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History of Modern Philosophy   By:

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From the Statue in the Campo dei Fiori, Rome.]

HISTORY OF MODERN PHILOSOPHY

by

A. W. BENN,

Author of "The History of English Rationalism in the Nineteenth Century," Etc.

[Illustration: GIORDANO BRUNO.

From the Statue in the Campo dei Fiori, Rome.]

[ISSUED FOR THE RATIONALIST PRESS ASSOCIATION, LIMITED]

London: Watts & Co., 17 Johnson's Court, Fleet Street, E.C. 1912

Printed by Watts and Co., Johnson's Court, Fleet Street, London, E.C.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I. PAGE THE PHILOSOPHICAL RENAISSANCE 1

CHAPTER II. THE METAPHYSICIANS 31

CHAPTER III. THE THEORISTS OF KNOWLEDGE 65

CHAPTER IV. THE GERMAN IDEALISTS 101

CHAPTER V. THE HUMANISTS OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY 124

BIBLIOGRAPHY 149

INDEX 153

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

GIORDANO BRUNO Frontispiece

PAGE FRANCIS BACON 13

RENÉ DESCARTES 34

BENEDICTUS SPINOZA 47

DAVID HUME 78

IMMANUEL KANT 86

G. W. F. HEGEL 111

ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER 117

AUGUSTE COMTE 128

HERBERT SPENCER 138

{1}

CHAPTER I.

THE PHILOSOPHICAL RENAISSANCE

For a thousand years after the schools of Athens were closed by Justinian philosophy made no real advance; no essentially new ideas about the constitution of nature, the workings of mind, or the ends of life were put forward. It would be false to say that during this period no progress was made. The civilisation of the Roman Empire was extended far beyond its ancient frontiers; and, although much ground was lost in Asia and Africa, more than the equivalent was gained in Northern Europe. Within Europe also the gradual abolition of slavery and the increasing dignity of peaceful labour gave a wider diffusion to culture, combined with a larger sense of human fellowship than any but the best minds of Greece and Rome had felt. Whether the status of women was really raised may be doubted; but the ideas and sentiments of women began to exercise an influence on social intercourse unknown before. And the arts of war and peace were in some ways almost revolutionised.

This remarkable phenomenon of movement in everything except ideas has been explained by the influence of Christianity, or rather of Catholicism. There is truth in the contention, but it is not the whole truth. The Church entered into a heritage that she did not create; she defined and accentuated tendencies that {2} long before her advent had secretly been at work. In the West that diffusion of civilisation which is her historic boast had been begun and carried far by the Rome whence her very name is taken. In the East the title of orthodox by which the Greek Church is distinguished betrays the presence of that Greek thought which moulded her dogmas into logical shape. What is more, the very idea of right belief as a vital and saving thing came to Christianity from Platonism, accompanied by the persuasion that wrong belief was immoral and its promulgation a crime to be visited by the penalty of death.

Ecclesiastical intolerance has been made responsible for the speculative stagnation of the Middle Ages, and it has been explained as an effect of the belief in the future punishment of heresy by eternal torments. But in truth the persecuting spirit was responsible for the dogma, not the dogma for persecution. And we must look for the underlying cause of the whole evil in the premature union of metaphysics with religion and morality first effected by Plato, or rather by the genius of Athens working through Plato. Indeed, on a closer examination we shall find that the slowing down of speculation had begun long before the advent of Christianity, and coincides with the establishment of its headquarters at Athens, where also the first permanent schools of philosophy were established... Continue reading book >>




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