The Universe in the Universe: German Idealism and the Natural History of Mind

Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 72:297-316 (2013)
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Recent considerations of mind and world react against philosophical naturalisation strategies by maintaining that the thought of the world is normatively driven to reject reductive or bald naturalism. This paper argues that we may reject bald or ‘thoughtless’ naturalism without sacrificing nature to normativity and so retreating from metaphysics to transcendental idealism. The resources for this move can be found in theNaturphilosophieoutlined by the German Idealist philosopher F.W.J. Schelling. He argues that because thought occurs in the same universe as thought thinks, it remains part of that universe whose elements in consequence now additionally include that thought. A philosophy of nature beginning from such a position neither shaves thought from a thoughtless nature nor transcendentally reduces nature to the content of thought, since a thought occurring in nature only has ‘all nature’ as its content when that thought is additive rather than summative. A natural history of mind drawn from Schellingian premises therefore entails that, while a thought may have ‘all nature’ as its content, this thought is itself the partial content of the nature augmented by it.



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Iain Grant
University of the West of England

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Mind and World.John Henry McDowell - 1994 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Mind and World.John McDowell - 1996 - Philosophical Quarterly 46 (182):99-109.
Collected papers.Charles S. Peirce - 1931 - Cambridge,: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Critique of Pure Reason.Wolfgang Schwarz - 1966 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 26 (3):449-451.

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