Central Works of Philosophy - Vol. 3

Central Works of Philosophy - Vol. 3

Central Works of Philosophy - Vol. 3

Central Works of Philosophy - Vol. 3

Synopsis

Central Works of Philosophy is a major multi-volume collection of essays on the core texts of the Western philosophical tradition. From Plato's Republic to the present day, the five volumes range over 2,500 years of philosophical writing covering the best, most representative, and most influential work of some of our greatest philosophers. Each essay has been specially commissioned and provides an overview of the work, clear and authoritative exposition of its central ideas, and an assessment of the work's importance. Together these books provide an unrivaled companion for studying and reading philosophy, one that introduces the reader to the masterpieces of the western philosophical canon. Much of nineteenth-century philosophy may be viewed as either an affirmation or rejection of Kant. This volume therefore begins with Kant's magnum opus, the Critique of Pure Reason. Michelle Grier provides a masterly distillation of this monumental work. Curtis Bowman explores the central text of the first of the great post-Kantian idealists, Fichte who extended Kantian philosophy in a new direction. Hegel, one of Kant's most formidable critics, is given incisive treatment by Michael Inwood in his presentation of the Phenomenology of Spirit. Schopenhauer's World as Will and Representation, which hoped to solve many of the problems that Kant's philosophy left unsolved is explored in Dale Jacquette's chapter. The moral philosophy of John Stuart Mill, perhaps the only philosopher in this volume to circumvent Kant's influence, is examined in Jonathan Riley's essay on his classic work On Liberty. The philosophical ideas of Kierkegaard, widely credited as the founder of modern existentialism, are explored by Stephen Evans in his essay on Philosophical Fragments. Marx's Capital, one of the most influential books of the modern age, is given expert treatment by Tom Rockmore. The volume closes with Nietzsche, whose appropriation of Kant led to a radical anti-philosophy. Rex Welshon dissects his most philosophical and widely read work, On the Genealogy of Morals.

Excerpt

The nineteenth century is perhaps most notable for an intellectual pluralism and a conflict of ideas to a degree never before witnessed. The philosophy of the Enlightenment, which emerged during the seventeenth century and reached its apogee in the eighteenth century, advocated the vigorous unrestricted application of argument and the studious appeal to evidence. It did not, in the nineteenth century, throw up one clear set of rationally based conclusions as to the nature of reality, knowledge, values and the best social order, as one might suppose it would given the ideals of argument and evidence. It did not deliver a singular definitive worldview or Weltanschauung (a term that came to have its modern philosophical meaning during the nineteenth century). Negatively it did, nevertheless, forever cast suspicion on protected authority, divorced from truly penetrating questioning and argument. Positively, it delivered up an abundance of scientific and technical success, which in the nineteenth century accelerated and increased to a level never before seen. It was at the intellectual foundation, in philosophy, that it failed to ground the whole edifice of human understanding once and for all. This was because of a problem that persists in philosophy to this day: the intellectual tools that would be used to attempt to ground the whole of human understanding themselves necessarily come into question in such an attempt. This is clearly a case of trying to lift oneself up by one’s own bootstraps. Various answers have since been developed to try to avoid, dismiss or at least ameliorate this problem; or else, finally, accept it as inevitable.
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