A Stroll With William James - download pdf or read online

By Jacques Barzun

ISBN-10: 0226038661

ISBN-13: 9780226038667

With this ebook, Jacques Barzun will pay what he describes as an "intellectual debt" to William James—psychologist, thinker, and, for Barzun, consultant and mentor. Commenting on James's existence, suggestion, and legacy, Barzun leaves us with a smart and civilized distillation of the good thinker's work.

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Certain important topics never came within his purview at all. Thus, not being fully acquainted with Plato and Aristotle, and still less with the pre-Socratics, he was never exercised by the problem of the one and the many, substance and change, universals and particulars, and thus a great tract of metaphysical territory lay altogether out of his sight. Its place was taken by the Christian doctrine of God and creation and the individual soul, and the intellectual universe of Plotinus was accepted as the adequate human commentary on the universe as displayed for the believer by scriptural revelation.

He would not have allowed that a philosophy that was not divine wisdom could have any meaning for a mature believer. The division, classical and axiomatic to all who look to Aquinas as master, between natural, rational wisdom and supernatural wisdom, between reason and Christian revelation, between philosophy, in fact, and theology, has no place in Augustine, partly because the theology of grace and the supernatural life had not yet been elaborated; partly because in actual life - in the Christian life of the individual the divine action, whether of the immanent creator and sustainer, or of the divine Redeemer and gracegiver, flow from one divine source and are not in fact divisible; partly because Augustine has at no time any interest in analysing or describing either the universe or the microcosm of man in philosophical terms.

Plato had been concerned to prepare and purify the soul and mind, by moral and intellectual discipline, for a knowledge of the Forms, that is, of essential reality, dimly in this life and more fully in another. With Aristotle, beatitude consisted in the contemplation of metaphysical and physical reality, perhaps in this life only, though later followers of his school made this contemplation in some sense the employment of immortal intelligences. Plotinus, on the other hand, sees the final activity of the soul in a union of knowledge and love with the One beyond being, which can be attained partially and fleetingly even in this life.

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A Stroll With William James by Jacques Barzun


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