Philosophic Thought in France and the United States: Essays Representing Major Trends in Contemporary French and American Philosophy

By Marvin Farber | Go to book overview

AN AMERICAN REACTION TO THE PRESENT SITUATION IN FRENCH PHILOSOPHY

Richard McKeon*


I. THE STATEMENT OF A PROBLEM

THE effort to organize or unify all aspects of knowledge and experience, which is one of the marks of the philosophic enterprise in even its derivative and casual forms, has always been joined, apparently inseparably, to the examination of the principles of other philosophers and to the demonstration of their insufficiencies and errors. The ideological conflict conspicuous in all fields of discussion and action today may be viewed as an extension of philosophic differences to political, social, scientific, artistic, and religious questions, in which the polemic oppositions of parties are the familiar consequences of efforts to advance the unique and universal use of particular sets of principles in the solution of problems. In the misuse and the controversial denunciation, no less than in the use, of philosophic principles and methods applied to practical action, to art, and to science, philosophy has found new possibilities for the exercise of functions frequently claimed for it. Philosophy in some form will contribute to the constitution of the new world which must emerge, by agreement or by force, from the disputes of the present, for the positions in dispute have been formulated in general and doctrinal terms, and the parties to the discussion are all mankind, grouped according to statements adapted to their aspirations and just claims, their traditions and needs. Philosophic principles and distinc-

____________________
*
Born in 1900. Ph.D., Columbia University, 1928. Studied from 1922 to 1925 in Paris, where he received the diplome d'études supérieures in philosophy at the Sorbonne and the diplome d'élève titulaire at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes. Formerly dean, Division of Humanities, and at present Distinguished Service Professor of Greek and Philosophy, University of Chicago. Served as member of the American Delegation to the General Conference of UNESCO. Author of The Philosophy of Spinoza, 1928, and of numerous articles in learned journals. Edited and translated Selections from Medieval Philosophers, 1929- 1930; edited The Basic Works of Aristotle, 1941, and Introduction to Aristotle, 1947. His "Introduction to the Philosophy of Cicero" will appear in a new translation of Cicero philosophic works in the autumn of 1949.

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