True contradictions are taken increasingly seriously by philosophers and logicians. Yet, the belief that contradictions are always false remains deeply intuitive. This paper confronts this belief head-on by explaining in detail how one specific contradiction is true. The contradiction in question derives from Priest's reworking of Berkeley's argument for idealism. However, technical aspects of the explanation offered here differ considerably from Priest's derivation. The explanation uses novel formal and epistemological tools to guide the reader through a valid argument (...) with, not just true, but eminently acceptable premises, to an admittedly unusual conclusion: a true contradiction. The novel formal and epistemological tools concern points of view and changes in points of view. The result is an understanding of why the contradiction is true. (shrink)
The present article critically examines three aspects of Graham Priest's dialetheic analysis of very important kinds of limitations (the limit of what can be expressed, described, conceived, known, or the limit of some operation or other). First, it is shown that Priest's considerations focusing on Hegel's account of the infinite cannot be sustained, mainly because Priest seems to rely on a too restrictive notion of object. Second, we discuss Priest's treatment of the paradoxes in Cantorian set-theory. It is shown that (...) Priest does not address the issue in full generality; rather, he relies on a reading of Cantor which implicitly attributes a very strong principle concerning quantification over arbitrary domains to Cantor. Third, the main piece of Priest's work, the so-called “inclosure schema”, is investigated. This schema is supposed to formalize the core of many well-known paradoxes. We claim, however, that formally the schema is not sound. (shrink)
Semantic dialetheists astutely dodge Explosion, the logical contagion of everything being true if a single contradiction is true. A dialetheia is contained in their semantics, and sustained by a paraconsistent logic. Graham Priest has shown that this is a solution to the Liar paradox. I use the Pinocchio paradox, devised by Veronique Eldridge-Smith, as a counter-example. The Pinocchio paradox turns on the truth of Pinocchio, whose nose grows if and only if what he is saying is not true, saying ‘My (...) nose is growing’. It is not just a matter of interpretation whether Pinocchio’s nose is and is not growing. (shrink)
One might ask of two or more texts—what can be inferred from them, taken together? If the texts happen to contradict each other in some respect, then the unadorned answer of standard logic is EVERYTHING. But it seems to be a given that we often successfully reason with inconsistent information from multiple sources. The purpose of this paper is to attempt to develop an adequate approach to accounting for this given.
The paper asks: are all tautologies true in a language with truth-value gaps? It answers that they are not. No tautology is false, of course, but not all are true. It also contends that not all contradictions are false in a language with truth-value gaps, though none are true.
Graham Priest's book In Contradiction (Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, 1987) is a bold and well argued for defense of the existence of true contradictions. Priest's case for true contradictions -- or «dialetheias», as he calls them -- is by no means the only one in contemporary analytical philosophy, let alone in philosophy tout court . In some sense, other defenses of the existence of true contradictions are less philosophically «heterodox» than his is, since, unlike Priest's orientation, other approaches (...) are closer to prevailing ideas in mainstream («Quinean») analytical philosophy, whereas Priest's leanings are strongly anti realist, and not distant from the logical empiricism of the thirties. (shrink)
The debate around “strong” paraconsistency or dialetheism (the view that there are true contradictions) has – apart from metaphysical concerns - centred on the questions whether dialetheism itself can be definitely asserted or has a unique truth value, and what it should mean, if it is possible at all, to believe a contradiction one knows to be contradictory (i.e. an explicit contradiction). And what should it mean, if it is possible at all, to assert a sentence one knows to (...) be contradictory? (shrink)
Anyone who is accustomed to the view that contradictions cannot be true, and cannot be accepted, and who reads texts in the Buddhists traditions will be struck by the fact that they frequently contain contradictions. Just consider, for example.
The purpose of this essay is to shed some light on a certain type of sentence, which I call a borderline contradiction. A borderline contradiction is a sentence of the form F a ∧ ¬F a, for some vague predicate F and some borderline case a of F , or a sentence equivalent to such a sentence. For example, if Jackie is a borderline case of ‘rich’, then ‘Jackie is rich and Jackie isn’t rich’ is a borderline contradiction. Many theories (...) of vague language have entailments about borderline contradictions; correctly describing the behavior of borderline contradictions is one of the many tasks facing anyone offering a theory of vague language. Here, I first briefly review claims made by various theorists about these borderline contradictions, attempting to draw out some predictions about the behavior of ordinary speakers. Second, I present an experiment intended to gather relevant data about the behavior of ordinary speakers. Finally, I discuss the experimental results in light of several different theories of vagueness, to see what explanations are available. My conclusions are necessarily tentative; I do not attempt to use the present experiment to demonstrate that any single theory is incontrovertibly true. Rather, I try to sketch the auxiliary hypotheses that would need to be conjoined to several extant theories of vague language to predict the present result, and offer some considerations regarding the plausibility of these various hypotheses. In the end, I conclude that two of the theories I consider are better-positioned to account for the observed data than are the others. But the field of logically-informed research on people’s actual responses to vague predicates is young; surely as more data come in we will learn a great deal more about which (if any) of these theories best accounts for the behavior of ordinary speakers. (shrink)
In this paper, I reassess Floridi’s solution to the Bar-Hillel–Carnap paradox (the information yield of inconsistent propositions is maximal) by questioning the orthodox view that contradictions cannot be true. The main part of the paper is devoted to showing that the veridicality thesis (semantic information has to be true) is compatible with dialetheism (there are true contradictions) and that, unless we accept the additional non-falsity thesis (information cannot be false), there is no reason to presuppose that there is (...) no such thing like contradictory information. (shrink)
Some people believe that feminist ethics is little more than a series of dogmatic positions on issues such as abortion rights, pornography, and affirmative action.This caricature was never true, but Alison Jaggar’s Living with Contradictions is the first book to demonstrate just how rich and complex feminist ethics has become. Beginning with the modest assumption that feminism demands an examination of moral issues with a commitment to ending women’s subordination, this anthology shows that one can no longer divide social (...) issues into those that are feminist and those that are not. Living with Contradictions does address many of the traditionally “feminist” issues. But it also includes issues not generally recognized as gendered, such as militarism, environmentalism, and the treatment of animals, demonstrating the value of a feminist perspective in these cases. And, far from reflecting any monolithic orthodoxy, the book shows that there is a rich diversity of views on many moral issues among those who share a feminist commitment.Readers can sample a varied selection of papers and essays from books, journals, newspapers, and grassroots newsletters. Covering a wide range of moral issues, this collection refuses to offer simple solutions, choosing instead to reflect the complexities and contradictions facing anyone attempting to live up to feminist ideals in a painfully pre-feminist world.Based on years of the editor’s work in the field, imaginatively edited, and including generous introductions for students, this is the ideal text for introducing feminist perspectives into courses in ethics, social ethics, and public policy. (shrink)
In Contradiction advocates and defends the view that there are true contradictions (dialetheism), a view that flies in the face of orthodoxy in Western philosophy since Aristotle. The book has been at the center of the controversies surrounding dialetheism ever since its first publication in 1987. This second edition of the book substantially expands upon the original in various ways, and also contains the author's reflections on developments over the last two decades. Further aspects of dialetheism are discussed in (...) the companion volume, Doubt Truth to be a Liar, also published by Oxford University Press in 2006. (shrink)
I argue that there is nothing about truth as such that prevents contradictions from being true. I argue this by considering the main standard accounts of truth, and showing that they are quite compatible with the existence of true contradictions. Indeed, in many cases, they are actually friendly to the idea.
We address an issue recently discussed by Graham Priest: whether the very nature of truth (understood as in correspondence theories) rules out true contradictions, and hence whether a correspondence-theoretic notion of truth rules against dialetheism. We argue that, notwithstanding appearances to the contrary, objections from within the correspondence theory do not stand in the way of dialetheism. We close by highlighting, but not attempting to resolve, two further challenges for dialetheism which arise out of familiar philosophical theorizing about truth.
Lewisian Genuine Realism (GR) about possible worlds is often deemed unable to accommodate impossible worlds and reap the benefits that these bestow to rival theories. This thesis explores two alternative extensions of GR into the terrain of impossible worlds. It is divided in six chapters. Chapter I outlines Lewis’ theory, the motivations for impossible worlds, and the central problem that such worlds present for GR: How can GR even understand the notion of an impossible world, given Lewis’ reductive theoretical framework? (...) Since the desideratum is to incorporate impossible worlds into GR without compromising Lewis’ reductive analysis of modality, Chapter II defends that analysis against (old and new) objections. The rest of the thesis is devoted to incorporating impossible worlds into GR. Chapter III explores GR-friendly impossible worlds in the form of set-theoretic constructions out of genuine possibilia. Then, Chapters IV-VI venture into concrete impossible worlds. Chapter IV addresses Lewis’ objection against such worlds, to the effect that contradictions true at impossible worlds amount to true contradictions tout court. I argue that even if so, the relevant contradictions are only ever about the non-actual, and that Lewis’ argument relies on a premise that cannot be nonquestion- beggingly upheld in the face of genuine impossible worlds in any case. Chapter V proposes that Lewis’ reductive analysis can be preserved, even in the face of genuine impossibilia, if we differentiate the impossible from the possible by means of accessibility relations, understood non-modally in terms of similarity. Finally, Chapter VI counters objections to the effect that there are certain impossibilities, formulated in Lewis’ theoretical language, which genuine impossibilia should, but cannot, represent. I conclude that Genuine Realism is still very much in the running when the discussion turns to impossible worlds. (shrink)
Certain Buddhist texts contain statements that are prima facie contradictions. The scholarly consensus has been that such statements are meant to serve a rhetorical function that depends on the apparent contradictions being resolvable. But recently it has been claimed that such statements are meant to be taken literally: their authors assert as true statements that are of the form ‘p and not p’. This claim has ramifications for our understanding of the role played by the principle of non-contradiction (...) in Buddhist argumentation. I argue that these make the claim less plausible. (shrink)
outrageous remarks about contradictions. Perhaps the most striking remark he makes is that they are not false. This claim first appears in his early notebooks (Wittgenstein 1960, p.108). In the Tractatus, Wittgenstein argued that contradictions (like tautologies) are not statements (Sätze) and hence are not false (or true). This is a consequence of his theory that genuine statements are pictures.
: Nagarjuna seems willing to embrace contradictions while at the same time making use of classic reductio arguments. He asserts that he rejects all philosophical views including his own-that he asserts nothing-and appears to mean it. It is argued here that he, like many philosophers in the West and, indeed, like many of his Buddhist colleagues, discovers and explores true contradictions arising at the limits of thought. For those who share a dialetheist's comfort with the possibility of true (...)contradictions commanding rational assent, for Nagarjuna to endorse such contradictions would not undermine but instead confirm the impression that he is indeed a highly rational thinker. It is argued that the contradictions he discovers are structurally analogous to many discovered by Western philosophers and mathematicians. (shrink)
In his famous work on vagueness, Russell named “fallacy of verbalism” the fallacy that consists in mistaking the properties of words for the properties of things. In this paper, I examine two (clusters of) mainstream paraconsistent logical theories – the non-adjunctive and relevant approaches –, and show that, if they are given a strongly paraconsistent or dialetheic reading, the charge of committing the Russellian Fallacy can be raised against them in a sophisticated way, by appealing to the intuitive reading of (...) their underlying semantics. The meaning of “intuitive reading” is clarified by exploiting a well-established distinction between pure and applied semantics. If the proposed arguments go through, the dialetheist or strong paraconsistentist faces the following Dilemma: either she must withdraw her claim to have exhibited true contradictions in a metaphysically robust sense – therefore, inconsistent objects and/or states of affairs that make those contradictions true; or she has to give up realism on truth, and embrace some form of anti-realistic (idealistic, or broadly constructivist) metaphysics. Sticking to the second horn of the Dilemma, though, appears to be promising: it could lead to a collapse of the very distinction, commonly held in the literature, between a weak and a strong form of paraconsistency – and this could be a welcome result for a dialetheist. (shrink)
There is widespread acknowledgement that the law of non-contradiction is an important logical principle. However, there is less-than-universal agreement on exactly what the law amounts to. This unclarity is brought to light by the emergence of paraconsistent logics in which contradictions are tolerated: From the point of view of proofs, not everything need follow from a contradiction — from the point of view of models, there are “worlds” in which contradictions are true. In this sense, the law of (...) non-contradiction is violated in these logics. However, in many paraconsistent logics, statement (it is not the case that ¢ and ¡£¢ ¤ ¢¦¥ not- ¢ ) is still provable. In this sense, the law of non-contradiction is upheld. This paper attempts to clarify the different readings of the law of non-contradiction, in particular taking cues from the tradition of relevant logics. A further guiding principle will be the natural duality between the law of non-contradiction and rejection on the one hand and the law of the excluded middle and acceptance on the other. (shrink)
He argues that the intuitively provable arithmetic sentences constitute a recursively enumerable set, which has a Gödel sentence which is itself intuitively provable. The incompleteness theorem does not apply, since the set of provable arithmetic sentences is not consistent. The purpose of this article is to sharpen Priest's argument, avoiding reference to informal notions, consensus, or Church's thesis. We add Priest's dialetheic semantics to ordinary Peano arithmetic PA, to produce a recursively axiomatized formal system PA that contains its own truth (...) predicate. Whether one is a dialetheist or not, PA is a legitimate, rigorously defined formal system, and one can explore its proof-theoretic properties. The system is inconsistent (but presumably non-trivial), and it proves its own Gödel sentence as well as its own soundness. Although this much is perhaps welcome to the dialetheist, it has some untoward consequences. There are purely arithmetic (indeed, 0) sentences that are both provable and refutable in PA. So if the dialetheist maintains that PA is sound, then he must hold that there are true contradictions in the most elementary language of arithmetic. Moreover, the thorough dialetheist must hold that there is a number g which both is and is not the code of a derivation of the indicated Gödel sentence of PA. For the thorough dialetheist, it follows ordinary PA and even Robinson arithmetic are themselves inconsistent theories. I argue that this is a bitter pill for the dialetheist to swallow. (shrink)
In the first part the paper rehearses the main arguments why to be a dialetheist (i.e. why to assume that some contradictions are true). Dialetheism, however, has been criticised as irrational or self-refutating. Therefore the second part of the paper outlines one way to make dialetheism rational assertable. True contradictions turn out to be both believable and assertable. The argument proceeds by setting out basic principles of assertion and denial, and employing bivalent truth value operators.
In a recent article M. Colyvan has argued that Quinean forms of scientific realism are faced with an unexpected upshot. Realism concerning a given class of entities, along with this route to realism, can be vindicated by running an indispensability argument to the effect that the entities postulated by our best scientific theories exist. Colyvan observes that among our best scientific theories some are inconsistent, and so concludes that, by resorting to the very same argument, we may incur a commitment (...) to inconsistent entities. Colyvan's argument could be interpreted, and in part is presented, as a reductio of Quinean scientific realism; yet, Colyvan in the end manifests some willingness to bite the bullet, and provides some reasons why we shouldn't feel too uncomfortable with those entities. In this paper we wish to indicate a way out to the scientific realist, by arguing that no indispensability argument of the kind suggested by Colyvan is actually available. To begin with, in order to run such an indispensability argument we should be justified in believing that an inconsistent theory is true; yet, in so far as the logic we accept is a consistent one it is arguable that our epistemic predicament could not be possibly one in which we are justified in so believing. Moreover, also if our logic admitted true contradictions, as Dialetheism does, it is arguable that Colyvan's indispensability argument could not rest on a true premise. As we will try to show, dialetheists do not admit true contradictions for cheap: they do so just as a way out of paradox, namely whenever we are second-level ignorant as to the metaphysical possibility of evidence breaking the parity among two or more inconsistent claims; Colyvan's examples, however, are not of this nature. So, even under the generous assumption that Dialetheism is true, we will conclude that Colyvan's argument doesn't achieve its surprising conclusion. (shrink)
In his recent Philosophers’ Imprint paper “The (mostly harmless) inconsistency of knowledge attributions” [Weiner, 2009], Matt Weiner argues that the semantics of the expression “knows that”, as it is used in attributions of knowledge like “Hannah knows that the bank will be open,” are inconsistent, but that this inconsistency is “mostly harmless.” He presents his view as an alternative to the invariantist, contextualist and relativist approaches currently prevalent in the literature, (e.g. [Stanley, 2005], [DeRose, 1995], [Hawthorne, 2006], [MacFarlane, 2005]) and (...) argues that it avoids important disadvantages of each. Yet in calling the supposed inconsistency of knowledge attributions “mostly harmless”, Weiner implies that his view does not have new disadvantages of its own. My purpose in the present paper is to argue that the inconsistency and harmlessness theses cannot be jointly maintained: if we accept that the semantics of ‘know’—or indeed any word—are inconsistent, then we face a dilemma: one horn is dialetheism, the view that there there are true contradictions, the other is the view that that semantic competence in English requires belief in, or similar commitment to, falsehoods. I will argue that neither of these options is well described as “mostly harmless.” The paper is structured as follows: in the first part I present Weiner’s view and his arguments for it. Then in section 2 I compare the question of whether the semantics of ‘knows that’ are inconsistent to the much older controversy over whether the semantics of the expression ‘is true’ are inconsistent. In section 3 I will present Hans Herzberger’s arguments from the 1960s for thinking that no expression in a natural language can have inconsistent semantics. Finally, in section 4 I argue that although Herzberger’s argument seems anachronistic today, both contemporary ways of avoiding his conclusion have significant disadvantages. (shrink)
There are two ways of understanding the notion of a contradiction: as a conjunction of a statement and its negation, or as a pair of statements one of which is the negation of the other. Correspondingly, there are two ways of understanding the Law of Non-Contradiction (LNC), i.e., the law that says that no contradictions can be true. In this paper I offer some arguments to the effect that on the first (collective) reading LNC is non-negotiable, but on the (...) second (distributive) reading it is perfectly plausible to suppose that LNC may, in some rather special and perhaps undesirable circumstances, fail to hold. (shrink)
Dialetheism is the view that there are true contradictions. Classical dialetheism holds further the view that the law of excluded middle is indeed a logical law. Most famous dialetheists, such as G. Priest and J. Beall, are classical dialetheists; they take classical dialetheism to be the only plausible solution to the semantic paradoxes. The main contention of the paper is, however, that their views should be rejected. Based on inspecting Priest’s and Beall’s dialetheist theories from a special perspective, this (...) paper contends that classical dialetheism has no natural and plausible way to assign truth values to various truth-ineliminable sentences, i.e., sentences whose truth-conditions essentially involve the property of being true . Several examples of such truth-ineliminable sentences are given in the paper, and two classical dialetheist strategies for assigning them truth values are inspected. This paper argues that none of these strategies is successful. (shrink)
This essay presents a critique of dialetheist readings of Madhyamaka based on the philosophy of the fifteenth-century Tibetan scholar, Gorampa Sonam Senge (Go rams pa bSod nams Seng ge) (1429-1489). In brief, dialetheism is the acceptance that in a logical system there can be at least some cases in which a statement and its negation are true; that is, it involves the acceptance of true contradictions. Jay Garfield and Graham Priest's "Nāgārjuna and the Limits of Thought" attempts to reconcile (...) apparent contradictions in Nāgārjuna's Madhyamaka writings by appealing to dialetheism.1 Tom Tillemans' response to that article, "How do Mādhyamikas Think?" advocates an interpretation of Nāgārjuna that relies on a weaker .. (shrink)
Moral dilemmas – situations in which an agent has a moral requirement to do each of two acts but cannot do both – seem to suggest some kind of inconsistency. I argue that the inconsistency felt intuitively is actually a logical inconsistency, and then go on to show that we can neither deny the existence of moral dilemmas nor give up the deontic principles involved in the deduction of a contradiction, as both our moral judgements and the deontic principles depend (...) on intuitions that form the basis of our morality. Rather than rejecting our intuitions and thus undermining morality, I suggest regarding moral dilemmas as situations in which a contradiction is not only false, but at the same time true. Finally, the view that moral dilemmas are an example of true contradictions – so-called dialetheias – leads to the application of paraconsistent logic to moral judgements. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.24(2) 2005: 77-86. (shrink)
Philosophical dialetheism, whose main exponent is Graham Priest, claims that some contradictions hold, are true, and it is rational to accept and assert them. Such a position is naturally portrayed as a challenge to the Law of Non-Contradiction (LNC). But all the classic formulations of the LNC are, in a sense, not questioned by a typical dialetheist, since she is (cheerfully) required to accept them by her own theory. The goal of this paper is to develop a formulation of (...) the Law which appears to be unquestionable, in the sense that the Priestian dialetheist is committed to accept it without also accepting something inconsistent with it, on pain of trivialism—that is to say, on pain of lapsing into the position according to which everything is the case. This will be achieved via (a) a discussion of Priest's dialetheic treatment of the notions of rejection and denial; and (b) the characterization of a negation via the primitive intuition of content exclusion. Such a result will not constitute a cheap victory for the friends of consistency. We may just learn that different things have been historically conflated under the label of 'Law of Non-Contradiction'; that dialetheists rightly attack some formulations of the Law, and orthodox logicians and philosophers have been mistaken in assimilating them to the indisputable one. (shrink)
Dialetheism is the view that some contradictions are true. This is a view which runs against orthodoxy in logic and metaphysics since Aristotle, and has implications for many of the core notions of philosophy. Doubt Truth to Be a Liar explores these implications for truth, rationality, negation, and the nature of logic, and develops further the defense of dialetheism first mounted in Priest's In Contradiction, a second edition of which is also available.
Kamp and Fine presented an influential argument against the use of fuzzy logic for linguistic semantics in 1975. However, the argument assumes that contradictions of the form "A and not A" have semantic value zero. The argument has been recently criticized because sentences of this form are actually not perceived as contradictory by naive speakers. I present new experimental evidence arguing that fuzzy logic still isn't useful for linguistic semantics even if we take such naive speaker judgements at face (...) value. Specifically I show that naive speakers judge "A and not A" in the relevant cases as more true than "B and not A" even when A and B are judged to be equally true. A truth functional semantics such as fuzzy logic cannot account for these intuitions directly. (shrink)
In his book Worlds and Individuals, Possible and Otherwise (2010), Takashi Yagisawa presents and argues for a novel and imaginative version of modal realism. It differs both from Lewis’s modal realism (Lewis 1986) and from actualists’ ersatz accounts (Adams 1974; Sider 2002). In this paper, I’ll present two arguments, each of which shows that Yagisawa’s metaphysics is incoherent. The first argument shows that the combination of Yagisawa’s metaphysics with impossibilia leads to triviality: every sentence whatsoever comes out true. This is (...) so even if Yagisawa accepts a paraconsistent notion of logical consequence, on which contradictions do not entail arbitrary conclusions. The second argument is independent of Yagisawa’s acceptance of impossibilia. It shows that Yagisawa’s metaphysics of possible worlds is incoherent. Using ordinary modal reasoning, I derive a contradiction from Yagisawa’s account of possible worlds. (shrink)
In his essay ‘‘Of the Standard of Taste,’’ Hume argues that artworks with morally flawed outlooks (including Homer's poems) are, to some extent, aesthetically flawed. While Hume's remarks regarding the relationship between art and morality have influenced contemporary aestheticians, Hume's own position has struck many people as incoherent. For Hume appears to entangle himself in two separate contradictions. First, Hume seems to claim both that true judges should not enter into vicious sentiments and that true judges should adopt the (...) standpoint of an artwork's intended audience. But The Iliad, say, was obviously intended for an audience that shared Homer's flawed moral outlook. Second, Hume appears to claim that our moral sentiments are both highly resistant to change and extremely fragile. This essay defends Hume against these two objections by drawing increased attention to the role that Hume's aesthetics assigns to the faculty of good sense or sound reason. (shrink)
Frege subscribed neither to a correspondence theory of truth nor, as is now frequently argued, to a simple redundancy theory of truth. He did not believe, in other words, that the word "true" can be dropped from the language without loss. He argues, instead, that in a perfect language we would not require the term "true" but that we are far from possessing such a language. A perfect language would be one that is fully adequate in the sense that it (...) would allow us to state truths and truth-connections without ambiguities and contradictions. Ordinary language and the calculi we can construct on its basis are, on the other hand, always imperfect. In seeing these imperfections, Frege takes up an important line of late nineteenth century philosophical thinking which can be illustrated also by Nietzsche's reflections on language. Frege and Nietzsche draw, however, diametrically opposed conclusions from the thought that our language proves imperfect. (shrink)
Over the past 25 years, Graham Priest has ably presented and defended dialetheism, the view that certain sentences are properly characterized as true with true negations. Our goal here is neither to quibble with the tenability of true, assertable contradictions nor, really, with the arguments for dialetheism. Rather, we wish to address the dialetheist's treatment of cases of semantic pathology and to pose a worry for dialetheism that has not been adequately considered. The problem that we present seems to (...) have broader bite, afflicting both consistent and inconsistent proposals for resolving semantic pathology. Thus, while our primary goal is to uncover some important connections between dialetheism, semantic pathology, and other, more general issues, the problem that we pose might be a worry for anyone who aims to resolve semantic pathology - consistently or not. (shrink)
A logic is called 'paraconsistent' if it rejects the rule called 'ex contradictione quodlibet', according to which any conclusion follows from inconsistent premises. While logicians have proposed many technically developed paraconsistent logical systems and contemporary philosophers like Graham Priest have advanced the view that some contradictions can be true, and advocated a paraconsistent logic to deal with them, until recent times these systems have been little understood by philosophers. This book presents a comprehensive overview on paraconsistent logical systems to (...) change this situation. The book includes almost every major author currently working in the field. The papers are on the cutting edge of the literature some of which discuss current debates and others present important new ideas. The editors have avoided papers about technical details of paraconsistent logic, but instead concentrated upon works that discuss more 'big picture' ideas. Different treatments of paradoxes takes centre stage in many of the papers, but also there are several papers on how to interpret paraconistent logic and some on how it can be applied to philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of language, and metaphysics. (shrink)
The paper discusses the Inconsistency Theory of Truth (IT), the view that “true” is inconsistent in the sense that its meaning-constitutive principles include all instances of the truth-schema (T). It argues that (IT) entails that anyone using “true” in its ordinary sense is committed to all the (T)-instances and that any theory in which “true” is used in that sense entails the (T)-instances (which, given classical logic, entail contradictions). More specifically, I argue that theorists are committed to the meaning-constitutive (...) principles of logical constants, relative to the interpretation they intend thereof (e.g., classical), and that theories containing logical constants entail those principles. Further, I argue, since there is no relevant difference from the case of “true”, inconsistency theorists’ uses of “true” commit them to the (T)-instances. Adherents of (IT) are recommended, as a consequence, to eschew the truth-predicate. I also criticise Matti Eklund’s account of how the semantic value of “true” is determined, which can be taken as an attempt to show how “true” can be consistently used, despite being inconsistent. (shrink)
Minimalists, following Horwich, claim that all that can be said about truth is comprised by all and only the nonparadoxical instances of (E) p is true iff p. It is, accordingly, standard in the literature on truth and paradox to ask how the minimalist will restrict (E) so as to rule out paradox-inducing sentences (alternatively: propositions). In this paper, we consider a prior question: On what grounds does the minimalist restrict (E) so as to rule out paradox-inducing sentences and, thereby, (...) avoid contradictions? We argue that there is no good reason for thinking that the minimalist can furnish such grounds. Accordingly, while we are tempted to conclude from this that the minimalist should acknowledge the contradictoriness of truth, instead, we end with a challenge: Provide grounds, compatible with minimalism, for banning the paradoxical instances of (E), or embrace dialetheism. (shrink)
The paper concerns time, change and contradiction, and is in three parts. The first is an analysis of the problem of the instant of change. It is argued that some changes are such that at the instant of change the system is in both the prior and the posterior state. In particular there are some changes from p being true to p being true where a contradiction is realized. The second part of the paper specifies a formal logic which accommodates (...) this possibility. It is a tense logic based on an underlying paraconsistent prepositional logic, the logic of paradox. (See the author's article of the same name Journal of Philosophical Logic 8 (1979).) Soundness and completeness are established, the latter by the canonical model construction, and extensions of the basic system briefly considered. The final part of the paper discusses Leibniz's principle of continuity: Whatever holds up to the limit holds at the limit. It argues that in the context of physical changes this is a very plausible principle. When it is built into the logic of the previous part, it allows a rigorous proof that change entails contradictions. Finally the relation of this to remarks on dialectics by Hegel and Engels is briefly discussed. (shrink)
continent. 2.1 (2012): 6–21. The French philosopher and novelist Tristan Garcia was born in Toulouse in 1981. This makes him rather young to have written such an imaginative work of systematic philosophy as Forme et objet , 1 the latest entry in the MétaphysiqueS series at Presses universitaires de France. But this reference to Garcia’s youthfulness is not a form of condescension: by publishing a complete system of philosophy in the grand style, he has already done what none of us (...) in the older generation of speculative realists has done so far. His book is sophisticated, erudite, rigorous, imaginatively rich, and abundant in worldly wisdom– despite the author’s conclusion that wisdom does not exist. The quality and scope of Forme et objet took few observers by surprise, since Garcia has been treated as an emerging philosopher to watch across half a decade of Parisian oral tradition. But Garcia was not just the subject of rumor, being already well known to the French public as a writer of fiction. His debut novel, La meilleure part des hommes , 2 was awarded the 2008 Prix de Flore 3 and has already appeared in English as Hate: A Romance . 4 His follow-up novel, Mémoires de la jungle , 5 made clever use of a chimpanzee narrator. Nor was Garcia only published as a novelist before last November: his philosophical study L’Image 6 had already appeared when the author was just twenty-six, a year before he was crowned by the muses at the historic Café de Flore. And then in 2011, just months before the appearance of Forme et objet , Garcia published a widely distributed work entitled Nous, animaux et humains , 7 with its focus on Jeremy Bentham’s ideas about animals. Given this prolific and versatile track record, an optimistic scenario might envisage the young Garcia as one of those combined literary/philosophical talents who appear intermittently in France across the centuries: Jean-Paul Sartre is merely the most famous recent case. While more time is needed to see how Garcia will channel his impressive mental energies, Forme et objet displays such breadth of insight that its author has a good chance to emerge as one of the leading philosophers of his generation. If we accept Aristotle’s dictum that the peak mental age is fifty-one, then to read Garcia’s massive book is to gain some idea of what European philosophy might look like in the futuristic-sounding 2030’s. The present article is confined to Forme et objet . At 486 pages, the work is obviously daunting in size. Indeed, it is even longer than it sounds, given that many of its early sections are printed in a smaller typeface to designate them as supplemental commentary to the main flow of the argument. But while the length of the book reportedly led to delays in French publication, and will probably slow the inevitable appearance of an English translation, the length of the book should not deter interested readers– much of it results from Garcia’s teacherly writing style. Whereas Quentin Meillassoux’s prose displays an arctic economy of means, Garcia’s style is reminiscent of the repeated lessons of oral classroom proceedings. Rarely is the reader given fewer than three or four chances to master an idea before the author moves on to the next. In practice, the style feels welcoming rather than long-winded. Otherwise, the structure of Forme et objet is surprisingly simple. There is a useful Introduction of less than twenty pages. Then comes Book I: Formally , running to approximately 135 pages. Here Garcia outlines the most basic features of a thing “no matter what it is,” or n’importe quoi , an everyday phrase that Garcia shapes into a technical term. This part of the book feels at times like a more amiable version of Hegel’s Science of Logic , a parallel emphasized further by the threefold articulation of its theme: 1. Thing; 2. Thing and World; 3. Being and Understanding. This is followed by the much longer Book II: Objectively , totaling more than 300 pages. It contains sixteen essay-like meditations on specific kinds of objects—including time, animals, humans, history, gender, and death. Here each chapter rolls smoothly into the next, making this second part of the book feel more like a different work of Hegel: The Phenomenology of Spirit . But these are merely analogies. Garcia is no Hegelian, even if the book contains a few dialectical flourishes that seem to reflect his early enthusiasm for the Frankfurt School. Forme et objet ends with a six-page Coda, followed by the usual page of acknowledgments. In what follows, I will briefly summarize each of these four parts of the book before ending with some more general remarks. Before doing so, it will be useful to situate Garcia biographically (as much as I am able) and philosophically. Though Toulouse is his native city, his formative years were spent largely in Algeria, where his family has deep roots. During our sole private conversation, Garcia mentioned that his parents are professors of literature. 8 As a student of philosopher Garcia flourished so early that many of his current ideas date to his teenaged years: “There are sentences in Forme et objet that I wrote when I was seventeen,” he said in response to a question on that cold night on the Canal St.-Martin. I recalled that remark when reading his brilliant account, late in the book, of the central role of adolescence in contemporary culture. While many prodigies blow through their formal academic training without serious obstruction, Garcia’s student memories are rich in tales of isolation and struggle, though equally rich in gratitude for a half-dozen or so exceptional teachers who provided the intellectual space he needed: Meillassoux and Alain Badiou are simply two of the most prominent figures on that list. Though there are many points of agreement between Garcia’s philosophical position and my own, he not only reached his position years before reading my work, 9 he arrived along a rather different path: not through phenomenology, but via the Frankfurt School, which may be one of the reasons for his profound fascination with aesthetics. Garcia’s cultural background is as broad as one could wish: he is no less informed about punk rock and European football leagues than about the spiritualist roots of Bergson’s philosophy. Curious about everything and contemptuous towards nothing, Garcia can be expected to write insightfully on dozens of topics in the years to come. Given that his philosophy is so personally tantalizing in its agreements and disagreements with my own, and given the great internal richness of Forme et objet itself, the present review is no better than a first effort at coming to terms with the challenges posed by this minstrel from the rising generation. This is especially intriguing for older Generation X’ers like me, since confrontation with the younger generation is one of the many themes treated insightfully in Garcia’s book. 1. Introduction Garcia begins in defense of a so-called “flat ontology,” in which all things are equally things. While Roy Bhaskar 10 used this term pejoratively to refer to anti-realist philosophies that flatten everything onto an epistemic plane of human access, Manuel DeLanda 11 (an admirer of Bhaskar) reversed it into the positive principle that all realities are equally realities. Similar notions can be found in the “absistence” of Alexius Meinong, 12 the “irreduction” of Bruno Latour, 13 and my own critique 14 of the undermining/overmining pair. Also noteworthy is Levi Bryant’s use of the term “flat ontology” throughout The Democracy of Objects 15 and his earlier essay “The Ontic Principle.” 16 But for Garcia, flatness is only one face of the cosmos, and one that he ultimately declares to be rather impoverished. Even so, he always remains an advocate of a flat ontology. Insofar as everything is equally something, no matter what it is ( n’importe qui ), everything is equally a thing, equally solitary in its relation with world. This is why his book abounds in those long lists of random, ontologically equivalent entities that Ian Bogost has playfully termed “Latour Litanies.” 17 The first litany in Garcia’s book runs as follows: “We live in this world of things, where a cutting of acacia, a gene, a computer-generated image, a transplantable hand, a musical sample, a trademarked name, or a sexual service are comparable things.” (7) Yet Garcia is frankly dualistic; his flat ontology only lasts until page 159 and the end of Book I (entitled “Formally”), which deals entirely with things that are equally things. Thereafter Garcia turns his attention from things to objects, which are not flat in the least, but engage in hierarchical relations with one another. In agreement with both DeLanda and the speculative realists, Garcia proclaims that his book “proposes to put to the test a thought about things rather than a thought about our thought about things .” (8) Just as ducklings are “imprinted” (9) after hatching and treat the first creature they see as their mother, philosophers are imprinted by the idea with which they begin. Hence, philosophies that begin with human access will never truly find their way back to things. This makes Garcia rather suspicious of twentieth century philosophy, since “the twentieth century—to which in some way this work proposes to bid adieu—has been a period of theorizing modes of access to things rather than things...” (9) Among other possible benefits of the philosophy of things that Garcia proposes, it is fully able to account for thought as a special variant of things, while the reverse is not possible.(10) In Book I of Forme et objet , Garcia’s “things” are so flat, so de-determined, that he is forced to renounce some of the most basic features ascribed to things by most realists. As he tells us in his foreboding third footnote: “We will maintain that the solitude [of things] is less than unity, less than identity, and that it does not imply acceptance (any more than refusal) of the principle of non-contradiction.” (11) In a contemporary world cluttered with too many things, Garcia’s flat and formal plane provides us with some breathing room: “The formal plan of thought enables or re-enables us to cut short all accumulation—whether of knowing, experience, or action—by a simplicity, an impoverished surface...” (13) As Garcia says elsewhere in responding to a Deleuzian critic of the book, his starting point in flat ontology is designed to obstruct the claims of both analytic philosophy and Hegelianism: “Hence, this work seeks to protect each thing—real, imaginary, inconsistent, contradictory—both against Ockham’s Razor and against the Aufhebung or dialectical process.” 18 Yet contrary to the equalizing spirit of many flat ontologies, “we will add to our formal ontology of the equal, an objective ontology of the unequal.” (13) But initially, Garcia joins all flat ontologists in holding that everything is irreducible: “this irreducibility, which we will term the ‘chance’ of each thing... also marks the refusal of a positive thought that reduces things exclusively to natural things, or social things, or historical things, etc.” (15) This irreducible “chance” of a thing emerges as an important technical term in the book, always paired with its inverted brother, the “price to pay” ( prix à payer ). On pages 17-19, we find the only diagrams in the book. What they illustrate is that Garcia wishes to avoid two equally dangerous extremes. The first is the philosophy of substance, featuring the thing-in-itself as a mighty river fed by attributes as if by subordinate tributary streams. This model can be found in many of the classic thinkers of West and East alike. In it, “there is obviously a hierarchization between that which is dragged towards something other than itself, and this other which serves it as an ontological support while supporting its proper being.” (16) For Garcia, the second extreme worth avoiding is the philosophy of events: “One thus conceives trajectories of being, identified as events, facts, powers, intensities, or intentionality. These vectors of being come first, bearing and supporting being, displacing it, but without ever finding a stopping point, a buffer, an objective consistency.” (17) The first model gives us a thing too wrapped up in itself, too compact . This word “compact” (the French and the English are the same) is another technical term for Garcia. But if the “compact” model of things leads us to something more than things, the philosophy of events gives us less than things, by dissolving them into a play of vectors. Garcia’s alternative lies midway between these two extremes: Being enters the thing, being comes out of it. And a thing is nothing other than the difference between the enters and the being that comes out. Thus, the circuit of being is never halted. In the thing, there is never the thing-in-itself. And the thing is never in-itself, but outside of itself. Nonetheless, being is not eventally “pollinated” by vectors: it possesses an objecting halting-point... (19) This single idea is the key to Garcia’s book: the thing is neither a self-contained durable lump nor some sort of evental flux. Instead, the thing is the difference between its various components and its relations with its environment. Or stated differently: “the price to pay for this disposition is a circulation of being that systematically distinguishes two senses of things: that which is in the thing , and that in which the thing is , or that which encompasses it and that which it encompasses,” (19) translating comprendre here as “encompass.” 19 In a beautiful description of a piece of black slate, Garcia sums up the various minerals, qualities, and shapes that compose [ comprend ] it, and calls them “that which is in the thing,” (20) noting that this tells us nothing about “that in which [the slate] is”—namely, all the various situations in which the black slate can be found. Instead, the slate is the difference between these two: the most characteristic principle of Garcia’s philosophy. 2. Formally Book One of Forme et objet , “Formally,” is concerned with the formal equality of all things in a flat world. “Two questions mark the boundaries of reflection: of what is everything composed [ composé ], and: what do all things compose?” (27) Looking downward, we wish to know what everything is made of; looking upward, we want to know the ultimate result of the combination of all things. Here we must turn our attention to the thing n’importe quoi— no matter what it is. (30) Anything with finite qualities is obviously too specific to be relevant to global ontological questions. To an equal degree, something possessing all qualities (think of Whitehead’s God) 20 would not be n’importe quoi either, since it would still be too definite, even if incredibly vast. The same holds for contradictions, since these all differ from each other. The square circle, the non-white black white, and the non-city city are all too distinct to count as the thing no matter what it is. The n’importe quoi must be devoid of all specific qualities, including contradictory ones. In one of the more intriguing points in his book, so reminiscent of Meinong, Garcia proclaims that “the ‘no matter what it is’ is neither a reality nor an abstract construction, nor both of these at once; the ‘no matter what it is’ is simply the plane of equality of that which is real, that which is possible, that which is inexistent, that which is past, that which is impossible, that which is true, that which is false, that which is bad.”(39-40) Since everything has two faces, it would be a grievous mistake to focus on just one of them at the expense of the other, as physicalism or materialism do when reducing the world to minuscule physical underpinnings. For scientistic materialism, “it is either atoms, particles, or fields of force... which are the things.” (47-48) Moreover, “these more-than-things are accompanied by less-than-things: for example, ideas or facts of consciousness are determined by the state of matter and are not autonomous things, but manifestations reduced to secondary effects of material processes...” (48) On this point, Garcia’s position is in complete accord with my own critique of undermining and overmining. 21 Where we disagree is that Garcia is more deeply suspicious of the notion of substance, which I view as salvageable with a few needed changes, while Garcia sees this operation as hopeless: “A substance, in the history of philosophy, is the more-than-thing par excellence.” (51) Another agreement between our positions is visible when Garcia claims (correctly, in my opinion) “that it is vain to distinguish between things which are material and those which are not.” (52) Yet we also find an even more important disagreement, since for Garcia withdrawal cannot be the quality of a thing. Instead, the absence of a thing is simultaneous with it, embodied in all that is not it– the absence of the sculpture of a woman is to be found in the mold that appears at the same time as it, and thus withdrawal must be viewed as an “event” rather than as something pertaining to an object. For Garcia, nothing withdraws beyond access. Since we must distinguish between “that which is something” and “that which something is,” and since the former is identified with “no matter what it is is” and the latter with “ not no matter what it is,” we can say that “everything is thus a milieu, a fragile link between ‘no matter what it is’ and ‘ not no matter what it is.’” (62) And here we find Garcia’s critique of the thing-in-itself: “A thing is never defined en bloc . We can affirm that a thing is this or that, but that does not suffice. It is still necessary to state precisely that which is this thing .” (62) Stated differently, “something is not in itself : for that which is in the thing is not the thing, and that in which the thing is is not the thing.” (62) And here Garcia and I, facing the same evidence, draw opposite conclusions. For me, the fact that nothing can be identified with either its components or its concrete location means that the thing must be something in-itself distinct from both of these. Yet for Garcia, to be in-itself would mean to be identified with just one of these two extreme terms, and hence the thing can only be the difference between them. Garcia is equally suspicious of the classical tendency to view “unity” as a property of the thing, since in his eyes unity is too relational a property to belong to things. (65) While specific things are situated determinately with respect to other things, we are still speaking here about the thing no matter what it is, and this can be viewed only in terms of solitude, which all things share: a human being, a hand, or a chair or all equally things insofar as they are on their own , not insofar as they are one . (64) A thing is alone, and relates only to the one thing that is not another thing: world. In a striking parallel to my own argument for a partial revival of occasionalism, Garcia tells us that “the things communicate only by their solitude: it is because everything is equally on its own in the world that things can be together, enmeshed in one another.” (67) Alone in their solitude, things all relate to world, which serves as a mediator allowing them to become mixed up in one another. As we have seen, one reason that nothing can be in itself is because everything is in something else. For Garcia, “to be in something and to be something are equivalent.” (69) Stated more broadly, “being is thus the difference between the two aspects of each thing: that which is it, and that which it is.” (70) And even more vividly: “a thing is almost like a sack: there is that which one puts in the sack and that which remains outside the sack.” (70) But not quite like a sack, “since a thing is not a thin skin or film. Instead, a thing is comparable to a sack that is immaterial and without thickness: it is nothing other than the difference between that which is this thing and that which thing is, between content and container.” (71) Nothing can be in-itself because everything is two selves at once. For example, we cannot say that our self is defined by our consciousness: “Everything has a self because nothing is in itself. The self is not the quality of that which is related to itself (which is conscious, for example) or which thinks itself related to itself. Nonetheless, for an entity called ‘conscious’ to be related to itself, it is necessary that this very relation should be another thing than the self to which it is related.” (71) Consciousness cannot be the self, precisely because it is other than that of which it is conscious. Nothing is able to grasp itself. The self is “the function by which being and composition [ compréhension ] are mutually excluded...” (72) The self is “the point of shadow of everything that projects some light...” (72) The in-itself faces two opposite dangers: “For something to be in-itself is to be a self. Something which is a self flies out through one of its two sides... Stated differently, being in-itself is simply the possibility of a double failure.” (73) The in-itself can be termed compact : “There remains to us a means of thinking that which does not fully enter into the world, though without exiting from it. This means is what we call the compact.” (76) In a sense, the compact is the opposite of the world. For in the case of the world, everything enters it and it enters nothing; as for the compact, it enters the world (since it is something, after all) while nothing enters it. (77) The compact marks the presence of the impossible in the world. (78) It is not impossible, but possible only on the condition that it fails. (78) The time has come to speak of where a thing is located. “The sole condition of a thing is that of being in another thing than itself, and thus in another thing than something.” (78) A condition is “that which determines something, that which forms something, that in which something is.” (78) As for humans, “the condition of someone is his situation; my social condition is that which socially determines me, my place and my function...” (79) More generally, “to be conditioned is to find oneself reduced to that in which one is.” (79) Everything is conditioned, but nothing is reducible to this condition. To determine the condition of something is to determine in what it is. A thing is located in that which contradicts it, just as a statue exists in its mold, which is precisely that which it is not. Since the thing is finite and definite, its condition or form must be infinite and indefinite. That in which all things are is the world, which Garcia also terms “the whole.” (81) “To try to be in-itself is to attempt to remain outside the world. And indeed, to try to be in-itself is only a path of entry into the world.” (83) For Garcia, “the world is not the pre-existent container of the things it contains, a priori , nor the construction by the mind of a fictional ensemble of all things, a posteriori .” (85) Instead, the world is simultaneous with all things; the two always go together. The world cannot be a determinate world, such as the physical universe or mathematical space, since these are already too specific and limited. “Every determinate world, which is in fact a universe , is a ‘big thing’ [ grosse chose ]: it is a set, however vast, of composite things which itself embodies a thing.” (85) Every determinate world is really just a “big thing.” Stated differently, “it is nothing other than a balanced milieu between the things that compose it and the thing that it composes.” (85) We generally picture the world as a physical univer. (shrink)
Can we believe things that could not possibly be true? The world seems full of examples. Mathematicians have "proven" theorems which in fact turn out to be false. People have believed that Hesperus is not Phosphorus, that they themselves are essentially incorporeal, that heat is not molecular motion--all propositions which have been claimed to be not just false, but necessarily false. Some have even seemed to pride themselves on believing the impossible; Hegel thought contradictions could be true, and Kierkegaard (...) seems to have thought that Christianity, in which he fervently believed, was impossible and absurd. (shrink)
To resolve putative liar paradoxes it is sufficient to attend to the distinction between liar-sentences and the propositions they would express, and to exercise the option of turning would-be deductions of paradox (of contradictions) into reductions of the existence of those propositions. Defending the coherence of particular resolutions along these lines, leads to recognition of the non-extensionality of some liar-sentences. In particular, it turns out that exchanges of terms for identicals in the open-sentence '- does not expression a true (...) proposition' are not invariably truth-preserving because they are not invariably proposition-expression preserving. All of this recommends propositions as fruitful subjects of interesting renewed research. (shrink)
Averroes defended philosophy by returning to the true Aristotle. For this purpose, Aristotle's book in which he explained the eternity, uniqueness and movement of the universe, occupied a place of special importance. But the Aristotelian philosopher had a hard time holding his own in the face of contradictions within the book and with respect to Aristotle's later works. In his early Compendium, later Paraphrase, and final Long Commentary of De Caelo, Ibn Rushd continued the efforts of the Hellenistic commentators (...) in order to integrate all the elements of his doctrine into a unified system, to harmonize his early cosmology with his later Metaphysics and to uphold his models of homocentric planetary spheres against the mathematical paradigm of Ptolemaic astronomy. By insisting throughout on demonstrative arguments based on rational principles, he asserted the philosophers' claim to irrefutable truth. (shrink)
A Liar sentence is a sentence that, paradoxically, we cannot evaluate for truth in accordance with classical logic and semantics without arriving at a contradiction. For example, consider L If we assume that L is true, then given that what L says is ‘L is false,’ it follows that L is false. On the other hand, if we assume that L is false, then given that what L says is ‘L is false,’ it follows that L is true. Thus, L (...) is an example of a Liar sentence. Several philosophers have proposed that the Liar paradox, and related paradoxes, can be solved by accepting the contradictions that these paradoxes seem to imply (including Priest 2006, Rescher and Brandom 1980). The theory that there are true .. (shrink)
I analyze some classical solutions of the skeptical argument and some of their week points (especially the contextualist solution). First I have proposed some possible improvement of the contextualist solution (the introduction of the explicit-implicit belief and knowledge distinction beside the differences in the relevance of some counter-factual alternatives). However, this solution does not block too fast jumps of the everyday context (where empirical knowledge is possible) into skeptical context (where empirical knowledge is impossible). Then I analyze some formal analogies (...) between some modal arguments on the contingency of empirical facts (and the world as whole) and the skeptical arguments against empirical knowledge. I try to show that the skeptical conclusion “Empirical knowledge does not exist” is logically coherent with the thesis that they are empirical facts and that we have true belief on them. In order to do that without contradictions I have to accept a non-classical definition of knowledge: S knows that p:= S is not justified to allow that non-p. Knowledge and justified allowance function here as some pseudo-theoretical concepts which allow only some partial and conditional definitions by some “empirical” terms and logical conditions. (shrink)
Wittgenstein's philosophies, from both the Tractatus and the Philosophical Investigations, are explained and developed. Wittgenstein uses a primitive version of recursion theory to develop his attempt at a purely logical metaphysics in the Tractatus. However, due to his implicit materialist assumptions, he could not make the system completely logical, and built in a mystical division of possible worlds into the true and the false. This incoherence eventually lead him to reject logic as a method for doing metaphysics, and indeed to (...) reject metaphysics entirely. I argue that his move from the Tractatus to the Investigations was valid, but only given his materialist assumptions. If he had been willing to drop this unnecessary baggage, recursion would have played a very different role in his system, since he would then have had no need to separate static objects from processes, which he saw as purely mental. F.H. Bradley developed such a nonmaterialist metaphysics in the nineteenth century, but was crippled by a mentalism that Wittgenstein was free of. The anti-mentalism and anti-materialism that Wittgenstein considered as given were not so obvious to his predecessor, Russell, who revolted against Bradley's idealism in much the same way Wittgenstein ended up revolting against Russell's logical atomism. In my view, none of these positions was the right approach, which would require nonmentalism and nonmaterialism. But for some reason, these things (which seem to go together quite naturally to me) have been widely considered to be incompatible. Bradley was appropriately a non-materialist, but suffered from mentalism. Russell and the early Wittgenstein were appropriately nonmentalists, but suffered from materialism. The later Wittgenstein was, I would argue, still an ardent materialist and anti-mentalist, in spite of the fact that he had long since realized the contradictions to which materialism leads; he just had not recognized that it was his materialist assumptions that had lead him there, since these assumptions were so firmly engrained in his thinking as to be invisible.. (shrink)