Modern Philosophy: The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

Modern Philosophy: The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

Modern Philosophy: The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

Modern Philosophy: The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

Synopsis

This introductory text for students gives a thematic survey of the ideas of the major philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries. Topics include perception and ideas, matter and motion, necessity and freedom, and minds and persons.

Excerpt

Travel broadens the mind. By seeing the different ways in which other people live and think we can learn a huge amount - not about them, but about ourselves. When we see the different lives other people lead, we become aware of possibilities we had never thought of. Most importantly, it is often only when we encounter people who do not share them that we become aware of beliefs which we have always held, have never questioned, and have never even been aware of believing - that is the real shock of discovering people whose language has no plurals, whose tradition has no heroes, whose cities have no old buildings, or whatever it may be.

Philosophical beliefs are often of that kind - we have never thought of them, we aren't aware of holding them, and yet the attitudes to our selves and to the world around us which those beliefs express are constitutive of the people that we are, and of the lives that we lead. Reading the History of Philosophy therefore broadens the mind in the same way as travel does. When we encounter people whose philosophical beliefs and attitudes are importantly different from our own, and we ask ourselves whether and why we want to agree with them, we become conscious of possibilities we had never previously considered, and we become aware of principles which we have always taken for granted, but have never previously acknowledged as our own.

The aim of this book is therefore to do for you what travel does (or at least, what it can). It tries to set out briefly some central

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