A biographical history of philosophy - PDF book by George Henry Lewes

A biographical history of philosophy

A biographical history of philosophy

This work is intended as a contribution to the History of Humanity. 

To write the Biography of Philosophy while writing the Biographies of Philosophers is the aim of the following work. The expression " Biography of Philosophy," though novel, may per- haps be pardoned, because it characterizes a novel attempt. 

There have been numerous histories of philosophical schools; some of these learned and laborious chronicles being little more than a collection of fragments and opinions; others critical estimates of various systems; and others attempting to unite both of these plans. But the rise, growth, and development of Philosophy, as exhibited in these philosophical schools — in a word, the Life of Philosophy — has yet, I believe, had no biographer.

 My conception of such a task, and the principles which have guided the composition of the present attempt, are stated in the Introduction. It is usual, in presenting to the public a work destined for instruction, to show that such a work is wanted; and, if other works on the subject already exist, to express a proper dissatisfaction at them, as an excuse for one's own audacity. 

So reasonable a practice invites imitation, even at the risk of appearing presumptuous. That History of Philosophy is an important subject may be taken for granted; and although I by no means claim for the present work that it should supersede others, I do think that existing works have not rendered it superfluous. Stanley's  Lives of the Philosophers/ the delight of my boyhood, though a great work, considering the era in which it was produced, had long been obsolete when Dr Enfield undertook his abridgement of Brucker; and, although the translation of. Ratter's  History of Philosophy ' has driven Enfield from the shelves of the learned, yet its cost and voluminousness have prevented its superseding Enfield with the many. 

Dr Enfield was a man equally without erudition and capacity, and he simply abridged the ill-digested work of a man of immense erudition. Brucker was one of the learned and patient Germans, whose industry was so indefatigable that his work can hardly become altogether superseded; it must remain one great source whence succeeding writers will draw. But, although he deserves the title of Father of the History of Philosophy, his want of sagacity, and of philosophical, no less than literary attainments, effectually prevent his ever again being regarded otherwise than as a laborious compiler. Dr Enfield's Abridgment possesses all the faults of arrangement and dullness of Brackets work, to which he has added no inconsiderable dullness and blundering of his own. Moreover, his references are shamefully inaccurate. Yet his book has been reprinted in a cheap form, and extensively bought — it certainly has not been extensively read. Ritter's ' History of Philosophy ' is a work of reputation. 

This reputation, however, is higher in France and England than in Germany; and the reason is apparent: we have so little of our own upon the subject, that work like Ritter's is a great acquisition.

The present work is not meant as a sketch. It is small; not because materials for a larger were deficient, but because only what was deemed essential has been selected. It would have been easier to let my materials wander into the diffuse space or bulky quartos or solid-looking octavos ; but I have a great dislike to "big books," and have endeavoured to make mine small by concentration. It is no complete list of names that figure in the annals of philosophy; it is no complete collection of miscellaneous opinions preserved by tedious tradition. Its completeness is organic completeness, if the expression may be allowed. 

Only such thinkers have been selected as represent the various phases of progressive development; and only such opinions as were connected with those phases. I have written the Biography, not the Annals, of Philosophy.


I. Ancient philosophy.--II. From Bacon to the present day

the book details :
  • Author: George Henry Lewes
  • Copyright : [1845]
  • Company:  London, G. Routledge & sons, limited; New York, E. P. Dutton and co

  • Download 30.7 MB - 662 Pages

    Post a Comment

    Post a Comment (0)

    Previous Post Next Post