An essay on the foundations of our knowledge

In 1851 Augustin Cournot published Essai sur les fondements de nos connaissances et sur les caractères de la critique philosophique. It was translated into English by Merritt H Moore and published as An essay on the foundations of our knowledge in 1956. We present below various extracts from the book as well as cut-down versions of some reviews of the English translation.

1. From the Introduction.

This translation makes one of Antoine Augustin Cournot's philosophical works available in English for the first time. He is already well known and highly regarded by economists; his philosophical writings are known by only relatively few persons, yet these few have a high regard for their merit. It is the purpose of this translation to increase, if possible, the number of persons who will read Cournot as a philosopher: it is the purpose of this Introduction to help acquaint such possible readers with Cournot as a thinker and as a man.

A cursory examination of the development of economic thought in the nineteenth century is all that is needed to convince one of the value and impact of Cournot's pioneering work in mathematical economics. Long before his Recherches sur les principes mathématiques de la théorie des richesses was translated in 1897 by Nathaniel Bacon, many of the important economists of the century - Jevons, Marshall, Edgeworth, Walras, Pareto, Irving Fisher, and others - had specifically acknowledged their indebtedness to him. In 1938 one session of the Econometric Society was dedicated to the commemoration of the hundredth anniversary of the publication of the Recherches. This session is reported in the journal Econometrica. Two recent books by A Schumpeter attest to the originality and the worth of Cournot as an economist. These are Economic Doctrine and Method and History of Economic Analysis. Both were published by the Oxford University Press in 1954.

It is difficult for those who know his writings to understand why Cournot's philosophical works have not had a wider audience. The reason can certainly not be that his writings are in French. Many French works are widely read, either in the original or in numerous translations, by persons for whom French is not a native tongue. This is true of many of Cournot's contemporaries, some of whom certainly made a less significant contribution to the philosophical literature of our Western tradition than did he.

Cournot died in 1877; yet it was not until 1905 that any concerted effort was made to bring his philosophical work to the attention even of his own countrymen. In May of that year a memorial to Cournot appeared in the form of a number of the Revue de métaphysique et de morale which was given over entirely to articles about him. Nearly two decades later Professor Lévy-Bruhl of the University of Paris was responsible for the appearance of a second edition of the Essai. At the present time Cournot Matérialisme, vitalisme, rationalisme is on the list of books prepared by the French Ministry of Public Instruction for students who complete the program of the secondary schools.

2. From the Author's Preface.

It may seem strange that an author should offer a book on pure philosophy to the people of this country at the present time. It might seem even more strange if the author were to admit, much to his embarrassment, that the book has been in preparation for ten years, although it is of no more than ordinary length; indeed, the first draft of it was sketched some twenty years ago. However, although its subject matter has been dealt with time and again, it pleases me to think that anyone who may take the trouble to read it will find in it enough new points of view to justify my ingenuous perseverance, at least in the eyes of those who love philosophy. I may be mistaken in this. Nevertheless, I may still call attention to the importance of revitalising the older philosophical doctrines from time to time in two ways: first, by taking account of the progress of our positive knowledge and of the new perspectives opened up by it; and, next, by being able to choose examples better suited to the present state of development in the sciences than those which were available at the time of Descartes, Leibniz, or even d'Alembert. These latter examples still serve as legal tender, so to speak, even though they have become somewhat the worse for wear since philosophers began to neglect the sciences and since the scientists have been only too willing to show their haughty disregard for philosophy. It is also true that in going against the practices of one's own time and in ignoring the fashion prevailing in the schools and in books, one runs the risk of being very poorly received. But, after all, each philosopher works in his own way, and each brings to his philosophical speculations the imprint of his other studies and the turn of mind which they have given him. The theologian, the jurist, the mathematician, the physicist, and the philologist can each be recognised at a glance by the way in which he wears the mantle of philosophy.

3. Extract 1.

However, anyone who has any knowledge at all of mathematics knows that different demonstrations of the same theorem, all of which are both completely irreproachable so far as the rules of logic are concerned, and rigorously conclusive, may be given. And such a person distinguishes that demonstration which gives the true reason of the theorem demonstrated, that is to say, the demonstration which follows, in the logical connection of propositions, the order according to which corresponding truths are reached, and according to which one is the reason for the other. The mind is unsatisfied until such a demonstration has been found; this is the case not because the mind is incapable of extending our knowledge through the acquisition of a greater number of facts, but because it proves the need for arranging these facts in their natural relations, that is to say, in such a way as to make evident the reason for each particular fact. Consequently, a demonstration is said to be indirect when it inverts the rational order, when the conclusion obtained as a consequence of logical deduction is thought of as including, on the contrary, the reason for truths which serve as its logical premises.

4. Extract 2.

Generalisations which are fruitful because they reveal in a single general principle the rationale of a great many particular truths, the connections and common origins of which had not previously been seen, are found in all the sciences, and particularly in mathematics. Such generalisations are the most important of all, and their discovery is the work of genius. There are also sterile generalisations which consist in extending to unimportant cases what inventive persons were satisfied to establish for important cases, leaving the rest to the easily discernible indications of analogy. In such cases, further steps towards abstraction and generalisation do not mean an improvement in the explanation of the order of mathematical truths and their relations, for this is not the way the mind proceeds from a subordinate fact to one which goes beyond it and explains it. Once more, the source of the discovery of genius, of the progress of the sciences, and of the most brilliant manifestations of human reason is, therefore, not to be found in the capacity to generalise.

5. Extract 3.

Yet one always finds among men who are reputed to be reasonable some evidence of this tendency to inquire into the reason of things ; of this desire to know not simply how things are, but why they are one way rather than another; and, consequently, of this awareness of a relation which is not gained through the senses, this notion of an abstract bond by virtue of which one thing is subordinated to another which determines and explains it.

6. Extract 4.

But we have no authority always to attribute the same simplicity to the idea of order and to the relations between things which cannot properly be called causes and effects, but which make one another intelligible, or mutually determine and explain one another ...

7. Extract 5.

We may observe a similar instance of this reciprocity of relations in the field of abstract conceptions, in a form which is incompatible with the notion of cause and effect in its proper sense. Many properties of numbers depend upon laws which govern the theory of order and combination in general. Reciprocally, the science of combinations turns up in a thousand places in pure mathematics and in the properties of numbers.

8. Extract 6.

The philosophy of mathematics still consists essentially in discerning the rational order of dependence of as many abstract truths as the sagacity of inventive minds has successfully and laboriously discovered, often by very roundabout means. It also consists in preferring one concatenation of propositions to another (although the latter is just as impeccable from the point of view of logic, or sometimes even more convenient logically), because it satisfies better the condition of exhibiting this order and these connections, just as they follow from the nature of things, independently of the means that we have of demonstrating and knowing the truth. It is evident that this work of the mind must not be confused with that which has as its object the extension of the positive sciences. It is just as evident that the reasons for preferring one order to another are in the category of those which are imposed on us neither by experience nor by the processes of logical demonstration. To deny the philosophy of mathematics because of that would simply be to deny one of the conditions of the construction of the general system of human knowledge, or one of the essential elements of this system.

9. Review by R P.
Review of Metaphysics 10 (4) (1957), 717.

A well-written translation of Cournot's Essai sur les fondements de nos connaissances et sur les caractères de la critique philosophique. The author, little known in this country except for his work in mathematics and economics, first published this work in 1851. The Essay is part rationalism, part empiricism. The first half of the Essay argues for Cournot's theory of knowledge; the second relates his theory to problems of mathematics, logic, law, history, psychology, ethics, aesthetics, and to his philosophical predecessors. It is a work which will reward careful study and which will be of special interest to students of Peirce and Bergson. The translator has provided a lengthy introduction which will be of value to those unfamiliar with Cournot and Cournot literature, and an excellent index.

10. Review by: Gail Kennedy.
The Journal of Philosophy 54 (11) (1957), 354-358.

Augustin Cournot, 1801-1877, is now rightfully considered one of the most important French philosophers of the nineteenth century, ranking with Comte and Renouvier. Yet, in other countries, his writings, with the exception of those an economics, are still almost entirely unknown. This translation of the first of his two major works - the full title is Essai sur les fondements de nos connaissances et sur les caractères de la critique philosophique - which appeared in 1851 should help arouse here the interest which his philosophy deserves. There is much in Cournot which is relevant to the dominant concerns of American philosophers today. His primary aim was the development of a critical philosophy of science and of history; and his approach to the subject was so cautiously detached, his perceptions of what is essential so exact that, despite the immense changes in science during the past century, one can still find in him a host of relevant and fruitful ideas. In an essay on "Philosophy and the American Temper" Professor Ernest Nagel has characterised our prevailing mode of thought as "contexturalistic naturalism." It is something close to this that one finds in the works of Cournot.

Cournot's original training was in mathematics and physics. Some early articles in this field attracted the attention of Poisson, successor to Laplace at the Institute and the University, under whose patronage he was rapidly advanced in the educational hierarchy, eventually becoming an Inspecteur général of public instruction.

In an early work on the mathematical theory of probability, Exposition de la théorie des chances et des probabilités (1843), we find Cournot first formulating the idea that in the notion of probability is to be found the key to a critical philosophy of the sciences and of history. At the time Cournot wrote, the standing theory was that of Laplace. Laplace's Essai philosophique sur les probabilités (1814) is a logical continuation of his earlier work. Having in the Mécanique celeste demonstrated the inherent stability of the solar system and thus vindicated the mechanical conception of nature, Laplace turned to the problems of society. Here, perforce, an exact quantitative analysis must employ the calculus of probability. To Laplace this did not entail any lapse of faith in universal mechanism. He agreed with Hume that "Chance is only our ignorance of real causes."

For Cournot, however, the idea of "chance" (hasard) stands for a real fact, that of the interaction between independent sets of events each of which is a distinct causal series. Cournot defines chance, therefore, as follows: "The events brought about by the combination or encounter of phenomena which belong to independent series in the order of causality are what one calls fortuitous events or results of chance." A chance event is not that absurdity, a fact without a cause. It requires on the contrary a plurality of causes. We can say that it is a fact without a law, for no law explains this particular concurrence of the several causes.

The essential object of statistical researches is, then, the elimination of accidental, and detection of permanent causes. As a method of distinguishing what is constant from what is variable it furnishes the most general notion for the interpretation of nature and history. Our judgments of probability are, however, of two sorts: those which are more common, and often more important, are not capable of being subjected to mathematical calculation. It is judgments of this kind which are the basis of analogical reasoning and inductive inference. The chief aim of reason must be to distinguish the contingent from the necessary, the historical from what is rational in any given state of affairs; hence, the weighing of probabilities is the basis of all criticism, whether in philosophy, the sciences, or the ordinary practice of life. Cournot uses the term probabilité philosophique to denote this pragmatic function of reason.

By philosophical probability Cournot means, then, our capacity to apprehend the reason of things (raison des choses); for, as he never tires of saying after Bossuet: "The relation between reason and order is of the highest sort. Order is discovered in things only through reason and cannot be understood without it. It is the supporter of reason and its true object." Cournot is a rationalist, he considers himself a successor to Descartes and Leibniz; but this rationalism is in one all-important respect different - it has abandoned the quest for certainty. For him there are three modes of explanation, of determining the reason of things: mechanical causation, chance, and finality. Any one or all three may be appropriately employed as an inquirer follows the lead of the subject matter within a given context. The result is a pluralistic conception of nature. Within nature there are two types of radical discontinuity. The first is due to the distinction between what Cournot calls the theoretical (données théoriques) and the historical (donnees historiques) elements in our knowledge. In all sciences, astronomy, geology, etc., which deal with actual events there is an irreducibly historical element which must be taken account of in our explanations of those events. An historical order is a quasi-rational order. There is no history, properly speaking, for a series of events unconnected with one another. Neither is there an historical element in a series of events which derive necessarily and regularly according to fixed laws from one another. The historical series is the result of a mixture of rationally ordered and accidental events. The historical "situation" is an "unisolated system." With history in the narrower sense of the term, as distinguished from the "historical" sciences, the element of fact dominates and obscures that of law. The task of the philosophy of history is to discern those general and pervasive causes which by the extension and consolidation of their effects become permanent conditions controlling the general course of events. The other form of discontinuity is that between three distinct orders of reality, the mechanical, the vital, and the rational, each of which, Cournot believes, is irreducible and subject to its own specific laws.

Philosophical criticism, as Cournot understands it, has, then, two complementary functions: "the study of the forms of thought and of the general laws and processes of the human mind," and an investigation of the reason of things, or of the way in which our fundamental conceptions are utilised as guiding and controlling ideas for the organisation of knowledge. The Essai is Cournot's attempt to meet this first need, to construct a theory of knowledge. The second he tried to carry out in the work he entitled Traité de l'enchaînement des idées fondamentales dans les sciences et dans l'histoire (1861). This work, an empirical study of the categories, is divided into five books entitled Order and Form, Force and Matter, Life and Organism, Human Societies, and History and Civilization. Cournot subsequently published two other works, Matérialisme, vitalisme, rationalisme: Études sur l'emploi des données de la science en philosophie (1875), and Considérations sur la marche des idées et des événements dans les temps modernes (1872), which may be considered as supplementary to the Traité.

Professor Moore has prefaced his translation with an introduction in which he gives a brief account of Cournot's life and an exposition of his philosophy. He has assisted the reader by providing translations of Cournot's quotations in other languages and he has occasionally added helpful notes explaining references in the text which might be obscure. He has also included a list of Cournot's books and a partial bibliography of works on Cournot. The group of secondary works might have been either more judiciously selected, or else more inclusive. One misses in it such an important contribution as Milhaud's Études sur Cournot, though at least one work of lesser value, Ruyer 's L'humanité de l'avenir d'après Cournot, is included.

11. Review by: Philip P Wiener.
The Philosophical Review 67 (1) (1958), 118-121.

Professor Moore of Vanderbilt University has performed a notable service to philosophical scholarship by giving us this first English edition of Cournot's philosophical works. Cournot (1801-77) was a distinguished mathematician, physicist, economist, historian, and educational administrator as well as a philosopher at a time when it was still possible to be all these. He belongs to the classical French tradition of philosophes who brought their philosophising to bear on the sciences and arts in their historical and cultural contexts without sacrificing logical respect for method. In fact, Cournot is best known as a pioneer in applying mathematical methods to economics; his Recherches sur les principes mathématiques de la théorie des richesses (Paris, 1838) was translated into English in 1897, and republished in Paris in 1938. Philosophy for Cournot is not so much a separate subject as it is a critical method of exploring the logical roots and ramifications of knowledge in all fields.

His Essay on the Foundations of Knowledge (the French original is dated 1851) contains the mature reflections of a scientifically trained mind on the epistemological grounds of mathematical, physical, biological, psychological, linguistic, moral, aesthetic, legal, and historical as well as metaphysical problems. It will appear to be too thick with real problems for our current "analysts" who belong to the cult of Wittgenstein, but it will help revitalise philosophy. Logical analysis, as Cournot practised it, was inseparable from inquiry into the applicability of fundamental ideas to logical and empirical problems of research. The most important of these ideas for Cournot was "the application of probability to the critique of the sources of our knowledge." This is not merely the title of the sixth chapter but the leading theme of the whole work. Published a year after Herschel came out in i850 with his important review-article in the Edinburgh Review, "Quetelet on Probabilities," Cournot's work reflects the increasing use of statistical methods borrowed by the physical scientists from the methods of vital and social statistics. Venn (Logic of Chance, 1866) and Peirce come after Cournot in their versions of objective or material probability, and in their rejection of both the subjective view of Hume, that "Chance is only our ignorance of real causes" (p. 48), and the conceptualist view of Laplace, that "Probability is relative in part to our knowledge, and in part to our ignorance" (ibid.). In his arguments against Hume and Laplace, Cournot makes it clear that chance refers to the diversity of a large number of independent causes: "It is the very idea of every possible variation and combination among many systems of causes or facts, each of which unfolds in its own system, independent of others" (p. 49).

Cournot's idea that chance is the intersection of many independent
but causally necessitated series of events is an original attempt to synthesise Aristotle's pluralistic notion of objective contingency and Kant's a priori view of causal necessity. Professor Moore suggests a similarity between the ideas of Cournot and Peirce (p. li), which is likely although there is no reference to Cournot in the Harvard edition of Peirce's Collected Papers; both Peirce and Cournot rejected Kant's unknowable thing-in-itself in favour of an objective realism and relativism. But Peirce differed from Cournot in regarding chance as a vera causa productive of spontaneous variety and gradual modifications of the very laws which Cournot assumes, with Kant, are necessary and fixed by some Leibnizian principle of sufficient reason. Chance for Cournot is the resultant effect of the intersection of causally and strictly necessary lines and does not alter the laws of nature.

Both Cournot and Peirce relativized their notions of objective chance sufficiently to make it clear that any statement of indeterminism is relative to the system of knowledge at a given stage in the development of the sciences. Objective probability simply designates the logical fact that the probability of a statement is relative to the objective evidence confirming it, where "objective" means accepted or acceptable within a given system because of publicly acknowledged tests or ways of testing statements. The way to test a "necessary" statement about the succession of causes and effects can hardly be the
same as the way to test a "contingent" statement. Now it is the relationship between these two ways of ascertaining what is necessary and what is contingent in any causal statement that Cournot's philosophy aimed to clarify and did clarify to a greater extent than the theories of most philosophers before him. Since, for example, there are many independent causes in the throw of a coin or birth of a child, the known systems of ballistics and genetics do not provide any necessary conclusions as to whether the coin will fall heads or the child be born male. Such conclusions are invested with a probability relative to the inductive knowledge we have about how coins of a certain sort fall in respect to the ratio of heads to tails, or how the ratio of male to female births in a certain class of animals under certain empirical conditions
has previously been observed to occur.

Space does not permit an extended discussion or even exposition of the interesting and edifying way in which Cournot applies his idea of objective probability to a wealth of examples.

Cournot seems to share with Kant a repugnancy to analysing phenomena of life by means of physical concepts or laws, for fear that life would lose purpose if reduced to physical processes. But this is a superstitious phobia arising from a pious regard for vitalism and final causes associated with an uncritical religious metaphysics.

Cournot seems also to have oscillated in carrying out the full implications of his notion of objective chance. After a comparative survey of past philosophical systems (Plato, Aristotle, Bacon, Descartes, Leibniz, and Kant) in relation to his own system, Cournot falls back on the classical separation of reason from experience. The common basis for all empirical knowledge, he concludes, is not a fixed chain of causes and effects but the reason or order in things which, when formulated in simple hypotheses, leads to "philosophical probability," that is, a probable, non-numerical induction. Then why retain the fixed chain of being at all? It appears that religion requires a faith that transcends empirical knowledge. "But this is not to pretend that it is within our power, be that as it may, to attain absolute truth" (p. 589). So we intuitively feel that there is a non-numerical philosophical probability and truth, but "the feeling for the true in philosophy is not more capable of being rigorously broken up and analysed than the feeling for the beautiful in the arts" (p. 597). Such passages leave the reviewer with the conclusion that Cournot had an unusually keen sense of the diverse meanings and uses of probability, but was not quite sure how they were related to one another or to truth.

12. Review by: Gérard Deledalle.
Les Études philosophiques, Nouvelle Série 4 (1957), 402.

Prof Merritt H Moore is to be unreservedly commended for undertaking and carrying out the English translation of the Essai sur les fondements de nos connaissances of Cournot. M Merritt H Moore preceded his translation with a historical and critical introduction which situates Cournot in the history of European and American thought. Close to pragmatism, according to him, it differs from it - Peirce's pragmaticism excepted - by its realism which would rather compare it to the thought of Morris R Cohen. But if Professor Moore speaks more readily of "critical rationalism" than of "critical realism" about Cournot's philosophy, it is to distinguish it from the American critical realist school of 1920.

Mr H Moore has composed a meticulous index which makes the translation of this large work more manageable than the original which does not contain one.

13. Review by: Robert Ammerman.
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 18 (4) (1958), 556-557.

The name of Antoine Augustin Cournot does not loom large in most histories of nineteenth-century philosophy. He founded no school and received only scant attention from his contemporaries. The reasons for this neglect are not altogether clear, but with the publication of this English translation of the Essai sur les fondements de nos connaissances, it is to be hoped that he will soon gain the philosophic recognition he deserves.

Cournot, whose pioneer works in mathematical economics have long been famous, attempted in his philosophical writings to steer a median course between extreme empiricism on the one hand and extreme rationalism on the other. The result is a probabilistic system which, although it denies that science or philosophy can ever attain to absolutely certain knowledge, stresses the paramount importance of reason in speculative and practical activity. In the Essay, his first philosophical work, Cournot introduces the concept of "philosophical probability" (as distinguished from mathematical probability) and attempts to show its importance for philosophy and science. His discussion ranges over a wide variety of topics, including many of the traditional problems of epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophy of science. The answers that Cournot proposes to these questions are for the most part stimulating and provocative. He was a bold and imaginative thinker, as well as a clear-headed one.

Merritt Moore's translation is both clear and faithful to the original text. He has provided, in addition, an illuminating introduction, which should be helpful to those readers who are not overly familiar with the milieu of nineteenth-century French philosophy. The king-sized format which the publishers have chosen for this book is also impressive, printed as it is in highly legible type on broad pages.

In his Preface, Dr Moore writes that the "difficulties in getting the work published were almost insurmountable." We can only be thankful that he was finally able to overcome those difficulties so that a language barrier will no longer prevent Cournot from having the wide audience that his work deserves.

14. Review by: Alan R White.
The Philosophical Quarterly (1950-) 9 (34) (1959), 90.

Unable "to understand why Cournot's philosophical work has not had a wider audience", Professor Moore has spent much of the last twenty years translating and finding a publisher for this 600 page book. Cournot (1801-1877), who was in the neocriticist tradition, is known as an economist, especially as an econometrist, and writer on probability, but neither the Encyclopaedia Britannica nor any philosopher I have met has ever heard of his philosophical works. Despite the pleasant fluency of this translation - I have had no opportunity to check its accuracy - and despite a central thesis which seems to me important, it is most improbable that the book will interest anyone except a specialist in nineteenth century French philosophy.

According to Cournot, "Philosophy has as its object the order and reason of things" and we "may be able to understand a little of the nature of man and his ró1e in the world only by observing the connection of all the phenomena of nature and their hierarchical progression...". As a result, we are given an extremely long and detailed examination of the various departments of human knowledge which culminates in a classification and coordination of them all. Much of what he has to say in this examination is sound enough - indeed, he explicitly anticipates the twentieth century hatred of those things which "fly in the face of common sense" or which indulge in a "mere abuse of words" - but it does not give the impression of adding up to anything. The points get lost in the excellent illustrations, the pattern in the detail.

Being rightly convinced that the statements of philosophy are neither like those which can be established in the factual sciences nor like those which can be demonstrated in logic and mathematics, he concludes that they must be statements of probability. He seems to have reached this view partly on the grounds that since "the idea of a harmonic order in nature is essentially correlative to the notion of chance", and since philosophy looks for order, philosophy has to do with probabilities. But his main reason is that answers in philosophy are similar to theories in science in so far as the latter try to find an order and harmony in the facts discovered by scientists, and since theories are, he believes, only probable because they only more or less suggest an order among the facts, therefore, philosophical solutions are also only probable. This view of the work of philosophy as a harmoniser of data is, I think, an important anticipation of the Wittgensteinian view that what we have to do in philosophy is to assemble examples in order that a pattern or order among them may spring to mind. Cournot says: "To grasp the intelligible relations of things in all their truth ... to choose the sensible images which are least imperfectly fitted to the expression of such relations ... will be the work of an artist. ... In his own way, the philosopher will be a poet or a painter". He further thinks that philosophy has some of the personal character of the work of an artist; and he allocates it to a particular mental faculty.

But of course Cournot did not think of the data, which are to be assembled in order to be harmonised, as examples of the uses of words. Furthermore, his view that the resulting philosophical statements are only probable, even though he distinguished this kind of probability from the numerical kind in mathematics, seems to me a misleading way of putting his point that the philosophical answer which puts the facts in an illuminating order is not provable by empirical or mathematical methods, but only to be 'welcomed' or rejected.

Professor Moore's long introduction to the book is too old-fashioned to be helpful to a modern reader who tries to appreciate Cournot.

15. Review by: J D.
Revue philosophique de Louvain 55 (1957), 303-304.

Cournot's work is not sufficiently well known, even in France. If it does not have the boldness of systems of idealistic tendency, it is based on a very informed knowledge of almost all the scientific disciplines already established at the end of the 19th century and on truly creative personal work in mathematics, in theory of probability and in economics. Its philosophy seeks to distinguish between rationalism and empiricism. It is a solid and careful thought. Let us add that the style is really that of a great classic; on this account alone, Cournot indisputably deserves to be included in educational programs. We can therefore only congratulate M M H Moore and his editors for having been able to publish this English translation of the first to date of Cournot's essential works, published in 1851. An abundant introduction locates the work in the complete work of its author, and in particular marks the important points on which his thinking has changed in later works. An analytical table of the subjects treated usefully supplements this translation; it can also be of service to those who only have the French edition.

Last Updated November 2020