)
The author, who is highly sympathetic toward her subject, follows Bentham's career from his birth until 1792. She divides these years into the Benthamite categories of learning, knowing and doing. She clearly shows Bentham's debt to Bacon and the philosophes, the origins of his adherence to democracy, the development of his logical innovations out of his legal concerns, and the growing split between his popular writings and the more complex, often more philosophically sophisticated arcana.--W. L. M.
This volume contains a new, literal translation of Xenophon's Hiero, Strauss's textual analysis of that dialogue, a translation of Alexandre Kojève's comment on Strauss's analysis, and Strauss's restatement. In his Introduction, Strauss clearly draws his usual battle lines between "all specifically modern political thought," which began with Machiavelli, and classical political science, which included value-judgments. Kojève, posing as a "modern" influenced by Hegel, argues against the notion of a politically inactive philosophical elite presumed to possess "wisdom." Strauss concludes with a (...) frightening vision of the end of philosophy in a homogeneous "modern" state under a "Universal Tyrant."--W. L. M. (shrink)
Zitta once attended a course given by Lukács in Budapest. He has prepared an impressive partial bibliography of Lukács' pre-1958 writings, and he liberally scatters the sometimes erratic, often interesting notes of an undisciplined but voracious reader throughout his text. The book-beautifully printed, promising insight into a great but much-neglected thinker, its title replete with four of the most emotion-charged words in contemporary philosophical vocabularies—appears on the surface to emanate intellectual respectability. In fact, it is a clearer candidate than most (...) of those chosen by Lukacs himself to illustrate "die Zerstörung der Vernunft." Zitta's method takes its cue from an early phase in Harold Lasswell's thought, in which literary psychoanalysis was regarded as the key to scholarship concerning political writers. Zitta concentrates almost exclusively on Lukács' works through 1923, and devotes much of this "analysis" to expressing his profound personal contempt for his subject. In short, this book abounds with bad grammar and worse scholarship.—W. L. M. (shrink)
The author regards the Passions de l'Ame as substituting a definitive ethic for the provisional morality of Descartes' earlier years, and sees "generosity" as the culminating passion within the framework of "la sagesse." The treatment of Divine omnipotence, human freedom, and their resolution in Descartes is especially thorough and enlightening. --W. L. M.
This book continues the Muirhead Library of Philosophy series. It is a sequel to Trethowan’s own Absolute Value, to which frequent reference is made by the author. Together with that work, it comprises the lectures the author delivered in the Department of Religion of Brown University in 1969. It is chiefly a work of theological reflection: Trethowan is seeking new conceptual models for the Christian experience of God. In this vein, he devotes the bulk of the book to explorations of (...) the nature of faith and of the At-onement effected in the experience of God by the Christian mystics. An interesting treatment of the mystical experience of the Absolute concludes the book. This is not to suggest that Trethowan’s work will not be of interest to a general philosophical audience as well. The author begins his investigations with a discussion of contemporary positions which are opposed to metaphysical and theistic claims; within this context, Trethowan’s suggests some useful criticisms of Flew’s position. Searching for an experience of the Absolute that can serve to ground theistic claims, Trethowan examines the formulations of Coreth and Marcel; in the author’s estimate each yields an important emphasis, although some criticism must be directed to their respective accounts. The author’s own solution surfaces in the course of his treatment of faith. Its inspiration is largely Blondel’s "logic of action" : man’s experience of his own range of action leads him to an "option" in favor of the Absolute, an option which includes assent to the Christian experience of the Absolute. Trethowan also indicates a theory of signs, in which signs mediate but also are dynamically directed toward an experienced Absolute. The author’s treatment of Blondel has the advantage of providing the reader with lengthy citations from Blondel in translation.—W. L. P. (shrink)
A series of lectures which critically examines neo-Thomist and existentialist currents and concludes by advocating "the reasonableness of personalistic theism." The meaning and justification of this theism is barely treated.--W. L. M.
An attempt to develop some "valuationally neutral" definitions of freedom in the interest of a more rigorous vocabulary in the social sciences. For his analytic purposes, Oppenheim takes as basic "social freedom," a behavioral, relational concept holding between "actors." Within his self-imposed limitations--of analyzing and clarifying, rather than contributing a new theory--Oppenheim has succeeded in dissecting one of political theory's most crucial but emotively colored words. --W. L. M.
The first of Bachelard's highly original and influential treatises on the four elements has finally been made available to us in a highly satisfactory translation. Bachelard launches into his admittedly somewhat disorganized analyses with a masterful command of the history of science and of much literature, and with a Comtean conviction that his role is to exorcise primitive error; nevertheless, the errors prove to be most fascinating. There is a brief preface by Northrop Frye.--W. L. M.
Writing in French, the author points to Arnold Geulincx to explain the historical shift in the concepts of philosophic method and first principles. Geulincx' Methodus made use of the synthetic or expositive method, which Descartes had regarded as inferior to his own analytic one, but which he had employed, upon request, in Reply to Objections II. Spinoza, presumably inspired by Geulincx' example, was later to claim demonstrativeness for the mos geometricus.--W. L. M.