Great Chain of Being A Study of the History of an Idea

ISBN-10: 0674361539

ISBN-13: 9780674361539

Edition: 1936

Authors: Arthur Oncken Lovejoy

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From later antiquity down to the close of the eighteenth century, most philosophers and men of science and, indeed, most educated men, accepted without question a traditional view of the plan and structure of the world. In this volume, which embodies the William James lectures for 1933, Professor Lovejoy points out the three principles--plenitude, continuity, and graduation--which were combined in this conception; analyzes their origins in the philosophies of Plato, Aristole, and the Neoplatonists; traces the most important of their diverse samifications in subsequent religious thought, in metaphysics, in ethics and asesthics, and in astronomical and biological theories; and copiously illustrates the influence of the conception as a whole, and of the ideas out of which it was compounded, upon the imagination and feelings as expressed in literature.
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Book details

List price: $25.00
Copyright year: 1936
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 1/1/1936
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 382
Size: 5.50" wide x 8.00" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 0.946
Language: English

Arthur Oncken Lovejoy, who was educated at the University of California at Berkeley and at Harvard University, taught at several American universities before going, in 1910, to Johns Hopkins University where he taught until his retirement in 1938. His major contributions were in epistemology and the history of ideas. He also helped organize the Association of American University Professors. Lovejoy's earliest philosophical interests were in epistemology and metaphysics. In metaphysics, he was a temporalist, and many of his writings are devoted to the nature of time and to the doctrines of philosophers and scientists on time. He firmly believed in the reality of time, including the reality of past time. Epistemologically, Lovejoy was a critical realist. In this regard, he was one of seven philosophers who contributed to "Essays in Critical Realism" (1920), a major cooperative effort signaling a school of thought that held that knowledge is about an independent reality but is mediated by representations or ideas. This view involves an epistemological dualism, and Lovejoy's book "The Revolt Against Dualism" (1930), is the most penetrating critique of such philosophers as Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell, who attempted to supplant dualism with monism. It also presents a systematic defense of epistemological dualism and, further, of mind-body, or psychophysical, dualism. Lovejoy was a pioneer in the field of intellectual history. Indeed, he was founding editor of the Journal of the History of Ideas. Lovejoy defined ideas as unit principles that persist through history and that ramify in a variety of fields, requiring cross-disciplinary studies. He himself was an expert practitioner of the method, his own book "The Great Chain of Being" remaining a classic of which contemporary scholars in the field must still take account.

Introduction: the Study of the History of Ideas
The Genesis of the Idea in Greek Philosophy: the Three Principles
The Chain of Being and Some Internal Conflicts in Medieval Thought
The Principle of Plenitude and New Cosmography
Plenitude and Sufficient Reason in Leibniz and Spinoza
The Chain of Being in Eighteenth-Century Thought, and Man's Place and R&ocircle in Nature
The Principle of Plenitude and Eighteenth-Century Optimism
The Chain of Being and Some Aspects of Eighteenth-Century Biology
The Temporalizing of the Chain of Being
Romanticism and the Principle of Plenitude
The Outcome of the History and Its Moral
Index of Names and Subjects
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