JMC : Pre-Scholastic Philosophy / by Albert Stöckl

Translator's Preface.

THIS translation of a work, well-known and largely used in the Catholic Schools of Germany, has been made with a view to provide for Catholic students of philosophy in our English speaking Colleges, a trustworthy manual of the History of Philosophy. Students will find in this work a fulness of information unusual in a handbook. And they will further find that the Schools of Philosophy which have grown up within the Church, or have stood in close relation with her teaching, here receive explicit and adequate notice. In this respect the work offers an advantage not provided by the text-books on which our Catholic Schools have hitherto been forced to rely. Perhaps the manual hitherto most largely used by our Catholic students, in their study of the History of Philosophy, has been Schwegler's Handbook, translated by Dr. Stirling. How far such a work falls short of the requirements of Catholic students is shown by the fact that the author omits from his history all treatment of Scholastic Philosophy. His reasons for this omission are thus set forth: "We exclude also Scholasticism, or the Philosophy of the Christian middle ages; which belongs (being not so much philosophy as rather a reflecting or a philosophizing within the pre-suppositions of a positive religion, and therefore essentially theology) to the historical science of the Christian dogmas." Philosophy within the limits of a positive religion is of prime importance to the Catholic student, and a work from which the history of this portion of philosophy is excluded, must be a defective aid in the studies he is supposed to prosecute. Another advantage which the history here offered possesses over most German works on the same subject, is its clearness of statement, and general intelligibility of language. For the beginner at all events, such phrases as Schwegler's definition of philosophy: "the thought totality of the empirical finite," are neither very definite nor very luminous. The simple phraseology and definite conceptions of Dr. Stöckl's work contrast strongly with this vagueness of expression and mistiness of thought. Readers of Ueberweg's History of Philosophy will notice that in many parts of his work Dr. Stöckl has followed not only the thought but the very words of that writer. In the German text of his book, Dr. Stöckl is careful to acknowledge by italics what he borrows from Ueberweg. In the translation these italics are not always inserted; it was not considered that the quotation marks would be of importance to our students. The Translator acknowledges gratefully the courtesy of Dr. Stöckl and of his German publisher, Herr Kirchheim, in authorising this translation.

June, 1887.

Author's Preface to the First Edition.

IT is not without cause that in the modern teaching of philosophy great importance is attached to the History of Philosophy. In itself it is a deeply interesting study to follow the progress of philosophical thought through the course of its development. But our interest in the study increases when we observe that the History of Philosophy teaches us into what by-paths the human mind wanders when it abjures the guidance of Christianity, and that it indicates to us the safe route to follow if we would arrive at the true term of speculative inquiry.

A "Handbook of the History of Philosophy" which sketches the course philosophy has followed in its development, and the leading philosophical systems through which that progress had been effected, cannot fail to have its use for the student who seeks a safe way through this vast and varied field of study.

In the present Handbook I have endeavoured to provide for the student a help of this sort. There are, indeed, many Handbooks already in existence. But these, for the most part, do not view the subject from the Catholic standpoint, and are not sufficiently safe guides for Catholic students. In this respect, the present work, will, it is hoped, meet a want not hitherto satisfied. In composing this Handbook, I have followed the plan of my larger work on the History of Philosophy. I have also largely made use of the well-known works of Ritter, Sigwart, Nixner, Zeller, Usehold, Erdmann, and Ueberweg. I am specially indebted to Ueberweg's work, which is very complete in its account of the literature of this subject, and I have largely drawn on it in this respect.

In the case of each philosopher, I have cited, as far as possible, the original works in which his opinions are contained, and have indicated with regard to the more important, the modern works in which their systems are discussed. To enter at further length into the literature connected with their systems, or to cite from their works in greater detail was not permitted by the character of the manual on which I was engaged.

The present work will serve as a sort of complement to my Handbook of Philosophy (2nd Edit., Kirchheim, Mainz). In every science the complement of scientific theory is the history of the science, that is of the actual process of development through which the science has passed. The rule holds good for Philosophy.

May this work, by the blessing of God, be found of avail to promote the study of philosophy in union with the spirit of Christianity, and to advance the philosophical education of our Catholic youth.

Münster, 8th September, 1870.

Preface to the Second Edition.

IN offering to the public this Second Edition of the Handbook of the History of Philosophy, I have not to announce any change in the arrangement of the work. Here and there some slight omissions have been supplied, and certain needful explanations added. The literature of the subject has, however, been noticed more fully, and the developments of recent philosophy have been accorded more attention than in the First Edition. These changes have added somewhat to the size of the volume.

History, it is said, is a good teacher. This is specially true of the History of Philosophy. It teaches us that anarchy has invaded the realm of mind whenever and wherever Revelation, and the depository of revelation -- the Church -- have been discarded; wherever the peoples "have risen up against the Lord and against His Christ"; and it shows that anarchy has subsided only when men have returned to God and to His Church. The History of Philosophy thus throws light upon our present surroundings. If the men who now "have risen up against the Lord and against His Christ" were capable of instruction, they would learn from history that they are drawing society in Europe to the verge of an abyss. We have no hope that they will learn any such lesson. But for those who "have not bowed the knee to Baal," who have not sacrificed their independence of thought to the prejudices of party, the History of Philosophy will serve as an incitement to hold fast to truth, though it be persecuted and despised, certain that now, as ever, it must triumph in the end.

Eichstätt, 21st June, 1875.

<< ======= >>