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Francis Garden - 1878 - Table of contents

Diccionario filosófico
Complete edition

Diccionario de Filosofía
Brief definition of the most important concepts of philosophy.


A Dictionary of English Philosophical Terms Francis Garden

Vocabulary of Philosophy, Psychological, Ethical, Metaphysical
William Fleming

Biografías y semblanzas Biographical references and lives of philosophers

Brief introduction to the thought of Ortega y Gasset

History of Philosophy Summaries

Historia de la Filosofía
Explanation of the thought of the great philosophers; summaries, exercises...

Historia de la Filosofía
Digital edition of the History of Philosophy by Jaime Balmes

Historia de la Filosofía
Digital edition of the History of Philosophy by Zeferino González

Vidas, opiniones y sentencias de los filósofos más ilustres
Complete digital edition of the work of Diogenes Laertius

Compendio de las vidas de los filósofos antiguos

A brief history of Greek Philosophy
B. C. Burt


A Short History of Philosophy





Reason. This word, like the Latin ratio, from which it is derived, runs through a great variety of meanings, sometimes standing for the whole faculty of thought, sometimes for the right exercise of that faculty, and sometimes for the ground of beliefs or conclusions. On these, however, I need not pause at present, as they must be discernible to anyone who will be at the trouble of watching the employment of the word either in books or in common conversation.


But in modern philosophy, since Kant and Jacobi, it is used in a more limited sense, to denote the seat in our minds of first principles, of à priori intuitions, of the necessary and the universal, of ideas. The verbal distinctions in German between vernunft and verstand, in English between reason and understanding, corresponding to that of the Greeks between νοῡς and δίανοια, are modern in their fixed form, and their propriety has been questioned, but the distinction between the things meant has been recognised in nearly every philosophy not purely empirical.

The doctrine of an universal reason higher than the individual's understanding, but by which that is enlightened, a reason impersonal in each man, but participated in by every man, is found in the earlier Fathers, in the writings of Descartes, Malebranche, and Norris, and is insisted on with continued reiteration by Coleridge. It appears too, in seats of higher and more sacred authority, in the sublime opening of St. John's Gospel, and in St. Paul's speech to the Athenians.

I have said that the propriety of applying the words verstand and vernunft by Kant and Jacobi, the former to the lower, and the latter to the higher endowment of the human mind, and the words understanding and reason in a corresponding way, has been questioned. Such application, however, has probably become too established to be now set aside. We use reason indeed, when we are not dealing with its distinction from understanding in the wide range of meaning to which I have already referred; but when we are engaged with the distinction, it would be troublesome and difficult to find other words to denote it than those now before us.

The words rational and rationalism plainly come from ratio, reason, but reason in the large sense as denoting the human mind in general. The title rationalist was at first given to a school in medicine, which insisted on grounds and principles instead of with the empiricists going by mere experience. See Dogmatism, Empiricism. In modern times it usually denotes one who excludes the supernatural from his belief.



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