The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea

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Harvard University Press, 1936 - Mathematics - 382 pages

From later antiquity down to the close of the eighteenth century, most philosophers and men of science and, indeed, most educated men, accepted without question a traditional view of the plan and structure of the world.

In this volume, which embodies the William James lectures for 1933, Arthur O. Lovejoy points out the three principles—plenitude, continuity, and graduation—which were combined in this conception; analyzes their origins in the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and the Neoplatonists; traces the most important of their diverse samifications in subsequent religious thought, in metaphysics, in ethics and aesthetics, and in astronomical and biological theories; and copiously illustrates the influence of the conception as a whole, and of the ideas out of which it was compounded, upon the imagination and feelings as expressed in literature.

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Substance: Lovejoy's purpose is to trace the philosophical idea known as "The Great Chain of Being" from its Platonic and neo-Platonic sources through the writings of the "great philosophers" up to ... Read full review

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A wonderful illuminating book that can reconstitute your mind and stay with you as a companion in your life of the mind. Read full review


The Chain of Being and Some Internal Conflicts
The Principle of Plenitude and the New Cosmog

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About the author (1936)

Mr. Lovejoy taught philosophy for nearly forty years at the Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of numerous work, includingEssays in the History of IdeasandRevolt against Dualism.

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