A Very Short History of Western Thought by Stephen Trombley

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By Stephen Trombley

A brief, sharp and interesting survey of the improvement of all features of the Western philosophical culture from the traditional Greeks to the current day.

Stephen Trombley's A brief background of Western Thought, outlines the 2,500-year heritage of eu principles from the philosophers of Classical Antiquity to the thinkers of today.

No significant consultant of any major strand of Western inspiration escapes Trombley's realization: the Christian Scholastic theologians of the center a while, the good philosophers of the Enlightenment, the German idealists from Kant to Hegel; the utilitarians Bentham and Mill; the transcendentalists Emerson and Thoreau; Kierkegaard and the existentialists; the analytic philosophers Russell, Moore, Whitehead and Wittgenstein; and - final yet no longer least - the 4 shapers-in-chief of our sleek global: Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein.

A brief heritage of Western Thought is a masterly distillation of two-and-a-half millennia of highbrow heritage, and a readable and enjoyable crash path in Western philosophy.

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This involved major building work at Bethlehem and at Mamre, where the angels had revealed the nature of God to Abraham, and (most important of all) at Aelia. Eusebius’ account, and the dating of the emperor’s letter to Bishop Macarius of Aelia, indicate that the policy was undertaken with little delay after Constantine’s assumption of power in the East. It would be interesting to know who inspired this overall encouragement of the churches in the East, and in particular the removal of Hadrian’s shrines at Golgotha.

For that matter, the location of the tomb of James himself, who was executed in , was still known when Hegesippus wrote over a century later. The strength of the argument for commemoration is increased by the fact that the tomb of Jesus, as it is described in the Gospels, was in some sense an honorific one. It was certainly not on the same level as the more elaborate memorials in the Kidron valley, but nor was it an anonymous shaft or surface burial.  This would be a knockdown argument in favour of continued veneration, were it not for the unique character of the tomb of Jesus.

If the cross had really been found in the course of the excavation of Hadrian’s site, Eusebius’ suppression of it must have been due to ecclesiastical politics (the rivalry between Aelia and Caesarea) or to his theology: it has been argued that he was unhappy about the cult of the cross, just as he was originally about the veneration of Jerusalem as a holy place. Neither of these explanations is completely convincing, but undoubtedly there is a serious question mark over Eusebius’ standing as an historian of Constantine’s policy at Jerusalem.

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