Written in 1949 and recently expanded for its third edition, this volume ranks, along with Löwith's book on Heidegger, as one of the two or three definitive studies of Existenzphilosophie in print. Müller shows how Heidegger's Seinsdenken really fulfills some of the perennial aims and resolves some of the deepest paradoxes of traditional philosophizing, and is not the radical departure it seems to be. This is a most refreshing and readable work, and it is unfortunate for American students that it (...) has not been translated.—T. E. V. (shrink)
Upon first reading this work, and without knowing its author, one may doubt its philosophical significance. Whereas philosophy implies wakefulness, the Reveries denotes dreams, "a shapeless diary" of the movements of the author’s soul. Often perceived as the product of Rousseau’s disturbed last years, seldom has it been used for interpreting his better known writings. It may therefore seem not surprising that two centuries should have passed before a scholarly English translation of high quality would appear, one that is indeed (...) prepared by a translator thoroughly grounded both in the tradition of Western philosophy and in the thought of Rousseau. Yet appearances notwithstanding, Charles Butterworth appends to his excellent translation an elaborate interpretative essay to justify the view that Rousseau’s last writing represents an ordered view that is not only philosophically interesting, but also reveals the basis of his paradoxical thought. (shrink)
The introductory revised essay, "Horses of Wrath: Recent Critical Lessons," followed by nine reprinted essays, pits the Christian Rationalist, Wimsatt, an aroused Horse of Instruction, against the Tigers of Wrath, Blakean Myth critics led by Northrop Frye. Their battleground is the relation of poetry to life: what for the Blakeans is the fearful symmetry of poetry as the apocalypse of life is for Wimsatt the hateful siege of contraries, both an anarchy of life and a confusion of poetic limits. Wimsatt (...) supports the classical and Christian notion that harmony comes "in spite of" the conflict of good and evil, not "because of" that conflict, as the Blakeans would claim. For Wimsatt, poetry's unique kind of cognition is the analogous perspective it establishes toward contraries, namely the perspective of drama and metaphor in which is created a mock substance of the human condition. But after Wimsatt's analysis, we are left with a dualism which can be itself a hateful contrary: the more poetry performs its perspective function, the more it destroys its subject matter. It is also to the credit of Wimsatt's theoretic hesitancy that he will not let us forget these contraries.—E. S. T. (shrink)
This book is a lucid and readable account of Spinoza, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, James, and Santayana, not only as contributors to present-day secularism, but as precursors of religious liberalism. Beck traces the theme of "secularism and human values" through these thinkers, though difficulties arise from the fact that they represent a radical divergence of philosophic interests, and in any case would hardly have recognized, much less defended, the particular variety of secularism and religious liberalism that has arisen in recent times, (...) and with which the author associates them.—T. E. V. (shrink)
This book argues that The question, What is religion? is a religious question, that cannot be answered by philosophy. In method, the book is part theological, part philosophical, and part historical, with no clear differentiation between them. It is an interesting specimen of the little-known philosophical school of "presuppositionalism," which has been influenced by recent Dutch Calvinist theologians, including Dooyeweerd.—T. E. V.
This is the first of the St. Thomas More lecture series given at Yale, and is written by one of the most noted Catholic intellectual historians. Presented to a general student audience, it traces in fluent style, with allusions in as well as outside of philosophy proper, the gradual decline of the dimension of the divine as a contemporary historical reality. Father Murray concludes that the "Death of God" in our times has brought theology back from preoccupation with correct articulations (...) to the fundamental problem of the "presence" of God in human life as it was understood in Biblical and patristic times.—T. E. V. (shrink)
A generous and articulate work, written for students beginning a study of philosophy, as well as for the general public. Its author, Professor at Northampton College of Advanced Technology in London, argues that "the impulse to philosophize springs from human perplexities and these are illuminated by the tradition of philosophy." The book is reminiscent of John MacMurray in content, though in style it is warmer and less polemical.—T. E. V.
Brodtkorb's "phenomenological reading" discusses the conceptually resistant realities, "World," "Body," "Others," and "Time," as they are interpreted in Moby Dick, and are focused by Melville in the inscrutable meaning of the white whale. "Mediation" is the key to interpretation, and, thus, the hero of the novel is Ishmael, who understands that the whale's meaning is constituted anew by each perceiver; Ishmael's mental life is a succession of attitudes—a series of "incantations"—which matches existence as process. From this phenomenological point of view, (...) Ahab's rigid interpretation of the whale as an allegory of divine malevolence is doomed, since allegory is a static mediated category, untrue to process. Yet this processional epistemology is itself in doubt if, as Brodtkorb admits, the uncertainty of the inscrutable is itself in question; and this doubt allows for the potential correctness of even Ahab's reductive allegorization. Thus, while Brodtkorb's phenomenology is a very sensitive instrument for indicating the shifting meanings of Melville's world, the final relation of potentially correct and incantatory concepts to this world is weakly conceived, due to the weakness of the instrument itself.—E. S. T. (shrink)
Although this is a work of biography rather than of philosophy, in presenting the life of a philosopher like de Tracy a good deal of attention is necessarily paid to presenting his thought. The author provides extensive discussions of the five volumes of the Elements d’ideologie, including the Grammaire, the Logique, and the Traité de la volonté et de ses effets. In addition, he describes how de Tracy developed his science to apply to political economy, morals, and politics. In both (...) cases the author seeks to show how de Tracy’s thought takes its bearings from his experiences in revolutionary France and from his readings of Locke, Condillac, Helvetius, d’Holbach, Diderot, and Voltaire. While preserving the materialist presuppositions of these antecedents, de Tracy’s originality, according to Kennedy, lies in applying their materialism to a novel theory of movement. Further, in applying this theory of movement to human things, de Tracy prepares for the modern historical interpretation of ideology. Unfortunately, the author does not elaborate what precisely distinguishes de Tracy’s theory of movement from similar theories in the Epicurean tradition which he follows. Further, he does not explain how de Tracy’s application of this theory of movement to history, at the same time as Hegel, affects the historical interpretation of "ideology" in a way that differs from Hegel and that yet explains the evolution of the concept of "ideology." We may conjecture that de Tracy’s incipient philosophy of history adumbrates later materialist theories of historical development as encountered in Comte, whom he inspired, or in John Stuart Mill, who as a young man had been acquainted with de Tracy. But this does not distinguish "the ideologue" from Voltaire, who is often credited with originating the philosophy of history and who was a source of de Tracy’s thought in so many other respects. (shrink)
A thorough and careful report on the variety and extent of offenses prosecuted by the Puritan churches from colonial times into the nineteenth century, with some asides on civil cases, such as the Salem witch trials. The text is lively with verbatim testimony. A large bibliography frankly notes the various reasons why some records are "unavailable."--E. T.
Contains a variety of short pieces, some published for the first time, whose main interest is biographical and historical. Included are Berkeley's sermons, a series of essays against free-thinking, travel journals, and two pieces on America.--E. T.
A systematic, capable, Catholic theory of history, combining historical analysis with constructive argumentation. The author is particularly sensitive to divergent trends in current Catholic and Protestant interpretations, including those of Rahner and Tillich. Though its philosophical content is minimal, the book should be of interest to students seeking a religious perspective on history.—T. E. V.