The Great Philosophers: Xenophanes, Democritus, Empedocles, Bruno, Epicurus, Boehme, Schelling, Leibniz, Aristotle, Hegel (The Great Philosophers, Volume III)

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9780151369423: The Great Philosophers: Xenophanes, Democritus, Empedocles, Bruno, Epicurus, Boehme, Schelling, Leibniz, Aristotle, Hegel (The Great Philosophers, Volume III)

Karl Jaspers died in 1969, leaving unfinished his universal history of philosophy, a history organized around those philosophers who have influenced the course of human thought. The first two volumes of this work appeared in Jasper's lifetime; the third and fourth have been gathered from the vast material of his posthumous papers. This is the fourth volume. Following his original plan of "promoting the happiness that comes of meeting great men and sharing in their thoughts," Jaspers discusses Descartes, a pious Catholic who vacillated between rational philosophy and obedience to authority. Lessing, whose thought was clear, open-ended, experimental, hones. Pascal. Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Weber, who posed most penetratingly and urgently the "radical questionability of human Existenz." Marx was a dogmatic dreamer, and Einstein a great scientist, but limited in his insight into human existence. Jasper's method is personal, one of constant questioning and struggle, as he enters into dialogue iwth his "eternal contemporaries," the thinkers of the past. For he believes that it is only through communication with others that we come to ourselves and to wisdom.

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From Booklist:

The German Jaspers was engaged in a comprehensive summary of the world's philosophers when he died in 1969, but he left the essentials in place. The volumes of his "universal history of philosophy," of which this is the third (the fourth is due next year), furnish the public library a nonephemeral acquisition that is a bit more elevated than the work of the middlebrow Durants. Jaspers lines up 10 famous philosophers--beginning with Aristotle, that obsessive systematizer who sorted everything with various degrees of modern permanence: rhetoric (up-to-date); politics (ditto); physics (not); and biology (doubly not). Epicurus, the expounder of hedonism, follows, and so completely dominates this particular outlook that his live-for-the-day disciples really have nothing to add, as long as they assert no extracorporeal existence for the soul. That opinion originated with the inventor of the atomic concept, Democritus, and such Being versus Nothingness metaphysics overarches the rest of Jaspers' profiles. In sentence after weighty sentence--and Jaspers writes very austerely--the seeker can at least recognize that behind the opacity of Hegel and Leibniz's thought lies the question that afflicts every human: What on earth am I doing here? Gilbert Taylor

From Publishers Weekly:

Scrutinizing 10 philosophers from Epicurus to Hegel, Jaspers, the famed German existentialist (1883-1969), extracts the living essence of each philosopher's wisdom in these higly individualistic critiques. For Jaspers, Giordano Bruno, the Italian wandering scholar burnt at the stake by the Inquisition, is the founder of modern pantheism, while Democritus, the ancient Greek atomist, showed that "it is possible to live, without God, in tranquillity, serene and active." Jaspers also discusses the egalitarianism of philosophical poet Xenophanes; Empedocles as a self-styled prophet and savior; Aristotle's pursuit of truth through the intellect; religious mystic Jakob Boehme; and the systems of Leibniz and Schelling. Translated from the 1981 German edition of Jaspers's posthumous writings, this searching study complements the first two volumes of The Great Philosophers which were published in the 1960s.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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