Philosophy Today, Essays on Recent Developments in the Field of Philosophy

Philosophy Today, Essays on Recent Developments in the Field of Philosophy

Philosophy Today, Essays on Recent Developments in the Field of Philosophy

Philosophy Today, Essays on Recent Developments in the Field of Philosophy

Excerpt

Philosophy, like religion, has sometimes been conceived as an expression of "what a man does with his solitude." It is then regarded as an utterance of the meaning which an individual's deepest experiences possess for him, or as a conceptual formulation of a man's fundamental attitudes to life and the world. Thus Fichte once declared that the kind of philosophy one chooses depends upon the kind of person one is. Inasmuch as personalities, in his conviction, divide according as they insist upon freedom or surrender to determinism, he adopted a corresponding classification of world-views, though sometimes describing their contrasting forms as doctrines of act or activity and doctrines of being or substance. Or, again, we find philosophers whose central concern is the question whether or not the universe is friendly to man and possesses qualities worthy of reverence and worship; for such thinkers philosophies pivot according as they hold that nature is throughout mechanical or maintain that it is teleological, and is inclusive of spiritual values and realities.

That this interpretation of philosophy possesses a large element of truth will not be questioned by any one who has penetrated far into the classic systems of history. Yet is it not likewise true that it is precisely the greatest of the philosophers who belong most truly to a given age and environment? It is in these thinkers that the life and aspirations of a particular generation and land come to clearest and most concentrated expression. Thus, for example . . .

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