By Bernard Williams
Before his dying in 2003, Bernard Williams deliberate to submit a set of historic essays, focusing totally on the traditional international. This posthumous quantity brings jointly a wider choice, written over a few 40 years. His legacy lives on during this masterful paintings, the 1st assortment ever released of Williams's essays at the historical past of philosophy. the topics variety from the 6th century B.C. to the 20th A.D., from Homer to Wittgenstein in terms of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Sidgwick, Collingwood, and Nietzsche. usually one will be not easy positioned to claim which half is heritage, which philosophy. either are concerned all through, simply because this can be the historical past of philosophy written philosophically. ancient exposition is going hand in hand with philosophical scrutiny. Insights into the previous counteract blind popularity of current assumptions.
In his touching and illuminating creation, Myles Burnyeat writes of those essays: "They express a intensity of dedication to the background of philosophy seldom to be stumbled on these days in a philosopher so well-known at the modern philosophical scene."
the end result celebrates the curiosity and value to philosophy at the present time of its close to and far away past.
The experience of the Past is one among 3 collections of essays by way of Bernard Williams released through Princeton collage Press considering his demise. In the start was once the Deed: Realism and Moralism in Political Argument, chosen, edited, and with an advent by means of Geoffrey Hawthorn, and Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline, chosen, edited, and with an advent via A. W. Moore, make up the trio.
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Additional resources for The Sense of the Past: Essays in the History of Philosophy
One idea of this kind is that real knowledge, as opposed to random true belief, should form a system, should be theoretically organized in a way which itself corresponds revealingly to the structure of the subjectmatter. This idea relates most directly to an ideal body of scientiﬁc knowledge, an ideal which Plato (in relation to philosophy and mathematics) did much to form, and Aristotle carried much further. It can be seen, however, also as a condition on what it is for a particular person to know anything.
Here it is important to remember the gap that always exists between intelligent practice and the theoretical reﬂective understanding of that practice; and, more particularly, how utterly puzzling the theory of reasoning must have seemed at this point. On the one hand, there existed already startling intellectual achievements in mathematics, and The Legacy of Greek Philosophy • 27 some systematic thought about such subjects as medicine made sense; while, even more evidently, the practice of argument in everyday life could be seen to rest on some assumptions about the connexions between proof and truth—at the very least it was possible to show a person through dialectical refutation that he was contradicting himself and must be wrong somewhere.
As the English twentieth-century metaphysician F. H. Bradley insisted, appearance must itself be part of reality. The point was seen, once more, by Plato in that late dialogue the Sophist to which we have already referred. But it was a truth which Plato himself had to learn to take as seriously as it needs to be taken. In his middle-period dialogues, above all the Republic, he had offered a picture of knowledge and reality which was itself open to this criticism, or at least was deeply ambiguous on the issue.