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181. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 7
Mark D. Gedney Volume Introduction
182. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 8
Georg Henrik von Wright Philosophy—A Guide for the Perplexed?
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This paper surveys the relation between philosophy and science in the perspective of developments after 1900. Two main lines of thought are distinguished—one stemming from Russell, another from Wittgenstein. The Russellian view holds that science seeks knowledge of truth, while Wittgenstein emphasizes the philosophical understanding of meaning (significance). Knowledge and understanding are the two basic dimensions of the cognitive life of man. In the course of time knowledge has, nourished by scientific progress, hypertrophied at the expense of understanding. A “scientific” spirit has invaded philosophy and created a climate of opinion more akin to Russell’s than Wittgenstein’s view of things.
183. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 8
Marilyn Myerson Feminist Approaches to Sexology
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Sexology, or the formal study of sexuality, positions itself as an authoritative voice wearing a cloak of neutrality. Sexology offers the seal of “scientific truth” to pronoucements that have been arrived at through processes that are ostensibly objective, but covertly value-laden; thus sex research has been effective in perpetuating innocent claims about the human condition and human sexual behavior. Closer examination reveals these claims to be controversial. In the texts and literature of sexology, we find that there is a coherent and significant cluster of assumptions about what is so-called natural sexuality. These assumptions express major paradigms that not only inform the theoretical basis of contemporary sexological thought, but which also happen to be constituent elements in contemporary patriarchal ideology. In this paper I will look at these major paradigms.
184. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 8
Cheryl Hall Feminism’s Essential Eros
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This essay examines the feminist literature on ‘eros’ inspired primarily by Audre Lorde’s essay, “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power.” The central argument of this literature is that “our erotic knowledge empowers us” by guiding and inspiring us to pursue what we truly value in life. This literature is useful in emphasizing a human quality that is often overlooked, even by other feminists. Yet it is plagued by the prevailing assumption that our deepest passions and desires will necessarily lead to ethical choices. The underlying assumption is that there is a core, ‘pure’, good eros—which is in turn an expression of a core, pure, good self. This is a form of essentialism. Specifically, it is an attribution of a ‘true’, natural property to women that does little more than reverse the valuation of the traditional attribution of natural ‘emotionality’ to women.
185. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 8
Natalie Stoljar The Politics of Identity and the Metaphysics of Diversity: Conceptions of Essentialism in Feminist Philosophy
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The terms “essentialism” and “antiessentialism” have rhetorical, metaphysical, and political force in feminist philosophical literature. This paper develops the relation between the metaphysics and the politics of essentialism. I argue that there are broadly two metaphysical conceptions of essentialism implicit in the literature: the idea that there is a universal womanness that all women share, and the idea that each individual woman has certain essential properties. The first conception is false because it is incompatible with the existence of “multiple identities” pointed out by proponents of the “politics of identity.” The second conception, while it may be true, is politically innocuous. In order to explain the observations of the politics of identity, we need a “metaphysics of diversity.” This paper argues that adopting a kind of resemblance nominalism will provide the required metaphysics of diversity.
186. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 8
Louise M. Antony Situating Feminist Epistemology
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I understand feminist epistemology to be epistemology put at the service of feminist politics. That is, a feminist epistemology is dedicated to answering the many questions about knowledge that arise in the course of feminist efforts to understand and transform patriarchal structures, questions such as: Why have so many intellectual traditions denigrated the cognitive capacities of women? Are there gender differences in epistemic capacities or strategies, and what would be the implications for epistemology if there were? I argue here that such questions situate feminist epistemology much more in mainstream epistemological discussion than probably most feminists would admit, finding that, at least for issues in these areas, the naturalistic approach to the study of knowledge advocated by W. V. Quine has been extremely useful.
187. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 8
Sally Haslanger Defining Knowledge: Feminist Values and Normative Epistemology
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With some notable exceptions, feminist epistemologists have not focused (like many contemporary analytic epistemologists) on the the semantics of claims to know: What are the truth conditions of claims of the form S knows that p? My goal in this paper is to suggest a way of approaching the task of specifying the truth conditions for knowledge while (hopefully) making clear how a broad range of feminist work that is often deemed irrelevant to the philosophical inquiry into knowledge is, in fact, highly relevant. My discussion may also show (though I’m not going to take this up explicitly) that there are reasons why the search for truth conditions for knowledge could have a legitimate place in feminist epistemological inquiry.
188. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 8
Peter Caws Temporary Necessities and Permanent Possibilities: Structuralism and Poststructuralism
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How is it possible to speak of structuralism at the end of the millennium, except in the past tense—historically? But has structuralism really sung its swan song? It is hard not to fall prey to the historicism that has been so pervasive in Western thought in the last two hundred years. Yet this is a congress of philosophy, not history nor sociology. What philosophy looks for in structuralism is quite different from what history, or sociology, or even anthropology may find. Therefore, I begin from an avowedly ahistoricist stance since I am not interested in structuralism as a movement, but as a position, and I intend to discuss it as such.
189. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 8
Dale Jacquette The Deconstruction Debacle in Theory and Practice
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The implications of deconstruction theory go disastrously beyond its usefulness in practice as a method of challenging privileged concepts. I consider three objections to deconstruction theory: (1) The theory is unintelligible because it presupposes semantic resources that it makes unavailable. (2) The displacement of opposites in deconstruction commits it to an impossible diversity of undecidable concepts; moreover, despite assertions that deconstruction is a rigorous dialectical method, it provides no determinate procedure for discovering undecidables. (3) When taken to its logical extreme, deconstruction undermines the objectivity of any distinction among any concepts, thus compromising the meaningfulness of all thought and language. However, the practice of deconstruction as textual analysis can be preserved without theoretical absurdities if conventional analysis is used to overturn entrenched conceptual preferences on a case-by-case basis without accepting theoretical claims about the displaceability of any distinction.
190. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 8
John R. Silber Paideia: Philosophy Educating Humanity
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Modern philosophy—perhaps better described as post-Enlightenment philosophy—began to emerge in the later half of the nineteenth century and continued to gain strength in its opposition to the Enlightenment’s insistence on the central role of reason and rational discourse in philosophy. The recent attacks on reason in the name of this or that ideology or “ism” do not strengthen but rather weaken the foundations of equality for women and minorities established through the use of reason. Philosophers—male and female of all races—may take justifiable pride in having been by rational argument, agents of liberation for women and minorities. This achievement should not be jeopardized by the rejection of rational argument and evidence in the name of any currently fashionable movement.
191. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 8
Daniel C. Dennett Postmodernism and Truth
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The relativism spawned by postmodern ideals has had devastating practical consequences in numerous areas of the world. In dialogue with Richard Rorty, whose work I believe has contributed to these problems, I argue for and outline the foundations and sources for a mild, uncontroversial, or “vegetarian” conception of truth that acknowledges the importance of the gap between appearance and reality.
192. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 8
Steve Fuller The Truth about Science in the Postmodern Condition: An Answer to Dennett’s Postmodernism and Truth
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Everyone agrees that the Enlightenment hasn’t succeeded—in that the critical rationality associated with modern natural science has not been extended to society at large (and may even have retreated from science itself). Should we be relieved or disappointed that the Enlightenment has failed? I am disappointed but not discouraged by what is called the postmodern condition. But to move forward, we cannot simply deny the presence of the condition, as if it were the collective hallucination of weak minds. This is what Dennett does. I fear that he is in denial rather than disappointment. Only when we are clear about the ideals that we want to promote can we see our way through the postmodern condition.
193. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 8
Hans Lenk Outline of Systematic Schema Interpretation
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Any sort of cognition, perception, and action is necessarily shaped by (re)activation of “schemata.” Any interpretation is schema (re)activation. Schemata are epistemologically speaking “structural” activation patterns which are psychologically and neurologically speaking accommodated, adapted, “learned” by co- and re-activating neuronal assemblies. Six levels of interpretative schema activations (schema interpretations) are outlined from invariable primary “interpretations” through conventional, classificatory, and justificatory, as well as meta-interpretations. Constitutive schema interpretations are unavoidable. Many philosophical problems will have to be reformulated or reinterpreted along these lines, e.g., a sort of moderated pragmatic (interpretational) realism in epistemology.
194. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 8
Raymond Martin Narration, Objectivity, and Methodological Truth
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In this essay, I argue that scientists and historians employ different strategies to overcome a common problem: subjectivity. The difference in their strategies is symptomatic of a fundamental difference between science and the humanities. It is that whereas physical scientists, in trying to be objective, aspire to the view from nowhere, humanistic historians, in trying to be objective, aspire to the views from everywhere.
195. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 8
C. Behan McCullagh The Structure and Objectivity of Historical Narratives
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Hayden White suggested that narratives achieve coherence through literary types of emplotment. Generally, this is not the case. I contrast simple narratives, whose coherence lies in their subject and chronological structure; reflective narratives, which give an account of a trend; and genetic narratives, designed to explain and outcome. Some narratives do more than one of these things. Each kind of narrative is constrained by its function, but this constraint seldom if ever ensures its complete objectivity.
196. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 8
Alan M. Olson Epochal Consciousness and the Philosophy of History
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Does the philosophy of history have a future? In 1949 Karl Jaspers, echoing Hegel, still identified history as the “great question” in philosophy; but in 1966 Karl Löwith observed that the philosophy of history had been reduced to little more than “epochal consciousness.” During the 1970s analytical philosophers endorsed the critical-speculative distinction of C. D. Broad and the question of universal history was effectively bracketed. Post-structuralists and feminists during the 70s and 80s endorsed the observation of Michel Foucault that history is “the Western myth” and, more recently in 1989, Francis Fukuyama proclaimed the “end of history.” In this essay I explore some of the developments contributing to the marginalization of the philosophy of history during the latter half of the twentieth century. Following this, I offer some comments regarding the persistence of the question of universal history.
197. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 8
Tom Rockmore Recent Analytical Philosophy and Idealism
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The link between empiricism and realism is crucially important in analytic philosophy. Empiricism is roughly the claim that knowledge must arise out of experience; it cannot, as Descartes thought, be innate. Realism is roughly the associated claim that whatever thought refers to is real, in a word, exists, independently of the mind. However, idealism (or idealism as understood by analytic philosophers) not only violates the rigorous philosophical standards that analytical philosophy has always claimed to exemplify, but undermines empiricism (which in turn depends on realism) as well. For this reason, analytic philosophers particularly view idealism as the official enemy. This paper will consider the place of idealism in recent analytic debate.
198. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 8
Rodolphe Gasché Specters of Nietzsche
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Attempts made by philosophical hermeneutics to come to grips with deconstruction as well as criticisms leveled by the Gadamerian perspective both operate on the assumption that deconstruction is of Nietzschean inspiration. Why does German hermeneutics choose an approach to Derridean thought that inevitably results in misinterpretation and thus thwarts the dialogue that it ostensibly seeks? I explore the philosophical presuppositions of hermeneutics that cause it to view deconstruction as an extension of Nietzschean thought. I also turn to Derrida’s Spurs: Nietzsche’s Styles in order to argue that Derrida is critical of Nietzsche and, thus, deconstruction is not a specifically Nietzschean operation.
199. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 8
Stephen Watson ‘Post-Structuralism’ and the Dispensation of the Good: A Reinterpretation of Levinas
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The extent to which discourses surrounding the Good, the sacred, and (more problematically) the beautiful have preoccupied thinkers in continental philosophy and in poststructuralism is striking. What is equally striking, however, is the decisively ‘non-theological’ theoretical cast of this account of the Good. Attempts to “disengage” the account of trancendence at stake remain complicated. What is in question is an understanding that is profoundly ethical—and, I want to argue, against the fabric of theoretical modernity, profoundly historical in ways doubtless that motivate much of ‘poststructuralist’ thought in this area. In what follows, I want to show how Emmanuel Levinas distinguishes the “divergence” of the Good within philosophy, and how Levinas’s philosophy betrays the effect of modernity and the detraditionalization of the ethical even in appealing to certain traditions for the intelligibility—if you will, the figure—of the ethical.
200. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 8
James Campbell Dewey’s Foundations
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Contemporary philosophers seldom make their fundamental beliefs explicit. They prefer, rather, to deal with more narrow, topical questions. Still, their fundamental beliefs remain operative in their work. On a number of occasions over the course of his life, John Dewey gave detailed expositions of the beliefs about experience, education, community, individualism, etc., that he saw underlying his philosophical thought. An exposition and critical examination of some of these beliefs should serve as a useful means for exploring the philosophical meaning of Dewey’s work.