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49 ~ JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY ~':4 OCT 1984 Hohler's book is not long, and often the arguments and conclusions could have benefited from expansion. The book really seems written for readers who already possess a very substantial familiarity with the tests it discusses, and such readers will find Hohler's interpretations provocative and challenging. The author is surely correct in his forecast that "the central thesis of this book will also have an impact on Fichte's relationship to German Idealism. No longer can Fichte be understood as the initial step on the way to Hegel. Fichte's philosophy will no longer be considered an absolute ideaism which fell short of its mark. In fact, finitude will be more strongly affirmed than the infinite or absolute and will take a central position " (3). What Hohler has to say about Fichte is original and important. It is regrettable that he has not addressed his book to a larger audience and shown somewhat more consideration for the majority of potential readers who lack the thorough grounding in the texts which his study simply presupposes. It is unfortunate, too, that he has not shown more consideration for his specialist colleagues and that he has generally ignored the extensive secondary literature devoted to the themes and texts he discusses . Finally, something has to be said about Hohler's peculiar and solecistic prose, in which sentences such as "To conceive philosophy as a systematic ideal must have a prephilosophical root" (7) occur with distressing frequency. Some sensitivity on the author's part to the requirements of good English style would have lightened the reader's burden considerably. DANIEL BREAZEALE University of Kentucky Melvin Richter. The Politics of Conscience: T. H. Green and His Age. Reprint of the 1964 edition. Lanham, New York, and London: University Press of America, 1983. Pp. 415 9$14.75. A. J. Ayer. Philosophyin the Twentieth Century. New York: Random House, 1982. Pp. x + 283. $22.5 o. These two books are alike in being very well written and fascinating. Anyone interested in the history of philosophy during the last lOO years will benefit greatly from reading them. The reader of these two books will also receive an education in historiography , for they occupy almost the farthest extremes of two approaches to the history of philosophy. Ayer conceives of his work as a continuation of Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy, but without "excursions into social and political history" which Ayer thinks do "not throw much light upon the views of the philosophers with which he sought to associate them." Ayer, then, is "content to give a few biographical details about the philosophers on whom I concentrate and in certain cases to refer to the ways in which they influenced one another." He concentrates on "the representatives of two main schools for which I have a personal predilection, the American pragma- BOOK REVIEWS 49 t tists.., and what is loosely called the analytic movement" (ix). Ayer says "I have not ignored speculative philosophy, or metaphysics, and have chosen R. G. Collingwood as the metaphysician whose views I could most sympathetically expound." He has a chapter on Phenomenology and Existentialism where he concentrates "mainly on the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty." For Neo-Marxism he refers the reader to Leszek Kolakowski's Main Currents of Marxism, and does not cover structuralism as this "would have meant too much of a diversion into literary criticism and anthropology" (x). Ayer also limits his coverage of moral philosophy and logic. Thus, Ayer openly states that his history of philosophy in the Twentieth Century is primarily a treatment of philosophers and problems in the analytic tradition that he thinks are most important. His major concern is with epistemology in the Cartesian tradition in which scepticism is taken seriously. He believes that definite progress has been made in philosophy, at the very least in analyzing, clarifying, and stating philosophical problems. Ayer is not as brashly anti-metaphysical as he was when he published Language, Truth, and Logic nearly fifty years ago 0936), but nevertheless the most interesting and poignant section in his present book is the last in which he takes Hilary...


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