Being in the Age of Reason::Being


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Being in the Age of Reason Although innovated in the late medieval period, Thomism was dogmatized in the Renaissance. From roughly 1277 to 1567, it dominated the philosophic landscape. The rationalist philosophers, however, with a new emphasis on Reason as a tool of the intellect, brought the classical and medieval traditions under new scrutiny, exercising a new concept of doubt, with varying outcomes. Foremost among the new doubters were the empiricists, the advocates of scientific method, with its emphasis on experimentation and reliance on evidence gathered from sensory experience. In parallel with the revolutions against rising political absolutism based on established religion and the replacement of faith by reasonable faith, new systems of metaphysics were promulgated in the lecture halls by charismatic professors, such as Immanuel Kant, and Hegel. The late 19th and 20th centuries featured an emotional return to the concept of existence under the name of existentialism. These philosophers were concerned mainly with ethics and religion. The metaphysical side became the domain of the phenomenalists. In parallel with these philosophies Thomism continued under the protection of the Catholic Church; in particular, the Jesuit order.

Empiricist doubts

Rationalism and empiricism have had many definitions, most concerned with specific schools of philosophy or groups of philosophers in particular countries, such as Germany. In general rationalism is the predominant school of thought in the multi-national, cross-cultural Age of reason, which began in the century straddling 1600 as a conventional date,<ref></ref> empiricism is the reliance on sensory data<ref></ref> gathered in experimentation by scientists of any country, who, in the Age of Reason were rationalists. An early professed empiricist, Thomas Hobbes, known as an eccentric denizen of the court of Charles II of England (an "old bear"), published in 1651 Leviathan, a political treatise written during the English civil war, containing an early manifesto in English of rationalism.

Hobbes said:<ref>{{#invoke:Footnotes|harvard_citation_no_bracket}}</ref>
"The Latines called Accounts of mony Rationes ... and thence it seems to proceed that they extended the word Ratio, to the faculty of Reckoning in all other things....When a man reasoneth hee does nothing else but conceive a summe totall ... For Reason ... is nothing but Reckoning ... of the consequences of generall names agreed upon, for the marking and signifying of our thoughts ...."

In Hobbes reasoning is the right process of drawing conclusions from definitions (the "names agreed upon"). He goes on to define error as self-contradiction of definition ("an absurdity, or senselesse Speech"<ref name=hobbes23>{{#invoke:Footnotes|harvard_citation_no_bracket}}</ref>) or conclusions that do not follow the definitions on which they are supposed to be based. Science, on the other hand, is the outcome of "right reasoning," which is based on "natural sense and imagination", a kind of sensitivity to nature, as "nature it selfe cannot erre."

Having chosen his ground carefully Hobbes launches an epistemological attack on metaphysics. The academic philosophers had arrived at the Theory of Matter and Form from consideration of certain natural paradoxes subsumed under the general heading of the Unity Problem. For example, a body appears to be one thing and yet it is distributed into many parts. Which is it, one or many? Aristotle had arrived at the real distinction between matter and form, metaphysical components whose interpenetration produces the paradox. The whole unity comes from the substantial form and the distribution into parts from the matter. Inhering in the parts giving them really distinct unities are the accidental forms. The unity of the whole being is actuated by another really distinct principle, the existence.

If nature cannot err, then there are no paradoxes in it; to Hobbes, the paradox is a form of the absurd, which is inconsistency:<ref>{{#invoke:Footnotes|harvard_citation_no_bracket}}</ref> "Natural sense and imagination, are not subject to absurdity" and "For error is but a deception ... But when we make a generall assertion, unlesse it be a true one, the possibility of it is inconceivable. And words whereby we conceive nothing but the sound, are those we call Absurd ...." Among Hobbes examples are "round quadrangle", "immaterial substance", "free subject."<ref name=hobbes23/> Of the scholastics he says:<ref>{{#invoke:Footnotes|harvard_citation_no_bracket}}.</ref>
"Yet they will have us beleeve, that by the Almighty power of God, one body may be at one and the same time in many places [the problem of the universals]; and many bodies at one and the same time in one place [the whole and the parts]; ... And these are but a small part of the Incongruencies they are forced to, from their disputing philosophically, in stead of admiring, and adoring of the Divine and Incomprehensible Nature ...."

The real distinction between essence and existence, and that between form and matter, which served for so long as the basis of metaphysics, Hobbes identifies as "the Error of Separated Essences."<ref>{{#invoke:Footnotes|harvard_citation_no_bracket}}.</ref> The words "Is, or Bee, or Are, and the like" add no meaning to an argument nor do derived words such as "Entity, Essence, Essentially, Essentiality", which "are the names of nothing"<ref>{{#invoke:Footnotes|harvard_citation_no_bracket}}.</ref> but are mere "Signes" connecting "one name or attribute to another: as when we say, A man, is, a living body, wee mean not that the Man is one thing, the Living Body another, and the Is, or Being another: but that the Man, and the Living Body, is the same thing;...." "Metaphysiques," Hobbes says, is "far from the possibility of being understood" and is "repugnant to naturall Reason."<ref>{{#invoke:Footnotes|harvard_citation_no_bracket}}.</ref>

Being to Hobbes (and the other empiricists) is the physical universe:<ref>{{#invoke:Footnotes|harvard_citation_no_bracket}}.</ref>
The world, (I mean ... the Universe, that is, the whole masse of all things that are) is corporeall, that is to say, Body; and hath the dimension of magnitude, namely, Length, Bredth and Depth: also every part of Body, is likewise Body ... and consequently every part of the Universe is Body, and that which is not Body, is no part of the Universe: and because the Universe is all, that which is no part of it is nothing; and consequently no where."

Hobbes' view is representative of his tradition. As Aristotle offered the categories and the act of existence, and Aquinas the analogy of being, the rationalists also had their own system, the great chain of being, an interlocking hierarchy of beings from God to dust.

Idealist systems

In addition to the materialism of the empiricists, under the same aegis of Reason, rationalism produced systems that were diametrically opposed now called idealism, which denied the reality of matter in favor of the reality of mind. By a 20th-century classification, the idealists (Kant, Hegel and others), are considered the beginning of continental philosophy, while the empiricists are the beginning, or the immediate predecessors, of analytical philosophy. {{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[citation needed] }}

Being sections
Intro  The substantial being  The transcendental being  Being in Islamic philosophy  Being in the Age of Reason  Being in continental philosophy and existentialism  Quotations  See also  Notes  References   External links   

Being in the Age of Reason
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