A History of Modern Philosophy

A History of Modern Philosophy

A History of Modern Philosophy

A History of Modern Philosophy

Excerpt

The primary purpose of this book is to introduce the history of modern occidental philosophy to college undergraduates who have had little or no previous acquaintance with philosophy, as well as to general readers not in attendance upon classes. The opening chapters are quite elementary, and by the time the more difficult philosophers are reached, the beginner will have gained his stride, and be ready for them.

In an introductory work, it is believed more important to direct attention to the achievements of each philosopher, to what affirmative truths he has discovered, than to his mistakes and inconsistencies, although the latter are not permitted to pass entirely without notice. Brief evaluations of a philosopher are occasionally offered from the respective standpoints of the realists, idealists, and pragmatists of our own time; among these I have endeavored to be impartial. The reader would derive altogether the wrong impression if he were to leave his study of the history of modern philosophy with the notion that it is the record of a series of failures, however brilliant. He will receive the right impression if he appreciates that while reality is too vast for any one thinker to have apprehended it completely, every major philosopher has disclosed insights for which the world is permanently his debtor.

A college course employing this book as a text could be conducted in different ways. For an ordinary three-hour course lasting one semester, there is ample material to keep a class profitably occupied. Some teachers of such a course, however, may prefer to omit a number of chapters, concentrate upon fewer philosophers, and assign supplementary reading in the sources, the writings of the philosophers them-

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