First, thanks Jon for the chart. At one point, I toyed with the idea of making a “centerfold” chart of where each thinker falls along the various theses, but it didn’t come to anything. If I’m reading it correctly, it looks like columns d & e are flip sides of each other, where d prepares the ground for and motivates the move to e. And great Safranski quote—I haven’t read the book, but that quote sums up the ideas I was trying to express very nicely. I know nothing about Fitch’s Paradox, including what it is and why it’s paradoxical, so I’ll just sidestep that discussion, shelving it for later investigation.
I agree that the move Hegel, Nietzsche, and early Heidegger make in rejecting noumena (R1) somewhat resembles Berkeley’s claim that we have to examine what we really mean when we say that something exists, & that if we do, what we will find is much closer to their views than to realism, despite realism’s appearance of holding a monopoly on common sense. In effect, it’s a matter of shifting the burden from defending the reduction of reality to mere appearance (a realist’s view of idealism/anti-realism) to justifying the postulation of a world behind the world, one we can never see, hear, smell, touch, or taste, can never have any knowledge of, and which, qua noumena, can never impact us in any way (focusing on the theoretical for now), and yet which not only exists but constitutes the really real reality. Then, without a noumenal realm providing an invidious contrast with the world we experience, the “mere” attached to “mere appearance” or “merely apparent reality” drops away, and we are just left with the world. Hegel allows for reality unknown, but not in principle unknowable, arguing that all we mean by unknown reality is what we will eventually run across at some point in human inquiry. Like Peirce, the only sense we can make of an absolutely true account of the world is what we find at the ideal end of inquiry. The division between noumenon and phenomenon is not ontological, but temporal, historical. Continue reading
Since I’ve been participating a bit in the comments, I don’t have a lengthy summative post. I just want to say a little bit about the fundamental fallout from Kant. I do focus on the first Critique, partially due to its great influence. I’m tracing the development of ideas along a path of inheritance, so what got the most attention gets most of my attention as well. Of course, the third Critique was very important for idealism, but ultimately the first represents Kant’s greatest legacy (for the issues I’m interested in) so it’s what I focus on (I also don’t know the 3rd very well). I’m sure a really interesting narrative of the descent of ideas from the 3rd Critique could be constructed and I’d like to read it; that’s just not my story. The indefinite article of my subtitle—A History—is quite intentional: other equally legitimate histories could be written. I don’t claim that mine is definitive or the R3 way things are, just that it is reasonable, grounded, and illuminating.
[Please note that all the posts related to Braver Reading Group are gathered here.]
First Response to Online Reading Group
First, I want to thank Jon and Mikhail for hosting this reading group. It is very gratifying to see my book fulfilling its central purpose of generating discussion, optimally among those who do not usually engage with each other. I take their roles to be hosts and guides, friendly to the sights they’re showing perhaps (why else show it?) but unafraid to point out dusty corners and structurally unsound areas when they find them. And I see my own role not as handing down authoritative rulings, but as a participant in the discussion, perhaps with a few privileges but not occupying a fundamentally different position than other readers.
The Introduction lays out the book’s project and motivation, namely to try to lay a groundwork for dialogue between analytic and continental philosophers. In his comment, Lou Deeptrek questions both the existence of such a divide and the desirability of bridging it. The former concern focuses on a potential caricature of analytic thought as unhistorical when in fact many analytic thinkers may have a very strong grasp of the history of philosophy, and vice versa. Since these go to the heart of the entire work, I want to spend a little time addressing them. Continue reading