Topic: Human Nature

What influence did Wittgenstein and Aquinas have on Anscombe and Foot? by Samuel Cooper

Both Foot and Anscombe talk about Aquinas quite often, and both of them seem to take it for granted that Aquinas’ thought can be elucidated by thinking about it from directions provided by Wittgenstein; not just that Aquinas can be corrected or improved by the addition of a Wittgensteinian perspective, but rather that what Aquinas himself actually thought can be elucidated by looking at his work from such an angle. Both of them do this quite often, sometimes implicitly and sometimes explicit, but almost always very casually, as if it is quite obvious that this is how it should be. But in what sense in Aquinas Wittgensteinian?!

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Then and Now

by Mary Midgley Mary Midgley Considers How What Is Called Philosophy Has Changed Since She And Her Friends First Plunged Into It Changes In World-Pictures. When we four people started studying Philosophy at Oxford in the early 1940s, quite a lot of the topics that we might have expected to discuss – most importantly, Human Nature, the Spiritual Life and the Behaviour of non-human Animals – simply could not be mentioned in philosophical circles at all. First, Behaviourists had shown that there was `no such thing as Human Nature’. All behaviour was simply reactive – produced by other behaviour. Next, Animal behaviour was part of Zoology. A few Comparative Psychologists were studying the differences between human and animal thought. but this chiefly meant showing that animals can’t do certain things which humans can. And finally, as for the Spiritual Life, religious concepts were being studied on their own as separate topics by people who were not necessarily interested in their importance, or keen to relate them to other aspects of life. Thus the only mental heritage that was deemed to be common to the whole human race was Rationality, which was seen as its central legacy from the Enlightenment. More sweepingly still, however, even that legacy was then being fiercely attacked by a miscellaneous group of theorists – ranging from Right to Left, from Behaviourists through Existentialists to Marxists –...

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