February 9, 2008

The Genius of English Philosophy

Filed under: Economics, History, Philosophy — duncan @ 9:20 pm

George Unwin (1870-1925) was an economic historian at the University of Manchester. This is from his essay ‘The Philosophy of Value’:

“Locke and Adam Smith… were animated by a practical purpose – to justify and to forward the liberal movements of their respective generations…. Neither… was intent on building up a system of independent ideas all strictly deducible from some primary truth. To do so is not in accordance with the genius of English philosophy. To have made the freedom which they sought to justify appear to rest upon a merely reasonable basis would have probably seemed to them a doubtful service. That freedom derived its chief sanctity from facts, of which their minds were full. If the facts could be leavened with ideas, or if, to change the metaphor, the ideas could be found like plums within hailing distance of each other in the solid pudding of fact, the English philosopher would feel that the demands of logic were satisfied.”

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