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Perfectionism and the Common GoodThemes in the Philosophy of T. H. Green$
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David O. Brink

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199266401

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2004

DOI: 10.1093/0199266409.001.0001

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Perfectionism and the Common Good

David O. Brink (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins with a brief discussion of Green's attack of empiricism and defence of idealism in Prolegomena. It then identifies Green's four main aims in the first book of Prolegomena. Firstly he wants to reject the common-sense view, inherited from the empiricists, that knowledge can be analysed into two separable components — the deliverances of the senses and the operations of the understanding — in which what is given by nature is real and the contributions of the understanding are not. Secondly, the attack on empiricism and atomism is supposed to support the idealist claim that in some sense nature is the product of the understanding. Thirdly, in order for the idealist to distinguish between appearance and reality, it is necessary to posit an ‘eternal’ and ‘unalterable’ system of relations in a self-conscious corporate agent that includes the finite systems of relations contained in the self-conscious minds of individual agents. Finally, much of the first book of the Prolegomena is concerned with the role of self-consciousness in the possibility of apparently discrete episodes of experience, but Green is also concerned with the role of self-consciousness in knowledge.

Keywords:   T. H. Green, Prolegomena, empiricism, atomism, appearance, reality, idealism

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