An Introduction to Philosophy

George Stuart Fullerton
An Introduction to Philosophy

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George Stuart Fullerton
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Title: An Introduction to Philosophy
Author: George Stuart Fullerton

Release Date: August 1, 2005 [eBook #16406]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

E-text prepared by Al Haines

Professor of Philosophy in Columbia University New York
New York The MacMillan Company London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd.
Norwood Press J. S. Cushing Co.--Berwick & Smith Co. Norwood,
Mass., U.S.A.

As there cannot be said to be a beaten path in philosophy, and as
"Introductions" to the subject differ widely from one another, it is
proper that I should give an indication of the scope of the present
It undertakes:--
1. To point out what the word "philosophy" is made to cover in our
universities and colleges at the present day, and to show why it is given
this meaning.
2. To explain the nature of reflective or philosophical thinking, and to
show how it differs from common thought and from science.
3. To give a general view of the main problems with which
philosophers have felt called upon to deal.

4. To give an account of some of the more important types of
philosophical doctrine which have arisen out of the consideration of
such problems.
5. To indicate the relation of philosophy to the so-called philosophical
sciences, and to the other sciences.
6. To show, finally, that the study of philosophy is of value to us all,
and to give some practical admonitions on spirit and method. Had these
admonitions been impressed upon me at a time when I was in especial
need of guidance, I feel that they would have spared me no little
anxiety and confusion of mind. For this reason, I recommend them to
the attention of the reader.
Such is the scope of my book. It aims to tell what philosophy is. It is
not its chief object to advocate a particular type of doctrine. At the
same time, as it is impossible to treat of the problems of philosophy
except from some point of view, it will be found that, in

III to XI, a doctrine is presented. It is the same as that presented much
more in detail, and with a greater wealth of reference, in my "System of
Metaphysics," which was published a short time ago. In the Notes in
the back of this volume, the reader will find references to those parts of
the larger work which treat of the subjects more briefly discussed here.
It will be helpful to the teacher to keep the larger work on hand, and to
use more or less of the material there presented as his undergraduate

classes discuss the chapters of this one. Other references are also given
in the Notes, and it may be profitable to direct the attention of students
to them.
The present book has been made as clear and simple as possible, that
no unnecessary difficulties may be placed in the path of those who
enter upon the thorny road of philosophical reflection. The subjects
treated are deep enough to demand the serious attention of any one; and
they are subjects of fascinating interest. That they are treated simply
and clearly does not mean that they are treated superficially. Indeed,
when a doctrine is presented in outline and in a brief and simple
statement, its meaning may be more readily apparent than when it is
treated more exhaustively. For this reason, I especially recommend,
even to those who are well acquainted with philosophy, the account of
the external world contained in Chapter IV.
For the doctrine I advocate I am inclined to ask especial consideration
on the ground that it is, on the whole, a justification of the attitude
taken by the plain man toward the world in which he finds himself. The
experience of the race is not a thing that we may treat lightly.
Thus, it is maintained that there is a real external world presented in our
experience--not a world which we have a right to regard as the
sensations or ideas of any mind. It is maintained that we have evidence
that there are minds in certain relations to that world, and that we can,
within certain limits, determine these relations. It is pointed out that the
plain man's belief in the activity of his mind and his notion of
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