Jeremy Dunham, Iain Hamilton Grant, & Shaun Watson: Idealism

The History of a Philosophy

McGill Queens University Press, 2011

Book Description:

The rediscovery of Idealism is an unmistakable feature of contemporary philosophy. Heavily criticised by the dominant philosophies of the twentieth century, it is being reconsidered in the twenty-first as a rich and untapped resource for contemporary philosophical arguments and concepts. This volume provides a comprehensive portrait of the major arguments and philosophers in the Idealist tradition. Idealism is philosophy on a grand scale, combining micro and macroscopic problems into systematic accounts of everything from the nature of the universe to the particulars of human feeling. In consequence, it offers perspectives on everything from the natural to the social sciences, from ecology to critical theory. Since Idealism is sometimes considered anti-science, however, this book places particular emphasis on its naturalism. Written for a broad readership, the book provides the fullest possible introduction to this most philosophical of philosophical movements.
Introduction: Why Idealism Matters
Part 1: Ancient Idealism
1. Parmenides and the Birth of Ancient Idealism
2. Plato and Neoplatonism
Part 2: Early Modern Idealism
3. Phenomenalism and Idealism I: Descartes and Malebranche
4. Phenomenalism and Idealism II: Leibniz and Berkeley
Part 3: German Idealism
5. Immanuel Kant: Cognition, Freedom and Teleology
6. Fichte and the System of Freedom
7. Philosophy of Nature and the Birth of Absolute Idealism: Schelling
8. Hegel and Hegelianism: Mind, Nature and Logic
Part 4: British Idealism
9. British Absolute Idealism: From Green to Bradley
10. Personal Idealism: From Ward to McTaggart
11. Naturalist Idealism: Bernard Bosanquet
12. Criticisms and Persistent Misconceptions of Idealism
13. Actual Occasions and Eternal Objects: The Process Metaphysics of Alfred North Whitehead.
Part 5: Contemporary Idealisms
14. Autopoiesis: Idealist Biology I
15. Autonomous Agents: Idealist Biology II
16. Contemporary Philosophical Idealisms
About the Authors:
Jeremy Dunham, Iain Hamilton Grant, and Sean Watson are all members of the philosophy department at the University of the West of England.
JOB’s Comment:
I find “naturalism” to be a somewhat misleading term for what the authors have in mind in using it, given its normal philosophical connotations; and I do so quite regardless of the fact that I do not accept all of what they have in mind. They are not alone in this usage, I think, but a better word should be found for what they mean. Idealism certainly takes nature and science seriously. But nature is not according to idealism what it is according to naturalism as commonly understood. The totality of what exists, which idealism is concerned with, includes more than nature; and according to idealism, nature as understood by naturalism as commonly understood, if I may put it that way, does not really exist at all. This in no way implies disrespect for or disregard of science; quite the opposite.
One strength of the book is that it discusses many forms of idealism, including ancient idealism, not just modern idealism in the German tradition.

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Ramana Maharshi