A History of Philosophy [Vol VIII]. Modern philosophy, by Frederick Copleston

By Frederick 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 a long way past the modest function of its writer to common acclaim because the most sensible 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 in regards to the life of God and the opportunity of metaphysics, knew that seminary scholars have been fed a woefully insufficient diet of theses and proofs, and that their familiarity with such a lot of history's nice thinkers used to be reduced to simplistic caricatures. Copleston set out to redress the inaccurate via writing an entire background of Western philosophy, one crackling with incident and intellectual pleasure -- and person who offers full place to every philosopher, proposing his idea in a beautifully rounded demeanour and displaying his links to those that went ahead of and to people who came after him.

The results of Copleston's prodigious labors is a heritage of philosophy that's not going ever to be handed. Thought journal summed up the final contract between students and scholars alike while it reviewed Copleston's A background of Philosophy as "broad-minded and target, complete and scholarly, unified and good proportioned... we can't suggest [it] too highly."

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As we have seen, he disagrees with Stewart's derivation of Euclidean geometry from pure definitions; but this disagreement is played down when it is a question of noting their substantial agreement about the nature of mathematics. 'a All that Whewell can show, when arguing against this opinion, is that the hypotheses are not arbitrary. ' Having said this, Mill then proceeds to get himself into an impossible position. An hypothesis, he remarks, is usually taken to be a postulate or assumption which is not known to be true but is surmised to be true, because, if it were true, it would account for certain facts.

In other words, 'all men' must be understood in terms of denotation. It means 'all particular men'. And if we know that aU particular men are mortal, we know that any particular man is mortal. The premisses of this argument are correct. That is to say, Mill does regard 'all men are mortal' as a real and not as a verbal proposition, and he does take up a nominalist position in his discussion of the syllogism. But the conclusion of the argument does not follow from the premisses. For according to Mill's nominalist theory 'all men are mortal' is a record of experience of particular facts, that is, of facts such as that Socrates and Julius Caesar both died.

262 (I, 2, 5, I). , I, p. 261 (I, 2, 5, I). , I, p. 263 (I, 2, 5, 2). , I, p. 261, Dote (I, 2, 5, I, Dote). 1 J. S. MILL: LOGIC AND EMPIRICISM 61 rather difficult to see what justification there is for speaking of 'hypotheses' at all. Nor is the situation improved when Mill says that to call the conclusions of geometry necessary truths is really to say that they follow correctly from suppositions which 'are not even true'. 1 What he means, of course, is that the necessity of the conclusions consists in the fact that they follow necessarily from the premisses.

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