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156 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY ~7:1 JANUARY 1989 determined exactly: it is peculiar to bourgeois society and can in this sense be called bourgeois," Freudenthal summarizes. So too that same method--which he claims was Newton's---when used in natural philosophy. I wish his discussion of Newtonian scientific method had more carefully distinguished between what Newton did and what he said he did; they were often in contradiction. I also found Freudenthal's implied rebuttal to Feyerabend's thesis, that science is simply one of several forms of reasonable constructs of the world, unconvincing. These weaknesses notwithstanding, this remarkable book clearly takes the debate on these issues to a much higher level than it was before. DAVID KUBRIN San Francisco Ann Hartle. Death and the DisinterestedSpectator:An Inquiry Into the Nature of Philosophy. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1986. Pp. 263 . Cloth, $42.5~. Paper, $14.95. Hartle argues for two historical theses, one that philosophy is, should be, or can be only "a preparation for death" (9, 219, passim). The other is that Socrates as a disinterested spectator lost in wonder manages a truly philosophical "holding action against the fear of death" (219). Augustine deviates into Christian theology in which "death is presented as having been truly overcome" (6) by "the divine as actor" (2o3), and Descartes moves beyond both philosophical wonder and Christian fear and trembling in a pragmatic "attempt to conquer death by purely human means" (188). The basic thesis that "Descartes rejects both the Socratic notion of philosophy as an endless task and the Augustinian dependence on a compassionate God" (135) is strongly supported. In particular, Hartle's demonstration that "There is no trembling in the Phaedo" (87) and "no trembling in the face of death in the Discourse" (148) sets Augustine severely apart. He neither has wonder for nature as does Socrates nor does he see any utilitarian value in nature as does Descartes. Augustine is not a spectator as is Socrates nor a manipulator as is Descartes. He is a man terrified of death who seeks mercy from a compassionate God. This contrasts with the Stoic acceptance of "the Platonic writings [that] show no face of pity and no tears of confession, they offer no salvation, no redemption" (97). Augustine's method is prayer (219)' In contrast to Augustine, Socrates in involved in "an attempt to rival the gods in their contempt for death" (44) and Descartes's project is "the greatest defiance, the greatest rebellion against God" (2o8). If Socrates is involved in a "holding-action against the fear of death" (57, 219, passim), Descartes is involved in a promissoryaction , giving "promises concerning the great benefits to be conferred by science" (188). Socrates' method is rhetorical: "What we see in the Phaedo is a discussion prompted by the fear of death and a demonstration of the control of that fear by means of the very act of discussing" (71), "the dependence of philosophy on rhetoric in its task of preparing for death" (85). Descartes's method is pragmatic and productive (l 3o). For "the general good of all men" (156) we are to make ourselves "masters and BOOK RWVIEWS ~57 possessors of nature" (157). Hattie argues that Descartes's "turn from speculative to practical philosophy.., requires that the nature of philosophy itself be changed" (160). "The fear of death is to be conquered, then, not by the virtue of courage but by removing the cause of fear [by exercising] power over nature, that is, over bodies, by knowing them" (163). And so "Descartes rejects both the Socratic notion of philosophy as an endless task and the Augustinian dependence on a compassionate God" (135). Hartle ties her two theses together with the claim that these three philosophies are sequential responses to the universal human fear of death. She argues that Augustine's compassionate God can be comprehended only in contrast to Socrates' disinterested divine spectator, and in turn that only by taking Augustine's active God to be a producer of causes and effects can Descartes transform philosophy from wondrous contemplation into working craftsmanship for advancing human good (185). Descartes eliminates Attic wonder and rhetorical whistling in the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 156-157
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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