facebook twitter rss

The History of Philosophy, Volume 2 – Modern Philosophy: Kant to the Present

1. The historical background
A summary of those issues of Ancient and early Modern Philosophy essential for an understanding of recent philosophic trends.

2-3. Aristotelian logic is banished from philosophy
The Father of Contemporary Philosophy: Immanuel Kant. The Kantian revolution in philosophy — the analytic-synthetic dichotomy — Kant’s famous argument: the “deduction of the categories” — reality as unknowable “things-in-themselves” — the phenomenal and noumenal worlds. Kant’s ethics: the morality of duty — the attack on happiness — the Categorical Imperative.

4. A new “logic” leads to an old politics. . .
Hegel. Reality as a dialectic process — the Absolute — the coherence theory of truth-Hegel’s concept of freedom — the absolutist state.

5. . . . and to an epidemic of irrationalism
Nineteenth-century German romanticism. Schopenhauer: the metaphysics of the Will — the irrationality of the universe. Nietzsche: the philosophy of Power — “Beyond Good and Evil.” Marx: the philosophy of Communism — romanticism unites with materialism: dialectical materialism — the economic interpretation of history — advocacy of world revolution.

6. The virus reaches defenders of science
Comte: the philosophy of Positivism — the origin of “altruism.” Mill: Utilitarianism, “the greatest happiness of the greatest number” — a collectivist defense of capitalism. Spencer: reality as unknowable — Social Darwinism.

7-8. Truth, logic and values are divorced from reality
Pragmatism. The Pragmatic theory of meaning: C.S. Peirce — the Pragmatic theory of truth: William James — Pragmatism fully developed: Dewey’s instrumentalism. Logical Positivism. The linguistic theory of logic — the verifiability theory — knowledge as probability — rejection of metaphysics.

9. Language is formally divorced from reality
The Analysts. Philosophy as the analysis of propositions: G.E. Moore — Bertrand Russell — Ordinary Language Analysis: the later Wittgenstein and his followers — the emotive theory of ethics and its heirs.

10. Nausea becomes a metaphysical emotion
Existentialism: Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Sartre. The rejection of reason — the absurdity of the universe — Death and Nothingness — fear, trembling and dread. Zen Buddhism.

11-12. Man finds his defender: the philosophy of Objectivism
Objectivism and the history of Western philosophy. The primacy of existence vs. the primacy of consciousness — the subjective, the intrinsic and the objective-the Objectivist theory of concept — formation — the derivation of the Objectivist ethics and politics from its metaphysics and epistemology.


All of Leonard Peikoff’s lectures may be ordered from the Ayn Rand Bookstore via their website, or by calling them at 1-800-729-6149 (U.S. or Canada), or 1-949-222-6557 (International).