Hans Reichenbach, a philosopher of science who was one of five students in Einstein's first seminar on the general theory of relativity, became Einstein's bulldog, defending the theory against criticism from philosophers, physicists, and popular commentators. This book chronicles the development of Reichenbach's reconstruction of Einstein's theory in a way that clearly sets out all of its philosophical commitments and its physical predictions as well as the battles that Reichenbach fought on its behalf, in both the academic and popular (...) press. The essays include reviews and responses to philosophical colleagues, such as Moritz Schlick and Hugo Dingler; polemical discussions with physicists Max Born and D. C. Miller; as well as popular articles meant to clarify aspects of Einstein's theories and set out their philosophical ramifications for the layperson. At a time when physics and philosophy were both undergoing revolutionary changes in content and method, this book is a window into the development of scientific philosophy and the role of the philosopher. (shrink)
The Zhuangzi raises skeptical problems it does not solve. At best, it asserts that solutions are unnecessary but does not prove it. This is not a fault of the text or its author; it is the logical consequence of the arguments themselves. Philosophically speaking, The Zhuangzi raises doubts, nothing more. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, and what we are supposed to do about it, is something we are left to decide for ourselves.
The debate about concepts has always been shaped by a contrast between subjectivism, which treats them as phenomena in the mind or head of individuals, and objectivism, which insists that they exist independently of individual minds. The most prominent contemporary version of subjectivism is Fodor's RTM. The Fregean charge against subjectivism is that it cannot do justice to the fact that different individuals can share the same concepts. Proponents of RTM have accepted shareability as a ‘non-negotiable constraint’. At the same (...) time they insist that by distinguishing between sign-types and – tokens the Fregean objection cannot just be circumvented but revealed to be fallacious. My paper rehabilitates the Fregean argument against subjectivism. The RTM response rests either on an equivocation of ‘concept’—between types which satisfy the non-negotiable constraint and tokens which are mental particulars in line with RTM doctrine—or on the untenable idea that one and the same entity can be both a shareable type and hence abstract and a concrete particular in the head. Furthermore, subjectivism cannot be rescued by adopting unorthodox metaphysical theories about the type/token and universal/particular contrasts. The final section argues that concepts are not representations or signs, but something represented by signs. Even if RTM is right to explain conceptual thinking by reference to the occurrence of mental representations, concepts themselves cannot be identical with such representations. (shrink)
Egoism and altruism are unequal contenders in the explanation of human behaviour. While egoism tends to be viewed as natural and unproblematic, altruism has always been treated with suspicion, and it has often been argued that apparent cases of altruistic behaviour might really just be some special form of egoism. The reason for this is that egoism fits into our usual theoretical views of human behaviour in a way that altruism does not. This is true on the biological level, where (...) an evolutionary account seems to favour egoism, as well as on the psychological level, where an account of self-interested motivation is deeply rooted in folk psychology and in the economic model of human behaviour. While altruism has started to receive increasing support in both biological and psychological debates over the last decades, this paper focuses on yet another level, where egoism is still widely taken for granted. Philosophical egoism is the view that, on the ultimate level of intentional explanation, all action is motivated by one of the agent's desires. This view is supported by the standard notion that for a complex of behaviour to be an action, there has to be a way to account for that behaviour in terms of the agent's own pro-attitudes. Psychological altruists, it is claimed, are philosophical egoists in that they are motivated by desires that have the other's benefit rather than the agent's own for its ultimate object. This paper casts doubt on this thesis, arguing that empathetic agents act on other people's pro-attitudes in very much the same way as agents usually act on their own, and that while other-directed desires do play an important role in many cases of psychologically altruistic action, they are not necessary in explanations of some of the most basic and most pervasive types of human altruistic behaviour. The paper concludes with the claim that philosophical egoism is really a cultural value rather than a conceptual feature of action. (shrink)
This dissertation offers a philosophical account of Zhuangzi's thought, particularly of his skepticism and the background assumptions on which he advocates skepticism as a way of living. Before presenting my own views, I consider several other lines of interpretation, both to raise theoretical and textual issues and to situate my own work in the context of existing scholarship. In the first two chapters I translate and analyze selected Neo-Daoist and early Buddhist commentaries in order to emphasize the influence these two (...) distinct and often conflicting traditions have exercised over modern receptions of the text. The next five chapters examine modern interpretations of Zhuangzi as an advocate of personal freedom, mystical insight, relativism, skillful living, and spontaneity, respectively, looking at the works of Fung, Creel, Maspero, Yearley, Hansen, Wu, Ivanhoe, and Graham, among others. In the final two chapters I offer my own interpretation, which is to understand Zhuangzi as responding to a distinctive philosophical problem, that of choosing between competing conceptual schemes, particularly as instantiated in different methodologies and terminologies. He is skeptical of the possibility of establishing a scheme as correct. And yet the simple fact that he wrote anything down is evidence of his belief that skepticism itself offers the best possible solution to the otherwise irresolvable problem. Close attention to the text reveals the basis of this belief in a cluster of assumptions which I refer to collectively as Zhuangzi's "naturalism." Briefly put, Zhuangzi thinks that the good life is the natural life and that people live naturally when they respond to their situations with the open-mindedness and flexibility that skepticism brings. Both the strengths and the limitations of this position are highlighted by a consideration of the objection raised against Zhuangzi by the Confucian philosopher Xunzi, who argues that the good life depends on the cultivation of certain desires which are not in us originally and consequently which no amount of open-mindedness can be counted upon to reveal. The appendix collects the available historical material concerning the text itself and how it came down to us in its present form. (shrink)
The Hans Reichenbach Papers comprise published and unpublished manuscripts, lectures, correspondence, photographs, drawings, and related materials from his early student days until his death. The correspondence contains about 9000 pages to and from Reichenbach; it ranges over his entire career. Those with whom Reichenbach maintained lifelong contact include Rudolf Carnap, Ernst Cassirer, Herbert Feigl, Philip Frank, Carl Hempel, Sidney Hook, Paul Oppenheim and Wolfgang Pauli. In addition, there is significant correspondence with von Astor, Bergmann, Bertalanffy, Dingler, Dubislav, Einstein, Fraenkel, (...) Frank, Freundlich, Grelling, Grünbaum, Paul Hertz, Hutten, Jordan, Landé, von Laue, Lewin, C.I. Lewis, Charles Morris, Nagel, Neurath, Northrop, Planck, Quine, Regener, Rougier, Salmon, Schillp, Schlick, Scholz, Schrödinger, Martin Strauss, Tarski, Vaihinger, Weiss, Williams, Zawarski, and Zilsel. The correspondence provides a valuable source of information about Reichenbach’s personal and philosophical development. It also provides primary source material for research into one of the 20th century most influential philosophical movements. Reichenbach’s manuscripts include many of his own notes as a student. Some go as far back as his university days in science and mathematics. Some of the most significant of these notes are those taken by him as a student of Albert Einstein on the special and general theories of relativity. There are four such notebooks dating from 1918. In addition there are his student notes on astronomy, Planck and electricity, Hilbert’s “Statistical Mechanics” and “Problems and Principles.” He also kept many of his lecture notes from Germany, Turkey, and the United States. The number of lectures runs to over 100 and provides a glimpse into the problems of philosophy and how he presented them to his students. Many of his lectures discussed principles of radio and issues in philosophy and modern science, often in form of popularizations of questions in relativity and quantum theory delivered on radio programs for a wider audiences. In addition to this there are an abundance of notes, calculations, and diagrams used to draft both published and unpublished papers. (shrink)
The final work of a distinguished physicist, this remarkable volume examines the emotive significance of time, the time order of mechanics, the time direction of thermodynamics and microstatistics, the time direction of macrostatistics, and the time of quantum physics. Coherent discussions include accounts of analytic methods of scientific philosophy in the investigation of probability, quantum mechanics, the theory of relativity, and causality. "[Reichenbach’s] best by a good deal."—Physics Today. 1971 ed.
Although at present analytic philosophy is practiced mainly in the English-speaking world, it is to a considerable part the invention of German speakers. Its emergence owes much to Russell, Moore, and American Pragmatism, but even more to Frege, Wittgenstein, and the logical positivists of the Vienna Circle. No one would think of analytic philosophy as a specifically Anglophone phenomenon, if the Nazis had not driven many of its pioneers out of central Europe.
We publish here the letters between Gadamer and Ricoeur, as they are found in the Archives of the two philosophers. Starting from February 1964 and ending on October 2000, the thirty-five letters reproduced here cannot give a complete picture of their much richer correspondence and relations, because it seems that neither Ricoeur, nor Gadamer kept all the letters they received from one another. But altogether, they document their common concerns, their mutual respect, even their intellectual solidarity and finally the particular (...) context that brought them to write to one another, i.e. Ricoeur’s intention to publish a translation of Gadamer’s book, Truth and Method, in a new series he edited for the Seuil Publisher. This publishing and translation project will mark their entire correspondence. (shrink)