HISTORY OF WESTERN PHILOSOPHY
A History of Philosophy, Frank Thilly, 1914, 30 revised edition—Ledger Wood, 1957, has the virtues of brevity and impartiality (attempt to understand each system in its integrity; to formulate the tacit and implicit basic assumptions of each system: allowing the primary criticism to be the criticisms made by other—contemporary and later—philosophers. Often, the tacit assumptions are brought out by later philosophers of the same movement or tradition). This history is based in Thilly’s work, re-thought and adapted to my understanding.
Thilly holds the view that the only complete systems of thought are Western. I wish to briefly examine possible bases of the claim. The claim is decomposable into two parts and the first is that the Western tradition contains complete systems of thought. What does that mean? It cannot mean that everything is known. It must mean, then, that there is something about the Western tradition that contains in principle completeness—the establishment of a world view of sufficient breadth and of methods that eliminate false views or aspects of the world view. However, Western thought of the 20th century has cast serious doubt on the completeness or possibility of completing any system. From the psychological point of view, what would convince one that a system of thought is complete? There is a tendency, perhaps tacit, that probably exists within all cultures and individuals—the natural belief in or identification with the paradigms of the culture. Such paradigms present a picture of the world; and the systems of thought of the culture are an elaboration of that picture. The psychological story cannot be whole in itself. It is embedded in a system of relations among attitudes (psychology) and the institutions of society. Together, these must adequately mesh with reality. The role of psychology would then be an over-compensation so that the tentative but otherwise valid common knowledge of society is seen as imbued with a degree of the absolute. To a degree this is functional; and, usually, held with some degree of ambiguity. Thus, with a degree of success of the elaborated picture there is a natural tendency to assume completeness. However, there is truly no way to demonstrate this completeness because such a demonstration would depend on another, larger, picture. Even within the western intellectual traditions (pictures) there is serious doubt—the intrinsic limitations of empiricism (e.g. Hume, Russell) and rationalism (e.g. Kant, Gödel)—regarding completeness. There is, however, a picture that casts doubt that possession of a complete paradigm / picture of the world is an ideal. It is the view of the community of life as an open community in an open universe. Our presence in the universe is an affirmation that an anchor in completeness is unnecessary; the openness affirms that ‘incompleteness’ is not a deficiency but may be properly taken as positive, as an opportunity.
The second part to Thilly’s claim must be that there are no other complete systems of thought. That is true. However, there may well be other systems that have depths unfathomed by the West—see the introduction to Dictionary of Asian Philosophers, St. Elmo Nauman, Jr., 1978—just as Western science is in some ways far in advance of other systems.
The open picture is a view that disaffirms the completeness of Western thought and presents to the West a place in the universe that is a positive opportunity—it is a view of opportunity and promise rather than gloom. It is not a cultural relativism. It assigns different strengths to different cultures, it validates the different cultures and it allows for cultural ascendance. Such ascendance, however, is not obtained by proclamation.
In Journey in Being, I provide a positive picture where thought is not something that aspires to be complete within itself. Rather, thought and being move in relation to each other. Journey in Being provides an open picture. It also suggests the possibility of completeness of being in the sense of ‘Being = universe’ rather than in the sense of completeness of any given being or thought. That, however, is presented as a necessity rather than as an intrinsically ideal or joyful—or joyless—event or condition. Joy and other states are found in the contemplation and living out of every day life—and that includes the remote and ultimate as much as the present.
There are many other sources—including many that may be implicit or forgotten.
I have referred to the 15th Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica for many major and minor points.
For recent philosophy, I have referred to Research Guide to Philosophy, by T. N. Tice and T. P. Slavens, 1983, and One Hundred Twentieth-Century Philosophers, by Stuart Brown, Diane Collinson and Robert Wilkinson, 1998.
(From A History of Philosophy, Thilly).
…is the thesis that personal and cultural factors are important in philosophical thought—in addition to intellectual, logical and philosophical ones.
The two types of temperament—according to William James:.
Rationalist (‘tender-minded’): intellectualistic, idealistic, optimistic, religious, free-willist, monistic and dogmatic (Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Hegel).
Empiricist (‘tough-minded): sensationalistic, materialistic, pessimistic, irreligious (deterministic, perhaps), pluralistic and skeptical (Democritus, Hobbes, Bacon, Hume).
course: all philosophy is rational in its use of criticism; no philosopher is
a pure temperament; some philosophers—Spinoza, Locke,
This history of Western philosophy began as an endeavor to provide myself with a coherent picture of philosophy. The following brief paragraphs define the aims.
What is significant about the historical approach to philosophy? A good history of philosophy, whatever its shortcomings, will, among other things, give the reader a perspective on philosophy: philosophy as in-process, the relations of philosophy to life and to the other academic disciplines, show how the attempt to understand the world must introduce radical elements of novelty. As a consequence of the radical novelty, systems of metaphysics are relative to one-another. Views that eschew radical metaphysics are, therefore, based in a closed view of knowledge and the world. In the open view, metaphysics is at once serious and play.
A good history of philosophy is a contribution to philosophy. It is a contribution to the understanding of the nature of philosophy—the study, description and demarcation of philosophy is philosophy. And, a good history provides an environment that enhances the quality of action. History of philosophy provides an environment for the conduct of philosophy.
The restriction to Western philosophy is practical. First, is my desire to understand a tradition. To include other thought would have been a diluting influence.
Having obtained an adequate understanding of Western philosophy and thought, the next step is a placement and broadening of that thought. Both these objectives can be accomplished by, as one way, the parallel study of Western and non-western systems. And, as stated above, ‘there may well be other systems that have depths unfathomed by the West.’ Perhaps what has been accomplished in the West by way of empiricism is complemented in other systems by placement in the universal. That statement is of course both polarized and a simplification.
My writing includes, elsewhere, considerations of other systems. When occasion arises and time permits, I will strengthen those other writings and attempt a mesh of the following systems: Western, Eastern and native.
The changes in the sections on Greek, Medieval and Modern philosophy have not undergone significant revision but there are numerous minor changes.
The following sections are completely new as of January 2002One Hundred Twentieth-Century Philosophers, by Stuart Brown, Diane Collinson and Robert Wilkinson, 1998.
A Concept of Philosophy synthesizes and broadens previous conceptions of philosophy.
The final chapter, Transcendental and Real Logic, was added June 2004.
Integrate with History.
Show the evolution of thought.
The latest thought is not always the peak of thought; it may be concerned with some local issue or it may be a peak in some specific direction: identify peaks of thought and action.
Identify and develop the History of Philosophy as progressing toward the Transcendental Logic; what possibilities does that logic have as instructive and as ultimate.
Incorporate Indian and other philosophies; incorporate ‘ethnographic’ studies of metaphysical systems where ‘metaphysics’ is interpreted informally (‘informal’ does not imply ‘inferior’).
In the following table, a philosopher, school or temperament—e.g. rationalism—is directly influenced by the ones above it
Two aspects of Greek religion are selected for their significance:.
religion of the gods of
Religious revival of sixth century BCE—associated with mystery cults. Mystery cults—local forms of gods: symbolizing individualism…the Dionysian cults join with the Orphic: doctrine of the immortal soul and its transmigration…perhaps incline toward philosophy—especially metaphysics—and especially to religiously oriented philosophies of Pythagoreans, of Parmenides and of Heraclitus.
22.214.171.124 Problem of Substance (Metaphysics)—and The Philosophy of Nature
Thales c. (624—550 BCE): water is original stuff (possible observation: nourishment, heat, seed, contain moisture), out of water everything comes –but Thales does not indicate how.
Anaximander c. (611—547 BCE): the essence or principle of things is the infinite—a mixture, intermediate between observable elements, from which things arise by separation; moisture leads to living things…All animals and humans were originally a fish. All return to the primal mass to be produced anew.
Cosmology: physical: sphere of fire leads to eternal motion: separation: hot, cold leads to hot, surrounds cold on a sphere of flame: heat: cold leads to moisture leads to air: fire leads to rings with holes: heavenly bodies: sun (farthest), moon, planets.
Anaximines (588—524 BCE): first principle is definite: air; it is infinite. From air all things arise by rarefaction and condensation—a scientific observation.
three philosophers—Thales, Anaximander and Anaximines, of
126.96.36.199 Problem of change
…arises from the intuition that something from nothing is impossible.
Problem of Change:.
Qualitative Theories of Change: Empedocles (495—435 BCE) and Anaxogoras (500—428 BCE). Quantitative theories: Atomism: transition from teleology to mechanism: Leucippus and Democritus (460—370 BCE). Metaphysics, cosmology, psychology, theory of knowledge, theology and ethics.
(535—475 BCE) born
Democritus: same concept in atomic form. Metaphysics, ontology: space: nonbeing exists; motion in space: atomic. Psychology, theory of knowledge: information from object to sentient: propagation of actions through toms in air, soul atoms: the finest in-between body atoms.
The development of Greek thought led to a spirit of free inquiry in poetry: Aeschylus (525—456 BCE), Sophocles (490=405 BCE), Euripedes (480—406 BCE); history: Thucydides (b. 471 BCE); medicine: Hippocrates (b. 460 BCE). The construction of philosophical systems ceases temporarily; the existing schools continue to be taught and some turn attention to natural-scientific investigation… The resulting individualism made an invaluable contribution to Greek thought but led, finally, to an exaggerated intellectual and ethical subjectivism. The Sophists who were originally well-regarded came gradually to be a term of reproach partly owing to the radicalism of the later schools: their subjectivism, relativism and nihilism. For Protagoras, all opinions are true (though some ‘better’); for Gorgias none are true (there is nothing; even if there were something we could not know it; if we could know it we could not communicate it). ‘Sophists exaggerated the differences in human judgments and ignored the common elements; laid too much stress on the illusoriness of the senses… Nevertheless, their criticisms of knowledge made necessary a profounder study of the nature of knowledge.’.
Socrates (469—399 BCE), Xenophon: ‘The Socratic problem was to meet the challenge of sophistry, which, in undermining knowledge, threatened the foundations of morality and state.’ Socratic method: includes the elements: (1) skeptical, (2) conventional, (3) conceptual or definitional, (4) empirical or inductive, (5) deductive… a ‘dialectical’ process for improving understanding of a subject.
The treatment to this point has been more detailed since (1) I am relatively ignorant of it, and (2) a detailed study of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle—a natural study of the tree supreme Greek philosophers—is left for later.
Ethics: knowledge is the highest good. Knowledge is virtue.
The method of Socrates suggested: a system of thought to be worked out. Plato’s system incorporates and transforms the doctrines of his predecessors…The problems suggested are the intimate ones: meaning of human life, human knowledge, human conduct, human institutions which depend for an adequate answer upon the study, also, of their interrelations and their place as parts of the larger Ontological Question (and indeed are not comprehensible without an ontology—at least ‘an implicit’ one). Plato developed such a system.
The division of philosophy into (1) logic or dialectic (including theory of knowledge), (2) metaphysics (including physics and psychology), and (3)ethics…is implied in Plato’s work.
Dialectic and Theory of Knowledge: Plato recognizes the importance of the problem of knowledge.
Sense perception, opinion cannot lead to genuine knowledge.
Eros, the love of truth, is necessary for advance…it arouses the contemplation of beautiful ideas…dialectic is the art of thinking in concepts: the essential object of thought.
Ideas do not have origin in experience…we approach the world with ideals: truth, beauty, the good; in addition to the value-concepts. Plato also came to regard mathematical concepts and certain logical notions, or categories, such as being and nonbeing, identity and difference, unity and plurality, as inborn, or a priori.
Therefore, conceptual knowledge is the only genuine knowledge.
What guarantee, then, is there of the truth of conceptual knowledge? (Plato’s answer is based on the metaphysics of certain of his predecessors, especially Parmenides: thought and being are identical; Parmenides speaks of or indicates the world of logical thought as true, and the world of sense perception as illusion.).
For Plato, knowledge is correspondence of thought and reality (or being)—knowledge must have an object. If the concept is to have value as knowledge, something real must correspond to it—realities must exist corresponding to all our universal ideas: there must be, for instance, pure absolute beauty corresponding to the concept of beauty…conceptual knowledge presupposes the reality of a corresponding ideal or abstract objects…Or, in contrast to the transient world of the senses, which is mere appearance, illusion: true being is unchangeable, eternal. Conceptual thought alone can grasp eternal and changeless being: it knows that which is, that which persists, that which remains one and the same in all diversity, namely the essential forms of things.
188.8.131.52 Plato’s theory of knowledge:
Conjecture Mere sense impression Guess (opinion).
Belief Sensible objects Sense perception (opinion).
Understanding Mathematical and other Hypothesis (and education).
Rational (insight) Forms or ideas Dialectic.
Hierarchy of the Sciences: Arithmetic; geometry; astronomy; harmonies; dialectic—the coping stone of the sciences.
Dialectic knowledge considers forms as constituting a systematic unity—as related to the form of the Good; rests on categorical first principles—not hypothesis.
184.108.40.206 Doctrine of ideas: (Plato’s most original philosophical achievement.)
According to Plato, universals exist. Corresponding to the concept of horse, as example, there is a universal or ideal entity; it is the idea that is known in conceptual knowledge, reason.
The variety of ideas or forms is endless: there are ideas of things, relations, qualities, actions and values…(these are some classes of ideas): of tables and chairs; of smallness, greatness, likeness; of colors and tones; of health, rest and motion; of beauty, truth and goodness…The ideas or archetypes constitute a well-ordered world or rational cosmos; arranged in a connected, organic unity, a logical order subsumed under the highest idea: the Good.
The Good, the supreme idea, the logos or cosmic purpose, the unity of pluralities, the source of all ideas…is also the truly real. The function of philosophy, by exercise of reason, is to understand this inner, interconnected order of the universe and to conceive its essence by logical thought.
Outline of the doctrine: (1) The forms, or ideas defined as objects corresponding to abstract concepts are real entities. The Platonic form is the reification or entification of the Socratic concept; (2) there are a variety of forms; (3) they belong to a realm of abstract entities, a ‘heaven of ideas’, separate from their concrete exemplification in time and space (the Platonic dualism); (4) form is archetype, particular: copy; form is superior: forms are real, particulars mere appearances; (5) the forms are neither mental—they exist independently of any knowing mind, even God’s—nor physical: yet real; (forms are non-temporal and non-spatial: eternal and immutable); (7) they are logically connected in a ‘communicative’ hierarchy in which the supreme form is the Good; (8) forms are apprehended by reason, not sense; (9) the relation between a particular and a form which it exemplifies is ‘participation’; all particulars with a common predicate participate in the corresponding form; a particular may participate simultaneously in a plurality of forms or successively (in change) in a succession of forms.
220.127.116.11 Philosophy of nature
Matter (the second principle, diametrically opposed to the idea) is the raw material upon which the idea is impressed. Dualism. Matter is perishable, imperfect, unreal, nonbeing.
The Demiurge or Creator (more an architect than a creator) fashions the world out of matter in the patterns of the ideal world…The four factors in creation enumerated in Timmaeus are (1) the Demiurge or God: the active principle or dynamic cause of the world; (2) the pattern as archetype of the world; (3) the receptacle: the locus and matrix of creation; matter; brute fact; source of indeterminacy and evil; and (4) the form of the Good.
Plato’s cosmology, garbed in myth: an attempt to identify the causes in (and creation of) the actual world (interpretation).
The influence of Plato’s doctrine of ideas, and cosmology is enormous—upon Aristotle: the four causes of Aristotle are the four factors in Plato’s cosmology… and in Christian (medieval) thought…(argument from design).
‘Faculty’ psychology: (1) rational faculty (mind), (2) spirited faculty (emotions…it is doubtful that Plato considered will and free choice), (3) appetitive faculty: desire, motivation.
18.104.22.168 Doctrine of immortality
(From psychology: the part of the individual, which ‘knows’ sense impression and opinion, is the body; the soul knows or has genuine knowledge or science. Because the soul possesses apprehension of ideas prior to its contact with the world: all knowledge is reminiscence and all learning is awakening.).
Arguments for Immortality: Epistemological: (1) The soul has contemplated eternal ideas and only like can know like: (2) from the doctrine of reminiscences. Metaphysical: (1) From the simplicity of the soul: it cannot be produced by composition or destroyed by disintegration, (2) from vitality: as the source of its own motion, the soul is eternal (a survival of atomistic conceptions) (first cause argument, perhaps)…and various other metaphysical arguments. Moral and Valuational: from the superiority and dignity of the soul: it must survive the body; a variation: everything is destroyed by its ‘connatural’ evil; the evils of the soul (its worst vices: injustice, etc.) do not destroy the soul—hence its indestructibility. (There are hardly any arguments advanced in the literature on immortality which are not foreshadowed by Plato.).
Ethical being is one in which the superior principles dominate: rationality. Wisdom: reason over other impulses of the soul; bravery: reason over emotion (fear, pain); temperance: reason over desire…Justice: wisdom with bravery and temperance.
Plato’s theory of the state (in The Republic) is based on his ethics. Social life is a means to perfection of individuals. Laws result from imperfection of individuals which leads to the state. Classes in society result from functions of the soul; harmony among the classes results from functional relations of the healthy soul:.
Ruling class: those embodying reason (philosophers).
Warriors: the spirited. Their function: defense.
Agriculturists, workers, merchants, artisans: lower appetites. Their function: production.
Justice in state: each class functions according to its character.
The ideal society is a family: Plato opposes monogamy, private property, recommends for the two upper castes—who are to be supported by workers—communism and common possession of wives and children…Plato recommends: eugenic supervision of marriages and births, exposure of weak children, compulsory state education, education of women for war and government, and censorship.
The state is an educational institution, the instrument of civilization; its foundation must be the highest kind of knowledge which is philosophy. The education of the children of higher classes will follow a definite plan: identical for the sexes during the first twenty years: myths selected for ethicality, gymnastics for body and spirit; poetry, music –harmony, beauty, proportion and philosophical thought; reading, writing; mathematics which tends to draw the mind from the concrete and sensuous to the abstract and real. At 20, superior young men will be selected and shall integrate their learning. At 30, those who show greatest ability in studies, military officers, etc., will study dialectic for five years. Then they will be put to test as soldiers, militias and in subordinate civic offices. Starting at the age of fifty, the demonstrably worthy will study philosophy until their turns come to administer the offices for their country’s sake.
Aristotle’s Problems: Plato’s system had difficulties and inconsistencies to be overcome; it was left to Aristotle to reconstruct it in a more consistent and scientific manner. First, the problem of transcendent ideas and the degradation of the world of experience to mere appearance and, second, the concept of the secondary Platonic element matter and the gulf between form and matter provided difficulties. Other difficulties: changing forms, immortal souls in human bodies, makeshift nature of the Demiurge.
Aristotle claims the changeless eternal forms but as inherent, immanent in things: form and matter are eternally together…Because of his realism, Aristotle studied science sympathetically, his theories always in close touch with it and he encouraged the natural sciences.
22.214.171.124 Extant writings
1. Logic: Organon includes: Categories, De Interpretationae, Prior and Posterior Analytics (includes induction and the syllogism), Topics, Sophistic Fallacies (Topics are largely concerned with dialectic reasoning).
2. Natural sciences: Physics (8 books); On the Heavens (4); Origin and Decay (2); Meteorology (4); Cosmology (spurious), Botany (spurious); History of Animals (10); On the Parts of Animals (4); On the Progression of Animals; On the Origin of Animals (5); On the Locomotion of Animals (spurious).
3. Psychology: On the Soul (3, treating sensation, memory, imagination, thought); Parva Naturalia (including De Memoria et Reminiscentia, On Dreams…).
4. Metaphysics: (14) ‘First Philosophy’.
5. Ethics: Nicomachean Ethics (10) Eudaemian Ethics (revision of Nicomachean by Eudaemas); Magna Moralia, the Greater Ethics (compilation of the two proceeding).
Politics: (8, apparently incomplete); On the Constitution of
7. Rhetoric: Rhetoric to Theodectes (based on Aristotle’s teachings); Rhetoric to Alexander (spurious); Rhetoric (3, the third is of doubtful authenticity), Poetics (part of 2 books extant; concerned with principle forms of literature: epic, tragic, and comic).
126.96.36.199 Philosophy and the sciences
The universe is an ideal world, an organic whole of interrelated parts, a system of eternal, unchangeable ideas or forms: these are the ultimate essences and causes…ideas are, in contrast to Plato, immanent in the world giving it form and life…experience is real—the basis of knowledge; starting from experience we rise to the science of ultimate principles.
Genuine knowledge is not merely factual but consists in knowing the reasons and causes of things. Philosophy or science in the broad sense is reasoned knowledge. Metaphysics is concerned with being qua being.
Aristotle’s classification of sciences: (1) Logic, the method of inquiry, (2) theoretical sciences (mathematics, physics, biology, psychology and first philosophy or metaphysics), (3) practical sciences in which knowledge is a means to conduct (ethics, politics), (4) productive sciences in which knowledge is subordinate to artistic creation (poetics).
The creation of the science of logic is in a certain sense Aristotle’s most amazing achievement (there is no parallel case in intellectual history where a single thinker has brought to completion a new science). (There have been only two revolts against the Logic in recent times—Francis Bacon’s advocacy of inductive method and the nineteenth-twentieth century revolution in mathematical logic.).
Function: method of obtaining logic: the science of sciences.
Theme: analysis of form and content of thought. Scientific truth is characterized by strict necessity: to establish a scientific proposition it must be proved that it could not possibly be otherwise.
Demonstration: the form of thought: propositions from propositions: the syllogism.
Intuition or induction: establishment of primary propositions. Intuition is the apprehension of the universal element in the particular: or induction.
Content: the doctrine of the categories (also part of his metaphysics): categories are the fundamental, indivisible concepts of thought: the most fundamental and universal predicates that can be affirmed of anything, not mere forms of thought or language but also predicates of reality…the ten categories (1) what (e.g., man: substance), (2) how it is constituted (e.g., white: quality), (3) how large (quantity), (4) relation (double, greater…), (5) where (space), (6) when (time), (7) posture, (8) condition (e.g., armed: state), (9) activity (what it does), (10) what it suffers (what is done to it).
Substance (that which exists), abstractly defined in metaphysics, is a key concept…and is in sharp contrast to the Platonic notion. In rejecting the Platonic theory of ideas, Aristotle offers two broad criticisms (seven actual items): (1) ideas, though intended to explain the nature of things, are not adequate to do so, and (1) the relation between things and ideas is inexplicable (and even somewhat contradictory leading to a regress: the idea of the relation, the idea of the idea of…).
In contrast to Plato who held that things were incomplete copies of universals (the form is the substance) and in contradiction to the atomism of Democritus, Aristotle regards particular objects as real substances, but the essence of a thing is its form: the class to which it belongs.
There is plurality of substances, hierarchically arranged: indeterminate matter…physical objects…plants…animals…man…God.
The process of becoming, or change: the substratum (matter) persists and changes, governed by forms (qualities) which are responsible for diversity and change.
Related to the relationship of form to matter is the relationship of potentiality to actuality: the stages in development: (acorn / oak : materials / building corresponds to potential / actual)…the series from potential to actual is, progressively, realization of form over matter…Form realizes itself in the thing: it causes the thing to move and to realize an end or purpose.
(Aristotle has been called the ‘father of Biology’…Plato of ‘Physics’.).
188.8.131.52 Four causes
(1) Material (constituents), (2) formal (structure), (3) efficient or moving (the producer’, (4) the final cause (end or purpose).
Everything is explicable, at the same time, by all four causes. In nature causes 2 and 4 coincide as do 2 and 3, so the only causes are form and matter.
Eternal motion on the part of matter presupposes an eternal unmoved mover: God: the cosmological argument…God is pure form, unadulterated by mater, complete actuality, substance par excellence, thought-thinking-thought (which has been ridiculed on account of its inadequacies).
Science of bodies and motion: motion is change: matter is dynamic, atomism rejected (empty space is rejected)…four kinds of motion: (1) substantial (origin and decay), (2) qualitative, (3) quantitative, (4) local (place). Qualities are things: there are, therefore, absolute qualitative changes in matter…nature is teleological and qualitative.
Aristotle may be called the founder of systematic and comparative zoology which he subordinates to the teleologic, dynamic, qualitative interpretation. Aristotle’s biology may be described as vitalism: it posits an animating and directing vital principle in organisms.
Man is the microcosm and the final goal of nature, distinguished from all other living beings by the possession of reason…Man’s soul is like the plant soul: lower vital function, and animal soul: perception, common sense, imagination, memory, pleasure, pain. (Pleasure arises when functions are furthered, pain when they are impeded; these feelings arouse desire and aversion which alone cause the body the move.) Desire with deliberation is called rational will.
Besides the foregoing function the human soul possesses the power of conceptual thought, or thinking the universal and necessary essences of things. Reason comes to think concepts as follows: creative reason is pure actuality, the essences are directly cognized: thought and object are here one (in passive reason concepts are merely potential), passive reason is the mater on which creative reason, the form, acts…thee is a distinction –formal and material phases of reason.
Perception, imagination, memory are connected with the body and perish with it: creative reason is absolutely imperishable, absolutely immaterial.
(Aristotle’s ethics are based in his metaphysics and psychology and is the first comprehensive scientific theory of morality…it attempts to give a define answer to the Socratic question of the highest good.).
All human action has some end in view…what is the highest end or good? For man this must be his essence: the life of reason, the complete and habitual exercise of the functions which make him human: eudaemonia (happiness is a substitute provided it does not mean pleasure).
A virtuous soul is a well-ordered soul…and since the soul does not consist of reason alone, it is one in which the right relation exists between reason, feeling and desire….
The highest good for man is self-realization (:not selfish individualism)—he realizes his true self when he loves the supreme part of his being: the rational part…when he is moved by a motive of nobleness, promotes the interests of others and of country…’The virtuous man will act often in the interest of friends, country and if need be die for them…surrender money, honour and all the goods for which the world contends, reserving only nobleness for himself…’.
Justice is a virtue implying a relation to others, for it promotes the interest of others…it is taken in two senses: lawfulness and fairness…Nor is the happiness-theory understood in the hedonistic sense—a pleasure theory: therefore, all things which are honorable and pleasant to the virtuous man are honorable and pleasant.
Aristotle rejects the Socratic maxim that knowledge is virtue: we must in addition to a knowledge of virtue, endeavor to possess and exercise it…Moral action is fostered by a moral society…Laws are required to teach us the duties of life…The state should seek to provide a social environs conducive to the morality of its citizens…Anyone who wishes to elevate the people must acquaint himself with the principles of legislation…therefore: ethics and politics are never divorced by Aristotle: the moral ends of man are promoted by legal and political means.
Man is a social being who can realize his true self only in society and the state…the state as the goal of evolution of human life is prior in worth and significance to its component societies…Social life is the goal or end of human existence…the aim of the state is to produce good citizens…Aristotle was perhaps even more successful than Plato in steering a middle course between ‘statism’ and individual.
The constitution of the state must be adapted to the character and requirements of its people. It is just when it confers equal rights on the people in so far as they are equal, and unequal rights in so far as they are unequal.
There are good constitutions: the monarchy, the aristocracy and the polity—a norm in which the citizens are nearly equal—and bad forms: the tyranny, oligarchy and democracy…As the best state for his own time Aristotle advocates a city-state in which only those citizens who are qualified by education and by position in life participate actively in government—that is, an aristocracy. He justifies slavery on the grounds that it is a rational institution: it is just that the inferior foreigners should not enjoy the same rights as the Greeks.
Aristotle’s Genius and Influence: Aristotle’s claim to the title ‘master of those who know’ can easily be substantiated. He occupies a unique position in philosophy by whatever standard we judge him, breadth of learning, originality, or influence…Aristotle’s philosophy is perhaps the most comprehensive synthesis of knowledge ever achieved by the mind of a human being—with the possible exception of Hegel.
His genius is his ability to use an enormous amount of knowledge into a unified whole: which he achieves by means of certain integrating concepts: substance, matter, form, actuality, potentiality, etc.
His influence was greatest during the Middle Ages but it is also apparent in the greatest systems of the modern period including those of Descartes, Leibniz and Hegel.
The following on Epicureanism and Stoicism is a brief complement to the longer discussion on Stoicism, which is taken up again, below.
The Epicureans and Stoics. These thinkers were concerned primarily with ethics—however the ethics needed a metaphysics and cosmology and a theory of knowledge and truth in terms of sense experience—they were pioneers of the empirical tradition in epistemology. They were nominalists—a universal is not a reality but a mark or sign: the only realities are particulars. They were also forerunners of medieval nominalism. Opinions and hypotheses must be confirmed by sense experience or at least suggested by perception and not contradicted by them.
Epicurean metaphysics is, in its essentials, a restatement of the atomistic and materialistic mechanism of Democritus. Psychology—also derives from the emanationism of Democritus—likewise soul—the nimble fiery soul atom—is material; soul has a rational part, is mortal—there is no afterlife to be feared.
Epicurean ethics is hedonism—based on pleasure—but not a basis for debauchery: some pleasures are followed by pains and many pains are followed by pleasures; therefore not all pleasures are to be chosen and not all pains avoided. Mental pleasures are greater than pleasures of the body, mental pains worse than physical pains—therefore a life of prudence and wisdom is good and this has a naturalistic basis in the caprice of the world. In truth, Epicureanism is an ethics of enlightened self-interest: Epicurus extolled the same virtues as did Plato, Aristotle and the stoics—wisdom, courage, temperance and justice—but for different reasons. (However, although the pleasure-theory of Epicurus is not a doctrine of sensuality, it came to be so interpreted by many.).
Epicurean 341—270 BCE social and political philosophy: the enlightened self-interest of the individual is the highest good; from here follows justice and right, laws and institutions, practical rules of action—but only as means.
was contemporary with Stoicism and Epicureanism. After Socrates and the great
system of Plato and Aristotle, time was right for a new period of movement of
doubt. The Skeptics filled this function: the thought common to this school
is that we cannot know the nature of things: Pyrrho (365—270 BCE) may be
called the founder but wrote nothing: his views were set down by Timon of
Phlius (320—230 BCE). After Timon, the Skeptical school was absorbed by the
Platonic Academy and did not emerge as an independent school until the
(336—264 BCE) b
184.108.40.206 Logic and the theory of knowledge
The goal of Stoic philosophy is to find a rational basis for ethics: they start with logic, the science of thoughts and discourses. Stoic logic included grammar, and thus Stoics are founders of the traditional science of grammar…the dialectical part of logic deals with the theory of knowledge: of which there are two problems: (1) what is the origin (source) of knowledge, and (2)what is the criterion of knowledge.
Sources: Knowledge is gained through perception. The mind has the faculty of forming general ideas and concepts of a large number of cases which are alike and of forming universal judgments. This faculty, reason, is a faculty of thought and speech identical with the universal reason which pervades the world…the Stoics posited objected rationality in the world and yet opposed the Platonic doctrine of ideas: only particular objects have real existence and universals are subjective abstractions.
Criterion: A sense image is true when it is an exact copy of the object. A concept is true when it agrees with the qualities pervading similar things. How shall we distinguish true from false? Man is entitled to his conviction when he has satisfied himself that his sense organ is in normal condition, that the percept is clear and distinct and that repeated observations by him and others verify his first impression. Since true premises are deduced logically from true premises, the faculty of drawing correct inferences is accordingly another means of reaching the truth—and dialectic an essential qualification of the Stoic sage. Consequently, the stoics gave considerable attention to formal logic, particularly the syllogism, which they regarded as its most important phase (they made minor additions to Aristotle’s scheme of syllogism and revised his table of categories).
Stoic metaphysics—a materialistic version of Aristotelian metaphysics: force (or form) and matter are both corporeal…but force consists of a finer kind of stuff, while matter as such is coarse, formless and immovable…Only forces have causality—the effect which results, however, is not a cause or a force—nor is it a body—but a mere accidental state of the body…The forces in the universe form one all-pervasive force or fire: the rational active soul of the world. The universe is a cosmos—a beautiful, well-ordered, perfect whole. The rational principle is related to the world as the human soul is to its body (the pervasion of the cosmos by a rational principle is pure pantheism)…but just as the governing part of the soul is situated in a particular part of the body, so the ruling part of the world soul, the Deity, or Zeus, is seated at the outermost circle of the world: pantheism and theism dwell together in the Stoic system (as in many modern systems), however in Stoicism the pantheistic aspect clearly prevails.
The Stoics offer a detailed description of the evolution of the world from the original divine fire: every recurring world will resemble its predecessors in every detail—the theory of cyclic recurrence—for each world is produced by the same law…Man is free in the sense that he can assent to what fate decrees, but, whether he assents or not, he must obey…Now, if everything is a manifestation of God, how shall we explain evil in the world? (1) The negative solution denies the existence of evil—what we call evils are only relative evils; (2)the positive solution regards evil, such as disease, as the necessary and inevitable consequence of natural processes or as a necessary means of realizing the good.
A man is free when he acts in accordance with reason; that is, obedience to the eternal laws of nature. The Stoic conception of freedom is one of rational self-determination….
The Stoic doctrine of cyclic recurrence implies that all souls necessarily reappear with the recreation of the universe.
Man is part of the universal order, a spark of the divine fire, a small universe (microcosm) reflecting the greater universe (macrocosm). Hence it behooves man to act in harmony with the purpose of the universe…to reach the highest possible3 measure of perfection. To do this he must put his own soul in order: reason should rule him as reason rules the world…to live according to nature for a human being is to act in conformity with reason, the logos…to live thus is to realize one’s self and to realize one’s true self is to serve the purposes of universal reason and to work for universal ends. The Stoic ethical ideal implies a universal society of rational beings with the same rights—for reason is the same in all and all are part of the same world soul.
A truly virtuous act is one which is consciously directed toward the highest purpose or end, and is performed with conscious knowledge of moral principle. Thus, virtuous conduct implies complete and certain knowledge of the good and a conscious purpose, on the part of the doer, to realize the supreme good. To act unconsciously and without knowledge is not virtue. Virtue is one, a unity, for everything depends on disposition, on the good will: a man either has it or he has it not: there is no middle ground: he is either a wise man or a fool…Virtue is the only good, vice the only evil—all else is indifferent.
Evil conduct is the result of wrong judgment, or false opinion: the Stoics sometimes regard evil as the cause, sometimes the effect of the passions or immoderate impulses. The four such passions are pleasure, desire, grief and fear. These passions and their many variations are diseases of the soul which it is our business, not merely to moderate, but to eradicate, since they are irrational…Apathy or freedom from passion is, accordingly, the Stoic ideal.
True religion and philosophy are one, according to the Stoics. (Little wonder that Stoic philosophy should appeal to the Jesuits.).
Greek philosophy began in Greek religion; and after its formative phase, described earlier, reached an apex in Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. The subsequent ethical theories of the Epicurean and Stoic schools, the nihilism of the Skeptics and the piece-meal practicality of the Eclectics did not satisfy all types of mind…’We come now to a period in History when Philosophy seeks refuge in Religion’…The new attitude sought to know and see God, brought about by and expresses consciousness of the decline of the classical peoples and their culture, ‘gave rise to a philosophy strongly tinctured with religious mysticism,’ ‘brought to life not only Christianity, but, before its advent, pagan and Jewish Alexandrianism and its kindred phenomena’…’We may distinguish three currents to this religious philosophy: (1) an attempt to combine an Oriental religion, Judaism, with Greek speculation: Jewish Greek Philosophy, (2) an attempt to construct a world-religion upon Pythagorean doctrines: Neophythaore4anism;(3) an attempt to make a religious philosophy of the Platonic teaching: Neoplatonism’…Here are some comments on the main tendencies:.
The main exponent is Philo (30 BCE-50 CE). Philo read Greek philosophy, especially Platonism and Stoicism, into the Scriptures by the allegorical method which was common in Alexandria (founded by Alexander the Great in 333 BCE, which had become under the descendents of his general Ptolemy (328—181 BCE) the leading commercial and intellectual center of the world and the chief meeting place of Hellenic and Oriental civilization. Here a great scientific museum with its celebrated library of 700,000 volumes was established under Ptolemy—which attracted poets, men of science, and philosophers from every region of the classical world). The fundamental concept in the system of Philo is God and his powers are the Logos, the Divine reason or Wisdom, which we recognize through the logos in ourselves…Man, the most important piece of creation, is a microcosm which, like the universe, is composed of both soul and matter (the source of defects and evils in the world).
…has its sources in Platonism. Plato in his old age absorbed the number-theory and the religious mysticism of the Pythagoreans: his immediate successors in his school emphasized these latter day teachings. With the rise of Aristotelianism, the Academy abandoned Pythagoreanism. The Pythagorean secret societies with their mysteries, continued to lead a precarious existence until they were revitalized by the religious upsurge which took possession of the Roman world in the first century CE and the spirit of the times encouraged them to devote themselves once more to philosophy. The leaders in the movement, however, did not go back to early Pythagoreanism but to the doctrine as it appeared in Platonism and combined it eclectically with other elements of Greek philosophy, including Aristotelianism and Stoicism. All this they naively ascribed to Pythagoras.
Generally regarded to have been founded by Plotinus (204—169 BCE.).
…derives from Pythagoreanism. Plato’s system becomes the framework for a religious worldview. The main figure is Plotinus (204—269 BCE). His philosophy is briefly summarized: (1) God is the source of all being (the One whose infinity contains all, the first causeless cause, the unity prior to all being and beyond all being), (2) the stages of being are (I) pure thought or mind, (ii) soul and (iii) matter; (3) the human soul is part of the world soul and its freedom consists in turning away from sensuality towards its higher nature. If it fails to do this it becomes attached after death to another human, animal or plant body according to the degree of its guilt. The ideal in life is return to God—this occurs only on rare occasions, (4) ordinary virtues do not suffice to return to God; first purification—from the sense, the body—then contemplation, and finally the mystical union with God in which the soul transcends its own thought.
Common to all these theologies, or theosophies, are: the concept of God as a transcendent being, the dualism of God and world, the idea of revealed and mystical knowledge of God, asceticism and world denial, the belief in intermediary beings, demons and angels.
The period from Aristotle on is a decline in quality and originality…Neoplatonism was revived by Procleus (410—485) the head of the Academy at Athens. He was succeeded by Marius, Isidorius, and Damascius. In 529 the School at Athens was closed by an edict of the Emperor Justinian. After this time some good commentaries on the writings of Plato and Aristotle were published by Simplicus, the younger Olympiodorus, and by Boethius (c. 470 / 475—524) and Philoponnus. The works of Boethius as well as his translations of Aristotelian writings and of Porphyry (Porphyry’s Introduction to the Categories—of Aristotle: Porphyry of Tyre (232—304) was a pupil of Plotinus) contributed largely to the knowledge of Greek philosophy in the early Middle Ages.
…written while imprisoned (he came to high political office under Theodoric but was accused of conspiracy against Theodoric), takes its place along with Marcus Aurelius’ Meditation (Stoic philosopher, Emperor 121—180) and Thomas á Kempis Imitation of Christ (fourteenth century mystic: 1380—1471) as the great documents in which religious, philosophical and ethical ideas are applied in the personal life of their authors.
In the sixth century, Greek Platonism was making its final desperate attempt to maintain itself in competition with the new Christian worldview but Greek philosophy at this period had lost its vitality, had outlived its usefulness. The future belonged to Christianity; and by a strange irony of fate, the Christian religion, in it attempt to conquer the intellectual world, made an ally of the philosophy of the Greeks.
While medieval philosophy is philosophy, it is dominated by Christian themes—including the formation of the fundamental doctrines and the influence of dogma. Transition from Greek to Medieval philosophy as a decline in Hellenism and ascent of Christianity including incorporation of Greek philosophical and theological ideas has been discussed in the previous pages and in the outline of periods, names and dates.
Doctrine in theology refers to theoretical component of religious experience. Dogma refers to the first principles at the core of doctrine, professed as true and essential by those of the faith.
The Patristic Period: from the origins of Christianity: the time of Christ to the formation of the major and fundamental doctrines and the triumph of Christianity as an organized Church (ending, philosophically, with Augustine).
The Scholastic Period: of philosophical construction devoted to the elaboration of a philosophy in which the subject matter and guiding principles were determined by ‘dogma’.
The Patristic Period was, at least in things of the spirit, an age of richness and promise extending from the time of Christ to the death of Augustine in 430—or, interpreted most widely, until the Council of Trullo in 692. Concern is with the development of dogma in this period.
Early theology. The Acts of St. Paul. The Gnostics. The Apologists—the Logos doctrine (logos, reason, the first cause, in God); free will and original sin.
The period, which results from the fusion of early Christian religion with Hellenistic philosophy, is much richer in theology than in philosophy. St. Augustine (353—430)—the greatest representative of the age, the only figure who fully deserves the title: philosopher, has no immediate philosophic descendents, and comes into his own much later in an age clearly medieval.
Earliest Christian communities varied greatly in type but can be classified as (a) Gentile, and as (b) a type still oriented largely to Jewish religion. Very early, there emerged from these two sources: Hellenistic Christianity, exemplified by St. Paul, in whose writing—two significant natures: (1) exaltation of Christ, (2) interpretation of his person in then dominant Hellenistic concepts…contains only the germ of the later doctrine of Trinity, and union of human and divine natures in Christ.
The doctrine of the Trinity on which the whole theology of Western Christianity is ultimately based, was not given definite form until the Council of Niacea in 325, and was established as a secure and accepted basis of the new Church until the Trinitarian disputes in controversy between Arians and Athanasius’ followers were settled by the Council of Constantinople, 381, and further disputes on the relation between the human and divine in Christ were ended—in the West at least—by the Council of Chacedon, 451. Prior to these developments there was considerable controversy employing Hellenistic philosophical terminology—largely Platonic.
Council of Niacea 325 turned away from Neoplatonism, and devised a formula for the Christian conception of Jesus Christ: the son of God and at the same time truly God incarnate. The Nicene definition established the meaning of faith which Christians were to hold and its defenders had recourse less to philosophical or theological speculation than to the Scripture as they understood it.
Athanasius completed the Nicene definition in such a way as to include the third member of the Trinity—the Holy Spirit—and achieved a definition which became the starting point of a genuinely philosophical doctrine. By doing this he set the stage for St. Augustine’s formulation of a truly Christian philosophy which made use of Hellenistic classical Greek phraseology without being subservient to it.
Patristic philosophy provided the materials of the medieval synthesis achieved during the Scholastic Period and thereby determined the complexion of Western European Civilization of the Middle Ages.
Augustine’s ethics: The supreme goal of human conduct is a religious, mystical one—the mind’s union with God in the vision of God (to take place in a future, true life)…Rich and poor alike were capable of salvation—but possession of private property is a hindrance to the soul: Augustine places emphasis on poverty…though the highest good is the transcendent good, a relative perfection may be obtained by performance of external works: venial sins may be wiped out by prayer, fasting, alms…Man was free to sin or not to sin…but this was corrupted by Adam, and the entire human race is corrupted: now it is not possible for man not to sin…God alone can change him.
His philosophy of history: In the City of God: a universal philosophy of history (considers temporal and historical processes in the context of external nature and the purpose of God): it became the prototype of such modern—though radically different—philosophical interpretations of history such as those offered by Rousseau, Hegel, Comte, Nietzsche, Marx, Spengler, and Frobenius. The essential features: (1) historical process is a purposive teleological whole, (2) the process is predestined by God to bring about the redemption of some men and the destruction of others (but this does not preclude free will…).
The free roaming of the human mind within the framework of dogma—in time leading to the freeing of human reason, intellect from its theological bondage. The agenda of scholasticism: o elaborate a system of thought which will square with dogmas.
Stages: (1) Formative: ninth-twelfth centuries: Platonism, Neoplatonism and Augustinianism are the dominant philosophical tendencies. Universals are real essences and prior to things; (2) culmination: Aristotle’s philosophy is dominant: universals are real but immanent (and not transcendent)…the period of great, comprehensive systems: Albertus Magnus and St. Thomas Aquinas. (3) Decline: fourteenth century. Universals are not real but mere concepts, particulars alone are real, universals are real only in the mind, hence after things: the Nominalism of John Duns Scotus and William of Occam.
Problems of Scholasticism: (1) Relation between faith and reason, (2) relation between will and intellect, (3) distinction between nature and grace, (4) status of universals.
John Scotus Erigena b. (Ireland 810—d. 877): Neoplatonism.
Anselm of Canterbury (1033—1109): first Scholastic Synthesis—proofs for the existence of God based on Platonic conception of universals existing independently of particulars.
Peter Abelard (1079 Pallet—1142 Paris).
School of Chartres. Cathedral at Chartres.
John of Salisbury (1115—1180).
Albertus Magnus (1193—1280).
St. Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225—1274).
At the same time as this culmination (thirteenth century), Anti-Scholastic tendencies are developing: mysticism, pantheism, natural science:.
John Fidanza (1221—1274), called St. Bonaventura, a mystic.
Roger Bacon (1214—1294): science.
John Duns Scotus (b. c. 1274—1310), opposition to St. Thomas.
William of Occam (1280—1347), the great leader of this nominalist revival. Occam’s razor refers to superfluous universals.
Scholasticism declines after the thirteenth century along with the rise of nationalism, mysticism, tolerance of natural science and the spirit of free inquiry by the Church (as being not relevant to the province of God)…including the elevation by the Church of Aristotle’s value (originally as a conservative device).
Fourteenth Century Mysticism: the greatest figure in this movement is Meister Eckhart, a Dominican teacher who died in the prison of his order.
…Leading to the modern period which begins with the renaissance and the (religious) reformation.
The modern period has been characterized by an awakening of reflection, a revolt against authority and tradition, a dual concern with empiricism and rationalism—where, by rational we mean the use of reason over revelation for in the other predominant use of rationalism all modern systems are rational in their ideal. The other use of rationalism is the view that genuine knowledge consists of universal and necessary judgments—considered by most modern thinkers as ideal—whether realized, realizable or not. A further concern in the modern era is the origin of knowledge and this concern has received considerable impetus from the modern biology starting around the intellectual trends characterized by the publications c. 1855 by Alfred Russell Wallace and of Charles Darwin in On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, 1859.
The approach here will be to briefly consider selected seminal and typical modern philosophers.
The Renaissance has been characterized as a period of revolt against authority, a new humanism, a serious start to study of Plato and Aristotle, the pantheism of Nicolas of Cusa (1401—1464), reform of science, philosophy and logic, social and political philosophy of Campanella and Machiavelli 1469—1527… the Renaissance is commonly used as a label for the multifaceted period between medieval universalism, and sweeping transformations of 17th century Europe.
This sets the Spirit of modern philosophy ‘as an awakening of the reflective spirit, a quickening of criticism, a revolt against authority and tradition, a protest against absolutism and collectivism, and a demand for freedom in thought, feeling and action’.
The Reform of Science: Bacon is, in many ways, typical of the modern spirit: He is opposed to ancient authorities…he understood and emphasized the importance of systematic and methodical observation and experimentation in natural science; (the other and most important phase, mathematics, he mentions and considers essential).
220.127.116.11 Inductive methods
…a ‘novum organum’: the old syllogism (syllogistic logic is useless for scientific discovery)…the only hope—in knowing nature—is genuine induction: we must ascend gradually in an orderly and methodical way from experience to propositions of higher and higher generality until we finally come to the most general and best defines axioms.
18.104.22.168 Programs of philosophy
Primary philosophy busies itself with the concepts and axioms common to several sciences, with what we now call basic scientific categories and presuppositions of science.
22.214.171.124 Philosophy of man
Man is a human and political (or civil) philosophy. Human philosophy studies body and soul and their relation…in envisioning a comprehensive science of man, Bacon founded scientific humanism…the faculties of the soul (psychology) were understanding, reason, imagination, memory, appetite, will, and all those with which logic and ethics are concerned: logic treats of the understanding and reason; and ethics of the will, appetite and affections: the one produces resolutions, the other actions; ethics describes the nature of the good and prescribes rules for conforming to it (right, perhaps)…Man is prompted by selfish and by social impulses. The social good is called duty, and it is the business of the science of government to discover the fountains of justice and public good and to reinforce their claims even when they conflict with the interests of the individual…philosophy in the broad sense is at the apex of knowledge.
126.96.36.199 Bacon as an empiricist
(Although his empiricism is not fully worked out, he can be called an empiricist.) Teleology is banished from physics and becomes a part of metaphysics.
‘One of the boldest and most typical representations of the modern spirit.’.
188.8.131.52 Theory of knowledge
Philosophy, according to Hobbes, is a knowledge of effects (sense perception) from their causes (principles) and of causes from their effects…Hobbes is a nominalist, regards logic as a kind of calculation…The problem, therefore, is to find a first principle -–a starting point for our reasoning: this is motion: everything can be explained by motion: the nature of man, the mental world, the physical world.
The origin of all our thoughts are from the senses…but the picture of the world obtained through the senses is not the real world…so how do we know the nature of the world (e.g., motion is the primary principle)? Hobbes is not troubled by the question.
A real world of bodies in space exists…substance and body are identical.
Mind is motion in the brain…Hobbes subscribes to what modern writers call epiphenomenalism: consciousness is an after appearance…there is also a motive power: pleasure and pain arouse appetite (or desire) and aversion: appetite is an endeavor toward something, aversion is an endeavor away from something.
That which pleases a man he calls good, what displeases him he calls evil.
The imagination is the first beginning of all voluntary motion. Will in man is not different from will in other animals. A man is free to act but not free to will as he wills, he cannot will to will.
Man is a ferocious anima (Homo homini lupus)…competition for riches, honor and power inclines man to contention, enmity, and war because only in this way can one competitor fulfill his desire to kill, subdue, supplant or repel his rivals.
(But) reason dictates that there should be a state of peace and that every man should seek after peace. The first precept of reason, or law of nature, commands self-preservation: the second, that man lay down his natural right and be content with as much liberty for himself as he is prepared to allow others in the interests of peace and security…no man can be expected to transfer certain rights such as the right to self-dense (since he transfers his rights for the very purpose of securing defense)…The third law of nature is that men keep the covenants they have made: this is the fountain and origin of justice…these laws are immutable, eternal…they are (called) natural because they are the dictates of reason; they are moral because they concern men’s manners towards one another: they are also, according to Hobbes, divine.
The only way to erect a commonwealth and insure peace is to confer the total power and strength of men upon one man or assembly of men, whereby all their wills, by a majority vote, coalesce into one will.
Mathematician, Jansenist, anti-Jesuit.
Man has certain immediate insights—space, time, movement, number, and truth. Sense and reason deceive each other; then feeling functions, bringing satisfaction. Religious feeling, in which alone there is peace, is independent of understanding. Belief in God is a wager on which one can lose nothing.
Together, Continental rationalism and British empiricism may be said to mark the beginning of the ‘true period of modern philosophy.’.
184.108.40.206 Descartes problem
(Like Bacon) Descartes sets his face against old authorities and emphasized the practical character of philosophy and (unlike Bacon) he took mathematics as the model of his philosophical method…he offers a program of human knowledge and sought to construct a system of thought which would possess the certainty of mathematics. He was in agreement with the great natural scientists of the new era: everything in (external) nature must be explained mechanically—without forms or essences, but he also accepted the fundamental principles of the time-honored idealistic philosophy and attempted to adapt them to the demands of the new science: his problem was to reconcile the mechanism of nature with the freedom of the human soul.
220.127.116.11 Classification of the sciences
(1) The first part of true philosophy is metaphysics, which contains principles of knowledge—what came to be called epistemology, such as the definition and principle attributes of God, immortality of the soul, and of all the clear and simple ideas that we possess; (2) physics, true principles of material things, structure and origin of the universe, nature of the earth, of plants, animals and man.
18.104.22.168 Method and criterion of knowledge
Aim: to find a body of certain and self-evident truths. The method of mathematics is a key: begin with axioms which are self-evident, then deduce logical consequences…This method must be extended to philosophy. Descartes combs through the elements and levels of knowledge, examines and discards all those claims which are uncertain and arrives at…one thing is certain: that I doubt or think—It is a contradiction to suppose (think) that that which thinks does not exist at the very time when it thinks. (Perhaps Descartes’ analysis proves only: thought occurs).
22.214.171.124 Proofs of the existence of God
Descartes provided a detailed proof according to the recipe: I, a finite being, cannot conceive a greater being through my own lesser intellect. I conceive the perfect being God—this concept can only have been placed thereby God—who, therefore, exists. Descartes gives a detailed construction of the proof and a refutation of certain counter-arguments. The interest in such arguments—to me—is the idea of construction of metaphysics (whether or not the specific construction is valid).
126.96.36.199 Truth and error
The source of (human) error is the disparity between the finitude of human intellect and the infinitude of the human will.
188.8.131.52 Existence of the external world
God induced in us a deeply rooted conviction of the existence of an external world; if no such world existed he could not be defended against the charge of being a deceiver (similar to the evolutionary argument). The existence in my mind of dreams and hallucinations is not a counter argument since God has endowed me with the power of intellect to dispel and correct such delusions. This God is not a deceiver, but a truthful being, and our sensations must therefore by caused by real bodies…Descartes, strictly speaking, affirms one absolute substance—God and two relative substances—mind and body, which exist independently of each other but depend on God…Descartes holds that God has given the world a certain amount of motion: motion is constant: the germ of the principle of conservation of energy.
184.108.40.206 Relation of mind and body
We cannot conceive of mind or soul without thought: the soul is res cogitans: I have a clear and distinct idea of myself in so far as I am only a thinking and un-extended thing. Hence it is certain that I (my mind) through which I am what I am, is entirely and truly distinct from my body and may exist without it…What attracted Descartes to this extreme dualism was that it left nature free for the mechanical explanation of natural science (and the mind to idealism, etc., or to the Church)…These two substances exclude each other: mind cannot cause changes in the body and body cannot cause changes in the mind…However there are facts which point to the intimate union of matter and mind (appetites, emotions, sensations…)…God has put them together, but they are so separate in their nature that either could be conserved by God apart from the other. Descartes’ vacillation is due to his desire to explain the corporeal world mechanically but retain a spiritual principle…yet at times he accepts the theory of causal interaction without hesitation.
Spinoza is a pantheistic (a probable interpretation: God is the universe conceived as eternal and necessary unity; Spinoza expressly denies personality and consciousness to God) and a rationalist (Descartes had given an example of the application of the geometric method—deduction from necessary and self-evident axioms to conclusions—in the appendix to his mediations; Spinoza follows the same method in Cogitata Metaphysica, an exposition of Descartes’ philosophy, and in Ethics, his chief work)…He is successor to Descartes (in aim to construct a universal theory on rationalist principles and method: mathematical-geometric); even though Spinoza is a monist (God is the one absolute from which all else is derived) whereas Descartes was a dualist (mind and body…) Spinoza’s monism is derived from Descartes’ notion of God as the absolute substance (…this implies in fact that Descartes’ philosophy is not perfectly defines as to monism and dualism and though predominantly dualist has, also, elements of monism).
The origin of Spinozism has also been sought in Averroism (Averroës (1126—1198), of the Spanish-Arabian school flourishing in the Moorish Caliphate of Spain, particularly at Cordova, derived from Arabian –Mohammedan philosophy, conceived of the universal active mind), in the cabalist and pantheistic literature of the Middle Ages, in the writings of the Jewish scholars Moses Maimonides and Creskas (Maimonides holds that to conceive God as the bearer of any attributes would destroy his unity, while Creskas defends this view), and in the speculations of Giordano Bruno (1548—1600) (with Nicolas of Cusa, Bruno conceived God as immanent in the active universe, the active principle as the unity of all opposites, as the unity without opposites, as the one and the many whom the finite mind cannot grasp).
Like Descartes, Spinoza is a rationalist: the goal of philosophy is complete knowledge of things, and this can be reached by clear and distinct thinking.
The problem of the nature of the world is handled by Spinoza like a problem in geometry.
220.127.116.11 The universal substance
God is in the world and the world is in him, he is the source of everything that is (Pantheism); God and the world are one.
18.104.22.168 Attributes of god
The infinitude of God is of the second order—he possesses an infinite number of attributes each of which is infinite in extent; of these the mind of man can grasp but two: the attribute dimensions of man himself: physical and mental.
22.214.171.124 Theory of knowledge
Three levels of cognition: (1) Obscure and inadequate ideas have their source in sensation and imagination: (2) adequate knowledge—clear and distinct ideas, rational knowledge; (3) intuitive knowledge—the highest kind of knowledge.
126.96.36.199 Ethics and politics
‘The Mind’s highest good is the knowledge of God and the mind’s highest virtue is to know God.’.
In the state of nature every man has the right to do what he can; might makes right. But conflict would rise in such a situation, for men would overshoot their powers; hence it is necessary that men relinquish their natural rights in order that all may live in peace (social contract).
(From the Continental rationalists Descartes, Spinoza…we now turn to the British Empiricists. John Locke, George Berkeley and David Hume are the exponents of British Empiricism in the early phase.).
188.8.131.52 Locke’s problem
(Hobbes held, with Descartes, the rationalist ideal: mere experience will not give us certain knowledge; and with Bacon, that sensation is the source of knowledge)…to Locke the sensationalist origin of knowledge appeared to undermine its validity and destroy its certainty. Locke, along these lines, undertakes to examine the nature, origin and validity of knowledge.
184.108.40.206 Origin of knowledge
Philosophy, according to Locke, is true knowledge of things, including the nature of things (physics), that which man ought to do as a rational voluntary agent (practica, or ethics), and the ways and means of obtaining and communicating such knowledge (semiotics, logic). The most important of these three is the problem of knowledge…But we must first study the origin of our ideas…for if it is true (as Descartes and others held) that we have innate knowledge of principles, there would seem to be no reason to question its validity. The problem of innate ideas is therefore taken up in the first book (written last) of Locke’s main work: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. …In short, ideas and principles are just as little innate as the arts and sciences, concludes Locke by examining different classes of humanity (children, savages, tribes) and relativism and moral decay. Then: whence does the mind derive all the materials of reason and knowledge? Locke’s Answer: Experience: the two sources: sensation and reflection (internal sense—Locke), such as perception, thinking, doubting, believing, reasoning, knowing, willing: these are the primary capacity of the human mind…By idea Locke means whatsoever the mind directly apprehends: the immediate object of perception, thought, or understanding…These are simple ideas which mind has the power to repeat, compare, combine in endless variety resulting in complex ideas. Some ideas are received by one sense only, some by reflection only and some by combinations of senses and reflection.
The power which objects have to produce definite ideas in us we call qualities; original or primary qualities belong to the object, secondary qualities are (nothing in the object themselves but) powers to produce various sensations by primary qualities. Examples: primary: solidity, extension, motion, rest…secondary: colors, sounds, tastes….
Complex ideas—three types: modes, substances, relations: (1) ideas of modes are complex ideas which…are (although Locke does not seem to use the word) forms: dependencies on or affections of substances: e.g., triangle, gratitude… (2) ideas of substances are complex ideas: combinations of ideas of qualities, supposed to represent a distinct particular thing and the confused idea of a support or bearer of these qualities (modes lack this aspect: the idea of a bearer)…(3) ideas of relation are obtained by comparing things; the most comprehensive idea of relation is cause and effect: that which produces a(simple or complex) idea is cause, that which is produced: effect.
220.127.116.11 Nature and validity of knowledge
Ideas should be clear and distinct, real (having foundation in nature and being in conformity with the real existent things)…Simple ideas are all real not because they are representations of what exists—only primary qualities of bodies are that, but because they are effect of powers outside of our minds…(simple modes are variations of the same simple idea and therefore real: mixed modes are compounded of simple ideas of several kinds; e.g., beauty—a combination of color, figure, causing delight in the beholder). Mixed modes are real only in that they are so framed that there is a possibility of something existing conformable to them. They are archetypes and so cannot be chimerical unless inconsistent ideas are jumbled together in them…complex ideas of substances are real only insofar as they are such combinations of simple ideas as are not really united in things outside us…Ideas are adequate which perfectly represent the archetypes from which the mind supposes them to have been taken while inadequate ideas are a partial or incomplete representation of these archetypes. Whenever mind refers any of its ideas to things extraneous to them, the ideas are then capable of being called true or false; i.e., it is the tacit supposition of their conformity to these things which may be true or false.
There are different degrees of evidence in knowledge…intuition or intuitive knowledge is perception of agreement or disagreement of these ideas by direct inspection, without the intervention of any other ideas; demonstrative knowledge results from the comparison of two ideas by comparing them with one or more other ideas—i.e., indirectly. Both intuitive and demonstrative knowledge provide certainty; whatever falls short of one of these is faith or opinion but is not knowledge in the strict sense…But: is there anything more than the ideas…is there a real world? Sometimes, as in dreams, we have ideas to which nothing corresponds at the time. Yet, ordinary perception (when we hare aware and presumably subject to neither hallucination nor illusion) affords a kind of evidence which is beyond any reasonable doubt; Locke calls it sensitive knowledge.
18.104.22.168 Limits of knowledge
Since knowledge is a perception of agreement or disagreement of our ideas, it follows that our knowledge cannot reach further than our ideas…the only knowledge that really satisfies one is knowledge of universal self-evident truths; but there are large areas of experience in which such knowledge seems unobtainable…Absolute certainty of a general sort is never to be found except in the agreement and disagreement of our ideas. We have no self-evident propositions as to real existence—except in the case of God and ourselves…Faith is a settled and certain principle of assent and assurance, and leaves no room for doubt or hesitation. But we must be sure that it is a divine revelation. Consequently our assent can be rationally no higher than the evidence of its being a relation.
(Due to lack of present interest in Locke’s metaphysics—I omit).
In harmony with his philosophical empiricism, Locke offers an empirical theory of ethics which ends by being an egoistic hedonism. Men attain knowledge of moral rules and are convinced of their obligation to conform to them through experience (the source of all knowledge, according to Locke)…Moral laws originally came to be established through pleasure and pain: the great teachers of morality…it would be useless for one intelligent being to prescribe rules for actions of another if he did not have the power to reward obedience and to punish disobedience…There are three sorts of law: divine law, civil law and the law of opinion or private censure: by which the great majority of men govern themselves chiefly.
22.214.171.124 Free will
Is an idea pertaining not to volition but to the person having the power of doing or forbearing to do as the mind shall choose or direct. The free will problem is, in Locke’s opinion, meaningless; for the concept of freedom has significant power of application to man’s power of action but not his will.
126.96.36.199 Political philosophy
Locke’s theory of the State is presented in his two Treatises on Government…He opposes the view that the best government is absolute monarchy, that kings have a divine right to absolute power, that mankind has no right to natural freedom and equality. Men are naturally in a state of perfect freedom…also, in a state of equality of nature, no man having more power and jurisdiction than another. The law of nature teaches all mankind that, all being equal and independent no one ought to harm another in his life, liberty and possessions. The basis of Locke’s philosophy is egoistic (i.e., self-preservation is the motive fore preservation of the state)…The state of nature is not, as Hobbes had supposed, a state of war, but a state of peace, good will, and mutual assistance…When men, by consent, have formed a community they have made that community one body with power to act as such according to the will and determination of the majority. After such a society has been formed, every man puts himself under an obligation to everyone of that society to submit to the rule of the majority…but, by considering the formative principle of society, the power of society can never be supposed to extend further than is required by the common good.
The first and fundamental natural law which is to govern even the legislative authority itself, is the preservation of society and—so far as it consonant with the public good—of every person in it. The first and fundamental positive law of all commonwealth is the establishing of the legislative power.
It is not desirable that those who have the powers of making laws should also have the power to execute them…The federative power and executive pow4r are best placed in one hand. (The federative powers are the power of war, peace, to enter leagues and alliances, to engage in all transactions with all persons and communities outside the commonwealth; to the executive is delegated the supreme execution of the laws. The legislative power may, when it finds cause, take both the executive and federative powers out of the hands in which it has placed them, and punish any maladministration.).
The people have supreme power to remove and alter the legislative when they find it acting contrary to the trust reposed in it. But while the government exists, the legislative is the supreme power. The power of choosing it rests with the people.
188.8.131.52 Theory of education
Like all great philosophers of the modern era, Locke finds fault with the method of instruction which had come down as a heritage from Scholasticism, and presents a new program of education based on his empirical psychology of ethics…The individuality of the child is to be developed in a natural manner; hence private instruction is preferable…social education should not be lost sight of: the youth is to be trained to become a useful member of society.
184.108.40.206 Economic theory
In opposition to (Lord) Shaftesbury (Characteristics 1711: man possesses self-affections and social affections; virtue consists in the proper balance between the two, and the moral sense tells us whether they are in harmony or not), Bernard Mandeville (The Grumbling Hive: or Knaves Turned Honest 1705, The Fable of the Bees: or Private Vices Public Benefits 1714) tries to show that selfishness (private vices) contributes more to the public good than does benevolence. The Frenchman Helvetius (De L’esprit 1758m De L’homme 1772) follows Hobbes and Mandeville in making egoism the sole motive of human action, and enlightened self-interest the criterion of morals. The only way to make a man moral is to make him see his welfare in the public welfare, and this can be done by legislation only; i.e., by proper rewards and punishments. The science of morals is nothing but the science of legislation…This individualistic view, which is found in Locke and Pauley, and which also appears in Butler’s theory, is reflected in the economic theories of the French physiocrats (Françoise Quernay (1694—1774); A. Turgo (1727—1781)) and in Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith 1723—1790; all of these oppose the old mercantile system which sprang up in Europe at the end of the Middle Ages…The new economic philosophy is based in the idea that the individual has a natural right to exercise his activity in the economic sphere with the least possible interference from society (laissez faire). The assumption is that the unrestricted competition and with the removal of unnatural restraints—such as monopolies or privileges—the freedom of exchange, the security of contract and property, enlightened self-interest will promote not only the good of the individual, but also public welfare. The conception of laissez faire is an expression of the general theory of natural rights…The theory rendered service in helping to discredit and overthrow the old economic system and to deliver the individual from harmful restraints. The origin of economic liberalism of the laissez-faire type may be traced to the ethical and political individualism of Locke’s philosophy.
220.127.116.11 Locke’s influence
General: His Essay was the first attempt at a comprehensive theory of knowledge in modern philosophy and inaugurated the movement which produced Berkeley and Hume and culminated in Kant…His empirical psychology and ethical philosophy started modern lines of development…His theory of education influenced Rousseau and thence the entire world…His political ideas found brilliant elaboration in Voltaire’s writings, in Montesquieu’s Esprit des Lois, and a radical reformulation in Rousseau’s Contrat social…He represents the spirit of the modern era, spirit of independence and criticism, of individualism, of democracy, the spirit which had sought utterance in the Reformation and the revolutions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which reached its climax in the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century. No modern philosopher has been more successful than Locke in impressing his thought on the minds and institutions of men.
In An Essay Towards a New Theory of Vision (1709), Berkeley examined visual distance, magnitude, position, and problems of sight and touch, and concluded that ‘the proper (or real) objects of sight’ are not without the mind, though ‘the contrary be supposed true of tangible objects.’ In Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (1710), he brought all objects of sense, including tangibles, within the mind; he rejected material substance, material causes, and abstract general ideas; he affirmed spiritual substance. Thus Berkeley is an empiricist; he may be regarded as an idealist if he is interpreted as say that what is real is in the mind or agnostic on the issue of the real if interpreted as being non-committal as to the true nature of things. In the latter case he would be saying that we do not know the true nature of things or whether such a nature exists; rather things or their signs are presented in mind. Thus, Berkeley is an empiricist with regard to both perceptions and ideas.
18.104.22.168 Hume’s problem
David Hume accepts the empirical theory of the origin of knowledge (Locke) and the Berkeleyan view that esse est percipi (to be is to be perceived…there is no such thing as an unperceived body…All our knowledge is confined to the facts of experience; we have a direct knowledge only of our ideas. We also know that there is an external world, but this knowledge is not as self-evident as the knowledge of our own ideas…the chief reason for the opinion that external objects—houses, mountains—have a real existence, distinct from being perceived, is the doctrine that the mind can frame abstract ideas. But the mind is, in fact, incapable of framing abstract ideas…George Berkeley (1685—1753)) and Hume draws what seem to him to be the logical conclusions….
Hume’s view is empirical: our knowledge has its source in experience; it is positivistic: our knowledge is limited to the world of phenomena; it is agnostic: we know nothing of ultimates, substances, causes, soul, ego, external world, universe; it is humanistic: the human mental world is the only legitimate sphere of science and inquiry.
22.214.171.124 Science and human nature
The most important task is to inquire into the nature of the human understanding…to show3 that it is not fitted for the abstruse and remote subjects which traditional philosophy has set before it….
126.96.36.199 Origins of knowledge
The chief problems which occupy Hume are those of the origin and nature of knowledge…All the materials of our thinking are derived from outward and inward impressions. All our thoughts and ideas are copies of such impressions…Knowledge results from compounding, transposing, augmenting, or diminishing the materials furnished us by the senses and experience…Our thoughts or ideas, however, are not entirely loose and unconnected, or joined by chance…one calls up another: a picture naturally leads our thought to the original (resemblance), the mention of a room in an apartment suggests an adjoining one (contiguity), the thought of a wound calls up the idea of pain (cause and effect). This phenomenon is called: association of ideas.
188.8.131.52 Relation of cause and effect
All our reasonings concerning matters of fact are based on the relation of cause and effect (which I subsume under explanation); that is, we always seek a connection between a present fact and another…the mind cannot deduce the effect from the cause…for the effect is totally different from the cause and can never be discovered in it. We cannot demonstrate that a certain cause must have a certain effect…(but) having found, in many instances, that any two kinds of objects have always been conjoined, we infer that the objects are causally related, that one is the cause of the other…the mind is led by habit or custom to believe that the two objects in question are related…we are determined by custom to believe that the two objects in question are connected…this belief is an operation of the mind, a species of natural instinct…In the Treatise on Human Nature 1739—1740, Hume is still uncertain as to the psychology of belief: he connects it with imagination, but the matter remains obscure and unsatisfactory to him.
To sum up: we can never discover any power (‘effective or moving cause’) at all, all we see is one event following another…objects are not necessarily connected, but the ideas are connected in our mind by association.
184.108.40.206 Validity of knowledge
All objects of human knowledge may be divided into two kinds; relations of ideas and matters of fact. Of the first kind are the truths of geometry, arithmetic, algebra—in short, every affirmation which is intuitively or demonstratively certain…All evidence of matters of fact which lies beyond the testimony of sense or memory is derived entirely from the relation of cause and effect…Of substances we have no idea whatever, and they have no place in knowledge…Thus we have no absolute, self-evident or certain knowledge or matters of fact…Regarding knowledge of the external world, Hume if the final skeptic: we can never hope to attain any satisfactory knowledge with regard to the origin of our impressions or the ultimate constitution of a universe behind our impressions and ideas.
Leibniz is regarded as one of the great minds of Europe. As a scientist he made contributions to dynamics substituting the concept of kinetic energy over Descartes’ conservation of motion. Leibniz is one of the founders of the differential and integral calculi.
Leibniz’ noted Meditationes de Cognitione, Veritate et Ideis (Reflections on Knowledge, Truth, and Ideas) was published c. 1684—it expounded his theory of knowledge: things are not seen in God but rather there is a strict relation, between God’s ideas and man’s, between God’s logic and man’s; this clearly has a Platonic interpretation. In February 1686, Leibniz published Discours de métaphysique (Discourse on Metaphysics). Leibniz held that for every true proposition—necessary or contingent—the predicate is contained in the notion of the subject. At this time, excepting the word monad (appearing in 1695), his philosophy of monadology was defined.
In Leibniz’ monadology, monads are basic atomic substances that make up the universe but lack spatial extension and hence are immaterial. Each monad is a unique, indestructible, dynamic, entity whose properties are a function of its perceptions and motivations. There is no true causal relations among monads, but all are mutually perfectly synchronized by God in a pre-established harmony. The objects of the world are appearances of collections of monads.
His series of essays all beginning under the title Vernünftige Gedanken (‘Rational Ideas’) covered many subjects and expounded Leibniz’s theories in popular form. For Wolff, that every event must have a cause or there arises the impossible possibility that something might come out of nothing. Rationalism and mathematical methodology formed the essence of this system, which was an important force in the development of German philosophical thought.
Some comments on The Enlightenment and its main representatives will be appropriate here, even though detailed consideration is not necessary for the present purpose.
The main issues of present relevance are (1) generally, the enlightenment glorified knowledge, the sciences and the arts, civilization and progress, and boasted of the achievements of the human race. This is useful as a negative example. While it is interesting to review and understand the nature of this pride, and while I may use elements of it, it is in some ways a false pride and this I wish to avoid; (2) the social philosophy of the enlightenment, especially that of Jean Jacques Rousseau, is significant in its influence on later philosophers and on advances in political theory and practice. (It is Rousseau, incidentally, by whom the pride of the Enlightenment was rudely shaken: he characterized the arts and sciences as fruit of luxury and indolence and the sources of moral decay.).
The brilliant and versatile propagandist of the Enlightenment popularized and applied Lockean ideas…his thoughts, for the most part, express the spirit of Locke’s philosophy. He ruthlessly attacked superstition and ecclesiastical domination all his life…In spite of his liberalism he is not an apostle of democracy: he had no faith in the capacity of the lower classes for self-government.
The Enlightenment was largely responsible for popularizing materialism: there is no soul—thought is a function of the brain; matter alone is immortal. The human will is strictly determined; there is no design in nature outside nature, no teleology, no God…this was the extreme expression; the general tenor, though materialist, was not as extreme: the phenomena of nature, be they physical or mental, are governed by law, that the mental and moral life of man is a necessary product of nature.
Evolutionary conceptions appear in the writings of many thinkers of the time, for example in La Mettrie’s L’homme plante and L’système d’Epicure 1748; in Diderot’s De la nature 1754 and Bonet’s La palingénérie philosophique 1769. These men may be regarded as the forerunners of Lamarck and Darwin.
(Beyond the working out of general philosophical ideas), progress of the sciences was significant as exemplified by the great names: in mathematics and mechanics: Euler, Laplace and Lagrange; in astronomy: Herschel and Laplace; in physics: Galvani and Volta; in chemistry: Lavoisier, Priestley, Davy, Harvey and Berzelius; in biology: Linné, Haller, Bichat, and C. F. Wolff; in politics and jurisprudence: Montesquieu; in the new economic theory: Quesnai, Turgot, and Adam Smith 1723—1790; in esthetics: Baumgarten; Alexander von Humboldt who was eminent in many sciences.
Montesquieu’s L’Esprit des lois (The Spirit of Laws, 1750) was a major contribution to political theory. He was thoroughly familiar with all previous European political thought but did not identify himself with any of the previous schools. His major contributions are to the classification of governments, the theory of the separation of powers, and the political influence of geographical climate. L’Esprit des lois is considered one of the great works in the histories of political theory and of jurisprudence and his contributions to all topics is significant.
220.127.116.11 Human nature
The original state of nature is portrayed as idyllic…the ‘noble savage’ is governed by free impulse, displaying pity and sympathy for his fellows (contrasts with Hobbes’ view of the state of nature: war of all against all)…Rousseau’s state of nature: a social and political fiction to help understand one aspect of human nature which is operative at all times…the primitivism embodied in the injunction ‘return to nature’ is not a demand to return to nature in its naiveté and simplicity: rather, it is an injunction to man, within the framework of civilized society, to remake himself by cultivating those feelings which promote equality and social justice, to remold social institutions to realize a just and democratic government.
18.104.22.168 Political philosophy
Rousseau prefers representative to direct government…takes Locke’s democratic ideal seriously…if all men are created free and equal they should have equal political rights (Rousseau’s ideas found their way into The Declaration of the Rights of Man of 1789 and 1793).
22.214.171.124 Educational philosophy
Rousseau makes a plea for natural education, for the free development of the child’s natural and unspoiled impulses—(although Kant admired Rousseau through whom he was ‘learning to respect mankind’…Bertrand Russell despised him as the source of much confusion of ‘sentiment’ and reason and as the source of the reign of Robespierre and the dictatorships in Russia and Germany).
4.7 Modern Philosophy: Immanuel Kant (1724—1804)
The spirit of criticism which had undermined authority and tradition and enthroned reason was now (especially in the hands of Berkeley and Hume) bringing reason itself to the bar and denying reason’s authority.
Philosophy was now compelled to make some answer…Kant’s problem was to ‘limit Hume’s skepticism on the one hand, the old dogmatism on the other, and to refute and destroy materialism, fatalism, atheism, as well as sentimentalism and superstition’ (according to one of Kant’s contemporaries)…Philosophy, Kant thinks has hitherto been dogmatic: it has proceeded without previous criticism of its own powers. It must enter upon an impartial examination of the faculty of reason in general; with this end in view, Kant writes his three critiques: Critique of Pure Reason—an examination of theoretical reason or science; Critique of Practical Reason—an examination of practical reason or morality; and Critique of Judgment—an examination of our esthetic and teleological judgments, or purposiveness in art and nature.
Genuine knowledge Kant defines as universal and necessary knowledge. He agrees with the rationalists that there is such knowledge, but only of the basic assumptions of the sciences of physics and mathematics…With the empiricists he agrees that we can know only what begins in, or that which we can experience: the senses furnish the materials of knowledge and the mind arranges them in ways made necessary by its own nature. Hence we have universal and necessary knowledge of the order of ideas, though not of things-in-themselves (refer to later discussion of Ding-an-sich)…Nevertheless things-in-themselves exist; we can think them but not know them.
…is fundamental for Kant: What is knowledge and how is it possible? Knowledge always appears in the form of judgments in which something is affirmed or denied…Kant first considers analytic judgments—in which the predicate elucidates what is already contained in the subject; e.g., a tall man is a man. To qualify as knowledge, a judgment must by synthetic: it must extend our knowledge, not merely elucidate it. However, not all synthetic judgments are universal and necessary (a priori). Some are empirical: derived from experience; these inform us, for example, that an object has certain properties—but not that it must have those qualities. Empirical judgments are not genuine knowledge, are not necessary, are after the fact: a posteriori. Again, empirical or a posteriori judgments are not universal (i.e., they cannot be claimed to be universal on the basis of experience); we cannot say that because some objects of a class have certain qualities (no matter how often this is confirmed and even if no exceptions have been observed), that all have them. It would seem that all synthetic judgments must be empirical (at least to ‘scientifically’ minded people). Indeed, before Kant, synthetic and empirical (or a posteriori) were often not distinguished. (My comment: yet it is clear to imagine ways in which synthetic judgments may be universal and necessary: our very formation may be so in attune with the universe that certain facets of our perceptual-cognitive systems may render synthetic (contentful) judgments that are always true (universal) and represent the very nature of the universe (necessary). This argument is plausible on the grounds that the principles of our formation are the principles of the universe; e.g., formation is evolution, or both mind and universe were formed by the same power.) But Kant’s claim is that knowledge consists of synthetic a priori (necessary and universal) judgments—that such judgments are possible…(note: for a class of objects which is necessarily finite, the distinction a priori or a posteriori may disappear for practical purposes.).
That there are synthetic a priori judgments Kant did not doubt for a moment: we find them in the basic principles of physics, and in mathematics; as regards the existence of such knowledge in metaphysics, Kant had serious reservations…Kant accepts synthetic a priori judgments—universal and necessary knowledge as existing; he does not ask whether synthetic a priori judgments are possible, but only how the are possible…: Kant’s critical method is, at lease in one of its phases, dogmatic: the theory of knowledge is, as he himself says, a strictly demonstrable science, an a priori or pure science, one that bases its truth on necessary principles a priori. His method is not psychological but logical or transcendental: he asks, not how did real knowledge—such as the propositions of mathematics or the principles of physics—come about, but what does the existence of such knowledge logically presuppose.
The problem then is: How are synthetic judgments a priori possible in mathematics, in the foundations of physics, or, how are pure mathematics and pure physics possible? The parallel question regarding metaphysical knowledge cannot be asked in quite the same way because Kant holds metaphysics suspect.
Knowledge presupposes a mind.
Sensitivity furnishes us with the sense qualities which are the constituents of perceptual objects. These perceptual objects must also be thought, understood or conceived by the understanding—the concepts of the understanding play their indispensable role in knowledge…’Percepts and concepts constitute the elements of all our knowledge.’ Percepts without concepts are blind, concepts without percepts are empty.
Kant’s formulation of the transcendental method is perhaps the first attempt in modern philosophy to devise a distinctively philosophical method…The argument from experience to its necessary presuppositions is the crux of the transcendental method… ‘although all our knowledge begins with experience, it does not follow that it arises out of experience’…The critical problem is: What are the necessary conditions of the very possibility of an experience, the formal features of which are space, time and the categories? Kant’s reply: Experience is possible only on the assumption that the formal features formed in experience are a priori conditions of existence. (Charles Handel—in the introduction to Ernst Cassirer’s work on symbolic forms—notes that Kant integrates the idealistic and realistic attitudes and capabilities over the range of human experience…but not beyond this experience).
I call Kant’s the first transcendental method because I later identify two others, the second or Heidegger’s and the third transcendental methods. The third transcendental method is transcendental logic i.e. the possibility of derivation of synthetic / empirical propositions by pure logic. The third method, outlined in Journey in Being may seem to not truly make derivations possible by logic alone because it appears to assume the single fact there ‘is existence.’ However, it is shown in that essay that existence is and must be regarded as given. The possibilities for the third method, contrary to what might be expected, are substantial. As an alternative to derivation from a single fact, the third method may be regarded as an a way to generate an axiomatic system from a single axiom and the laws of logic. Various systems may result from additional axioms that purport to model the nature of our world; these would include the first and second methods. Also included would be the variety of logics. A question that arises is ‘Do the laws of logic have synthetic foundation?’ or ‘What is the nature of the world such that logic is possible?’ This may be a starting point for the development of theories of logic. By varying both the axioms of the third method and the systems of logic, various axiomatic systems may result.
Note that I have not here referred to Husserl’s Transcendental Phenomenology as a transcendental method.
…Kant’s empiricism is a ‘radical empiricism’ precisely in William James’ sense because it finds in experience, relations as well as the base sense qualia (also: Whitehead)…(A phenomenology:) Form, in Kant, embraces everything structural and relational in experience: matter pertains to qualia subsumed under the forms. ‘That in the appearance which corresponds to sensation I term matter; but that which so determines the manifold of appearance that it allows of being ordered in certain relations, I term the form of appearance’…Any object of experience may be analyzed into three constituents (1) discrete qualia—the ‘impressions’ of Hume’s analysis, (2) the spatial and temporal continua—the so-called forms of intuition, and (3) the pure concepts or categories. Under item 1 are embraced all material ingredients of our experience; external sense qualia: colors, sounds, tastes…as well as qualia of the inner sense: emotional, volitional and hedonic data. Items 2 and 3 together constitute the sole formal ingredients of experience and it is with them that the transcendental method deals…(There is no pretension that this analysis is exhaustive or correct.)…The analysis was devised for extrospective experience but it was equally intended for introspective experience, and presumably to the apprehension of other minds…For introspective analysis of individual minds, there are on the side of ‘matter’ the sense qualia which, as presentations, are members of the conscious series; moreover there are certain hedonic, emotional, and volitional items peculiar to the conscious series (is this distinction valid: regarding validity of inner and outer for, as sense qualia—the ‘internal ones ‘ have ‘origin’ in the external world, so may the inner qualia have origin in the body…further, may external volitions, etc., be ‘other minds’: this would further break down the distinction inner and outer by making inner and outer more completely symmetric). On the formal side, time is the peculiar form of conscious process and the categories are no less applicable to empirical consciousness than to physical objects. Kant’s entire philosophical procedure could have departed either from the introspected self or the perceived object; his preference for the latter is convenience.
Kant’s initial analysis of experience—regardless of the success or failure of any subsequent construction resting upon it—is a truly significant contribution to the empirical and phenomenological tradition in philosophy. Kant’s empiricism is more radical than even that of Hume; the latter dissolved experience into discrete and atomistic impressions; Kant discerned the relational and structural features of every genuine experience…saw that atomistic impressions, though real constructs of experience, are mere abstractions when taken out of their structural context. Kant’s analysis of experience thus has the virtues of comprehensiveness and completeness, not as Kant had claimed an absolute and demonstrable completeness—this claim is gratuitous since, in the empirical tradition, no observer, however competent and circumspect, can be certain that some essential ingredient of experience may not have eluded him—but the completeness attained by a reasoning—by discerning and circumspect analyst.
First take up the ‘transcendental esthetic’: the logical preconditions of sense perception: Perception can be analyzed into sensations, constituting the matter or content of experience, and space and time constituting the form—for mere sensation would not be knowledge but mere modification of consciousness. The formal and the material together constitute percepts. (What about for the infant?) The mind not only receives sensation but by virtue of its faculty of intuition (intueri: envision) perceives them: it sees the color (hears the color) outside of itself (the mind) in spatio-temporal order. (Comment: (1) Surely the channel of communication must be organized and/or the communication itself coded regarding transfer from sense organs to consciousness, etc.—so that the information pertaining to the intuition be conserved, and (2) time may be –seems to be—more fundamental than space in that a primitive sensor—say a binary one—could perceive a time series containing a minimum of two bits—now and then—without spatial organization)…The functions or forms of arranging sensations in space and time cannot themselves be sensations—are not empirical or a posteriori forms of intuition, are inherent in the very nature of mind—a priori. Time is the form of inner sense (or has both outer and inner aspects in some parallel fashion): psychic states cannot be apprehended otherwise than as one following another in temporal succession; while space is the form of outer sense: we must apprehend spatially that which affects our sense organs. But since everything given or presented to sense is a modification of consciousness and so belongs to the inner sense, time is a necessary condition of all our representations, whether of the inner or outer sense.
Space and time are not realities or things—are ways our sensibility has of apprehending objects, are forms or functions of the sense; if there were no beings in the world endowed with intuition or perception of space and time, the world would cease to be spatial and temporal (except for interaction). ‘Take away the thinking subject and the entire corporeal world will vanish, for it is nothing but the appearance in the sensibility of our subject(again, except for interaction). We can never imagine that there is no space (but we can imagine that there is no extension if we are a point sensor of single mode) although we can conceive that it contains no objects. That is, we are compelled to perceive and imagine in terms of space. Space is a necessary precondition of phenomena and hence a necessary a priori idea. This is an example of Kant’s philosophical method—the transcendental method…the same line of argument applies to time.
How then, is pure mathematics possible: we have synthetic judgments a priori in mathematics because the mind has space and time forms.
We cannot apply the space and time forms beyond the world of our experience. But this restriction need not disturb us since the certainty of our experiential knowledge is left untouched (whether space and time inhere in things-in-themselves or are the necessary forms of our perception of things)…What things-in-themselves are apart from our sensibility, we simply do not know. (And there may be universes of things-in-themselves with new forms not yet communicating through experience, or communicating through the a-conscious.).
The spatio-temporal organization of our experience is, however, not enough…would not yield knowledge…the forms of sensibility are intuitional; the understanding, however, is conceptual: we think in concepts…The understanding by itself cannot intuit or perceive anything; the senses by themselves cannot think anything. Knowledge is possible only in the union of the two. The science of the rules of sensibility: ‘Transcendental Esthetic’: the science of the rules of understanding: ‘Transcendental Analytic’.
In addition to the (spatio-temporal) forms of intuition, then, are certain ways of understanding the world or, more correctly, ways of understanding experience, which, themselves, are necessary, not derived from experience but from the innate organizing, relating…ability of the mind. What is sought is a system of forms in which judgments (propositions) appear…again, no such system can be known to be complete. However, forms of propositions or judgments have been set out in common logic; Kant uses these forms of judgment as a basis for the forms of understanding or categories.
In classical (common, Aristotelian) logic there are twelve forms of judgment arranged in four groups of three: Group I quantity: (1) the universal judgment (all metals are elements), (2) particular judgment (some animals are four-legged), (3) singular judgment (Napoleon was Emperor of France); II quality: (4) the affirmative judgment (heat is a form of motion), (5) the negative judgment (mind is not extended), (6) the infinite or unlimited judgment (mind is unextended): III relation: (7) the categorical judgment (this body is heavy). (8) the hypothetical judgment (if air is warm, its molecules move fast), (9) the disjunctive judgment (the substance is either fluid or solid), IV modality: (10) the problematical judgment(this may be a poison), (11) the assertory judgment (this is a poison), (12) the apodictic judgment (every effect must have a cause).
4.7.8 Kant’s forms of understanding
The correlation of forms of judgment and categories:
The problem then arises, what right have we to apply these forms of the mind to things? What we need is a proof: a transcendental deduction of the categories. Kant’s proof consists in showing that without them intelligible experience would be impossible. Understanding is judgment, the act of bringing together in one self-consciousness (unity of apperception) the many perceived objects. Without a rational mind that perceives things in certain ways (space and time) and judges or thinks in certain ways (the categories), that is so constituted that it must perceive and judge as it does, there could be no universal and necessary object of experience…Categories serve to make experience possible: that is their sole justification…This is what Kant meant when he said that understanding prescribes its own laws to nature; this is the ‘Copernican revolution’ which he effected in philosophy.
Since, then, mind prescribes its laws to nature, it follows that we can know a priori the universal forms of nature. (But there may be elements and forms of nature, actually, essentially outside of experience—or at least of the human mind.) We cannot, therefore, go wrong in applying the categories to the world of sense. But…they can be legitimately employed only in the field of actual or possible experience, only in the phenomenal world…we cannot transcend experience nor have conceptual knowledge of the super sensuous, of things-in-themselves.
But how can categories which are intellectual, be applied to percepts, to sensible phenomena? Pure concepts and sense percepts are absolutely dissimilar or heterogeneous according to Kant; how, then, can we get them together? There must be a third something, a mediating entity (which must be pure: without anything empirical, and, at the same time, sensuous)…This something Kant calls the transcendental schema. The employment of such a schema is the schematism of understanding. The time-form fills the requirements laid down: it is both pure and sensuous. All our ideas are subject to the time form…the time form is at once percept and concept and through this the general system of transcendental schemas relating the forms of perception to the categories of understanding may be constructed…consider, first, quantity: the time form is experience as a linear series and this generates quantity (number of elements in a sub series) and the operations of quantity (addition is the union of disjunct sub series, etc.) One moment in time represents singularity: several moments express particularity; al, totality of moments, universality.
(I) Thus the category of quantity is expressed in the schema of time-series: similarly (II) the category or concept of quality is expressed in the schema of time: content: the intellect imagines sensations occurring in a time: a content in time, something in time, or it imagines nothing in time: reality, limitation, negation.
(III) The category of relation is expressed in the schema of time-order; the intellect looks upon what is real in the following ways: what remains when all else changes—permanence, substance; or something upon which something else invariably follows in time—causality; qualities of one substance and qualities of another substance invariable appearing together in time: reciprocal action or the category of community.
(IV) The category of modality is expressed in the schema of time: comprehension: the intellect thinks of something existing at any time (possibility) (some time), at a definite time (actuality), at all times (necessity).
The Unity of Self-Consciousness: The culmination of Kant’s transcendental procedure is his doctrine of the transcendental unity of apperception. This unity of self-consciousness is presupposed by the categories as the categories are presupposed by experience; or, rather, it is directly presupposed by experience in so far as it is categorized.
The transcendental unity of apperception is a sine qua non (essential) of experience because it is presupposed by the categories which in turn are presupposed by experience. Thus, the transcendental unity of apperception occupies the unique position in the sphere of the transcendental, in that it is the final term in the retrogressive series, experience and the categories presuppose it but it presupposes nothing else. The transcendental unity of apperception accordingly occupies a position in Kant’s system analogous to that of substance in systems which define substance as the ultimate…; it is the ultimate a priori…The backward movement from experience to its logical precondition having been carried to its culmination, Kant, in the third and final step of the transcendental argument, reverse the direction of his thought and moves forward from the a priori forms to the a priori truths which they validate.
(Noumena: German Ding-an-sich)…The concept of the thing-in-itself, or noumenon, as something not knowable by the senses, but as something capable of being known by intellectual intuition, is at least thinkable. It is a limiting concept; it says to the knowing mind: here is your limit, you can go no further, here is where your jurisdiction ceases…Kant insists that the noumenon exists but is compelled by the nature of his system to make it a very elusive and hazy factor…We cannot know the supersensible by means of our senses. We cannot know it—in the Kantian sense of genuine knowledge—for we are not entitled to apply our categories to it: if we do so, then at least within the Kantian framework, the application has no objective validity.
We cannot have knowledge of the supersensible in metaphysics (the science of being as being); metaphysics is a pseudoscience. Kant’s rejection of metaphysics is not, however, complete and unqualified. There are several senses in which he regards metaphysics as possible: (1) as a study of theory of knowledge, (2) as absolute knowledge of the laws and forms of nature, (3) as absolute knowledge of the laws and forms of will, (4) as knowledge of the spiritual world, based on moral law, (5) as a hypothesis of the universe having a certain degree of probability…Consider some of the grounds on which Kant rejects ‘dogmatic’ or speculative metaphysics of the kind advanced by his rationalist predecessors. The reason, when it enters the world of the supersensible, confuses percepts with mere thought, and in this way falls into all kinds of ambiguities, equivocation false inferences, and contradictions. Questions which have a meaning when asked with respect to our world of experience have none when we transcend phenomena. Categories like cause and effect, substance and accident have no meaning when applied to the noumenal world. Metaphysics, in making this illegitimate application, falls into error and illusion which as distinguished from ordinary sensory illusion, Kant calls transcendental illusion. Principles applied within the confines of ordinary experience are immanent: those which transcend these limits are transcendent principles or concepts of reason, or ideas. Such higher laws of reason are (merely) subjective laws of economy for the understanding striving to reduce the use of concepts to the smallest number: this speculative enterprise aims at unification of the judgments of understanding. This supreme Reason does not prescribe laws to objects, nor does it explain our knowledge of them; its sole function is to guide and direct our inquiries. Thus reason strives to bring all mental processes under a single head, or Idea of a soul in rational psychology; all physical events under the Idea of nature in rational cosmology; all occurrences in general under the Idea of God in rational theology. The notion of God would, therefore, be the highest Idea, the one absolute Whole comprehending everything…Such Ideas are, however, transcendent, beyond experience: they can never be empirically fulfilled or exemplified: we can never represent the Idea of an absolute totality in the form of an image. It is a problem without a solution. Yet these ideas have value: they are regulative rather than constitutive.
Kant’s famous antinomies: (1) the world has a beginning and is limited in space; the world is eternal and unlimited, (2) bodies are infinitely divisible; they are not (-are made of atoms), there is freedom in the world; everything takes place according to the (deterministic) laws of nature, (4) there exists an absolutely necessary being either as part of the world or as cause of it; there is no such being…Every right-thinking man prefers, in each case, the thesis if he knows his true interests. (The speculative interest is the counter-dogmatism of the empiricist by denying what goes beyond the sphere of intuitive knowledge.) Kant solves the difficulties by pointing out that for each case the antithesis holds for the phenomenal world…and therefore practical reason requires the existence of the transcendent, noumenal world…There is no paradox because it is true that our sense-perceived world has no beginning in time and no extreme limit in space…nonetheless we cannot genuinely know the noumenon and have no right to search for spiritual beings in space and for spatial beings in the supersensible realm (but this does not rule out unknown or unexpected ‘spirit-like’ phenomena in space…).
By the type of argument above freedom and necessity can be reconciled. The phenomena can be regarded as ‘caused’ by the thing-in-itself, the noumenal cause, which is not perceived, but whose phenomenal appearances are perceived and arranged in an unbroken causal series…(The necessity of freedom and the determinate nature of the sensible world demonstrates the existence of the noumenal world…of course, can we say by quantum physics that the sensible world is not causal? Perhaps! But alternatively we can regard quantum phenomena as supersensible, the non-deterministic world…I know this argument confuses causal and deterministic, but for the present purpose this is not problematic…there are also other subtleties of interpretation as to what aspect or point of contact of quantum phenomena is the sensible but I should go into this at a later time.).
Applying this insight to humans we have the following interpretation of human action and conduct. Looked at through the spectacles of sense and understanding, man is a part of nature; in this aspect he has an empirical character; he is a link in a chain of causes and effects. But in reality man is an intelligible or spiritual being. To such a being some forms do not apply; such a being can originate acts. Human cognizance of this power is attested by the fact that an individual holds himself responsible for his decisions and actions….
As we have seen above, the transcendental Ideas have no constitutive use; that is, they are not concepts productive of objects; they have a regulative use; that is, they direct the understanding in its inquiries: they unify the manifoldness of concepts, just as the categories bring into unity the manifoldness of objects…Nature can be divided into species. Reason demands that no species is the lowest and that between every species and subspecies is an intervening species is always possible—by (a presupposed) transcendental law of nature—the law of continuity in nature…The only purpose of the Idea of a Supreme Being is to preserve the greatest systematic unity in the empirical use of our reason. The idea of a ground or cause of objects in our experience helps us organize our knowledge…The Ideas of the reason are not mere fictions of the mind but are highly useful, indeed necessary methodological ideals…Human knowledge begins with percepts, proceeds to concepts, and ends with ideas. It has a priori sources of knowledge with respect to all three elements.
Included among the ideas which reason applies in the contemplation of nature is the idea of purpose, or the teleological idea (as explanation of function). The understanding conceives every existent whole of nature solely as the effect of the concurrent forces of its moving parts. In the case of organic bodies, however, the parts seem to depend on the whole, to be determined by the form or plan or idea of its whole. Every part is both a means and an end…Here, again, we have an antinomy and a dialectic of which the thesis is: the creation of all material things is possible by mechanical laws; the antithesis: the creation of some is not possible according to mechanical laws. The contradiction is removed when we take these propositions not as constitutive principles but as regulative principles. When so interpreted, the thesis invites us to look for mechanical causes in nature; the antithesis: to search for final causes or purposes in certain cases—even in nature as a whole—when the mechanical explanation does not seem to suffice.
Kant’s moral philosophy, which he represents in his Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, Critique of Practical Reason, and Metaphysics of Morals, may be regarded as an attempt to settle the quarrel between intuitionism and empiricism, idealism and hedonism…moral consciousness implies freedom of will. It also implies the existence of God and the immortality of the soul, notions which the Critique of Pure Reason had shattered as scientifically demonstrable dogmas, but had left as possibilities…There is a moral proof of these dogmas based on the categorical imperative…’The’ categorical imperative, or the moral law: always act so that you can will the maxim or determining principle of your action to become universal law. (The category may be regarded as the determining principle in the form of free action of will.) It is imperative because it is to done out of duty. The categorical imperative is a universal (analytically) and necessary law, a priori, inherent in reason itself….
In Critique of Pure reason Kant rejects all the old arguments for the freedom of the will, the existence of God, and the immortality of the soul. In Critique of Practical Reason, these three notions are reinstated on the basis of the moral law.
Kant’s critics and successors include: J. G. Herder (1744—1803) and E. H. Jacobi (1743—1819).
The first, and perhaps not the least difficult, task consisted in understanding the nature of Kant’s ‘Copernican revolution’ in philosophy—his contention that mind prescribes laws to nature, and not vice versa…Jena became the home of a new school of philosophy and through the efforts of Schiller, Reinhold, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel who taught there, philosophy became one of the most honored subjects of study in Germany…Among the other tasks that confronted the successors of Kant were the development of his epistemology, the unification of its principles, the solution of problems following from his dualism between the intelligible and phenomenal worlds, freedom and mechanism, form and matter, knowledge and faith, practical reason and theoretical reason; and in the removal of the inconsistencies introduced by the notion of the thing-in-itself. Another work to be undertaken was the construction of a universal system on the critical foundation laid by Kant; this became the chief occupation of the most famous successors of the great reformer: Fichte, Schelling and Hegel.
The philosophy of Kant is a focal point in Western philosophy. The problem areas and philosophical areas of his predecessors receive, to a significant degree, a resolution and an integral treatment. The areas are natural science; metaphysics: being as being: the thing-in-itself; alternative concepts of cause and explanation: teleology; and morals. The different approaches to knowledge finding some degree of mutual and integral expression in Kant’s critical philosophy are:.
Empiricism: source of knowledge in sense and experience.
Idealism: source of knowledge, true being as ideas, mind and/or values founded in ideals.
Realism: external reality exists independently of a mind, knower.
Starts with empiricism: percepts; sees how far the understanding of percepts can go through concepts—the a priori; forms a transcendental system of relations (schema) between percepts and concepts.
Once the limit of this approach is reached, comes back to the given: the existence of moral law: to derive the existence of the thing-in-itself…thus proceeds from elements of realism to idealism.
Of course Kant’s system is inadequate (being based on notions of space, time and the mathematics and Newtonian mechanics of the time as absolute), incomplete (Kant was not aware of the process of formation of human beings and the implications for the levels of understanding), and non-unified (Kant does not proceed from a monism but rather takes each approach as far as he can and then, for further understanding, dips again from the well of reality).
His philosophy has multiple starting levels (modes of description) which interact…Relative to his time these are strengths, leaving, for a later day, unification and completeness (or progress in these directions).
Philosophy after Kant owes much to his critical synthesis. While there is some debate over the question of Kant’s rank as a philosopher (some holding him to be the greatest of the modern era) there is no question that he resolved significant questions that had been raised by philosophy before him, that he achieved a high degree of synthesis, that he influenced and, in a sense, made possible much subsequent philosophy. Irrespective of his rank, he stands at a focal point in the history of modern philosophy…The rays emanating from Kant are three:.
The fundamental principle is mind, idea, will, ego…and the fundamental goods are the products of the mind (idea, will, ego, spirit…). Related to rationalism: emphasizes the mind in constructing reality. There are numerous variants to idealism in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, psychology…and in non-Western thought. Derivatives are: intuitionism, existentialism.
The object of knowledge is perception, memory, abstract logical, mathematical thought. In science is a reality which exists independently of the knowing mind. Derivatives are German phenomenology, naïve realism (G. E. Moore); objectivism, perspectivism, neutral monism; representative realism, new-realism (monistic), dualistic realism (including critical realism).
Which tends to be anti-realistic and leads into logical empiricism. Derivatives are conventionalism (anti-realistic); pragmatism; positivism; and analytical philosophy.
Basal insight, keystone of the critical philosophy: freedom leads to will, ego: not part of the causal link, but free, self-determining.
The will, ego is derived from moral law.
The pure ego: objective idealism.
Nature is the incentive to will.
Rejects the idea of nature as the incentive to will.
Nature is visible spirit, spirit is invisible nature.
Evolution of self-consciousness: primary sensation leads to creative imagination.
Deeply religious, marked intellectual capability.
To develop a conception of reality to satisfy the intellect as well as the heart: included romanticism.
Construction of a great system of Protestant Theology.
Knowledge and faith.
Human intelligence analyzes and is thus limited in its knowledge of the unity of the divine nature: the identity of thought and being…the ideal is achieved only in religious feeling or divine intuition.
The culmination of rational idealism
Nature, mind are one: being and reason are identical.
Processes at work in reason are at work everywhere…the universe is logical.
Abstract concepts cannot absorb reality…thought therefore proceeds by the dialectic process; truth is a living logical process.
In a sense, philosophy culminates in Hegel: history is logic; philosophy is logic…the logic of history and the logic of mind meet in philosophy.
Hegelian philosophy: the final synthesis in which Absolute Mind becomes conscious of itself.
At first, after Hegel, there is a realistic reaction, due to the influence (1840—1860) of science: Meyer, Darwin are expressed in Hebart and others interlaced through this period.
Realism of Hebart:.
Reality is absolutely self-consistent.
Realistic philosophy, metaphysics and psychology, science of values (not dealing with reality, but with values).
His greatest influence was in education: ends are ethics: instruction, apperception, interest are important in education.
Thing-in-itself is will.
Pan psychism: the entire universe and its strata of various scales (micro to macro) contain minds.
Bridged the gap between classical German philosophy and 20th-century idealism.
Reconciled: monism—pluralism: mechanism—teleology; realism—idealism; pantheism—theism.
‘Theistic idealism’…included in his objective: to do justice to the ethical-religious idealism of Fichte and the scientific interpretation of natural phenomena (‘A thinker well-fitted by training and temperament to re-establish philosophy’ after the realistic reaction to Hegelian idealism.).
German Neo-Kantian and Socialist, wrote Geschichte des Materialismus und Kritik seiner Bedeutung in der Gegenwart (1866; History of Materialism) in which he refuted materialism.
Knowledge flows from the facts of consciousness.
Will to power: the active principle.
German Idealist philosopher, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature (1908), interpreter of Aristotle, and author of works in ethics and religion.
Universal spirited process forms the ground of all being.
A historian of philosophy who did not systematically expound his views but expressed them in unconnected essays. He regarded himself as in the tradition of German idealism but did not see himself as Neo-Kantian, Neo-Fichtean or Neo-Hegelian. His main position was that whereas science determines facts, philosophy determines values—a system of philosophy in which value has a central role.
Noted for his analysis of cultural values.
Cassirer felt it necessary to revise Kantianianism to include a wider range of human experience. Die Philosophie der symbolischen Formen, 3 vol. (1923–29; The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms), is an examination of mental images and functions of the mind that underlie every manifestation of human culture. Substanzbegriff und Funktionsbegriff (1910; Substance and Function), treats concept formation to which he brought a Kantian slant—a concept is already pre-existent before any task involving the classification of particulars can even be performed; humankind is essentially characterized by a unique ability to use the ‘symbolic forms’ of myth, language, and science in structuring or imaging experience and in understanding.
Beginnings of Positivism, And its Interaction with Empiricism.
After the French Enlightenment, there was a positivist reaction against sensationalism and materialism in France, but the various movements do not possess the vigor to satisfy an age which still held the ideals of liberty, equality, fraternity.
To reform society—with a basis in Christian love—we need to turn away from the (then) period of skepticism—negation and criticism—we need a positive philosophy.
His motive: social reform requires social science. Science is natural laws which are facts and relations which are positive knowledge.
126.96.36.199 Stages of knowledge
According to Comte: The theological precedes the metaphysical which precedes the positive which is real, useful (origins: utilitarianism), exact (not mere negative, that is, criticism).
188.8.131.52 Comte’s scheme of sciences
Builds to the last and most complex science which, according to the early Comte, is social science. Social science includes:.
An ideal of humanity (definitive stage is positive).
Antidote to misgovernment is public opinion (he was against representative government).
184.108.40.206 A theory of history
Progress to the ideal.
Later in his career Comte adds ethics as the seventh and highest science:.
Feelings and practice paramount.
(A progression in his view over his positivism.).
We have seen the origin of utilitarianism in Comte’s ideas—utilitarianism must share with positivism the idea of a positive calculation: that a positive calculation of utility is possible and meaningful.
An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, 1789. The utility principle based on pleasure and pain (sources of pleasure and pain: physical, political, social, religious).
The Hedonistic Calculus: a quantitative measure of pleasures and pains is to be used in determining actions. Factors or dimension are:.
1. Intensity, 2. Duration, 3. Degree of certainty, 4. Remoteness, 5. Fecundity (chance of being followed by a similar sensation), 6. Purity (opposite of fecundity), 7. Extent (number of persons affected).
Precursor of utility theory, optimization theory as a tool.
Mill threads together empiricism and positivism (Mill’s philosophy is significantly positivist even when it is not overtly so): Later day British Empiricism (this includes Mill) has much in common with positivism (and herein lies the weakness of Mill’s method of empirical logic and inductive inference, his law of causation, and rejection of a priori truths…despite his great prolificacy and practical influence).
Mill’s interest in science, like Saint-Simon’s and Comte’s, is motivated by his interest in social reform.
220.127.116.11 The external world and the self
Mill holds that we can know only phenomena (though he admits the thing-in-itself)…Mill’s metaphysics is too limited to hold present interest.
18.104.22.168 Mental and moral sciences
For social reform Mill calls for a reform of the mental and moral sciences.
22.214.171.124 Psychological determinism
(1) cause and effect, (2) humans are free regarding inner desires, (3) the will is not always hedonistic.
Science of formation of character.
126.96.36.199 Social science
Mill’s method would be complex: more like that of the complex physical sciences than of geometry: predictions are tendencies rather than positive statements.
Science of government is part of the science of society.
History when judiciously examined illustrates the empirical laws of society…which can be checked—verified—by psychological and ethological laws….
Social stasis and stability result from consensus…dynamics is progression.
The greatest good of the greatest number…unlike Bentham: the quality of pleasure is important. Mill vacillates between (1) the empirical—hedonistic—egoistic –deterministic, and (2) the intuitionistic—perfectionistic—altruistic—free-willistic. This accommodating feature of Mill’s theories made them attractive to many and useful in practice: his utilitarianism instituted a critical and intelligent conformity to conventional morality for a blind one.
Mill fought intellectual battles for democracy and the rights of women…pointed out the ‘importance to man and society, of a large variety of types in character, and of giving full freedom to human nature to expand itself in innumerable and conflicting dimensions.’.
Subscribed to a synthetic unity of knowledge whose evolution is a compromise between intuitionism (the a priori) and empiricism… His major work is First Principles 1860—1862. Spencer is sometimes regarded as the originator of Darwinism as the idea that Darwin’s principles of evolution by natural selection is of universal application. Spencer published ideas on the evolution of the species before the publication of the works of Alfred Russell Wallace and Charles Darwin on the same topic but his theory of evolution was originally Lamarckian. He later accepted the theory of natural selection and in Principles of Biology, 1864, coined the phrase ‘survival of the fittest.’.
His evolutionary philosophy was Lamarckian, passive, mechanistic and noninteractive. Absolute uniformities of experience generate absolute uniformities of thought…external uniformities over generations lead over generations (by evolution) to fixed association of ideas and necessary forms of thought. He does not tell ‘how it was possible for connections to be made at the dawn of knowledge which today are (or seem) impossible without an a priori synthetic mind.’.
188.8.131.52 Laws of evolution
Adaptation of internal to external relations.
Consciousness is adaptation of serially ranged inner states to outer states.
184.108.40.206 External world
Idealism is a disease of language…’realism forced on us by the basal law of consciousness, the universal law of reason.’ ‘Ontological order and relation are the source of the phenomenal.’.
Welfare of units and groups, not society, is the end (target) of morality:.
The limit of evolution in which all humans achieve ends in harmony.
Beneficence: mutual aid.
Life brings more happiness than misery.
Good is the pleasurable.
Spencer is against socialism and state interference; he is for competition and laissez faire in social, economic and political spheres.
I think of the recent period as the 20th and 21st centuries but not to the exclusion of the 19th century. The recent period can be seen—this will be given an intrinsic refinement below—as that period in which we are immersed to the point that it is difficult to have the objectivity that comes from distance and un-involvement. This is not to imply that objectivity is otherwise impossible or that there is an absolute value to distance and un-involvement.
Recent tendencies grow out of the developments to this point and the cultural influences—these include the cultural trends of the West including such main influences as Cartesianism, science and, within philosophy, the dualism of rationalism vs. empiricism and all its twists, turns and divisions. Philosophy starts from realism but by criticism (the conflict of) realism is found to be not absolute but depends upon the common culture—the common paradigms, pictures, symbols and stories or myths. Cultural influences also include those from other modern, ancient and native societies and civilizations.
These influences are detailed below.
First, I outline some influences on recent philosophy. The ‘internal’ influences are the trends arising in the history of philosophy until the recent period. ‘External’ influences are the ascent of science and analysis, cultural influences, and the culture of the individual. This system of complex influences are the sources of influence upon recent philosophy. The development of a discipline is not deterministic—recent philosophy may be better understood by an inclusion of the influences in the understanding; however the development of philosophy is not determined by the influences and contains its own elements of novelty. In order to continue as a vibrant discipline, philosophy must contain its own elements of novelty.
What is accepted as philosophy in any age may be subject to the Kuhnian concept of the paradigm: the paradigm that defines acceptable practice includes implicit elements that are not fully spelled out—that is not to say that they could not (or could) be spelled out.
There is also an explicit reflection upon practice and ideals that interact with the implicit attitudes in constituting the paradigm. However, it is not in the nature of philosophy to approach some delimitation or definiteness of subject matter in the way that science does.
The concept of paradigm is also somewhat paradigmatic. Kuhn held that different paradigms are incommensurable meaning that, while the words might be the same, the actual differences among alternate paradigms are so great as to constitute an insurmountable barrier to communication and understanding. Kuhn also held that the truth of each paradigm was relative to the culture and that paradigms contained no absolute truth; this point was emphasized by Paul Feyerabend. Given that each culture negotiates a world that is not entirely of their own creation and that different cultures live in worlds that are not completely alien, it follows that the different paradigms have some measure of truth and that they may share enough truth for there to be common truth and sharing of understanding.
Further, paradigms are not flat but multi-layered with elements of but not full hierarchy. For example, paradigmatic attitudes to truth in philosophy which are not the same as but not completely different from truth in philosophy are affected by and affect attitudes to the possibility of truth in general.
The possibility and nature of disciplines is thus complex and attitudes to this possibility are affected by realism, the pendulum (pendulums) of opinion, happenstance and fashion.
There is a limitation on defining or specifying the nature of any discipline. First, that such fields of activity are paradigmatic in the sense of Thomas Kuhn, i.e., that the definition is through practice and unwritten or unspoken or, in part, through at most partially explicit and definite norms. A second difficulty is that a purpose of definition is not only the understanding of the past but to understand and navigate the future. What is science? A difficulty of definition is that science adapts, within a broad framework, to the needs of the discipline or problem… Subsequent paragraphs consider some further, generic problems associated with specifying what philosophy may be. The problems include the issue of distinguishing the activity, the methods and the accumulated narrative. What is philosophical activity and what are its methods—are there any? The answers to these questions lie in the historical process but any specific answer may depend on the orientation of the individual or groups of individuals—schools. Is philosophy purely rational—an exercise of the mind… is it descriptive… is it empirical? These thoughts are informed by a concept of knowledge that is foundational: an independent foundation of knowledge may be found. But when we consider our immersion in the flow of the world, it would seem that there are only specialized realms in which foundations are possible; outside those realms lie vast areas of being. What becomes philosophy in the adventure into the unknown? I consider this below; however, I may assert: the answer to this will be one that generalizes given concepts of philosophy, takes them out of the fields of activity and places philosophy in its ultimate realm.
The various influences on philosophy, outlined here and below, also affect what is and what is considered to be philosophy. Since philosophy is in part the creation of humanity—in part because the creation is in the interaction between humanity and the world—the distinction between what is and what is considered to be philosophy is not absolute. We may use ‘what is’ to stand for ‘what is and or what is considered to be.’ The various considerations may also influence reflections on what is philosophy. There is an additional significant consideration: the various fields of human activity stand in intra and interaction; it is then not only that the various fields taken together constitute the entire realm of activity but, also, the entire realm may be divided or classified into the fields. The classification would not be unique: the posited fields may be different in number, concept—and name; and the distribution of various activities may be different even when the fields are the same. What is at one time and place considered to be philosophy may at another time and place be science, or political theory or economics.
These comments notwithstanding, there is some degree of cohesion among the various activities that may be considered to be philosophy and there are threads of continuity in the history of philosophy.
The crisis of recent philosophy has much to do with postmodern issues. The origin and influence of postmodern issues significantly predate the Postmodern and related movements. The existence of a crisis is not the equivalent of the existence of substantial issues. This means, especially, that even while a crisis may exist its nature may not be what it is commonly held to be.
The period of recent philosophy is roughly identical with the crisis of philosophy; the era of philosophy in search of identity. This is true of recent philosophy today; it is not true that at any point in the history of philosophy there is a recent period that can be equated with a current crisis.
What is the crisis in philosophy and what are the factors that precipitated it? The period of enlightenment was a ‘grand’ time for philosophy. It was a time when all the human disciplines of knowledge could be seen as subsumed under one ‘grand narrative’ in which philosophy had a major role. What led up to this and what led away from it?
The positive factors leading up to enlightenment philosophy were the freeing of the European mind from the shackles of religion, the beginning of the maturation of science—the subsumption of (seemingly) vast territories under the umbrella of science and reason, the possibility of a world view founded in but not limited to these foundational elements. What is the concept of foundational—something simple, secure—rationality or thought, perception and the senses, practice and so on: something that is simple, seemingly firm and given… something that is less than, a part of, being itself. There was also an excess in the form of confidence and system building; this excess no doubt had sources in ‘youthful exuberance’ but also in hubris.
What are the forces that led to the collapse of the grand vision? They include the continuation of the factors leading to the grand vision itself, the attempt to find a (e.g. purely rational) foundation to philosophy—one that, in retrospect, applied to philosophy standards actually more stringent than those of science. For, the ‘methods’ of science are formulated in retrospect, in an attempt to found what is already known in methods more secure than the actual ways in which science was discovered. And, while the search for method is not without value there is no guarantee of its success or of its absolute value and application. Other forces are listed below.
Can philosophy free itself of the limitations imposed by the crisis—philosophy as an inferior or adjunct (why should there even be a comparison of different kinds) if wide ranging partner in the academic (or, more generally, the intellectual) enterprise, philosophy as possibly edifying instead of certainly instructing? I take this up in A concept of philosophy, below.
220.127.116.11 The separation of philosophy into the disciplines; the ascent of science and analysis
The influence of and reaction to science and ‘scientific methods…’ and to the scientific—and other—disciplines.
The influence of and reaction to analysis, focus on language and symbolic systems and methods.
18.104.22.168 Cultural influences—internal and the influence of other ‘non-western’ cultures
22.214.171.124.1 The West
The nature of modern society, political idealisms; the split between the English speaking world and Continental philosophy.
Pluralism, the concept of democracy applied in the realm of truth; cultural relativism.
Every individual has a picture of the world and its parts that informs his or her activities in the world. ‘Picture’ is not to be taken in any literal or iconic sense. The picture may be fragmentary; and it may be dynamic—changing in response to learning and experience. What forms a culture is a sort of template that informs the individual pictures. The disparity of cultural templates—traditional or otherwise—makes for difficulty in communication. The sources of the difficulties are not univalent; they include, of course, the ‘unique’ adaptations of the particular culture. But to say that the variety of templates and pictures are incommensurable assumes that the system of meanings—the templates and pictures—are strictly adaptations. The alternative is not necessarily a fictional theory of meaning and truth. Cultures are not static entities—they come into being, they adapt. The meanings are created; and as such there needs only to be a sufficient degree of adaptation and, subject to this constraint, there may be play in the meanings and beliefs. That play may be called fictional if the beliefs are truly held as such; alternatively, they may be serious but understood as being provisional or they may be true play. In either case there is room for intercultural adaptation and merging of meaning. The barriers to this are, then, the forces of tradition, the identification of the individual with the belief… We may say that the belief in absolute cultural relativism is the defense of a particular culture. The mesh an merging of cultures, this includes the import of belief systems to whatever degree, is part of the transformation and change of a culture. It is possible for cultural transformation and identity to co-exist just as this is possible for the individual, the ‘self.’.
There is a survival aspect associated with the pluralism that is extant in the modern academic (or, more generally, the intellectual) community. If one does not accept one’s place as an equal among equals then one is shunned or may feel shunned as boorish and so on—although philosophy may abandon its role as gatekeeper on the grounds that such a thing is impossible there is in effect a gatekeeper that says that there is no gatekeeper. It should be necessary to distinguish between persons and professions—where profession is understood in an active sense and not as a predefined role that one fulfils. The communal activity of finding truth—universal, complete, critical—there is a role for that—regardless of whether we call it philosophy, science, religion… or whether we coin a new phrase, formulate a new concept. The reply immediately comes—or may come, ‘ But there is no truth or, at least, there is no universal, complete, critical truth!’ As far as there being no instances of truth—all meanings and assertions are thereby rendered meaningless and valueless. As far as there being no universal, complete, critical truth: what shall we call the endeavor that may labor under that ideal? In the political sphere, every liberator becomes a tyrant. In the intellectual sphere those who decry truth are setting up there own or else everything is so much babble. These hypo-critical would be iconoclasts are, in fact, a sometimes useful sometimes destructive part of the process that they profess to abhor. These comments are not intended to imply that those who endeavor or profess to labor under the ideal of truth are always constructive, always sufficiently critical, never destructive. It is to say that that endeavor, the labor—the adventure under truth, is possible, meaningful and realistic.
Professionalism and specialization
Professionalism and specialization, especially within the academic—or, more generally, the intellectual—enterprise.
Thinking to accelerate evolution: the dialectic; without actually having something to say. This tendency arises from the pressures of the modern academic and intellectual environment as well as the culture of the individual, below. Of course, the pressures in question and the culture of the individual are not independent and they interact and have common roots.
126.96.36.199.2 Other cultures
Influence / mesh with the philosophies and systems of other advanced and indigenous cultures.
188.8.131.52 The culture of the individual: the 19th and 20th centuries
I do believe that argument against those who come from merely fashion, vanity, ego (see Metaphysics and Power) is almost a waste of time. Ignore; but if the arguments are sufficiently destructive there is a problem. And despite the cult of the individual, the product may have value.
The massive loss of nerve in the face of the above.
Despair of construction—there are, however, some systematic thinkers and system builders (there is a serious and renewed interest in the nature, problems and scope of metaphysics).
The relative isolation of the schools and trends: continental philosophy and the inheritance of rationalism vs. Anglo-American philosophy and the inheritance of empiricism. Scientific materialism dominates idealist tendencies.
The surreality of post-modernism and related schools.
Philosophy as an adjunct, merely edifying as providing a clarifying commentary—if that.
Theoretical understanding primary, ‘philosophy of life’ as secondary.
Relation to the disciplines philosophy as (wide-ranging) participant—not as cultural gatekeeper.
Historical orientation to philosophy: philosophy of history of philosophy: hermeneutics.
There is, in addition to material factors, a psychology of the tidal flow in the conception of philosophy: both the idea of philosophy as instructor / cultural gatekeeper and merely edifying / merely participating are based in the same elements of the ego. First and primitively, in search for identity, separation and opposition: the disciplines. And only secondarily in the culture of the individual, in the various cultural influences, in the aggrandizement of the self or the special group over the whole. Here, too, is the origin of philosophy as merely something—merely analysis of concepts, language, ordinary language… and the idea of language games as mere games, of the incommensurability of paradigms, of speech communities isolated by their own conventions….
184.108.40.206 Maturation: Philosophy as a discipline with distinct content and methods
There always has been, since the origins of Greek philosophy, a distinction between what might be called the philosophical or reflective and the scientific or instrumental temperaments. Both temperaments are found within philosophy and science and this makes the distinction somewhat subtle. Thus, within philosophy, there are rationalists and empiricists; and, within science, there are theoreticians and experimenters.
In the beginnings, the distinction between philosophy and the disciplines, though present was not formal or clear cut—the disciplines are modern but the distinctions are not.
It is in the early modern period that physics began to mature as an independent discipline. This was followed by biology, then psychology and, in the 19th and 20th centuries by the social sciences and aesthetics.
This process brought about a self-consciousness within philosophy—what is philosophy, what subjects may be properly said to be the province of philosophy, and does philosophy have its own distinct methods—and, if so, what are those methods?
The questions are not fully but are accentuated and given new meaning in the modern period; the emphasis on these questions has accelerated in recent philosophy.
There are two broad approaches to delineating the subject matter of philosophy. We may specify the content: e.g. philosophy is analysis. This, of course, specifies method and content. The content, under analysis, is language and concepts; and the method is the analysis of structure and meaning. This is simple in the interest of being brief. Alternatively, we may specify what philosophy is not. E.g., philosophy is not science. But, one would not want to ban ‘scientific method’ in the doing of philosophy. One would then say, perhaps, that philosophy is not the special disciplines. It is not that the special disciplines could not be done under the umbrella of philosophy—rather that would be inefficient; the disciplines are best studied by specialists with specialist tools; to study, say geomorphology, under philosophy would be an encumbrance to philosophy and unenlightening to geomorphology.
Still the distinctions, though useful and valid—both practically and theoretically, are likely not absolute; and any assumption that they are absolute is a sign of times rather than a feature inherent in the pursuit of knowledge.
Maturation brings both confidence and doubt.
These speculations are exemplified, informed and confirmed by the recent schools of philosophy.
5.2.1 20th Century Schools and Trends of Philosophy
What is a school of philosophy, and how are schools defined, described or identified? The boundaries are not absolute and there are lateral and vertical (historical) connections. For example, the empiricist tradition has origins in the atomism of Greek philosophy, was influenced by Aristotle, William of Occam and took hold in the modern period in Britain and this subsequently influenced the entire history of philosophy in the English speaking world. Thus, analytic philosophy has strong ties with British empiricism. Such developments are not monolithic; America, particularly, is pluralistic—especially in the 19th century when pragmatism with ties to holism, Darwinism and empiricism originated… and in the latter 20th century when many thinkers, often under the influence of the continent, undertook criticism of the concept of philosophy and the deconstruction of paradigms and texts. A second major strain of philosophical thought, rationalism, has origins in the Greek philosophies of substance and change, the idealism of Plato, and continued on in scholasticism, in the rationalism of the continental philosophers—Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant, Hegel; in the idealistic philosophies of Marxism (which has a dual roots in rationalism and empiricism), in neo-Kantianism, neo-Hegelianism, and existentialism. As noted above, such developments are not monolithic: Marxism, and existentialism have dual roots; there were significant schools of idealism and realism in 19th and early 20th century Britain and America. The identification of schools is a general guide; and, once a school is recognized, philosophers may identify with this or that school—or be so identified by others. Such influences show that the real definitions of schools are only rough and indicate family resemblances with rather porous boundaries. This is, in part, in the nature of philosophy with its indefinite, self-defining and self-transforming nature.
When we review the literature on the descriptions of the schools we find that each identified school is specified, at most, by family resemblance. Beyond this, there is the curious phenomenon of different writers identifying the schools according to somewhat different characteristics, different time periods, different boundaries—yet each writer presents his description as though it presents simple factual information stated, often, in dogmatic form. The conclusion is that while schools of philosophy exist, they are, of course, interactive—despite the contrary idea contained in the ‘incommensurability of speech communities’—with boundaries, epochs and adherents that are, however, not at all definite in their specification.
The definitions of the following schools are from One Hundred Twentieth-Century Philosophers, by Stuart Brown, Diane Collinson and Robert Wilkinson, 1998. The purpose to the inclusion here is to have available the philosophy of an era as an object that, despite internal complexity, may be seen as a simple item that is part of the stream of thought—that eras of philosophical thought as objects. This contributes to the intuitive understanding of history that may transcend formal theories; and lends itself to the formulation of explicit understanding.
220.127.116.11 Absolute Idealism
‘Whatever is real is an aspect of the eternal consciousness or absolute spirit.’.
Origins: Hegel and Schelling.
England: Thomas Hill Green (1836—1882), FH Bradley Appearance and Reality 1893, HH Joachim, Bernard Bosanquet, John Ellis McTaggart.
France: A. Fouillée (1838—1912), Emile Betroux (1845—1922).
America: Josiah Royce, Brand Blanshard.
Italy: Benedetto Croce, Giovanni Gentile.
18.104.22.168 Analytic Philosophy
‘Philosophy is the analysis of concepts. It should not attempt to make statements about the nature of reality or should do so only in a limited way.’.
Analytic philosophy is sometimes considered to be the same as linguistic philosophy.
Analytic philosophy includes the movement known as ‘Oxford philosophy’.
Analytic philosophy is perhaps too broad to be called a school—it is in some senses a trend, a movement, or a paradigm of how to do philosophy.
Analytic philosophy is the paradigm or trend that informs the dominant strains of philosophy in the English speaking countries and Scandinavia in the 20th century. It may be thought of as continuing the empiricist tradition that found its main home in Britain. This tradition may be seen as going back to Aristotle and standing in contrast to the other main paradigm of philosophy—that of rationalism that can be seen as beginning with Plato, continuing on the continent with Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant, Hegel and into recent times—the 20th and 21st centuries—with the various neo-rationalisms and modern Continental philosophy.
Places: Cambridge, Vienna Circle, Uppsala Sweden, Lyov-Warsaw Scholl.
Modern: Frege, Russell, Moore, Wittgenstein, Ayer, Quine, Strawson, Hare, Davidson.
Sub-developments: Logical positivism, linguistic philosophy. Wittgenstein rejected the practice of reductive analysis and focused on use or practice as the source of stable meanings.
A. J. Ayer (the problem of knowledge).
22.214.171.124.2 Analytic Philosophy—Phase 2: Linguistic Analysis
Gilbert Ryle, J. C. Austin, Peter Strawson, Iris Murdoch, John Searle in the U.S.
126.96.36.199.3 Analytic Philosophy—Phase 3: Philosophy of Mind
In the later phase analytic philosophy has become broader than strictly linguistic philosophy; analysis of concepts, however, remains important.
188.8.131.52 Anti-Realist Trends and Tendencies in 20th Century Philosophy: Pragmatism, Positivism, Analytic Philosophy
Anti-realism is a descendant of empiricism but does not represent a single school; a number of schools may be subsumed under anti-realism. The following paragraphs, therefore, contain repetition.
The focus on sense data and experience of empiricism becomes a focus on conventionalism and fictionalism in the hands of Mach, Avenarius, and Vaihinger; in pragmatism: a focus on experimentalism and instrumentalism—the consequences and uses of knowledge over representation as truth criteria; an attack on metaphysics and a scientific reductionism in positivism; and a focus on language in analytic philosophy: facts and descriptions of facts form the content of knowledge.
184.108.40.206.1 Scientific conventionalism and fictionalism
Ernst Mach (1838—1936), R. Avenarius (1843—1896), Hans Vaihinger (1852—1933), Henri Poincare (1854—1912): conventionalism.
Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, John Dewey, C. I. Lewis (1883—1964), F. S. C. Northrop.
John Dewey, C. I. Lewis, P. W. Bridgman, Rudolf Carnap, Ernest Nagel, Charles W. Morris.
A. J. Ayer, Logical Positivism 1959, P. Achinstein and S. F. Barker, eds. Studies in the Philosophy of Science 1969.
220.127.116.11.4 Positivism and ethics
There are two approaches: (1) (Schlick) psychological value, good are mere abstractions, but valuation, approbation are actual psychic occurrences; (2) (Ayer) one class of ‘ethical statements are not propositions at all but ejaculations or commands which are designed to provoke the reader to action of a certain sort’…The statement ‘stealing is wrong’ expresses nothing but my disapproval of theft. (Clearly a pragmatist interpretation of ethics.).
18.104.22.168.5 Analytic and linguistic philosophy
England: Wittgensteinians: Intention G. E. M. Anscombe, Norman Campbell, and extension into the United States: investigated knowledge, certainty, memory; Oxford Philosophers: Gilbert Ryle, The Concept of Mind 1949; John Austin How To Do Things with Words 1962: the total speech act and its environment.
United States: W. V. O. Quine, Word and Object 1960; Noam Chomsky Syntactic Structures 1957.
W. K. Clifford (1845—1879), Karl Pearson (1857—1936), Bertrand Russell (1872—1970)…Challenges to Empiricism H. Morick ed., 1980.
See the later section on Utilitarianism.
Reason as the chief source of knowledge: H. J. Patton, In Defense of Reason 1951; W. H. Walsh, Reason and Experience 1947; A. N. Whitehead Process and Reality 1929; J. M. W. McTaggart The Nature of Existence, 2 volumes, 1921—1927; Brian Ellis Rational Belief System 1979.
…or scientific positivism—the stage of the history of sciences after theology and metaphysics.
‘A positive sociology will lead to a better society’.
22.214.171.124 Continental Philosophy: Trends
In the 20th century continental philosophy was influenced by phenomenology and existentialism. Neo-Kantianism and political philosophy were also among the important movements. Of course, ‘continental philosophy’ is not a single school but is largely influenced by idealism, Kantianism and systematic metaphysics.
Note that the following classification and assignments are from Richard Kearney and Mara Rainwater, eds., The Continental Philosophy Reader, Routledge: London and New York, 1996.
126.96.36.199.1 From phenomenology to Hermeneutics
Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Karl Jaspers, Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty.
Others: Simone de Beauvoir, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Emmanuel Levinas, Paul Ricoeur.
188.8.131.52.2 From Marxism to Critical Theory
Rosa Luxemberg, Walter Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse, Hannah Arendt.
Others: Gyorgy Lukàcs, Antonio Gramsci, Max Horkheimer, Jürgen Habermas, Louis Althusser.
184.108.40.206.3 From Structuralism to Deconstruction
Ferdinand de Saussure, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida.
Others: Roland Barthes, Julia Kristeva, Gilles Deleuze, Luce Irigaray, Jean-François Lyotard.
Deconstructionism includes a challenge to the notion that philosophy criticizes texts in fundamental and distinct ways.
220.127.116.11 Critical Realism
The critical realists were a group of American realists in the 1920s who distinguished themselves from the New Realists of the previous decade. They objected to the ‘naïve’ realism of the new realists who held that physical objects were perceived directly. According to the critical realists, the mind directly perceives only ideas and sense data: (1) Mind is directly confronted with some data, the vehicle of knowledge; (2) physical objects exist independently of mind and are known through sense data, (3) material objects are distinct from the data by which they are known.
D. Drake, A.O. Lovejoy, J. Pratt, A.K. Rogers, George Santayana, Wilfrid Sellars, C.A. Armstrong, in their cooperative volume Essays in Critical Realism, attacked the monistic tenets of the New Realism.
‘All knowledge of the world is based upon sense-experience.’ ‘Experience—sensation and perception rather than ideas, concepts and thought—is the source of knowledge.’.
Radical empiricism is a theory of knowledge in which ideas are reducible to sensations.
Scientific empiricism is another name for logical positivism.
Favored in the 20th century by pragmatists and logical positivists.
William James—radical empiricism.
A.J. Ayer, Herbert Feigl—logical empiricism.
Criticized: Quine, Wittgenstein, Feyerabend.
18.104.22.168 Evolutionary Philosophers
Philosopher’s whose accounts of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics give central importance to evolution, particularly Darwin’s theory of evolution.
C. Lloyd Morgan, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Karl Popper.
Roots: Charles Darwin, Ernst Haeckel, Herbert Spencer.
The nature the experience of existence as a human being in the world. What are the metaphysical, epistemological and ethical entailments of that existence?
A school or movement dominated by thinkers in Germany and France.
Philosophy of irrationalism—actuality over reason: ‘existence precedes essence’ (a-rationalism).
Gives prominence to human passionate and esthetic nature and to human feelings of anguish, love, guilt, sense of inner freedom…has romanticist origins.
Literature as philosophy…life issues: death, sex, religion, politics and meaning; the idea of literature as philosophy is a theme within existentialism. This idea and the more general idea of art, even life, as philosophy is not limited to existentialism.
Truth is free commitment by the individual which leads to ‘faith—philosophy’…choice of individual as total being (not free-willistic).
German existentialism owes many insights to traditional idealism.
Claimed roots: St. Augustine, Pascal.
Roots: Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche.
Main: Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre.
Others: Karl Jaspers, Gabriel Marcel, Martin Buber, Simone de Beauvoir, Maurice Merlau-Ponty.
Mary Warnock Existentialism 1970, Robert D. Cumming, Starting Point 1979.
22.214.171.124 Frankfurt School: Critical Theory
The Institut für Sozialforschung (Institute for Social Research), Frankfurt; founded: Felix J. Weil, 1923, for interdisciplinary Marxist research, provided a base for many brilliant Marxist thinkers of the 20th century. Max Horkheimer established the concept of a Critical Theory when he took over directorship from the historian Carl Grünberg as director in 1930. Due to the rise of Nazism, the institute moved first to Geneva and Paris and then, in 1934, to New York. The Institute was re-established in Frankfurt after WW II.
The distinctive Frankfurt perspective is a flexible post WW II neo-Marxism due to Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer and Herbert Marcuse… a desperate opposition in the face of fascism, Stalinism and managerial capitalism.
Others of the school are: Walter Benjamin; historian Franz Borkenau; economists Friedrich Pollock, Henryk Grossman, Arkady Gurland; psychologists Bruno Bettelheim and Erik Fromm; political theorists Otto Kircheimer and Franz Neumann; and literary theorist Leo Lowenthal.
Later postwar critical theorists, more academic in orientation, include Jürgen Habermas, Karl Otto Apel, Albrecht Wellmer and Alfred Schmidt. Critical theory is continued into the 1990s by philosophers and sociologists such as Claus Offe, Axel Honneth and Klaus Eder.
A form of Absolute Idealism (see Absolute Idealism, above, for names) associated with Hegel’s influence. Hegelianism is both a method—the dialectic—and a doctrine, the doctrine of what is real—the final category of dialectical analysis—the Absolute idea. The method and doctrine are inseparable, the method is precisely the formulation of the doctrine and the doctrine is precisely the detailed expression of the method.
Though Hegel was despised by analytical philosophers in the middle decades of the 20th century, the study of his work has flowered since the 1970s.
‘The art and methodology of interpretation’.
Hermeneutics is usually applied across time to texts. This concept could fruitfully be applied, also, across geographical and cultural borders to cultural, political and other activities. It could be applied within a given culture as the hermeneutics of the media and politics: what is the real message behind the rhetoric?
Related to rhetoric and the philosophy of rhetoric. Philosophy as rhetoric.
Originated in ancient Greece, hermeneutics became an adjunct to theology under Christianity and achieved prominence in the 19th century as a methodology of the human studies which challenged positivism.
Recently fashionable among Western intellectuals particularly because it figured in the philosophies of Heidegger and Gadamer.
Also Friedrich Schleiermacher, Wilhelm Dilthey.
Common presuppositions: there are common, basic features of humanity; and (Giambattista) Vico’s principle that man can understand what man has made.
Various meanings; a generic meaning one associated with Leibniz in the 17th century gives priority to the human mind. Leibniz called Plato the greatest of idealists. That form of monism which holds that the substance of all being is mental—idea, will…—could be labeled ‘metaphysical idealism.’.
Has been contrasted with realism and opposed by pragmatism and personalism from the latter part of the 19th century and into the 20th century. 19th century in England and America philosophy was strongly idealistic. The influence of idealism waned in the 20th century but there has been some revival in the 1980s and 90s.
The idealists distinguish between (1) intellect (verstand: understanding): the function of thought which mechanizes experience, and (2) rational insight (vernunft: reason), and though the idealists—especially Hegel and his followers –tend to be intellectual, they emphasize reason. They tend to be opponents of extreme intellectualism and have this in common with (1) pragmatists, positivists, conventionalists and fictionalists, and especially analytical philosophers who hold that knowledge is limited to study and description of the facts of experience; and (2) intuitionists and romanticists.
Related to idealism are intuitionism and existentialism.
Godfrey Vesey ed., Idealism Past and Present 1982, the central role of the ideal or spiritual.
The intuitionism of Henri Bergson is anti-rationalistic. The opposition between static and dynamic aspects is important.
In mathematics, LEJ Brouwer ‘Truth is what is known to be true’… mathematics is not reducible to logic.
In ethics ( GE Moore)—moral truths are known by intuition.
There are no natural rights except the positive laws of countries. Derives from logical positivism in so far as natural rights are metaphysical.
Jeremy Bentham; in the 20th century Hans Kelsen and, of the Uppsala school, Axel Hägerström.
126.96.36.199 Linguistic Philosophy
Influenced by and ‘can be seen as a development within analytical philosophy.’ ‘The problems of philosophy can be solved or dissolved by careful attention to the details of language—especially ordinary language.’ Speech acts (J. L. Austin, John Searle)—uses of language other than to state facts.
In Oxford and Cambridge, under the influence of the later Wittgenstein—the Wittgenstein of Philosophical Investigations… and picked up by Ryle, Austin, and Wisdom.
America: Bouwsma, Searle.
Scandinavia: von Wright, Justus Hartnack.
188.8.131.52 Logical Positivism
A form of positivism influenced by the ascent of science—the only meaningful propositions, i.e. those that are certainly true or false about the world, are the ones that are verifiable by the methods of science. Philosophy should not be concerned with the synthetic but its business is analysis—and analysis is the way that the truth of the propositions of logic and mathematics are discovered. The propositions of ethics and metaphysics are not verifiable and, so, not meaningful. Properly derives from the Vienna Circle (Otto Neurath, Moritz Schlick, Rudolf Carnap—‘the brightest’) and associated groups in Berlin (Carl Gustav Hempel, Richard von Mises), Lyov and Uppsala. Emphasis on logic and language, presaged in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.
A problem of Logical Positivism was the status of observation statements. The program included the reduction of everything to observation statements… regarding which there was no unanimous agreement. Schlick equated observation statements to sensation statements; Neurath and Carnap wanted to stop at statements describing physical objects.
184.108.40.206 Lyov-Warsaw School—the ‘Warsaw Circle’
Similar to and had contact with Vienna… though less extreme in its positivistic outlook and less programmatically adventurous.
Preoccupied with logic and language. Distrusted ‘abstract speculation of an illusive and deceptive clarity’. Some, like Ajdukiewicz was closer to Logical Positivism, others like Kotabiski, Lukasiewicz and Tarski, though they favored logic without metaphysics, were less extreme.
Best known as a socio-political theory rooted in Hegelian idealism and its notion of dialectic… but firmly located at the material level resulting in dialectical materialism. When dialectical materialism is applied to history it implies a class struggle within each society (thesis) generating its own contradiction (antithesis) until there is a new synthesis.
According to Marx, society consists of a dominant economic base with a cultural superstructure that depends on the economic base and the means of production. In Das Kapital, the primary impact of capitalist economics is to alienate workers from their labor—or reification, the transformation of labor and worker into economic commodities. Marxism is a philosophy with a definite socio-political agenda—to change the world rather than just interpret it.
Gyorgy Lukàcs, Frankfurt school.
‘Late 20th century decline of communism eroded Marxism’s philosophical and aesthetic authority’…we don’t know that the story is over… and, besides, who is writing that story?
For post-modernists Marxism is a paradigm of an outmoded grand narrative or universal theory.
The world is fundamentally material.
Mental phenomena are a function of / reducible to physical phenomena.
Putatively diametrically opposite to idealism… and there is a long history of this opposition in India, China, Greece, and Europe’s philosophies and, to a lesser degree, in those of Japan and Latin America.
As a reaction to analytical behaviorism (Gilbert Ryle) and partly because recent developments in biochemistry and physiological psychology have greatly increased the plausibility of materialism in the philosophy of mind, there has lately been a resurgence of interest in central state materialism. The following notes are not a complete account of materialist theories. Metaphysical concerns are omitted; ethical materialism is ignored.
Central State Materialism (CSM)—mental processes are brain processes.
Analytical Behaviorism—mind is not a thing (even a very complex thing, or a nonmaterial thing) but a shorthand reference to ways of behaving in circumstances.
Translation CSM—mentalist discourse is neutral between physicalism and dualism or can be translated into such form: U. T. Place of Britain, J. J. C. Smart and D. M. Armstrong of Australia, Herbert Feigel and David K. Lewis of the United States.
Disappearance CSM: the translation is not possible, mentalism is false. P. K. Feyerabend, W. V. Quine, Wilfred Sellars of the United States.
At the University of Munich, significant in phenomenology, largely due to Theodore Lipps (1851—1914) at that University, whose psychologism stood in opposition to Husserl’s phenomenology. Lipps held that psychology could serve as a foundation for logic, i.e. the a priori can be founded in the phenomena of thought.
Members traveled between Munich and Göttingen (Husserl and the Göttingen circle)… and membership in the two circles overlapped.
Adolf Reinach, Theodor Conrad, Moritz Geiger, Aloys Fischer, August Gallinger, Ernst von Aster, Hans Cornelius, Dietrich von Hilde-Brand, Max Scheler.
Most commonly, naturalism holds that there are no supernatural causes (needed to explain phenomena)… materialism is a form of naturalism but a naturalist need not be a materialist—naturalism has no ontological preference. But what is natural, or supernatural? This is not the most profitable to understanding naturalism. To be saying something positive, naturalism must be saying more than that ‘there are no supernatural causes,’ or that ‘all influences lie within the universe,’ for the terms involved are rather vague. The idea of ‘nature’ also has to do with simple, given. The idea of ‘nature’ is in opposition to the idea of the occult—hidden factors and influences. Thus naturalism is the idea that the world can be understood. Owing to the dominance of science, naturalism is often equated with the idea that all knowledge of the universe falls within the pale of scientific investigation. This, unfortunately, leads to a rather cold and clinical picture. But the original idea of science, in my view, is not one of a method, or a rationality, or a logic or empiric. Also, the idea that the universe is intelligible imparts a clinical view. To retain the idea of science but not the clinical ‘air,’ conceive of science as the understanding of the real pattern of the world. That leads to a naturalistic conception of naturalism.
Naturalism has many meanings, kinds (axiological, epistemological, ethical) and varieties.
Santayana—a major influence on early 20th century American naturalism… and on Morris Cohen, Woodbridge.
Dewey, RW Sellars, Ernest Nagel, Sidney Hook.
Diverse but (1) reaction to the philosophical positions in Germany c. 1850, especially Hegelian Idealism, naturalism, monism, materialism and (2) ‘Back to Kant’ (Otto Lieb, 1865).
No clearly identified common philosophical tendency—despite the slogan, ‘Back to Kant.’ Early views were labeled ‘physiological,’ while later views were ‘realistic’ or ‘metaphysical.’ Two important philosophical traditions within Neo-Kantianism are the Marburg and Baden (or Heidelberg or South German) schools; the Göttingen school was also important.
Marburg school—close to the metaphysical school but emphasizing science and epistemological considerations: Hermann Cohen, Paul Natorp, Ernst Cassirer. Cassirer emphasized culture and so came close to the Baden school.
Baden school—placed emphasis on values and their role in the humanities: Wilhelm Windelbland, Heinrich Rickert.
Göttingen school—reacting to the Baden school, Leonard Nelson placed greater emphasis on psychology: Leonard Nelson who was largely influenced by the thought of Jakob Friedrich Fries.
‘All neo-scholastics have common commitments: to a realism, epistemological and the objective reality of values; to metaphysics as foundational of philosophy; and, thirdly, that, broadly, the scholastics approached philosophy in the right way.’.
A continuation of scholasticism but tends to focus on Aquinas. Originated mid-19th century, committed to a belief in a philosophia perennis and that Aquinas, of all European philosophers came closest to it. That view was discredited.
Scholasticism itself began with the Aristotelian revival in the 12th century, flourished in the 13th and 14th centuries, languished, and was revived in the 16th and 17th centuries by Cajetan, John of St. Thomas, and Francisco Suarez.
Bernard Lonergan, Emerich Coreth, Joseph Maréchal, Johannes Lotz.
220.127.116.11 New Realism
‘The knower and known are independent for some classes of object—the physical, minds, mathematical entities. The mind directly perceives physical objects.’ Epistemological monism: the object of knowledge is directly given to consciousness.
Six men: EB Holt, WT Marvin, WP Montague, RB Perry, WT Pitkin, EG Spaulding.
Much in common with Russell, Moore and Samuel Alexander.
Opposition to idealist doctrine of internal relations—the idea that relations between entities may transform those entities. Idealism is ‘skeptical.’ (However, idealism is not inherently skeptical.).
Independence of knower-known… in case of physical things, minds, mathematical entities.
Adopted neutral monism in order to avoid idealism or materialism.
The term has origins in the 19th century—Schleirmacher, ‘God is a person’… a reaction to Absolute Idealism, pantheism. In the early 20th century the use of the term focused on individual humans as fundamental, irreducible entities.
Though excluding naturalism, materialism and reacting against Absolute Idealism, included some Absolute Idealists—Caird, Calkins and Green.
Included idealists: Brightman, Carr, Howison, Rashdall, Webb who rejected the tendency of Hegelian idealism to monism and pantheism.
Included realists: Pringle-Pattison, Pratt.
Catholic personalism: a reaction against naturalist and materialist philosophies.
A group of philosophies bearing family resemblance rather than common doctrines …but what, if anything, is common to all phenomenology? Rejection of empiricism, positivism, naturalism and psychologism (except, see, Munich Circle)… and a focus on the contents of mind as inspiration for though not, in all versions of phenomenology, as foundation of the contents and conception of the real.
18.104.22.168.1 Realist Phenomenology
Originally inspired by Husserl, Alexius Menong (1853—1921) on the theory of objects.
Rejects the empiricist restriction to the physical and the mental.
Everything has its essence: existents—the physical and the mental but also numbers, states of affairs, logical laws, institutions.
There are synthetic or synthetic-like a priori truths whose necessity is purely objective and has nothing do with how we do or must think.
Intentionality is central.
‘A method for the description and analysis of consciousness through which philosophy attempts to gain the character of a strict science … and, thereby, a secure foundation for human knowledge’.
Influenced by Franz Brentano’s intentional psychology.
Preliminary to the transcendental phenomenology is the phenomenological analysis of experienced reality. This is crucial to any ‘static or dynamic map of mind.’ It is natural though not logical that this should develop into a metaphysics.
Intentionality important… not conceived as relation to the external world.
Transcendental Phenomenology is the description of the essential structures constituting the world in transcendental subjectivity.
Ludwig Landgrebe, Walter Biemel.
Europe: H.L. Van Breda, and Alphonse de Waelhens of Belgium, Stephan Strasser of The Netherlands, Enzo Paci of Italy, Jan Patocka of Czechoslovakia and, in Poland, Roman Ingarden.
United States Marvin Farber, a student of Husserl, The Foundation of Phenomenology (1943). At the New School for Social Research in New York, Alfred Schütz, Austrian-born (died 1959), and Aron Gurwitsch, Lithuanian-born, author of Théorie du champ de la conscience (1957; The Field of Consciousness, 1964), and Herbert Spiegelberg, an Alsatian-American Phenomenologist The Phenomenological Movement (2nd ed., 1965).
22.214.171.124.3 Hermeneutic Phenomenology
Heidegger… because the phenomenological task of Dasein is the interpretation, conceptual unfolding of its understanding of being.
126.96.36.199.4 Existential Phenomenology
e.g. Merleau-Ponty Structure of Behavior 1963, Phenomenology of Perception 1962, exposes the prejudice of an objective world; the task is to describe the ‘life-world’.
The distinction from transcendental phenomenology is its focus on the concrete, situated, historical, engaged body-subject, not the transcendental ego.
Jean Paul Sartre, Maurice Merlau-Ponty, Paul Ricoeur, Suzzane Bachelard.
188.8.131.52 Philosophical Anthropology
Reaction against mechanistic studies of human nature characteristic of Darwinian, Freudian and other approaches and, therefore, has affinities with existentialism and phenomenology.
Traced back to Kant… precursors in the early 20th century—Dilthey, Husserl.
Flourished 1920s—30s Germany; key figures—Max Scheler, Helmet Plessner.
Ludwig Binswanger, Martin Buber, Ernst Cassirer, Arnold Gehlen, RD Lang, Michael Polanyi, Werner Sombart.
184.108.40.206 Philosophical Logic
Philosophical logic is not a ‘school’ but is included for completeness.
The treatment is incomplete. Frege, Russell (also, till the end, a British empiricist; Russell on knowledge), Wittgenstein (mainly the Tractatus but also Philosophical Investigations for its influence on linguistic philosophy, Rudolf Carnap, W. V. O. Quine, Kurt Gödel.
Any view in which science has a monopoly over knowledge of the universe. Usually anti-metaphysical and anti-religious.
The term was introduced by Claude-Henri Saint-Simon and popularized by his follower Auguste Comte; Comtean positivism was a philosophy and a substitute religion.
Less professionally academic than logical positivism and due to the associations some members of the Vienna Circle preferred the name of Logical Empiricism to Logical Positivism.
220.127.116.11.1 Meaning 1
Finding place within Marxism for various new social movements: feminism, anti-institutional ecology, various minorities.
…as well the techniques of post-modernism and post-structuralism; and a challenge to classical Marxist assumptions e.g., the central position of the working class in moving social change, notions of hegemony and of historical necessity. Aims at a pluralistic approach to politics.
Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe.
18.104.22.168.2 Meaning 2
A break with and move beyond Marxism. More of an attitude (disillusionment) to Marxism than a system of thought, originating e.g., when French intellectuals had their faith in Marxism shaken by the actions of the French communist party in the 1968 Paris événements when the party was felt to have colluded with the state in diffusing a revolutionary situation.
Jean-François Lyotard, Jean Baudrillard and others rejected Marxism and turned to / created post-modernism in its various guises.
Rejects modernism, the ‘Grand Narrative’ emancipation (that stems from the enlightenment) and Hegelianism ( and its ideal of the complete synthesis of knowledge ). Examines and criticizes social and cultural tendencies that dominated advance capitalist societies since the 1950’s. The ‘Grand Narrative’ replaced by language games which are arbitrary, replaceable, relative, restricted, incommensurable; and, since there is no self-legitimation of language games, they are replaceable. A criticism of synthesis and of the concept of progress; time itself is ‘dislocated,’ it is not constant, uniform, split into past and future, the present is not a link from past to future. Reality is a collage of ephemeral images, no more. E.g., Baudrillard’s statement that the Gulf War did not take place; instead, the West was confronted with fragmentary television images which presented, but did not represent ‘happenings.’.
The statement above is a little longer than for other schools, not because of philosophical importance but to give a flavor to a segment of culture that I want to understand.
Began 1970s in philosophy, culture, arts.
Jean-François Lyotard, Jean Baudrillard, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari… claims Nietzsche among its philosophical ancestors.
The computer has marginalized knowledge that cannot be stored in a data bank.
A movement within philosophical and literary criticism; deconstruction is within its scope—the meaning of the literary text is indeterminate and there is no stability of meaning in language—thus anti-Wittgensteinian; the moderate and, according to some critics of post-structuralism, most useful aspect is the idea that a text can assume or be assigned many meanings. The extreme claim is that a text can take any interpretation whatsoever. Hostile to structuralism with its claims to scientific objectivity, detachment, comprehensiveness. The movement is anti-traditional, anti-metaphysical and anti-ideological—are these positions or reactions?
Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, Julia Kristeva, Jean-François Lyotard and (in later writings) Roland Barthes.
Trends in common with postmodernism. With an easy if constipated flourish the idols are smashed.
France, late 1960s then quickly spread to parts of Europe and North America.
No stability of meaning in language.
Word-association (de Saussure) escapes the public and rule-governed nature of language and is a prime example of liberation and creativity. Derrida’s article Shibboleth includes word-associations ‘Shibboleth’, ‘Anniversaries’, ‘Rings’, ‘Circumcision’ and is interspersed with German words (the Saussurean assertion that the division between natural languages is arbitrary).
Pierce –the originator of pragmatism– emphasizes truth as the outcome of scientific inquiry rather than defining inquiry as aiming at truth. Reality is what it is independent of what anyone thinks of it and so reality is the object of a true belief. Pierce used his pragmatism to clarify the ideas of meaning, truth and reality. Although there are clear affinities with Wittgenstein, people do not seem to make this point. There is also an affinity with the thought that knowledge, at base, does not stand independently of life or action—that occurs only in special circumstances, e.g. ‘science.’ However, in the field where knowledge can stand independently it is natural to use ‘intrinsic’ criteria: that is the meaning and function of independence; and in the general case there is no need to give criteria or narrative. Pragmatism is useful in pointing to the fact that knowledge, meaning, truth, reality have broader bases than sometimes previously and otherwise conceived; this, however, can be seen otherwise.
Origins—1860s; the work of thinkers in science, mathematics, law, psychology and philosophy: in consequence of Darwin’s thought there could be a naturalization of knowledge itself.
Aim—a scientific philosophy in which questions can be settled as decisively as in the sciences.
‘Pragmatic’ adopted from Kant—‘A judgment about which one cannot be objectively certain but is practically certain.’ British psychologist Alexander Bain characterizes ‘belief as that upon which one is prepared to act.’.
William James made pragmatism famous, John Dewey applied it to all areas of life, especially education.
Pierce, James, Dewey are the most important pragmatists.
George Herbert Mead carried the evolutionist and pragmatist view of mind further, developed a theory of origin of language, intelligence and self out of interactions and gestures and, then, a difficulty metaphysics and a fruitful social psychology.
CI Lewis developed conceptualistic pragmatism—a pragmatic theory of the a priori: the a priori –not the empirical– element of knowledge is pragmatic. FCS Schiller –not an originator of pragmatism but a main advocate in Britain– developed pragmatic humanism. Pragmatic threads are taken up by Quine, Davidson and Rorty.
22.214.171.124 Process Philosophy
A metaphysics in which process, not substance, is fundamental.
a 20th-century school of Western philosophy that emphasizes the elements of becoming, change, and novelty in experienced reality; it opposes the traditional Western philosophical stress on being, permanence, and uniformity.
Henri Bergson, 1859—1941, is often regarded as the originator of process philosophy; his main ideas are expounded in Creative Evolution, 1907. A. N. Whitehead’s 1929 work Process and Reality is a landmark in the development of process philosophy; and, also due to… influenced in the latter part of the 20th century, by Charles Hartshorne. Samuel Alexander 1859—1938, Space, Time and Deity, 1920, a process metaphysician, developed a metaphysics of emergent evolution involving time, space, matter, mind, and deity.
There are various ‘realisms’ according to what is taken as real (ideas, matter, universals, substances, process, relationship, ethics…) and what that conception is applied to—the whole world or a part or aspect of it, so much so that no general statement is possible as regards the content of realism. However the concept of realism has to do with the idea that the world is independent of the knowing mind. Of course, this too, is highly underspecified—e.g. it allows for the world to be constituted of mind or of matter or both or, yet, something else… and these conceptions are in turn also minimally specified—but it does lend itself to the idea that objects exist, in some form or guise, independently of their being perceived or defined in social convention.
In the most persistent realist concern is that of the reality of ‘universals,’ the principles of the classification of things. When a new object is called a horse one feels that one is doing something essentially right in calling it a horse—if that is what it is—rather than a giraffe. Realists hold that such classification corresponds to something in the world; according to nominalists the reality of the natures of things is mere naming. Conceptualists hold a middle ground and accord universals reality as categories of the mind.
Plato: abstract but not sense objects are real—leads to idealism. While some forms of idealism and realism stand in opposition, it is a mistake to suppose that idealism and realism are essentially opposed. Plato was also a moral realist in that he opposed the view that moral values are dependent on social convention… his theory of forms is one kind of moral realism.
Aristotle: realism of sense objects—the main alternative to Plato.
Frege, among others, subscribed to the controversial position of realism in mathematics.
20th century realism begins with Russell and Moore as a reaction to the 19th and early 20th century dominance of Absolute Idealism in philosophy in British and American universities. This led in Britain to Russell’s empiricism and to logical positivism and linguistic analysis and, in America, to, first, New Realism and then to Critical Realism.
Realism stands generally but not absolutely in opposition to idealism, subjectivism, relativism, constructivism, phenomenalism.
A problem of realism relative to an empiricist epistemology: unobservable theoretical entities in an empiricist epistemology are not real. Opposed to this ‘scientific realists’ such as RW Sellars assert the reality of all scientific entities including unobservable ones. (This problem is in part the result of philosophy developing as a separate discipline rather than in relation to other disciplines. The possible types of relation include inclusion, interactivity… but the key point is that such divisions should not themselves be the generators of problems and paradoxes and this becomes possible when it is not asserted in advance that so and so topic is the province of such and such discipline or endeavor but, rather the provinces of the known and of knowledge are seen as integral wholes and more even that distinction is not regarded as an a priori absolute but in so far as it is real –and even if that reality should turn out to be necessary reality– it should be treated as a contingent real.).
The 1980s and 1990s have seen the revivalism of an ethical realism as reaction to various forms of subjectivism and pervasive realism in ethics.
126.96.36.199 Semiology—‘The Science Of Signs’
Semiological analysis: analyzing the grammatical relations between signs in given system.
Derived from the structuralism inspired by Ferdinand de Saussure.
Claude Levi-Strauss applied this idea to a group of South American Indian myths to reveal the group as a genre with its own underlying grammar.
Roland Barthes applied it to advertising, fashion… to identify the semiological codes and audience response.
188.8.131.52 Sociology of Knowledge
A view of epistemology in which social relations are important in establishing what is accepted as knowledge. Affinities with pragmatism and Wittgenstein.
Karl Mannheim 1893—1947, remembered for a study of science as a social organization having a sociological impact outside itself.
Structuralism: the concepts de Saussure’s linguistic analysis applied to any system e.g. Levi-Strauss on myth or Edmund Leach on Genesis.
de Saussure’s synchronic (a-historical, looking at a slice through time) approach was: 1. Model language as a self-regulating whole with parts, 2. Recognize a deep level ‘Langue’ or rules and ‘Parole; the surface level product (strings of words) of the rules. Note the similarity with Chomsky, Fodor.
Influential throughout the 20th century but in the last three decades of the 20th century displaced by post-structuralism.
184.108.40.206 Twentieth Century Realism
Twentieth century realism is largely influenced by science—Scientific Realism: supported by nineteenth and twentieth century advances in mathematics, logic and science, ‘the object of knowledge in perception, memory, logical and mathematical thought, and science, is a reality which exists and possesses properties independent of the knowing mind.’ Scientific Realism draws, historically, from David Hume’s philosophical empiricism and skepticism. Its paradigmatic influences include psychological atomism, empiricism and the analytic method.
Also influential in Twentieth century realism are the British philosophers G. E. Moore—constructive realism applied to sense data; Bertrand Russell—physical realism as the simplest hypothesis: ‘Every principle of simplicity urges us to accent the natural view of objects behind sensations’… extended to universals: akin to Plato; Samuel Alexander—Space, Time and Deity, 1929; Alfred North Whitehead—philosophy of organicism, process as real.
220.127.116.11 Uppsala School
A positivistic movement in Uppsala, Sweden founded by Axel Hägerstrom, Adolf Phalén, flourished 1910—1940… prior philosophy there, as in Britain and America, was strongly idealistic.
One of three places (the other two homes of positivism being the Vienna Circle and Cambridge) where analytic philosophy originated, according to Justus Hartnack, largely independently… Uppsala shared with the Vienna School the view that moral utterances have no truth value and an anti-metaphysical bias… and with Cambridge (Moore and Russell) the emphasis on conceptual analysis and commitment to realism.
Continued post WW II by Konrad Marc-W0gau, Ingemar Hedenius… but more influenced by the Vienna Circle, Anglo-American analytic philosophy than by Hägerstrom or Phalén.
Traditionally, the view that the right act or action will produce the greatest amount of pleasure or happiness in the world as a whole. More recently, especially in England, the same view with happiness generalized to ‘good.’.
Jeremy Bentham 1748—1832 regarded as the founder but has antecedents in Helvetius, Hutcheson and Hume… pleasure/pain are intrinsically good/bad and the morality of an action correlates with the amount of pleasure and pain.
JS Mill distinguished higher and lower pleasures in contrast to Bentham’s use of ‘quantity of pleasure’… but issue of (role of) justice remains.
Henry Sidgwick and GE Moore reject psychological hedonism and assert moral principles may be known intuitively.
18.104.22.168.1 In the 20th century—Rule, Act and Preference Utilitarianism; Criticisms of Utilitarianism
Rule Utilitarianism: right action observes rules that maximize happiness. Stephen Toulmin, Patrick Nowell-Smith, (J. S. Mill), John Rawls.
Act Utilitarianism: the right act produces maximum happiness in a given situation. JJC Smart: there is no proof of Utilitarianism but it is of general appeal and provides guidance.
Preference Utilitarianism of RM Hare: the right act provides what people prefer.
Criticism of utilitarianism by Bernard Williams: mature persons shape their lives by meaningful projects whose importance is not determined by utilitarianism.
Jan Narveson Morality and Utility 1967; Michael D. Bayles, ed. Contemporary Utilitarianism 1968; J. J. C. Smart An Outline of a System of Utilitarian Ethics 1961; Donald Regan Utilitarianism and Cooperation 1980.
The group of logical positivists, 1920s—30s, Vienna, led by Moritz Schlick, published a manifesto 1929 stating its scientific outlook. Broken up by Nazism.
22.214.171.124.1 Members and Associates
Philosophers: Rudolf Carnap, Otto Neurath, Herbert Feigl, Friedrich Waisman, Edgar Zilsel, Victor Kraft.
Scientists and mathematicians: Phillip Frank, Karl Menger, Kurt Gödel, Hans Hahn.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Karl Popper associated with members but distanced themselves from the ideas.
AJ Ayer associated with the group as a young man, then advocated its views in the English speaking world.
126.96.36.199.2 Brief History
International Congress, Prague, followed by others 1930s, Königsberg, Copenhagen, Prague, Paris, Cambridge… led to alliances with similar groups in Berlin, Uppsala and Warsaw… and, also to an influence through AJ Ayer and others on philosophy at Oxford and Cambridge.
Like minds in Britain—Susan Stebbing, Richard Braithwaite; and in USA—Ernest Nagel, Charles Morris, WVO Quine.
After its breakup, remained influential in USA (Carnap emigrates, publishes International Encyclopedia of Unified Science which included Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions even though it was remote from the original spirit). Influence in the English speaking world diluted because of the way logical positivism influenced analytic philosophy. Influence in Scandinavia continued, particularly through the Uppsala School.
188.8.131.52 Vitalism in the 20th Century
Life irreducible to physico-chemical processes. Driesch, von Uexküll.
Contrasted to ‘organicists’ e.g. JS Haldane who agree with the reduction of the organic to the inorganic but deny the equivalence of the inorganic to the mechanical.
Ortega Y Gasset. 1. Reason is the only means to knowledge; and 2. Reason is a property of a living subject.
The disciplines chosen for consideration are: political philosophy, economics and economic philosophy, education and the philosophy of education, natural philosophy, social philosophy and, for the 20th century, the philosophy of science. These various sub-disciplines are not merely applications of philosophy but are essentially intertwined with the mainstream of philosophical thought. Why do I include, both economics and economic philosophy, both education and the philosophy of education…? It is because in the early phase of the development the special discipline was not recognized as separate in its own right—it is likely that thought regarding the content of what is later labeled as a discipline occurs before the idea that the content does or may form an independent, coherent system of understanding; before the development of an independent discipline of economics the very idea that trade and commerce could be thought of in rational way was a novelty and thought in those areas, initially and until foundations could be secured and accepted as such, would have been experienced as philosophical. The same is true for natural philosophy except that the development of the independent natural sciences occurred earlier.
184.108.40.206 Political Philosophy
Details to be developed later
220.127.116.11 Economics and Economic Philosophy
Details to be developed later
18.104.22.168 Education and the Philosophy of Education
Details to be developed later
22.214.171.124 Natural Philosophy
Details to be developed later.
Archimedes, Galileo, Newton, Gauss, Maxwell, Poincaré, Einstein, Dirac, Darwin, Freud.
126.96.36.199 Social Philosophy, Schools of
Details to be developed later.
With sub-disciplines of economic, political and educational philosophy.
188.8.131.52 Philosophy of Science
Details to be developed later.
The treatment is incomplete. Karl Popper (The Logic of Scientific Discovery, The Open Society And Its Enemies, Conjecture And Refutations, The Unended Quest.
Imre Lakatos, Paul Feyerabend, Thomas Kuhn.
184.108.40.206 Philosophies of the disciplines
Details to be developed later.
The treatment is incomplete.
Philosophies of the disciplines: especially the rise of a new philosophy of biology, which, in turn, has implications for epistemology.
Philosophies of the individual sciences—including the sciences of mind and of society; of art, of technology and society; of religion; of history; and of philosophy itself. Philosophy of philosophy brings the specialization through a whole circle back to unity. ‘Philosophy of philosophy,’ the very idea, is a partial characterization of the nature of philosophy: the idea of a ‘physics of physics’ does not make sense—although the same is not true of a ‘science of science’ or of a ‘science of philosophy.’ Philosophy of philosophy also has sub-disciplines such as the important philosophy of the history of philosophy.
The following list of philosophers is complementary to the schools. Many philosophers could be listed under two or more schools. The lists of philosophers associated with each school above tend to be indicative rather than comprehensive; the listing below provides a degree of completeness and further information about the philosophers.
220.127.116.11 American Philosophers
Hannah Arendt 1906—1975; German-American political science, philosophy, ethics.
Roderick Milton Chisholm b. 1916; American; analytic philosophy.
Noam Avram Chomsky b. 1928; American; structuralist, linguist, political philosophy and activist.
Donald Herbert Davidson b. 1917; American; analytic philosopher of mind and language.
John Dewey 1859—1952; American; pragmatist, philosopher of education.
Kurt Gödel 1906—1978; Austrian-American; philosophy of mathematics and mathematical logic, a Platonist in mathematics.
Nelson Goodman b. 1906; American; analytic philosopher of science, education, language; aesthetics.
Charles Hartshorne b. 1897; American; process and evolutionary philosophy, philosophy of religion.
Carl Gustav Hempel b. 1905; German-American; philosophy of science.
William James 1842—1910; American; pragmatism, psychology.
Saul Aaron Kripke b. 1940; American; logic, philosophy of language and mind.
Thomas Samuel Kuhn 1922—1996; American; philosophy and history of science.
Susanne Katerina Langer 1895—1985; American; neo-Kantian symbolist.
David Kellog Lewis b. 1941; American; logician, analytic philosopher of language.
Bernard Lonergan 1904—1984; Canadian; Thomist interested in epistemology and metaphysics.
Norman Malcolm 1911—1990; American; analytic philosopher interested in epistemology, philosophy of language, mind and religion.
Robert Nozick b. 1938; American; political philosophy—libertarianism, epistemology, metaphysics.
Charles Sanders Peirce 1839—1914; American; pragmatism, philosophy of science, logic, physics.
Hilary Putnam b. 1926; American; philosophy of mind, mathematics, mind, language and science.
Willard Van Orman Quine b. 1908; American; logic and mathematical logic, philosophy of language, epistemology, philosophy of science.
John Rawls b. 1921; American; moral and political philosophy—social contract theory, philosophical analysis.
Richard McKay Rorty b. 1931; American; pragmatism—post-analytical and hermeneutic, nature and history of philosophy, metaphysics.
Josiah Royce 1855—1916; American; absolute idealism, metaphysics.
John Rogers Searle b. 1932; American; analytic philosopher with interests in philosophies of language and of mind.
Alfred Tarski 1902—1983; Polish-American; mathematician, logician, philosopher with interests in the theory of truth, philosophy of language, semantics, foundations of mathematics.
Alfred North Whitehead 1861—1947; British-American; process metaphysician, mathematician, philosopher of science.
18.104.22.168 British Philosophers
Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe b. 1919; British; analytic philosopher, ethics and religion, defense of Catholic doctrines.
John Langshaw Austin 1911—1960; British; analytic philosopher of epistemology, language, mind.
Alfred Jules Ayer 1910—1989; British; logical positivist philosopher of epistemology, philosophical logic, ethics.
Francis Herbert Bradley 1846—1924; British; absolute idealist philosopher of ethics, logic, metaphysics.
Robert George Collingwood 1889—1943; British; philosophy of history and art.
Michael Anthony Eardley Dummett b. 1925; British; analytic philosopher, questioned the Principle of Bivalence.
Peter Thomas Geach b. 1916; British; analytic philosopher.
Richard Mervyn Hare b. 1919; British; analytic philosopher.
Alasdair Chalmers MacIntyre b. 1929; British; analytic philosophy, ethics.
John McTaggart Ellis McTaggart 1866—1925; British; ontological idealist.
George Edward Moore 1873—1958; British; analytic philosopher interested in epistemology and moral philosophy.
Jean Iris Murdoch b. 1919; British; ‘I might describe myself as a Wittgensteinian neo-Platonist’.
Karl Raimund Popper 1902—1994; Austrian-British; philosopher of science and evolution, political philosophy.
Frank Plumpton Ramsey 1903—1930; British; philosophy of mathematics, logic, metaphysics.
Bertrand Arthur William Russell 1872—1970; British; logical empiricism, mathematical logic, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, politics, philosophy of science, history of philosophy, criticism of religion.
Gilbert Ryle 1900—1976; British; analytical philosophy, epistemology, philosophy of mind, theory of mind, Plato.
Peter Frederick Strawson b. 1919; British; analytical philosopher working in philosophy of logic and language with interests in epistemology and metaphysics.
Alfred North Whitehead 1861—1947; British-American; process metaphysician, mathematician, philosopher of science.
Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein 1889—1951; Austrian-Naturalized British in 1939; early a logical atomist, later a philosopher of language and meaning emphasizing the context and use of language as providing meaning and stability of meaning; interests included language, philosophy of mind, logic, philosophy of mathematics, nature of philosophy.
22.214.171.124 European Philosophers
Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno 1903—1969; German; Frankfurt School.
Louis Althusser b. 1918; Algerian-French; structural Marxism.
Hannah Arendt 1906—1975; German-American; political science, philosophy, ethics.
Gaston Bachelard 1884—1962; French; philosopher of science and art,.
Walter Benjamin 1892—1940; German; Marxist aesthetics.
Henri-Louis Bergson 1859—1941; French; metaphysics, process philosophy.
Franz Brentano 1838—1917; German-Austrian; philosophical psychology, phenomenology interested in intentionality, act psychology.
Albert Camus, 1913—1960; French; existentialist philosopher of the absurd, ethicist.
Rudolf Carnap 1891—1970; German; logical positivism, analytic philosophy.
Ernst Cassirer 1874—1945; German; neo-Kantian.
Benedetto Croce 1866—1952; Italian; philosopher of the spirit, student of world literature, philosophy, political-economic theory, influenced by Hegel and Marx.
Jacques Derrida b. 1930; Algerian-French; post-structuralist, phenomologist, founder of Deconstructionism.
Wilhelm Dilthey 1833—1911; German; philosopher of culture with a neo-Kantian strain and history, philosopher of worldviews.
Pierre Maurice Marie Duhem 1861—1916; French; philosophy and history of science and intellect; intellect, religion.
Paul Karl Feyerabend 1924—1994; Austrian; anti-empiricist, anti-rationalist philosopher of science.
Michel Foucault 1926—1984; French; post-structuralist, history of ideas.
Gottlob Ludwig Friedrich Frege 1848—1925; German; analytic philosophy, philosophy of logic and mathematics—a Platonist in mathematics.
Hans-Georg Gadamer b. 1900; German; hermeneutic philosopher.
Giovanni Gentile 1875—1844; Italian; idealist metaphysician, the unity of thought and action.
Henri Étienne Gilson 1884—1978; French; neoscholastic, interested in metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics, history of philosophy.
Kurt Gödel 1906—1978; Austrian-American; philosophy of mathematics and mathematical logic, a Platonist in mathematics.
Antonio Gramsci 1891—1937; Italian; Marxist, political philosopher, culture theorist.
Jürgen Habermas b. 1929; German; post-Marxist critical theorist with an interest in hermeneutics.
Nicolai Hartmann 1882—1950; German; metaphysics and ethics.
Martin Heidegger 1889—1976; German; phenomenology, ontology.
Carl Gustav Hempel b. 1905; German-American; philosophy of science.
Edmund Husserl 1859—1938; German; phenomenology.
Roman Ingarden 1893—1970; Polish; phenomenology, a realist, epistemology, aesthetics.
Luce Irigaray b. 1930 or 1932; Belgian with French nationality; feminist philosopher.
Karl Jaspers 1883—1969; German; existentialism, psychology, history of philosophy.
Julia Kristeva b. 1941; Bulgarian; psychoanalyst, linguist, aesthetician.
Jacques Lacan 1901—1981; French; psychoanalyst interested in the philosophy of mind and language.
Vladimir Il’ich Lenin 1870—1924; Russian; Marxist.
Emannuel Levinas b. 1905; French; phenomenologist, theologian.
Gyorgy Lukács 1885—1971; Hungarian; Marxist, aesthetician, metaphysician, literary theorist.
Jean-François Lyotard b. 1924; French; post-modernist, aesthetician, philosopher of language, political philosopher.
Gabriel Marcel 1889—1973; French; neo-Socratic and theistic existentialist.
Herbert Marcuse 1898—1979; German; critical theorist, history of philosophy, social philosophy, psychoanalytic theory.
Jacques Maritain 1882—1973; French; Thomist interested in all areas of philosophy.
Alexius von Meinong 1853—1920; German; metaphysician interest in perception and the philosophy of mind.
Maurice Merleau-Ponty 1908—1961; French; phenomenology, epistemology, aesthetics, philosophy of language.
Friedrich Nietzsche 1884—1900; German; post-Kantian philosopher interested in ontology, epistemology, Greek and Christian thought, values, nihilism, aesthetics, cultural theory.
José Ortega y Gasset 1883—1955; Spanish; ratio-vitalist.
Jean Piaget 1896—1980; Swiss; developmental psychology focusing, especially, on cognition, epistemology.
Karl Raimund Popper 1902—1994; Austrian-British; philosopher of science and evolution, political philosophy.
Paul Ricoeur b. 1913; French; hermeneutics and Biblical studies, phenomenology, existentialism, literary theory.
George Santayana 1863—1952; Spanish-American; systematic philosopher with interests in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, politics.
Jean-Paul Sartre 1905—1980; French; existentialist working in phenomenology, ontology, psychology.
Ferdinand de Saussure 1857—1913 ; Swiss; language theory, semiotics.
Max Scheler 1874—1928; German; phenomenologist interested in value theory, epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of religion, sociology of knowledge, philosophical anthropology.
Friedrich Albert Maurice Schlick 1882—1922; German; physicist, philosopher of physics, logical positivist with an interest in epistemology.
Alfred Tarski 1902—1983; Polish-American; mathematician, logician, philosopher with interests in the theory of truth, philosophy of language, semantics, foundations of mathematics.
Paul Tillich 1886—1965; German; existentialist and theologian interested in the philosophy of religion.
Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo 1864—1935; Spanish; analyst of the human condition with interests in epistemology and ethics.
Simone Weil 1909—1943; French; moral and social philosopher, philosopher of religion.
Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein; Austrian-Naturalized British in 1939.
126.96.36.199 Supplement—Cognitive Science
Bernard Baars / Daniel Dennett / David Marr / Fred Dretske / George Lakoff / Gerald Edelman / Jerry Fodor / Ned Block / Noam Chomsky / Patricia M. Churchland / Ray Jackendoff / Roger Penrose / William Lycan / Zenon W. Pylyshyn.
188.8.131.52 Supplement—Philosophy of Mind
Colin McGinn / J.J.C. Smart / Jaegwon Kim / Owen Flanagan.
Samuel Guttenplan, ed., A Companion to the Philosophy of Mind, Blackwell, Oxford 1994.
Jaegwon Kim and Ernest Sosa, eds., A Companion to Metaphysics, Blackwell, Oxford, 1995.
Jonathan Dancy and Ernest Sosa, eds., A Companion to Epistemology, Blackwell, Oxford, 1992.
Brian Carr and Indira Mahalingam, eds., Companion Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy, Routledge, London 1997.
Ian P. McGreal, ed., Great Thinkers of the Eastern World,, HarperCollins, New York 1995.
Edward Craig, ed., Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Routledge, London, 1998.
The purpose of this section is to provide a detailed treatment of the influence of recent pivotal philosophers—their role in transformation and creation in the stream of thought.
In this endeavor one cannot expect the objectivity that comes from distance.
In this section I am not currently aiming for completeness which may come later. Instead, the entries here are eclectic and in the nature of a commentary on my reactions to the philosophers.
My comments here are from a short essay that I wrote in 2001 entitled Hume’s Brilliant Error. I wrote during a backpacking trip in the Trinity Alps in Northwestern California. I had no references with me and I relied on my acquaintance of the authors.
This is a good place to take up Hume’s arguments. Almost every major philosopher since Hume has had something to say about Hume. Popper is, perhaps, the main modern example and he is thought to have liberated science from ‘Hume’s curse’—as well as Bacon’s curse of linear induction—just as Kant so delivered philosophy. Yet I think I have something new to say.
A fundamental criticism of reason typical of and due to Hume, one that is foundational, is the criticism of induction—the generalization from a set of data to a law. This includes but is more general than Baconian induction. Hume’s criticism amounts to the following. For, given a set of data and a law that fits or explains the data, there is always another law that also fits the data. So suppose we perform more experiments, gather more data. Either the old law fits the data or we need a new law. In either case, there is another law that will fit the data equally well. Any new law that agrees with the old law on the data points but is different elsewhere will do and is trivial to construct. This criticism applies to all physical laws, concepts, theories… and it applies specifically to the concepts of cause or causality and space-time. I’m not sure why Hume did not apply his idea to determinism—perhaps because it would have made his point moot.
A simple answer to Hume is that his argument forgets that we are of this world. This is not a trivial answer because it includes the way when a theory is right it suddenly ‘clicks.’ So, some irregular alternative, is not only artificial but, likely, excessively cumbersome. When a new law or theory becomes necessary by virtue of new data and inspiration—the law itself—the situation is different; thus Einstein’s theory of gravitation is not an artificial successor to Newton’s—and there is an history of inelegant and ad hoc alternatives to Newton’s theory that have been considered and abandoned. Hume’s argument ignores the place of intuition and aesthetics.
But this argument does not remove the logical force of Hume’s point. One argument that does remove the logical force of Hume’s point is Popper’s. Popper’s argument is that theories, laws and so on are always tentative and always carry a hypothetical nature: they can be disproved but not proved. The actual situation is complex for one new data point that is unexplained by a hitherto successful law casts doubt not only on the law but on the data itself; and, perhaps, the resolution lies in some kind of adjustment rather than abandoning either the data or the law. It is only when the weight of exceptional ‘data’ is excessive and an alternative theory is available that transitions to new theories occur. The word ‘data’ is in quotes because it is intended in a generalized sense. For example, the conflicts regarding Newtonian Mechanics were not merely data points; the foundations of Newtonian Mechanics were inconsistent with Maxwell’s Equations of Electromagnetism and, as it turned out, it was Newtonian Mechanics that had to ‘give.’ What is Popper doing? He is taking science of its high perch as certain and absolute knowledge and saying that, within its own domain, it is the best explanation of what is thus far known and the best predictor within a similar domain of what is unknown. Here, though being plain and direct, Popper is being Wittgensteinian… and, just as Kuhn is ‘obvious’—see my essay Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions: A Critique—so is Popper.
There is a way in which both Hume and Popper are right. Hume is right in insisting that science and its underlying metaphysics such as space, time and causation are not absolute. In fact this is one approach to a solution of some fundamental metaphysical problems—e.g. The Fundamental Problem Of Metaphysics; see also Metaphysics. At the same time Popper is right in accepting Hume’s point that science is not absolute and recognizing that this is the nature of science and, then, developing a philosophy about this point instead of wringing his hands like Hume (Popper had, of course, knowledge of two hundred additional years of history of science than did Hume) or trying to reclaim the absolute nature of science as did the Logical Positivists in the first half of the 20th century.
But there is a way in which Hume and, to some extent Popper, are wrong. The following is not fully contra-Popper but, also, complementary to Popper.
Hume’s mistake was that he did not fully understand the nature of scientific theories. But he was quite right in making that mistake for it was the conventional understanding of scientists and philosophers to that point and even today—despite Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos, Feyeraband—the four irrationalist 20th century philosophers of science. It is one thing to practice science and another to say what it is, what is its nature and what are its justifications—other than success of the enterprise. One of the, perhaps implicit, claims was that it was about certainty with regard to fact and concept—Kant invented a form of the transcendental analytic to allow this to remain true despite Hume—and that there was a logic of this truth: the logic of induction.
Hence Hume’s valid criticism of Baconian induction. Note: despite the evident validity of Hume and the emptiness of induction (this is quite different than mathematical induction which is a separate and distinct concept) I believe that the jury has not yet returned the final verdict, see Kinds of Knowledge and Journey in Being.
But Hume, Bacon, and the rest including the British Empiricists from Locke to Russell and, to some extent Popper, miss the following point to science and knowledge. Science is not merely about explanation, validity, certainty, absoluteness. Science is also about finding and seeing patterns; the universe is patterned and the concept of a pattern is, in some ways, more fundamental than explanation, certainty, prediction. It is true, though, that a valid pattern is aesthetic precisely because it is a pattern of the world—even if an approximation it is not a mere numerical approximation but it is an approximation to the mechanism of the world—and, additionally a valid pattern is often economic with regard to explanation, understanding and prediction. Surely Darwinian theory of evolution, Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory, Einstein’s theories of space-time-gravitation, Newton’s earlier theories, modern cosmology and the standard model of elementary particles reveal deep patterns of behavior and structure even if they are not universal. And once these structures are revealed, power—both intellectual and practical—is released. The practical or instrumental covers politics, economics, technology and art; the intellectual includes the raw intellectual aspect—the ideas in themselves—and, also, art and spirit and religion… Now, it is not neurotic t be concerned about the reliability of science but it is rather neurotic, rather like the story of the goose that laid golden eggs, to set up certainty and absoluteness as absolute values.
To do that is to set the pyramid upon its apex Ñ—which makes it rather easy to topple over. But, since the scientific-philosophical-academic community identified with that Ñ, its toppling sent waves emanating from Hume, through history and to the 21st century.
Hume’s mistake is that it detracts from the real nature of knowledge and is a misunderstanding of our place in the world. Imagine being in the 31st century and assume that time to have continuity with Western Civilization and the Modern World. From that perspective, the mistake is understandable. It a criticism of the exuberance of first discovery—the origin not of a scientific theory but of science itself; it is the confidence of first discovery. But the focus on pattern restores some confidence: even if we stumble, we are still of the universe and its patterns. We are of the universe even in that stumbling; for the path of history and evolution are not linear, progressive, inexorable or predetermined: those paths are halting and experimental—we could call them nature’s experiments in being. We learn from Hume’s ‘brilliant’ error what is knowledge and what is our place in the tidal flow of being.
This section starts with an outline of Wittgenstein’s range of thought and then goes on to extended reflection the basis of which was a reading of Wittgenstein (Tractatus Logico-Philosphicus and Philosophical Investigations) and of David Pears, The False Prison: A Study of the Development of Wittgenstein’s Philosophy, in two volumes, volume I: 1987 and volume II: 1988.
184.108.40.206 Wittgenstein’s sources of inspiration
…include Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell and Arthur Schopenhauer.
220.127.116.11 A characterization of the range of Wittgenstein’s thought
18.104.22.168.1 On thought, perception, emotion
Especially thought in language.
How are they possible.
Their nature, structure—and processes and relations.
What this tells us about the world and about thought, language, perception….
A division of problems:.
Perception of mind in others.
Perception of the world.
22.214.171.124.2 Wittgenstein’s ‘methods’
The depth analysis of the Tractatus.
Logical atomism; realism; picture theory of sentences; solipsism.
The lateral practice based methods of the Philosophical Investigations.
The problem of the self; the analysis of sensations—the problems of phenomenalism and of other minds; the problem of a private language; meaning and action; the problem of Platonism.
126.96.36.199 Wittgenstein: Reflections
( The quotes below are from David Pears’ False Prison or are very close paraphrases ).
‘Wittgenstein… is Kantian—critical—as Kant offered a critique of thought, Wittgenstein offered a critique of thought in language.
‘As with Kant, Wittgenstein offers no dogmatic metaphysic but a metaphysic of experience. ( The nature of the world is simple objects in immediate combination with one another. ) The immediate paradox is that W. says this cannot be expressed in factual language—because it is deduced from the possibility of language. The argument proceeds from the requirement that sentences about complex objects have sense and the resolution is that the actual simple objects exist but are not revealed. This is the early Wittgenstein.
‘The traditional view of mental phenomena made the contents of each persons mind inaccessible to others and, in the case of the ego, inaccessible even to the person himself. Wittgenstein’s new view avoided these unavoidable consequences without toppling over into behaviorism, in something like the way his new view of language (in P.I.) avoided pure realism without toppling over into arbitrary conventionalism.
188.8.131.52.1 Why is Wittgenstein’s philosophy important or useful?
In the first place his philosophy is fundamental as are all critiques of ( human ) knowledge; all critiques of the possibilities of being; and all imaginative constructs of the same. These are, of course, useful individually and in interaction. All these supplement my own thought ( which includes the interaction of imagination and criticism ) on the search for possibilities and construction of being. Suppose I feel through experience, study, imagination that ‘x’ is possible. Then I may try some imaginative approach to ‘becoming’ x. But, x may be dangerous or ‘costly’; therefore some assessment is useful—though not always necessary for, in the end, experiment with ( my own ) being may be the only way given that I am searching in a space where ‘reproducibility’ of results ( the laboratory fallacy ) may impossible or undesirable… So here, assessment of the claim is good. Generally, search is guided and made more efficient by thought. Thus, the philosophy of Wittgenstein is important because he makes some creative claims about knowledge and meaning. First, he is saying that certain assumptions about the possibilities for knowledge and meaning do not exist—not just contingently but necessarily. But he is also saying that there are false assumptions about what is not possible in the realm of knowledge, communication and meaning. Similarly, Kant’s thought is critical and suggestive. Also, the great critic Hume. For, if I look at Hume’s criticism of, say, induction, cause, or his arguments for the entrapment of the mind in its solipsistic isolation, I can then see where the negative judgments of Hume come from; and the assessment of Hume will be freeing: if Hume is correct then I will not waste my time in beguiling but impossible search… but if he is mistaken and I see where his error lies then I understand better where and why to search—see Philosophy, Science and Life. Wittgenstein and Hume for some fresh views on Hume’s problems. The creative imagination of someone like Jorge Luis Borges would also be useful: Borges finds the route into the mystical from the ordinary.
A specific point of interest is in Wittgenstein’s arguments against the existence of (consciousness as) a realm of private inner states—his reflections on ‘the inner and the outer’. This has implications for the nature of mind(s) and the nature and degree of separation / connection. It has implications for the nature of knowledge—is it detached, dimensionless, inert—are we in a ‘False Prison’ of solipsistic disengagement… or is knowledge dynamically interweaving our being / with the being of the universe. This has implications for the nature of knowledge—and language: the (lack of) depth dimension, for what can be known; and for being.
184.108.40.206.2 On Critical-Imaginative Sources
Good criticism is a source of good imagination; the objective of thought is to construct not to tear down. The objective of criticism is not one of tearing down; it is, first, the application of thought to thought itself so as to enhance the quality of the thought whether that quality is in the positive power of its imagination and construction or the elimination of incorrect thought. Therefore, good criticism is a source of good thought.
Anti-critical moods: entrapment and intimidation- how thought is blocked in tyrannies; morality and moral anger- how virtuous I am; morality as control; seduction- how imagination is trapped in ‘open’ societies; accept the canons of this system and you too will receive grace; the power of conventional thought- including science; packaging- making thought merely attractive; all contributions are equally valuable- misunderstanding democracy… two misunderstandings: first a confusion with equality of opportunity; second, the balance of perception and judgment, and of labor and leisure; the delusion of rebellion; becoming an attic- collecting ideas, storing ideas in the attic of a mind; depending on the temporal artifacts of a system of thought for foundation; martyrdom: the universe is lonely and alien but I can manage the desolation… science is cold and rational but I am equal to the bleakness of reality… I will sacrifice my being through social norms for the good of others; I am mature and have arrived- the journey is at an end… I will sound wise and quote authority as though it were original. Also see Metaphysics and Power.
220.127.116.11.3 The specific importance of Wittgenstein
The criticism of dogmatic metaphysics and metaphysical concepts. Is this absolute? Can I answer the criticism? Do my ventures beyond… stand up?
Wittgenstein’s new concept of philosophy. Is this new and real… or a phase of thought? What are the necessities, we cannot argue that they are more than historical in nature for any necessities will necessarily be relative to a broad context of historical and cultural contingencies in which we are immersed—Wittgenstein’s critique, over the next phase of cultural history starting with the publication of Philosophical Investigations will necessarily be subject to its own criteria. What are the contents and ways ( methods ) of Wittgenstein’s concept of philosophy—note that the alleged ‘strangeness’ of Wittgenstein’s new concept of philosophy are due to its being very different from the old philosophy allegedly modeled on science in method –? How is this useful to me?
Most importantly. The concept of knowledge and language as used in Wittgenstein. (1) As criticism of ideas, (2) Used or adapted in its critical and imaginative aspects as part of my thought.
18.104.22.168.4 Wittgenstein as a Critical Philosopher
Normally perceived as limiting—arguing against empty claims to knowledge and meaning, e.g., philosophical problems that appear—all of dogmatic metaphysics—that appear when terms are taken out of the context of their use and which are ( or may then be ) assumed to have sense but are in fact void of sense.
It is not quite as often noted that Wittgenstein was also critical and destructive of empty claims to ignorance, e.g., The False Prison ( title of David Pears’ work ).
22.214.171.124.5 Wittgenstein and privacy
Wittgenstein was not arguing against the existence of individual experience but against its incommunicability… and when communicating required merely naming or pointing… and when and how description was possible and proper. Reference to mere naming is not meant to imply that that is all there is to meaning; it is agreed, with Wittgenstein, that it is use in context that maintains the stability of naming rather than any Platonic system of realism.
For practical purposes, at least—in Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein explicitly allows our high level percepts to be elementary—unanalyzable—objects, for practical purposes… there are primary experiences ‘red’ ‘if’, say, which are named. The naming is not fixed by reality but not by arbitrary convention either—i.e. naming is not merely about what sign to use; naming is determined (occurs) and is sustained (adaptively… there is adaptive innovation and there is drift) in a context of mutual use in a line of history… and the naming is also of a constitutional– psychological and biological—though not completely given, unique or indecomposable nature.
For practical, scientific, purposes—like causes, like effects—the communication of ‘red’ to within shades and excepting pathology—neurosis, psychosis, organic—is automatic and given in the context.
Wittgenstein, of course, does not leave it at ‘automatic and given’ but deflates incommunicability: deflates the possibility of private experience.
When ‘another’s experience in relation to mine’ is identified as metaphysical it should be recognized that the implicit use of ‘knowledge’ in the identification is also metaphysical. It is a metaphysical use of ‘knowledge’ that identifies knowledge of others’ experience as metaphysical. When eliminating metaphysical ‘baggage’ all such baggage should be eliminated.
Thus, in the example of the inverted spectrum, I do not know that my experience of red is like another’s only in some metaphysical –overblown– meaning of ‘know’ or if I demand identity of experience. Thus, because of possibly faulty memory, I do not ‘know’ that my experience of red is continuous in time. Regarding identity of experience, even an individual’s experience of an object is variable. Thus an individual’s experience of red may be different for left and right eyes. Therefore, shifts in spectrum will not count as inversion. In a not overly metaphysical use we can assert that excepting pathological and extremely altered states the experiences of different individuals for the same stimulus are reasonably similar. There remains a doubt whether ‘the same’ experience has meaning; it seems that this doubt is based in dependence on an anchoring of experience when there should be no anchor. Suppose an omniscient being says to me ‘You and your brother have essentially the same experience of red, check it out logically.’ There is no way to check it out. There would have to be a way to transmit the picture of red I have in my head and transmit it to my brother’s head. There is no way to do that. Well, actually there it is. I say ‘the rose is red’ and my brother has the right experience. The idea that I have to transmit something from within my own head… that is the false prison to which David Pears refers.
… and then there are—again, for practical purposes—non-primary experiences which may be described as combinations of primary experiences.
‘A description is a representation of a distribution in a space (in that of time, for instance).’ P.I.II.ix.
126.96.36.199.6 Wittgenstein on philosophy
A quote from the False Prison, David Pears, Volume II, part I, Chapter 1.
‘The philosophy of the past modeled itself on science and its theories became more and more remote from life as it is lived, an exile not to be repeated. The new philosophy comes back from the desert with a different message: describe the familiar the right way and you will understand it’.
( Notice the strength of the Biblical allusions. The exile, the desert, ‘…and the truth will set you free’).
This force of this quote shows that to go against Wittgenstein, i.e. not only a contrary model of thought but also a more inclusive one, will require argument and reason. Notice, I am being generous in not specifying that it be merely an alternative conception of philosophy.
188.8.131.52.7 Wittgenstein’s Philosophy—some more and less connected accounts
‘We live in a unique common world from which it is quite impossible for each of us to cut out a miniature world of ones own.
This is the basis of his later philosophy of mind.
This argues against solipsism and the interest in brains-in-vats.
‘The solipsist says something only if he could identify himself independently of the objects of his awareness. But if his ( the solipsist’s ) theory is true he cannot do that for the ( whole ) point of his theory is that he the subject of his awareness is not located in the common ( or any ) world, not connected with anything located in it. If his theory is true, the only criterion to identify himself is as ‘the subject who is aware of these objects.’ It is not that ‘‘ is the only criterion, it is the only criterion permitted by his theory—the condition of solipsism. At this point, he is likely to respond that he has no difficulty identifying himself but that is in real life, not in his theory. The solipsist’s mistake is a confusion between what he can easily do in his real life and what he can do in his theory.
‘This is a characteristic way of thinking in Wittgenstein’s philosophy of mind. As Wittgenstein later said of this solipsist, ‘He is like someone who has constructed a clock that will not tell the time because he has inadvertently connected the dial to the hour hand so that they both go round together.’ This, as noted, is characteristic: two things that should be independent are artificially forced together. Another primary example is about word and meaning; in Platonism or Platonist realism words and meanings, knowledge and the world are bound rigidly together: we can know the world and the word independently of our contributions to our world. There may be a world independent of us; but the world we know is one that has one foot in reality and one foot in our way of knowing. Separating the two might be unmooring, placing us in the shadow—neither dark not light, may be dizzying at least at first… but is ultimately freeing. It is also one of my ideas: no final anchor, no exit from reality. And the converse, the bondage of our words and knowledge to a fixed world is slavery; there is no future; not no exit but no entry. This idea does not give us exit, it asserts that exit is logically impossible; and undesirable—for the negative reason that the impossible is undesirable and for the positive reason that the idea gives us entry and connection; but a ‘flowing elastic’ connection not a fixed one; a connection that is in the shadow region where mind and world meet. I suppose that this could be construed as ‘no black or white’ but only ‘shades of grey—that is the negative judgment; in the positive judgment ‘black and white are the borders of a region where the entire spectrum is present.’.
But this leads to an interesting metaphysical consequence: a world independent of our knowing could (logically, if it is truly independent?) have no contact with us. It is only the mystification of knowledge that makes us think that there is a ‘universe’ that we cannot know that can have an effect on us or contact with us. A world forever and necessarily independent of all sentience could not exist.
Above, Wittgenstein was critiquing ego based solipsism but his argument applies equally to any solipsism. An aside on the interest of solipsism. Some minds are intrinsically curious about such matters. Perhaps that is slanting the truth; the reason for the interest is some point of connection with reality—and some minds see the connection through insight / experience / inclination; the solipsist has a point; and it is not an imaginary point; much common sense of the everyday is a kind of solipsist common sense: the ultimate privacy of the individual mind; the inverted spectrum; arbitrary conventionalism in definition—the model that anything can be defined as anything is anti-Platonist, since we are in our own solipsist bubble, Hey, define whatever as whatever; actual alienation and not mere existentialist alienation. The solipsist’s prison is the False Prison of modern conventionalist, realist, and critical thought; especially critical thought based in scientific realism. This is the underground interest. The explicit interest is that we learn from reflection on the issue of solipsism—there are other problems in philosophy where the interest is similar; Wittgenstein learned a lot. The two interests are of course joined in the sub-conscious; and while similar interest exists at numerous points in philosophy, Wittgenstein seems to be saying that that is the whole of metaphysics. Somewhere in the shadow region, Wittgenstein is affirming the mystical: Tractatus, 6.44 ‘Not how the world is, is the mystical, but that it is.’.
‘Wittgenstein’s argument applies equally to any solipsism, not just the ego-based solipsism that the objects of the solipsist’s awareness are the only objects that exist’ ( this is close to phenomenalism and idealism of the kind that only ideas exist; does this extend to the extended conception of ‘idea’… note again so much of day to day thinking though allegedly hard headed is actually idealistic—not a closet idealism but an invisible one, a kind of refuge from the onslaught of critical realism )… ‘Wittgenstein’s argument applies to any solipsism in ( the theory of ) which there is the existence of a subject without a criterion of identity that is independent of its objects.’.
An example is Hume’s solipsism or solipsistic idealism in which the subject is the sequence of its impression and ideas.
‘In the Tractatus the concern with solipsism is its truth but the real problem lies behind this, it is the ownership of the solipsist’s experiences. Is it possible to explain this ownership in a way which will do justice to the extraordinary closeness of subject and object without making them lose their independence from one another?
This is quite path breaking. So many paths converge here. This is the answer to the question of idealism of the type ‘my ideas are the only real.’ What of the idealism of Being, Mind and the Absolute?
Though it is path-breaking, unifying, it is about Wittgenstein’s world-as-I-found-it. It is not as I argue elsewhere and as Wittgenstein wanted it to be, a ban on metaphysics. Actually Wittgenstein was ambivalent here as was Kant; it is partly a question of how to do metaphysics and how to do philosophy; partly to do with the universal human characteristic, exaggerated in the brilliant, of different criteria for self and other—Ambrose Bierce’s definition of an egotism ‘A person of low taste more interested in himself than me’; and partly is of ‘What can be shown but not said’; the combination of mysticism and realism in Wittgenstein.
184.108.40.206.8 Wittgenstein: The Tractatus
The main ideas (Pears):.
Basic realism and Picture Theory of Sentences.
The treatment of solipsism.
‘Reality is thus: there is a limit to the analysis of factual languages at which all sentences will consist of words designating simple objects.
‘In Wittgenstein’s logical atomism, reality is a grid of simple objects in immediate combination. The meaning of ‘simple’ is that the simple objects have no internal structure.
‘Any factual sentence can be completely analyzed into elementary sentences which are logically independent of one another because they name simple objects.
‘Elementary propositions cannot contradict one another.’ Given up in Philosophical Investigations.
‘The question whether a proposition has sense can never depend on the truth of another proposition about a constituent of the first’ ( separatism ).
This implies Wittgenstein’s logical atomism but where does it come from? If it were ‘the case we could not form any picture of the world (true or false)’ i.e. if it were the case that the sense of one proposition could depend on the truth of one of its constituents—from another context in Wittgenstein.
The Basic Realism and the Picture Theory of the Tractatus.
The basic realism of the Tractatus is clear. The picture theory makes it a very stark realism:.
‘The principle of representation is the core of the picture theory. When sentences are analyzed into their atomic constituents each name designates something real—a simple object.
‘The picture theory has two striking features which are connected with one another, separatism and analytic depth.
‘(As a pointillist painting of which each point on the canvas is correlated with a minute fragment of the actual scene.).
Transition to Wittgenstein’s later account of language.
‘Ask how sentences keep their senses and the weight will immediately fall on use. Treat sentences as ordinary instruments with a place and function in our lives and immediately the lateral investigation of systems will take over from deep analysis.
‘Wittgenstein’s first move away from the system of the Tractatus was to abandon the requirement that objects should be devoid of internal structure. ‘This is red’ and ‘this is green’ are elementary propositions despite their logical incompatibility.’.
220.127.116.11.9 Wittgenstein: Philosophical Investigations
‘One of the recurrent themes of P.I. is that a word or grammatical symbol is not given a meaning merely by giving it a one-off attachment to a thing or even a use. What is required is sustained mutual correction-in-use ( which includes, of course, use itself ). Why? A rule cannot cover all cases encountered or unencountered; likewise, a picture, intuition, a finite sequence of exemplary applications—all such sequences must be finite but the potential is not given… This criterion applies to any theory that attempts to put meaning on static basis.
This means that concepts are not definite.
Argument against the possibility of a private language, independent of use: there would be no way to identify a sensation-type: you could imagine that but you would be bringing into memory a past use.
The ego is not a separate theater where ‘‘ is a rehearsal in private.
You think your sensation of red is ( can be ) like my sensation of blue—because you think sensations are like objects; that blue could = red is not only false, it is logically impossible. The point: it is not wrong, it is meaningless to say your sensation of blue = mine because that takes sensing out of the world and sets it above the world. If God said, ‘your blue is like A’s, prove it’ there would be only the following way, I would have to transmit the picture of blue in my head to A’s head—that would be impossible and unnecessary because A already has a picture of red, dare I say the picture?
Notice the real freedom and real reality when the following are given up; this list is not restricted to the thoughts of Wittgenstein or his followers and interpreters:.
The ego is a private theatre.
Sensations are detachable from subjects or objects.
Words have absolute moorings in reality: the ‘perfect dictionary’ hypothesis. (Wittgenstein had a complex relationship with the idea of metaphysics—the idea of metaphysics and how to ‘talk’ about it. A freedom that comes from the unmooring is as follows. The idea of knowing reality has its origin in the fact that we can see behind appearance in various ways: we can look again, we can reflect on the nature of reality and combine reflection with looking. We get a new view, the view behind the appearance. Views behind appearances may seem more stable, may be sanctioned. Yet, they are ‘more sophisticated’ appearances. The world is always the-world-as-I-know-it; or as we know it. Now we can build theories about this but it is the same. There are ‘mediate’ realities but it is not clear, except in hypothesis, that there is a reality behind the world-as-it-is-presented. Thus, we are free to negotiate in this world; to know and to create. We are of reality; not merely resident in it; we participate in it. Wittgenstein believed that many metaphysical puzzles could be cleared up by an attention to language. It seems, however, that an attention to our mooring whether by words or ideas leads to the same result. Not all metaphysical issues are empty. However, a number of issues such as the mind-body problem have origin in taking as fixed our immediate constructs of our search ‘behind’ the phenomena.).
Regarding appearances, my philosophy of presence is showing that the phenomena are real—there is no need for a reality behind appearances. This is an approximate expression that is given precision in The Fundamental Problem of Metaphysics… Now, anyone may argue against this saying that it is pan-psychism, idealism but it is not so. First, it is not saying that the phenomena are the only real elements. Second, consider the following argument. Suppose I say that a table is real. That is not ‘table-ism,’ it is not saying that the ultimate constituents of the universe are tables but vice-versa. Similarly, here, we say the ultimate constituents are ‘presence’ and tables and appearances are ‘made up’ of them.
Beyond a point, dictionaries are aids—not definitive in their specifications despite attempts at definitiveness and the belief in that definitiveness. A dictionary reflects but does not establish practice. It may attempt to, and practically establish practice, but it cannot establish real meaning aside from practice. Similar comments can be made about all texts and their relation to knowledge. Modern education sets up the dictionary like an inverted pyramid _Ñ_ and, so, does—behind the obvious service—a great disservice. The establishment of contextual meaning as meaning is an impoverishment of possibility, an establishment of a sense of certainty, and a disconnection from reality.
Words and meanings are detachable from users and uses.
Everything needs proof; anything is capable of proof.
We are ontologically alien to reality—an illusion produced by the idea of linguistic freedom ( arbitrary conventionalism )… note that it is not that meanings are either fixed or free but meanings are adaptively determined in use; and evolve; there is an act of creation that is free but not free-wheeling and is subject, in use, to all kinds of test including, at bottom, selection of the entire system; and it is the system of meaning and grammar / logic that is determined—grammar is metaphysical.
The immediate needs proof.
The immediate defines the universal. ( The universal includes the immediate… causality, e.g., is not projected to the universal but is locally and practically given. ).
There is no causal order; there is universal causation. ( Causation is not the order not because of the Humean argument but because the world is not continuous. The Humean argument applies even if the world is continuous but is then a theoretical objection and not the denial of a practical metaphysic; causation is the local order as a practical metaphysic—the problem is to find the nature of that causation. ) ( The labor of humankind is a sort of unnecessary labor—the realization of being is accomplished but… humans must labor on. ).
The brain models the environment. ( In a sense, it is modeling the environment but it is not modeling in a representational sense even though I ‘see’ a picture. And it is not modeling in a digital, computational sense… or even an analog sense. This is a common and to some extent useful model, but as a complete model of human knowledge it is an error. As far as modeling as in, say, mathematical-physical modeling it is not that the brain is a poor modeler—the idea of modeling is logically false in the context of the brain in the world. The brain is in the world and is not modeling the world. This is a source of error in the computational concept of the mind).
18.104.22.168 Wittgenstein and his followers
What is the significance of the corps of interpreters and followers? What kind of philosopher (man) would say… ‘you must follow my way’, ‘it is the only way’, ‘this way describes the essence of philosophy’, ‘philosophy and science are (completely) distinct’—what after all is science, ‘ to follow another way leads into complete darkness’?
Perhaps the introduction of a new point of view requires a messianic figure… a presentation of a viewpoint as a universe. But a viewpoint as a universe is (always) self-contradictory. The self-contradiction is removed when the viewpoint is recognized to be a sub-universe. Use is (close to) the nature of original animal communication. And meaning as reference is an evolution of the original function. Is it possible for the new meaning of meaning to diffuse and spread back into the genesis of meaning? That would require a revision of the meaning of ‘reference’, of ‘pointing’, of ‘object’… and that would still be in the original Wittgensteinian spirit.
What is the psychology—the psychiatry—of a messianic figure such as Ludwig Wittgenstein?
22.214.171.124 Uses of language
Non-atomic uses of language; non-reference based uses: command, poetry, deception… and non-literal uses.
In some ways, ‘non-original’’ or ‘derived’ is better than the usual connotation of ‘non-literal’.
126.96.36.199 Sense and reference
Roughly, sense is meaning and reference is the object to which a word refers. Not all words have an object of reference, e.g. ‘ouch’; Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, 1953, has many examples.
Roughly, sense is connotation; reference is denotation.
Roughly, sense is intension; reference is extension.
All words have meaning or sense; the sense may be precise or vague.
Not all words have reference—certainly not to objects; and not necessarily in any generalized sense; thus not every word is a symbol—in the usual sense.
The following possibilities exist:.
One word, two meanings; the meanings could be distinct, or similar—have a ‘family resemblance’.
Two words, one meaning or shades of meaning.
Modes of family resemblance include: of kind, of accident, of metaphor.
188.8.131.52 Analysis of meaning
Here, I am referring to linguistic meaning.
Wittgenstein’s lateral analysis; meaning is determined in use in a common context and that provides for stability and interpersonal coherence of meanings… is a useful concept. Use is a lateral ‘instrument’ or concept: there is no foundation of use except in use—that is except for diachronic analysis which Wittgenstein eschewed. There is no need for perfect coherence in meaning; a perfect system of meaning would signal the end of evolution—incompletions in meaning, the vagaries of languages are not essential defects: they represent possibility and potential. No final foundation—no final anchor; a crisis that is freeing. There is a limit to talk; explanation must stop somewhere; the final foundation is not in more talk but in use or action—it is a flexible foundation, one that can accommodate intended and imposed change. The unmooring of Wittgenstein’s realization—after the vertigo, the freedom; there is no solipsist bubble in which we are trapped and out of which we cannot communicate our real experience.
Yet, can we find generalized symbols based, in part, in generalized concepts of symbol? Regardless, Wittgenstein’s approach is not critically affected—but its utility may be reduced or eliminated.
The idea of use is related to that of function or functioning. There is a relation to the pragmatism and instrumentalism of Pierce, James and Dewey and to the inseparability of knowing and acting of Journey in Being. Use of signs—gestures, sounds, facial expressions, external signs—has origin early in evolution. Before the sign, and that is very early in evolution, there is only action; then the senses evolve to become cued to surface actions signs for complex internal states. After the simple sign, with development of imagery and the symbolic ability, the sign becomes freed for general use and can have ‘meaning.’ In a positivistic view, all meaning would be reference. But, even in such a view, without the specification of a metaphysics, and that is anathema to the old positivists, there is no universalization of meaning. Meaning, always lies between these extremes and may fall multivalently on the continuum between them.
Generally, origins, evolution, diffusion and clarification of meaning are ongoing, interactive processes.
Analysis of meanings alone does not constitute philosophy; clarification of meaning… is nonetheless useful to reduce unnecessary confusion and futile debate; and to establish and clarify concepts—in themselves and as preliminary to knowledge and transformation.
The meaning of ‘meaning’ is doubly recursive in that the process of meaning applies also to ‘meaning’.
There is a distinction: sentence vs. speaker / interpreter meaning. Speaker and interpreter meaning are wrought with all kinds of psychological issues including defenses and intentional mischief, manipulation and malice; these must be factored out before we can even begin to talk of contextual meaning.
Meanings of words are dependent on the sentences and contexts in which they occur. There is an actual context—the general and specific physical, ethnic, social and cultural and, perhaps other aspects. And there is a semantic context—the environment of meaning that is continuous with the cultural environment; this environment of meaning is tantamount to an entire metaphysics. Elucidation of the metaphysics would, in general, be prerequisite to elucidation of meaning. Quine had something to say in this regard.
184.108.40.206 Meaning and knowing: theories of declarative meaning
Declarative or assertive sentences are those that assert something; they take on truth values; they are propositional in nature; they depend for their meaning (heavily) on meaning as reference. Note that there is another usage of ‘declarative sentence’ as in ‘I now declare you husband and wife.’ For the variety of sentence kinds, i.e. kinds of speech act, see Kinds of Knowledge where I discuss the relations among meaning, logic and knowledge.
Frege and Wittgenstein.
Frege in Volume 1, Section 32 of the Grundgesetze der Arithmetik, says that there is both sense and reference for every sentence of his ‘concept-writing’—the Begriffsshrift. The reference of a sentence of Begriffsshrift is its truth value, and the sense of the sentence is the thought that the sentence expresses. For Frege, the notion of meaning of a declarative sentence is or correlates to the notion of understanding—and to understand a sentence is to have grasped its truth condition.
Wittgenstein in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus:.
4.022 A sentence in use (Satz) shows how things stand if it is true. And it says that they do so stand.
4.024 To understand a sentence in use means to know what is the case if it is true.
4.061 A sentence in use is true if we use it to say that things stand in a certain way, and they do.
The alternative is not radical and it is included in the above but changes the emphasis. The meaning of a declarative sentence is the state of affairs that it represents.
A phase of discovery and creation is and will be the clarification and specification of meaning; however, meaning and context / theory are not finally and absolutely distinct and the clarification of meaning in, say, science must always await the formulation of coherent theories.
Thus the following historical confusions: heat and temperature; momentum and energy. The historical confusion was not a confusion of otherwise clear meanings in the minds of scientists; clear meanings had not been arrived at owing to the lack of relevant coherent and sufficiently complete theories. Once the relevant theories were written, meanings became clear although, perhaps, limited.
There is currently a similar confusion about the meaning of ‘consciousness.’ I am referring, here, to the primitive sense of awareness and not to such meanings as ‘higher consciousness.’ Because consciousness does not appear as part of a coherent theory—there is no absolute reason to suppose that it will or should—there is doubt as to a proper definition of consciousness. Perhaps, as for force, the anthropic sense of consciousness will later be replaced by something more operational in nature—for the purposes of theory. There, currently, a number of alternatives; but, in the absence of a coherent framework, none of the alternatives stands out clearly. So, I currently find the anthropic sense to be most pertinent: consciousness is awareness, not mere operational or functional awareness, but subjective awareness. But, in the absence of a commonly accepted theory, all operational concept-definitions must be regarded as tentative, as not providing a well-founded meaning or concept. I have gone beyond this in the Metaphysics of Presence.
In the following, I have used the standard translations into English of Heidegger’s 1926 Sein und Zeit: the 1962 translation of John MacQuarrie and Edward Robinson and the 1996 translation of Joan Stambaugh. Additionally, I have referred to Charles Guignon, ed., Cambridge Companion to Heidegger, Cambridge University Press, 1993.
From the Cambridge Companion—there are knots in the thinking that characterizes western philosophy due to substance ontology that arose at the dawn of western philosophy and dominates thought today. Due to the emphasis on enduring presence, this traditional ontology is also called the metaphysics of presence.
Either / ors (dualisms) due to the substance ontology since Descartes:.
There is mind or
all is matter
Undercut substance ontology; mind and matter exist but are derivative, high level concepts and such concepts are fundamental only in certain regional inquiries or sciences, some of whose appeal includes that their projection to the whole would provide a unified account of being.
The problem is due to the theoretical attitude prevalent since the dawn of western philosophy; Heidegger sets this aside and recovers an original sense of things by focusing on how they show up in the flux of pre-reflective activity.
Begin with the question of traditional ontology, ‘What is the being of entities?’ but quickly asks ‘What is the meaning of being?’ or else ontology will remain naïve and opaque.
Since the being of things is accessible only if intelligible to us, fundamental ontology will clarify the meaning i.e. conditions of intelligibility of things in general.
Since our existence, Dasein i.e. being-there, is the original place of intelligibility, fundamental ontology must clarify the conditions of having any understanding which itself belongs to the entity called Dasein; and so the question of being becomes a question of the intelligibility of things—this is Kantian but Heidegger breaks from the Kantian assumption that consciousness is a self-evident point to start an account of reality. Heidegger begins from Dasein, us, in pre-reflective, pre-Cartesian every day activity i.e. from the existentiell. This inquiry, the analytic of Dasein, is the published portion of Being and Time.
Everydayness is pre-reflective …human existence is a happening, a life unfolding in time between birth and death. Existence as a temporal life course arises naturally from consideration of human agency: action is nested meaningful world contexts of the past, directed to some future end.
What is to be explained is not how Dasein and Dasein’s activities constitute a whole but why the tradition overlooked the unified phenomenon that is being-in-the-world and how the separation of being and world arose at all. It results from a breakdown in everyday connectedness in which objects are enduring but without value or meaning and the resulting substance ontology has both economic and a certain psychological appeal. Being is inseparable from understanding; there is no final ground to all knowledge. But we do have access to things in themselves since what things are is the way they show up: access to appearances is access to things. This undercuts representationalism and consequent traditional skepticism about the external world. All appearances are presentations and not merely re-presentations.
What is the being of entities?
We live in understanding of being, yet its meaning is cloaked in darkness… this requires us to face the question of (the meaning of being).
It is Dasein that can ask: ‘What is (the meaning of) being?’.
This entity which each of us is and includes inquiring as a possibility of its being, denote by ‘Dasein’.
The question’s occurrence implies at least vague understanding.
This may be labeled ‘the second transcendental method;’ the first is Kant’s. Kant’s transcendental analytic is an inversion that proceeds from some immediate facts of existence, via the question of what the world must be like in order for those facts to be possible, to the nature of the world. Heidegger’s transcendental method is to recognize the fact of questioning into the essence of being.
I call Heidegger’s the second transcendental method because I earlier identify another—Kant’s—and will later identify a third. The third transcendental method is transcendental logic i.e. the possibility of derivation of synthetic / empirical propositions by pure logic. The third method, outlined in Journey in Being may seem to not truly make derivations possible by logic alone because it appears to assume the single fact there ‘is existence.’ However, it is shown in that essay that existence is and must be regarded as given. The possibilities for the third method, contrary to what might be expected, are substantial. As an alternative to derivation from a single fact, the third method may be regarded as an a way to generate an axiomatic system from a single axiom and the laws of logic. Various systems may result from additional axioms that purport to model the nature of our world; these would include the first and second methods. Also included would be the variety of logics. A question that arises is ‘Do the laws of logic have synthetic foundation?’ or ‘What is the nature of the world such that logic is possible?’ This may be a starting point for the development of theories of logic. By varying both the axioms of the third method and the systems of logic, various axiomatic systems may result.
Note that I have not here referred to Husserl’s Transcendental Phenomenology as a transcendental method.
Ontology must clarify the meaning of Being.
Every ontology is blind to its own aim if it has not first clarified the meaning of being and conceived this clarification as its fundamental task.
Dasein takes priorities over all other entities in several ways:.
It’s being has the determinate character of existence—is ontical.
Existence is determinative for it—the ontological character.
As constitutive of understanding of existence, it has ability to understand the being of all entities—the ontico-ontological condition for the possibility of ontology.
This section is a discussion of trends and possibilities (I do not like the idea of ‘scenarios’) that may arise out of the trends and is not intended to be predictive. The possibilities are not intended to be mutually exclusive.
It is not implied that the ‘highest’ possibilities for philosophy will or should arise out of recent trends; rather there may be a return to high points of the past as a start or there may be a synthesis of various ideas from philosophy and other disciplines from various times and imagination and new forms of criticism; or, there may be a complete break….
6.1 Philosophical nihilism
‘Philosophical nihilism’ refers to those trends, influential in the recent period, in which it is problematic to make positive statements in philosophy. ‘Positive’ simply means an assertion about the way the world is—there is no reference to any kind of positivism. There is a way, of course, in which it must be problematic to make assertions about the way the world is—without that there would be no critical function within philosophy. However, the problematic aspect of recent philosophy does not concern the truth or knowledge / knowability status of assertions; it concerns whether such statements can be validly made, whether they have meaning, whether they are at all the business of philosophy. The trends are characterized by a number of the themes noted in the section The effect on philosophy and include: despair of construction, isolation of the schools, surrealism of recent philosophy, philosophy as edifying, as therapeutic, philosophy as an adjunct to the mature disciplines—especially the sciences; and philosophy as analytic—as unable to say anything about the world.
The influences include the turning of the rational approach that characterized the modern period upon itself—subjecting rationality and rationalism to rational criticism; by various pluralisms and relativisms—of cultures and sub-cultures, of proliferation of academic disciplines, of the special interest; the rise of science; the rise of democratic systems of election of governments—that contributes to pluralist influence; the fall of ideological systems of government; the rise of capitalism as an ideology.
(I should not be construed as being against democracy. However, knowledge as relation to the world is characterized primarily by validity and not by populism. I should not be construed as being for non-democratic rule or as suggesting that ‘elitism’ or other non-populist sentiments promote validity in knowledge and understanding. Simply, however, there are times, places and sub-cultures when and where, perhaps despite politics, the issue of validity was understood and respected. In modern times it is not democracy that stands against validity, instead it is factors such as the assertion of ego over validity rather than channeling ego into validity, the false appeal to populism and humility—ego wearing a humble face, the loss of nerve, the dilution of validity under the ever increasing modern academic pressure to publish and produce, the pressure of dogmatic and anti-democratic forces…).
Some diverse movements that reflect this nihilist trend are: the Anti-Realist Trends and Tendencies in 20th Century Philosophy—including Deconstructionism; and Materialism, Positivism, Post Marxism, Postmodernism, Post-Structuralism. I have included materialism and positivism as ‘nihilist’ not because they deny so much but, rather, because by making extravagant and empty claims they cast doubt on the ability to make any positive claims.
Although I stand against the stream that I call philosophical nihilism, there is no suggestion that the criticism of rationality and rationalism is not an instructive activity. The criticism of rationality shows not only limits but is also a critique of the nature of rationality; if the criticism has misunderstood the nature of reason—and that may be because the proponents of reason have also misunderstood its true nature and possibilities—then the criticism itself is also in doubt but has at the same time pointed to a new concept of reason. There is no suggestion that there is nothing positive about the various effects and movements in the stream; clearly, much has been discovered and learned from the analytic tradition and also from postmodernism and post-structuralism.
A movement or trend within philosophy can always be defended, in addition to arguments in its favor, by arguing or positing that ‘the essence of this trend is philosophy.’ Cogent arguments that outline the scope of any discipline are only one influence on what that discipline is (taken to be.) Specifying the scope of a discipline is not exactly the same as making a factual statement. This is because a discipline is a cultural activity and is therefore open, in part, to proscription—as a concept. Therefore, the endeavor to pin down ‘what is philosophy?’ is a valid activity. However, philosophy also exists as a family of activities and the (family of) concepts will bear some real relation to the activity in its actual and potential forms.
6.2 The obligations and needs of philosophy
… of and intellectual pursuit with emphasis on the academic tradition.
The tradition of philosophy is that it is an intellectual pursuit. Question this—as an experiment, say. Intellectual activity in a vacuum has no significance. Even for an ‘armchair’ thinker, experience provides data and confirmation or disconfirmation; and, the experience of the thinker grows in interaction with the thinking and the growth of thought. ‘Pure’ experience and ‘pure’ thought—these concepts are approximations—require each other. Although experience and thought are not identical, they are not separate; and there is a stage of development or of evolution where they are identical in their origin. As experience and reflection acquire degrees of distinction, they become more elaborate in their nature (structure-process) and definite in character—and become thought of as distinct. However the distinction does not become complete. Thus, regardless of the conceptions, there is no pure thought, no pure intellect, no pure philosophy if philosophy is a purely intellectual exercise. There is a simple reply to this. It is that thought and experience both find (re)presentation within philosophy, within thought itself. However, this is another thought that requires confirmation / disconfirmation (testing) in experience; and thought itself informs us that it is actual experience but not all possible or all future experience that is represented in thought. The essential incompleteness of thought, of rationality and rationalism, inform us that while philosophy as intellectual pursuit is a valid activity—based in cumulative experience, there is a larger realm in which philosophy is bound together with action and the rest of the knowledge enterprise. Knowledge, thought, philosophy are an active phase of experience. This line of thinking was begun in A Concept of Philosophy, was required by the experience of the essential incompleteness of thought, and is continued in Journey in Being, below.
It remains true that the tradition of philosophy is that of an intellectual discipline—or set of disciplines. ‘Discipline’ is not identical to method or criticism; the approach is open with ‘local methods’ being discovered or modified as part of the activity; and criticism is part of a larger activity that includes hypothesis or imagination—without new ideas there is nothing to criticize.
Academic philosophy is intellectual but not all intellectual activity under the banner of philosophy is academic. Of course, there is ‘poor’ philosophy but that is not the point; the history of ideas reveals that a significant proportion of the truly great original concepts and thoughts—in philosophy and in science—occurred outside the walls of academe. ‘Academe’ itself is not a perfectly well defined concept; we could replace ‘academic philosophy’ or ‘academic science’ by ‘institutional philosophy or science;’ these are community pursuits, sanctioned, roughly correspond to a Kuhnian paradigm. In the beginning, philosophy and science were not paradigmatic; and, in periods of upheaval, they are not paradigmatic. There is a tendency for the non-paradigmatic activities to occur outside academia. Perhaps this has changed in the 20th century—as a result of the greater freedoms within university environments. It remains true that, in principle, not all good and certainly not all revolutionary thought is academic thought. Any identity of academic and extra-academic thought is contingent but not conceptual or necessary.
The first obligation of academic philosophy is to the tradition and that includes philosophy as a kind of intellectual activity. The obligations of which I talk are de facto rather than conceptual or even ethical. One may or may not feel that current philosophy owes anything to the tradition but the fact is that most philosophy is and will be conducted in the shadow of the tradition. Part of this continuity is the requirement of the recognition of an activity as philosophy; part is a result of the needs of communication; and another part is the difficulty of self-foundation.
The second de facto obligation of academic philosophy is to society, to culture. There is an obligation to the traditional assumptions of the culture: to rationalize into coordination the different modes, institutions and norms of culture, knowledge and understanding. The obligation is met as much by criticism and search for alternatives as it is by justification and affirmation. Criticism provides a more secure form of affirmation. Perhaps we would justify certain social structures or economic environments; these activities may be considered to be social science or economics. At one time they were philosophy; it remains true that social science and economics are not completely independent or self-founding and activity in these areas may be validly labeled philosophy regardless of who is the executor. Each culture has general metaphysical assumptions that are to some degree embodied in the common symbols of the culture. The modern world eschews myth and religion; in other cultures, e.g. the medieval west, myth and religion were part of the common metaphysical symbols and much of medieval philosophy—scholasticism—was devoted to a justification of religion. In the modern world much of philosophy is reflective of and an implicit justification of secularism and pluralism; there are exceptions and these also serve to affirm or disaffirm the common pluralistic and secular metaphysics that disavows fundamental or systematic metaphysics. Iconoclasts and conservatives serve under the shadow of the tradition.
The third obligation of academic philosophy is to the intellectual tradition and that includes the developments of the current era. This third obligation is a phase of and occurs within the context of the second. Academic philosophy bears some relation to its own history and to the other academic disciplines. An explanation of the ‘nihilist’ trend is given above. It is possible within this trend to make positive contributions. First, through the analysis of philosophy. Here the analytic tradition makes a significant contribution through new conceptions of philosophy and its ways (method)—the analysis of language and concepts; the Wittgensteinian approach of lateral analysis as foundational. Regardless of whether this defines philosophy, it is an accomplishment, reveals new understanding, defines a phase of philosophy; it is a somewhat introspective phase—perhaps characterized by a degree of sophistry—from which all of philosophy and thought may emerge ‘improved.’ Second, through the various movements such as pragmatism, existentialism, postmodernism that have origins in America and / or in the Continent, we are given a roadmap to proceed that steers a course between absolutism and nihilism in the questions of truth and realism. A third activity is in the philosophies of the disciplines—philosophy of biology and so on, specialized philosophical activities—philosophical anthropology, philosophical psychology….
A fourth obligation, somewhat ethical in nature, is to philosophy as such: to philosophy as the human intellectual endeavor that seeks ultimate (human) understanding and knowledge.
Now there are and have been various conceptions of philosophy and various problems associated with the idea of a conception of the philosophical endeavor—The history and nature of philosophy: Thales to the modern period, above. Specified meanings range from original (etymological) ‘love of wisdom,’ to the modern—philosophy as analysis, philosophy as an adjunct edifying activity (Rorty), as edifying (Wittgenstein), as grammar (Wittgenstein) and so on. As noted above, the relation between a specification or a specified designation and the phenomenon, activity or discipline of philosophy is tenuous—this is, of course, true of many human endeavors. Philosophy has taken on a life of its own and though there are surely various kinds of relation between the phenomenon and the attempts to characterize and circumscribe the phenomenon, the relation is not one where the prescription comes first and the activity follows the prescription. The nature of the activity varies, somewhat, according to the age and the needs of the age. Definitions bear some relation to this variation but also to the personalities involved and other, including accidental, factors. The definition of philosophy may aspire to be but is not a purely rational or empirical activity. One view of the various attempts to characterize philosophy is that they are various viewpoints or ‘windows,’ that they help orient newcomers and provide regulation—navigation—for ‘old hands.’ Or, the characterizations are in fact, rather than actually characterizing or defining, a form of implicit dialectic among the philosophers. Some contributions to the dialectic, as philosophy unfolds, inspire more good (philosophy) than others. However, no specification can rule conduct forever—simply because specifications cannot foresee all needs and eventualities. Wittgenstein would have made this observation, it is entirely consistent with his later philosophy of meaning. What can we do in this circumstance? First, we can note that some meanings are more general—are umbrella meanings. This is true of the original, Greek philein, to love—sophia, wisdom. With regard to such an umbrella meaning we can take the following attitudes. (1) It specifies a whole range of activity. (2) Criticism need not lead to specialization but may also lead to refinement. (3) Various offshoots and disciplines may be considered to lie within the scope of the ‘parent’ or umbrella activity. But, (4) there is a need for the most general activity, and a recognition (naming) of it. What shall we call that most general activity, what shall it be? We could call it Universal Studies, we could leave it unnamed—the province of academe or of the University; but, philosophy is the name that –perhaps– best matches and fits in to the tradition. What we lose in precision is gained in vision, scope and destiny. Shall we not travel where the light is not bright and focus not precise? The disciplines of the modern university have a pragmatic base but also correspond to the rooms where the bright light is on, where light travels in straight lines. Philosophy is not just the other rooms or all the rooms—it is the mansion. We shall play under the following paradigm or conception: philosophy is the entire edifice, the intellectual endeavor that seeks ultimate understanding and knowledge.
Think of the implications of that task. It is not an uncritical endeavor and the roots of criticism lie within the specification itself. Ultimate understanding comes from confidence and, therefore, from criticism. But, as noted above, criticism requires something to criticize. Ultimate understanding—and criticism—will also come from the ultimate scope of knowledge: empirical and rational. By rational, I mean that which has origin in thought including imaginative thought. The approach through the senses lies in balance with the approach through thought—a phase of active experience—and it is in the nature of being to synthesize the two. It is only in analysis that sense and thought are thought of as separate; another Western cut as fruitful and as problematic as the Cartesian divide. The origin of thought, biologically and in evolution, is in the ability to have, remember and play with remembered images—and to construct new ones. Thought and concepts are a framework for experience; experience and criticism ‘found’ thought.
What are the dimensions of ultimate understanding? These come from experience and thought. The world as a whole and the place of (human) being; the origins and destinies; the categories or hierarchies of being and of understanding.
We will see, below, that this conception or idea of philosophy, the intellectual endeavor that seeks ultimate understanding and knowledge, is preliminary.
…in the Western and other academic traditions.
A preliminary problem of intellectual understanding is the relation between ‘object’ and concept. ‘Object’ is to be understood in a general way and may refer also to ‘process’ or ‘relationship’ and other general metaphysical (ontic) structurings of the world. The problem referred to is presaged by the placement of quotes: ‘object.’ We name an object, and that does not mean that there is an object or kind of object that exists as in our understanding or concept.
Surely, when I refer to an electron there is something there but in no sense is an electron an absolute object. Even science, today after five centuries of reification and revolution, is achieving the self-consciousness to appreciate the pragmatic nature of its ‘objects.’ Is the world a continuum? In science, a continuous description is often used and is thought of in this or that era as paradigmatic. Within that framework, there may be isolated discontinuities—surfaces between different media and so on. A particle is the extreme of discontinuity, a finite mass in a point. The particle mode of description becomes a paradigm partly because of the positive predictions and partly because of the difficulty of the relativistic formulation of elementary particles as continuous distributions. This is before string or M theory which, now, permits consistent descriptions of the elementary particles as distributions. We may assert: continuous and discrete modeling, even at the fundamental level, have something of a hypothetical character and the choice depends on what permits the greatest amount of positive contributions, including unifications while providing consistency of explanation.
There is a tradition in philosophy that does not want to contemplate the theoretical component of thought. This characterizes both rationalism and empiricism. Rationalism attempts to avoid the theoretical component through forms and universals; empiricism attempts to reduce knowledge to sense data. As noted above a resolution is to eschew the foundationalism of rationalism and empiricism; these foundationalisms are, after all, reductions—and, from history likely untenable and unnecessary. They stem from a desire for security which is based partly in the ‘desires’ of the ego and after the fact reflection on ‘scientific certainty.’ However, an ultimate security is to be in the flux of the world that contains, here and there, islands of stability.
What approaches may we enlist in the search for ultimate understanding in philosophy? The treatment here has been improved in Journey in Being (Site) and the thoughts developed there will be recorded here at some future time. The formulation here is guided by the reflections, above, on object and concept.
6.3.1 Ways of Philosophical Understanding
Abandon the reduction / foundationalism of the tradition of rationalism / empiricism. Instead:.
Appeal to the whole mind—especially sensation or perception and thought; thought includes iconic and symbolic thought. Although philosophy will emphasize symbolic thought (‘…language is the instrument of philosophy,’ A.N. Whitehead,) it is informed in various ways—some tacit, some based in the intrinsic nature of (human) being—by ‘pictures.’ Other functions are not at all excluded; these include the traditional functions of emotion and will. Engagement of the whole being; e.g., regardless of whether art is knowledge, art engages the whole being in relationship and centering and that is knowledge.
Analysis of language, concepts.
The nature and content of philosophy and its ways of understanding follow from the idea that philosophy is about the whole universe, all of being and understanding, knowledge of all being. Immediately the whole implies understanding of the noumenon; and so the criticism of knowledge. Therefore, metaphysics, logic, epistemology; and from conduct in the world, ethics.
The connection between concept and object was discussed above. There is no one to one relation; the relation is not even static. As a process it is not deterministic. It is rather, dialectical in nature. This includes the Socratic approach. Wittgenstein’s lateral approach is also dialectical in kind.
Mind and its functions—perception and thought, symbols and language, memory, will and emotion; and its ‘essences’—sentience, reference (intension), presence (awareness, conscious) are part of the world and so also part of what is to be understood. These functions and ‘essences’ are, in the spirit of this section—below, part of the play; i.e. perception, thought, emotion are received but not regarded as given. Emotion is more obviously based in the whole being and so one road to Journey in Being, below.
More generally the categories of the world: Being, relationship and action (process); being and its hierarchies—nature, society, mind and spirit, the realm of the ultimate are part of the object; and are received but not given, are part of the play.
The method of science is a form of Socratic dialog between mind and nature. But what is called the method of science is somewhat a fiction; the method is formulated after the fact. All method is received not given, is part of the play. The method of science is commonly and usefully conceived of as 1. Hypothesis, 2. Test (, and repeat.) Hypothesis includes imagination as to the possible nature of the world in this or that more or less special case; test includes experiment and various kinds or levels of test for logical, conceptual consistency. But, to label hypothesis-test, to call it the ‘method of science,’ which it is, is to specialize something universal, to make complex what is simple. For, without being analyzed or named, hypothesis-test is universal—though I do not say it forms the entire range of ‘method.’ Hypothesis-test is the way of myth and magic of early human—I am using that word over ‘man,’ ‘human being,’ or ‘humankind;’ it is recognized in philosophy as the speculative and the critical approaches; it is the variation-selection process that is at the heart of biological, and now from the work of Lee Smolin The Life of the Cosmos, 1997, physical evolution.
This approach or these approaches can and have been used in philosophy where they are referred to as speculative and critical philosophy. But there is no criticism without something to criticize—speculation provides this data; and without criticism, speculation is mere fantasy. Often, speculation has built in criticism—the form of ideas, the experience of the thinker, the basis in various traditions; this does not eliminate, at all, needs for independent criticism. Speculation and criticism remain in dialectic relation. It is not as though there is a dialectic method; rather, dialectic is, perhaps, the best name for the relation which is not one to one, not deterministic. Now there will be various reactions to this concept of method. Rationalism cries out for thought that is timeless; but, rationalism alone is defunct; and, dialectic is an approach to thought that is as timeless as we can have it; and, it is an approach not an ad hoc specification of systems or other collections of thought. It is not only the method of science; it is a method of all knowledge, including common and cumulative tradition; it is a way of all being—including life and the universe. It is necessitated by an essential tenuousness in the relation between word and object. It is refined in a science that fathoms the depths—in time and being—of the universe. There is no electron as an absolute object; the concept always falls short of what is out there; and it is the most successful, empirically and conceptually—in terms of prediction and understanding that is selected; and, perhaps, after a period, reification sets in. Speculative-critical philosophy is an amalgam of the major streams of philosophy. What of the anti-realist trends, above? These may be seen as ultimate against a background where one is demanding truth and so anxious when it is not given; or, they may be seen as patches of understanding on the way.
6.3.2 Ways that are unique to philosophy
Are there any ways that are unique to philosophy? Below, some possibilities are described. The motive behind a true method of philosophy is, sometimes, a return to timeless, certain thought. These are sometimes referred to as ‘truly’ or ‘originally’ philosophical. Kant’s transcendental method has been referred to as the first true method in philosophy; so, sometimes, has the Socratic Dialectic. We expect, however, that these are rather more universal and what is found in philosophy is a tailored formalization. As an example, there is a strong similarity between the transcendental method and what, in physics, has been called the Anthropic Principle. Argument from effects to causes, which lies at the heart of the scientific ‘method’ of theory formulation, is a form of hypothesis-test, is also similar to the Kantian transcendental analytic.
I will list two candidate approaches to timeless, certain thought. The first seeks the ideal by balancing loss of information in generalization by abstraction; the second, the Kantian analytic, seeks the ideal by seeking the given in the immediate and asking what this must imply for any depth explanation, rather than seeking the given in the depth which is the preferred ideal of science. These two approaches are ‘point and counterpoint,’ they balance each other; in many areas of thought they occur in tandem. An example is Darwin’s theory of evolution; in the direct method we seek a theory as an explanatory principle; alternatively, the theory is a mere organizing principle. In linguistics there are the synchronic and the diachronic approaches.
Generalization and abstraction: In formulating and criticizing a systematic metaphysics, generalization may be balanced by abstraction to avoid loss of certainty. Further, abstraction may introduce certainty. Consider, for example, the assertion that the world is equivalent to nothing(ness.) If that were true, we could deduce that there must be indeterministic processes. This question of the fundamental problem of metaphysics has been discussed in Journey in Being ( Site ) and related essays.
The transcendental doctrine of method of Kant—especially the aesthetic and the analytic of Kant: Kant asked, ‘What are the necessary conditions of the very possibility of an experience (including perception, knowledge, certainty) the formal features of which are space, time and the categories?’ Kant’s reply was, ‘Experience is possible only on the assumption that the formal features formed in experience are a priori conditions of existence.’ From this point, Kant was able to answer the challenge of Hume—to show how knowledge was possible and to give an analysis of the forms of perception and knowledge. See Immanuel Kant, above.
Wittgenstein employed this idea in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Wittgenstein argued that language must have an atomic form and from that to an atomic formulation of the nature of the world. Wittgenstein later abandoned this argument not as result of a deficiency of the method but because he abandoned the independence of atomic sentences.
Related to the transcendental analytic is a delineation and study of the forms of experience: space, time, causation, objecthood (which implies object constancy,) categoreality.
The transcendental method of Heidegger or the second transcendental method: see Martin Heidegger.
The third transcendental method or transcendental logic.
6.3.3 Further considerations
The data of philosophy includes: the world; that includes being and human being and its layers of being; the civilizations and cultures of the world, and their systems of knowledge; the Western systems: the academic disciplines as data points in themselves and for their content.
6.4 A concept of philosophy
Above, in ‘What is philosophy?’, I asked, ‘Can philosophy free itself of the limitations imposed by the crisis…?’.
The idea of philosophy instructing the other disciplines with authority of being separate, foundational, and infallible seems wrong. There is a point to the democracy of the disciplines—it is that pure reason is not ‘the answer,’ experience must be at least an equal partner. But, what is philosophy? Under the sway of the traditional academic disciplines as influenced by the culture of the individual it would seem that philosophy is a separate discipline. That is one view of philosophy and it is one that informs the entire debate on the nature of philosophy in the recent period including the views of Wittgenstein, Passmore, Rorty, Nozick and others… Under such a view it is inevitable that any attempt of philosophy to instruct is bound to failure. And this failure, though influenced by external factors, is necessary on grounds of limited rationality. Following is a view of philosophy that is close to the core of (human) being. In preliminary it accepts all foundational exercises. It locates identities and redundancies—mere variations in expressions. It sets the exercises in opposition and where there is conflict, it resolves and, if necessary, eliminates. It synthesizes. It abstracts but retains the concrete in hierarchic communication with the abstract. It expands to embrace all being in its rest and its motion.
The preliminary conception is, as stated earlier, the intellectual endeavor that seeks ultimate understanding and knowledge.
Consider, now, the intellectual (and in what follows this will be understood to include the academic) enterprise as a whole: in its rational and experiential modes, its imaginative and its critical approaches. It includes what I called, above, the communal endeavor that labors or plays under the ideal of truth. For those who have lost faith in truth the labor is under an ideal of the full potential of human knowledge. Can we attach a name to this? But more, we must go on beyond the sphere of the intellectual and reflect upon the interaction between the domain of mind as partially and imperfectly expressed in the intellectual sphere and the forward movement of civilization and of being. That ultimate realm of being will include basal levels at which knowledge and action are not merely interactive but not conceptually or essentially distinct—these levels include the organismic and the social; and it will include the level of, say, the sciences where knowledge predicts and is confirmed by experience within the laboratory. Knowledge—thought—is an active phase of experience; even in these non-basal domains thought and action or knowledge and being are not merely necessarily interactive but they do not exist without the other. Action is a tool of, essential to all thought and philosophy—either indirectly through appeal to experience or directly by seeking out a course or path of action in interaction with thought.
In The View From Nowhere (1986), Thomas Nagel criticizes evolutionary epistemology as follows. The concern of philosophy is with the ultimate, the eternal, the timeless… and therefore an epistemology based on the history of knowledge is an unsatisfactory epistemology.
This seems to be a misreading of how evolution and history might inform or be part of the ‘timeless discourse’.
Compare ‘timeless discourse’ to the ‘absolute space and time’ of Newton. Then the space-time of Einstein is analogous to the timeless discourse as informed by special disciplines: art, religion, science, evolution… and of course philosophy’s own self-criticism and progress. By embedding discourse in the real it becomes timeless.
Earlier, I noted the obligations of intellectual pursuit, of philosophy and of the academic tradition. In various ways an obligation has been, de facto, the justification or founding of the social order. Two approaches to this are as follows. An approach that may be labeled dogmatic is to regard the social order as definite and given and to seek its justification. An alternative approach is to seek to place the social order within the universal. This approach would be neutral to the distinction between criticism and justification. Further, in order to place the movement of society within the universal stream, this alternative will require the imaginative or speculative element, in interaction with selection through experience and reflection, that is necessary in the absence of complete rationality. The social order is placed in within the ultimate realm that is revealed in-process. Such placement is a form of criticism. Such criticism applies to all contexts including societies, individuals, disciplines, and thought being presented here. Radical criticism by definition avoids self-criticism and therefore is defunct (paradoxical) as a program but is a spur to real criticism and advance. This is why I subscribe at times to a radical criticism—especially in phases of learning and when I seek to overcome old and established modes of thought. However, the radical criticism is balanced by phases of speculation and construction. The constructive element is placed in context.
I referred to ‘That ultimate realm of being’—it is ultimate in that it plays under the ideal of the realization of the full potential and possibilities of the world and being. There are obligations to or continuities with the local culture; but these are not limitations—there is a balance between immediate and ultimate ‘needs.’ This ultimate realm that I have labeled Journey in Being ( Site ) can be thought of as true philosophy.
It may be too much to ask that a philosopher be trained in all the disciplines—sciences, arts and humanities and the professions—law, engineering and medicine.
However, much of the disaffection between science and philosophy and much of the self-doubt within philosophy is due to the inability of philosophers to reflect and talk comfortably on science—and due to the lack of appreciation of philosophical issues among scientists. I emphasize science because it is with science that philosophy has the greatest disaffection. It is true that there are distinctions among the disciplines and that the distinctions are good and valid. However, those distinctions are not absolute. There is a level at which the disciplines merge—even if the practitioners can see only difference and detail. Similarly there is a role for those who are comfortable with philosophy and, at least, a representative range of disciplines. I believe, and this is brought out and argued in Journey in Being ( Site )that an ‘over-approach’ is essential for real knowledge and being, will further both science, arts and philosophy—will improve communication among the disciplines. I believe that this should be true for any open system; it follows essentially from Journey in Being ( Site ).
How will the requisite education occur? The seeds must be laid at least as early as the first stages of higher education. A number of approaches exist: dual degree programs, minor programs, elective course content. Problems with implementation include lack of serious content, and lack of serious intent—these, of course, are related. A beginning might be with a small number of programs with select teachers in selected universities. All of this would be encouraged by a different social climate. All change in education is experimental. One cannot say with complete honesty that such and such an approach will be a general improvement or even achieve such and such a result. That is because of the limited powers of rationality—whether human or divine. But one can say, ‘This, I tentatively believe; and I submit the following reason.’ As far as action is concerned, one can choose between action or passivity. Action includes thought, speech, and changes. Passivity is waiting for desired change to come about by natural processes in the absence of human intervention.
Thus the seeds to be sewn are: the value—theoretical and practical—of an over-approach, a fully first-class education in philosophy, and sufficient exposure and experience in a range of disciplines. This begins in the undergraduate programs. It is something that continues through a lifetime. This, no doubt, is why Plato suggested that philosophy should be undertaken at the age of 50 as part of a life that integrated academia and service. ‘But,’ someone responds, ‘Plato lived about 2400 years ago, the nature of philosophy, the academic context, society was quite different then.’.
According to the American Philosophical Organization, 8300 people in the United States held philosophy Ph.D.’s in 1995 and 5900 of those Ph.D.’s were academically employed. From 1950 to 1994, 8076 (301 in 1994) doctoral degrees and 135739 (4691 in 1994) bachelor’s degrees were awarded in philosophy in the United States. I omit world information because it is not as readily available but I guess that there must be at least 200,000—500,000 people worldwide with a formal education in philosophy. Most people want a mainstream education, would prefer not to have an experimental program. But, with perhaps half a million degree holders in philosophy it would seem that there is sufficient room and there would be sufficient interest in a programs that incorporate the principles outlined above. There are programs that approach these principles; what is needed is a greater commitment among individuals, programs and society.
6.6 Journey in Being
Appeal to the whole mind: modes of understanding—intuition or thought and sensing or perception.
And continues to synthesize with an appeal to the whole being.
Thought and knowledge as continuous with action—as requiring action for confirmation and completion and as being conceptually only partially distinct from action: repeatable experiment is not enough, living out is essential and this leads to a systematic exploration of modes of perception and knowing; and to a system of experiments including the life and choices of an individual and a society.
I will repeat the essence of the conclusion of A Concept of Philosophy:.
6.7 True Philosophy
Consider the intellectual enterprise as a whole, the sphere of intellect: rational and experiential, imaginative and critical. It includes the communal endeavor that plays under the ideal of truth and the full potential of knowledge. Can a name be attached to this enterprise? But more—this is crucial, we must go on beyond intellect and reflect upon its interaction with the forward movements of civilization and of being. That ultimate realm of being will include primal levels at which knowledge and action are not merely interactive but not conceptually or essentially distinct—these levels include the organismic and the social; and it will include the levels of, say, the sciences where knowledge predicts and is confirmed by experience within the laboratory. Knowledge—thought—is an active phase of experience; even in these non-basal domains thought and action or knowledge and being are not merely necessarily interactive but they do not exist without the other. I referred to ‘That ultimate realm of being’—it is ultimate in that it plays under the ideal of the realization of the full potential and possibilities of the world and being. There are obligations to or continuities with the local culture; but these are not limitations—there is a balance between immediate and ultimate ‘needs.’ This ultimate realm Journey in Being ( Site ) can be thought of as true philosophy.
Note that I have not here referred to Husserl’s Transcendental Phenomenology as a transcendental method.
The third transcendental method is transcendental logic i.e. the possibility of derivation of synthetic / empirical propositions by pure logic; it arose initially in Metaphysics and has been consolidated in Journey in Being ( Site ) .
The foundation of this method is in the propositions.
The only universal law is the law of contradiction: what is conceivable, thinkable, describable without internal or external contradiction is possible.
All things may interact (a consequence of the law of contradiction;) and therefore there is exactly one universe.
What is actual is possible (a consequence of the law of contradiction).
What is possible is realized (law of necessity i.e. what is possible is necessary;) and realized over and over without count (recurrence;) (all consequences of the law of contradiction.) Consequences include: being (existence) and presence (sentience, consciousness…) are necessary (extended fundamental problem of metaphysics;) and there is a being whose sentience spans the separate instances of localized being.
The void i.e. what remains when all things are removed is equivalent to every being and to all being (laws, patterns are also things and therefore in the void there are no laws of physics i.e. the laws of physics of the present phase-epoch of the one universe are contingent to that phase.) There is no possibility that is not potential within the void. The void (concept) is the foundation of a metaphysics that is complete, has no substance as foundation, is foundation without foundation, regresses to the void but not further i.e. is foundation without infinite regress. The void is generative of all local cosmological systems.
Every being is equivalent to all being (realization of this within the present phase-epoch, unless some catalyst be identified, has abysmally low likelihood; realization as such is certain).
Mind, matter, becoming are at root identical; ethics is real.
The third method may be regarded as an a way to generate an axiomatic system from a single axiom and the laws of logic. Various systems may result from additional axioms that purport to model the nature of our world; these would include the first and second methods. Also included would be the variety of logics. A question that arises is ‘Do the laws of logic have synthetic foundation?’ or ‘What is the nature of the world such that logic is possible?’ This may be a starting point for the development of theories of logic. By varying both the axioms of the third method and the systems of logic, various axiomatic systems may result.
In Journey in Being, transcendental logic is applied to the metaphysics of being; cosmology; the nature of existence, of categories, the problem of substance and of spirit; the nature of mind and matter and the classical mind-matter problem.
It is found, in the end, in Journey in Being ( Site ) that simplicity reigns. The distinction between the abstract and the particular may be made in our understanding but the same understanding restores them to a common ground. We refer the reader to the referenced documents. There is one logic, one mode of being…
Anil Mitra PhD, Copyright © 1988, Second Edition 2002, and Revised July 2007.