By Stephen Edelston Toulmin
Within the 17th century, a imaginative and prescient arose which used to be to captivate the Western mind's eye for the subsequent 300 years: the imaginative and prescient of Cosmopolis, a society as rationally ordered because the Newtonian view of nature. whereas fueling remarkable advances in all fields of human undertaking, this imaginative and prescient perpetuated a hidden but chronic schedule: the myth that human nature and society can be equipped into specific and achievable rational different types. Stephen Toulmin confronts that agenda—its illusions and its results for our current and destiny world.
"By exhibiting how assorted the final 3 centuries could were if Montaigne, instead of Descartes, have been taken as a kick off point, Toulmin is helping break the semblance that the Cartesian quest for simple task is intrinsic to the character of technology or philosophy."—Richard M. Rorty, collage of Virginia
"[Toulmin] has now tackled might be his such a lot bold topic of all. . . . His target is not anything below to put prior to us an account of either the origins and the clients of our distinctively glossy global. by way of charting the evolution of modernity, he hopes to teach us what highbrow posture we should undertake as we confront the arriving millennium."—Quentin Skinner, ny evaluation of Books
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Within the 17th century, a imaginative and prescient arose which used to be to captivate the Western mind's eye for the subsequent 300 years: the imaginative and prescient of Cosmopolis, a society as rationally ordered because the Newtonian view of nature. whereas fueling outstanding advances in all fields of human activity, this imaginative and prescient perpetuated a hidden but power schedule: the fantasy that human nature and society can be outfitted into detailed and potential rational different types.
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Additional resources for Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity
The researchprogram of modern philosophy thus set aside all questionsabout argumentationamongparticularpeoplein specificsituations,dealingwith concretecases, where varied things were at stake-in favor of proofs that could be set down in writing, and iudged aswritten. This move had historical parallels. " Aristotle replied to this libel: he treated questionsabout the conditions on which, and the circumstancesin which, argumentscarry conviction asonesthat philosophers can addresswith a clearconscience.
Humanist skeptics took a totally diffierent position: they no more wished to derry general philosophical thesesthan to assffi them. Facedwithabstract,universal,timelesstheoreticalpropositions,theysawno sufficientbasisin experience,either for asserting,or for denying them. The of one suchsetof opinions,and the necessary 16th-centuryfollowersof classicalskepticismnever claimedtorefute rival philosophicd positioos:suChviewsdo not lend themselveseither to proof or to refutation. Rather,what they had to offer was a new way of understandinghuman life and motives:like Socrateslong ago,and tVittgenstein in our own time, they taught readers to recognize how philosophical theories overreachthe limits of human rationality.
As a phenomenonof "late medieval"times,or else as a prematureanticipation of the "modern" age. Manyof the leading figures of late Renaissanceculture, from Leonardo (1452-1519) up to Shakespeare (1564-1616),worked in situationsthat retained much of their medieval character,without havingfully developedthe marks of Modernity proper. This fact can be in no way surprising;and, for our part, we may readily assumesome degree of overlap between the "late medieval" and "early modern" history of Europe.