What is the nature of a conceptual scheme? Are there alternative conceptual schemes? If so, are some more justifiable or correct than others? The later Wittgenstein already addresses these fundamental philosophical questions under the general rubric of "grammar" and the question of its "arbitrariness"--and does so with great subtlety. This book explores Wittgenstein's views on these questions. Part I interprets his conception of grammar as a generalized version of Kant's transcendental idealist solution to a puzzle about necessity. It also seeks (...) to reconcile Wittgenstein's seemingly inconsistent answers to the question of whether or not grammar is arbitrary by showing that he believed grammar to be arbitrary in one sense and non-arbitrary in another. Part II focuses on an especially central and contested feature of Wittgenstein's account: a thesis of the diversity of grammars. The author discusses this thesis in connection with the nature of formal logic, the limits of language, and the conditions of semantic understanding or access. Strongly argued and cleary written, this book will appeal not only to philosophers but also to students of the human sciences, for whom Wittgenstein's work holds great relevance. (shrink)
It has become very popular among philosophers to attempt to discredit, or at least set severe limits to, the thesis that there exist conceptual schemes radically different from ours. This fashion is misconceived. Philosophers have attempted to justify it in two main ways: by means of arguments which are a priorist relative to the relevant linguistic and textual evidence (and either independent of or based upon positive theories of meaning, understanding, and interpretation); and by means of arguments which are a (...) posteriorist relative to that evidence. The former approach is misconceived, not only in that its particular arguments fail, but also in principle. The latter approach, while in general the right sort of approach to adopt to the question, arrives at its conclusion only through faulty execution, through misinterpretation of the evidence. Though quite unjustified, philosophers' hostility to the thesis of radically different conceptual schemes is easily explained, namely, in terms of a number of psychologically powerful motives which it subserves. These motives cannot step in to provide the missing justification, however. Instead, they reveal such hostility in an even shadier light. (shrink)
This book puts forward a much-needed reappraisal of Immanuel Kant's conception of and response to skepticism, as set forth principally in the Critique of Pure Reason. It is widely recognized that Kant's theoretical philosophy aims to answer skepticism and reform metaphysics--Michael Forster makes the controversial argument that those aims are closely linked. He distinguishes among three types of skepticism: "veil of perception" skepticism, which concerns the external world; Humean skepticism, which concerns the existence of a priori concepts and synthetic a (...) priori knowledge; and Pyrrhonian skepticism, which concerns the equal balance of opposing arguments. Forster overturns conventional views by showing how the first of these types was of little importance for Kant, but how the second and third held very special importance for him, namely because of their bearing on the fate of metaphysics. He argues that Kant undertook his reform of metaphysics primarily in order to render it defensible against these types of skepticism. Finally, in a critical appraisal of Kant's project, Forster argues that, despite its strengths, it ultimately fails, for reasons that carry interesting broader philosophical lessons. These reasons include inadequate self-reflection and an underestimation of the resources of Pyrrhonian skepticism. (shrink)
For the purpose of this article, "hermeneutics" means the theory of interpretation, i.e. the theory of achieving an understanding of texts, utterances, and so on (it does not mean a certain twentieth-century philosophical movement). Hermeneutics in this sense has a long history, reaching back at least as far as ancient Greece. However, new focus was brought to bear on it in the modern period, in the wake of the Reformation with its displacement of responsibility for interpreting the Bible from the (...) Church to individual Christians generally. This new focus on hermeneutics occurred especially in Germany.1.. (shrink)
This article argues that Nietzsche’s meta-ethics is basically a form of sentimentalism, but a form of sentimentalism that includes cognitive components in the sentiments that are involved. The article also ascribes to Nietzsche the more original position that the moral sentiments in question vary dramatically between historical periods, cultures, and even individuals, sometimes indeed to the point of becoming inverted between one case and another. Finally, the article also attributes to Nietzsche a hermeneutic insight into certain problems that this situation (...) causes for the accurate interpretation of other people’s viewpoints. Along the way, the article in addition argues that Nietzsche’s positions on all these issues were molded not only by such well-known influences as Paul Rée and Hume, but also, and indeed more strongly, by Herder, and it develops some grounds for thinking that the positions in question are highly plausible ones. (shrink)
Johann Gottfried von Herder is one of the most important German philosophers of the eighteenth century, who had enormous influence on later thinkers such as Hegel, Schleiermacher and Nietzsche. His wide-ranging ideas were formative in the development of linguistics, hermeneutics, anthropology and bible scholarship, and even today they retain their vitality and relevance to an extraordinary degree. This volume presents a translation of Herder's most important and characteristic philosophical writings in his areas of central interest, including philosophy of language, philosophy (...) of mind, philosophy of history and political philosophy, as well as his general philosophical program. An introduction sets the writings in their historical context and examines their philosophical achievement. (shrink)
What was the source of this great flowering? Much of the credit for it has tended to go to Jacobi and Mendelssohn, who in 1785 began a famous public dispute concerning the question whether or not Lessing had been a Spinozist, as Jacobi alleged Lessing had admitted to him shortly before his death in 1781. But Jacobi and Mendelssohn were both negatively disposed towards Spinoza. In On the Doctrine of Spinoza in Letters to Mr.
Herder has been sufﬁciently neglected in recent times, especially among philosophers, to need a few words of introduction. He lived 1744-1803; he was a favorite student of Kant's, and a student and friend of Hamann's; he became a mentor to the young Goethe, on whose development he exercised a profound inﬂuence; and he worked, among other things, as a philosopher, literary critic, Bible scholar, and translator. As I mentioned, Herder has been especially neglected by philosophers. This.
This paper concerns a surprisingly sharp disagreement about the nature of ancient Pyrrhonism which first emerges clearly in Kant and Hegel, but which continues in contemporary interpretations. The paper begins by explaining the character of this disagreement, then attempts to adjudicate it in the light of the ancient texts.
Consideration of the German philosophy and political history of the past century might well give the impression, and often does give foreign observers the impression, that liberalism, including in particular commitment to the ideal of free thought and expression, is only skin-deep in Germany. Were not Heidegger's disgust at Gerede (which of course really meant the free speech of the Weimar Republic) and Gadamer's defense of "prejudice" and "tradition" more reflective of the true instincts of German philosophy than, say, the (...) Frankfurt School's heavily Anglophone-influenced championing of free thought and expression? Were not the Kaiser and Nazism more telling of Germany's real political nature than the liberalism of the Weimar Republic (a desperate, ephemeral experiment undertaken in reaction to Germany's disastrous defeat in World War I) or the liberalism of (West) Germany since 1945 (in effect forced on the country by the victorious Allies after World War II)? (shrink)
Herder already very early in his career, in the 1760s, established two vitally important and epoch-making principles in the philosophy of language: that thought is essentially dependent on and bounded by language; and that meanings or concepts should be identified - not with such items as the referents involved, Platonic forms, or empiricist 'ideas' - but with word-usages. What did Herder do for an encore? His Treatise on the Origin of Language from 1772 might seem the natural place to look (...) for an answer to this question (since it is his best known work in the philosophy of language by far), but it is really the wrong place to look, because it temporarily regresses to a more conventional and less philosophically interesting position. However, Herder did succeed in making impressive progress in a broader array of works, namely by striving to identify prima facie problem cases confronting his two principles and to reconcile them with the latter. The main ones which he identified were God, animals, and non-linguistic art. In each of these cases, having initially proposed a reconciliation which did not work, he went on to develop a much more plausible one, indeed one which (at least in the two cases that really require one: animals and non-linguistic art) seems broadly correct. (shrink)
Der Titel meines Vortrags bezieht sich nicht auf heftige Auseinandersetzungen in der heutigen Hegelrezeption, sondern auf den gleichnamigen Abschnitt der Phänomenologie des Geistes von 1807: “Das geistige Tierreich und der Betrug oder die Sache selbst.” Dieser verhältnismäßig wenig beachtete und womöglich noch weniger verstandene Abschnitt ist meines Erachtens einer der wichtigsten im ganzen Buch. Ich möchte deshalb heute versuchen seine Bedeutung etwas aufzuklären.
Der Beitrag handelt von Michael Tomasellos Theorie des Verhältnisses von Mensch und Tier. Tomasellos Theorie wird als ein Beispiel für eine Reihe von Theorien gedeutet, die das betreffende Verhältnis als durch eine Kluft und Überlegenheit gekennzeichnet auffassen. Der Beitrag kritisiert die empirisch-theoretische Begründung dieser Theorie und verdächtigt sie einer bestimmten ideologischen und zwar tierfeindlichen Funktion.
This article is concerned with the nature of Socratic refutation.Over fifty years agon ow, Richard Robinson argued that Plato‘s Socrates assumes that his refutations show an interlocutor‘s thesis, not merely to contradict other beliefs held by the interlocutor, but to be self-contradictory. At first sight,this interpretation does not seem plausible, and it would indeed be rejected by most scholars today. Nevertheless, I argue that the interpretation contains much truth: Plato‘s Socrates does, if not always, then at least sometimes think of (...) his refutations in this way. In addition – and here I part company not only with Robinson‘s critics but also with Robinson himself – I argue for two further claims: first,that in thinking of his refutations in this way Socrates gives a reasonable characterization of a significant number of his refutations; and second, that it is not implausible of him to suppose that theses of the sort that he attempts to refute are in fact self-contradictory. (shrink)