Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The March of Philosophy from Hobbes to Hume

Today I start reading the Volume III of A History of Western Philosophy by W. T. Jones, titled Hobbes to Hume. Volume I and Volume II were a great read and I anticipate a similar experience from Volume III.

This book has chapters on Hobbes, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley and Hume. But the analysis of the life and works of these philosophers starts from the chapter 4, which is on Hobbes.

The first three chapters are devoted to describing the intellectual and political background in these philosophers proposed their ideas. The first chapter is “Renaissance,” the second chapter is “Reformation,” and the third chapter is “Science and Scientific Method.”

Here’s an excerpt from the book’s Introduction:
Just as Greek philosophy, with its emphasis on independence, autonomy, and self-realization, seemed irrelevant to the survivors of the collapse of classical culture and the wreck of the Roman Empire, so medieval philosophy, with its emphasis on an infinitely good God and its assumption of man’s finitude and sin, could not satisfy the Renaissance man who emerged in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Shaped by capitalism and new money power, by the idea of sovereignty and ideals of Humanism, by the discovery of America and the Protestant reformation, this new man was an individualist increasingly concerned with this world and its values.  
Perhaps the most momentous element in the great change from medieval to modern times was the development of the scientific method. Indeed, if it can be said that classical philosophy was overthrown by the Christians’ discovery of God, then it can be said that the medieval philosophy was overthrown by the scientists’ discovery of nature. This discovery was not a merely revival of classical naturalism and secularism; it was the discovery of a world of facts that seemed indifferent to man and his affairs.

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