Frederick Charles Copleston's A History of Philosophy [Vol V] PDF

By Frederick Charles Copleston

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The chief argument, according to Locke, which is customarily adduced in favour of the theory is universal consent. Because all men agree about the validity of certain speculative and practical principles, it needs must be, it is argued, that these principles are originally imprinted on men's minds and that they brought them into the world with them 'as necessarily and really as they do any of their inherent faculties'. 1 Against this theory Locke argues in the first place that even if it were true that all men agree about certain principles this would not prove that these principles are innate, provided that some other explanation can be given of this universal agreement.

Religious truth is of value if it reacts on life and produces practical fruit. By saying this I do not mean to imply that the Cambridge Platonists were pragmatists. They believed in the power of the human reason to attain to objective truth about God and to give us insight into absolute and universal moral laws. But they insisted on two points; first, that a sincere attempt to lead a moral life is a necessary condition for obtaining insight into truth about God and, secondly, that the truths which are of most importance are those which form the clearest basis for a Christian life.

And in the second place sovereignty, whether vested in one man or in an assembly of men, is derived from the social covenant, not from appointment by God. Further, this fiction of the social covenant would justify any de facto government. It would justify, for example, the Commonwealth no less than the rule of Charles I, as long, that is to say, as the latter possessed the power to rule. It is therefore easy to understand the charge brought against Hobbes that he wrote the Leviathan when HOBBES (2) 49 he had a mind to go home and that he wished to win the favour of Cromwell.

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A History of Philosophy [Vol V] by Frederick Charles Copleston


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