The paper argues that Plato’s dialogue form creates a Quinean “opaque context” that segregates the assertions by Plato’s characters in the dialogues from both Plato and the real world with the result that the dialogues require a hermeneutical interpretation. Sec. I argues that since the assertions in the dialogues are located inside an opaque context, the forms of life of the characters in the dialogues acquires primary philosophical importance for Plato. The second section argues that the thesis of Sec. I (...) coheres with the claim in Plato’s Seventh Letter that since philosophical truth is incommunicable by means of language it is of primary importance for philosophers to develop proper “schemes of living”. Sec. III argues since the forms of life of the characters portrayed in the dialogues is of primary philosophical importance for Plato, and since hermeneutical methods are required to interpret emerging forms of life, Plato’s dialogues are positively crafted to be read hermeneutically. Sec IV argues that Heidegger, who is famous for seeing Plato’s views as antithetical to his own hermeneutical approach, is mistaken, and that Plato’s real views are, in principle, more akin to Heidegger’s views than he thinks. (shrink)
The paper gives a spirited defence of freedom of speech as the best means for attaining truth in a society and argues that the remedy for bad or false speech is not to curtail free speech but more free speech.
No supposition seems to me more natural than that there is no process in the brain correlated with associating or with thinking; so that it would be impossible to read off thought processes from brain processes. I mean this: if I talk or write, there is, I assume, a system of impulses going out from my brain and correlated with my spoken or written thoughts. But why should the system continue further in the direction of the center? Why should this (...) order not proceed, so to speak, out of chaos? The case would be like the following—certain kinds of plants multiply by seed, so that a seed always produces a plant of the same kind as that from which it was produced—but nothing in the seed corresponds to the plant which.. (shrink)
Norman Malcolm Norman Malcolm was instrumental in elaborating and defending Wittgenstein’s philosophy, which he saw as akin to a kind of “ordinary language” philosophy, in America. He also defended a novel interpretation of Moore’s “common sense philosophy” as a version of ordinary language philosophy, although Moore himself disagreed. Malcolm criticized Descartes’ account of mind … Continue reading Malcolm, Norman →.
The Argument of the "Tractatus" presents a single unified interpretation of the Tractatus based on Wittgenstein's own view that the philosophy of logic is the real foundation of his philosophical system.
In Reason, Truth and History, Putnam provides an influential argument for the materialist view that the supposition that we are all “actually” brains in a vat [BIV’s] is “necessarily false”. Putnam admits that his argument, inspired by insights in Wittgenstein’s later views, is “unusual”, but he is certain that it is a correct. He argues that the claim that we are BIV’s is self-refuting because, if we actually are BIV’s, then we cannot refer to real physical things like vats. Although (...) the present author agrees, fundamentally, with Heidegger’s view that we are essentially “in a world”, and, therefore, with Putnam’s conclusion that we cannot possibly be BIV’s, the paper argues that Putnam’s argument is fallacious. The proper conclusion to draw from Putnam’s argument is that asserting that one is a BIV is beyond the limits of a BIV’s language. That is, Putnam only shows that if we actually are BIV’s, then we cannot think or assert either that we are or that we are not BIV’s. It does not show that we are not “actually” BIV’s. The cogency of this criticism is illustrated with a concrete “science-fiction” example. (shrink)
The article argues that religious fundamentalism, understood, roughly, as the view that people must obey God's commands unconditionally, is conceptually incoherent because such religious fundamentalists inevitably must substitute human judgement for God's judgement. The article argues, first, that fundamentalism, founded upon the normal sort of indirect communications from God, is indefensible. Second, the article considers the crucial case in which God is said to communicate directly to human beings, and argues that the fundamentalist interpretation of such communications is also incoherent, (...) and, on this basis, argues that religious fundamentalism is actually an extreme form of irreligiousness. Finally, the article considers Kierkegaard's prima facie defence of unconditional religious faith, and argues that, despite some similarity with the fundamentalists, Kierkegaard's appreciation of human finitude leads him to a profoundly anti-fundamentalist stance. (shrink)
The paper argues that a philosopher who describes his main works as "critiques" of reason cannot be the simple defender of rational science that he is sometimes taken to be. Rather, as Heidegger argues, Kant's program is much deeper and more problematic.
The paper argues that Wittgenstein's "doctrine of silence", the view that one cannot "say" philosophical propositions (and certain other things), does not, as usually believed, mean that one cannot, in the ordinary sense, engage in philosophical discourse about these things. The paper argues that in a certain sense on can "say" these things (as Wittgenstein himself does in the Tractatus). As a consequence, Wittgenstein is not, as some believe, committed to the inconsistent attempt to say what cannot be said.
Despite Conger’s classic view that one can find very little of the microcosmic doctrine in any of the Idealists, the paper argues that Kant develops several little known microcosmic doctrines over the course of his development from his first Critique to his second Critiqueto his Opus Postumum and that these are intimately connected with his various notions of “transcendental” philosophy. First, the roots of the microcosmic doctrine in Plato are explored. Second, Kant’s most basic microcosmic doctrine and its connection with (...) his “faculty psychology” notion of transcendental philosophy in the first Critique are explored. Third, it is explained why, contrary to Conger, the Idealist tradition is a natural home for microcosmic doctrines. Fourth, Kant’s moral microcosmic doctrine, which is implicit in the “starry heavens” remark in the conclusion to second Critique and related remarks in the Opus Postumum, is discussed in some detail. This includes a discussion of the microcosmic doctrines in the Stoics. Fifth, it is shown how Kant’s various microcosmic doctrines shed considerable light on his evolving conception of transcendental philosophy from his first Critique to his final statement in the Opus Postumum. (shrink)
To produce a history entirely from speculations alone seems no better than to sketch a romance.... Yet, what may not be [known about actual history], can, nonetheless, be attempted through speculation regarding their first beginnings, as far as these are made by nature. The first stanza of the Dao-de Jing, one of the most memorable passages in world literature, is not a paradigm of clarity. Alan Chan distinguishes six sorts of approaches to interpreting the Dao-de Jing : mythological, mystical, religious, (...) metaphysical, philosophy of life, and ethical-political. There... (shrink)
The present paper argues that Burnyeat's view is fundamentally correct, but approaches the issues from a somewhat different angle. The claim that forAristotle the form and the matter are non-contingently related is an allusion to Aristotle's difficult doctrine of the unity of substances. The functionalist interpretation underestimates Aristotle's doctrine of the unity of substance. Irwin thinks that Aristotle's view is a version of functionalism but acknowledges that his claims go beyond what is normally associated with functionalism. But Irwin too fails (...) to take sufficient account of his own acknowledgement of the importance of the unity of substance doctrine. The proper appraisal of the functionalist interpretation cannot, therefore, avoid the "abyss" of the Metaphysics. (shrink)
Wittgenstein’s remark to Drury that he looks at philosophical problems from a religious point of view has greatly puzzled commentators. The paper argues that the readings given by commentators Malcolm, Winch and Lebron are illuminating, but inadequate. Second, using Wittgenstein’s “use-conception of meaning” as an example, the paper proposes a more adequate reading that emphasizes Wittgenstein’s view that “nothing is hidden”. In this connection, the paper examines Fodor’s critique of Wittgenstein’s “use-conception” and shows how Fodor only refutes a “misuse-conception meaning” (...) because he presupposes a kind of linguistic meaning, the kind that Wittgenstein emphasizes, that is “already before his eyes”. Wittgenstein’s view that the truth is already before one’s eyes is further explained by employing an ethical analogy with Raskolnikov’s enlightenment in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Finally, the paper addresses the difficult question whether Wittgenstein is, despite his own denials, “a religious man”, and argues that there is a non-trivial religious dimension in Wittgenstein’s life but that there are several important senses in which Wittgenstein is correct that he is not a religious person. (shrink)
Roy Wood Sellars (1880—1973) Roy Wood Sellars was one of a generation of systematic philosophers in America the likes of which has not been seen before or since. He was born in Seaforth, Ontario in Canada, and spent most of his career at the University of Michigan where he continued working well into his 90s. […].
Heidegger claims that it is the ultimate job of philosophy to preserve the force of the “elemental words” in which human beings express themselves. Many of these elemental words are found in the various cosmogonies that have informed cultural ideologies around the world. Two of these “elemental words,” which shape the ideologies are the animal-model of the cosmos in Plato’s Timaeus and the mechanical models developed in the 17th-18th centuries in Europe. The paper argues that Daoism employs a third, and (...) neglected, plant-model of cosmogony and of human life that provides an illuminating contrast to the other more well-known models. First, Plato’s animal-model of the cosmos and, second, the alternative Daoist plant-model of the cosmos are discussed. Third, the paper replies to the objection that the organic model in general and the plant-model in particular cannot accommodate human freedom. Fourth, it is shown how the Daoist plant-model supports a novel account of the central Daoist notion of wu-wei. Fifth, the paper rebuts the objection that the Daoist plant-model of the cosmos and human life is fatally nihilistic. Sixth, the paper argues that the Daoist account of the origin of human religion, art and historical feeling cannot be properly understood apart from its plant-model of the cosmos and human life. (shrink)