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Published: May 7, 2018 (5 years 11 months ago.)
Tags:  History · Philosophy

The book in...
One sentence:
A long and dry, but interesting, walk down the ages, taking in the progress of philosophy from the ancient world to the modern world, with a layover in the Catholic philosophy connecting them.

Five sentences:
The book is divided into three main sections. First the early ancient philosophy gives way to the middle Catholic philosophy, which acts as a connection to, lastly, modern philosophy. These three sections cover an enormous amount of history, but usually only scratches the surface. Each chapter, which briefly covers what could and is be a book in its own right, looks, usually, at a single philosopher. Overall I think the book is useful for not only its overview of the history of western philosophy, but as a look into Russell's thought process.

designates my notes. / designates important.


This book covers a lot of ground, but, while it is over 800 pages, it couldn’t possible go into any great detail. It is divided into three main sections: Ancient, Catholic, and Modern.

My main reason for reading this was to get a look into Bertrand Russell’s mind, to see how he sees. I was not let down, for there are numerous occasions where Russell puts forth his personal thoughts and feelings toward a particular subject.

Overall I’d say it was very approachable and possibly a nice primer for one interested in pursuing a more detailed examination of philosophy.

I read, on the internet, that there are a lot of errors within this book. Not being intimately familiar with most of what is covered the errors, if there are any, were unclear to me.

Most interesting to me was the Catholic portion of the book. The ancient view is often placed on a pedestal today, a pining for the good old days when Aristotle had figured everything out - from the gait of animals to the celestial spheres. Likewise, the modern is also lauded. How many people today praise Nietzsche and Kant, Hobbes or Rousseau? But the Catholic contributions are often excluded from the accolades. This is probably due to the anti-religious climate we live in, but it is, none-the-less, extremely interesting and important in linking the ancient and modern eras.

I am not going to attempt any great synopsis of this book, though, if you are interested in philosophy or Bertrand Russell, I can suggest it as worthwhile. Instead I will offer up a few “hmmm” passages that stuck out to me.

The first “illustrates the connections of the Sophists with the law-courts”:

There is a story about Protagoras, no doubt apocryphal, which illustrates the connection of the Sophists with the law-courts in the popular mind. It is said that he taught a young man on the terms that he should be paid his fee if the young man won his first law-suit, but not otherwise, and that the young man’s first law-suit was one brought by Protagoras for recovery of his fee.

There is no further examination of the sophist philosophy being one of victory, no mention of clever, but not necessarily factual, arguments, which should be better called fallacies, being employed to win the case. Exactly what we see in the modern court system, which has no use for truth in lieu of a compelling argument. Crudely, it reminds me of the old Edgar Snyder advertisement (how effective was it I still remember it after a decade since last seeing it?) where he states, “there’s no fee unless we get money for you!”

Next is nothing but pure speculation on my part. Interesting to consider, but it proves nothing.

Athens had lagged behind many other Greek cities; neither in art nor in literature had it produced any great man (except Solon, who was primarily a lawgiver).

I was immediately reminded of Fomenko’s work and drawn to compare Solon to Solomon, both lawgivers.

Lastly, I found it extremely interesting, and quite a bit telling, that the Piltdown man is used as an example. This hoax was used for such a long time that, even if it is fake, the damage it caused, the belief in it so solid, that generations of people have been misled. While the hoax is no longer fooling anyone (if they even know what it is), the foundation it laid in support of the Darwinian evolution theory is most certainly gospel among many still today. One wonders what would have come of the theory had hoaxes like this not lent it credibility.

Further, is it a coincidence that Bertrand Russell ran in the same circles as Aldous Huxley, who’s Brave New World is based off of Russell’s Scientific Outlook. Is it coincidence that Teilhard de Chardin’s hoax was promoted by Darwin’s bulldog, none other than T.H. Huxley, grandfather to Aldous? The oligarchical fingerprints act like breadcrumbs, back to the same self-proclaimed elite over and over again.

The book concludes with a succinct consideration:

Philosophy, throughout its history, has consisted of two parts inharmoniously blended: on the one hand a theory as to the nature of the world, on the other an ethical or political doctrine as to the best way of living. The failure to separate these two with sufficient clarity has been a source of much confused thinking.

Further Reading

Exceptional Excerpts

Every community is exposed to two opposite dangers: ossification through too much discipline and reverence for tradition, on the one hand; on the other hand, dissolution, or subjection to foreign conquest, through the growth of an individualism and personal independence that makes co-operation impossible. In general, important civilizations start with a rigid and superstitious system, gradually relaxed, and leading, at a certain stage, to a period of brilliant genius, while the good of the old tradition remains and the evil inherent in its dissolution has not yet developed

It might seem that the empirical philosopher is the slave of his material, but that the pure mathematician, like the musician, is a free creator of his world of ordered beauty.

Geometry, as established by the Greeks, starts with axioms which are (or are deemed to be) self-evident, and proceeds, by deductive reasoning, to arrive at theorems that are very far from self-evident. The axioms and theorems are held to be true of actual space, which is something given in experience. It thus appeared to be possible to discover things about the actual world by first noticing what is self-evident and then using deduction. This view influenced Plato and Kant, and most of the intermediate philosophers. When the Declaration of Independence says “we hold these truths to be self evident,” it is modelling itself on Euclid. The eighteenth-century doctrine of natural rights is a search for Euclidean axioms in politics.

“Self-evident” was substituted by Franklin for Jefferson’s “sacred and undeniable."

Personal religion is derived from ecstasy, theology from mathematics; and both are to be found in Pythagoras.

In studying a philosopher, the right attitude is neither reverence nor contempt, but first a kind of hypothetical sympathy, until it is possible to know what it feels like to believe in his theories, and only then a revival of the critical attitude, which should resemble, as far as possible, the state of mind of a person abandoning opinions which he has hitherto held. Contempt interferes with the first part of this process, and reverence with the second. Two things are to be remembered: that a man whose opinions and theories are worth studying may be presumed to have had some intelligence, but that no man is likely to have arrived at complete and final truth on any subject whatever. When an intelligent man expresses a view which seems to us obviously absurd, we should not attempt to prove that it is somehow true, but we should try to understand how it ever came to seem true.

The doctrine that everything is in a state of flux is the most famous of the opinions of Heraclitus, and the one most emphasised by his disciples, as described in Plato Theaetetus.

The doctrine of Parmenides was set forth in a poem On Nature. He considered the senses deceptive, and condemned the multitude of sensible things as mere illusion. The only true being is “the One,” which is infinite and indivisible.

Athenian democracy, though it had the grave limitation of not including slaves or women, was in some respects more democratic than any modern system. Judges and most executive officers were chosen by lot, and served for short periods; they were thus average citizens, like our jurymen, with the prejudices and lack of professionalism characteristic of average citizens. In general, there were a large number of judges to hear each case. The plaintiff and defendant, or prosecutor and accused, appeared in person, not through professional lawyers. Naturally, success or failure depended largely on oratorical skill in appealing to popular prejudices. Although a man had to deliver his own speech, he could hire an expert to write the speech for him, or, as many preferred, he could pay for instruction in the arts required for success in the law courts. These arts the Sophists were supposed to teach.

The disbelief in objective truth makes the majority, for practical purposes, the arbiters as to what to believe.

He [Socrates] would ask such questions as: “If I wanted a shoe mended, whom should I employ?” To which some ingenuous youth would answer: “A shoemaker, O Socrates.” He would go on to carpenters, coppersmiths, etc., and finally ask some such question as “who should mend the Ship of State?"

The close connection between virtue and knowledge is characteristic of Socrates and Plato. To some degree, it exists in all Greek thought, as opposed to that of Christianity. In Christian ethics, a pure heart is the essential, and is at least as likely to be found among the ignorant as among the learned.

As for economics: Plato proposes a thoroughgoing communism for the guardians … The guardians are to have small houses and simple food; they are to live as in a camp, dining together in companies; they are to have no private property beyond what is absolutely necessary. Gold and silver are to be forbidden. Though not rich, there is no reason why they should not be happy; but the purpose of the city is the good of the whole, not the happiness of one class. Both wealth and poverty are harmful, and in Plato’s city neither will exist.

With feigned unwillingness, the Platonic Socrates proceeds to apply his communism to the family. Friends, he says, should have all things in common, including women and children. He admits that this presents difficulties, but thinks them not insuperable. First of all, girls are to have exactly the same education as boys, learning music, gymnastics, and the art of war along with the boys. Women are to have complete equality with men in all respects.

“These women shall be, without exception, the common wives of these men, and no one shall have a wife of his own."

At certain festivals, brides and bridegrooms, in such numbers as are required to keep the population constant, will be brought together, by lot, as they will be taught to believe; but in fact the rulers of the city will manipulate the lots on eugenic principles.

All children will be taken away from their parents at birth, and great care will be taken that no parents shall know who are their children, and no children shall know who are their parents.

intercourse is to be free, but abortion or infanticide is to be compulsory.

Lying, Plato says explicitly, is to be a prerogative of the government, just as giving medicine is of physicians.

On questions of fact, we can appeal to science and scientific methods of observation; but on ultimate questions of ethics there seems to be nothing analogous. Yet, if this is really the case, ethical disputes resolve themselves into contests for power– including propaganda power.

Thrasymachus proclaims emphatically that “justice is nothing else than the interest of the stronger."

We saw that God made only one bed, and it would be natural to suppose that he made only one straight line. But if there is a heavenly triangle, he must have made at least three straight lines. The objects of geometry, though ideal, must exist in many examples; we need the possibility of two intersecting circles, and so on.

Plato proceeds to an interesting sketch of the education proper to a young man who is to be a guardian. We saw that the young man is selected for this honour on the ground of a combination of intellectual and moral qualities: he must be just and gentle, fond of learning, with a good memory and a harmonious mind. The young man who has been chosen for these merits will spend the years from twenty to thirty on the four Pythagorean studies: arithmetic, geometry (plane and solid), astronomy, and harmony.

What the above argument amounts to is that, whatever else may be in perpetual flux, the meanings of words must be fixed, at least for a time, since otherwise no assertion is definite, and no assertion is true rather than false. There must be something more or less constant, if discourse and knowledge are to be possible.

unless words, to some extent, had fixed meanings, discourse would be impossible. Here again, however, it is easy to be too absolute. Words do change their meanings; take, for example, the word “idea.” It is only by a considerable process of education that we learn to give to this word something like the meaning which Plato gave to it. It is necessary that the changes in the meanings of words should be slower than the changes that the words describe; but it is not necessary that there should be no changes in the meanings of words

It will be seen that this doctrine is optimistic and teleological: the universe and everything in it is developing towards something continually better than what went before.

The world is continually evolving towards a greater degree of form, and thus becoming progressively more like God. But the process cannot be completed, because matter cannot be wholly eliminated. This is a religion of progress and evolution…

The natural way to get wealth is by skilful management of house and land. To the wealth that can be made in this way there is a limit, but to what can be made by trade there is none. Trade has to do with money, but wealth is not the acquisition of coin. Wealth derived from trade is justly hated, because it is unnatural. “The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. . . . Of all modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural”

I wrote an essay once, called “Architecture and the Social System,” in which I pointed out that all who combine communism with abolition of the family also advocate communal houses for large numbers, with communal kitchens, dining-rooms, and nurseries. This system may be described as monasteries without celibacy.

There are three kinds of government that are good: monarchy, aristocracy, and constitutional government (or polity); there are three that are bad: tyranny, oligarchy, and democracy.

The three things needed to prevent revolution are government propaganda in education, respect for law, even in small things, and justice in law and administration

pan class=“important”>All social inequality, in the long run, is inequality of income.

Aristotle’s most important work in logic is the doctrine of the syllogism. A syllogism is an argument consisting of three parts, a major premiss, a minor premiss, and a conclusion.

The temples, in the Hellenistic world, were the bankers; they owned the gold reserve, and controlled credit. In the early third century, the temple of Apollo at Delos made loans at ten per cent; formerly, the rate of interest had been higher.

Why trouble about the future? It is wholly uncertain. You may as well enjoy the present; “What’s to come is still unsure.” For these reasons, Scepticism enjoyed a considerable popular success.

It is no wonder that the Epicureans contributed practically nothing to natural knowledge. They served a useful purpose by their protest against the increasing devotion of the later pagans to magic, astrology, and divination; but they remained, like their founder, dogmatic, limited, and without genuine interest in anything outside individual happiness.

Socrates was the chief saint of the Stoics throughout their history; his attitude at the time of his trial, his refusal to escape, his calmness in the face of death, and his contention that the perpetrator of injustice injures himself more than his victim, all fitted in perfectly with Stoic teaching. So did his indifference to heat and cold, his plainness in matters of food and dress, and his complete independence of all bodily comforts.

suitable drugs forcibly administered, willpower can be destroyed. Take Epictetus’s favorite case, the man unjustly imprisoned by a tyrant, of which there have been more examples in recent years than at any other period in human history. Some of these men have acted with Stoic heroism; some, rather mysteriously, have not. It has become clear, not only that sufficient torture will break down almost any man’s fortitude, but also that morphia or cocaine can reduce a man to docility. The will, in fact, is only independent of the tyrant so long as the tyrant is unscientific.

Third: the importance of the long Roman peace in diffusing culture and in accustoming men to the idea of a single civilization associated with a single government.

To understand Marx psychologically, one should use the following dictionary:

Yahweh = Dialectical Materialism
The Messiah = Marx
The Elect = The Proletariat
The Church = The Communist Party
The Second Coming = The Revolution
Hell = Punishment of the Capitalists
The Millennium = The Communist Commonwealth

What follows is an abstract of the Summa contra Gentiles: Let us first consider what is meant by “wisdom.” A man may be wise in some particular pursuit, such as making houses; this implies that he knows the means to some particular end. But all particular ends are subordinate to the end of the universe, and wisdom per se is concerned with the end of the universe. Now the end of the universe is the good of the intellect, i.e., truth. The pursuit of wisdom in this sense is the most perfect, sublime, profitable, and delightful of pursuits. All this is proved by appeal to the authority of “The Philosopher,” i.e., Aristotle.

God is truth. (This is to be understood literally.)

Matrimony should be indissoluble, because the father is needed in the education of the children,

Boniface VIII, in the Bull Unam Sanctam, made more extreme claims than had ever been made by any previous Pope. He instituted, in 1300, the year of Jubilee, when plenary indulgence is granted to all Catholics who visit Rome and perform certain ceremonies while there. This brought immense sums of money to the coffers of the Curia and the pockets of the Roman people. There was to be a Jubilee every hundredth year, but the profits were so great that the period was shortened to fifty years, and then to twenty-five, at which it remains to the present day.

This form of government, however, if it spreads, must obviously bring with it a new form of culture; the culture with which we shall be concerned is in the main “liberal," that is to say, of the kind most naturally associated with commerce. To this there are important exceptions, especially in Germany; Fichte and Hegel, to take two examples, have an outlook which is totally unconnected with commerce. But such exceptions are not typical of their age.

Modern philosophy, however, has retained, for the most part, an individualistic and subjective character. This is very marked in Descartes, who builds up all knowledge from the certainty of his own existence, and accepts clearness and distinctness (both subjective) as criteria of truth. It is not prominent in Spinoza, but reappears in Leibniz’s windowless monads. Locke, whose temperament is thoroughly objective, is forced reluctantly into the subjective doctrine that knowledge is of the agreement or disagreement of ideas–a view so repulsive to him that he escapes from it by violent inconsistencies. Berkeley, after abolishing matter, is only saved from complete subjectivism by a use of God which most subsequent philosophers have regarded as illegitimate. In Hume, the empiricist philosophy culminated in a scepticism which none could refute and none could accept. Kant and Fichte were subjective in temperament as well as in doctrine; Hegel saved himself by means of the influence of Spinoza. Rousseau and the romantic movement extended subjectivity from theory of knowledge to ethics and politics, and ended, logically, in complete anarchism such as that of Bakunin. This extreme of subjectivism is a form of madness.

The Renaissance was not a popular movement; it was a movement of a small number of scholars and artists, encouraged by liberal patrons, especially the Medici and the humanist popes.

It is true that power, often, depends upon opinion, and opinion upon propaganda; it is true, also, that it is an advantage in propaganda to seem more virtuous than your adversary, and that one way of seeming virtuous is to be virtuous.

Raphael Hythloday [the protagonist of Utopia] relates that he preached Christianity to the Utopians, and that many were converted when they learnt that Christ was opposed to private property. The importance of communism is constantly stressed; almost at the end we are told that in all other nations “I can perceive nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men procuring their own commodities under the name and title of the common wealth."

Diversity is essential to happiness, and in Utopia there is hardly any. This is a defect of all planned social systems, actual as well as imaginary.

Protestant success, at first amazingly rapid, was checked mainly as a resultant of Loyola’s creation of the Jesuit order. Loyola had been a soldier, and his order was founded on military models; there must be unquestioning obedience to the General, and every Jesuit was to consider himself engaged in warfare against heresy. As early as the Council of Trent, the Jesuits began to be influential. They were disciplined, able, completely devoted to the cause, and skilful propagandists. Their theology was the opposite of that of the Protestants; they rejected those elements of Saint Augustine’s teaching which the Protestants emphasized. They believed in free will, and opposed predestination. Salvation was not by faith alone, but by both faith and works.

They concentrated on education, and thus acquired a firm hold on the minds of the young. Whenever theology did not interfere, the education they gave was the best obtainable; we shall see that they taught Descartes more mathematics than he would have learnt elsewhere.

Hobbes considers the question why men cannot co-operate like ants and bees. Bees in the same hive, he says, do not compete; they have no desire for honour; and they do not use reason to criticize the government. Their agreement is natural, but that of men can only be artificial, by covenant. The covenant must confer power on one man or one assembly, since otherwise it cannot be enforced. “Covenants, without the sword, are but words." ( President Wilson unfortunately forgot this.) The covenant is not, as afterwards in Locke and Rousseau, between the citizens and the ruling power; it is a covenant made by the citizens with each other to obey such ruling power as the majority shall choose. When they have chosen, their political power is at an end. The minority is as much bound as the majority, since the covenant was to obey the government chosen by the majority. When the government has been chosen, the citizens lose all rights except such as the government may find it expedient to grant. There is no right of rebellion, because the ruler is not bound by any contract, whereas the subjects are.

He regarded the bodies of men and animals as machines; animals he regarded as automata, governed entirely by the laws of physics, and devoid of feeling or consciousness. Men are different: they have a soul, which resides in the pineal gland. There the soul comes in contact with the “vital spirits,” and through this contact there is interaction between soul and body. The total quantity of motion in the universe is constant, and therefore the soul cannot affect it; but it can alter the direction of motion of the animal spirits, and hence, indirectly, of other parts of the body.

Spinoza does not, like the Stoics, object to all emotions; he objects only to those that are “passions,” i.e., those in which we appear to ourselves to be passive in the power of outside forces. “An emotion which is a passion ceases to be a passion as soon as we form a clear and distinct idea of it.” Understanding that all things are necessary helps the mind to acquire power over the emotions. “He who clearly and distinctly understands himself and his emotions, loves God, and so much the more as he more understands himself and his emotions." This proposition introduces us to the “intellectual love of God,” in which wisdom consists. The intellectual love of God is a union of thought and emotion: it consists, I think one may say, in true thought combined with joy in the apprehension of truth.

Every increase in the understanding of what happens to us consists in referring events to the idea of God, since, in truth, everything is part of God. This understanding of everything as part of God is love of God. When all objects are referred to God, the idea of God will fully occupy the mind.

The hereditary principle has almost vanished from politics.

Throughout the Middle Ages, the law of nature was held to condemn “usury,” i.e., lending money at interest. Church property was almost entirely in land, and landowners have always been borrowers rather than lenders. But when Protestantism arose, its support–especially the support of Calvinism–came chiefly from the rich middle class, who were lenders rather than borrowers. Accordingly first Calvin, then other Protestants, and finally the Catholic Church, sanctioned “usury.”

As a rule, the man who first thinks of a new idea is so much ahead of his time that every one thinks him silly, so that he remains obscure and is soon forgotten. Then, gradually, the world becomes ready for the idea, and the man who proclaims it at the fortunate moment gets all the credit.

A new international Social Contract is necessary before we can enjoy the promised benefits of government. When once an international government has been created, much of Locke’s political philosophy will again become applicable, though not the part of it that deals with private property.

both in England and in America, big business on the whole dislikes war.

”…the truth of my hypothesis, that all our reasonings concerning causes and effects are derived from nothing but custom; and that belief is more properly an act of the sensitive, than of the cogitative part of our natures."

To this extent, Hume has proved that pure empiricism is not a sufficient basis for science. But if this one principle is admitted, everything else can proceed in accordance with the theory that all our knowledge is based on experience.

Revolt of solitary instincts against social bonds is the key to the philosophy, the politics, and the sentiments, not only of what is commonly called the romantic movement, but of its progeny down to the present day.

The old arguments at least were honest: if valid, they proved their point; if invalid, it was open to any critic to prove them so. But the new theology of the heart dispenses with argument; it cannot be refuted, because it does not profess to prove its points.

What we call democracy he calls elective aristocracy; this, he says, is the best of all governments, but it is not suitable to all countries.

The Social Contract became the Bible of most of the leaders in the French Revolution, but no doubt, as is the fate of Bibles, it was not carefully read and was still less understood by many of its disciples.

Kant’s vigour and freshness of mind in old age are shown by his treatise on Perpetual Peace (1795). In this work he advocates a federation of free States, bound together by a covenant forbidding war. Reason, he says, utterly condemns war, which only an international government can prevent.

Men are born ignorant, not stupid; they are made stupid by education.

He [Condorcet] was a believer in the equality of women. He was also the inventor of Malthus’s theory of population, which, however, had not for him the gloomy consequences that it had for Malthus, because he coupled it with the necessity of birth control. Malthus’s father was a disciple of Condorcet, and it was in this way that Malthus came to know of the theory.

Marx himself, though his. doctrines are in some respects pre- Darwinian, wished to dedicate his book to Darwin.

first, the power of man in his conflicts with nature, and then the power of rulers as against the human beings whose beliefs and aspirations they seek to control by scientific propaganda, especially education. The result is a diminution of fixity; no change seems impossible. Nature is raw material; so is that part of the human race which does not effectively participate in government.

Truth and falsehood are not sharply defined opposites, as is commonly supposed; nothing is wholly false, and nothing that we can know is wholly true.

Hegel does not mean only that, in some situations, a nation cannot rightly avoid going to war. He means much more than this. He is opposed to the creation of institutions–such as a world government –which would prevent such situations from arising, because he thinks it a good thing that there should be wars from time to time. War, he says, is the condition in which we take seriously the vanity of temporal goods and things. (This view is to be contrasted with the opposite theory, that all wars have economic causes.) War has a positive moral value: “War has the higher significance that through it the moral health of peoples is preserved in their indifference towards the stabilizing of finite determinations.” Peace is ossification; the Holy Alliance, and Kant’s League for Peace, are mistaken, because a family of States needs an enemy. Conflicts of States can only be decided by war

Nietzsche’s ethic is not one of self-indulgence in any ordinary sense; he believes in Spartan discipline and the capacity to endure as well as inflict pain for important ends. He admires strength of will above all things. “I test the power of a will,” he says, “according to the amount of resistance it can offer and the amount of pain and torture it can endure and know how to turn to its own advantage; I do not point to the evil and pain of existence with the finger of reproach, but rather entertain the hope that life may one day become more evil and more full of suffering than it has ever been.” He regards compassion as a weakness to be combated. “The object is to attain that enormous energy of greatness which can model the man of the future by means of discipline and also by means of the annihilation of millions of the bungled and botched, and which can yet avoid going to ruin at the sight of the suffering created thereby, the like of which has never been seen before."

Nietzsche is not a nationalist, and shows no excessive admiration for Germany. He wants an international ruling race, who are to be the lords of the earth: “a new vast aristocracy based upon the most severe self-discipline, in which the will of philosophical men of power and artist-tyrants will be stamped upon thousands of years."

Dr. Dewey’s world, it seems to me, is one in which human beings occupy the imagination…

Table of Contents

· Preface

· Introduction

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Part I. The Pre-Socratics

· 01: The Rise of Greek Civilization

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· 02: The Milesian School

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· 03: Pythagoras

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· 04: Heraclitus

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· 05: Parmenides

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· 06: Empedocles

· 07: Athens in Relation to Culture

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· 08: Anaxagoras

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· 09: The Atomists

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· 10: Protagoras

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Part II. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle

· 11: Socrates

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· 12: The Influence of Sparta

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· 13: The Sources of Plato’s Opinions

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· 14: Plato’s Utopia

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· 15: The Theory of Ideas

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· 16: Plato’s Theory of Immortality

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· 17: Plato’s Cosmogony

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· 18: Knowledge and Perception in Plato

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· 19: Aristotle’s Metaphysics

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· 20: Aristotle’s Ethics

· 21: Aristotle’s Politics

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All social inequality, in the long run, is inequality of income.

· 22: Aristotle’s Logic

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· 23: Aristotle’s Physics

· 24: Early Greek Mathematics and Astronomy

Part III. Ancient Philosophy after Aristotle

· 25: The Hellenistic World

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· 26: Cynics and Sceptics

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· 27: The Epicureans

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· 28: Stoicism

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· 29: The Roman Empire in Relation to Culture

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· 30: Plotinus

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We now come to the Second Person, whom Plotinus calls nous. It is always difficult to find an English word to represent nous. The standard dictionary translation is “mind,” but this does not have the correct connotations, particularly when the word is used in a religious philosophy. If we were to say that Plotinus put mind above soul, we should give a completely wrong impression. McKenna, the translator of Plotinus, uses “Intellectual-Principle,” but this is awkward, and does not suggest an object suitable for religious veneration. Dean Inge uses “Spirit,” which is perhaps the best word available. But it leaves out the intellectual element which was important in all Greek religious philosophy after Pythagoras. Mathematics, the world of ideas, and all thought about what is not sensible, have, for Pythagoras, Plato, and Plotinus, something divine; they constitute the activity of nous, or at least the nearest approach to its activity that we can conceive. It was this intellectual element in Plato’s religion that led Christians–notably the author of Saint John’s Gospel–to identify Christ with the Logos. Logos should be translated “reason” in this connection; this prevents us from using “reason” as the translation of nous. I shall follow Dean Inge in using “Spirit,” but with the proviso that nous has an intellectual connotation which is absent from “Spirit” as usually understood. But often I shall use the word nous untranslated.

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· Introduction

Part I. The Fathers

· 01: The Religious Development of the Jews

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· 02: Christianity During the First Four Centuries

· 03: Three Doctors of the Church

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· 04: Saint Augustine’s Philosophy and Theology

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Yahweh = Dialectical Materialism
The Messiah = Marx
The Elect = The Proletariat
The Church = The Communist Party
The Second Coming = The Revolution
Hell = Punishment of the Capitalists
The Millennium = The Communist Commonwealth
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· 05: The Fifth and Sixth Centuries

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· 06: Saint Benedict and Gregory the Great

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Part II. The Schoolmen

· 07: The Papacy in the Dark Ages

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· 08: John the Scot

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· 09: Ecclesiastical Reform in the Eleventh Century

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· 10: Mohammedan Culture and Philosophy

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· 11: The Twelfth Century

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· 12: The Thirteenth Century

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· 13: Saint Thomas Aquinas

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· 14: Franciscan Schoolmen

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· 15: The Eclipse of the Papacy

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Part I. From the Renaissance to Hume

· 01: General Characteristic

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· 02: The Italian Renaissance

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· 03: Machiavelli

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· 04: Erasmus and More

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· 05: The Reformation and CounterReformation

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· 06: The Rise of Science

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· 07: Francis Bacon

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· 08: Hobbes’s Leviathan

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· 09: Descartes

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· 10: Spinoza

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· 11: Leibniz

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· 12: Philosophical Liberalism

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· 13: Locke’s Theory of Knowledge

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· 14: Locke’s Political Philosophy

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· 15: Locke’s Influence

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· 16: Berkeley

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· 17: Hume

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Part II. From Rousseau to the Present Day

· 18: The Romantic Movement

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· 19: Rousseau

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· 20: Kant

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· 21: Currents of Thought in the Nineteenth Century

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· 22: Hegel

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· 23: Byron

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· 24: Schopenhauer

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· 25: Nietzsche

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· 26: The Utilitarians

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· 27: Karl Marx

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· 28: Bergson

· 29: William James

· 30: John Dewey

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· 31: The Philosophy of Logical Analysis

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