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)
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 ideas of Martin Heidegger, one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century, have had a profound influence on work in literary theory and aesthetics, as well as on mainstream philosophy. This book offers a clear and concise guide to Heidegger's notoriously complex writings, while giving special attention to his major work Being and Time. Richard McDonough adds historical context by exploring Heidegger's intellectual roots in German idealism and ancient Greek philosophy, and introduces readers to the key themes (...) in Heidegger's work including Dasein, Existenz, time, conscience, death, and phenomenology. This book, which also considers Heidegger's controversial ethics and politics, would make an excellent text for both introductory and advanced undergraduate courses on existentialism, phenomenology, continental philosophy, and Heidegger himself. (shrink)
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.
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)
Most scholars understand para. 608 of Zettel to suggest that language and thought might arise from chaos at the neural centre. However, this contradicts Wittgenstein’s signature view that the philosopher must not advance theories. The paper proposes an alternative model of Z608 based on the Austrian Gestalt-movement that influenced Wittgenstein. Z608 does not suggest that language and thought might arise from chaos in the brain but that they may arise in a different non-causal sense from the “chaos” of activities in (...) forms of human life on analogy with the way a Gestalt-image “arises” from a “chaos” of perceptions. The concepts of chaos and the centre in Z608 are not neurophysiological concepts but refer to aspects of forms of human life. The Gestalt-interpretation also clarifies why Wittgenstein’s later philosophy is quite different from “ordinary language philosophy.” Finally, the Gestalt-interpretation clarifies why Wittgenstein is not, as is often believed, making an attack on legitimate empirical psychological investigations. (shrink)
Parasite is best seen in existential rather than moral terms. It does not issue in moral, social or economic judgements. The film describes, or perhaps portrays, the dreamlike mode of fantasy “existence” the “underground” people in a society so rigidly stratified that communication with people on the other side of the societal “lines” is literally impossible, inevitably resulting in the destruction, real or metaphorical, of everyone on both sides of those lines.
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)
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)
The charge of hypocrisy has been made in connection with several recent events—namely, the pair of "sex scandals" involving, respectively, Rep. Mark Foley and Sen. Larry Craig, the former, a Republican member of the House from Florida and the latter a Republican senator from Idaho. Foley was accused of sending sexually suggestive messages to teenage boys who had been or who were at the time congressional pages, and Craig was arrested for lewd conduct in a men's bathroom and pleaded guilty (...) to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct. Both Foley and Craig faced immediate calls for resignation by their critics on the other side of the aisle. Both were also criticized by members of their own party. For simplicity, the Democratic critics of Foley and Craig are called "progressives" while their Republican critics are called "conservatives." There are, however, significant logical differences between the criticisms of Foley and Craig by progressives and the similar criticisms of them by conservatives. Since conservatives are generally more critical of sexual indiscretion, their criticisms of Foley and Craig are generally consistent with their own values. Since, however, progressives are generally more tolerant of sexual indiscretions, their criticisms of these men are often inconsistent. Specifically, some progressives find Foley and Craig blameworthy for hypocrisy over acts which, had they been committed by progressives, they would not see as blameworthy. This is why progressives shift the criticism to a different level—namely, that these men are hypocritical. Since Foley and Craig had been champions of "family values," progressives cannot consistently criticize them for their sexual indiscretions. The criticism has to be that, since these men had violated their own conservative standards of morality, they are hypocritical. (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.
It is worth noting that Wittgenstein provides an argument against analyticity that Quine allows. For Wittgenstein holds that even explicit conventions cannot determine "how one is to go on". I do not mean that Wittgenstein objects to analyticity. But this means he accounts for it in precisely the sorts of ways that Quine mentions but fails to pursue.
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.
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 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)
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)
Organic metaphors appear as early as §2 of the Phenomenology and throughout Hegel’s major works. The culmination of the dialectic is the moment where Life understands itself. Hegel even identifies the Notion with the “principle of all life”. Yet despite Hegel’s emphasis on the notion of Life, there is no general agreement about the significance of his notion of organism. Some commentators emphasize Hegel’s organicism only in connection with the notion of organic unities in Hegel’s social philosophy. Still others acknowledge (...) its basic position in Hegel’s metaphysics, but regard it as refuted by the development of mechanistic science. Some even regard Hegel’s organicism as broadly consistent with non-organic science, leaving the status of Hegel’s notion of organism in conceptual limbo. (shrink)