By Frederick Copleston

Conceived initially as a major presentation of the improvement of philosophy for Catholic seminary scholars, Frederick Copleston's nine-volume A heritage Of Philosophy has journeyed a long way past the modest objective of its writer to common acclaim because the most sensible background of philosophy in English.Copleston, an Oxford Jesuit of big erudition who as soon as tangled with A.J. Ayer in a fabled debate concerning the life of God and the potential of metaphysics, knew that seminary scholars have been fed a woefully insufficient vitamin of theses and proofs, and that their familiarity with so much of history's nice thinkers was once diminished to simplistic caricatures.  Copleston got down to redress the incorrect by means of writing a whole background of Western Philosophy, one crackling with incident and highbrow pleasure - and one who supplies complete position to every philosopher, offering his concept in a fantastically rounded demeanour and exhibiting his hyperlinks to people who went earlier than and to people who got here after him.

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Extra info for A History of Philosophy, Vol. 2: Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy From Augustine to Duns Scotus

Example text

These impressions were confirmed by his meeting with two men, Simplicianus and Pontitianus. The former, an old priest, gave Augustine an account of the conversion of Victorinus, the neoPlatonist, to Christianity, with the result that the young man 'burned with the desire to do likewise',1 while the latter spoke of the life of St. Anthony of Egypt, which made Augustine disgusted with his own moral state. 2 There followed that intense moral struggle, which culminated in the famous scene enacted in the garden of his house, when Augustine hearing a child's voice over a wall crying repeatedly the refrain Tolle lege!

Augustine, now detached from Christianity both morally and intellectually, returned to Tagaste in 374 and there taught grammar and Latin literature for a year, after which he opened a school oi rhetoric at Carthage in the autumn of 374. He lived with his mistress and their child, Adeodatus, and it was during this period that he won a prize for poetry (a dramatic piece, not now extant) 1 Manichaeanism, founded b y Manes or Mani in the third century, originated in Persia and was a mixture of Persian and Christian elements.

In other words, the function of neo-Platonism at this period was to render it possible for Augustine to see the reasonableness of Christianity, and he began to read the New Testament again, particularly the writings of St. Paul. If neo-Platonism suggested to him the idea of the contemplation of spiritual things, of wisdom in the intellectual sense, the New Testament showed him that it was also necessary to lead a life in accordance with wisdom. These impressions were confirmed by his meeting with two men, Simplicianus and Pontitianus.

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