This book presents and analyzes the most important arguments in the history of Western philosophy's skeptical tradition. It demonstrates that, although powerful, these arguments are quite limited and fail to prove their core assertion that knowledge is beyond our reach. Argues that skepticism is mistaken and that knowledge is possible Dissects the problems of realism and the philosophical doubts about the accuracy of the senses Explores the ancient argument against a criterion of knowledge, Descartes' skeptical arguments, and skeptical arguments applied (...) to inductive inference and self-knowledge Uses Moore's proof of an external world and the reliabilist conception of knowledge to illustrate that the traditional skeptical arguments fail to meet their mark. (shrink)
Charles Landesman deals with the philosophical problems of perception and with the status of color properties and he comes to the surprising conclusion that nothing at all has any color, that colors do not exist. In making the case for his "color skepticism," Landesman discusses and rejects historically influential accounts of the nature of secondary qualities-such as those of Locke, Reid, Galileo, and Hobbes-as well as the more recent work of Kripke, Grice, and others.Philosophers have debated whether colors are real (...) qualities of bodies, merely dispositional properties, or mental entities caused by the impact of light upon the visual system. The author argues that none of these alternatives can be adequately defended and that they all assume that a correct theory of color must preserve, to some extent, our commonsense beliefs. Instead, Landesman defends a view called color skepticism, that nothing has any color, neither bodies nor appearances. Since this view is based upon an argument that includes certain empirical premises, he distinguishes it from the radical skepticisms about the external world identified with the thought of Descartes and Hume.Color and Consciousness treats an area of philosophy that is currently of great interest to those concerned with the theory of knowledge, metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, and the psychological theory of perception. Author note: Charles Landesman is Professor of Philosophy at Hunter College and at the Graduate School of the City University of New York. (shrink)
On the relations of universals and particulars, by B. Russell.--Universals and resemblances, by H. H. Price.--On concept and object, by G. Frege.--Frege's hidden nominalism, by G. Bergmann.--Universals, by F. P. Ramsey.--Universals and metaphysical realism, by A. Donagan.--Universals and family resemblances, by R. Bambrough.--Particular and general, by P. F. Strawson.--The nature of universals and propositions, by G. F. Stout.--Are characteristics of particular things universal or particular? By G. E. Moore and G. F. Stout.--The relation of resemblance, by P. Butchvarov.--Qualities, by N. (...) Wolterstroff.--On what there is, by W. V. Quine.--Empiricism, semantics, and ontology, by R. Carnap.--The languages of realism and nominalism, by R. B. Brandt.--Grammar and existence: a preface to ontology, by W. Sellars.--A world of individuals, by N. Goodman.--Bibliographical notes (p. -308). (shrink)
THE PRESENT SITUATION in the philosophy of mind may be roughly summed up in three generalizations. First, Cartesian dualism is no longer widely accepted as a genuine option. For many reasons it is no longer taken seriously by experimental psychologists. Perhaps their best reason is that the dualistic hypothesis can provide no satisfactory explanation of behavior since it would seem to make no sense to ascribe to an immaterial substance an internal structure and activity which could be causally linked to (...) behavior. Among philosophers, A. J. Ayer has expressed a characteristic attitude in his admission that he does not find the hypothesis intelligible. Second, a version of materialism, let us call it physicalism, is now being taken seriously as an alternative to Cartesian dualism. According to this version, while it is admitted that mentalistic discourse may not be logically reducible to physicalistic discourse, nevertheless all true statements about the mind are in fact either statements about the behavior of the human body and its organs or about tendencies to behave. Finally, the concept of action has come to the forefront of discussion, and it is being explored primarily by those who reject Cartesian dualism but find something wrong with physicalism. Here is an attempt to construct an alternative to both views by developing a new kind of dualism, namely a distinction between persons as physical organisms and persons as agents, as beings who can act and who have intentions, motives, reasons, desires, and so forth. According to this view, persons are creatures to whom it is essential that teleological concepts apply, and teleological discourse and modes of explanation are not reducible, either logically or empirically, to physicalistic discourse and modes of explanation. Advocates of the new dualism are just as anxious to deny the existence of a ghost in the machine as are the materialists. But, to state roughly what they are after, it is claimed that there are at least two mutually exclusive language games or conceptual schemes which we use to talk about human beings. They are exclusive not in the sense of being about different entities but in the sense of using methods of explanation and concepts which are contextually incompatible with one another. To understand an agent's actions in terms of his intentions and motives is to rule out in that particular context a causal-physiological explanation. Physicalism ignores or fails to appreciate what is distinctively psychological in human life. (shrink)
Moore’s proof consists of the inference of both “Two hands exist at this moment” and “At least two external objects exist at this moment” from the premise “Here is one hand and here is another.” The paper claims that the proof succeeds in refuting both idealism (“There are no external objects”) and skepticism (“Nobody knows that there are external objects”). The paper defends Moore’s proof against the following objections: Idealism does not deny that there is an external world so Moore’s (...) proof is beside the point; Moore may be mistaken about the premise; Moore has failed to prove the premise; Moore has failed to show how he knows the premise; the proof leads to an infinite regress; the proof begs the question because the premise assumes what needs to be proved; the premise depends upon a shaky inference; the premise rests upon evidence of the senses and thus begs the question; the proof fails to convince the skeptic. (shrink)
The title of this book, __Leibniz's Mill__, is taken from Leibniz's famous metaphor in support of a dualism between the mind, or self, and the body. Given that Descartes constructed the most famous defense of mind/body dualism, the first chapter is a basic exposition and defense of Descartes' arguments, as well as Leibniz's supporting argument. Charles Landesman's basic claim, argued with clarity and philosophical precision, is that dualism is to be preferred to materialism; namely, the self is not reducible to (...) the body, mental processes are not reducible to brain processes, and the idea that the self is a mental substance constitutes the best understanding of all the facts of mental life. Landesman takes up the central philosophical topics on the nature of the self and the mind in arguing that dualism is a defensible position, even if our mental life is dependent in some respects on the body. Dependency is not the same as identity. Nor should one deny that many bodily events are dependent upon states of mind. He examines our knowledge of other minds, the mind's knowledge of itself, and Descartes' famous argument "I think, therefore I am"; efforts by philosophers such as Hume, Nietzsche, William James, Whitehead, Wittgenstein, and Heidegger to deny the reality of a substantial ego; the mind's way of knowing of the physical world, with its "great deception of sense"; and finally, the teleological structure of human action and the problem of free will. Landesman argues that the dualism of mind and body is perfectly compatible with modern science and that, contrary to the claims of many philosophers, there is no reason to hold that science presupposes a naturalistic or materialistic framework. "Charles Landesman shows that Cartesian mind-body dualism is alive and well and more plausible than its naturalistic and materialistic competitors. This is a first-rate piece of work that will be of real interest to philosophers and educated readers with interests in the philosophy of mind, history of philosophy, and epistemology. It should find a large readership among those who are looking for an alternative to the physicalist perspective that has long dominated the academy." --_Stewart Goetz, Ursinus College_ "Charles Landesman writes effortlessly, conveying to readers a rich alternative to today's mainline forms of materialism. This is a book that is comparable to Richard Rorty's _Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature_ or Roderick M. Chisholm's _Person and Object: A Metaphysical Study_. Like the former, it is historical and substantial, like the latter it is unapologetic in advancing with clear arguments an under-represented position." --_Charles Taliaferro, St. Olaf College _. (shrink)
Examining the sapir-Whorf hypothesis, The author addresses the questions whether language affects perception and whether grammatical categories affect conceptual categories. He argues that advocates of linguistic relativity have attributed to language an unjustified degree of causal efficacy and that linguistic idealism is contradicted by the results of experimental psychology. Then, Considering the claimed correlation between grammatical and conceptual categories, He argues that grammar has no metaphysics and does not influence thought. The author concludes that language in use embodies a point (...) of view only in the weak sense that relations and distinctions implicit in necessary concepts constitute a philosophical theory about reality. (staff). (shrink)
This book is the ideal introduction to the fundamental problems and issues of epistemology. It assumes no prior knowledge of the subject and is valuable both as a core text for beginning students and as support material for more advanced courses.
Landesman criticizes the act utilitarianism presented in j j c. Smart's "an outline of a system of utilitarian ethics". A system which eschews rules and proposes the maximization of happiness as the "only" reason for preferring one action over another, He charges, Cannot justify fairness and impartiality in ethics. (staff).
One can agree with the critics of the Aristotelian theory of essences who say that the determination of the essence of a thing rests upon a linguistic decision, without accepting the conclusion that "a controversy as to whether rationality is of the essence of man is ultimately verbal." For linguistic decisions, that is, the acceptance of a classificatory scheme together with its associated system of definitions, may be motivated and justified by our knowledge of facts or our appreciation of values. (...) If, say, a Freudian and an Aristotelian were disputing the adequacy of defining man as a rational animal, the former might reject the definition on the grounds that the conscious intellect plays less of a causal role in human decisions and thinking than was once believed, whereas the latter might claim that reason ought to play a greater role if the good life be possible. Conflicts over definitions reflect theoretical and ethical differences. Once these differences are reconciled, the verbal conflict is no longer important. But the easing of the verbal conflict is not solely a verbal affair. It presupposes a harmonious adjustment of values and beliefs. The function of a philosophy of human nature is to formulate and discuss a definition of man which proposes certain human attributes as essential and which is to be justified to the extent that it best summarizes those features of human life which are of greatest causal and ethical significance. It is to be expected that, in order for a satisfactory definition to be reached, any number of philosophical problems would have to be dealt with along the way. A philosophy of man is a judgment about what is important in human affairs, but it is not for that reason arbitrary unless one is convinced that value judgments are arbitrary, that one cannot provide reasons, good or bad, for them. When, in the context of ethics, Aristotle cites the rational faculty rather than the capacity to laugh as the function of man, he was stressing that reason has greater importance than a sense of humor in moral deliberation. And when Marx, in his Theses on Feuerbach, claims: "The human essence is no abstraction inherent in each single individual. In its reality it is the ensemble of social relations," he was indicating that in order to understand why men act and think the way they do it is necessary to understand the society in which they live. (shrink)
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