Insights and Oversights of Great Thinkers

An Evaluation of Western Philosophy

By Charles Hartshorne

Subjects: Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Philosophy
Paperback : 9780873956826, 393 pages, June 1983
Hardcover : 9780873956819, 393 pages, June 1983

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Table of contents


Part One: Philosophical Achievements of the Ancient Greeks
1. In Appreciation of the Pre-Socratics
2. Lessons from Greek Atomism for Modern Thought
3. Plato's Near Miss: Soul as Self-Moved
4. Aristotle's Modal View of Time and Eternity
5. Stoics, Skeptics, and Greek Mystics
6. Sketch of Greek Ethics and Aesthetics

Part Two: Between the Greeks and the Moderns
7. Medieval Philosophy in General
8. What Did Anselm Discover?
9. Duns Scotus, William of Ockham, and Others

Part Three: Modern (European) Philosophers
10. "The Moses of Modern Philosophy"
11. Spinoza: First of the Moderns or Last of the Medievals?
12. The "Clearheaded" Philosopher
13. Hume's Metaphysics and Its Influence
14. The Neglect of Relative Predicates in Modern Philosophy
15. Kant's Traditionalism
16. Schopenhauer's Synthesis of East and West: The Worst of TwoWorlds
17. The Unity of Opposites in Hegel and Schelling
18. Kierkegaard on Subjectivity and Freedom
19. Marxism and Metaphysics
20. Nietzsche's "Death of God" and Deification of Causality
21. Lotze, Fechner, Cournot, and Other Nineteenth-Century Forerunnersof Process Metaphysics

Part Four: Recent or Contemporary (European) Philosophers
22. Russell and Whitehead: A Comparison
23. Husserl and Whitehead on the Concrete
24. Mind and Matter in Ryle, Ayer, and Croce
25. Reflections on Wittgenstein
26. Karl Popper on Whitehead
27. Husserl's Most Famous (and Heretical) Disciple
28. Sartre: Philosopher, Novelist, Playwright, Political Writer
29. Merleau-Ponty from an Anglo-American Perspective

30. Summary of Insights and Oversights
Index of Topics
Index of Persons


One learns a great deal about a major philosopher by coming to appreciate his perspective on the history of philosophy. Here Charles Hartshorne gives us just such a perspective on the history of philosophy and thereby on himself. This is a reexamination of the history of philosophy, looking at neglected aspects of the philosophers' thought, interpreting their views in a sharply focused, controversial manner in order to show the origins and development within the Western tradition of the metaphysical and moral views represented by process philosophy. The result is a fresh look at the tradition.

This is a clearly written, readable, original, and constructive interpretation of the history of philosophy in hte West from the sixth century before Christ to the present. As the best-known living representative of process philosophy, Hartshorne shows that it has anticipations in Plato, Aristotle, Leibniz, Hegel, Schelling, and many others, even including the materialist Epicurus and the atheist Nietzsche. Process philosophy and theology have significant overlap with the views of most of the creative, constructive philosophers and theologians of recent times, including Peirce, William James, Bergson, Heidegger, Paul Weiss, Berdyaev, John Findlay, Paul Tillich, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and others. This philosophy takes creative freedom, transcending causal determinism, and a generalized idea of sympathy—"feeling of feeling," love—as universal principles of life and nature.

Charles Hartshorne's life and thought span more than eight decades. Ashbel Smith Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Texas as Austin, he has made a vast contribution to the literature of philosophy and theology. He is most notably the author of Whitehead's Philosophy, Creative Synthesis and Philosophic Method, A Natural Theology for Our Time, The Logic of Perfection and Other Essays in Neoclassical Metaphysics, and numerous other books and articles. Dr. Hartshorne is also a past president of the Western Division of the American Philosophical Association, the Metaphysics Society of America, the Charles Peirce Society, the Society for Philosophy of Religion, and the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology.