Contemporary European Philosophy

Contemporary European Philosophy

Contemporary European Philosophy

Contemporary European Philosophy

Excerpt

This book hopes to achieve a double purpose. First, it aims at providing a general guide in the domain of contemporary philosophy for the reader who is without any specialist training in the subject; second, it is hoped that those who have completed this general survey will find suggestions here for more systematic studies of their own. These considerations taken together formed an urgent motive for this undertaking, because apart from the work of M. F. Sciacca (in Italian) we have no recent introductory survey which gives an account of either the growing penetration, or the newly won regions of contemporary thought. I feel that this introduction is all the more justified in that Sciacca's otherwise excellent book does not fulfil my second purpose.

The present undertaking was a thankless task for three reasons. In the first place, its completion meant that for a long time I had to abandon those more detailed investigations which alone retain a real hold upon philosophers and historians of philosophy. On the other hand, as I know only too well, such a work can never prove satisfactory. This limitation was expressed by one of the most distinguished philosophers of our time, Bertrand Russell, when he dealt with it as far as he himself was concerned, in his History of Western Philosophy, and what he says there (page x) applies far more to this present work. The knowledge that a whole lifetime of study is necessary for a deep understanding of even a single philosopher is not altogether an encouragement to writing such books as this. Finally, one is forced to schematize and make painful amputations in any such work; and yet there is no other course available when the number of pages for each author is so limited. It is easy to imagine what one makes of the philosophy of a . . .

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