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Philosophy against Misosophy



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[Links to Halcyon, Swarth-more's yearbook. (Hat tip to David Marans: check out his Open Access Logic Gallery: Aristotle to the Present.]




From Whose Togas I Dangle


Brand Blanshard

August 27, 1892-November 18, 1987


Photo [left column, top] is by Richard P. Lewis, July 1976 as published, Man of Reason: In Memoriam Brand Blanshard. Roland A. Hoover, University Printer, Yale University Printing Service, New Haven, Connecticut: 1988, 32 pp. "A memorial service in honor of Brand Blanshard was held December 16, 1987, in Dwight Memorial Chapel of Yale University. The memories and appreciations spoken that day and some from letters are printed in this booklet," which Roberta Yerkes Blanshard, Blanshard's widow, mailed me on May 5, 1992.


Other pictures of Blanshard shown here are from his days at Swarthmore College (1925-1944) and first appeared in its yearbook, Halcyon. These gems were brought to my attention by David Marans, Professor of Philosophy at Saint Thomas University (Miami).


To hear Blanshard answer a student's questions in conversation, visit this page on Scott Palmer's website. On this page are links of .mp3 files for (so far) three segments of the conversation, for which a complete transcript is also provided.


Anthony Flood

Updated September 3, 2011



On Blanshard


We must regard mind as a process in which the potential realizes or actualizes itself. It is the sort of process in which that which is to be determines, in part, the course of its coming to be. Mind acts as it does because pressing in and through the present is a world that clamors to be born. . . .[P]resent in the thing that now is, making it what it is, controlling the course of its change, is a special impulsion or drive that cannot be conceived except as a drive toward a special end. This is suggested in our speech; we say, that is an elm tree shoot, identifying what it is through what it is becoming, and suggesting that if we are to understand its present nature, we must grasp that nature as the imperfectly realized form of something else. This is true always of what develops, and true only of this. . . . What develops cannot be conceived except as the partial realization of that which as fully actual, is yet to be.

"The Nature of Mind"


Religion is an attempt to adjust one's nature as a whole to ultimate reality. In a sense all human life is that. But whereas the larger part of such life consists of an adjustment to what is immediately around us, religion seeks to go behind the appearance of things to what is self-subsistent, to something which, intellectually and causally, will ex-plain everything else. And it must be conceived as a response of man's nature as a whole.

Reason and Belief, 434


Religion is man's attempt to live in the light of what he holds to be ultimately true and good. . . . Religion is not loyalty to the ultimately true and good, but only what we hold to be such.  It has always been this, however much more it may have claimed to be.

Reason and Belief, 555


The treatment of evil by theology seems to me an intellectual disgrace. The question at issue is a straightforward one: how are the actual amount and distribution of evil to be reconciled with the government of the world by a God which is in our sense good? So straightforward a question deserves a straightforward answer, and it seems to me that only one such answer makes sense, namely that the two sides can not be reconciled. . . . Some theologians, aware of this conflict, have at certain points resorted to open revolt against reason and its morality. We have studied this revolt in the theological line that runs from Luther through Kierkegaard to Brunner and Barth, and seen that it is self-destructive. For my own part, I am ready to stand correction for the ignobility of my naturalistic ethics, but not from theologians of this stripe. If their ideal of goodness is the will of a Deity who could inflict or permit the evil we know in the world, they have no consistent standard at all. How can anyone of clean conscience call good in the Deity what he would regard as intensely evil in man? To tie ethics to the will of such a being is not to exalt one's ethics but to reduce it to incoherence.

Reason and Belief, 546-47