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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 59, Issue 4, December 2019

John Peterson
Pages 485-492

Holism, Realism, and Error

Holism in metaphysics can be defended because it can solve a dilemma about error: that the object of one’s wrong judgment is either inside or outside one’s mind and that neither alternative can be the case. Among holists the American philosopher Josiah Royce provides the best account of both the dilemma and its holist answer. The latter consists in steering between the hard and fast difference of being inside and outside the mind that sparks the dilemma. Royce does this by identifying a unity in the difference, which then ceases to be a stark division and becomes instead a unity-in-difference. I then show how a related dilemma is susceptible to this sort of holist solution. Yet the holist answer to these dilemmas invites all the stock objections to holism. These include the obliteration of finite selves and the distinction between such selves and their experiences. Answering these objections calls for an alternative that uses Royce’s ploy of synthesizing the extremes of being inside and being outside the mind. This sort of realism gets between the horns of the dilemmas via the real and intentional modes of forms.

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