This paper presents a position called Scheme-based Alethic Realism, which reconciles a realist position on the nature of truth with a pluralistic Kantian perspective that allows for multiple environments in which truthmaking relationships are established. We argue that truthmaking functions are constrained by a stable phenomenal world and a stable cognitive architecture. This account takes truth as normatively distinct from epistemic justification while relativizing the truth conditions of our statements to what we call Frameworks. The pluralistic aspect allows that these (...) stable elements, while constraining representational and linguistic schemes, do not define a single framework for truthmaking relations. We strengthen this position by considering themes on situated rational agency from cognitive science and artificial intelligence, arguing that whatever enables or supports rational action within a particular environment must figure into some account of truth and truthmaking, and vice versa. (shrink)
Idealism is an ontological view, a view about what sorts of things there are in the universe. Idealism holds that what there is depends on our own mental structure and activity. Berkeley of course held that everything was mental; Kant held the more complex view that there was an important distinction between the mental and the physical, but that the structure of the empirical world depended on the activities of minds. Despite radical differences, idealists like Berkeley and Kant share what (...) Ralph Barton Perry called "the cardinal principle of idealism," namely, the principle that "being is dependent on the knowing of it."1 I believe that Hilary Putnam intends his "internal realism" to be a version of idealism in this broad sense; although many of his arguments concern semantic notions like truth and reference, he takes these semantic arguments to have ontological consequences. This is strongly suggested, for instance, by his claim that "'objects' themselves are as much made as discovered, as much products of our conceptual invention as of the 'objective' factor in experience."2 Or again there is this rather Kantian metaphor: "the mind and the world jointly make up the mind and the world."3 But just what is Putnam's ontology? (shrink)
In this thesis, I examine the perceptibility of the Platonic Ideas in the thought of Arthur Schopenhauer. The work is divided into four chapters, each focusing and building upon a specific aspect related to this question. The first chapter ("Plato and the Primacy of Intellect") deals with Schopenhauers interpretation specific to Platonic thought. I there address the question of why it is that Schopenhauer should consider Plato to have interpreted the Ideas as 'perceptible', particularly in view of evidence which seems (...) to testify to the contrary. Does Schopenhauer misinterpret Plato, or are there sufficient grounds for considering his interpretation consistent? This is important in light of Schopenhauers reinterpretation of the Platonic Idea on the basis of the primacy of the will in contradistinction to Plato's own emphasis upon the intelligible. In effect, for Schopenhauer, Plato confuses the nature of imperceptible concepts with the more perceptually grounded Ideas. In the second chapter ("On the Direct Path to Knowledge"), I explore Schopenhauer's methodological approach on the basis of the will. I there discuss the difference between Schopenhauer and Kant with respect to Transcendental Idealism, particularly in terms of their separate analysis and derivation of the thing-in-itself. From there, I turn to a consideration of Schopenhauer's discussion of the nature of formal and empirical intuitions, of abstraction and the nature of universal concepts, and finally of the intuitively grounded nature of mathematical demonstration which serves as an analogy for the manner in which Schopenhauer deals with knowledge of the Ideas. In the third chapter ("The Perceptibility of the Ideas"), I discuss the manner in which the Ideas become accessible as the manifestation of the Will, arising through the representation of perception. There a number of distinctions are made between Ideas and concepts, as well as the nature of contemplation through Genius. The Ideas are found to be perceptible as aesthetic intuitions which relate not only to the in-itself nature inherent to phenomena, but serve also as the essential basis and foundation for all genuine forms of art. In the fourth and final chapter ("Critical Discussion of Schopenhauers Ideas"), I consider and outline a number of potential problems with respect to Schopenhauers analysis. In particular, Schopenhauer encounters difficulties on the basis of the simultaneous immanence and transcendence of the Ideas; of the knowledge of the Ideas characterized as intuitive while yet having a strangely abstract basis; of the unity of the will in face of the plurality of Ideas and phenomena; and finally of the annihilation of the will which creates essential problems in terms of the desideratum of knowledge itself. I here also attempt to offer various solutions to these problems where relevant. The conclusion which I arrive at in this work is that any radical reorientation of ontology must bear an essential effect upon the character and methodology of knowledge itself. In other words, Schopenhauers interpretation of the perceptibility of the Ideas is a direct consequence of hi s analysis of the will as the metaphysical thing-in-itself. In fact, this essential change colors his entire epistemological approach, from science and mathematics, to logic and the Ideasfrom the ground the up. (shrink)
This paper defends an idealist form of non-reductivism in the philosophy of mind. I refer to it as a kind of conceptual dualism without substance dualism. I contrast this idealist alternative with the two most widespread forms of non-reductivism: multiple realisability functionalism and anomalous monism. I argue first, that functionalism fails to challenge seriously the claim for methodological unity since it is quite comfortable with the idea that it is possible to articulate a descriptive theory of the mind. Second, that (...) as an attempt to graft conceptual mind-body dualism onto a monistic metaphysics, the idealist alternative bears some similarities to anomalous monism, but that it is superior to it because it is not vulnerable to the charge of epiphenomenalism. I conclude that this idealist alternative should be given serious consideration by those who remain unconvinced that a successful defence of the non-reducibility of the mental is compatible with the pursuit of a naturalistic agenda. (shrink)
This paper investigates Sellars's complex attitude towards idealism. It distinguishes between the epistemologically-based arguments that led many empiricists to idealism and a different set of more purely metaphysical arguments that came to dominate in German Idealism. Sellars resolutely rejects all of the epistemological arguments for idealism, but shows much greater sympathy with the metaphysical arguments. It is then argued that Sellars introduced his notion of picturing to avoid falling into such an idealism.
In the sixth chapter of The View from Nowhere, Thomas Nagel attempts to identify a form of idealism. The position that he deems idealist is that what there is must be possibly conceivable by us. Nagel claims that this position is held by a number of contemporary philosophers. Even if this is so, I justify the view that it is not a form of idealism.
In the sixth chapter of The View from Nowhere, Thomas Nagel aims to identify a form of idealism, to isolate the argument for it and to counter this argument. The position that Nagel takes to be idealist is that what there is must be possibly conceivable by us. In this paper, I show that Nagel has not made a convincing case against this position. I then present an alternative case. In light of this alternative case, we have reason to reject (...) an important example that Nagel offers of a contemporary idealist, namely Donald Davidson. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that the kind of idealism defended by Berkeley is a natural and almost unavoidable expression of his theism. Two main arguments are deployed, both starting from a theistic premise and having an idealist conclusion. The first likens the dependence of the physical world on the will of God to the dependence of mental states on a mind. The second likens divine omniscience to the kind of knowledge which it has often been supposed we have of (...) the contents of our own minds. After rebutting objections to these arguments, I conclude that both theists and non-idealists should be surprised and discomforted by my contentions. (shrink)
As regular readers of The Pluralist are aware, there appeared in 2008 an issue devoted to Jan Olof Bengtsson's The Worldview of Personalism.1 The issue included five articles, each concerned with a different aspect of the book; and after each article, there was a "Reply" by Bengtsson. In what follows, I shall say something about Bengtsson's reply to my own contribution, "Absolute and Personal Idealism." However, first let me briefly describe that article's argument.In "Absolute and Personal Idealism," I examined the (...) personalist attack on absolutism as formulated by Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison in two works: Hegelianism and Personality and The Idea of God in the Light of Recent Philosophy. In the first section of .. (shrink)
In the process of knowledge imagination is, according to Hegel, the point where the human mind dissociates the object into two different contents - i.e. the thing of the external world and the internal content of the mind -, so that both versions of the object must corroborate each other in the way of a synthesis of heterogenous elements that only in their collation recognizes their identity. Comprehension sublates this dualism, and, by doing that, it sublates also the empiricist approach (...) to knowledge and the correspondence theory of truth which, for Hegel, are at its basis. (shrink)
The main claim of Hegel´s System is that in its inner structure reality is consubstantial with subjective reason, so that, in spite of all its eventual contradictions, reality can be understood by the human mind. However, the process of knowledge of the rationality of reality is at the same time the process of self-knowledge of the rationality that defines as such the human mind. In this general process of knowledge-self-knowledge, the different artistic forms and the different periods of the History (...) of Art have, according to Hegel, a precise function. The main objective of this article is, in the first place, to clarify the function that, according to Hegel, Art has in the process of self-knowledge of human rationality, and, secondly, to analyze in that context the logic of the sublation of Art in the discursive element of language. (shrink)
A World for Us aims to refute physical realism and establish in its place a form of idealism. Physical realism, in the sense in which John Foster understands it, takes the physical world to be something whose existence is both logically independent of the human mind and metaphysically fundamental. Foster identifies a number of problems for this realist view, but his main objection is that it does not accord the world the requisite empirical immanence. The form of idealism that he (...) tries to establish in its place rejects the realist view in both its aspects. It takes the world to be something whose existence is ultimately constituted by facts about human sensory experience, or by some richer complex of non-physical facts in which such experiential facts centrally feature. Foster calls this phenomenalistic idealism. He tries to establish a specific version of such phenomenalistic idealism, in which the experiential facts that centrally feature in the constitutive creation of the world are ones that concern the organization of human sensory experience. The basic idea of this version is that, in the context of certain other constitutively relevant factors, this sensory organization creates the physical world by disposing things to appear systematically world-wise at the human empirical viewpoint. Chief among these other relevant factors is the role of God as the one who is responsible for the sensory organization and ordains the system of appearance it yields. It is this that gives the idealistically created world its objectivity and allows it to qualify as a real world. (shrink)
The winning entry in David Stove's Competition to Find the Worst Argument in the World was: “We can know things only as they are related to us/insofar as they fall under our conceptual schemes, etc., so, we cannot know things as they are in themselves.” That argument underpins many recent relativisms, including postmodernism, post-Kuhnian sociological philosophy of science, cultural relativism, sociobiological versions of ethical relativism, and so on. All such arguments have the same form as ‘We have eyes, therefore we (...) cannot see’, and are equally invalid. (shrink)
The article considers, in a historical setting, the links between varieties of nominalism—the extreme nominalism of the Quine-Goodman variety and the trope nominalism current today—and types of idealism. In so doing arguments of various twentieth century figures, including Husserl, Bradley, Russell, and Sartre, as well as a contemporary attack on relations by Peter Simons are critically examined. The paper seeks to link the rejection of realism about universals with the rejection of a mind-independent “world”—in short, linking nominalism with idealism.
Leemon McHenry has recently written an article which aims "to evaluate the plausibility of Bradley's conception of metaphysics" (McHenry, 1996, p. 159). In the process of this evaluation he draws an important distinction between two kinds of metaphysical project, which he labels "'pure' and 'naturalized' metaphysics" (McHenry, 1996, p. 159). In McHenry's terms, the pure metaphysician approaches his task by appeal to 'pure thinking' alone. Although he defines the method of pure metaphysicians as being a priori in character he is (...) content to put Bradley among their ranks despite this, on the grounds that the latter is concerned to produce a metaphysical account that is "uncontaminated by the results of the empirical sciences" (McHenry, 1996, p. 160). This is contrasted directly with the aim of the naturalised metaphysician who employs the theories of modern science as a general guide to a metaphysics (McHenry, 1996. p. 161) (1). (shrink)
Much of the difficulty in assessing theories of consciousness stems from their advocates not supplying adequate or convincing characterisations of the phenomenon (or data) they hope to explain. Yet, to make any reasonable assessment this is precisely what is required, for it is not as if our ‘pre-theoretical’ intuitions are philosophically innocent. I attempt to reveal, using a recent debate between Chalmers and Dennett as a foil, why, in approaching this topic, we cannot characterise the data purely first-personally or third-personally (...) nor, concomitantly, can we start such investigations using either first-personal or third-personal methods. (shrink)
Unlike standard attempts to address the so-called ‘hard problem’ of consciousness, which assume our understanding of consciousness is unproblematic, this book begins by focusing on phenomenology and is devoted to clarifying the relations between intentionality, propositional content and experience. In particular, it argues that the subjectivity of experience cannot be understood in representationalist terms. This is important, for it is because many philosophers fail to come to terms with subjectivity that they are at a loss to provide a convincing solution (...) to the mind-body problem. In this light the metaphysical problem is revealed to be a product of the misguided attempt to incorporate consciousness within an object-based schema, inspired by physicalism. A similar problem arises in the interpretation of quantum mechanics and this gives us further reason to look beyond physicalism, in matters metaphysical. Thus the virtues of absolute idealism are re-examined, as are the wider consequences of adopting its understanding of truth within the philosophy of science. -/- View SWIF Book forum with precis, commentaries and replies - link below. (shrink)
This paper distinguishes three conceptual problems that attend philosophical accounts of consciousness. The first concerns the problem of properly characterizing the nature of consciousness itself, the second is the problem of making intelligible the relation between consciousness and the physical, and the third is the problem of creating the intellectual space for a shift in philosophical framework that would enable us to deal adequately with the first two problems. It is claimed that physicalism, in both its reductive and non-reductive forms, (...) fails to deal adequately with either the first or second problem. The diagnosis of this failure is connected to the fact that consciousness cannot be treated in its own terms while being simultaneously fitted into an object-based conceptual schema. In light of this, it is proposed that a Bradleian version of absolute idealism may provide a metaphysical and epistemological framework which would enable us to recognize the conceptual diversity required to treat conscious phenomena on their own terms without forcing us to abandon naturalism. (shrink)
Leemon McHenry has recently written an article which aims "to evaluate the plausibility of Bradley's conception of metaphysics" (McHenry, 1996, p. 159). In the process of this evaluation he draws an important distinction between two kinds of metaphysical project, which he labels "'pure' and 'naturalized' metaphysics" (McHenry, 1996, p. 159). In McHenry's terms, the pure metaphysician approaches his task by appeal to 'pure thinking' alone. Although he defines the method of pure metaphysicians as being a priori in character he is (...) content to put Bradley among their ranks despite this, on the grounds that the latter is concerned to produce a metaphysical account that is "uncontaminated by the results of the empirical sciences" (McHenry, 1996, p. 160). This is contrasted directly with the aim of the naturalised metaphysician who employs the theories of modern science as a general guide to a metaphysics (McHenry, 1996. p. 161). -/- McHenry is right to see Bradley's approach at odds with the kind of naturalised metaphysical accounts of today. Specifically, McHenry's identifies both modest Quinean and the more ambitious Whiteheadian versions of naturalised metaphysics as conflicting with Bradley's account. I have no quarrel with McHenry on this aspect of his analysis. Our disagreement arises when he concludes that "Bradley has been a formidable opponent for naturalized metaphysics, but his own conception of pure metaphysics has shown to be flawed in several important respects." (McHenry, 1996, p. 175). McHenry attempts to establish that today's forms of naturalized metaphysics are preferable to a Bradleyian purist version. I question this conclusion in what follows. (shrink)
The paper is an attempt to take Ingarden’s unfinished critique of idealism one step further. It puts forward a schematic solution to the external-world realist’sproblem of how to explain the fact that we can identify and re-identify fictions, entities that in one sense do not exist. The solution contains three proposals: to accept, with Husserl and Ingarden, that there are universals with intentionality (Husserl’s “intentional essences”), to accept, contra Husserl and Ingarden, an immanent realism for universals, and to accept Ingarden’s (...) view that there is a mode of being distinct from those put forward in traditional metaphysics, that of purely intentional being. Together, these views imply that all the instances of a specific intentional universal are directed towards the same intentional object; be this object a really existing object or a fiction, a purely intentional being. (shrink)