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From Descartes to Wittgenstein: A Short History of Modern Philosophy (Harper colophon books) Paperback – November, 1982


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Product Details

  • Series: Harper colophon books
  • Paperback: 298 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins (November 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060909315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060909314
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,596,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Nova137 on March 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
Covering such greats as Descartes, Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, Hume, Locke, Frege, and Wittgenstein, this book hits the highlights of such movements as Rationalism, Empiricism, Transcendental Idealism as well as finishing up with the Tractatus.

Let us start at the end:

The whole modern conception of the world is founded on the illusion that the so-called laws of nature are the explanations of natural phenomena.
Thus people today stop at the laws of nature, treating them as something inviolable, just as God and Fate were treated in past ages. And in fact both were right and both wrong; though the view of the ancients is clearer insofar as they have an acknowledged terminus, while the modern system tries to make it look as if everything were explained
— Wittgenstein, Tractatus, 6.371-2

Here is the author on confining the discussion to post-Renaissance philosophy:

"In the first chapter I explain why I confine my discussion for the most part to the leading figures of post-Renaissance philosophy, and why my methods differ from those of the historian of ideas. My concern is to describe the content of philosophical conclusions and arguments, and not the contexts in which they occurred or the influences which led to them. Those with an interest in the history of ideas will wish to go back over the ground covered by this book and to explore the historical conditions from which the arguments grew, and the currents of influence which led from Hobbes to Spinoza, from Malebranche to Berkeley, from Rousseau to Kant, and from Schopenhauer to Wittgenstein. The classifications of schools and arguments that I have adopted may then begin to appear, if not arbitrary, at least very much matters of philosophical convenience.
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