Epistemology & Philosophy of Science

Volume 39, Issue 1, 2014

Tom Rockmore
Pages 53-59

A Progress Report on Cognitive Foundationalism and Metaphysical Realism

Metaphysical realism, though not under that name, runs throughout the entire Western tradition at least since Parmenides. His basic ontological claim, that is, that what is is and cannot not be, hence cannot change, influentially creates a central philosophical task. Cognitive foundationalism, whose exemplar is Descartes, is a cognitive strategy intended to respond to metaphysical realism. Plato rejects any form of a representational approach to knowledge in rejecting the backward causal inference from ideas in the mind to the world. The Cartesian strategy is based on a justified inference from the idea in the mind to the world, which reverses the Platonic criticism. Criticism of the Cartesian inference from the idea in the mind to the world supports Plato’s rejection of representationalism in all its forms.