A short history of ethics, Greek and modern - Reginald Rogers - PDF ebook

A short history of ethics, Greek and modern 

A short history of ethics
A short history of ethics, Greek and modern

From the introduction:
This book is mainly descriptive but also critical. My primary object has been to provide a brief and accurate description of the leading Greek ethical systems, and of those systems which appear to represent the best types of modern philosophic Ethics, from Hobbes to the end of the nineteenth century; systems which may be regarded as contemporary are excluded.

 My secondary object has been to show, by criticism and comparison, the connecting links between systems and the movements of thought by which new systems arise — movements which express both reaction and expansion. 

Scholastic doctrines receive little attention, because, as the title indicates, they do not come within the scope of the work; the omission is not intended to suggest that the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas is antiquated or wanting in-depth — from what I know of it I conclude that it is remarkably profound and subtle, — but as his system, in its non-theological features, is primarily a commentary on, and expansion of, Aristotelianism, its omission in an elementary history is, I think, justified. 

Some other familiar names are omitted because I have sought to give types of thought rather than names of thinkers. Reid's ethical doctrines, for example, are, in my opinion, represented by Butler's, and those of the French empiricists by Hume. J. J. Rousseau, though his influence was vast, J. J. Rousseau is not mentioned, because his teaching appealed to feelings rather than a systematic philosophy. 

Recent systems like those of Wundt, Paulsen, Nietzsche, and the Pragmatists are also omitted. This book is, as I have said, mainly descriptive, but I wish to emphasise the importance of recognising that a critical history of philosophy may be used as a method of positive philosophical construction and that its results need not be negative or sceptical. 

The history of thought shows that the idea of objective human good contains, in some of its forms, a contradiction, or an irrational element, which it is the business of Pure Ethics to expose and, if possible, to remove. 

The method of historical criticism examines the different attempts that have been made to remove this irrational element and selects provisionally that system which appears, on the whole, the most satisfactory from a logical and practical point of view.

The history of Ethics shows that the irrational element is due to a conflict between two opposite tendencies. The first is to lay undue stress on the emotional constituents of the Good; I believe the only logical issue of this is Exclusive Egoism (Cyrenaics, Epicurus, Hobbes), which solves the difficulty only at the cost of admitting- ting that objective social good is a self-contradictory conception. 

The second tendency is represented by Moral Purism (Cynics, Stoics, Kant), which uses the principle that the satisfaction of particular feelings or of the feelings of specific individuals cannot be the right guide to conduct; by a strained use of this true principle, it is inferred that pleasure has no ethical worth. 

The eighteenth-century intuition- ists recognised the difficulty, but they took the wrong way of escape; they endeavoured by various artifices to prove that conscience and the desire for happiness lead, or ultimately will lead, to the same result, namely, a general harmony between the pleasures of all persons. But assuming that such a social harmony could result, it would be merely external, • not inward and spiritual; the irrational element cannot be abolished in this artificial way.

the book details :
  • Author: Reginald Arthur Percy Rogers
  • Publication date:1911
  • Company: London, Macmillan and Co., Limited

  • Download A short history of ethics, Greek and modern - PDF 7.3 MB



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