Brand Blanshard, emeritus Sterling professor of philosophy at Yale University, is the leading rationalist on the contemporary Anglo-American scene. A graduate. Brand Blanshard. Wisdom in its broadest and commonest sense denotes sound and serene judgment regarding the conduct of life. It may be accompanied by a. Manchester University, Brand Blanshard. Lord Macaulay once recorded in his diary a memorable attempt—his first and apparently also.

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I tried to read it, but found it utterly unintel-ligible, just as if it had been written in San-scrit. In the thought of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius A. There is very little evidence that they were affected by Greek thought, though Greek influence must have flowed around them after the conquests of Alexander.

Of course he has such feelings; he may well have become a philosopher precisely because he felt so strongly about these issues.

This has been part of the thought of all the great rationalists from Plato blanshrd Aquinas and Spinoza to Hegel and McTaggart. But there is one trait they all have in common: Let us look first at the words used by philosophers, and then at their sentences. For the problems of determining right and wrong, see any first-rate work on ethics, such as Henry Sidgwick, The Methods of Ethics, 7th ed.

By blanshrad is meant the habit of considering events and beliefs in the light of their grounds and consequences. Is the causal sequence temporal or not?

Brand Blanshard “Wisdom”

But it is a useful admonition neverthe-less, because if we cannot convert our generalizations on call into statements about particular instances, that does show in nine cases out of ten that we are not yet clear as to what precisely we are trying to say.

Writing philosophy involves two processes which with most men are bound to be separate — the process of manufacture and the process of packaging, the process of getting down on paper a first approximation to our thoughts, and the process of trimming, compressing, and furbishing, which makes it acceptable to consumers. He hailed a taxi. His admiration for this temper extended his philosophical loyalties across “party lines”, especially to the one philosopher he regarded as exemplifying that temper to the greatest degree: The Puritans who condemned music and drama as worthless could hardly have excluded them if they had known what they were excluding; in these matters wider experience brings an amended judgment.


Solemnity and the grand style in talking about the syllogism would deserve a laugh, and no doubt get it. In his later years, however, he came to think that the relation between thought and object was sui generis and might be described, about equally inadequately, as either “correspondence” or “coherence”; at any rate, he admitted, the “coherence” between thought and its ideal object differs from the coherence that may obtain among thoughts.

Instead of leaving the reader in midair to float down to the right case if he can find it, start him out with a particular case, a crucial one if possible, and let him see the general problem, and perhaps its solution, by himself. With all due respect, this seems to me rather silly.

Locke, Berkeley, and Hume are much more intelligible to most readers than their rationalist contemporaries, Spinoza, Leibniz, and Kant. Montague as the person from blansharrd he learned most about teaching—was his meeting with Frances Bradshaw, a fellow graduate student, newly arrived from Smith. But let us not be unfair to the philosophers. His philosophical interests had shifted away from religion. A powerful polemicistbrnd all accounts he comported himself with courtesy and grace in philosophical controversies and exemplified the “rational temper” he advocated.

Brand obtained his M. Josephwho greatly influenced him, and met F. Fowler’s Modern English Usage. Even the writers that have gone furthest towards the goal blanshardd some respects fall notably behind in others.

And so, of course, they may be. Now abstractions are often hard bran lay hold of, and there is something reassuring about good round noun substantives as names for them; with such large placards on their backs they seem less elusive, less ethereal, easier to keep in sight. He also spoke highly of Bertrand Russell.

Of these reason is the most important, for only as impulse and feeling are governed by it will conduct be saved from chaos and excess; indeed, in such government practical wisdom consists. If there is anything in my philosophy that I should hope might last, it is the quite unoriginal but none the less important thesis that the rational life is at once the worthiest of lives and the most valuable.

Reason is the substance from which all things derive their being.

Brand Blanshard

It has always been this, however much more it may have claimed to be. Descartes, you will remember, suggested that if we went wrong in our belief, it was really a moral matter; we allowed our wills to come to rest in a belief before our thought was clear about it.


Parts of this summary were adapted from the biographical essay at http: On the expository side, it supplies a liberal chest of tools with which to sharpen and drive home our point.

By way of testing my impression that Bradley ran to smaller units than Green, I opened Appearance and Reality and Prolegomena to Ethics at an arbitrarily chosen page — I chose page 29 — and counted. William Ernest Hocking, R. The next years were difficult for the motherless twins and their father who, already suffering from consumption, finished his degree at Oberlin Seminary and became pastor at a small Congregational church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Brand Blanshard

I quote a single fairly typical sentence: There have been many powerful and athletic minds who would have regarded fastidious-ness in style as effeminacy if not narcissism, and were far too engrossed with blanshqrd they were saying to give much thought to how they were saying it.

If there is failure to understand in cases like this, it is not normally because the writer has nothing to say, and certainly not because the hearer is witless. My views here are perhaps old-fashioned.

Unlike those teachers who like to change their courses for fear they might grow stale, Brand felt it important to teach the same course over and over again, polishing, filing away. Also strongly critical of reductionist accounts of mind e. There have been many writers of philosophy in the past, there are many now, who, with great powers and much to say, say it so awkwardly, diffusely, and crabbedly, as to turn would-be readers away by their first page.

But it can be noted of these thinkers, as it was of Marcus Aurelius, that their standing as purveyors lbanshard exemplars of wisdom bears no fixed relation to their eminence as philosophers.

By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Hardy was talking nonsense when he insisted that the mathematician was discovering rather than creating, nor was it wholly nonsense for Kepler to exult that he was thinking God’s thoughts after him.

All this seems to be true.

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