History of Philosophy, Volume VI: Wolff to Kant by Frederick Copleston

By Frederick Copleston

The interval of "The Enlightenment." Surveys French and German stages, emphasizing Rousseau and Kant.

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2 But the institution of a good system of education meets with serious obstacles. In the first place there is the clergy, and in the second place there is the fact that most governments are very imperfect or bad. We cannot have a good system of education until the power of the clergy has been broken and until a truly good system of government, with a corresponding good system of legislation, has been realized. 3 But few governments conduct themselves according to this law. Yet 'every important reformation in the moral part of education supposes one in the laws and form of government'.

Ooper, I, p. vi. , 10, 1; Hooper, II, pp. , Hooper, II, p. 433. , 6, 9; Hooper, II, p. 105. 2 THE FRENCH ENLIGHTENMENT reason why he can be cited by left-wing writers as one of their predecessors. Helvetius is tireless in attacking not only the clergy, particularly the Catholic priesthood, but also revealed or 'mysterious' religion, which he regardsas detrimental to the interests of society. t he has not denied any Christian dogma. But it is quite evident from his writings that he does not seriously intend to accept anything but a form of natural religion or deism.

But in the second work this point of view is modified. When treating, for example, of the man who is limited to the sense of smell he admits that this man can have some idea of number. He can have the ideas of one and one and one. But, according to Condillac, 'memory does not distinctly grasp four units at once. Beyond three it presents only an indefinite multitude .... 'l Thus in the Treatise Condillac maintains that intelligence and the use of ideas precedes language, though language is necessary for the development of our mental life beyond a rudimentary stage.

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