Luc Ferry Thinks About Thought

May 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

Walking through a downtown TC bookstore a couple weeks ago, I spotted a book by Luc Ferry, a popular French philosopher. His international bestseller, A Brief History of Thought.  is a bold title, appropriate for a book which gives a perspective on the effectiveness of 5 key philosophical eras in human history, beginning with the Greeks.  Mr. Ferry has the ability to summarize complicated worldviews in a way that is accessible and interesting, though compacting a philosophical overview for a mass audience is a tough venue to accurately capture philosophies that have transformed the world.

Lest there be any confusion about what weight philosophy carries in certain circles, Mr. Ferry opens his book with boldness: “The quest for salvation without God is at the heart of every great philosophical system…Philosophy also claims to save us – if not from death itself, then from the anxiety it causes, and to do so by the exercise of our own resources an our innate faculty of reason.”

Philosophy starts with the natural sciences – physics, mathematics, biology – then searches for causes and limits. Once philosophers reach the limits of science, they presses on with logic and reason. The conclusions must be anchored in reality, not dependent on wishful thinking about what one hopes to be true or the untestable truths that the Other (God) offers.

From this starting point, Mr. Ferry begins a tour of five pivotal movements in the history of philosophy. Read the rest of this entry →