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Philosophical Connections

Compiled by Anthony Harrison-Barbet

 


PREFACE

 

The preparation of Philosophical Connections has necessarily involved the study of a great deal of material. No doubt several lifetimes would have been required for any compiler to read all the books and articles published over the years relating to all the philosophers profiled in this work. But wherever possible I have consulted the primary texts, particularly those of the major philosophers, and many of the secondary sources cited in the individual reading lists. I have also made full use of the numerous magnificent volumes of Copleston's History of Philosophy. My indebtedness to these sources should be readily apparent. I have, however, attempted to use my own judgement for the selection and synthesis of the relevant material. It is here alone that lies what little originality there may be in Philosophical Connections. It must be left to the reader's own developing philosophical insights and critical skills to determine how far such judgement can be considered satisfactory.

I wish to thank firstly Michael Mooney, David O'Connor, and Joseph O'Gorman, who initiated the 'Philosophical Connections' concept and invited me to undertake the task of realizing the project. They provided me with invaluable advice and suggestions throughout the period of its preparation. I thank also my former colleagues at Trinity College Dublin: Professor William Lyons, Dr Vasilis Politis, Dr Paul O'Grady, and especially the Senior Editorial Advisor, Professor John Gaskin, for their substantial and incisive criticisms which have helped me to eliminate a great many errors. Alas, one must assume a priori that there are still a good few lurking in the text; I accept full responsibility for these. I also owe a particular debt of gratitude to the late Sir Isaiah Berlin, my supervisor at Oxford, for stimulating my interest in the history of ideas, and more distantly still to the late Francis La Touche Godfrey, Fellow of Trinity College Dublin, for his wonderful idiosyncratic lectures on the history of philosophy. These communicated to us undergraduates something of the magnificence and grandeur of 2500 years of Western thought, argument and counter-argument constituting a dialectical progression towards 'Truth'. One does not of course have to accept a Hegelian interpretation, but this does at least have the advantage of drawing one's attention to the possibility of multifarious and often complex connections between the seemingly disparate ideas of such a great variety of philosophers.

Anthony Harrison-Barbet

October 2007