01/12/2010

A SKETCH OF FIRST PHILOSOPHIES WHICH TOOK FAR TOO LONG AND WAS IRRELEVANT TO THE QUESTION


What various people said the most fundamental part of the world was - the bottleneck through which the rest of reality flows. (Or does now, after their work done unbunged it.)


  • ARISTOTLE: Begin with the first causes and the principles of things.
    "what is being qua being?" (metaphysical priority).

  • DESCARTES: Begin with yourself, with only the most evident things.
    "what is known?" (epistemic priority)

  • KANT: Begin with the interface of active subject & world:
    "how do we have knowledge"? (apperceptive priority)

  • RUSSELL: Begin at the most basic facts:
    "what are the real átomos?" (logical priority)

  • HUSSERL: Begin with the universal impression of consciousness:
    "what does the a priori shape of our experience say about the objective?" (phenomenological priority)

  • HEIDEGGER: Begin with the meaning of Being:
    "why something rather than Nothing?" (fundamental-ontological priority)

  • LEVINAS: Begin with the Other:
    "have I a right to be, given this Other?" (ethical priority)

  • BECKETT: "Don't begin." (No attempt.)

  • PUTNAM: Begin in medias res.*
    (No priority.)

  • MADDY: Skip first philosophy altogether.**
    (Naturalist priority.)



* It is as if they wanted to see ethics as a noble statue standing at the top of a single pillar. My image is rather different. My image would be a table with many legs. We all know that a table with many legs wobbles when the floor on which it stands is not even, but such a table is very hard to turn over, and that is how I see ethics…
- Putnam



** Modern science … has refused to recognize the authority of the philosopher who claims to know the truth from intuition, from insight into a world of ideas or into the nature of reason or the principles of being, or from whatever super-empirical source. There is no separate entrance to truth for philosophers.
- Reichenbach (& Maddy)



(Yes, it amuses me to say "Russell" and "Husserl" alternately.)


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