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WILLIAM FLEMING - 1890 - Table of contents

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H- I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W  

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





AGNOSTICISM.—A philosophic theory, based on the relativity of human knowledge, which maintains that the Absolute Being, as the Unconditioned, cannot be in any sense known; or, as Herbert Spencer states it—"that the power which the Universe manifests to us is utterly inscrutable" (First Principles, p. 46). The term is sometimes employed, in a wider sense, to describe a theory which denies the existence of the Absolute as unknown. But this use of the term is inappropriate, for such a theory is not a logical deduction from the former, since we cannot reason from ignorance to non-existence, and what is implied is Gnosticism rather than Agnosticism.


The popular Agnosticism of the present day, both philosophic and scientific in its historic associations, rests on the relativity of human knowledge, favouring a suspension of judgment or scepticism as to the transcendent or supersensible. While the relativity of human knowledge is matter of agreement, thinkers differ according as they hold or deny the rational certainty of an intelligent First Cause, according as they recognise belief based on necessary principles of the reason, or admit the certainty only of that which is directly known as present to the mind.

Hamilton, while denying that the Infinite Being can by us be known, maintained that the existence must by us be believed (Discussions, p. 15; Letter to Calderwood, Metaph., II., app., p. 530). So it is with Mansel (Limits of Religious Thought and Letters, Lectures, and Reviews, pp. 157,189). J. S. Mill, while declining assent to belief in an Infinite Being, specially insisted on the relativity of knowledge involving the impossibility of knowledge of the Absolute (Examination of Hamilton, pp. 72-129). Herbert Spencer, pointing to the reconciliation of religion and science, opens the First Principles with special treatment of the Unknowable (pp. 1-123).



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