Modern Classical Philosophers: Selections Illustrating Modern Philosophy from Bruno to Bergson

By Benjamin Rand | Go to book overview
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PREFACE

"MODERN CLASSICAL PHILOSOPHERS" aims to present in a series of extracts some of the essential features of the chief philosophical systems produced by the great philosophers from Bruno to Spencer. The book is virtually a history of modern philosophy based not upon the customary description of systems, but upon selections from original texts, and upon translations of the authors themselves. The attempt has been made to apply the case system, which has proved so successful in the teaching of law, to philosophical instruction. In this respect the work follows the model of the author's earlier publication in Economic History, which was printed as a text book of required reading to accompany courses of lectures given on that subject in different universities. It is likewise hoped to provide the general reader with a volume from which he may readily discover the content and method of the great philosophical masters of the modern period.

Beginning with Bruno, the philosophical martyr, the dialogue which appears in this work is one in which the author describes the unity and divine immanence in all things in the universe, thereby anticipating the doctrine of Spinoza. From Bacon has been selected an account of "the idols" or false notions which hinder men from a right pursuit of scientific research, and of the theory of induction by which they may advance in a true interpretation of nature. The passages from Hobbes contain his doctrine of the natural state of man as one of war, and of the necessity of "that great Leviathan," whereby peace and order may be established in the political commonwealth. Of Descartes, a part of the "Discourse on Method" is printed first, since it contains his intellectual autobiography and his peculiar principles of method for the attainment of truth; a transition is then made to his "Meditations on First Philosophy," to set forth the application of his method of doubt to the discovery of absolute certainty, and also his attempt to demonstrate the

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