Outline of “A History of Philosophy, Volume 1: Greece and Rome” by Frederick Copleston, S.J.

Copleston History of Philosophy, Volume 1: Greece and Rome

Outline (This is an attempt to present the outline which Copleston gives within this work – feel free to request Word doc version of this outline). The autonumbering is messed up, and I’m not sure how I can fix it without destroying my soul… Here is a link to a PDF copy without the auto number confusion… Copleston, HoP, Vol 1 – Outline

You can use this for whatever purpose you like, though a thank you is always appreciated. I did this for my own sake while reading it, first of all, and share it for whatever benefit anyone may derive for any purpose whatsoever.

 

Chapter I – Introduction

1)          Why Study the History of Philosophy?

i) Knowledge of history is necessary for ‘education’ – Philosophers are key contributors to European thought and culture.

ii) Knowledge of the History of Philosophy will help us avoid the mistakes of our predecessors

iii)         Studying the history of philosophy will enable us to be attentive to developments within it.

2)          Nature of the History of Philosophy

i) No philosophy can be understood unless it is seen in its historical setting and in light of its connection with other systems.

ii) Observation of logical sequence in development.

iii) Progression points ‘beyond itself’ to Truth.

iv) Copleston adheres to the conviction that there is a philosophia perennis.

3)          How to Study the History of Philosophy

i) See any philosophical system in its historical setting and connections.

ii) Study philosophers ‘sympathetically’.

iii)         Understand words, phrases and shades of meaning.

4)          Ancient Philosophy (this volume)

PART I – PRE-SOCRATIC PHILOSOPHY Continue reading

The Trinitarian anthropology of St. Augustine

“Who can understand the omnipotent Trinity? We all speak of it, though we may not speak of it as it truly is, for rarely does a soul know what it is saying when it speaks of the Trinity. People wrangle and dispute about it, but it is a vision that is given to none unless they are at peace. There are three things, all found in a person , which I should like people to consider. They are far different from the Trinity, but I suggest them as a subject for mental exercise by which we can test ourselves and realize how great this different is. The three things are existence, knowledge, and will, for I can say that I am, I know, and I will. I am a being which knows and wills; I know both that I am and that I will; and I will both to be and to know. In these three–being, knowledge, and will–there is one inseparable life, one life, one mind, one essence; and therefore, although they are distinct from one another, the distinction does not separate them” (Augustine, Confessions, XIII, 11).

Wittgenstein, Augustine, and the relation of mind and body.

“The text from Augustine’s Confessions with which Wittgenstein opens the Investigations registers a strong sense of how the self-transparent little soul looks out from its head, hears the adults making various noises, watches them (through its eyes) as they lumber towards some item of middle-sized dry goods, and then suddenly, on its own, makes the connection, in its own mind, between the sounds the adults emit and the objects that they touch.  Augustine pictures his infant self as already aware of its identity (what is going on inside its own mind) and of what is going on around it (outside its mind), prior to and independently of its mastering the arts of speech.  The text offers ‘a particular picture of the essence of human language’ (PI 1).  It is important to notice, however, from the outset, that the ‘words name objects’ doctrine of language which Wittgenstein at once extracts from the text is interwoven with the idea that meaning is always in the head: the last remark in the Investigations has to be allowed to illuminate the first one.  As Waismann wrote, recapitulating the idea:

 What we object to is the idea of the contents of different people’s minds as shut off from each other by insurmountable barriers, so that what is experienced is eternally private and inexpressable – the idea that we are, so to speak, imprisoned behind bars through which only words can escape, as though it were a defect in language that it consists wholly of words (Waismann, Principles, p. 248).

Wittgenstein thinks, we badly need the reminder.  Indeed, the only problem that he has with Augustine’s story is that what is presented as secondary and marginal to self-understanding needs to be acknowledged as fundamental.  He only wants to draw attention to what Augustine’s picture leaves in the background” (Fergus Kerr, Theology after Wittgenstein, p. 56, 57).

Belief

“Man can be compelled to do a good many things. There are a good many other things he can do in a halfhearted fashion, as it were, against his will. But belief can never be halfhearted. One can believe only if one wishes to. Perhap the credibility of a given person will be revealed to me so persuasively that I cannot help but think: It is wrong not to believe him; I “must” believe him. But this last step can be taken only in complete freedom, and that means that it can also not be taken. There may be plenty of compelling arguments for a man’s cedibility; but no argument can force us to believe him.

The unanimity of statements on this point is astonishing; and the agreement ranges all the way from Augustine and Thomas to Kierkegaard, Newman and Andre Gide. Augustine’s phrase from the Commentary on John is famous; “Nemo credit nisi volens”: No one believes except of his own free will. Kierkegaard says that one man can do much for another, “but give him belief, he cannot”. Newman is forever stressing, in one guise or another, the one idea that belief is something other than the result of a logical process; it is precisely not “a conclusion from premises”. “For directly you have a conviction that you ought to believe, reason has done its part, and what is wanted for faith is, not proof, but will.” And Andre Gide? In the last jottings he published after his Journals we may read these sentences: “There is more light in Christ’s words than in any other human word. This is not enough, it seems, to be a Christian: in addition, one must believe. Well, I do not believe.” Taken all together, these statements obviously mean the following: It is one thing to regard what someone else has said as interesting, clever, important, magnificent, the product of genius or absolutely “true”. We may feel compelled to to think and say any and all these things in utter sincerity. But it is quite a different matter to accept precisely the same statements in the way of belief. In order for this other matter, belief, to come about, a further step is necessary. A free assent of will must be performed. Belief rests upon volition” (Josef Pieper, Faith, Hope, Love, p 35-36).

Love and approval

“We have seen that loving concern, although it actually confirms the beloved in his existence, can also have a shaming element. This fact–which seems paradoxical only at first glance–indicates that love is not synonymous with undifferentiated approval of everything the beloved person thinks and does in real life. As a corollary, love is also not synonymous with the wish for the beloved to feel good always and in every situation and for him to be spared experiencing pain or grief in all circumstances. “Mere ‘kindness’ which tolerates anything except [the beloved’s] suffering” has nothing to do with real love. Saint Augustine expressed the same idea in a wide variety of phrases: “Love reprimands, ill will echoes”; “the friend speaks bitterly and loves, the disguised foe flatters and hates.” No lover can look on easily when he sees the one he loves preferring convenience to the good. Those who love young people cannot share the delight they seem to feel in (as it were) lightening their knapsacks and throwing away the basic rations they will eventually need when the going gets rough” (Josef Pieper, Faith, Hope, Love, p 187).

St. Augustine

“St. Augustine (354-430 AD) sought to combine Christian faith and human reason: to believe in order to be able to understand. In his Confessions he explains his life-long quest for truth and goodness in which he moved from a life of sin and debauchery, passing first under the influence of Manichaeism ( a religious doctrine that held that human life is caught in a struggle between good and evil, God and matter, and which urged asceticism to free the self from evil), and then under the influence of Platonism (from which he learned the doctrine of Forms of Ideas (logos), and that reality goes beyond what is bodily), before finally undergoing a conversion and liberation of his will enslaved by sin through his encounter with the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ. In his City of God he tried to show that Christianity is not the cause of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. He argues against Varro that the Greek and philosophical views on the best way of life based on moral and intellectual virtue, although true, is only able to be realized in speech, but not in deed on account of original and personal sin. Since a commonwealth, according to Cicero, is based on the common agreements or consensus or loves of its citizens, there are finally two cities based on two loves: the city of man based on sinful love (the love of self above all things even to the contempt of God); and the city of God based on the love of God above all even to the contempt of self. Grace and the God-given virtues of faith, hope, and charity make it possible for Christians to be good citizens in the earthly city, but they are aiming at the heavenly city. [His theory of knowing is Plato’s + the Interior Master of Word and Spirit who give us an inward, a priori standard of truth.]” (Frederick Lawrence, Philosophers and Theologians, Boston College).

St. Augustine — Freedom of the will

Unless you turn to Him and repay the existence that He gave you , you won’t be “nothing”; you will be wretched. All things owe to God, first of all, what they are insofar as they are natures. Then, those who have received a will owe to Him whatever better thing they can will to be, and whatever they ought to be. No man is ever blamed for what he has not been given, but he is justly blamed if he has not done what he should have done; and if he has received free will and sufficient power, he stands under obligation. When a man does not do what he ought, God the Creator is not at fault. It is to His glory that a man suffers justly; and by blaming a man for not doing what he should have done, you are praising what he ought to do. You are praised for seeing what you ought to do, even though you see this only through God, who is immutable Truth (On Freedom)