By Stephen Trombley

A brief, sharp and wonderful survey of the advance of all elements of the Western philosophical culture from the traditional Greeks to the current day.

Stephen Trombley's A brief background of Western Thought, outlines the 2,500-year heritage of eu rules from the philosophers of Classical Antiquity to the thinkers of today.

No significant consultant of any major strand of Western notion escapes Trombley's consciousness: the Christian Scholastic theologians of the center a while, the good philosophers of the Enlightenment, the German idealists from Kant to Hegel; the utilitarians Bentham and Mill; the transcendentalists Emerson and Thoreau; Kierkegaard and the existentialists; the analytic philosophers Russell, Moore, Whitehead and Wittgenstein; and - final yet no longer least - the 4 shapers-in-chief of our smooth international: Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein.

A brief heritage of Western Thought is a masterly distillation of two-and-a-half millennia of highbrow background, and a readable and wonderful crash direction in Western philosophy.

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1 (v) Ockham's answer to the problem of universals has been already indicated in effect: universals are terms (termini concepti) which signify individual things and which stand for them in propositions. Only individual things exist; and by the very fact that a thing exists it is individual. There are not and cannot be existent universals. To assert the extramental existence of universals is to commit the folly of asserting a contradiction; for if the universal exists, it must be individual. And that there is no common reality existing at the same time in two members of a species can be shown in several ways.

For example, if one does not realize that Aristotle's intenti~n in the Categories was to treat of words and concepts and not of thmgs, one will interpret him in a sense quite foreign to his thought. Logic is concerned with terms of second intention which cannot exist sine ratione, that is, without the mind'~ activity; it deals, therefore, with mental 'fabrications'. I said earlier that Ockham did not much like speaking of universal co~cepts as fictions or fictive entities; but the point I then had in mmd was that Ockham objected to the implication that what we ~ow by means of a universal concept is a fiction and not a real thmg.

But it does not follow, of course, that Ockham did not develop the terminist logic very considerably. Nor does it follow that Ockham's philosophical views and the use to which he put the terminist logic were borrowed from a thinker like Peter of Spain. On the contrary, Peter was a conservative in philosophy and was very far from showing any tendency to anticipate Ockham's 'nominalism'. To find the antecedents of the terminist logic in the thirteenth century is not the same thing as attempting to push back the whole Ockhamist philosophy into that century: such an attempt would be futile.

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