"The lectures of M. Victor Cousin possess an interest seldom to be met with in philosophical publications. It is certain that philosophical views and doctrines are no longer regarded, on the continent of Europe, merely as subjects of literary curiosity or of elegant entertainment. For it is well known that they excite strong emotions of sympathy and approbation, and are listened to and read with that attention and respect which is the most satisfactory evidence of a powerful conviction of their rationality and truth, by a very numerous class of intelligent and well informed young men, who may be fairly considered to represent the flower of the rising generation in their respective countries. Philosophical lectures therefore assume, on this account, an importance which is in a great measure independent of the opinions which we ourselves may form of the truth or fallacy of their contents. For although we may consider the principles which determine our own perceptions of truth, and the foundations upon which our own convictions rest, so firmly established as to be unwilling to submit them to any further discussion or examination; yet most men naturally desire to understand the spirit and to know the principles of truth, by which the public opinion of contiguous nations is influenced, and may probably be ruled, at no very distant period. Nothing therefore that is likely to influence public opinion in France can be indifferent to the people of the United States. For if contiguity can be predicated of the spirit of different nations, as well as of their local position in space, the French nation may, in the first sense of the word, be said to be nearer neighbors to the inhabitants of America, than to those of Great Britain; and besides this, the high rank among civilized nations, which is held by France, as well as the powerful influence which the spirit of France is well known to exert on the state of public opinion throughout Europe, must necessarily render the peculiar qualities and character of that spirit at any particular epoch the source of incalculable good or evil to all contemporary nations"--Préface. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved).
"As the title suggests, this translation from the original French undertakes an extensive examination of the books contained in M. Cousin's (1829) lectures on John Locke's Essay on the human understanding. An introduction by the translator and a series of appendices are also included in this work. At the time when the influence of the Cartesian philosophy in France was giving way to the new spirit of the 18th century, nothing was more natural than the ready reception of the system of Locke, claiming as it did--and to a certain extent, justly--to be a fruit of the movement of independence, and of the experimental method. Thus put upon the road of Empiricism, the activity of the French mind continued to develope its principles, and carry out its consequences to their last results. Cousin asserts a two-fold developement of reason or intelligence: the first primitive, unreflective, instinctive; the second ulterior, reflective, voluntary. The former he terms spontaneous reason, spontaneity of reason, or briefly, spontaneity; the latter, reflective reason, reflection of reason, or briefly, reflection. By the spontaneity of reason, is meant "that developement of reason anterior to reflection, that power of reason to seize upon truth at first sight, to comprehend it, and to admit it, without asking or giving an account of its doing so," In this distinction between spontaneous and reflective intelligence; in the recognition of the former as anterior to, and supposed by, the latter--as containing the three great elements of thought--and immediately and positively cognizant of the infinite, no less than of the finite;--it is here that we find the principle which, with its consequences, constitutes and determines the peculiar system of M. Cousin"--Introduction. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved).
"Explains that the eighteen lectures that compose this volume have in fact the particular trait that they present a regular exposition of the doctrine which was at first fixed in our mind, which has not ceased to preside over our labors. This book, then, contains the abridged but exact expression of our convictions on the fundamental points of philosophic science. In it will be openly seen the method that is the soul of our enterprise, our principles, our processes, our results. Under these three heads, the True, the Beautiful, the Good, we embrace psychology, placed by us at the head of all philosophy, aesthetics, ethics, natural right, even public right to a certain extent, finally theodicea, that perilous rendezvous of all systems, where different principles are condemned or justified by their consequences. It is the affair of our book to plead its own cause. We only desire that it may be appreciated and judged according to what it really is, and not according to an opinion too much accredited. We declare that eclecticism is very dear to us, for it is in our eyes the height of the history of philosophy; but the source of that light is elsewhere. Eclecticism is one of the most important and most useful applications of the philosophy which we teach, but it is not its principle. Our true doctrine, our true flag is spiritualism, that philosophy as solid as generous, which began with Socrates and Plato, which the Gospel has spread abroad in the world, and which Descartes put under the severe forms of modern genius. May our voice be heard by new generations as it was by the serious youth of the Restoration!"--Preface. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved).
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