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By Frederick C. Copleston

Conceived initially as a major presentation of the improvement of philosophy for Catholic seminary scholars, Frederick Copleston's nine-volume A historical past Of Philosophy has journeyed some distance past the modest objective of  its writer to common acclaimas the simplest heritage of philosophy in English.Copleston, an Oxford Jesuit of large erudition who as soon as tangled with A.J. Ayer in a fabled debate concerning the life of God and the potential of metaphysics, knew that seminary scholars have been fed a woefully insufficient vitamin of theses and proofs, and that their familiarity with such a lot of history's nice thinkers was once decreased to simplistic caricatures.  Copleston got down to redress the inaccurate by way of writing an entire heritage of Western philosophy, one crackling with incident and highbrow pleasure - and person who provides complete position to every philosopher, featuring his concept in a superbly rounded demeanour and exhibiting his hyperlinks to those that got here after him.

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Additional resources for A History of Philosophy, Vol. 4: Modern Philosophy From Descartes to Leibniz

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David Hume had affiliations with this current of thought in that he found the basis of moral attitudes and distinctions in feeling rather than in reasoning or the intuition of eternal and self-evident principles. B u t at the same time he contributed to the growth of utilitarianism. In the case of several important virtues, for example, the feeling or sentiment of moral approbation is directed towards that which is socially useful. In France utilitarianism was represented b y Claude Helvetius (1715-71), who did much to prepare the w a y for the utilitarian moral theories of Bentham, James and John Stuart Mill in the nineteenth century.

A t the same time, though Newton was not primarily a philosopher, he did not hesitate to go beyond physics or 'experimental philosophy' and to indulge in metaphysical speculation. Indeed, the confident way in which he drew metaphysical conclusions from physical hypotheses was attacked by Berkeley who saw that the tenuous character of the connections between Newton's physics and his theological conclusions might make a (for Berkeley) unfortunate impression on men's minds. A n d in point of fact a number of French philosophers of the eighteenth century, while accepting Newton's general approach t o physics, employed it in a nontheistic setting which was alien to the latter's mind.

Here we have the policy of economic laissez-faire. It reflects to some extent the liberalism of Locke; but it is obviously based on a naive belief in the harmony between the operation of natural laws 1 and the attainment of the greatest happiness of the greatest number. We have noticed the dismal materialism expounded by some of 1 Clearly, the term 'natural law', as used in this context, must be sharply distinguished from the term when used in the context of a 'rationalist' system of ethics. INTRODUCTION ii the French philosophers of the eighteenth century.

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