Gardiner approaches the idea of a philosophy of history by first giving an outline of the "regularity" interpretation of explanation. "How far it is possible to regard all historical explanations, or even some, as approximating this pattern, how far the objections philosophers have marshalled against such an assimilation are justified, how far the alternative interpretations suggested correspond to the historian's actual procedure in certain cases; these represent the kind of questions that will have to be considered." By keeping the actual (...) practice of historians constantly in view, he believes that the reader will be able to see some of the disputes that have raged concerning the "philosophy of history"in better perspective. (shrink)
Soren Kierkegaard is remembered chiefly in connection with the development of existentialist philosophy in this century, but that view is misleading. In a short and unhappy life he wrote many books and articles on themes that were literary, satirical, religious and psychological, but the diversity and idiosyncratic style of his writing have contributed to a misunderstanding of his ideas. In this book, the only introduction to the full range of Kierkegaard's thought, Patrick Gardiner demonstrates how Kierkegaard developed his ideas and (...) examines his thoughts in light of the doctrines on society that his contemporaries Marx and Feuerbach were creating. Finally he assesses how original and how important Kierkegaard's ideas were and how profoundly they have influenced modern ways of thinking. (shrink)
Relativism is a conception with such wide and subtle ramifications in contemporary thought that it is easy to forget that its emergence as a pervasive influence is of comparatively recent origin. Appeals to historical and cultural diversity have become commonplace in the discussion of both theoretical and practical issues, and we have grown accustomed to the suggestion that it is mistaken to assume the existence of standards which can be treated as universally valid for all times and in all places. (...) Such considerations are admittedly often held to apply most clearly to the spheres of ethics and aesthetics, where fundamental disparities of judgement and appraisal tend notoriously to arise. Nevertheless, the claim that each of us is necessarily confined to a particular perspective which determines his own outlook and system of beliefs, but which may radically diverge from the perspectives of men situated in different social or cultural environments, is sometimes taken to have more far-reaching implications. Thus it has been pointed out that, even within areas of paradigmatically factual or “objective” types of enquiry, what counts as rational or acceptable for the members of one society or group need not so count for those belonging to another, that the patterns of reasoning followed and the criteria of justification employed are capable of exhibiting significant variations; and here, once again, the conclusion may be drawn that alternative structures of thought can perhaps be compared and contrasted but that they should not be treated as if they were subject to arbitration by some allegedly absolute or immutable yardstick. Ideas of this kind may give rise to uneasiness or dissatisfaction, being felt to go against the grain of much of our ordinary unreflective thinking, while at a more sophisticated level they may be criticised or condemned on the grounds of being ultimately confused or incoherent. Yet they are at least familiar, and they have received support, not only from theses advanced by certain contemporary philosophers, but also from doctrines put forward from time to time by modern historians, social anthropologists and writers on natural science. (shrink)
When considering a suitable topic for inclusion in this collection, it occurred to me that it might be worth discussing a writer whose interests were largely centred on themes directly related to those cited in the collection's title, and who throughout most of his philosophical career remained particularly insistent upon the need to define the boundaries separating humanistic modes of understanding from ones associated with the physical sciences. The writer in question was R. G. Collingwood. Although Collingwood has justly been (...) credited with perceptive insights into the metaphysical origins and presuppositions of natural science, as well as with raising pointed questions concerning the nature of conceptual change in scientific thought, he had in fact little first-hand knowledge of the subject and it is not in this sphere that his chief claims to importance and originality lie. Rather, they are to be found in an area with which he was certainly intimately acquainted and in which as a practitioner he helped to make significant discoveries on the ground. That was history, a discipline requiring in his view a type of thinking that had either been ignored by his philosophical contemporaries or else misconceived and distorted by those who had troubled to consider it. Thus, as a result of making a serious effort on his own account to come to terms with what it involved, he became—in his own words at the time—‘more and more conscious of being an outlaw’. (shrink)
Scholars have largely misunderstood Soren Kierkegaard, remembering him chiefly in connection with the development of existentialist philosophy in this century. In a short and unhappy life, he wrote many books and articles on literary, satirical, religious and psychological themes, but the diversity and idiosyncratic style of his writing have contributed to a misunderstanding of his ideas. In this book--the only introduction to the full range of Kierkegaard's thought--Patrick Gardiner demonstrates how Kierkegaard developed his ideas and examines his thoughts in light (...) of the doctrines on society developed by his contemporaries Marx and Feuerbach. Finally, he assesses the profound importance of Kierkegaard's ideas on the development of modern ways of thinking. (shrink)
Soren Kierkegaard, one of the most original thinkers of the nineteenth century, wrote widely on religious, psychological, and literary themes. This book shows how Kierkegaard developed his views in emphatic opposition to prevailing opinions. His arresting but paradoxical conception of religious belief is critically discussed, and Patrick Gardiner concludes this lucid introduction by showing how Kiekegaard has influenced contemporary thought.
Fichte's reputation at the present time is in some respects a curious one. On the one hand, he is by common consent acknowledged to have exercised a dominant influence upon the development of German thought during the opening decades of the nineteenth century. Thus from a specifically philosophical point of view he is regarded as an innovator who played a decisive role in transforming Kant's transcendental idealism into the absolute idealism of his immediate successors, while at a more general level (...) he is customarily seen as having put into currency certain persuasive conceptions which contributed—less directly but no less surely—to the emergence and spread of romanticism in some of its varied and ramifying forms. On the other hand, however, it is noticeable that detailed consideration of his work has not figured prominently in the recent revival of concern with post-Kantian thought as a whole which has been manifested by philosophers of the English-speaking world. Although his name is frequently mentioned in that connection, one suspects that his books may not be so often read. In part this may be due to his particular mode of expounding his views, which at times attains a level of opacity that can make even Hegel's obscurest passages seem comparatively tractable. It is also true that Fichte's principal theoretical works—if not his semipopular writings—are largely devoid of the allusions to scientific, historical, psychological or cultural matters with which his German contemporaries were prone to illustrate their philosophical doctrines and enliven their more abstract discussions: there is a daunting aridity about much of what he wrote which can raise nagging doubts in the modern reader's mind about the actual issues that are in question. Yet the fact remains that by the close of the eighteenth century his ideas had already made a profound impact, capturing the imagination of a host of German thinkers and intellectuals. The problem therefore arises as to what preoccupations, current at the time, they owed their indubitable appeal and to what puzzles they were welcomed as proffering a solution. If these can be identified, it may become at least partially intelligible that Fichte should have been widely regarded as having provided a framework within which certain hitherto intractable difficulties could be satisfactorily reformulated and resolved. Let me accordingly begin by saying something about them. (shrink)