“The Rise of Modern Philosophy” by Anthony Kenny is the third volume in his four-volume history of philosophy, covering the period from the beginning of the sixteenth century to the beginning of the nineteenth century. The book provides a comprehensive and accessible introduction to the history of philosophy during this period, presenting the ideas of the great philosophers of the early modern period in their historical and cultural contexts and examining the key themes and debates that shaped their thinking.
The first three chapters of the book provide a chronological survey of the philosophical thinkers of the period. Kenny covers the major figures such as Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume, among others. He explains their contributions to philosophy and how their ideas developed over time. Kenny provides insightful commentary on their ideas, and his prose is clear and accessible.
The remaining chapters of the book offer a thematic treatment of the philosophers’ contributions to the discussion of particular philosophical topics of abiding importance. These chapters cover topics such as the nature of knowledge, the existence of God, free will and determinism, the nature of the self, and the relationship between mind and body. Kenny provides an overview of the different positions held by the philosophers on these issues and offers his own critical reflections on their arguments.
Throughout the book, Kenny emphasizes the importance of understanding the historical and cultural context in which the philosophers worked. He provides background information on the major events and movements of the period, such as the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, and the Protestant Reformation. He also discusses the social and political context of the philosophers’ work, such as the rise of the nation-state and the emergence of modern capitalism.
One of the strengths of the book is Kenny’s clear and accessible writing style. He avoids technical jargon as much as possible. Making the book accessible to readers who may not be familiar with contemporary philosophical techniques or terminology. He also provides helpful explanations of key concepts and ideas. And making the book a good introduction for those who are new to philosophy.
Another strength of the book is Kenny’s critical reflection on the ideas presented by the philosophers. He does not simply present their ideas as if they were true. But offers his own critical analysis of their arguments. This makes the book a good resource for those who are interested in engaging with the ideas of the philosophers. And developing their own philosophical thinking.
In conclusion, “The Rise of Modern Philosophy” by Anthony Kenny is a comprehensive and accessible introduction to the history of philosophy during the early modern period. It offers a chronological survey of the major philosophers of the period. And a thematic treatment of their contributions to key philosophical issues. The book also emphasizes the importance of understanding the historical and cultural context. Which the philosophers worked and provides critical reflection on their ideas. Overall, it is a valuable resource for students of philosophy. And anyone interested in the ideas that have shaped our world.