David O. Brink

in Perfectionism and the Common Good

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780199266401
Published online April 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191600906 | DOI:

Series: Lines of Thought


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This chapter begins with a brief discussion of Green's attack of empiricism and defence of idealism in Prolegomena. It then identifies Green's four main aims in the first book of Prolegomena. Firstly he wants to reject the common-sense view, inherited from the empiricists, that knowledge can be analysed into two separable components — the deliverances of the senses and the operations of the understanding — in which what is given by nature is real and the contributions of the understanding are not. Secondly, the attack on empiricism and atomism is supposed to support the idealist claim that in some sense nature is the product of the understanding. Thirdly, in order for the idealist to distinguish between appearance and reality, it is necessary to posit an ‘eternal’ and ‘unalterable’ system of relations in a self-conscious corporate agent that includes the finite systems of relations contained in the self-conscious minds of individual agents. Finally, much of the first book of the Prolegomena is concerned with the role of self-consciousness in the possibility of apparently discrete episodes of experience, but Green is also concerned with the role of self-consciousness in knowledge.

Keywords: T. H. Green; Prolegomena; empiricism; atomism; appearance; reality; idealism

Chapter.  741 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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