Overview of 18th & 19th Century Philosophy
A Study and Critique
The philosophers of the 18th and 19th centuries carried forward, in the main, the theories of Bacon, Locke, Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz, and tried to reason the world out of existence. Existence is reduced to thoughts or idea, to will-force or elan. This is nothing new, nor was it new in the 18th or 19th century. It is the core of the old Eleatic philosophy, and it is latent in every sophist, skeptic, and relativist theory of things and thoughts.
We shall discuss very briefly the doctrines of Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Comte, Spencer, James, and Bergson, with incidental mention of Fichte, von Schelling, Mill, and Dewey. We shall notice the revival of Classical Realism.
1. George Berkeley (1695-1753), Kilkenny born, and Protestant Bishop of Cloyne in Ireland, was idealist in philosophy, but not in such matter of fact things as money. He worked hard to secure a grant from the English Government for the purpose of founding in Bermuda a great college to train missionaries for the conversion of America. Indeed, he had the promise of 20,000, and, on the strength of it, he went to Rhode Island to secure the interest and help of New Englanders. But the politicians failed him; the promised money was not voted.
Perhaps his experience with practical politics helped turn him into an utter idealist -- but no, attractive as the thought remains, it cannot be so; for Berkeley's significant writing was all done by 1715, and he did not visit America until 1728. His chief philosophical work was a treatise on The Principles of Human Understanding.
Notice how steadily the basic question, that is, the epistemological question, held the attention of all philosophers during the centuries of the early modern era. And still that question was not sanely treated nor brought to full answer. Despite their constant cry for clarity in knowledge, the philosophers of this time succeeded only in making knowledge more misty and valueless.
Berkeley goes confidently to work to explain the human mind and its relation to reality. He says that if anything exists at all, it exists as knowable, and there exists a mind capable of knowing it. Further, each man's knowing is what gives him the world he knows. The very being of things is, for each person who knows them, the perceiving of them: esse est percipi, "to exist is to be perceived."
Now, there is ultimate reality in the Divine Mind. Each human mind somehow shares the creative perceiving of the Divine Mind. Thus while Berkeley is idealist, he is not utter subjectivist. He once wrote, "I question not the existence of anything we perceive by our senses." But he should have added that "existence" means to him "existence in the mind," and basically in the Divine Mind.
2. David Hume (1711-1776), native of Edinburgh and a product of its university, denied the existence of all substantial reality, material or spiritual. In his Treatise on Human Nature he declares that man's mind is only a collection of perceptions. These perceptions are either impressions or ideas. Impressions are sensations of pleasure, pain, awareness of qualities and relations. Ideas are but the faintly remembered images of impressions formerly experienced. This vague philosophy has a very modern sound: a collection of impressions collected nowhere; contents of a mind which is not a container. Here we have the smug unintelligibility of the modern neo-realist's definition of mind as "a cross-section of the environment."
Hume does not deny God, but he denies the value of the customary proofs for God's existence, since these are based upon a reality which he does not accept. He is inconsistent, however, for in his Natural History of Religion he writes: "The whole frame of nature bespeaks an intelligent Author."
In morals, Hume set up the public good as the standard of right and wrong, and assigns to feelings rather than to reason the task of applying this ethical norm.
In summary, Hume holds that the only thing that can be said, with full certainty, to exist are our perceptions (impressions and ideas). In and among these perceptions there is no causal connection; indeed, there is no knowable causality anywhere. If things outside us really do exist, there is no proof of their existence available to us.
3. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) was a professor in Germany, in his native city of Koenigsberg, and read Hume's arguments with dismay, and finally tossed them aside with contempt as "dogmatic dreams." Hume takes away all grounds of certitude; the best a man might have of him is a thin probability, and this, as Kant noticed, is not usable knowledge at all. What a man needs, said Kant, and what he can have is truly scientific knowledge, that is, knowledge that is universally and necessarily true and reliable.
The experiences of the senses is individual, and, no matter how consistently and for how long a time the senses find a fact solid, there is always the possibility that the next experience will show to vary. So far Kant agrees with Hume: sense-experience cannot give the mind more than probability. But, said Kant, there is another element in knowledge, an a priori and subjective element which is anterior to sense-experience and in no wise dependent on it. This is the element which enables us to have true and certain knowledge and to add item to item with complete security in building up the edifice of science.
We pause here to settle the meaning of important terms. Knowledge that we obtain through experience is a posteriori knowledge, that is, it comes after experience and is dependent upon it. Now, it is Aristotelian, Scholastic, and Classical Realistic doctrine that all human knowledge is of this type; no knowledge is born in us; no item of knowledge exists in man except such as has been acquired.
Kant, however, insisted on the existence of certain "forms" or items of knowledge (space and time, certain regulative judgments, and certain master-ideas) as inborn and a priori. Of course, there is a legitimate use of the terms a priori and a posteriori (literally "from beforehand" and "from afterwards") in describing types of argument. But there is no legitimate use of a priori as a term descriptive of knowledge itself. Kant uses the term so, and he follows the despised Hume so far as to make the knowledge described by this term a very part of the mind of man, an element of its being and not merely an element of its equipment.
To answer the basic question, "What can I know with scientific certitude?" Kant wrote his book The Critique of Pure Reason. In this work, Kant assigns to man a threefold knowing-power: sensibility, intellect, reason. Knowable things, on the other hand, are of two classes: appearances of things or phenomena, and essences of things or noumena.
Man, by sensibility (that is, by his senses) takes in the phenomena of the world about him. Somehow, we know not how, the phenomena set his sense-power to work; we dare not say that the senses perceive even the phenomena as these exist in nature; we may only say that somehow phenomena stir the senses to act.
Now the formal constituent, the essential element, of the sensing-power or sensibility (that is, its character or "shape") is the twofold determination of space-and-time. Man has sense-experiences "here" and "now," and he recalls them as "there" and "then." But this conditioning of phenomena by space and time is man's own contribution to the knowledge-act. Space and time in no wise represent things, nor are they things; they are the inborn a priori element of the sensing-power.
Just as a curiously shaped bottle will take in liquid or powder and conform the mass of the substance taken in to its own shape, so the sensing-power, which has the shape of space-and-time, takes in the action of phenomena on the senses and shapes these phenomena accordingly. The result (that is, phenomena-conditioned-by-space-and-time) is called empirical intuition.
Now, just as phenomena stir the sensibility to act, so the finished products of sensation (that is, empirical intuitions) stir the next knowing power, the intellect, to act. The intellect takes in the empirical intuitions and conforms them to its shape, its own inborn a priori forms. These forms are four sets of triple judgments, called the twelve categories. These are like grooves or molds into which the molten metal of empirical intuitions is poured, and the resultant piece of knowledge is, in each case, a judgment.
The four master categories (each of which has three branches) are: quantity, quality, relation, and modality. Thus the judgment "A comes from B as effect from cause" is not the objective knowing by the mind of a state of fact; it is merely the result of the action of intellect turning the sense-findings (or empirical intuitions) of A and B through the groove (or category) of relation, and through that branch of relation called cause-effect.
Once more, just as the finished products of sensibility (that is, empirical intuitions) stir the intellect to the act of judging, so the judgments of the intellect stir the reason to its action. The innate a priori shape of reason is determined by three master-ideas: the idea of the self, the idea of the not-self, the idea of the super-self. In other words, the three regulative ideas of reason are the ideas of self, the world, and God. The judgments of intellect are poured through the threefold mold of reason, and the result is reasoned knowledge.
Now, the essential thing about knowledge, when we attempt to fix its value on the score of truth and certitude, centers in judgments. After all, reason merely handles judgments and learns from them. Upon judgments we must fix our attention. There are two types of judgment, a priori and a posteriori. Looked at in another way, there are two other types: synthetic and analytic. We already know the meaning of a priori and a posteriori, and indeed, according to Kant, all judgments are a priori. We must look at the other terms.
A judgment is rightly called synthetic when it is "put together," for that is precisely what the word synthetic means. If I make the judgment, "John is sick," I have a synthetic judgment; the predicate does not necessarily belong to the subject, but I put it with the subject because I have learned from John or from his doctor that it happens to belong there.
But if I make the judgment, "A circle is round," I have an analytic judgment; for by analyzing the subject, by studying it and knowing just what it is, I learn that the predicate used belongs there, since a circle to be a circle must be round.
Kant held that the only judgment which can give absolute certitude must be a priori, since, indeed, he admits no other type. But, he maintains, an a priori judgment that is analytic marks no advance in knowledge. To build up science, there must be growth, development, advancement. Hence there must be synthetic judgments which are also a priori. The synthetic a priori judgment may be called the heart of Kant's philosophy.
And we may say now in passing that the synthetic a priori judgment is a contradiction in terms and in thought; it is an impossibility. The examples offered by Kant are either (in our terminology) a posteriori judgments, or they are analytic judgments. For instance, Kant says that the judgment "five plus seven equals twelve" is a synthetic a priori judgment. It is nothing of the kind. It is a simple analytic judgment. Replace the words or the figures for five and seven and twelve by an equivalent number of dots or strokes; you will have exactly the same thing on either side of the equals-mark. The judgment is as plainly analytic as "A is A."
Let us cast back a moment, and make a summing up of the Kantian theory of human knowing:
Phenomena of bodily things somehow stir man's sensibility to action, and sense takes in phenomena in its own way, shaping and conditioning them by its innate forms of space-and-time, thus producing empirical intuitions. The empirical intuitions somehow stir man's intellect to take them in and run them through its forms or categories, thus producing judgments, the truly certain and valuable judgment always being synthetic a priori. Finally, the judgments of intellect somehow stir the reason to take them in and view them in the light of its regulative ideas of self, the world, and God. Notice that the sole point of connection of man's knowledge with reality outside the mind is the vague influence of phenomena on the sensing-power. From that point on, the whole process of knowing, and its products, are man's own. Here is idealism, here is subjectivism with a vengeance. And Kant plainly asserts that the noumena or essences of things cannot be known by man. The phenomenon is not strictly knowable, but it moves the senses to act; the noumenon is not knowable at all. The noumenon lies outside the reach of mortal man.
So Kant is as subjectivistic as Hume ever dared to be. And yet this is the man who threw Hume's book aside with the sneer, "Dogmatic dreams!" What singular smugness could have made Kant suppose that he was dealing with the problem of knowledge critically and not dogmatically? Yet he calls his system "transcendental criticism."
Since we cannot know noumena, the science of metaphysics, the very heart of philosophy as the Greeks and Classical Realists understand it, becomes illusory and impossible. Is it not strange that a man of Kant's undoubted intellectual gifts did not notice here an absurd contradiction? Why, he has just finished explaining to us, in great detail, the whole nature of the human mind; and now he concludes that we cannot know the nature of anything! And his reasoning -- more than "slightly foxed" as the booksellers say -- about the character of the mind, and about the nature of phenomena and noumena, is actually interwoven with terms and thoughts metaphysical; yet he says that metaphysics is illusory and impossible!
So far, Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. It will be noticed that the doctrine contained in this work opens the way to complete skepticism, and therewith it opens the way to a denial of moral obligation and of purpose in human existence. For if nothing can be known with certitude, as skepticism maintains, then there are no certainties in the realm of morals, religion, or social duties; then there is no certainty that man is made for a purpose at all, or even that man exists.
Whether Kant noticed this fact, and, as a Lutheran, deplored it, or whether (as has been said) his Emperor summoned him and demanded that he furnish a philosophical basis for morals and religion, cannot be said. But Kant wrote a second book to supply the defects mentioned. He said that pure reason is not enough for man; he must live by practical reason as well.
In his first book, Kant sought the answer to the question, "What can man know with certitude?" The answer was, "He can have true certitude by his synthetic a priori judgments." But this is mere statement. The real answer to which Kant's work inclines the thinking mind is, "Man can know nothing with certitude."
Kant's second book, The Critique of Practical Reason, answered the question, "Are there certitudes, outside the reach of pure reason, that I must recognize and act upon?" Kant answers with an emphatic, "There are." These truths are known with certitude by practical reason. First, a man is aware of duty. He knows with clear certitude that murder and stealing are wrong, and that he has the indispensable duty of avoiding such things. He knows that there are certain loyalties which indicate things that he is in duty bound to observe and do. By his practical reason, man is aware of the inner command, "Thou shalt" and "Thou shalt not."
This command is categorical, that is, it is unconditional; it is not, "Do this, if you please," "Avoid that when convenient"; it is a matter of simple "Do" and "Avoid." Kant calls this inner voice The Categorical Imperative. A Christian would call it conscience, and would explain that it is the voice of reason (the same reason with which we work out a theorem in geometry) pronouncing on the agreement or disagreement of a situation (here and now to be decided) with the norm or law of morality. Kant's Categorical Imperative is like conscience in its clear decision and unequivocal command; it is entirely unlike conscience in its blindly unreasoning assumption of authority.
First, then, man's awareness of duty is a certitude; it is a certitude because of The Categorical Imperative. Now, this Categorical Imperative is a law. But a law must come from a lawmaker. Neither I myself have set up my Categorical Imperative (for it often orders me to do what I should like to avoid, and to shun what I would willingly do) nor has it come from any earthly kind, court, or senate, for it speaks with an authority that is absolute and not one supported by temporal sanctions of fine or imprisonment. It is a supreme law; it is an absolute law. It must come then from the Supreme and Absolute Being. That is, it must come from God. Therefore, God Exists.
Further, the Categorical Imperative makes a man aware, not only of duty, but of the fact that he must freely embrace the performance of duty. He is aware that he can disregard, although he cannot be ignorant of, this law of conduct. In a word, he is aware, and with true certitude, that he is a free and responsible being. Again, man, a free and responsible being, is aware that by freely acting in accordance with the commands of the Categorical Imperative he perfects himself. And he is aware that this self-perfecting may go on through the longest life without reaching the limits of its capability. Therefore, he concludes, he can go on becoming more and more perfect forever.
In other words, man is aware of endless existence before him; he knows he has an immortal soul. Thus out of the cunning device of The Categorical Imperative Kant draws the doctrines that satisfy his Lutheranism (or his Emperor), although his basic philosophy of "transcendental criticism" knows nothing of these doctrines. He sets forth, in orthodox fashion, the practical truths of the existence of God, the fact of moral duty, the immortality of the soul, the freedom of the human will.
Kant wrote a third book, The Critique of the Faculty of Aesthetic Judgment in which he brings out the attractiveness of moral goodness in a manner more striking than that of The Critique of Practical Reason.
Despite errors, absurdities, and contradictions, Kant's philosophy -- notably that of The Critique of Pure Reason -- has exercised a tremendous influence upon human thinking for almost two centuries. It exhibits the roots of those weaknesses we have come to regard as characteristic of what is loosely called "the German philosophy":
It refuses to face reality (witness the wholly subjectivistic character of knowledge); It unduly stresses the ego (witness the inner and autonomous character of knowledge and morality); It proclaims the perfectibility of the will, upon which the followers of Kant were soon to harp most strongly -- and from Nietzsche to Hitler we are to hear of "the will to power," the will which makes "the superman" and "the master race." A final word on Kant. In offering and defending his low estimate of pure reason as incapable of achieving certitude (apart from the mysterious judgments which are synthetic a priori) Kant appeals to his so-called "antinomies" or "contradictions." He holds that when pure reason tries to apply the categories in the abstract realm of logical inference (whereas its business is to pour findings through fixed molds) it gets beyond itself and comes a cropper.
It finds that it can prove, with equal facility, things directly opposed. Thus, he says, it can prove that space is finite, and also infinite; it can prove matter divisible and indivisible; it can prove human freedom existent and nonexistent; it can prove that God is necessary and also non-necessary. In all this, and in the examples offered in proof of it, Kant is entirely gratuitous and sophistical.
Besides, he stands self-condemned in using logical reasoning to establish the fact that logical reasoning is useless. We merely mention the "antinomies" because we discern in them an element of materialism in the heart of an idealistic theory. This materialism was to appear in full form in later philosophies which took inspiration, at least in part, from the doctrines of Immanuel Kant.
4. Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814) and Friedrich Wilhelm von Schelling (1775-1854) were two followers of Kant who taught that the mysterious noumenon of Kant is the projection of an Absolute Ego. This Ego sets up Self as against the background of Not-Self and then realizes that after all Self and Not-Self are truly One. Technically, we have the thesis, the antithesis and the synthesis of the Absolute Ego. The final synthesis in which the Ego "composits the Self and the Not-Self" is the developing and perfecting of Will.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) was by far the most important among the immediate followers of Kant. To Hegel the synthesizing element which merges Self and Not-Self is universal awareness, absolute reason. Individual men have reason, but the human reason is but a gleam of the Absolute Light. The world is merely phenomenal, it is an external expression of Absolute Reason; it is a series of flashes and shadows cast by the Cosmic Light of Reason.
Towards the perfect harmony of Absolute Reason everything (as history proves) works upward, not sweepingly, but step by step, each more perfectly harmonizing and purifying than the preceding. In a civil State, this drive towards Reason shows itself under the aspect of Will. As one nation conquers another, and then is conquered in turn, we note the purifying and harmonizing drive towards Reason. Such successive steps towards the ideal were, first, the oriental State, then the Roman State, and, last and best expression of progress, the German State. Progress must go by conflict and through the conquest of contradictions.
5. Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) is a name popularly known as almost synonymous with "pessimism." He denied the existence of happiness for man, and felt that the best man could hope for was an occasional relief from pain: "life is a path of red-hot coals, with a cool spot here and there." Schopenhauer declared that will is the very essence of things. This will is not a force guided by intelligence or reason; it is a blind, irresistible drive. It is not a striving for something as a goal; it is a drive that exists for itself. This is a world-will. It is manifest everywhere, in the force of gravitation and in the most sublime tendencies of men towards their ideals.
The apparent world is phenomenal; it is our conception of things; it is idea which we explain sufficiently for our needs as space, time, causality. But there is a real world too, a noumenal world, which is not idea but will. The world-will is active in us; it is very hard upon us; it makes us strive ceaselessly for what we can never find, that is, peace, rest, and enduring satisfaction. Thus it is a source of pain. Man may find a partial and temporary relief from this pain by contemplating works of art. But a more lasting relief comes from resisting will; from the effort to kill within oneself the desire for continued life, health, property, comfort, friends; from refusing the work of seeking to attain such goals as eternal rest, heaven, moral ideals.
Schopenhauer is of the later German school in his doctrine of all embracing will, but he is alone among German philosophers in ascribing to the efforts of universal will no goal, no good, no improvement.
6. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900). Schopenhauer was saddened by the pain that men must endure through the harsh and profitless drive of world-will. But Nietzsche was gladdened by it. For, said Nietzsche, the pain and strife of existence are meant to harden us, to strengthen us, to develop us so that we may ultimately produce superman.
We should therefore be ruthless, hard, unsympathetic; we should refuse to indulge self or others; we should sternly cultivate the will to power. Christianity, said Nietzsche, with its doctrines of obedience, resignation, loving kindness, is not the guide we require; it proclaims a slave morality. We need no God, no supernatural aim. The aim of true ethics is the development of the great, the strong, the ruthless blond beast, the superman.
We need not pause upon the absurdity of this doctrine of Nietzsche, which, as G.K Chesterton points out is not a philosophy of strong muscles but of weak nerves. Indeed, Nietzsche was himself a man of such weak nerves as to be hardly sane. It is interesting to note that the philosophy of ruthless will to power found itself an expression in the ideals and the warlike actions of many of Nietzsche's countrymen just a mere sixty years ago.
7. Auguste Comte (1798-1857), John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), and Herbert Spencer (1820-1903). The ethics of Nietzsche are a crude and brutal naturalism, that is, a theory that man needs no power but his own, and no aim beyond this world. Naturalism is one form of materialism which denies or disregards everything spiritual and supernatural.
Naturalistic ethics appear in the mistaken philosophies of all ages, proclaiming men are naturally good, naturally directed upwards and onwards, and urging that he be left unhindered and undirected so that through the fullest self-expression he may come to perfection.
The Classical Realist knows, however, than man's nature is not perfect and that no man can be merely natural and remain decent. A man, says Chesterton, must be supernatural or he will be unnatural. Nietzsche set up a naturalistic doctrine in crude and harsh terms. The same type of doctrine was presented more subtly by Comte, Mill, and Spencer.
Comte says that man has passed naturally through three intellectual stages: the theological stage, in which he referred power and control to Deity; the metaphysical stage, in which he sought to understand things in the general abstractions of philosophy; and finally, the true and perfect positive stage, in which he finds all knowledge in the mathematical and experimental sciences, chief of which is sociology, the science of humanity.
According to Comte, humanity is the only God.
Mill declares that man must be guided in his actions by utility. Actions are good or evil in so far as they preserve us from pain or subject us to pain (moral utilitarianism): Utility or usefulness is not to be judged selfishly; it is to be sought in the greatest pleasure of the greatest number of men. We learn, for the most part, by the method of "trial and error" in what courses of action such utility is to be found.
Spencer discards the "trial and error" method. He says we must study nature and adjust ourselves to it so that we may act for the greatest pleasure of the greatest number. We are helped in our effort by natural evolution which tends to level out differences among men.
All nature is marked by a steady progress "from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous" and we must not get ahead of this process or we shall have trouble and pain and the world will be filled with unrest. Nor must we be eager for absolute truth either in science or in religion.
Truth is for us always relative, for the ultimate always eludes our grasp. Science must be content with the positive data which fall under observation of the senses (sensism and positivism), and religion (or theology) must be content to make rules for practical conduct, leaving aside all doctrinal and dogmatic statements about the Great Unknown (agnosticism).
Spencer is full of self-contradiction. He professes to know the absolute truth that absolute truth is unknowable. He is dogmatic in his assertion that dogmatic assertion is unseemly. He limits science to positive sense-data, and this very theory is not capable of either expression or proof in terms of sense-data, and hen is, by his own standard, a wholly unscientific theory. His doctrine of natural evolution is a hypothesis which he proposes as absolute truth. Indeed, Spencer makes mankind a single organism which is growing steadily more diversified and perfect by the process of evolution.
8. John Dewey (1859-1952), an American philosopher, advanced the sensism and positivism of Spencer, together with the agnostic and relativist theory. Dewey thinks that philosophy must concern itself with the discovery of practical rules to keep men in accord with the march of events. Philosophy is but a guide for action. True and false are to be understood in the light of social experience; what has proved beneficial to man is true and good; what has been found socially harmful is evil and false. This doctrine is usually called pragmatism from the Greek pragma, a deed, work, or action.
9. William James (1842-1910) is usually regarded as "the father of pragmatism." James teaches that the working or workability of a thing (for man's benefit or hurt) is the test of its good or evil, its truth or falsity. Besides the test of workability, two others are to be applied: any new idea, to be true, must be in harmony with ideas already tested and proved true; secondly, the new idea must not conflict with accepted ideals, especially those that are religious or moral.
James says that man's mind requires certitude in many matters in which his mental power is not adequate to attain it. Where the mind fails, the will must step in and make a decision. Indeed, a man cannot avoid such intervention of the will. If he says, "I cannot decide; I must remain in doubt," he is actually willing not to decide; he, in fact, deciding not to decide.
Now, a decision to leave important matters unsettled is less valuable to man, less practical, less useful, less workable, than a straightforward affirmation or denial. Since decision must be made in any case, it is better to have a clear decision than a muddled one. Therefore, a man should have "the will to believe" either one or other of the contradictory answers to important questions. Thus is the will invoked in the philosophic pursuit of truth.
10. Henri Bergson (1859-1940). James calls upon the will to help man interpret (indeed to create) truth. But Bergson, a French Jew, calls rather upon man's feeling. He calls for a sympathetic effort after truth, not a cold analysis. He says that to know truth we must sympathetically enter into things and know them from within. Thus we must seek truth by intuition, by direct, sympathetic, non-rationalized grasp. It is thus that we are aware of self, and of self as part of a living and pulsating nature of things, the inner force of which (or elan vital) is a continuously creative power.
Bergson was much influenced by the teachings of Plotinus. In the last years of his life, leaving the sterile philosophy of elan vital, he recognized the truth of Catholicism, which he called "the complete fulfillment of Judaism." Yet he failed to enter the Catholic Church, lest his conversion seem one of convenience to escape the hardships of impending anti-Semitism. He did ask, however, that a Catholic priest be present to pray at his funeral.
11. Conclusion. The philosophies of the last three centuries have been, in the main, futile vagaries, born of a fundamental misconception of the nature of human knowledge. The epistemological question has been the chief point of interest, and out of the mistaken solution of this question have come, as a natural consequence, mistaken doctrines in the realms of cosmology, psychology, and ethics.
The 19th century saw a notable revival, which continues to develop vigorously to the present moment, of the ancient sanity known as Classical Realism in its various forms (Aristotelianism, Scholasticism, Thomism, Contextual Realism). This noble system which alone has historical and factual claim to the name of the true philosophy suffered an almost total eclipse from the late 14th to the early 19th century
Classical Realism, the philosophia perennis (perennial philosophy) is not made "new" in each generation, but its insights and doctrines are employed in studying and interpreting the newest findings of the modern experimental sciences.
Adapted from the book: "Modern Philosophy"
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