History of Modern Philosophy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 841 pages of information about History of Modern Philosophy.

[Footnote 4:  Cf.  H. Kaatz, Die Weltanschauung Fr. Nietzsches, I. Kultur und Moral, 1892.]



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The Cartesian philosophy, which had been widely accepted in Italy, and had still been advocated, in the sense of Malebranche, by Sigismond Gerdil (1718-1802), was opposed as an unhistorical view of the world by Giambattista Vico,[1] the bold and profound creator of the philosophy of history (1668-1744; from 1697 professor of rhetoric in the University of Naples).  Vico’s leading ideas are as follows:  Man makes himself the criterion of the universe, judges that which is unknown and remote by the known and present.  The free will of the individual rests on the judgments, manners, and habits of the people, which have arisen without reflection from a universal human instinct.  Uniform ideas among nations unacquainted with one another are motived in a common truth.  History is the development of human nature; in it neither chance nor fate rules, but the legislative power of providence, in virtue of which men through their own freedom progressively realize the idea of human nature.  The universal course of civilization is that culture transfers its abode from the forests and huts into villages, cities, and, finally, into academies; the nature of the nations is at first rude, then stern, gradually it becomes mild, nay, effeminate, and finally wanton; at first men feel only that which is necessary, later they regard the useful, the convenient, the agreeable and attractive, until the luxury sprung from the sense for the beautiful degenerates into a foolish misuse of things.  Vico divides antiquity into three periods:  the divine (theocracy), the heroic (aristocracy), and the human (democracy and monarchy).  The same course of things repeats itself in the nations of later times:  to the patriarchal dominion of the fanciful, myth-making Orient correspond the spiritual states of the migrations; to the old Greek aristocracy, the chivalry and robbery of the period of the Crusades; to the republicanism and the monarchy of later antiquity, the modern period, which gives even the citizens and peasants a share in the universal equality.  If European culture had not been transplanted to America, the same three-act drama of human development would there be playing.  Vico carries this threefold division into his consideration of manners, laws, languages, character, etc.

[Footnote 1:  Vico:  Principles of a New Science of the Common Nature of Nations, 1725; Works, in six volumes, edited by G. Ferrari, 1835-37, new ed.. 1853 seq.  On Vico cf.  K. Werner, 1877 and 1879. [Also Flint’s Vico, Blackwood’s Philosophical Classics, 1884.—­TR.]]

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History of Modern Philosophy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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