Attaining Objectivity: Phenomenological Reduction and the Private Language Argument

Twentieth Century philosophical thought has expressed itself for the most part through two great Movements: the phenomenological and the analytical. Each movement originated in reaction against idealistic—or at least antirealistic—views of "the world". And each has collapsed back into an idealism not different in effect from that which it initially rejected. Both movements began with an appeal to meanings or concepts, regarded as objective realities capable of entering the flow of experience without loss of their objective status or of their power to reveal to us an objective world as it would be if there were no subjective apprehensions of it. Both movements ended with a surrender of the objectivity of meanings and concepts in this strong sense, coming to treat them as at most more-or-less shareable components of a somehow communalized experience, but in any case incapable of revealing how things are irrespective of actual human experience. For the old Egocentric Predicament, with its "ideas" etc., is substituted a Lingocentric or Histrocentric Predicament of "language" and its elements. Hilary Putnam speaks for the current consensus: 'Internal realism says that we don't know what we are talking about when we talk about "things in themselves"' ( The Many Faces of Realism , p. 36).
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