As a worldview, naturalism depends on a set of cognitive commitments from which ﬂow certain propositions about reality and human nature. These propositions in turn might have implications for how we live, for social policy, and for human ﬂourishing. But the presuppositions, basis, and implications of naturalism are not uncontested, and indeed there’s considerable debate about them among naturalists themselves.
If Western philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato, then aesthetics is a series of footnotes to Kant. This is as true of the analytic tradition as of the Continental. But there has been an important change of emphasis in the object of inquiry of analytic aesthetics, which predominantly concerns theorising about the experience and criticism of works of art. Kant’s idea of aesthetics as primarily concerned with beauty, or heightened or intensified perceptual experiences of natural phenomena, has largely (...) been eclipsed (but not entirely: e.g., Mothersill 1984). Analytic aesthetics, once considered the neglected step-child of analytic philosophy, is beginning to gain confidence as a significant area of study with much to tell us about human experience, art, taste, expression, representation, interpretation, intention, imagination and reason. In the 1950s analytic philosophers complained of the barrenness of aesthetics, but today as analytic philosophy enters an intense period of self-searching and reassessment, it is to aesthetics that one might profitably turn to gain a better understanding of the complex Kantian origins of the discipline. The most significant Kantian legacy in the aesthetic domain has been the idea of the autonomy of the work of art and our experience of it from other theoretical, practical and sensory aspects of human life. To approach the topic of analytic aesthetics let us first ask, ‘What is analytic philosophy?’, before turning to the analytic approach to aesthetics, and the contribution of its Australasian practitioners. It is familiar that there is no dominant paradigm or practice of analysis engaged in by those who regard themselves as analytic philosophers. Analytic philosophy is closely aligned with the development and application of modern symbolic logic and with the attempt to adopt the methods of the natural sciences or to give them a certain metaphysical priority – which goes some way to explaining the lowly status aesthetics has been accorded in Anglo-American circles of philosophy for most of the twentieth century.. (shrink)
There has always existed in the world, and there will always continue to exist, some kind of metaphysics, and with it the dialectic that is natural to pure reason. It is therefore the first and most important task of philosophy to deprive metaphysics, once and for all, of its injurious influence, by attacking its errors at their source. - Kant CPR:B xxxi..
In Renewing Philosophy (1992), having surveyed a number of metaphysical programs in contemporary analytic philosophy, including Bernard Williams’ appeal to an absolute conception of the world, Ruth Millikan’s attempt to reduce intentionality to biological function, and Nelson Goodman’s irrealism, Putnam concludes as follows: I have argued that the decision of a large part of contemporary analytic philosophy to become a form of metaphysics is a mistake. Indeed, contemporary analytic metaphysics is in many ways a parody of the great metaphysics of (...) the past. As Dewey pointed out, the metaphysics of previous epochs had a vital connection to the culture of those epochs, which is why it was able to change the lives of men and women, and not always for the worse. Contemporary analytic metaphysics has no connection with anything but the “intuitions” of a handful of philosophers. It lacks what Wittgenstein called “weight”. (Putnam 1992, p. 197) If contemporary analytic metaphysics is a mistake then is the point that we should try to revive traditional metaphysical programs? Or should we perhaps renovate metaphysics so that it will, once again, have “a vital connection” to culture? Or, more radically, is the renewal of philosophy that Putnam calls for a vision of a non-metaphysical form of philosophising – what we might call philosophising without philosophical “musts”? That would certainly fit with the invocation of Wittgenstein and Dewey1 whose therapeutic aims seem to stand in stark contrast to the program of constructive metaphysics. And it is undeniable that at least part of Putnam’s vision of what philosophy ought to be involves resisting the revisionist tendencies of substantial metaphysical programs in order to do justice to our everyday life-world. Philosophy, unlike contemporary analytic metaphysics, ought never to lose contact with the question of how we ought to live or with forms of thought that have ‘weight’ in our lives. The question I want to address in this paper is whether this vision spells the end of metaphysics as such or only of a particular kind of metaphysics of which the analytic version is an example? What is the fate of metaphysics on Putnam’s conception? Various features of his position might suggest an end of metaphysics reading in something like the spirit of logical positivism.. (shrink)
This paper is a critical discussion of Quine’s naturalist credos: (1) physicalism; (2) there is no first philosophy; (3) philosophy is continuous with science; and (4) the only responsible theory of the world as a whole is scientific theory. The aim is to show that Quine’s formulations admit of two readings: a strong reading (often Quine’s own) which is compatible with reductive forms of naturalism but implausible; and a mild reading which is plausible but suggestive of more liberal forms of (...) naturalism. The paper ends by claiming that naturalism is a normative doctrine that is inconsistent by its own lights. (shrink)
Wittgenstein has been likened to a Pyrrhonian sceptic, one who employs dialectical skills to avoid rather than defend doctrine, but it is his role in exposing and excavating the sands upon which modern scepticisms have been built that is the subject of this new volume of largely original essays. The first three chapters, by Crispin Wright, Akeel Bilgrami and Michael Williams find inspiration in On Certainty for singling out key moves in the initial set-up of external world scepticism; the next (...) four chapters, by James Conant, Denis McManus, Ilham Dilman and Jane Heal involve discussions of external world (Cartesian) scepticism, semantic (Kantian) scepticism, scepticism about language (linguistic idealism) and the factuality of the mental that are either commentaries on, or discussions inspired by, Wittgenstein’s writings. The last five chapters focus on Stanley Cavell’s important and under-appreciated work on other minds scepticism—a form of scepticism that, on Cavell’s reading, is never far from the surface of Philosophical Investigations. Responses to modern scepticisms can be broadly divided into two categories: (1) Problem- Accepting Responses: those that regard the sceptical problem as legitimate and seek an answer that takes the form of an appropriate justification for (what the sceptic characterizes as) our ordinary knowledge or beliefs; and (2) Problem-Rejecting Reponses: those that regard the sceptical ‘problem’ as illegitimate (and so, not requiring an answer) because of hidden and contestable theoretical commitments or because it subtly transgresses conditions of sensemaking. This is a volume devoted entirely to the second of these categories, responses that are directed to, as McManus puts it, “a layer in which our philosophical questions are constituted”(p. (shrink)
William James said that sometimes detailed philosophical argument is irrelevant. Once a current of thought is really under way, trying to oppose it with argument is like planting a stick in a river to try to alter its course: “round your obstacle flows the water and ‘gets there just the same’”. He thought pragmatism was such a river. There is a contemporary river that sometimes calls itself pragmatism, although other titles are probably better. At any rate it is the denial (...) of differences, the celebration of the seamless web of language, the soothing away of distinctions, whether of primary versus secondary, fact versus value, description versus expression, or of any other significant kind. What is left is a smooth, undifferentiated view of language, sometimes a nuanced kind of anthropomorphism or “internal” realism, sometimes the view that no view is possible: minimalism, deflationism, quietism. Wittgenstein is often admired as a high priest of the movement. Planting a stick in this water is probably futile, but having done it before I shall do it again, and—who knows?—enough sticks may make a dam, and the waters of error may subside. (Blackburn, 1998a, 157). (shrink)
Modern skepticism can be usefully divided into two camps: the Cartesian and the Humean.1 Cartesian skepticism is a matter of a theoretical doubt that has little or no practical import in our everyday lives. Its employment concerns whether or not we can achieve a special kind of certain knowledge – something Descartes calls “scientia” 2—that is far removed from our everyday aims or standards of epistemic appraisal. Alternatively, Humean skepticism engages the ancient skeptical concern with whether we have good reason, (...) or any reason at all, for our beliefs, including the common or garden beliefs that are presupposed in our ordinary practical affairs. On this traditional conception, philosophical doubt is a projection of everyday doubt and the lessons of the study are potentially lessons for the street. In this paper I shall focus on the Humean strain of skepticism whose focus concerns whether we have adequate reasons for our beliefs. Henceforth when I speak of skepticism it is this variety of skepticism that I am primarily referring to.3 I want to relate skepticism, so understood, to two kinds of self-knowledge. I shall argue that the failure of past solutions and dissolutions of skepticism to provide a satisfying response to the skeptic can be accounted for in terms of two stances that we can take towards our own.. (shrink)
The present paper challenges the narrow scientistic conception of Nature that underlies current projects of naturalization involving, say, evaluative or intentional discourse. It is more plausible to hold that science provides only a partial characterization of the natural world. I consider McDowell's articulation of a more liberal naturalism, one which recognizes autonomous normative facts about reasons, meanings and values, as genuine constituents of Nature on a more liberal conception of it. Several critics have claimed that this account is vitiated by (...) the threat of supernaturalism. Responsiveness to normative facts is, I argue, a phenomenological datum that we have good reason to take at face value. I trace the source of the supernaturalist objection to a misreading of McDowell's perceptual analogy with respect to value and a related failing to clearly distinguish physical and logical notions of an object. (shrink)
The critical concern of the present volume is contemporary naturalism, both in its scientific version and as represented by newly emerging hopes for another, philosophically more liberal, naturalism.1 The papers collected here are state-of-the-art discussions that question the appeal, rational motivations, and presuppositions of scientific naturalism across a broad range of philosophical topics. As an alternative to scientific naturalism, we offer the outlines of a new non- reductive form of naturalism and a more inclusive conception of nature than any provided (...) by the natural sciences. Our authors collectively believe that holding scientific naturalism up for philosophical scrutiny and challenging its misconceptions is of the first importance both for understanding ourselves and our place in the world; and, also, for the future direction of philosophy itself. (shrink)
McDowell has argued that external world scepticism is a pressing problem only in so far as we accept, on the basis of the argument from illusion, the claim that perceiving that p and hallucinating that p involve a highest common factor.