Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Philosophers

By Stuart Brown; Diané Collinson et al. | Go to book overview
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Main publications:
(1943) Le Désir d'éternité, Paris: PUF.
(1950a) La Découverte métaphysique de l'homme chez Descartes, Paris: PUF.
(1950b) La Nostalgie de l'être, Paris: PUF.
(1955) Philosophie du surréalisme, Paris: Flammarion.
(1956) Descartes, l'homme et l'oeuvre, Paris: Haitien-Boivin.
(1957) L'Expérience, Paris: PUF.
(1966) Solitude de la Raison, Paris: Losfeld.
(1968) La Critique kantienne de la métaphysique, Paris: PUF.
(1971) Signification de la philosophie, Paris: Hachette.
(1974) Le Cartésianisme de Malebranche, Paris: Vrin.
(1981) Le Rationalisme de Spinoza, Paris: PUF.

Secondary literature:
Gouhier, Henri (1974) la memorie de Ferndinand Alquié, Revue Internationale de Philosophie 28: 532-9.
Marian, J.-L. (1983) La Passion de la raison: hommage à Ferdinand Alquié, Paris: P.U.F.
Riley, Patrick (1986) The General Will Before Rousseau, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Smith, Colin (1984) Contemporary French Philosophy: A Study in Norms and Values, London: Methuen, pp. 77-93.

Alquié saw in works such as Plato's Symposium, Descartes's Meditations and Kant's Critique of Pure Reason a recognition both of 'transcendent Being' and at the same time of its non-availability to human experience. He opposed himself to those contemporary philosophers (such as the existentialists and the Marxists) who denied transcendence and recognized only 'man-made truth' (1950b, p. 63). Equally he opposed those who objectified transcendent being and made it into something human beings could, in some sense, possess. The titles of two of his books-The Desire for Eternity (1943) and The Nostalgia of Being (1950)-indicate both the aspiration of philosophy and the need to restrain its pretensions. The self-styled 'surrealism' of his Philosophie de surréalisme (1955) reflects both his concern with transcendence and his rejection of any analogy between the history of philosophy and that of science. According to Alquié: 'Philosophy is analysis and separation. The history of philosophy shows no progress, only a ceaseless recall to being' (1950b, p. 152, quoted from Smith 1964, p. 83). Alquié enjoyed a high reputation as a historian of philosophy, and some of his contributions to the history of ideas have been influential. His Le Cartésianisme de Malebranche (1974) interpreted Malebranche as extending Cartesian thinking about the regularity of nature into the realm of grace. According to Alquié, this proved a powerful stimulus to the Enlightenment deists. Pursuing Alquié's suggestion, Patrick Riley (1986) has suggested that Malebranche's conception of 'volontés générales' influenced Rousseau's idea of 'the general will'.

Sources: Huisman; G. Deledalle and D. Huisman (eds) (1965) Les Philosophes français d'aujourd'hui, Paris.


Alston, W(illiam) P(ayne)

American, b: 1921, Shreveport, Louisiana. Cat: Analytic philosopher. Ints: Philosophical theology; epistemology; philosophy of language; philosophical psychology; early modern philosophy. Educ: Centenary College and University of Chicago. Infls: Reid, Hegel, Whitehead, Wittgenstein, J.L. Austin and Wilfrid Sellars. Appts: 1949, Instructor, 1952, Assistant Professor, 1956, Associate Professor, 1961, Professor, University of Michigan; 1971-6, Professor of Philosophy, Rutgers University; 1976-80, Professor of Philosophy, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; 1980, Professor of Philosophy, Syracuse University; 1990, Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Main publications:
(1964) Philosophy of Language, Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.
(1989) Divine Nature and Human Language, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
(1989) Epistemic Justification, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
(1991) Perceiving God, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Secondary literature:
McCleod, Mark S. (ed.) (1993) Rationality and Theistic Belief: An Essay in Reformed Epistemology, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Alston's major influence has been in the philosophy of religion and in epistemology. He was the first President of the Society of Christian Philosophers, and the founding editor of Faith and Philosophy, a journal which has been a major vehicle for a movement characterized, like his own work, by the rigorous application of modern philosophical and logical techniques to traditional questions in the philosophy of religion. In


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