The Many Faces of Philosophy: Reflections from Plato to Arendt

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Amélie Oksenberg Rorty
Oxford University Press, 2003 M02 6 - 544 pages
Philosophy is a dangerous profession, risking censorship, prison, even death. And no wonder: philosophers have questioned traditional pieties and threatened the established political order. Some claimed to know what was thought unknowable; others doubted what was believed to be certain. Some attacked religion in the name of science; others attacked science in the name of mystical poetry; some served tyrants; others were radical revolutionaries. This historically based collection of philosophers' reflections--the letters, journals, prefaces that reveal their hopes and hesitations, their triumphs and struggles, their deepest doubts and convictions--allow us to witness philosophical thought-in-process. It sheds light on the many--and conflicting--aims of philosophy: to express skepticism or overcome it, to support theology or attack it, to develop an ethical system or reduce it to practical politics. As their audiences differed, philosophers experimented with distinctive rhetorical strategies, writing dialogues, meditations, treatises, aphorisms. Ranging from Plato to Hannah Arendt, with contributions from 44 philosophers (Augustine, Maimonides, AlGhazali, Descartes, Pascal, Leibniz, Voltaire, Rousseau, Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein, among others) this remarkable collection documents philosophers' claim that they change as well as understand the world. In her introductory essay, "Witnessing Philosophers," Amelie Rorty locates philosophers' reflections in the larger context of the many facets of their other activities and commitments.

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The many faces of philosophy: reflections from Plato to Arendt

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The excerpts included in this collection consist primarily of what the author calls "philosophical autobiography," that is, they are less technical philosophical writings than writings that convey ... Read full review

Contents

II From Bacon to Hume
59
III From Vico to Schopenhauer
203
IV From Bentham to Russell
315
V From Wittgenstein to Appiah
413
Credits
509
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Page 28 - But when I saw that they walked not uprightly, according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews...
Page 28 - And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have > testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
Page 374 - When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what havoc must we make? If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: For it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.
Page 147 - Newton, with some others of that strain ; it is ambition enough to be employed as an under-labourer in clearing the ground a little, and removing some of the rubbish that lies in the way to knowledge...
Page 81 - I confess that I have as vast contemplative ends, as I have moderate civil ends : for I have taken all knowledge to be my province...
Page 85 - For it is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to apply it well. The greatest souls are capable of the greatest vices as well as the greatest virtues...
Page 175 - It is a hard thing to suppose that right deductions from true principles should ever end in consequences which cannot be maintained or made consistent. We should believe that God has dealt more bountifully with the sons of men than to give them a strong desire for that knowledge which he had placed quite out of their reach.
Page 342 - The chief defect of all hitherto existing materialism (that of Feuerbach included) is that the thing, reality, sensuousness, is conceived only in the form of the object or of contemplation, but not as sensuous human activity, practice, not subjectively.
Page 342 - The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but is a practical question. In practice man must prove the truth. that is, the reality and power, the this-sidedness of his thinking. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking which is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question.
Page 342 - The materialist doctrine that men are products of circumstances and upbringing, and that, therefore, changed men are products of other circumstances and changed upbringing, forgets that it is men that change circumstances and that the educator himself needs educating.

About the author (2003)

Amelie Oksenberg Rorty is the Director of the Program in the History of Ideas at Brandeis University. She is the author of Mind in Action and editor of Identities of Persons, Explaining Emotions, Philosophers on Education, and The Many Faces of Evil.

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