The concept of the mahant- ātman-, or “vast self”, found in some of the Early and Middle Upaniṣads, has, at least since the days of Hermann Oldenberg, been explored by a number of scholars, most notably by van Buitenen :103–114, 1964). These studies have usually emphasized the cosmic implications of this concept; the vast ātman- being the non-individualized spirit that brings forth and pervades the universe, then enters the bodies of all created beings as their animating principle. As such (...) it precedes the mahān, or mahat, of the Sāṃkhya philosophy. The present paper argues that the concept of a mahant- puruṣa- or “vast person”, appearing parallel to the vast ātman in these texts, is in fact older, being traceable to Middle Vedic texts; the emergence of the Upaniṣadic ātman doctrine has eventually led to its replacement by the mahān ātmā. Originally, it is argued, the adjective mahant- stressed the difference between this “vast” puruṣa, who is said to dwell in the sun, and the minute puruṣa within man, who is seen as the tiny “person” in one’s pupil, or resides in the heart, having the size of a thumb. In contradistinction to the ātman, the puruṣa is a thoroughly anthropomorphic soul-concept, a “person” within the person. The ultimate identity between this tiny soul-person and the puruṣa in the sun is a recurring, but little studied, motif in the micro-macrocosmic speculations of the Brāhmaṇa texts. This “vast”, solar puruṣa is sometimes identified with the Puruṣa or primeval man of Ṛgveda 10.90, from whose body the universe was formed, and much of the imagery surrounding the vast puruṣa of Middle and Late Vedic literature seems to derive from this hymn. (shrink)
The observable/unobservable distinction, realistically construed, is a feature which lies at the very heart of van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism. The aim of this paper is to approach it by taking a close look at van Fraassen’s concept of observation. We will argue that if van Fraassen’s most recent writings about “literate experience”, especially his remarks on the status of observation reports and his general a-metaphysical stance, are taken into account, his realistic interpretation of the observable/unobservable distinction paves the road for (...) inconsistency. In particular, we will show that a dilemma emerges to the effect that van Fraassen is forced to accept skeptical consequences blatantly at odds with constructive empiricism and its restatement of the aim of science. We will finally suggest that the only way out for van Fraassen involves giving up his realistic construal of observability and thus taking sides with constructivism. (shrink)
In this paper, the author defends Peter van Inwagen’s modal skepticism. Van Inwagen accepts that we have much basic, everyday modal knowledge, but denies that we have the capacity to justify philosophically interesting modal claims that are far removed from this basic knowledge. The author also defends the argument by means of which van Inwagen supports his modal skepticism, offering a rebuttal to an objection along the lines of that proposed by Geirrson. Van Inwagen argues that Stephen Yablo’s recent and (...) influential account of the relationship between conceivability and possibility supports his skeptical claims. The author’s defence involves a creative interpretation and development of Yablo’s account, which results in a recursive account of modal epistemology, what the author calls the “safe explanation” theory of modal epistemology. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue against Peter van Inwagen’s claim (in “Free Will Remains a Mystery”), that agent-causal views of free will could do nothing to solve the problem of free will (specifically, the problem of chanciness). After explaining van Inwagen’s argument, I argue that he does not consider all possible manifestations of the agent-causal position. More importantly, I claim that, in any case, van Inwagen appears to have mischaracterized the problem in some crucial ways. Once we are clear on (...) the true nature of the problem of chanciness, agent-causal views do much to eradicate it. (shrink)
We show that van Lambalgen's Theorem fails with respect to recursive randomness and Schnorr randomness for some real in every high degree and provide a full characterization of the Turing degrees for which van Lambalgen's Theorem can fail with respect to Kurtz randomness. However, we also show that there is a recursively random real that is not Martin-Löf random for which van Lambalgen's Theorem holds with respect to recursive randomness.
Peter van Inwagen ’s argument for incompatibilism uses a sentential operator, “N”, which can be read as “No one has any choice about the fact that....” I show that, given van Inwagen ’s understanding of the notion of having a choice, the argument is invalid. However, a different interpretation of “N” can be given, such that the argument is clearly valid, the premises remain highly plausible, and the conclusion implies that free will is incompatible with determinism.
Some artworks are called sublime because of their capacity to move human imagination in a different way than the experience of beauty. The following discussion explores how Van Gogh’s The Starry Night along with some of his other late landscape paintings accomplish this peculiar movement of imagination thus qualifying as sublime artworks. These artworks constitute examples of the higher aesthetic principles and must be judged according to the cosmological-aesthetic criteria for they manage to generate a transition between ethos and phusis (...) and present them in unity. Here, referring to Heraclitean, Kantian, Nietzschean and Heideggerian metaphysics and aesthetics, I propose that the principles of motion and transition be the new cosmologic-aesthetic categories for the judgment of sublime artworks as well as for the understanding of the world (Weltanschauung) they represent. (shrink)
In his recent book on the problem of evil, Peter van Inwagen argues that both the global and local arguments from evil are failures. In this paper, we engagevan Inwagen’s book at two main points. First, we consider his understanding of what it takes for a philosophical argument to succeed. We argue that while his criterion for success is interesting and helpful, there is good reason to think it is too stringent. Second, we consider his responses to the global and (...) local arguments from evil. We argue that although van Inwagen may have adequately responded to each of these arguments, his discussion points us toa third argument from evil to which he has yet to provide a response. (shrink)
Bas van Fraassen’s recent book Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective modifies and refines the “constructive empiricism” of The Scientific Image in a number of ways. This paper investigates the changes concerning one of the most controversial aspects of the overall position, that is, van Fraassen’s agnosticism concerning the veridicality of microscopic observation. The paper tries to make plausible that the new formulation of this agnosticism is an advance over the older rendering. The central part of this investigation is an attempt (...) to answer Marc Alspector-Kelly’s 2004-criticism of an early version of van Fraassen’s new position. Alspector-Kelly’s contribution it is to date the most extensive attack on van Fraassen’s twenty-first-century work on the topic of microscopic observation. One of the central ideas emerging from the present discussion is a link between the debate over the veridicality of microscopic observation and the issue of the theory-ladenness of experience. (shrink)
I consider the broad perspectives in biology known as ‘functionalism’ and ‘structuralism’, as well as a modern version of functionalism, ‘adaptationism’. I do not take a position on which of these perspectives is preferable; my concern is with the prior question, how should they be understood? Adapting van Fraassen’s argument for treating materialism as a stance, rather than a factual belief with propositional content, in the first part of the paper I offer an argument for construing functionalism and structuralism as (...) stances also. The argument draws especially on Gould’s insights concerning functionalism and structuralism, in particular their apparent historical continuity from the pre-Darwinian period through to today. In the second part of the paper I consider Godfrey-Smith’s distinction between empirical and explanatory adaptationism, and suggest that while the former is an empirical scientific hypothesis, the latter is closely related to the functionalist stance. (shrink)
Three-dimensional material models of molecules were used throughout the 19th century, either functioning as a mere representation or opening new epistemic horizons. In this paper, two case studies are examined: the 1875 models of van ‘t Hoff and the 1890 models of Sachse. What is unique in these two case studies is that both models were not only folded, but were also conceptualized mathematically. When viewed in light of the chemical research of that period not only were both of these (...) aspects, considered in their singularity, exceptional, but also taken together may be thought of as a subversion of the way molecules were chemically investigated in the 19th century. Concentrating on this unique shared characteristic in the models of van ‘t Hoff and the models of Sachse, this paper deals with the shifts and displacements between their operational methods and existence: between their technical and epistemological aspects and the fact that they were folded, which was forgotten or simply ignored in the subsequent development of chemistry. (shrink)
Van Heijenoort’s main contribution to history and philosophy of modern logic was his distinction between two basic views of logic, first, the absolutist, or universalist, view of the founding fathers, Frege, Peano, and Russell, which dominated the first, classical period of history of modern logic, and, second, the relativist, or model-theoretic, view, inherited from Boole, Schröder, and Löwenheim, which has dominated the second, contemporary period of that history. In my paper, I present the man Jean van Heijenoort (Sect. 1); then (...) I describe his way of arguing for the second view (Sect. 2); and finally I come down in favor of the first view (Sect. 3). There, I specify the version of universalism for which I am prepared to argue (Sect. 3, introduction). Choosing ZFC to play the part of universal, logical (in a nowadays forgotten sense) system, I show, through an example, how the usual model theory can be naturally given its proper place, from the universalist point of view, in the logical framework of ZFC; I outline another, not rival but complementary, semantics for admissible extensions of ZFC in the very same logical framework; I propose a way to get universalism out of the predicaments in which universalists themselves believed it to be (Sect. 3.1). Thus, if universalists of the classical period did not, in fact, construct these semantics, it was not that their universalism forbade them, in principle, to do so. The historical defeat of universalism was not technical in character. Neither was it philosophical. Indeed, it was hardly more than the victory of technicism over the very possibility of a philosophical dispute (Sect. 3.2). (shrink)
Van Inwagen has an ingenious argument for the non-existence of human artefacts . But the argument cannot be accepted, since human artefacts are everywhere. However, it cannot be ignored. The proper response to it is to treat it as a refutation of its least plausible premise, i.e., to ‘tollens’ it. I first set out van Inwagen’s argument. I then identify its least plausible premise and explain the consequence of denying it, that is, the acceptance of a plenitudinous, pluralist ontology. I (...) argue that denying it is not so difficult, since its denial is an easy consequence of ordinary beliefs. I finish by explaining why van Inwagen has not persuaded me that it may be that artefacts do not exist and conclude that nothing stands in the way of tollensing van Inwagen and accepting the consequence of doing so. (shrink)
In a recent work published in this journal, “Van Fraassen e a inferência da melhor explicação” (2016), Minikoski and Rodrigues da Silva identify four critical lines proposed by Bas van Fraassen against the form of abductive reasoning known as ‘inference to the best explanation’ (IBE). The first one, put forward by the Dutch philosopher in his seminal book The Scientific Image (1980), concerns the distinction between observable and unobservable entities. Minikoski and Rodrigues da Silva consider that the distinction is of (...) no relevance to the scientific practice. For this reason, they address van Fraassen’s allegations against IBE qua justification of the existence of unobservable entities in a couple of pages and prefer focusing on the other lines they identified. The aim of this work is to pour over the analysis that the two authors perform about van Fraassen’s mentioned argument and some realists’ replies, particularly in the section that Minikoski and Rodrigues da Silva devote to this topic. This will allow us to clarify van Fraassen’s vision on scientific practice and on the ‘immersion in the theoretical world-picture’. The importance and the relevance of the distinction between observables and unobservables will also be reaffirmed. (shrink)
I discuss van inwagen's "first formal argument" for the incompatibility of causal determinism and freedom to do otherwise. I distinguish different interpretations of the important notion, "s can render p false." I argue that on none of these interpretations is the argument clearly sound. I point to gaps in the argument, Although I do not claim that it is unsound.
Peter van Inwagen has long claimed that he doesn’t understand substitutional quantification and that the notion is, in fact, meaningless. Van Inwagen identifies the source of his bewilderment as an inability to understand the proposition expressed by a simple sentence like “,” where “$\Sigma$” is the existential quantifier understood substitutionally. I should think that the proposition expressed by this sentence is the same as that expressed by “.” So what’s the problem? The problem, I suggest, is that van Inwagen takes (...) traditional existential quantification to be ontologically committing and substitutional quantification to be ontologically noncommitting, which requires that the two quantifiers have different meanings—but no different meaning for the substitutional quantifier is forthcoming. What van Inwagen fails to appreciate is that substitutional quantification is directed at a criterion of ontological commitment, namely, W. V. O. Quine’s, which is quite different from van Inwagen’s criterion. Substitutional quantification successfully avoids the commitments Quine’s criterion would engender but has the same commitments as existential quantification given van Inwagen’s criterion. The question, then, is whether the existential quantifier is ontologically committing, as van Inwagen believes. The answer to that question will depend on whether the ordinary language “there is/are,” which is codified by the existential quantifier, is ontologically committing. There are good reasons to doubt that it is. (shrink)