This is one of the finest studies of the categories of being and the strongest defense of Santayana's system to appear. It is a significant contribution to the advancement of American philosophy and will do much to hasten the recognition of Santayana as a great American philosopher. It comes a year after John McCormick's massive biography which it complements beautifully because it is based primarily on the metaphysical system. It comes after Persons and Places in The Works, the critical edition (...) from MIT Press, which will shortly be augmented by The Sense of Beauty and Poetry and Religion. Coupled with Overheard in Seville, the bulletin of the Santayana Society, does it not seem evident that a generation after his death in Rome that Santayana is no longer unread and unappreciated? (shrink)
A paper on Hume's metaphysics might be exceedingly short: we might say that Hume pricked bubbles but blew none. Most readers of Hume think there is nothing here to write about, unless anti-metaphysics be a form of metaphysics. l Hume's good repute rose with agnosticism and positivism, and it is characteristic of the Germans to credit Hume with being the awakener from dogmatic, that is, metaphysical, slumbers. Add to this those who deplore Hume as the antithesis of classical philosophy, and (...) we have a chorus who would laugh down the claim that Hume had, as he claimed, a system . And indeed who cannot quote Hume's eloquent conclusion about ‘divinity or school metaphysics’: ‘Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion’ ? 2. (shrink)
The reputation of Rudolf Hermann Lotze was high in the philosophic world, especially the English-speaking philosophic world, during the period 1880–1920. One encyclopedia of the period says that “in the U. S. his influence is stronger in academic philosophy, perhaps, than that of any other author.” In typical histories of philosophy Lotze is counted among the great successors in the tradition of Kant and Hegel. I have elsewhere sought to explain the reasons for his great influence. Writers contemporary to Lotze (...) wanted first to classify him as an Herbartian, and in spite of his protests, he seemed some sort of Kantian or Hegelian. The character of his philosophy remained enigmatic, and he was sometimes called an “eclectic” since his philosophy contained aspects that reminded readers of some predecessor or other. But clearly he resisted the tendency to make all questions problems of knowledge: “The constant whetting of the knife is tedious, if it is not proposed to cut anything with it.” And clearly he is no Hegelian. He considered the rationalistic search for a single principle and a single method to have failed. German philosophy had failed to respect what is given in experience. Even in aesthetics, where surely one might be expected to attend to what the arts present for sensuous enjoyment, German intellectualism, to Lotze’s disgust, tended to use a deductive method. Santayana accused a priori German philosophers of “egotism”; he might have learned this from Lotze who found this same tradition marked by pretension. Only God could satisfy the program of Fichte. The demand of an all-embracing system is that it “make all particular parts of it pass before [us] in the majestic succession of an unbroken development!” Wrote Lotze, “It seemed to me that only a Spirit who stood in the centre of the universe which he himself had made could, with knowledge of the final aim which he had given his creation…” see the whole. Lotze’s kind of philosophy is professedly modest, nondogmatic, fallibilist. (shrink)
Literary people have had less difficulty in understanding George Santayana than have philosophers, and it is particularly we Anglo-American philosophers who complain that he is enigmatic. We have read his books as arguments of a professor of philosophy, and failed to recognize that he was a sage, one who sought wisdom and found redemption. Anthony Woodward's Living in the Eternal succeeds as no other book on Santayana in showing how to understand this philosophy as the confessions of the freedom and (...) joy of spiritual ascent. Santayana is like no modern philosopher, save Spinoza, and passing over the medieval and Renaissance wise men who were well known to Santayana, but to whom Woodward has no reference, he is most like "some Gnostic Christian of Alexandria, in the early centuries of the faith, for whom love has been swallowed up in knowledge and the believer consummated in the sage". We are apt, at first reading of the "attempt to be godlike," to explode: "but Santayana was a materialist and an atheist! How can he, more than any other modern philosopher, have more to say about spirit?". (shrink)
It is a commonplace that Marxist theories of order deal with the transition from one order to another, whereas most non-Marxist theories of order, whether of ideas or of societies, stress the stability of some established order, showing how, by gradual modification, it avoids the violence of revolutionary change. Wild's theory is one of the few non-Marxist theories of revolutionary transition. It stresses the breakdown of the mythical order and emergence of cosmic order which repairs the defects of its predecessor (...) and what we are now enduring, the breakdown of the cosmic order. Out of the ruins is growing a new order, the personal order. That philosophers should attend to the transition from order to order is the precept and practice of Whitehead in Adventures of Ideas, and in Modes of Thought. Wild's theory resembles both the Hegelian-Marxian dialectic of orders and the Whiteheadian doctrine of orders. Wild's theory, although it does not mention Whitehead's, is in certain respects more like the latter than the former. Any order is from a perspective with limitations that become evident when we compare it with alternative perspectives; and although this implies that there is no absolute or final order, no framework within which all phenomena fit, it does not imply that there is no order or no knowledge at all. Most Hegelians will find Wild's theory lacking synthesis, and most Marxists would feel Wild had failed to grasp necessity, specifically material necessity, in the process. The transitions spring rather from the inadequacies of personal perspective: any interpretation is bound to the man in his situation and therefore must be superseded. The resemblance of Wild's theory to Whitehead's goes deeper than form because they are moved by esteem for the human individual and distrust of powerful groups that tend to overpower free men. Both refuse to bend the knee to collective order. Wild could well accept as this own this statement from Adventures of Ideas. There are. (shrink)
The main theme is kinds of order considered in relation to one another. Is there a unitary order that underlies experience, existence, and the good? Or is one of those fundamental, and the other two derivative? Or are there such contrasts and differences between certain orders that the furthest we can honestly go is to contrast them, setting one against the other?
The concept of order has been subjected to clarification both by Linguistic Analysts and by Phenomenologists. Since the question of the parallelism of the work of these schools, or their overlap and possible collaboration, is now seriously raised, it seems appropriate to examine the methods and results with reference to this common, or similar, problem.
Philosophers have for centuries kept diaries, and these “commonplace books” are, as in the case of Berkeley, G. E. Moore, and Wittgenstein, among their most valuable legacies. The philosopher poised on the edge of discovery hesitates between different answers to an old question. More excitedly, the philosopher may reject old questions and search for words to state a new question to which the answer is unknown.
Philosophical Mysteries is one of a series developing a systematic philosophy of orders and the categories called “Ordinal Pluralism.” To consider it in depth it should be separated neither from its predecessor Transition to an Ordinal Metaphysics nor from its successor Perspective in Whitehead’s Metaphysics. Yet a review cannot enter into the details of Ross’s whole program, nor its exact dependence on that of Justus Buchler’s Metaphysics of Natural Complexes and other interpretations of Buchler’s admirable contribution, such as Beth Singer’s (...) Ordinal Naturalism. (shrink)