THIS ARTICLE PRESENTS A THEORY OF REFERENCE AS AN INTENTIONAL ACT, INDEPENDENT OF THE METAPHYSICAL ASSUMPTION OF THE EXISTENCE OF A REAL (AND COMMON) WORLD. ACCORDING TO THE THEORY, SPEAKERS REFER TO ENTITIES IN THEIR COGNITIVE SPACES. DIFFERENT SPEAKERS HAVE DIFFERENT SPACES, WHICH AT ANY GIVEN TIME MIRROR THEIR BELIEF-SYSTEMS AT THAT TIME. OBJECTS IN COGNITIVE SPACES ARE DISTINGUISHED FROM IDEAS, "SINNE", AND MEINONGIAN NON-EXISTENTS, AND SEVERAL DIFFICULTIES OF THE THEORY ARE DISCUSSED: AMONG THEM, HOW TO HANDLE COMMUNICATION AND TRUTH.
This clear, accessible account of Hegelian logic makes a case for its enormous seductiveness, its surprising presence in the collective consciousness, and the dangers associated therewith. Offering comprehensive coverage of Hegel's important works, Bencivenga avoids getting bogged down in short-lived scholarly debates to provide a work of permanent significance and usefulness.
Logic is often seen as the bedrock of intellectual life. It aims to be straight-forward, true, clear. But in this provocative book of postmodern philosophy, Ermanno Bencivenga presents an extended reflection on the subversive nature of logic--logic that is not stable and certain, but deceptive and tortuous. The author uses Anselm, the Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of the eleventh century, as his case study to show how human reason can be devious. In Anselm's famous texts, his beliefs are (...) not at stake, he is sure of them--he only seeks to under-stand his faith, not to prove it. But by looking at Anselm's writings as a whole, Bencivenga argues that they undermine Anselm's own interpretation. Not only can reason be more effective than force in fighting the unorthodox, but it can also be a subtle way of undermining orthodoxy. Bencivenga demonstrates how reason plays different roles at the different levels of Anselm's project. For its authoritarian subject, reason imposes a limit on its rebellious character. For its subversive subject, reason opens up an infinite arena for experimentation whose end will never be reached. Ultimately, Logic and Other Nonsense asks hard questions about the nature of philosophy in Anselm's world, as well as our own. (shrink)
In his most recent book, Ermanno Bencivenga offers a stylistically and conceptually exciting investigation of the nature of language, mind, and personhood and the many ways the three connect. Bencivenga, one of the most iconoclastic voices to emerge in contemporary American philosophy, contests the basic assumptions of analytic approaches to these topics. His exploration leads through fascinating discussions of education, courage, pain, time and history, selfhood, subjectivity and objectivity, reality, facts, the empirical, power and transgression, silence, privacy and publicity, and (...) play—all themes that are shown to be integral to our thinking about language. Relentessly bending the rules, Bencivenga frustrates our expectations of a "proper" theory of language. He invokes the transgressions of Nietzsche and Wittgenstein even as he appropriates the aphoristic style of Wittgenstein's _Tractatus_. Written in a philosophically playful and experimental mode, _A Theory of Language and Mind_ draws the reader into a sense of continual surprise, therapeutic discomfort, and discovery. (shrink)
This is a highly original, wide-ranging, and unorthodox discourse on the idea of philosophy contained in Kant's major work, the Critique of Pure Reason. Bencivenga proposes a novel explanation of the Critique's celebrated "obscurity." This great obstacle to reading Kant, Bencivenga argues, has nothing to do with Kant's being a bad writer or with his having anything very complicated to say; rather, it is the natural result of the kind of operation Kant was performing: a universal conceptual revolution. Bencivenga contends (...) that in rejecting the traditional way of doing philosophy, Kant was proposing a paradigm shift comparable in magnitude to Copernicus's overthrow of the Ptolemaic view of the cosmos. Kant, however, was not successful in establishing his idea of philosophy as the new paradigm, and the old view persists in many contemporary versions. Bencivenga argues in favor of Kant's position, which he sees as entailing the view that the role of philosophy is to offer a plausible story about how objectivity might be grounded in certain principles of coherence of our mental states. This book is the story of Kant's revolutionary turnabout, what motivated it, and where it took him; it reveals Kant not only as a figure of historical importance, but as a source of ideas of great contemporary interest. (shrink)
The correspondence theory of truth provides standard semantics with a simple scheme for evaluating sentences. This scheme however depends on the existence of basic correspondences between singular terms and objects, And thus breaks down in the case of non-Denoting singular terms. An alternative to the correspondence theory is thus called for in dealing with such terms. The author criticizes various positions discussed in the literature in this regard, And then presents a solution of his own.
Tolstoy’s War and Peace is a magnificent work; as any such work, it can be read in a variety of ways and be found to teach us important lessons at a number of independent levels. Here I want to look at it as an extended meditation on historical causality---and, by implication, on causality, period. So I will not be taking it for granted that it is a novel; I will be treating it as if it were an outcome of the (...) conceptual reflection philosophers engage in---though, when all is said and done, I will be able to shed light on some of its structural features as a novel. (shrink)
A logic is a doctrine of the logos, that is, of meaningful discourse; hence the first thing we expect from it is an account of what makes the logos meaningful — of what a meaning is. There is no single such doctrine or account: it is part of the immense richness of meaningful discourse that we can shift back and forth between several logics — several organized ways of reasoning, of providing reasons or grounds for our claims. Building on previous (...) work on Hegel's dialectical logic, the author here identifies three distinct logics simultaneously in play in our conversations. Analytic logic structures its organization of discourse around negation, contraries, and hence arguments forcing a conclusion to follow (under threat of inconsistency) from some premises. Dialectical logic's main tool is the construction of narratives, hence the attempted incorporation of interlocutors within one's own story. The third option, here labeled gradual logic, sees sorites (which are recalcitrant anomalies for the analytic approach) as ideal cases, since the bleeding of a predicate into an alleged contrary points the way to reaching an agreement among initially conflicting parties: to them eventually coming to regard themselves as stressing different aspects of one and the same thing. (shrink)
I may feel guilty for situations and events in which I seemed to play no causal role, which (it would seem) would have been exactly the same had I never existed. What is the reason for this guilt? The paper argues that it is to be found in a sense of universal connectedness: I take myself to always make a difference, no matter how distant I appear to be from anything that happens.
When applying supervaluations to the analysis of a theory, one may encounter the following problem: in supervaluational semantics, contingent statements often have existential presuppositions, and these presuppositions may either contradict the theory or make the application of supervaluations pointless. The most natural way of handling this problem consists in revising the semantics each time a specific theory is considered, and in making the status of the axioms of the theory technically indistinguishable from that of logical truths. Philosophically, this position has (...) important implications: one must either give up any absolute distinction between logical and non-logical truths or allow for a third class of truths besides analytic and factual ones. (shrink)
A narrative element is essential to philosophy, because nothing gets going in it without some vision, some story about what the world, or the subject, is like. The argumentative element can only structure the story from the inside; it can never prove it true. And, whatever clarification arguments provide for the story, the latter remains in all its ambiguous glory, ready to originate new arguments and to spawn new visions.
In her book "descartes", Margaret wilson proposes a new interpretation of the dreaming argument. According to this interpretation, Descartes does not reach his conclusion via a subconclusion that I cannot be certain that I am not dreaming (as was claimed by more traditional authors such as moore, Malcolm, Frankfurt, And walsh), But rather directly, By pointing out that I cannot be certain that waking experience is veridical. The present article examines the arguments supporting wilson's interpretation, And finds them to be (...) faulty. Thus the article's conclusions clearly favor the traditional interpretations mentioned above. (shrink)
A classic experiment by Henri Tajfel provides evidence for the conclusion that the division of a group into subgroups is enough to trigger discriminatory behavior, even if there is no reason for such behavior in terms of the individual’s own interest. I don’t challenge that conclusion; but I question an implicit assumption which is suggested by the experimental setup and by the language used by Tajfel in describing the experiment. The assumption is that an initially coherent group will typically experience (...) division as a result of outside influence. A totally different picture of the situation and totally different social policy recommendations will follow if we believe instead that groups are evolving structures, and specifically structures that constantly and autonomously come into conflict with themselves. (shrink)
A translation of the title of this book would be Fundamental Questions of Epistemology, but the book is something more and something less than a treatise on the subject. It is something more because its central part is essentially concerned with two metaphysical issues: the Realism-Idealism controversy and the mind-body problem. The reason for this is that according to Kutschera metaphysics and epistemology are strictly connected: "Our assumptions on the nature of the external world depend on our opinions about the (...) objects of experience. Conversely every answer to the epistemological question about the object of experience includes an ontological statement on the existence of such objects...". It is something less because some typically epistemological themes receive only a superficial treatment. Thus, after a cursory look at some of the relevant literature and a quick judgment that the various proposals designed to handle Gettier counter-examples are "without deeper interest" or bring to no qualification that is "epistemologically relevant", knowledge is defined as true belief. Or scepticism is characterized by the statement that "there is no knowledge", and then easily proved to be untenable, without even mentioning the historically and theoretically fundamental distinction between scepticism of the academic and of the pyrrhonian variety. (shrink)
Dieses Buch bietet eine elementare, in sich geschlossene Einführung in die analytische Sprachphilosophie anhand einer systematischen und chronologischen Behandlung der Referenzproblematik: Welche Rollen spielen die singulären Terme in natürlichen Sprachen? Es werden die Lösungsversuche Meinongs, Freges, Russells, Carnaps, Strawsons, Donnellans und Kripkes rekonstruiert und miteinander verglichen. Jeder der Beiträge dieser bedeutenden analytischen Philosophen wird unter drei Gesichtspunkten betrachtet. Erstens: Was leistet er zur Lösung des Problems der leeren Referenz? Zweitens: Was leistet er zur Lösung des Problems des ausgeschlossenen Dritten? Drittens: (...) Was leistet er zur Lösung des Problems der indirekten Kontexte? (shrink)
In an attempt at fleshing out the thesis that religious experiences cannot be attributed to an individual on the basis of outer behaviour alone, the hypothesis is entertained of somebody who decides, at a certain point in his life, to fool everybody into beUeving that he is a reUgious beUever. This person, it is claimed, lacks the inner conviction that is crucial to religious experiences. Does this claim fall prey to Wittgenstein-like objections to the possibility of a private language? It (...) is argued that it does not, by distinguishing between what counts empirically, and what conceptually, as a private language. (shrink)
Translated by Bencivenga from the original Italian of his philosophical best-seller, this dialogue provides a comprehensive statement on the role of freedom in the realms of morality, psychology, metaphysics, and aesthetics. Bencivenga lets his four characters embrace a wide range of topics in their eclectic discussion, including considerations of quantum physics and deconstruction, the Gothic novel and detective stories, the structure of desire and the mathematics of infinity, penetrating comments on Freud, Raymond Chandler, and Wertverlufe, and a reasonable explanation of (...) why Kants first Critique is longer than both the second and the third. What results is less a systematic account than a composite picture for the student of philosophy to piece together. (shrink)
A selection of Perlman's (social service, U. of Chicago) recent essays responsibility, and who need ongoing support to better center themselves in their professions. No index. of relevance for contemporary social work, especially in its casework and groupwork forms. The selections reflect two concerns. First is the number of entrants to social work (and frequently to the most difficult publicly supported welfare programs) who have only rudimentary education in the field, and need the support of ongoing education to help them (...) maintain focus and direction. The second concern is with the number of more advanced graduates who have been prematurely placed in positions with supervisory or teaching Working from within the analytic tradition, and employing analytic tools, distinctions, and methods of argument, Bencivenga (philosophy, U. of California-Irvine) attempts to transform and save the tradition, under increasing assault by its post-analytic critics. Eleven essays (nine previously published) cover topics in aesthetics, language, logic, metaphysics, ethics, and meta-philosophy. Cloth edition (unseen), $35. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR. (shrink)
In _My Kantian Ways_, Ermanno Bencivenga, one of the most creative and iconoclastic practitioners of American philosophy, sets out to explore Kant's legacy for contemporary thought. Seeking to extricate the German philosopher's work from the stranglehold of the prevailing analytic tradition, he presents his own defamiliarizing and unique interpretation of Kantianism. Kant emerges as a master thinker whose emphasis on judgment provides the basis for a new approach to the practice of philosophy as a vehicle for learning. Ranging from speculations (...) on the electronic self to a tour-de-force critique of the postmodern thought of Richard Rorty, Bencivenga's book is an inviting blend of styles and genres. Plucky, irritating, and sometimes wickedly funny, _My Kantian Ways_ calls attention to the frequent mediocrity and false piety of much of today's professional philosophy. Through these intensely personal essays, Bencivenga reminds us just how much philosophy can matter. (shrink)