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P. F. Strawson (1919–2006)

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Although the ordinary-language branch of analytic philosophy began as an effort to dissolve philosophy, Peter F. Strawson, who has been one of its major voices, has shown that this approach can be enlarged to address many of the great themes of the Western tradition. Strawson was born in England visa mer and educated at Oxford University. After military service during World War II and a brief period of teaching in Wales, he returned to Oxford, where he has remained. Strawson's Introduction to Logical Theory (1952) shows that symbolic logic does not capture the complexity of ordinary language. He therefore argues for a logic of everyday discourse that can capture the conditions under which we use logical construction to express ourselves. He tries to show that some classes of valid arguments are not recognized as such within formal systems and that Aristotelian logic can be defended as preferable to modern logic. Strawson's emphasis on language continues in his later work, in which he uses linguistic structures to address metaphysics and epistemology. His book on Immanuel Kant, for example, uses language to rework a priori knowledge. Individuals (1959) begins his work in descriptive metaphysics by proposing that the concept of the person be taken as philosophically primitive. This, he believes, would avoid two equally incoherent views, the first being Cartesian dualism, the second being the view that states of consciousness can be discussed without reference to a knowing subject. (Bowker Author Biography) visa färre
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Verk av P. F. Strawson

Associerade verk

The Linguistic Turn: Essays in Philosophical Method (1967) — Bidragsgivare — 200 exemplar, 1 recension
Western Philosophy: An Anthology (1996) — Författare, vissa utgåvor193 exemplar
Epistemology: An Anthology (2000) — Bidragsgivare — 189 exemplar
Knowledge: Readings in Contemporary Epistemology (2000) — Bidragsgivare — 75 exemplar
Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art: The Analytic Tradition: An Anthology (2003) — Bidragsgivare — 69 exemplar, 2 recensioner
Reading Philosophy: Selected Texts with a Method for Beginners (2002) — Bidragsgivare — 60 exemplar
Wittgenstein and the problem of other minds (1967) — Bidragsgivare — 48 exemplar
Perspectives on Moral Responsibility (1993) — Bidragsgivare — 37 exemplar

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The bounds of the real, we may say, are indeed not co-extensive with the types of sensible experience we in fact enjoy. We must not suppose that the nature of reality is exhausted by the kinds of knowledge which we have of it. To suppose this would be a kind of restrictive dogmatism unjustified in its way as the inflated dogmatism which pretends to a knowledge transcending experience. The latter makes an unjustifiable a priori claim to expand knowledge beyond experience. The former would make an equally unjustifiable a priori claim to restrict reality within the bounds of the kind of experience we in fact have.… (mer)
 
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drbrand | 2 andra recensioner | Dec 20, 2021 |
An excellent example of late 20th c. analytical philosophy, developed from a series of lectures composed at Oxford in 1980.

Strawson begins his discussion with Hume, who exemplified both skepticism (questioning the grounds for holding certain types of beliefs) and naturalism (an elastic term, typically used to recognize the limits imposed by natural laws and forces). Hume’s position was that skeptical doubts cannot be overcome by argument because the framework of all inquiry is constituted by unavoidable natural convictions, commitments, or prejudices which are implanted in our minds by Nature. Strawson also finds in Wittgenstein propositions describing an inescapable framework for our judgments and convictions, though Wittgenstein’s framework is more dynamically conceived: what was once part of the framework may change its status and assume the character of an hypothesis to be questioned and perhaps falsified (assumptions about supernatural agents or powers, say), whereas other parts of the framework remain fixed and unalterable. In addition, Wittgenstein does not speak of one exclusive source (viz. Nature) for these prejudices but speaks of our learning, making judgments and forming beliefs through social practice, which makes a kind of scaffolding within which the judgments that we make hang together in a more or less coherent way.

From Hume and Wittgenstein, then, Strawson begins to derive an approach that could mitigate the persistent tensions in some key philosophical questions. One of the traditional targets for skeptics is the other-minds problem (subjectivity v. objectivity), which then opens up all kinds of other questions about perception, morality, identity, the meaning of truth, etc. As Strawson notes, the best argument against other-minds skepticism is a commonsense realism (ref. Fichte, Scharfstein, and Haack, among others). Given the non-uniqueness of one’s physical constitution and the general uniformity of nature in the biological sphere, it is highly improbable that one is unique within one’s own species in experiencing subjective states. The intelligible formulation of skeptical doubts (the results of self-conscious thought and experience) would not even be possible unless we believe that we have knowledge of external physical objects or other minds. This commonsense realism, and acknowledgment of the natural, inescapable commitments and convictions which we neither choose nor could give up, come together in what Strawson refers to as non-reductive naturalism.

Strawson wants us to see that a non-reductive naturalism (human inescapability plus commonsense realism) offers a way past some of the intractable problems in philosophy. He says that the error often lies in the attempt to force a choice between contradictory conclusions. The appearance of contradiction arises only if we assume the existence of some metaphysically absolute standpoint from which we can judge between contending positions. But there is no superior standpoint, or none that we know of; it is the idea of such a standpoint that is an illusion, says Strawson. (Fichte also exchanged the absolute for an illusion). We can ‘dissolve’ apparent contradictions by acknowledging the variety of potential perspectives—as in our conception of the real properties of physical objects, for instance. Relative to the human perceptual standpoint, commonplace physical objects really are “visuo-tactile continuants” (ref. A.J. Ayer) with phenomenal properties; relative to the standpoint of physical science (which is also a human standpoint) those same objects have only the properties recognized in physical theory, and are constituted in ways which can only be described in what, from the phenomenal point of view, are abstract terms. Thus the same thing can be conceived both with and without phenomenal properties. This relativizing maneuver—whereby we shift our point of view within the general framework of human perception—can also be applied to questions of morality, identity and meaning, as Strawson shows.

Strawson’s discussion of those questions is succinct but rich in implications. His claims are modest: ‘to establish the connections between the major structural features or elements of our conceptual scheme’; not to propose a rigidly deductive system, but ‘a coherent whole whose parts are mutually supportive and mutually dependent, interlocking in an intelligible way.’ Strawson’s intent here is not so much to persuade but to suggest. The task and the reward of understanding is put upon the reader.
… (mer)
 
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HectorSwell | Jul 2, 2018 |
Strawson presents a fairly thorough critical evaluation of Kant's first critique, with the goal of seeing how much of Kant is salvageable and how much must be discarded due. The Bounds of Sense does a good job addressing (and tearing down) many of the most contentious and sketchy aspects of the Critique of Pure Reason, e.g. the mania for systematicity, the problem of the "affective" relationship between things in themselves and appearances, and the self-knowledge. Strawson also provides some good criticism of the analogies of experience, and the antinomies.

Overall, his goal is to show how flimsy the arguments for transcendental idealism are, and yet also how much of Kant can be maintained without this doctrine.
… (mer)
 
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lukeasrodgers | 2 andra recensioner | Nov 13, 2012 |

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