I argue that the last reflections of merleau-ponty published in his working notes ``the visible and the invisible'' is a programme for an embodied phenomenology. the aim of this programme is the overcoming of metaphysics, epitomized in subject-object dualism. the dissociated look of metaphysics results in a conceptualization of the world. philosophers must return from this flight from their bodies to the flesh of their existential situation to recover the ``things themselves''.
Shanahan’s eloquently argued version of the global workspace theory ﬁts well into the emerging understanding of consciousness as a computational phenomenon. His disinclination toward metaphysics notwithstanding, Shanahan’s book can also be seen as supportive of a particular metaphysical stance on consciousness — the computational identity theory.
How the Body Shapes the Mind is an interdisciplinary work that addresses philosophical questions by appealing to evidence found in experimental psychology, neuroscience, studies of pathologies, and developmental psychology. There is a growing consensus across these disciplines that the contribution of embodiment to cognition is inescapable. Because this insight has been developed across a variety of disciplines, however, there is still a need to develop a common vocabulary that is capable of integrating discussions of brain mechanisms in neuroscience, behavioral (...) expressions in psychology, design concerns in artificial intelligence and robotics, and debates about embodied experience in the phenomenology and philosophy of mind. Shaun Gallagher's book aims to contribute to the formulation of that common vocabulary and to develop a conceptual framework that will avoid both the overly reductionistic approaches that explain everything in terms of bottom-up neuronal mechanisms, and inflationistic approaches that explain everything in terms of Cartesian, top-down cognitive states. Gallagher pursues two basic sets of questions. The first set consists of questions about the phenomenal aspects of the structure of experience, and specifically the relatively regular and constant features that we find in the content of our experience. If throughout conscious experience there is a constant reference to one's own body, even if this is a recessive or marginal awareness, then that reference constitutes a structural feature of the phenomenal field of consciousness, part of a framework that is likely to determine or influence all other aspects of experience. The second set of questions concerns aspects of the structure of experience that are more hidden, those that may be more difficult to get at because they happen before we know it. They do not normally enter into the content of experience in an explicit way, and are often inaccessible to reflective consciousness. To what extent, and in what ways, are consciousness and cognitive processes, which include experiences related to perception, memory, imagination, belief, judgement, and so forth, shaped or structured by the fact that they are embodied in this way? (shrink)
Contemporary process metaphysics has achieved a number of important results, most significantly in accounting for emergence, a problem on which substance metaphysics has foundered since Plato. It also faces trenchant problems of its own, among them the related problems of boundaries and individuation. Historically, the quest for ontology may thus have been largely responsible for the persistence of substance metaphysics. But as Plato was well aware, an ontology of substantial things raises serious, perhaps insurmountable problems for any (...) account of our epistemic access to such things. Physical things are subject to change, and as such, they are poor objects of knowledge—if knowledge is to be more reliable than mere opinion. There is a reading of Plato’s Theaetetus on which knowledge may be understood as a relation between an epistemic subject and a logos, where logoi are intrinsically dialectical, and where dialectic is a kind of intersubjective activity. Insofar as this epistemology may be attributed to Plato, the project of this paper is Platonic in spirit. It is also, in a sense, Kantian, in that it divorces ontology from the search for things-in-themselves, redirecting our attention from things to objects: epistemic objects. Such objects can be understood, as Maurice Merleau-Ponty proposed, as shared by multiple subjects by virtue of their participation in an intersubjective world, constituted by what Shaun Gallagher calls participatory sense-making. On an epistemology constructed in this way, the fact that both epistemic objects and their subject are mutable is no obstacle to knowledge. Far-from-equilibrium systems are forever mutable; at thermodynamic equilibrium, there would be neither subject, nor object. Epistemic objects, on this picture, are metastable loci of interactive potential. (shrink)
This paper discusses Wittgenstein's take on the problem of other minds. In opposition to certain widespread views that I collect under the heading of the “No Problem Interpretation,” I argue that Wittgenstein does address some problem of other minds. However, Wittgenstein's problem is not the traditional epistemological problem of other minds; rather, it is more reminiscent of the issue of intersubjectivity as it emerges in the writings of phenomenologists such as Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, and Heidegger. This is one sense in which (...) Wittgenstein's perspective on other minds might be called “phenomenological.” Yet there is another sense as well, in that Wittgenstein's positive views on this issue resemble the views defended by phenomenologists. The key to a proper philosophical grasp of intersubjectivity, on both views, lies in rethinking the mind. If we conceive of minds as essentially embodied we can understand how intersubjectivity is possible. (shrink)
The idea that we may continue to exist in a bodiless condition after our death has long played an important role in beliefs about immortality, ultimate rewards and punishments, the transmigration of souls, and the like. There has also been long and heated disagreement about whether the idea of disembodied existence even makes sense, let alone whether anybody can or does survive dissolution of his material form. It may seem doubtful that anything new could be added to the debate at (...) this late date, but I hope to show that this is not so. I will explore the problem of disembodiment from a somewhat different direction than has been tried before, one that leads to what seem to me more interesting and more definite conclusions about its unintelligibility. Furthermore, the approach I will be taking puts both the traditional mind-body problem and the competing claims of dualism and physicalism in a fresh light that can help us to understand better the nature of our embodied existence. (shrink)
When I say that my conception of metaphysics is Aristotelian, or neo-Aristotelian, this may have more to do with Aristotle’s philosophical methodology than his metaphysics, but, as I see it, the core of this Aristotelian conception of metaphysics is the idea that metaphysics is the first philosophy . In what follows I will attempt to clarify what this conception of metaphysics amounts to in the context of some recent discussion on the methodology of metaphysics (...) (e.g. Chalmers et al . (2009), Ladyman and Ross (2007)). There is a lot of hostility towards the Aristotelian conception of metaphysics in this literature: for instance, the majority of the contributors to the Metametaphysics volume assume a rather more deflationary, Quinean approach towards metaphysics. In the process of replying to the criticisms towards Aristotelian metaphysics put forward in recent literature I will also identify some methodological points which deserve more attention and ought to be addressed in future research. (shrink)
Christine Battersby rethinks questions of embodiment, essence, sameness and difference, self and "other", patriarchy and power. Using analyses of Kant, Adorno, Irigaray, Butler, Kierkegaard and Deleuze, she challenges those who argue that a feminist metaphysics is a a contradiction in terms. This book explores place for a metaphysics of fluidity in the current debates concerning postmodernism, feminism and identity politics.
While there have been many essays devoted to comparing the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty with that of Jacques Derrida, there has been no sustained book-length treatment of these two French philosophers. Additionally, many of the essays presuppose an oppositional relationship between them, and between phenomenology and deconstruction more generally. -/- Jack Reynolds systematically explores their relationship by analyzing each philosopher in terms of two important and related issues—embodiment and alterity. Focusing on areas with which they are not commonly associated (...) (e.g., Derrida on the body and Merleau-Ponty on alterity) makes clear that their work cannot be adequately characterized in a strictly oppositional way. Merleau-Ponty and Derrida: Intertwining Embodiment and Alterity proposes the possibility of a Merleau-Ponty-inspired philosophy that does not so avowedly seek to extricate itself from phenomenology, but that also cannot easily be dismissed as simply another instantiation of the metaphysics of presence. Reynolds argues that there are salient ethico-political reasons for choosing an alternative that accords greater attention to our embodied situation. (shrink)
This volume presents fourteen essays by leading figures in the fields of ancient philosophy and contemporary metaphysics, discussing Aristotle's theory of the unity and identity of substances, a topic that remains at the center of metaphysical enquiry. The contributors examine the nature of essences, how they differ from other components of substance, and how they are related to these other components. The central questions discussed are: What does Aristotle mean by "potentiality" and "actuality?" How do these concepts explicate matter (...) and form, and how are they related to the actuality of a substance? What is the role of actuality in accounting for the unity and identity of substance? These questions are crucial to an understanding of the unity of composite substances and their identity over time. The aim of the volume is both exegetical and philosophical: to give answers to central problems in Aristotle's metaphysics, and also to stimulate further investigation of the problems defined and the controversies embodied. (shrink)
Since Descartes, the nature of doubt has played a central role in the development of metaphysics both positively and negatively. Despite this fact, there has been very little discussion centering round the specific nature of doubt which led, for example, to the Cartesian discovery of the cogito. Certainly, the role of doubt has been well recognized: through doubt Descartes arrives at his indubitable first principle. But what can it mean to doubt the existence of the sensible world? This would (...) seem to rest upon the assumption that we have clear and distinct knowledge of the precise nature of what it means to exist and indeed of what it means to be. As it stands, Descartes’ initiates his Meditations upon certain definite assumptions that demand more thorough interrogation. In this paper and presentation, I examine the possible assumptions inherent in the Cartesian method of doubt within the first and second meditation and the manner in which this leads to the discovery of the cogito. I consider a number of essential questions in light of this: What presuppositions lie at bottom to Cartesian doubt? What is the precise nature of metaphysical doubt? What can it mean to doubt the existence of the sensible world? (shrink)
In this refreshingly original and accessible investigation into the nature of metaphysics, Heather Dyke argues that for too long philosophy has suffered from a language fixation. Where this language fixation leads philosophers to reason badly, she calls it the ‘‘representational fallacy’’. She illustrates the various ways it can lead philosophers astray and argues that metaphysics can be better done without it. She discusses the philosophy of time as an illustration of how a metaphysical debate about the nature of (...) time was needlessly transformed into a sterile debate about language and of how, once the focus on language is dropped, a new metaphysical strategy emer- ges. Dyke shows how the same applies to other debates in metaphysics and how this promises fruitful new research programmes, where the focus is on ontology rather than on language. The clear and accessible way in which current practice in metaphysics is brought under the spotlight will challenge philosophers to examine their own methodology. (shrink)
In this chapter I offer an interpretation of Judith Butler’s metaphysics of sex and gender and situate it in the ontological landscape alongside what has long been the received view of sex and gender in the English speaking world, which owes its inspiration to the works of Simone de Beauvoir. I then offer a critique of Butler’s view, as interpreted, and subsequently an original account of sex and gender, according to which both are constructed—or conferred, as I would put (...) it— albeit in different ways and subject to different constraints. (shrink)
Existentialism has come to be identified as a critical, reactionary way of thinking, celebrating the individual, freedom, embodiment, and the limits of rationality and systematic theorizing. For the most part this assessment is true of the early and, by now, “classical” works of existentialism, those that first burst upon the philosophical and cultural scene. Circulating Being centers on the later works of several well-known French existentialists (Camus, Marcel, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty) to trace out the development of their existential thinking about (...) language, communicative life, ethics, and politics. This development “from embodiment to incorporation” carries existentialism beyond identification with the mere reactionary and reveals how, while prefiguring postmodernism in important ways, the existential thinkers dealt with here reveal themselves to be reconstructive of the Western tradition. This is apparent in the growing appreciation of difference in their late works along with a reluctance to surrender the ideal of unity, and in their reappropriation of truth and justice while repudiating a totalizing metaphysics. (shrink)
The materialist approach to the body is often, if not always understood in ‘mechanistic’ terms, as the view in which the properties unique to organic, living embodied agents are reduced to or described in terms of properties that characterize matter as a whole, which allow of mechanistic explanation. Indeed, from Hobbes and Descartes in the 17th century to the popularity of automata such as Vaucanson’s in the 18th century, this vision of things would seem to be correct. In this paper (...) I aim to correct this inaccurate vision of materialism. On the contrary, the materialist project on closer consideration reveals itself to be, significantly if not exclusively, (a) a body of theories specifically focused on the contribution that ‘biology’ or rather ‘natural history’ and physiology make to metaphysical debates, (b) much more intimately connected to what we now call ‘vitalism’ (a case in point is the presence of Théophile de Bordeu, a prominent Montpellier physician and theorist of vitalism, as a fictional character and spokesman of materialism, in Diderot’s novel D’Alembert’s Dream), and ultimately (c) an anti-mechanistic doctrine which focuses on the unique properties of organic beings. To establish this revised vision of materialism I examine philosophical texts such as La Mettrie’s Man a Machine and Diderot’s D’Alembert’s Dream; medical entries in the Encyclopédie by physicians such as Ménuret and Fouquet; and clandestine combinations of all such sources (Fontenelle, Gaultier and others). (shrink)
A modest proposal concerning laws, counterfactuals, and explanations - - Why be Humean? -- Suggestions from physics for deep metaphysics -- On the passing of time -- Causation, counterfactuals, and the third factor -- The whole ball of wax -- Epilogue : a remark on the method of metaphysics.
In this classic, exciting, and thoughtful text, Metaphysics , Peter van Inwagen examines three profound questions: What are the most general features of the world? Why is there a world? and What is the place of human beings in the world? Metaphysics introduces to readers the curious notion that is metaphysics, how it is conceived both historically and currently. The author's work can serve either as a textbook in a university course on metaphysics or as an (...) introduction to metaphysical thinking for the interested reader. This second edition, revised though not fundamentally changed, includes the basis of the first edition with a new chapter on the nature of time. (shrink)
Mysticism claims of its logical scheme that it is Euclidean, that from its first axiom or principle the remainder of its doctrine follows, but it makes this claim in so many languages and in such a variety of obscure and self-contradictory ways that it is difficult to discern how this could be possible, and it is rarely considered a plausible claim in metaphysics. I believe it is plausible, and in this essay I try to explain why.
We divide analytic metaphysics into naturalistic and non-naturalistic metaphysics. The latter we define as any philosophical theory that makes some ontological (as opposed to conceptual) claim, where that ontological claim has no observable consequences. We discuss further features of non-naturalistic metaphysics, including its methodology of appealing to intuition, and we explain the way in which we take it to be discontinuous with science. We outline and criticize Ladyman and Ross's 2007 epistemic argument against non-naturalistic metaphysics. We (...) then present our own argument against it. We set out various ways in which intellectual endeavours can be of value, and we argue that, in so far as it claims to be an ontological enterprise, non-naturalistic metaphysics cannot be justified according to the same standards as science or naturalistic metaphysics. The lack of observable consequences explains why non-naturalistic metaphysics has, in general, failed to make progress, beyond increasing the standards of clarity and precision in expressing its theories. We end with a series of objections and replies. (shrink)
In this paper I examine what exactly is ‘Aristotelian metaphysics’. My inquiry into Aristotelian metaphysics should not be understood to be so much concerned with the details of Aristotle's metaphysics. I am are rather concerned with his methodology of metaphysics, although a lot of the details of his metaphysics survive in contemporary discussion as well. This warrants an investigation into the methodological aspects of Aristotle's metaphysics. The key works that we will be looking at (...) are his Physics, Metaphysics, Categories and De Interpretatione. Perhaps the most crucial features of the Aristotelian method of philosophising are the relationship between science and metaphysics, and his defence of the principle of non-contradiction (PNC). For Aristotle, natural science is the second philosophy, but this is so only because there is something more fundamental in the world, something that natural science – a science of movement – cannot study. Furthermore, Aristotle demonstrates that metaphysics enters the picture at a fundamental level, as he argues that PNC is a metaphysical rather than a logical principle. The upshot of all this is that the Aristotelian method and his metaphysics are not threatened by modern science, quite the opposite. Moreover, we have in our hands a methodology which is very rigorous indeed and worthwhile for any metaphysician to have a closer look at. (shrink)
A personal view is presented of how metaphysics and ontology stand at the beginning of the twenty-first century, in the light of developments during the twentieth. It is argued that realist metaphysics, with serious ontology at its heart, has a promising future, provided that its adherents devote some time and effort to countering the influences of both its critics and its false friends.
The view that metaphysics is a waste of time appears to be gaining in popularity with every passing day. It is held openly by many scientists and even by many philosophers. I argue here that this is a consequence of the way metaphysics is often done, the futility of a certain approach to it, and not a reason to suppose that there is no useful knowledge to be acquired in metaphysics.
In this paper, I suggest an outline of a new interpretation of core issues in Spinoza’s metaphysics and philosophy of mind. I argue for three major theses. (1) In the first part of the paper I show that the celebrated Spinozistic doctrine commonly termed “the doctrine of parallelism” is in fact a confusion of two separate and independent doctrines of parallelism. Hence, I argue that our current understanding of Spinoza’s metaphysics and philosophy of mind is fundamentally flawed. (2) (...) The clarification and setting apart of the two doctrines will also put us in a position to present my second major thesis and address one of the more interesting and enduring problems in Spinoza’s metaphysics: how can the attribute of thought be, on the one hand, isomorphic with any other attribute, and yet, on the other hand, be isomorphic with God himself, who has infinitely many attributes? In the second part of the paper, I present Spinoza’s solution to this problem. I argue that the number and order of modes is the same in all attributes. Yet, modes of Thought, unlike modes of any other attribute, have an infinitely-faceted internal structure so that one and the same idea represents infinitely many modes by having infinitely many facets (or aspects). (3) This new understanding of the inner structure of ideas in Spinoza will lead us to my third thesis in which I explain and solve another old riddle in Spinoza’s metaphysics: his insistence on the impossibility of the human mind knowing any of God’s infinite attributes other than Thought and Extension. In the third part, I show some of the major ramifications of my new interpretation and respond to some important objections. In my conclusion I discuss the philosophical importance of my interpretation. I explain why Spinoza could not embrace reductive idealism in spite of the preeminence he grants to the attribute of Thought. I argue that Spinoza is a dualist -- not a mind-body dualist, as he is commonly conceived to be, but rather a dualist of Thought and Being. Finally, I suggest that Spinoza’s position on the mind-body issue breaks with the traditional categories and ways of addressing the subject by suggesting a view which grants clear primacy to Thought without accepting any idealist reduction of bodies to thought. (shrink)
In this paper I develop a phenomenology of falling ill by presenting, interpreting and developing the basic model we find in Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness ( 1956 ). The three steps identified by Sartre in this process are analysed, developed further and brought to a five-step model: (1) pre-reflective experience of discomfort, (2) lived, bodily discomfort, (3) suffered illness, (4) disease pondering, and (5) disease state. To fall ill is to fall victim to a gradual process of alienation, and (...) with each step this alienating process is taken to a new qualitative level. Consequently, the five steps of falling ill have not only a contingent chronological order but also a kind of logical order, in that they typically presuppose each other. I adopt Sartre’s focus on embodiment as the core ground of the alienation process, but point out that the alienation of the body in illness is not only the experience of a psychic object, but an experience of the independent life of one’s own body. This facticity of the body is the result neither of the gaze of the other person, nor of a reflection adopting the outer perspective of the other in an indirect way, but is a result of the very otherness of one’s own body, which addresses and plagues us when we fall ill. I use examples of falling ill and being a patient to show how a phenomenology of falling ill can be helpful in educating health-care personnel (and perhaps also patients) about the ways of the lived body. (shrink)
This challenging study places fiction squarely at the center of the discussion of metaphysics. Philosophers have traditionally treated fiction as involving a set of narrow problems in logic or the philosophy of language. By contrast Amie Thomasson argues that fiction has far-reaching implications for central problems of metaphysics. The book develops an 'artifactual' theory of fiction, whereby fictional characters are abstract artifacts as ordinary as laws or symphonies or works of literature. By understanding fictional characters we come to (...) understand how other cultural and social objects are established on the basis of the independent physical world and the mental states of human beings. (shrink)
Lowe argues in this fascinating new study that metaphysics should be restored to centrality in philosophy, as the most fundamental form of inquiry, whose findings underpin those of all other disciplines. He portrays metaphysics as charting the possibilities of existence, by identifying the categories of being and the relations between them. He then sets out his own metaphysical system, with which he seeks to answer many of the most vexed questions in philosophy.
In this piece I address the question of how the two parts of the *Metaphysics of Morals* are to be related to each other through invocation of the notion of practical schematism. In the process I argue that understanding the notion of moral teleology will help us address the relationship between Kant's principles of right, virtue and the categorical imperative.
In this fully revised and updated version of the highly successful first edition, Michael J. Loux provides a fresh look at the central topics in metaphysics rendering this essential reading for anyone interested in metaphysics. Wherever possible, the author relates contemporary views to their classical sources in the history of philosophy.Some of the topics addressed include: the problem of universals; the nature of abstract entities; the problem of individuation; the nature of modality; identity through time; the nature of (...) time and a new chapter on the realism/antirealism debate. (shrink)
Abstract The article is a reading, in conjunction with one-another, of Time and Being and What is metaphysics. Its scope is that of raising questions on certain Heideggerian topics that are here formulated as thesis. Namely, first that the turn in Heidegger’s thinking is not a change in his process of thinking, but rather an essential trait of what Heidegger calls the matter at hand (Sachverhalt). Secondly, that this turn of the matter at hand is in itself memory in (...) a twofold way: as metaphysics in its relation to being and time, and as questioning of this metaphysical relation. And finally, that this turn is a technical one, in the sense of technique as this latter is, in Heidegger’s thinking, the original determination of Being as Anwesenheit. (shrink)
The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics offers the most authoritative and compelling guide to this diverse and fertile field of philosophy. Twenty-four of the world's most distinguished specialists provide brand-new essays about 'what there is': what kinds of things there are, and what relations hold among entities falling under various categories. They give the latest word on such topics as identity, modality, time, causation, persons and minds, freedom, and vagueness. The Handbook's unrivaled breadth and depth make it the definitive reference (...) work for students and academics across the philosophical spectrum. (shrink)
Metaphilosophical Reflections on the Idea of Metaphysics Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-14 DOI 10.1007/s11406-011-9332-7 Authors Robert Brandom, Philosophy Department, 1001 Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA Journal Philosophia Online ISSN 1574-9274 Print ISSN 0048-3893.
This paper observes that P. F. Strawson’s distinction between descriptive and revisionary metaphysics is a baffling one from the perspective of traditional metaphysics. If one thinks of metaphysics as the study of the fundamental nature of reality, it is bewildering to divide up metaphysics in this way. The paper then tries to show how the distinction is no longer bewildering if we deny that such study is possible.
This provocative book refurbishes the traditional account of freedom of will as reasons-guided "agent" causation, situating its account within a general metaphysics. O'Connor's discussion of the general concept of causation and of ontological reductionism v. emergence will specially interest metaphysicians and philosophers of mind.
The articles in this special issue of the yearbook Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy all concern, in one way or another, Hume’s epistemology and metaphysics. -/- There are discussions of our knowledge of causal powers, the extent to which conceivability is a guide to modality, and testimony; there are also discussions of our ideas of space and time, the role in Hume’s thought of the psychological mechanism of ‘completing the union’, the role of impressions, and Hume’s argument against (...) the claim that our perceptions are ‘locally conjoined’ with any entity (namely, a soul). (shrink)