A Critical Study of Condillac’s Traité des Systèmes by Ellen McNiven Hine (auth.)

By Ellen McNiven Hine (auth.)

The Traite des systemes is a milestone within the highbrow historical past of the eighteenth century. this can be a learn of its content material, constitution, assets and significance. It incorporates a dialogue of Condillac's research of fine and undesirable structures, the adequacy of his wisdom and lower than­ status of the speculative metaphysics of the previous century, the effectiveness of his approach to assault on seventeenth-century metaphysical structures, his belief of empirical and medical process, and particularly his realizing of the function of hypotheses, his program of the Newtonian medical option to politics, physics, and the humanities, and, ultimately, his preoccupation with the which means of phrases and with the beginning and function oflanguage. Speculative metaphysical structures, resembling these of Descartes, Malebranche, Boursier, Leibniz and Spinoza, are attacked via Con­ dillac, as are well known superstitions and prejudices, with the weapon of linguistic feedback. it's the systematic use of this weapon which makes the Traite des systemes greater than a mirrored image of his contem­ poraries' antipathy in the direction of speculative metaphysics. In reminiscence of my parents ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I desire to recognize my indebtedness to numerous humans. I should still like in the beginning to thank Dr. W. H. Barber, who has for a few years tirelessly given me encouragement and worthwhile suggestions. I desire to thank additionally Professors RH. Rasmussen, A. D. Wilshere and C. Wake for his or her aid and their help within the early days of the guidance of this learn. lowe designated thank you additionally to Mrs. M. V.

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91 "Son esprit philosophique cherchoit la clarte et la precision," and since Pascal's time the same clarity and precision were expected of all writers. Since his time also "la vraie philosophie" had made progress and with it "la langue," which had become simple, clear and methodical. 92 It was to the English empirical tradition, however, that Condillac was most indebted. Although he admired Bacon greatly, the latter had little direct influence on his ideas, which were already formed when he read Bacon for the first time.

The Lettres philosophiques (1734) and the Elemens de la philosophie de Newton (1738), in particular, were of paramount importance in popularizing the works of Bacon, Locke and Newton. 86 Lastly, many of the works which Condillac mentions in the Introduction to the Cours d'hudes, or in his correspondence, for example, he may not have known twenty years earlier at the time of the writing of the Traite des systemes. 87 We do know, however, either by his own acknowledgment or by textual comparisons, that at the time the Traite des systemes was 81 Ibid.

IS Just as Locke was misinterpreted and attacked by those who had not taken the trouble to read him carefully enough, Condillac complains that those who accuse him TSY, p. 12 7. Essai, p. 4. , p. , pp 25-27. , P 91. 15 Traite des systetlles, 014 /'011 ell de"lIele les illcollvelliens et les avalltages. III 11 THE MEANING OF SYSTEM of writing against systems have not read his treatise to the end. " If systems already exist and await "discovery," the important question to be resolved is "how". Condillac is therefore primarily concerned with method.

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