THE GENESIS OF TWENTIETH CENTURY PHILOSOPHY by Harry Prosch

THE GENESIS OF TWENTIETH CENTURY PHILOSOPHY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

As a rule, books of this sort- primers on philosophic matters-are really refugees from prop school encyclopedias. But here the author, after forgetting his introductory bromides (""What, finally, does the life of man mean?"", etc.), has produced a valuable vade meum for both the college student and the interested layman. The style is energetic, forthright, sober; there are only a few cozy generalizations suiting less the philosophers concerned than the author's particular purposes at the moment; above all footnote waywardness has wisely been ditched in order to concentrate on the dominant issues of the periods covered which run from the Copernican revolution onwards through the various systems constituting modern thought. Some of the survey- especially the chapters dealing with Kant's and Hegel's categories, such thorny areas as critical metaphysics, the transcendental noumena, and dialectical process- presuppose a broader background on the part of the reader than the reader may be able to give. The opening portions splendidly detail the advent of the scientific method (Kepler, Descartes, Newtonian mechanics), ushering in English empiricism (Locke, Berkeley, Hume) and the ""abyss of skepticism,"" ushered out somewhat by social-political problem-solving (Smith, Rousseau). The closing sections present the four current anti-Hegelian factions: Marxism, pragmatism, logical positivism, existentialism. The professor's overview, except tangentially, does not sight in on other giants (Leibnitz, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Bergson). Perhaps it's a measure of his achievement the story seems well-told without them.

Publisher: Doubleday