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Canadian Philosophy: The Nature and History of a Discipline? A Reply to Mr. Mathien

  • Leslie Armour (a1)


Mr. Mathien asks for evidence that there is Canadian philosophy in a special sense. He is not concerned with questions about whether people who were Canadians, or lived out much or most of their working lives in Canada, wrote philosophy which deserves to be taken seriously. Rather, he asks whether what has gone on in Canada by way of philosophy can be assembled in such a way as to make a coherent discipline.



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1 For a discussion of this question in the context of politics and culture in French and English Canada, and for various references in addition to those cited later in this paper, see Armour, Leslie, The Idea of Canada and the Crisis of Community (Ottawa: Steel Rail Press, 1981).

2 Kukalova-Peck, Jarmila, A Phylogenetic Tree of the Animal Kingdom (including Orders and Higher Categories), Publications in Zoology, no. 8 (Ottawa: National Museum of Natural Sciences. 1973).

3 Buffon's publications are legion. But there is a good, general account of the history of the “Jardin des Plantes” in Paris and of the struggles over classification overthe years in Barthélemy, Guy, Les Jardiniers du Roy (Paris: Le Pelican, 1979), published for the museum of the gardens. A general account of Buffon's ideas and a contemporary account of arguments over their interpretation can be found in Fellows, Otis E. and Milliken, Stephen F., Buffon (New York: Twayne, 1972). Buffon did in fact employ Lamarck for a time as tutor for the son who was to inherit his title, but it is not clear that Lamarck's ideas developed from a reading (or misreading) of Buffon.

4 For a discussion of this kind of phenomenon seethe chapter called “The Opportunism of Evolution” in Gaylord, George Simpson's classic. Meaning of Evolution (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1949), and many editions thereafter.

5 The Brown System is discussed in Sayers, W. Berwick, Manual of Classification (3d ed.; London: Andre Deutsch, 1955), chap. 12, “The subject classification of James Duff Brown”.

6 See Verene, Donald Phillip, ed., Symbol, Myth and Culture, Essays and Lectures of Ernst Cassirer, 1935-1945 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1979), 271293.

7 Armour, Leslie, Logic and Reality (Assen: Royal Vangorcum; New York: Humanities Press, 1972).

8 Strawson, Peter F., Individuals (London: Methuen, 1959).

9 Cassirer, Ernst, Language and Myth, trans. Langer, Susanne K. (New York: Harper, 1946; New York: Dover, 1953); and Cassirer, Ernst, The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, trans. Mannheim, Ralph (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1953).

10 Armour, Leslie, “Religion et philosophie au Quebec et au Canada Anglais”, Philosophiques 9/2 (10 1982). See also Armour, Leslie, “The Social and Philosophical Origins of Rational Religion in Quebec arid English Canada”, in Cunningham, Henri-Paul and Kingston, F. Temple, eds., Friendship and Dialogue Between Ontario and Quebec (Windsor: Canterbury College, University of Windsor, 1985).

11 Frolov, I., ed., Dictionary of Philosophy (2d rev. ed.; Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1984), 237.

12 Armour, Leslie and Trott, Elizabeth, The Faces of Reason: An Essay on Philosophy and Culture in English Canada, 1850-1950 (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1981).

13 See, e.g., Armour, The Idea of Canada (above, note 1), and the article cited above in Philosophiques (note 10), as well as various entries in Toye, William, The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1983).

14 Armour, Leslie, “Aliens in Their Own Land”, The Nation (New York, 1971), reprinted in Davies, D. I. and Herman, Kathleen, eds., Social Space, Canadian Perspectives (Toronto: New Press, 1971). As forthe Canadian idealist tradition, it survives (though not unchanged), for instance, in the Collingwoodian philosophy of history espoused by William Dray, in the work of Lionel Rubinoff on Bradley and Collingwood and in my own work and that of Prof. Trott. Much of its spirit in the philosophy of religion is to be found in the work of F. W. Waters. Lately, too, there has been a revival of interest (in Canada, but not only in Canada) in Bradley's logic.

15 Braybrooke, David, Canadian Forum 53/636 (01 1974), 2934.

16 There are many clues in Houde, Roland, Histoire ct philosophic an Québec (Trois-Rivières: Editions du Bien Publique, 1979).

17 Berger, Carl R., The Writing of Canadian History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1976), 49.

18 Armour and Trott, The Faces of Reason.

19 Bradley, F. H., The Presuppositions of Critical History, ed. Rubihoff, Lionel (Toronto: J. M. Dent, 1968).

20 Royce, Josiah, California from the Conquest in 1846 to the Second Vigilance Committee in San Francisco: A Study of American Character (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1886); and Royce, Josiah, The Spirit of Modern Philosophy (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1892).

21 See especially Caird, John, Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion (Glasgow: James MacLehose, 1880), and Caird, Edward, The Evolution of Religion (Glasgow: James MacLehose, 1893).

22 Compare Bosanquet, Bernard, Logic or the Morphology of Knowledge, vol. 1 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1911), chap. 9, with Watson, John, The Philosophical Basis of Religion (Glasgow: James MacLehose, 1907), 924 and 362-381, and Blewett, George, The Study of Nature and the Vision of God (Toronto: William Briggs, 1907), especially 1723 and 333-348.

23 See Trott, Elizabeth, “Experience and the Absolute” (unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Waterloo, 1971).

24 See Royce, Josiah, Conte, Joseph Le, Howison, G. H., and Mezes, Sidney Edward, The Conception of God (New York: Macmillan, 1897), and Watson, John, Christianity and Idealism (New York: Macmillan, 1897). (Though published in the sameyearthe volume containing Royce's lectures and those of his critics consists of material from 1895 while Watson's lectures were given in 1896.)

25 The best discussion of the kinds of Thomism is in Watzlawik, Joseph, Leo XIII and the New Scholasticism (Cebu City: University of San Carlos Press, 1966). Watzlawik, writing from the Philippines, makes clear that Thomism in Canada was very different from Thomism in the United States and that it grew strong long before the famous encyclical of Leo XIII.

26 Koninck, Charles De, The Hollow Universe (Québec: Presses de l'Université Laval, 1964).

27 Koninck, Charles De, La Confédération, rempart contre le grand état (Québec: Commission royale d'enquête sur les problemes constitutionels, 1954), annexe no. 1.

28 Cassirer, Ernst, The Platonic Renaissance in England, trans. Pettegrove, James P. (Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson, 1953).

29 See my paper “Denominationalism and Religion in Ontario”, Journal of Canadian Studies, 20/1 (Spring 1985), 25–ndash;38.

Canadian Philosophy: The Nature and History of a Discipline? A Reply to Mr. Mathien

  • Leslie Armour (a1)


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