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A History of Philosophy, Vol. 2: Medieval Philosophy - From Augustine to Duns Scotus Paperback – March 1, 1993


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A History of Philosophy, Vol. 2: Medieval Philosophy - From Augustine to Duns Scotus + A History of Philosophy, Vol. 1: Greece and Rome From the Pre-Socratics to Plotinus + A History of Philosophy, Volume 3: Late Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy: Ockham, Francis Bacon, and the Beginning of the Modern World
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Image; New edition edition (March 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038546844X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385468442
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,111 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Conceived originally as a serious presentation of the development of philosophy for Catholic seminary students, Frederick Copleston's nine-volume A History Of Philosophy has journeyed far beyond the modest purpose of its author to universal acclaim as the best history of philosophy in English.

Copleston, an Oxford Jesuit of immense erudition who once tangled with A.J. Ayer in a fabled debate about the existence of God and the possibility of metaphysics, knew that seminary students were fed a woefully inadequate diet of theses and proofs, and that their familiarity with most of history's great thinkers was reduced to simplistic caricatures. Copleston set out to redress the wrong by writing a complete history of Western Philosophy, one crackling with incident and intellectual excitement - and one that gives full place to each thinker, presenting his thought in a beautifully rounded manner and showing his links to those who went before and to those who came after him.

From the Inside Flap

Conceived originally as a serious presentation of the development of philosophy for Catholic seminary students, Frederick Copleston's nine-volume A History Of Philosophy has journeyed far beyond the modest purpose of its author to universal acclaim as the best history of philosophy in English.

Copleston, an Oxford Jesuit of immense erudition who once tangled with A.J. Ayer in a fabled debate about the existence of God and the possibility of metaphysics, knew that seminary students were fed a woefully inadequate diet of theses and proofs, and that their familiarity with most of history's great thinkers was reduced to simplistic caricatures. Copleston set out to redress the wrong by writing a complete history of Western Philosophy, one crackling with incident and intellectual excitement - and one that gives full place to each thinker, presenting his thought in a beautifully rounded manner and showing his links to those who went before and to those who came after him.

Customer Reviews

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They say that it's boring, dry or hard to read.
J. Johnston
The three great figures of this period - St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas Aquinas, and John Duns Scotus - are given extensive coverage.
Labarum
The History of Philosophy series by Copleston is an excellent reference for anyone interested in philosophy.
Candler Ruffner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Robert James on August 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
Warning: this book is not for the faint-of-heart -- or faint-of-mind! Staggeringly detailed, Copleston's history of philosophy is one of the masterworks of twentieth century scholarship, but should only be assayed by those who have done their basic work in philosophy already. As a Jesuit, this volume is perhaps the closest to Copleston's heart, given that it covers Catholic philosophy from Augustine to Thomas Aquinas (who Copleston believes is his own truest philosopher), as well as a few odds and ends of medieval philosophy. The sections on Augustine and Aquinas are still required reading for anybody wanting to understand the attempt to reconcile philosophy and theology, the primary intellectual debate of the middle ages in Europe. For many readers, the debate simply won't matter any longer, but anybody wishing to understand the medieval mind absolutely needs to read this book. Yes, your head may swim in keeping the arguments over what now seems to many to be inconsequential trivia, but the terms and arguments that Aquinas defined set the ground for many unresolved arguments to follow.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By DenVilda on October 31, 2002
Format: Paperback
Anyone acquainted with the history of philosophy knows there is a tendency to treat Medieval philosophy as a low point between the grandeur of Greece and the radiant glow of Descartes, who salvaged philosophy from the dim ruminations of Christian theology. This theme is given notable currency in popular histories like Russell's _History of Western Philosophy_, Durant's _The Story of Philosophy_, and Gottlieb's more recent _Dream of Reason_. While these books might pay homage to Aquinas as a synthesizer of Aristotle and Catholicism, his eminent contemporaries hardly merit a sentence. Supposedly, real philosophy did not begin in earnest until it was reawakened by the "kiss of Descartes." Here Frederick Copleston, a great Jesuit scholar, seeks to remedy the damage by recreating the rich philosophical tapestry of Medievalism, a time in which philosophy hardly slept, but was full of energy and acerbic controversy.
While Christianity was definitely the philosophical template that all Medievalists began with, there was still an enormous range of conflict and disputation. Just as there is not a single issue that ensnares modern philosophy, the Medievalists were engrossed with a whole range of issues -- epistemology, politics, rationalism, and so on. A prickly controversy that the Medievalists dwelt on was the "problem of universals", an enigma that dates back to Plato and Aristotle, who each took opposing sides to the problem. On the surface the problem of universals might not seem like a problem at all, and indeed most people do not recognize it as such until they encounter it in Philosophy 101. While different formulations can be given to the problem the most succint way of presenting it is as follows: what, if anything, in extramental reality corresponds to the universal concept in the human mind?
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By "tdmattin75" on June 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
I have now read the first two volumes of Copleston's History of Philosophy, and plan to read the remaining seven. Based on reviews and the monumental scope of the work itself, I had high expectations coming in, and I must say that the books have so far exceeded these expectations. My only prior experience with philosophy had been Bertrand Russell's history, which I thoroughly enjoyed, although in retrospect I gleaned more entertainment from it than any real knowledge of the history of philosophy. Copleston's work is much more academic and it does, to a degree, presuppose at least a cursory knowledge of the history of philosophy as well a foundation of philosophic terminology. However, if you are willing to put some work and thought into the books, especially at the outset, it is possible, I believe, to fully understand these volumes without a prior knowledge of the history of philosophy. For example, I've taken notes as I've read, and have found that many of the philosophical terms used, while not always defined explicitly, are used frequently enough that their meaning can be inferred satisfactorily.
I'll attempt to summarize what I took from this particular volume, that on Medieval philosophy: The philosophy of Aristotle represents a complete system and was the pinnacle of the ancient philosophies. However, his complete system was not known in the West until the twelfth century -only his logic and fragments of other parts was known before this and mostly indirectly. Philosophy in medieval Europe prior to this had been inextricably tied up with Christian theology -the Church fathers and medieval theologians had used what they knew of ancient philosophy to rationally support what they knew through revelation.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Nelson Reed Kerr Jr. on March 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
The readers were originally seminarians. Often a critical word or phrase is rendered in Latin or Greek. You can work around that by treating the word as a symbol for an idea otherwise explicated, but sometimes in this book (less so in the prior ones) a critical eplanation or reference is entirely in Latin. The book, as is true with all of the others, is well worth the work involved in studying it. It is neither an in depth analysis of everything, nor a beginner's text. Excellent for college students and particularly philosophy students who have finished the survey courses.
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