[hist-analytic] Philosophical 'Solecisms': Hypercategorial?

Bruce Aune aune at philos.umass.edu
Thu Jul 16 13:18:13 EDT 2009

I agree with Danny.


On Jul 15, 2009, at 10:23 AM, Danny Frederick wrote:

> Blimey, JL, you call that 'brief'!
> I am not entirely sure what you are saying. But it seems to imply  
> that a
> concept is categorial only if it has instances (and perhaps is also
> fundamental in some way). And behind this lies a picture: ontological
> categories (which exist out there in the real world) cause  
> perceptions and
> perceptions cause concepts which reflect the ontological categories.
> I work with a different picture: inherited theories contain  
> categories which
> shape perceptions and structure the world as experienced. Further,  
> inherited
> theories can be criticised, modified or abandoned (so long as  
> something is
> put in their place). Consequently, whether the categories of any  
> theory have
> (real) instances is something we can never know.
> The picture you suggest is Aristotelian: forms migrate from things  
> into our
> sense organs. My picture is Popperian; that is, it is Kantian  
> insofar as the
> forms are contributed by the subject, but it is fallibilist in that  
> the
> forms can lead us astray but can be modified by us. The Popperian  
> picture
> was developed to take account, initially, of scientific practice, and,
> later, of the discoveries since Aristotle's time, in empirical  
> psychology,
> neuroscience and the history of science.
> What was the point of Strawson's 'descriptive metaphysics'? He was  
> exploring
> a conceptual scheme, viz., that of Oxford-educated common sense,  
> that had
> already been shown to be primitive and mistaken by advances in the  
> sciences,
> particularly physics. Surely, he would have produced something more  
> relevant
> to contemporary thought if he had tried to examine the challenges  
> to that
> scheme posed by scientific developments. But he just takes it for  
> granted
> that the scheme he is describing is permanent and unhchangeable
> ('Individuals,' p.10). I am not saying his book is worthless. It is  
> not: I
> have read it several times and learned a lot from it. But it is  
> curiously
> detached from the common human enterprise of knowledge. He is like  
> the loner
> sitting in a side room while the party goes on in the main room  
> next door.
> Needless to say, it would take me a lot of time and work to defend  
> what I
> just said! But I may return to it later.
> Best wishes,
> Danny

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