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The Orientals
It is the purpose of this volume to sketch briefly the lives and doctrines of those men who have been most eminent in that field of thought which is described generally by the word philosophy. There is some difficulty, when the subject is treated historically, in separating philosophy from science on the one hand, and from theology on the other.
The Early Greeks
In whatever manner Greece may be indebted to the speculation of the Orientals, there can be but small doubt that Thales was an original thinker. In him we find the germ of European philosophy. With him begins the movement that, running through all the schools until it produced a Socrates, a Plato, and an Aristotle, lost itself in the bizarre systems of the Alexandrian schools.
Socrates And Plato
Among all the ancients few have a more distinct or interesting personality than Socrates. Socratic wisdom is a proverb. His name has come down to us as the suggestion of all that is heroic, virtuous, noble. His life and character have been surrounded by a halo that has become brilliant in inverse ratio to the distance that separates his own time from that of his historians.
The Cynics
As the fragments of a clod struck by the foot scatter in various and sometimes in nearly opposite directions, so the schools of philosophy that sprang from the teaching of Socrates diverged widely from one another. Socrates had many pupils, and the seed he sowed did not produce the same species of growth in various soils a most significant fact.
Aristotle is credited with being almost everything except a god. He was too much a man of science for that. He is said to have been the first to collect a library. He was the first man to make a study of animals and to attempt a classification of living creatures. He was the inventor of the art of logic. He was the originator of 'categories.'
Epicurus, Zeno, Pyrrho
With Aristotle Greek philosophy reached its culmination. The men who came after him created no system and did nothing to develop his doctrines. Attention has been already called to the lasting influence of Aristotelian thought. When the time came for Christian theologians to enter the arena of dialectics and to establish a philosophy, they took what they found prepared for them by the celebrated...
The Alexandrians
Before proceeding to consider the philosophers of the Alexandrian schools, better known, perhaps, as the neo-Platonists, a very few words are needed to describe the death of philosophizing in Greece. The Academy was revived by Arcesilaus, who was an heir of the Skeptics and who improved upon his originals by becoming skeptical of phenomena and essence and all.
The Scholastics
All that is left of Scholasticism is the names of a few men who were the redoubtable knights of the terrible war of words that raged in Europe from the Eleventh to the Fourteenth Century. Fortunately for the reader of this work it so happens that the three most eminent leaders in Scholastic philosophy present the most interesting material for biography among the large number of doctors who engaged...
Giordano Bruno
So much has been written and so much has been said about Giordano Bruno that one who in these days takes up the subject cannot but feel that he has between his hands nothing but beaten straw. All men know that Bruno was burned at the stake on the 17th day of February, in the year 1600.
To no figure in the pantheon of philosophy can so high a place be given as to that of Francis Bacon. Great wits and small alike have shot at his tremendous stature little arrows tipped with the poison of ignorance or malice. His personal character and his private life have been held up to the scorn of mankind. There is scarce an evil thing that can be said of a man that has not been said of him.
René Descartes is almost always regarded as the greatest thinker of France, and he is frequently opposed to Bacon, with whom he was contemporary, as being the father of modern philosophy. Professor Huxley, who, in spite of his vast labors in the physical sciences, occupied some of his time with the consideration of philosophy, metaphysics, theology, exegesis, and, toward the close of his life...
Hobbes And Locke
It is not astonishing that a man such as Thomas Huxley should express the highest admiration for a man such as Thomas Hobbes. If Huxley's opinion is valuable no one can withhold from Hobbes a full measure of praise. Hobbes has been condemned as a materialist and an atheist by many persons who have never done him the common justice of reading his works, or at least of reading the works in which his...
Baruch, or Benedict, Spinoza was born at Amster-dam on November 24, 1632. As a child he was very weak and sickly, and it was for this reason, perhaps, that he felt more inclined to thought and study than most of the young boys with whom he was bred in school. His parents were deeply religious Jews, who had left their native Portugal to take up their residence in the city of Amsterdam...
Berkeley And Hume
To be sneered at by the unthinking is frequently the lot of greatness. Measured by that standard George Berkeley is truly great. The mind of the profound English bishop has been made the butt of ridicule for more than one hundred and fifty years. Now and then some more solemn-visaged ignoramus has shaken his head severely and has proclaimed that the good church-man of Cloyne is not only foolish...
The Germans
Kant's precise position in philosophy has been variously estimated, but all who have written of him have given him credit for being one of the most profound minds that has ever been produced by the human race. He has excited universal admiration. Probably every critique that has been written on philosophic topics has exalted Kant in words of the highest praise.
Etienne de Condillac deserves a place in the catalogue of great philosophers for the reason that he was the founder of the French Sensational School, which has a permanent place in the history of speculation. He was, as his name indicates, a nobleman, but his family was poor. Shut out from the possibilities of success in political life, which probably he had entered had his wealth...
The system which was founded by Kant was called Transcendentalism. Ralph Waldo Emerson called him-self a Transcendentalist and the ideas which he developed in the promiscuous and disconnected writings which he left behind have been called Transcendentalism, perhaps through courtesy, by others. It may be truly said that Emerson is the only philosopher that America has been able to produce thus far.
In reviewing the philosophers we have already treated in this volume the reader will remember, perhaps, that the history of philosophy is marked by three prominent men. Excluding the speculations of Buddha, and con-fining ourselves to the development of thought in Europe, we have observed that with Socrates came a limited reformation of speculation.
Judged by this standard, which is stated here in his own words, Herbert Spencer is certainly the wise man he speaks of; and the world at large, or at least the best and most discriminating part of that world, has no hesitation in pronouncing him the wisest man of this age, and one of the wisest if not still the wisest of all ages in the history of Man's intellectual progress.
A Century Of Achievement
In the one hundred years now drawing to a close the world has made a greater advance in science and the arts than in all the preceding ages.
Many are the methods of transportation which have been in use throughout the centuries, but the customs of civilized man today differ from those of a hundred years ago more than those of 1800 differed from those of the first year of the Christian era.
A man in Florida may now send a letter to his friend in the Klondike gold fields for two cents, or for five cents he may send a letter to his friend in Australia.
Give me a fulcrum on which to rest, and I will move the earth, - said Archimedes when he discovered the lever.
Marvelous Machinery
The discovery of steam as a motive power and its application to the ingenious machinery of the age has effected the most rapid revolution of human affairs which the world has yet seen.
Light And Heat Including Photography
The Nineteenth Century has witnessed a marvelous revolution in methods of producing and utilizing light and heat.
Though the opinions of scientists vary in their estimate as to which is the greatest achievement of the Century, electricity is the foremost in the popular estimation.
Mining And Metallurgy
Mining and metallurgy are not devices of the Nineteenth Century; for Tubal Cain is mentioned in Genesis as a worker in metals, and ever since then men have dug minerals from the earth and fashioned them to their uses.
The origin of agriculture is lost in the darkness of re-mote antiquity, but not until comparatively recent times has science been applied to its practice.
No story in all the Arabian Nights, in all the transformations of mystic spell or fairy wand, is half so wonderful as the history of chemistry for the past one hundred years.
Discoveries in physics have been most far-reaching in their effects.
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