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A Study Plan

This post is mainly for my own edification for future posts, though other people may be interested also in passing. In particular if anybody has any specific contemporary philosophical concerns or problems they have, I would be happy to discuss and comment on them. The motivation to create my own study plan here is largely because I find standard courses of study so hackneyed, and I want to try and reach to something new within philosophy, not just go over old ground, find the cutting edge if there be such a thing of philosophical thought. This plan will help to keep me focused and guide my enquiries in line with a consistent plan of action.

Current Study Objectives

  1. Get clarification about the transcendental logic proposed by Kant in his critique, and the legitimacy of the categories and the transcendental deduction. And where his ideas are inadequate, consider the alternatives and consequences.
  2. Be clear about where Schopenhauer’s interpretation of transcendental idealism differs from Kant, and compare and contrast the relative strengths and weaknesses of the two view points.
  3. What challenges do the 20th century physics of Relativity and Quantum Physics present to the transcendental aesthetic in particular (the intuition of space and time) and to the status of causality in transcendental idealism.
  4. Where do we stand with logic in the 21st century? Much ado was made of logical atomism: the reduction of maths to logical symbols and propositional discourse in general, and of logical positivism: the tautological status of logic, and dichotomy between these empty necessary truths and empirical truths with content, but always contingent, and dependent on verification/evidence/experience. Yet these views were abandoned and failed in their project. Much academic philosophy seemed to promptly scoot off to linguistic concerns and sweep the logical ambiguities under the carpet, but they remain there, so what are we to make of them? Can we return to a categorical or kantian style logic, acknowledging the supposed clear divide between analytic and synthetic truths does not exist? Can a new rationalism emerge to take advantage of this empiricist failure of atomism and positivism? In Tarski we see a strange definition of truth resorted to that seems completely ad hoc, and is actually a view of truth long ago present in Kant’s system. In Quine we see two dogmas of empiricism exposed. In later Wiggenstein among others the myth of the given is exposed (of private sense data present here and now that we can describe in language). In Blanshard we see the whole atomistic edifice toppled as an inadequate view of logic and reasoning. In Kripke we see the presentation of all sorts of truths once thought incoherent, such as analytic a posteiori truths, via the use of modal (possible worlds) logic. In Davidson we see an attempt to counter the dangerous tendency towards the relativisation of truth, implicit in Wittgensteins scepticism and Quines indeterminacy of translation claims, through the development of what he calls radical interpretation. But I think this scepticism and relativisation can only properly be avoided by once again connecting up our understanding of logic on the fundamental level with our understanding of other things such as language and meaning. This task is made particularly difficult by the specialisation of academia these days. But I think it is an important task, and I think it is where new ground needs to be made in this field of philosophy.

Resources

  • Kant: Critique of Pure Reasons, Prolegomena, Early Theoretical Philosophy, Lectures on Logic, Lectures on Metaphysics
  • Blanshard: The Nature of Thought, Reason and Analysis
  • Kripke: Naming and Necessity
  • Schopenhauer: Fourfold Root, The Will in Nature, The World as Will and Representation
  • Wolff: Kant’s theory of Mental Activity, Introduction to the Critique of Pure Reason
  • Quine: Pursuit of Truth
  • Davidson: Problems of Rationality, Truth and Predication, Truth, Meaning and Knowledge

This is very much a preliminary list of resources. If anyone has book suggestions in this area I would be interested to hear them, and if anyone wants to study along with me at some of these objectives they are welcome to, or to suggest different objectives also.

 

 

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