The Two Fundamental Problems of Epistemology, Their Resolution, and Relevance for Life Science

Biological Theory 19 (2):105-119 (2024)
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Abstract

Among the many fundamental problems Wittgenstein discussed, two are especially relevant for evolutionary theory. The first one is the problem of negation and its relation to the intentionality of thought. Its resolution answers the question of how thought can anticipate reality though what is thought may not exist, and explains how empirical propositions are distinguishable from mathematical, logical, and conceptual (or what are traditionally called metaphysical) propositions. The second is the problem of the grounds of sensory experience. Wittgenstein’s resolution of this problem is revolutionary since he showed that first-person, present-tense expressions (these are sentences by which we express what goes on in our mind) have no grounds at all, clarifying why we should abandon (all variants of) representative idealism. In combination with the resolution of the first problem, it enables us to develop new explanations about how during the course of development and evolution the mind evolves and evolved.

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