Home / the history of philosophy pdf / A History of Western Philosophy
A History of Western Philosophy
B Russell, (Simon & Schuster, 1945)
108 Philosophy, as I shall understand the word, is something intermediate between theology and
science; like theology, it consists of speculations on matters as to which definite knowledge
has, so far, been unascertainable; but like science, it appeals to human reason rather than
to authority, whether that of tradition or that of revelation. All definite knowledge--so I
should contend--belongs to science; all dogma as to what surpasses definite knowledge be-
longs to theology. But between theology and science there is a No Man's Land, exposed to
attack from both sides; this No Man's Land is philosophy. Almost all the questions of most
interest to speculative minds are such as science cannot answer, and the confident answers
of theologians no longer seem so convincing as they did in former centuries.
125 This implies only empirically confirmed propositions are definite knowledge.
Science tells us what we can know, but what we can know is little, and if we forget how much
we cannot know we become insensitive to many things of very great importance. Theology,
on the other hand, induces a dogmatic belief that we have knowledge where in fact we have
ignorance, and by doing so generates a kind of impertinent insolence towards the universe.
160 The barbarian invasion put an end, for six centuries, to the civilization of western Europe.
It lingered in Ireland until the Danes destroyed it in the ninth century.
230 The Catholic Church was derived from three sources. Its sacred history was Jewish, its the-
ology was Greek, its government and canon law were, at least indirectly, Roman. The Refor-
mation rejected the Roman elements, softened the Greek elements, and greatly strengthened
the Judaic elements.
As we will see later, this is related to the romantic movements and emphasis of emotion rather than
reason. Two points related to this:
(i) Greek democracy prepared `reasonable arguments' to demonstrate anything: thus to enlist intel-
lectual people Christianity needed `reasonable argument' to demonstrate God. Thus, the Scholastic
theology was largely logical; Aristotle was appreciated. In Jewish and Islamic traditions, proving God
was out of question.
(ii) Russell organizes the history of philosophy around the dichotomy of reason and emotion, but now
we know they are not dichotomous; logical operations and reaction of the reward system make up our
Protestants, on the contrary, rejected the Church as a vehicle of revelation; truth was to
be sought only in the Bible, which each man could interpret for himself. ... In Protestant
theory, there should be no earthly intermediary between the soul and God.
The effects of this change were momentous. Truth was no longer to be ascertained by
consulting authority, but by inward meditation.
The result, in thought as in literature, was a continually deepening subjectivism...
238 Modern philosophy begins with Descartes, whose fundamental certainty is the existence
of himself and his thoughts, from which the external world is to be inferred. This was only
the first stage in a development, through Berkeley and Kant, to Fichte, for whom everything
is only an emanation of the ego. This was insanity, and, from this extreme, philosophy has
been attempting, ever since, to escape into the world of every-day common sense.
Subjectivity, once let loose, could not be confined within limits until it had run its course. ...
Tigers are more beautiful than sheep, but we prefer them behind bars. The typical romantic
removes the bars and enjoys the magnificent leaps with which the tiger annihilates the sheep.
Against the more insane forms of subjectivism in modern times there have been various
reactions. First, a half-way compromise philosophy, the doctrine of liberalism, which... be-
gins, in its modern form, with Locke.... A more thoroughgoing revolt leads to the doctrine
of State worship.... Hobbes, Rousseau, and Hegel represent different phases of this theory.
281 In general, important civilizations start with a rigid and superstitious system, gradually
relaxed, and leading, at a certain stage, to a period of brilliant genius, while the good of
the old tradition remains and the evil inherent in its dissolution has not yet developed. But
as the evil unfolds, it leads to anarchy, thence, inevitably, to a new tyranny, producing a
new synthesis secured by a new system of dogma. The doctrine of liberalism is an attempt
to escape from this endless oscillation. The essence of liberalism is an attempt to secure a
social order not based on irrational dogma, and insuring stability without involving more
restraints than are necessary for the preservation of the community. Whether this attempt
can succeed only the future can determine.
Book One. Ancient Philosophy
Part I. The Pre-Socratics
Chapter I The Rise of Greek Civilization
516 Prudence versus passion is a conflict that runs through history.
In the sphere of thought, sober civilization is roughly synonymous with science. But
science, unadulterated, is not satisfying; men need also passion and art and religion.
Chapter II The Milesian School
Chapter III Pythagoras
837 Most sciences, at their inception, have been connected with some form of false belief, which
gave them a fictitious value. Astronomy was connected with astrology, chemistry with
alchemy. Mathematics was associated with a more refined type of error. Mathematical
knowledge appeared to be certain, exact, and applicable to the real world; moreover it was
obtained by mere thinking, without the need of observation. Consequently, it was thought
to supply an ideal, from which every-day empirical knowledge fell short. It was supposed,
on the basis of mathematics, that thought is superior to sense, intuition to observation. If
the world of sense does not fit mathematics, so much the worse for the world of sense. In
various ways, methods of approaching nearer to the mathematician's ideal were sought, and
the resulting suggestions were the source of much that was mistaken in metaphysics and
theory of knowledge. This form of philosophy begins with Pythagoras.
873 The influence of geometry upon philosophy and scientific method has been profound. ...
The axioms and theorems are held to be true of actual space, which is something given in
experience. It thus appeared to be possible to discover things about the actual world by
first noticing what is self-evident and then using deduction. This view influenced Plato and
Kant, and most of the intermediate philosophers. When the Declaration of Independence
says "we hold these truths to be self-evident," it is modeling itself on Euclid.
Personal religion is derived from ecstasy, theology from mathematics; and both are to be
found in Pythagoras.
Chapter IV, Heraclitus
910 Now almost all the hypotheses that have dominated modern philosophy were first thought
of by the Greeks... They discovered mathematics and the art of deductive reasoning.
1029 Russell appreciates the founders of new meme.
Plato and Aristotle agree that Heraclitus taught that "nothing ever is, everything is becom-
ing" (Plato), and that "nothing steadfastly is" (Aristotle). .. Plato is much concerned to
refute this doctrine.
The search for something permanent is one of the deepest of the instincts leading me to
1056 Heraclitus himself, of all his belief in change, allowed something everlasting.
Chapter V. Parmenides
1090 Parmenides invented metaphysics based on logic.
1100 When you think, you think of something; when you use a name, it must be the name of
something. Therefore both thought and language require objects outside themselves. And
since you can think of a thing or speak of it at one time as well as a another, whatever can
be thought of or spoken of must exist at all times. Consequently there can be no change,
since change consists In things coming into being or ceasing to be.
This is the first example in philosophy of an argument from thought and language to the
world at large.
Parmenides' argument: if a word can be used significantly it must mean something, not
nothing, and therefore what the word means must in some sense exist.
1156 What subsequent philosophy, down to quite modern times, accepted from Parmenides, was
the indestructibility of substance.1 ... A substance was supposed to be the persistent subject
of varying predicates. As such it became, and remained for more than two thousand years,
one of the fundamental concepts of philosophy, psychology, physics, and theology. ... it
was introduced as a way of doing justice to the arguments of Parmenides without denying
Chapter VI. Empedocles, Chapter VII Athens in Relation to Culture, Chapter
Why study the history of Philosophy? Why study philosophy? Philosophy makes a central contribution to the educational enterprise through its demands upon intellectual activity. Education in philosophy involves becoming aware of major figures and developments in the history of philosophy, learning up-to-date techniques and accepted answers to philosophical questions, and learning critical, interpretive, and evaluative skills that ...
Creator: LaTeX with hyperref package
CreationDate: Tue Jun 9 13:42:03 2015
Page size: 612 x 792 pts (letter) (rotated 0 degrees)
File size: 394325 bytes
PDF version: 1.4