By Frederick Copleston
Conceived initially as a major presentation of the improvement of philosophy for Catholic seminary scholars, Frederick Copleston's nine-volume A background Of Philosophy has journeyed some distance past the modest goal of its writer to common acclaim because the top background of philosophy in English.
Copleston, an Oxford Jesuit of gigantic erudition who as soon as tangled with A. J. Ayer in a fabled debate concerning the life of God and the potential for metaphysics, knew that seminary scholars have been fed a woefully insufficient diet of theses and proofs, and that their familiarity with so much of history's nice thinkers used to be reduced to simplistic caricatures. Copleston set out to redress the incorrect through writing an entire background of Western philosophy, one crackling with incident and intellectual pleasure -- and person who provides full place to every philosopher, featuring his notion in a beautifully rounded demeanour and exhibiting his links to those that went earlier than and to those that came after him.
The results of Copleston's prodigious labors is a historical past of philosophy that's not going ever to be exceeded. Thought journal summed up the overall contract between students and scholars alike whilst it reviewed Copleston's A historical past of Philosophy as "broad-minded and target, entire and scholarly, unified and good proportioned... we can't suggest [it] too highly."
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Extra info for A History of Philosophy [Vol IX]
L This may be the case. But it does not seem necessary to postulate any radical change in Saint-Simon's position. He does indeed come to hold that social physiology has a special subject-matter, namely the social organism, which is more than a collection of individuals. But he demands that society should be studied by means of the same sort of method which is employed in other sciences. And if he adds a value-judgment, this does not necessarily involve him in a radical shift of position, not at any rate if we interpret him as referring to the importance of the science of man rather than as implying that man is qualitatively different from other things to an extent which precludes scientific study of human society.
There would not of course be any wars. Their place would be taken by gastronomic contests or competitions. 4 Some of Fourier's ideas strike most readers as odd or bizarre. Thus he believed that human soci~ regeneration would have remarkable effects not only in the animal kingdom but even among 1 It is hardly necessary to say that by passion Fourier does not mean something excessive and disordered, as when we say of someone that he flew into a passion or that he was carried away by ungovernable passion.
The point is however that SaintSimon arrived at his basic ideas well before the period of his association with Comte. And whatever some of his disciples may have said, Comte could bring himself on occasion, at any rate in correspondence, to recognize his debt to Saint-Simon. True, Comte worked out his ideas in his own way. But it is a question of deriving stimulus from Saint-Simon and being influenced by him in important respects rather than of slavish appropriation of ideas. In view of Comte's reputation as the founder of classical positivism it is as well to draw attention to the important role played by Saint-Simon.