Realism in the Philosophy of Orestes A. Brownson
Haggerty, William John Jr.
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The primary purpose of this dissertation is to explicate and assess the realistic elements in the philosophical position of Orestes A. Brownson. From a critical viewpoint, Brownson disavows one of the main trends of modern philosophy from Descartes onward. His fundamental conviction is that there are three chief factors which have vitiated the great bulk of modern philosophy: first, the tendency to treat the question of method before that of principles; second, relative to method itself, the tendency to employ what Brownson labels the method of "exclusive psychology;" third, the consequent tendency of such a method toward an epistemological idealism, according to which the idea or mental representation is the direct and immediate object of conscious awareness. While Brownson disavows the general trend of modern philosophy, his attack, more specifically, is directed against Descartes, regarded as the major representative of the method of "exclusive psychology", and against Locke taken as representative of the sensistic approach in philosophy. Finally, he directs his attack upon the German philosophers in general, and Kant in particular, although he does accept in substance at least, the Kantian thesis that there are certain pre-empirical elements in the knowledge situation. However, Brownson's claim is that though pre-empirical they none the less have an objective status. In the last analysis, Brownson's rejection of the positions of the aforementioned philosophers is due to his conviction that their respective positions logically, if not psychologically, culminate in skepticism. [TRUNCATED]
Thesis (Ph.D)--Boston University
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