This book raises questions about the nature of philosophy by examining the source and significance of one central philosophical problem: how can we know anything about the world around us? Stroud discusses and criticizes the views of such philosophers as Descartes, Kant, J.L. Austin, G.E. Moore, R. Carnap, W.V. Quine, and others.
We say "the grass is green" or "lemons are yellow" to state what everyone knows. But are the things we see around us really colored, or do they only look that way because of the effects of light rays on our eyes and brains? Is color somehow "unreal" or "subjective" and dependent on our human perceptions and the conditions under which we see things? Distinguished scholar Barry Stroud investigates these and related questions in The Quest for Reality. In this long-awaited (...) book, he examines what a person would have to do and believe in order to reach the conclusion that everyone's perceptions and beliefs about the color of things are "illusions" and do not accurately represent the way things are in the world as it is independently of us. Arguing that no such conclusion could be consistently reached, Stroud finds that the conditions of a successful unmasking of color cannot all be fulfilled. The discussion extends beyond color to present a serious challenge to many other philosophical attempts to discover the way things really are. A model of subtle, elegant, and rigorous philosophical writing, this study will attract a wide audience from all areas of philosophy. (shrink)
Since the 1970s Barry Stroud has been one of the most original contributors to the philosophical study of human knowledge. This volume presents the best of Stroud's essays in this area. Throughout, he seeks to clearly identify the question that philosophical theories of knowledge are meant to answer, and the role scepticism plays in making sense of that question. In these seminal essays, he suggests that people pursuing epistemology need to concern themselves with whether philosophical scepticism is true or false. (...) Stroud's discussion of these fundamental questions is essential reading for anyone whose work touches on the subject of human knowledge. (shrink)
Abstract: This paper is an attempt to identify and to suggest reasons to reject those assumptions about the nature and scope of perceptual knowledge that appear to make an unacceptable scepticism the only strictly defensible answer to the philosophical problem of knowledge of the world in general. The suggestion is that our knowing things about the world around us by perception can be satisfactorily explained only if we can be understood to sometimes perceive that such-and-such is so, where what we (...) perceive to be so is the very state of the world that we thereby know to be so. This is not proposed as a better answer to the philosophical problem, but as a way of seeing how that problem as traditionally understood could not really present a threat to anyone who can think about the world at all. (shrink)
Meaning, Understanding, and Practice is a selection of the most notable essays of leading contemporary philosopher Barry Stroud on a set of topics central to analytic philosophy. In this collection, Stroud offers penetrating studies of meaning, understanding, necessity, and the intentionality of thought. Throughout he asks how much can be expected from a philosophical account of one's understanding of the meaning of something, and questions whether such an account can succeed without implying that the person understands many other things as (...) well. Most of the essays work with ideas derived from Wittgenstein, and five of the essays focus specifically on Wittgenstein's philosophy. Stroud's helpful introduction draws out the recurring themes he pursues and explains how his ideas and aims have developed over the years. (shrink)
A defence of the idea that an agent's knowledge that he is intentionally doing such-and-such is not ‘based on’ or ‘derived from’ any ‘experience’ of the agent or any item or state he is aware of in acting as he does. The explanation of agents' knowing, in general, what they are intentionally doing lies in the capacity for self-ascription and self-knowledge that is a required for being a subject of any intentional attitudes, and so for competent intentional agency.
A brief discussion of the ways in which awareness of and sensitivity to the history of philosophy can contribute to epistemology even if epistemology is understood as a distinctively philosophical and not primarily historical enterprise.
This collection of essays on themes in the work of John Locke , George Berkeley , and David Hume , provides a deepened understanding of major issues raised in the Empiricist tradition. In exploring their shared belief in the experiential nature of mental constructs, The Empiricists illuminates the different methodologies of these great Enlightenment philosophers and introduces students to important metaphysical and epistemological issues including the theory of ideas, personal identity, and skepticism. It will be especially useful in courses devoted (...) to the history of modern philosophy. (shrink)
Quine's arguments for the indeterminacy of translation demonstrate the existence and help to explain the rationale of restraints upon what we can say and understand. In particular they show that there are logical truths to which there are no intelligible alternatives. Thus the standard view that the truths of logic and mathematics differ from "synthetic" statements in being true solely by virtue of linguistic convention--Which requires for its plausibility the existence of intelligible alternatives to our present logical truth--Is opposed directly, (...) And not by the espousal of "a more thorough pragmatism". This raises problems about possibility and conceptual novelty. (shrink)
Meaning, Understanding, and Practice is a selection of the most notable essays of an eminent contemporary philosopher on a set of central topics in analytic philosophy. Barry Stroud offers penetrating studies of meaning, understanding, necessity, and the intentionality of thought, with particular reference to the thought of Wittgenstein.
Dispositional theories of the colours of objects identify an object’s having a certain colour with its being such that it would produce perceptions of certain kinds in perceivers of certain kinds under certain specified conditions. Without doubting that objects have dispositions to produce perceptions of certain kinds, this paper questions whether the relevant kinds of perceptions, perceivers, and conditions can be specified in a way that (i) does not rely on acceptance of any objects as being coloured in a non-dispositional (...) sense and (ii) secures the necessity of the identity between an object’s having the disposition so specified and its having the colour in question. Accepting any theory that looked as if it succeeded on both these counts would require an explanation of why a parallel identity does not hold for an object’s disposition to produce, e.g., perceptions of shape. (shrink)
Locke was once supposed to have argued that since the colours, sounds, odours, and other ‘secondary’ qualities things appear to have can vary greatly according to the state and position of the observer, it follows that our ideas of the ‘secondary’ qualities of things do not ‘resemble’ anything existing in the objects themselves. And Berkeley has been credited with the obvious objection that similar facts about the ‘relativity’ of our perception of ‘primary’ qualities show that they do not ‘resemble’ anything (...) existing in the objects either, so that both ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ qualities exist only ‘in the mind’. The falsity of this view of Locke has been amply demonstrated in recent years, but no corresponding revision has been made in what remains the standard interpretation of Berkeley's criticisms of Locke. His objections therefore appear to be based on misunderstanding and to be irrelevant to what is now seen to be Locke's actual view and his reasons for holding it. I think this account of Berkeley, like the old view of Locke, is a purely fictional chapter in the history of philosophy, and in this paper I try to show that Berkeley's criticisms involve no misunderstanding and amount to a direct denial of the view Locke actually held. (shrink)