The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea by Arthur O. LovejoyThe Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea by Arthur O. Lovejoy

The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea

byArthur O. Lovejoy

Paperback | October 1, 1971

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From later antiquity down to the close of the eighteenth century, most philosophers and men of science and, indeed, most educated men, accepted without question a traditional view of the plan and structure of the world.

In this volume, which embodies the William James lectures for 1933, Arthur O. Lovejoy points out the three principles—plenitude, continuity, and graduation—which were combined in this conception; analyzes their origins in the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and the Neoplatonists; traces the most important of their diverse samifications in subsequent religious thought, in metaphysics, in ethics and aesthetics, and in astronomical and biological theories; and copiously illustrates the influence of the conception as a whole, and of the ideas out of which it was compounded, upon the imagination and feelings as expressed in literature.

Mr. Lovejoy taught philosophy for nearly forty years at the Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of numerous work, including Essays in the History of Ideas and Revolt against Dualism.
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Title:The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an IdeaFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:400 pages, 8 × 5.25 × 0.03 inShipping dimensions:8 × 5.25 × 0.03 inPublished:October 1, 1971Publisher:HarvardLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0674361539

ISBN - 13:9780674361539

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Chain of Ideas This book is still in print 60 years after it was first published. This is an unvarnished testimony to the excellence of this book and the erudition of its author. The book is a history of an idea about the shape of existence and how this idea shaped our view of the world. The idea is taken from its Greek roots with Plato, through the Scholastic philosophers, Leibniz and down to its presaging of the ideas of evolution and modern ideas of system theory. This book is not for the beginner but for someone who has read a very few books on on philosophy this book is eye-opening.
Date published: 1999-08-14

Table of Contents

  • 1. Introduction: The Study of the History of Ideas
  • 2. The Genesis of the Idea in Greek Philosophy: The Three Principles
  • 3. The Chain of Being and Some Internal Conflicts in Medieval Thought
  • 4. The Principle of Plenitude and New Cosmography
  • 5. Plenitude and Sufficient Reason in Leibniz and Spinoza
  • 6. The Chain of Being in Eighteenth-Century Thought, and Man’s Place and Role in Nature
  • 7. The Principle of Plenitude and Eighteenth-Century Optimism
  • 8. The Chain of Being and Some Aspects of Eighteenth-Century Biology
  • 9. The Temporalizing of the Chain of Being
  • 10. Romanticism and the Principle of Plenitude
  • 11. The Outcome of the History and Its Moral
  • Notes
  • Index of Names and Subjects

From Our Editors

'Men are galvanized by ideas and act as vehicles for them ...Such a ruling idea is that of the great chain of being. Prof. Lovejoy's study records the birth, the growth, the vicissitudes, transformations, and finally the senility, and perhaps the death of this idea. The study is as fascinating as that of the rise and decay of an empire, and, in fact, it is the study of the empire of an idea over human minds throughout many centuries...Prof. Lovejoy's approach is fresh and different.' Modern Language Notes

Editorial Reviews

Men are galvanized by ideas and act as vehicles for them. Such a ruling idea is that of the great chain of being. Prof. Lovejoy's study records the birth, the growth, the vicissitudes, transformations, and finally the senility, and perhaps the death of this idea. The study is as fascinating as that of the rise and decay of an empire, and, in fact, it is the study of the empire of an idea over human minds throughout many centuries. Prof. Lovejoy's approach is fresh and different. The learning exhibited in this book is vast.