The Rise of Modern Philosophy

By Anthony Kenny | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

This is the third volume of a projected four-volume history of philosophy from the beginnings to the present day. The first volume, Ancient Philosophy (2004), described the early centuries of philosophy in classical Greece and Rome. The second volume, Medieval Philosophy (2005), took the story from the conversion of St Augustine to the humanist Renaissance. This volume takes up the narrative from the beginning of the sixteenth century to the beginning of the nineteenth century. A final volume is planned to cover the history of philosophy from the age of Karl Marx and John Stuart Mill up to the present day.

The present volume has the same structure as the two previous volumes. In the first three chapters I offer a chronological survey of the philosophical thinkers of the period. In the remaining chapters I offer a thematic treatment of their contribution to the discussion of particular philosophical topics of abiding importance. Some readers are interested in the history of philosophy principally because of the light it sheds on the people and societies of the past. Other readers study the great dead philosophers in order to seek illumination on themes of current philosophical inquiry. By structuring the book in this way I hope to cater for the needs of both sets of readers. Those whose primary interest is historical may focus on the chronological survey, referring where necessary to the thematic sections for amplification. Those whose primary interest is philosophical will concentrate rather on the thematic sections of my volumes, referring back to the chronological surveys to place particular issues in context.

The audience at which these volumes are primarily aimed is at the level of second- or third-year undergraduate study. However, many of those interested in the history of philosophy are enrolled in courses that are not necessarily philosophical. Accordingly, I try not to assume a familiarity with contemporary philosophical techniques or terminology. Again, with the exception of the original texts of the thinkers of the period I have not included in the bibliography works in languages other than English.

-xi-

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