history of Western philosophy from its development among the ancient Greeks to the present. This article has three basic purposes: (1) to provide an overview of the history of philosophy in the West; (2) to relate philosophical ideas and movements to their historical background and to the cultural history of their time; and (3) to trace the changing conception of the definition, the function, and the task of philosophy. Additional reading General histories G.W.F. Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy, 3 vol. (1892-96, reprinted with the title Hegel's Lectures on the History of Philosophy, 1983; originally published in German, 2nd rev. ed., 1840); Friedrich Ueberweg, A History of Philosophy, from Thales to the Present Time, 2 vol. (1872-74, reprinted 1972; originally published in German, 4th ed., 3 vol., 1871-73); Wilhelm Windelband, A History of Philosophy, 2nd ed. rev. (1901, reissued 1979; originally published in German, 1892), a problems approach, particularly good on Kant and German Idealism; Alfred Weber, History of Philosophy, rev. ed. (1925; originally published in French, 5th ed. rev., 1892), with supplement by Ralph Barton Perry, "Philosophy Since 1860"; Frank Thilly, A History of Philosophy, 3rd ed. rev. by Ledger Wood (1957); Emile Brhier, Histoire de la philosophie, new ed., 3 vol. (1981), particularly good on French thinkers, less so on English; Julin Maras, History of Philosophy (1967; originally published in Spanish, 22nd ed., 1966); Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy . . . (1945); William T. Jones, A History of Western Philosophy, 2nd ed., 5 vol. in 6 (1969-75); Frederick C. Copleston, A History of Philosophy, 9 vol. (1946-74); and John Herman Randall, The Career of Philosophy, 2 vol. (1962-65), an informed, comprehensive, and judicious treatment. The best sources for bibliographic information in philosophy are Terrence N. Tice and Thomas P. Slavens, Research Guide to Philosophy (1983); and Rpertoire bibliographique de la philosophie (quarterly), which the Institut Suprieur de Philosophie at Louvain began publishing in 1949. R.J. Hollingdale, Western Philosophy: An Introduction (1966, reissued 1983), is for the neophyte. Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy (Studies): Detailed histories on the whole course of Greek and Roman philosophy can be found in Eduard Zeller, Die Philosophie der Griechen, 3 vol. in 2 (1844-52), also available in the following translations from parts of various editions: A History of Greek Philosophy from the Earliest Period to the Time of Socrates, trans. by Sarah F. Alleyne (1881), Socrates and the Socratic Schools, trans. by Oswald Reichel, 3rd rev. ed. (1885), Plato and the Older Academy, trans. by Sarah F. Alleyne and Alfred Goodwin, new ed. (1888), Aristotle and the Earlier Peripatetics, trans. by B.F.C. Costelloe and J.H. Muirhead (1897), and A History of Eclecticism in Greek Philosophy, trans. by Sarah F. Alleyne (1883). Equally thorough and up to date is the great work by W.K.C. Guthrie, A History of Greek Philosophy, 6 vol. (1962-81). For short introductions to Greek philosophy in English, see Margaret E.J. Taylor, Greek Philosophy (1921, reissued 1945); Rex Warner, The Greek Philosophers (1958); and the excellent one by W.K.C. Guthrie, The Greek Philosophers: From Thales to Aristotle (1950, reissued 1975). (Collections of fragments and works): An influential source from perhaps the 3rd century AD is Laertius Diogenes, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, trans. from the Greek by R.D. Hicks, 2 vol. (1925, reprinted 1979-80). The best comprehensive collection of the fragments of the pre-Socratic philosophers is still Hermann Diels and Walther Kranz, Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 11th ed. edited by Walther Kranz, 3 vol. (1951-52, reprinted 1972-73), made more readily accessible for English-speaking readers by Kathleen Freeman, Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers: A Complete Translation of the Fragments . . . (1948, reprinted 1983). A good selection of texts from the whole history is Cornelia J. De Vogel, Greek Philosophy: A Collection of Texts Selected and Supplied with Some Notes and Explanations, 3rd ed., 3 vol. (1963-67). (Bibliographies): The most detailed bibliography to 1925 is in Friedrich Ueberweg, Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie , vol. 1, Die Philosophie des Altertums, ed. by Karl Praechter, 13th ed. (1953); the most complete bibliography from 1926 to 1963 is Wilhelm Totok, Handbuch der Geschichte der Philosophie, vol. 1, Altertum (1964), 353 pages of bibliography, including ancient Indian philosophy. Medieval philosophy Etienne Gilson, History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages (1955, reissued 1980), is the best account of medieval philosophy. Aim Forest, Fernand Van Steenberghen, and Maurice De Gandillac, Le Mouvement doctrinal du IXe au XIVe sicle (1951, reissued 1956), traces doctrinal developments from the 9th to the 14th century. Fernand Van Steenberghen, La Philosophie au XIIIe sicle (1966), gives a different interpretation of 13th-century philosophy from that of Gilson, and his Aristotle in the West, 2nd ed. (1970), is a valuable account of the introduction of Aristotle's works into western Europe. David Knowles, The Evolution of Medieval Thought (1962, reissued 1964), is the work of an eminent historian of medieval religion. Armand A. Maurer, Medieval Philosophy, 2nd ed. (1982), sketches medieval philosophy from Augustine to the Renaissance; while Norman Kretzmann, Anthony Kenny, and Jan Pinborg (eds.), The Cambridge History of Later Medieval Philosophy (1982), covers the period from the rediscovery of Aristotle to the decline of Scholasticism (1100-1600). The following are short accounts of philosophy in the Middle Ages: John Marenbon, Early Medieval Philosophy (480-1150): An Introduction (1983); Gordon Leff, Medieval Thought: St. Augustine to Ockham (1958, reissued 1980); Paul Vignaux, Philosophy in the Middle Ages (1959, reissued 1975; originally published in French, 3rd ed., 1958); and Julius R. Weinberg, A Short History of Medieval Philosophy (1964, reprinted 1974). Useful information about medieval Arab and Jewish philosophy is contained in T.J. De Boer, The History of Philosophy in Islam (1903, reprinted 1970; originally published in German, 1901); Goffredo Quadri, La filosofia degli arabi nel suo fiore, 2 vol. (1939); Isaac Husik, A History of Mediaeval Jewish Philosophy (1916, reissued 1974); and Georges Vajda, Introduction la pense juive du Moyen ge (1947). Collections of translated texts include Richard McKeon (ed.), Selections from Medieval Philosophers, 2 vol. (1928, reissued 1958); Herman Shapiro, Medieval Philosophy: Selected Readings from Augustine to Buridan (1964); Arthur Hyman and James J. Walsh (eds.), Philosophy in the Middle Ages: The Christian, Islamic, and Jewish Traditions, 2nd ed. (1983); and John F. Wippel and Allan B. Wolter (eds.), Medieval Philosophy: From St. Augustine to Nicholas of Cusa (1969). See also Timothy C. Potts (ed.), Conscience in Medieval Philosophy (1980), a study of many theories of conscience. Modern and contemporary philosophy (Comprehensive classical studies): Johann Eduard Erdmann, A History of Philosophy, 3 vol., 6th ed. (1915; originally published in German, 2 vol., 1878); Kuno Fischer, History of Modern Philosophy: Descartes and His School (1887, reprinted 1890; originally published as vol. 1 in his Geschichte der Neuern Philosophie, 11 vol., 1878); and Harald Hffding, A History of Modern Philosophy, 2 vol. (1900, reprinted 1958; trans. from the 1895-96 German ed.; originally published in Danish, 1894-95). (Contemporary works): Raymond Klibansky (ed.), Philosophy in the Mid-Century: A Survey, 4 vol. (1958-59, reissued 1976), and Contemporary Philosophy: A Survey, 4 vol. (1968-71), broad coverage in essays by leading scholars; Albert William Levi, Philosophy and the Modern World (1959, reissued 1977), a broad treatment, and Philosophy as Social Expression (1974); Wolfgang Stegmller, Main Currents in Contemporary German, British, and American Philosophy (1969, reissued 1970; originally published in German, 4th ed., 1969), narrower, more technical treatment; Walter Kaufmann (ed.), Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre, rev. ed. (1975), selections with introductions; and Marvin Farber (ed.), Philosophic Thought in France and the United States: Essays Representing Major Trends in Contemporary French and American Philosophy, 2nd ed. (1968; originally published in French, 1950). (Chiefly Anglo-American): John Passmore, A Hundred Years of Philosophy, 2nd ed. (1966, reissued 1984), and its supplement, Recent Philosophers (1985); G.J. Warnock, English Philosophy Since 1900, 2nd ed. (1969, reprinted 1982); and Herbert W. Schneider, A History of American Philosophy, 2nd ed. (1963), standard reference work with excellent bibliographies. (Chiefly continental): I.M. Bochenski, Contemporary European Philosophy (1956, reprinted 1982; originally published in German, 2nd rev. ed., 1951); Michele Federico Sciacca, Philosophical Trends in the Contemporary World (1964; originally published in Italian, 3rd ed., 2 vol., 1958); Hermann Noack, Die Philosophie Westeuropas, 2nd rev. ed. (1976); Herbert Spiegelberg, The Phenomenological Movement: A Historical Introduction, 3rd rev. ed. (1982); and Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, Phenomenology and Science in Contemporary European Thought (1962). See also Roger Scruton, From Descartes to Wittgenstein: A Short History of Modern Philosophy (1981, reissued as A Short History of Modern Philosophy: From Descartes to Wittgenstein, 1984). Kurt von Fritz The Rev. Armand Maurer, C.S.B. Albert William Levi Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy The pre-Socratic philosophers Cosmology and the metaphysic of matter Because the earliest Greek philosophers focused their attention upon the origin and nature of the physical world, they are often called cosmologists or naturalists. Though monistic views (which trace the origins of the world to a single substance) prevailed at first, they were soon followed by several pluralistic theories (which trace it to several ultimate substances). Monistic cosmologies There is a consensus, dating back at least to the 4th century BC and continuing to the present, that the first Greek philosopher was Thales of Miletus, who flourished in the first half of the 6th century BC. At that time the word philosopher ("lover of wisdom") had not yet been coined. Thales was counted, however, among the Seven Wise Men (Sophoi), whose name derives from a term that then designated inventiveness and practical wisdom rather than speculative insight. Thales showed these qualities by trying to give the mathematical knowledge that he derived from the Babylonians a more exact foundation and by using it for the solution of practical problems-such as the determination of the distance of a ship as seen from the shore or of the height of the Pyramids. Though he was also credited with predicting an eclipse of the Sun, it is likely that he merely gave a natural explanation of one on the basis of Babylonian astronomical knowledge. Thales was considered the first Greek philosopher because he was the first to give a purely natural explanation of the origin of the world, free from all mythological ingredients. He upheld that everything had come out of water-an explanation based on the discovery of fossil sea animals far inland. His tendency (and that of his immediate successors) to give nonmythological explanations of the origin of the world was undoubtedly prompted by the fact that all of them lived on the coast of Asia Minor surrounded by a number of nations whose civilizations were much farther advanced than that of the Greeks and whose mythological explanations differed greatly both among themselves and from those of the Greeks. It appeared necessary, therefore, to make a fresh start on the basis of what a person could observe and figure out by looking at the world as it presented itself. This procedure naturally resulted in a tendency to make sweeping generalizations on the basis of rather restricted but carefully checked observations. Thales' disciple and successor, Anaximander of Miletus (mid-6th century), tried to give a more elaborate account of the origin and development of the ordered world (the cosmos). According to him, it developed out of the apeiron, something both infinite and indefinite (without distinguishable qualities). Within this apeiron something arose to produce the opposites of hot and cold. These at once began to struggle with each other and produced the cosmos. The cold (and wet) partly dried up (becoming solid earth), partly remained (as water), and-by means of the hot-partly evaporated (becoming air and mist), its evaporating part (by expansion) splitting up the hot into fiery rings, which surround the whole cosmos. Because these rings are enveloped by mist, however, there remain only certain breathing holes that are visible to men, appearing to them as Sun, Moon, and stars. Anaximander was the first to realize that upward and downward are not absolute but that downward means toward the middle of the Earth and upward away from it, so that the Earth had no need to be supported (as Thales had believed) by anything. Starting from Thales' observations, Anaximander tried to reconstruct the development of life in more detail. Life, being closely bound up with moisture, originated in the sea. All land animals, he held, are descendants of sea animals; because the first humans as newborn infants could not have survived without parents, Anaximander believed that they were born within an animal of another kind-specifically, a sea animal in which they were nurtured until they could fend for themselves. Gradually, however, the moisture will be partly evaporated, until in the end all things will have returned into the undifferentiated apeiron, "in order to pay the penalty for their injustice"-that of having struggled against one another. Anaximander's successor, Anaximenes of Miletus (second half of the 6th century), taught that air was the origin of all things. His position was for a long time thought to have been a step backward because, like Thales, he placed a special kind of matter at the beginning of the development of the world. But this criticism missed the point. Neither Thales nor Anaximander appear to have specified the way in which the other things arose out of the water or apeiron. Anaximenes, however, declared that the other types of matter arose out of air by condensation and rarefaction. In this way, what to Thales had been merely a beginning became a fundamental principle that remained essentially the same through all of its transmutations. Thus, the term arche, which originally simply meant "beginning," acquired the new meaning of "principle," a term that henceforth played an enormous role in philosophy down to the present. This concept of a principle that remains the same through many transmutations is, furthermore, the presupposition of the idea that nothing can come out of nothing and that all of the comings to be and passings away that men observe are nothing but transmutations of something that essentially remains the same eternally. In this way it also lies at the bottom of all of the conservation laws-those of the conservation of matter, of force, and of energy-that have been basic in the development of physics. Though Anaximenes of course did not realize all of the implications of his idea, its importance can hardly be exaggerated. The first three Greek philosophers have often been called hylozoists because they seemed to believe in a kind of living matter. But this is hardly an adequate characterization. It is, rather, characteristic of them that they did not clearly distinguish between kinds of matter, forces, and qualities nor between physical and emotional qualities. The same entity is sometimes called fire and sometimes the hot. Heat appears sometimes as a force and sometimes as a quality, and again there is no clear distinction between warm and cold as physical qualities and the warmth of love and the cold of hate. To realize these ambiguities is important to an understanding of certain later developments in Greek philosophy. Xenophanes of Colophon (born c. 560 BC), a rhapsodist and philosophical thinker who emigrated from Asia Minor to Elea in southern Italy, was the first to bring out more clearly what was implied in Anaximenes' philosophy. He criticized the popular notions of the gods, saying that men made their gods in their own image. But, more importantly, he argued that there could be only one God, the ruler of the universe, who must be eternal. For, being the strongest of all beings, he could not have come out of something less strong, nor could he be overcome or superseded by something else, because nothing could arise that is stronger than the strongest. The argument clearly rested on the axiom that nothing can come out of nothing and that nothing that is can really vanish. This axiom was made more explicit and carried to its extreme consequences by Parmenides of Elea (first half of the 5th century BC), the founder of the so-called school of Eleaticism, of whom Xenophanes has been regarded as the teacher and forerunner. In a philosophical poem Parmenides insisted that "what is" cannot have come into being and cannot pass away because it would have to have come out of nothing or to become nothing, whereas nothing by its very nature does not exist. There can be no motion either; for it would have to be a motion into something that is-which is not possible since it would be blocked-or a motion into something that is not-which is equally impossible since what is not does not exist. Hence everything is solid immobile being. The familiar world, in which things move around, come into being, and pass away, is a world of mere belief (doxa). In a second part of the poem, however, Parmenides tried to give an analytical account of this world of belief, showing that it rested on constant distinctions between what is believed to be positive-i.e., to have real being, such as light and warmth-and what is negative-i.e., the absence of positive being, such as darkness and cold. It is significant that Heracleitus of Ephesus, a contemporary of Parmenides, whose philosophy was later considered to be the very opposite of Parmenides' philosophy of immobile being, came, in some fragments of his work, near to what Parmenides tried to show: the positive and the negative, he said, are merely different views of the same thing; death and life, day and night, or light and darkness are really one. Medieval philosophy Medieval philosophy designates the philosophical speculation that occurred in western Europe during the Middle Ages; i.e., from the fall of the Roman Empire in the 4th and 5th centuries AD to the Renaissance of the 15th century. Philosophy of the medieval period remained in close conjunction with Christian thought, particularly theology, and the chief philosophers of the period were churchmen, particularly churchmen who were teachers. Philosophers who strayed from the close relation were chided by their superiors. Greek philosophy ceased to be creative after Plotinus in the 3rd century AD. A century later Christian thinkers such as Ambrose, Victorinus, and Augustine began to assimilate Neoplatonism into Christian doctrine in order to give a rational interpretation of Christian faith. Thus, medieval philosophy was born of the confluence of Greek (and to a lesser extent of Roman) philosophy and Christianity. Plotinus' philosophy was already deeply religious, having come under the influence of Middle Eastern religion. Medieval philosophy continued to be characterized by this religious orientation. Its methods were at first those of Plotinus and later those of Aristotle. But it developed within faith as a means of throwing light on the truths and mysteries of faith. Thus, religion and philosophy fruitfully cooperated in the Middle Ages. Philosophy, as the handmaiden of theology, made possible a rational understanding of faith. Faith, for its part, inspired Christian thinkers to develop new philosophical ideas, some of which became part of the philosophical heritage of the West. Toward the end of the Middle Ages, this beneficial interplay of faith and reason started to break down. Philosophy began to be cultivated for its own sake, apart from, and even in contradiction to, Christian religion. This divorce of reason from faith, made definitive in the 17th century by Francis Bacon and Ren Descartes, marked the birth of modern philosophy. Early medieval philosophy The early medieval period, which extended to the 12th century, saw the barbarian invasions of the Roman Empire, the collapse of its civilization, and the gradual building of a new, Christian culture in western Europe. Philosophy in these troubled and darkened times was cultivated by late Roman thinkers such as Augustine (354-430) and Boethius (c. 480-c. 525), then by monks such as Anselm (1033-1109). The monasteries became the main centres of learning and education and retained their preeminence until the founding of the cathedral schools and universities in the 11th and 12th centuries. Modern philosophy The Renaissance and early modern period The philosophy of a period arises as a response to social need, and the development of philosophy in the history of Western civilization since the Renaissance has, thus, reflected the process in which creative philosophers have responded to the unique challenge of each stage in the development of Western culture itself. The career of philosophy-how it views its tasks and functions, how it defines itself, the special methods it invents for the achievement of philosophical knowledge, the literary forms it adopts and utilizes, its conception of the scope of its subject matter, and its changing criteria of meaning and truth-hinges on the mode of its successive responses to the challenges of the social structure within which it arises. Thus, Western philosophy in the Middle Ages was primarily a Christian philosophy, complementing the divine revelation, reflecting the feudal order in its cosmology, devoting itself in no small measure to the institutional tasks of the Roman Catholic Church. It was no accident that the major philosophical achievements of the 13th and 14th centuries were the work of churchmen who also happened to be professors of theology at the universities of Oxford and Paris. The Renaissance of the late 15th and 16th centuries presented a different set of problems and therefore suggested different lines of philosophical endeavour. What is called the European Renaissance followed upon the introduction of three novel mechanical inventions from the East: gunpowder, block printing from movable type, and the compass. The first was used to explode the massive fortifications of the feudal order and thus became an agent of the new spirit of nationalism that threatened the rule of churchmen-and, indeed, the universalist emphasis of the church itself-with a competing secular power. The second, printing, made the propagation of knowledge widespread, secularized learning, reduced the intellectual monopoly of an ecclesiastical elite, and restored the literary and philosophical classics of Greece and Rome. The third, the compass, increased the safety and scope of navigation, produced the voyages of discovery that opened up the Western Hemisphere, and symbolized a new spirit of physical adventure and a new scientific interest in the structure of the natural world. Each of these inventions with its wider cultural consequences presented new intellectual problems and novel philosophical tasks within a changed political and social environment. For, as the power of a single religious authority was slowly eroded under the influence of the Protestant Reformation and as the prestige of the universal Latin language gave way to vernacular tongues, philosophers became less and less identified with their positions in the ecclesiastical hierarchy and more and more identified with their national origins. The works of Albertus Magnus, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure, and John Duns Scotus had been basically unrelated to the countries of their birth; but the philosophy of Niccol Machiavelli was directly related to Italian experience, that of Sir Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes was English to the core, and that of Ren Descartes set the standard and tone of French intellectual life for 200 years. Dominant strands of Renaissance philosophy Knowledge in the contemporary world is conventionally divided between the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. In the Renaissance, however, fields of learning had not yet become so sharply departmentalized: in fact, each of these divisions arose in the comprehensive and broadly inclusive area of Renaissance philosophy. For, as the Renaissance mounted its revolt against the reign of religion and therefore reacted against the church, against authority, against Scholasticism, and against Aristotle, there was a sudden blossoming of interest in problems centring on civil society, man, and nature. These three interests found exact representation in the three dominant strands of Renaissance philosophy: (1) political theory, (2) humanism, and (3) the philosophy of nature. Modern philosophy The 19th century Kant's death in 1804 formally marked the end of the Enlightenment. The 19th century ushered in new philosophical problems and new conceptions of what philosophy ought to do. It was a century of great philosophical diversity. In the Renaissance the chief intellectual fact had been the rise of mathematics and natural science, and the tasks that this fact imposed upon philosophy determined its direction for two centuries. In the Enlightenment attention had turned to the character of the mind that had so successfully mastered the natural world, and Rationalists and Empiricists had contended for mastery until the Kantian synthesis. As for the 19th century, however, if one single feature of its thought could be singled out for emphasis, it might be called the discovery of the irrational. But many philosophical schools were present, and they contended, one with another, in a series of distinct and powerful oppositions: Pragmatism against Idealism; Positivism against irrationalism; Marxism against liberalism. Politically the 19th century began with the consulate of Napoleon and ended with the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria; but it is the intellectual and social changes that fell in between that have philosophical consequences. These changes were chiefly the Romantic movement of the early 19th century, which was a poetic revolt against reason in favour of feeling; the maturation of the Industrial Revolution, which caused untold misery within society and called forth a multitude of philosophies of social reform; the Revolution of 1848 in Paris, Germany, and Vienna, which symbolized class divisions and first implanted in the European consciousness the concepts of "the bourgeoisie" and "the proletariat"; and, finally, the great surge in biological science with Darwin and the publicizing of the idea of biological evolution. Romanticism influenced both German Idealism and philosophers of irrationalism. Experiences of economic discord and social unrest produced the ameliorative social philosophy of English Utilitarianism and the revolutionary doctrines of Karl Marx. And the developmental ideas of Darwin provided the prerequisites for American Pragmatism. A synoptic view of philosophy in the 19th century reveals an interesting chronology. The early century was dominated by the German school of absolute Idealism (Johann Fichte, Friedrich Schelling, and G.W.F. Hegel). The midcentury was marked by a rebirth of interest in science and its methods (Auguste Comte in France and John Stuart Mill in England) and by liberal (Mill) and radical (Marx) social theory. The late century saw a second flowering of Idealism, this time in England (T.H. Green, F.H. Bradley, and Bernard Bosanquet) and, with Charles Sanders Peirce and William James, the rise of American Pragmatism. The new philosophies of the irrational in the highly individual thinkers Sren Kierkegaard, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Friedrich Nietzsche ran through the century in its entirety. German Idealism of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel The Enlightenment, inspired by the example of natural science, had accepted certain bounds to the possibility of knowledge; that is, it had recognized certain limits to reason's ability to penetrate ultimate reality because that would require methods that surpass the boundaries of scientific method. In this particular modesty, the philosophies of Hume and Kant were much alike. But the early 19th century marked a resurgence of the metaphysical spirit at its most ambitious and extravagant extreme. German Idealism reinstated the speculative pretensions of Leibniz and Spinoza at their height. This turn was partly a consequence of the Romantic influence but, more importantly, of a new alliance of philosophy not with science but with religion. It was not accidental that all of the great German Idealists were university professors whose fathers were Protestant pastors or who had themselves studied theology: Fichte at Jena and Leipzig (1780-84); Schelling and Hegel at the Tbingen seminary (1788-95). And it is probably this circumstance that gave to German Idealism its intensely serious, its quasi-religious, and its dedicated character. The consequence of this religious alignment was that philosophical interest shifted from Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (in which he had attempted to account for natural science and denied the possibility of certainty in metaphysics) to his Critique of Practical Reason (in which he had explored the nature of the moral self) and his Critique of Judgment (in which he had treated of the purposiveness of the universe as a whole). For absolute Idealism was based upon three premises: Thus, to understand the self, self-consciousness, and the spiritual universe became for Idealistic metaphysics the task of philosophy. From the point of view of doctrine, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel had much in common. Fichte (1762-1814), professor of philosophy at the newly founded University of Berlin (1809-14) and a great symbol of German patriotism through the Napoleonic Wars, combined in a workable unity the subjectivism of Descartes, the cosmic monism of Spinoza, and the moral intensity of Kant. He saw human self-consciousness as the primary metaphysical fact through the analysis of which the philosopher finds his way to the cosmic totality that is "the Absolute." And, just as the moral will is the chief characteristic of the self, so also is it the activating principle of the world. Thus Fichte provided a new definition of philosophizing that made it central in dignity in the intellectual world. The sole task of philosophy is "the clarification of consciousness." And the highest degree of self-consciousness is achieved by the philosopher because he alone recognizes "Mind," or "Spirit," as the central principle of reality. This line of thought was carried further by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831), Fichte's successor at Berlin and perhaps the single most comprehensive and influential thinker of the 19th century. Kant's problem had been the critical examination of reason's role in human experience. For Hegel, too, the function of philosophy is to discover the place of reason in nature, in experience, and in reality; to understand the laws according to which reason operates in the world. But whereas Kant had found reason to be the form that mind imposes upon the world, Hegel found it to be constitutive of the world itself-not something that mind imposes but that it discovers. As Fichte had projected consciousness from mind into reality, so Hegel projected reason; and the resultant Hegelian dictates-that "the rational is the real" and that "the truth is the whole"-although they express an organic and a totalitarian theory of truth and reality, tend to blur the usual distinctions that previous philosophers had made between logic and metaphysics, between subject and object, and between thought and existence. For the basic tenet of Idealism, that reality is spiritual, generates just such a vague inclusiveness. To the Fichtean foundations, however, Hegel added one crucial corollary: that the Absolute, or Whole, which is a concrete universal entity, is not static but undergoes a crucial development in time. Hegel called this evolution "the dialectical process." By stressing it, Hegel accomplished two things: (1) he indicated that reason itself is not eternal but "historical," and (2) he thereby gave new meaning and relevance to the changing conditions of human society in history-which added to the philosophical task a cultural dimension that it had not possessed before. The philosopher's vocation, in Hegel's view, was to approach the Absolute through consciousness, to recognize it as Spirit expressing and developing itself ("realizing itself" was his own phrase) in all of the manifold facets of human life. For struggle is the essence of spiritual existence, and self-enlargement is its goal. For these reasons the various branches of intellect and culture become stages in the unfolding of the World-Spirit: What began, therefore, in Hegel as a metaphysics of the Absolute ended by becoming a total philosophy of human culture.
PHILOSOPHY, HISTORY OF
Meaning of PHILOSOPHY, HISTORY OF in English
Britannica English vocabulary. Английский словарь Британика. 2012