Charles Norris Cochrane

Charles Norris Cochrane, historian, philosopher (b at Omenee, Ont 21 Aug 1889; d at Toronto 23 Nov 1945). He was educated at the University of Toronto (BA, 1911) and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and was appointed to the Faculty of Ancient History at U of T in 1919.

Cochrane, Charles Norris

Charles Norris Cochrane, historian, philosopher (b at Omenee, Ont 21 Aug 1889; d at Toronto 23 Nov 1945). He was educated at the University of Toronto (BA, 1911) and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and was appointed to the Faculty of Ancient History at U of T in 1919. A classical historian by profession, but a deeply tragic thinker by heart, Cochrane devoted his life to an intellectual meditation on the failure of reason to secure a "permanent and enduring" basis for civilization. He was haunted by the insight that in the absence of a principle of "creative integration," Western civilization was doomed to oscillate between idealism (animal faith) and naturalism (the detritus of skepticism). Cochrane's principal book, Christianity and Classical Culture (1940), is a study of the emergence of Christian metaphysics from the ruins of (Roman) civilization. It argued that Augustine provided a coherent philosophy of civilization, overcoming the fatal deficiency of the classical experience: its absence of a principle of "creative integration." Among his other publications was Thucydides and the Science of History (1929). An unappreciated thinker, especially in his native Canada, Cochrane must be considered among the leading 20th-century philosophers of civilization.