This historian, philosopher, and literary scholar penned numerous works spanning three centuries and covering a vast array of subjects, as attested to by his numerous works. See the list of his other works in this database, including "The English Utilitarians," "The History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century," "Hours in a Library," "An Agnostic's Apology," and "The Science of Ethics."
Joseph McCabe writes about this author that he "was one of the most outspoken of the prominent literary men of the last generation." This 2 volume set contains, as the title suggests, a comprehensive account of English thought in the 18th century.
Contrary to Ayn Rand's claim that she developed her philosophy of objectivism on her own, the reader will find the seed of some of her ideas in this work, including "the fallacy of the stolen concept," and the "spiral theory of knowledge." Incidentally, Rand also got the idea that the government should not be able to seize the product of man's mind from Disraeli's "Curiosities of Literature" where he relates that a decree, dated May 21, 1749, "declares that the productions of the mind are not among seizable effects."
This work, together with the "English Utilitarians," (see below) deserves to be called "Ithuriel's spear" in the history of 18th century English thought.
Stephen was the author of several important works in literature, philosophy, and history. In this work he covers the major figures of the modern world such as Locke, Berkely, Hume, Butler, Descartes, Read, Hartley, Bossuet, Stillingfleet, Toland, Samuel Clarke, Wollaston, Tindal and many others, which are too numerous to mention.
He writes that "The history of thought is in great part a history of the gradual emancipation of the mind from the errors spontaneously generated by its first childlike attempts at speculation. Doctrines which once appeared to be simply expressions of immediate observation have contained a hypothetical element, gradually dissolved by contacts with facts."
He writes about Abraham Tucker's works "He never hurries; he cares nothing for concentration; the twentieth statement of any proposition is as prolix as the first; and he utterly ignores the principle that the secret of being tedius is to say everything."
He writes about Priestly that he "has placed himself beyond all reach of a reductio ad absurdum."