This book provides a presentation of views on the relations between metaphysics and logic from Aristotle through twentieth century philosophers who contributed to the return of metaphysics in the analytic tradition. The collection combines interest in logic and its history with interest in analytical metaphysics and the history of metaphysical thought. The focus is on metaphysica generalis, or the systematic study of the most general categories of being. The volume aims at historical coverage of certain influential figures and themes. As the tradition is very rich, some choices between importa ...
This book provides a presentation of views on the relations between metaphysics and logic from Aristotle through twentieth century philosophers who contributed to the return of metaphysics in the analytic tradition. The collection combines interest in logic and its history with interest in analytical metaphysics and the history of metaphysical thought. The focus is on metaphysica generalis, or the systematic study of the most general categories of being. The volume aims at historical coverage of certain influential figures and themes. As the tradition is very rich, some choices between important philosophers and topics cannot be avoided. The volume seeks for a balance between different periods; still, early modern, modern and twentieth century metaphysics are more extensively studied than the pre-modern tradition. Thinkers discussed include Aristotle, Avicenna, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, William Ockham, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Immanuel Kant, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Bernard Bolzano, Charles Sanders Peirce, Georg Cantor, Gottlob Frege, Alexius Meinong, Edmund Husserl, Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, C. I. Lewis, Martin Heidegger, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Rudolf Carnap, Willard Van Orman Quine, Wilfrid Sellars, Peter F. Strawson, Ruth Barcan Marcus, David Armstrong, Saul Kripke, and David Lewis. Not all of these have a chapter of their own, however, for some figure only in connection with other thinkers and specific themes related with their work. The individual chapters seek to cover more than one philosopher's thought and also to take notice of other periods in the history than what is their main focus.
The notion of types or Platonic Ideas being the reality behind things is not now prevalent in physics, and never should have been so. It is an interpretation of discourse, not of nature; it belongs to moral philosophy, not to natural science, since it clarifies the goals and meanings of human life, but never discloses the causes or origin of anything. Displaced and treated as natural powers, Platonic Ideas at once turn into metaphysical substances; they are undiscoverable and incongruous with material things, the real substance of which is simply what is to be found inside them. Nevertheless in discourse, in art, and in morals, the Platonic method is and must remain the sole method of reason. They are the essences, fixed by intent or hinted at by growth and inspiration, in which the spirit might find its congenial objects, and the counters of its game. They are not substances behind things, nor fixed patterns in nature, nor forces, nor prescribed forms, outside which it would be deformity to fall; they are essences above things, to which things have chosen to aspire, or ideals with which we have chosen to compare them.
But let me say this in passing: in considering existence, as in considering anything else, we need to distinguish the essence from the fact. The essence of existence, though indefinable like all simple essences, is familiar, being an object of continual intuition; but the fact of existence is an object of beliefa belief which is indeed inevitable in life, yet may be questioned by the determined sceptic and is actually denied by some mystics and logicians. . . .
For instance, you suggest the old question of freedom of the Will or necessity. But now-a-days "necessity" and "causation" are ambiguous concepts. I should say, for instance, that no fact was or could be necessary, all existence being by definition contingent. Would it follow from this that I believe in free will? Not at all. The ways of nature are contingent in that logically they might just as well have been different or not to have been discernible at all, if no trope had ever been repeated. But tropes are repeated more or less: events to that extent are predictable on the assumption that these chance repetitions will continue regularly. There is therefore no traceable problem of freedom or necessity in the history of philosophy, but only confused contradictory talk on uncriticised presumptions.
This analogy between Christian theology and my ontology must not be pressed: the one is a dogma, the other a language: a language based not on inspiration but on analysis, and meant only to render articulate the dumb experience of the soul. I am not concerned in these Realms of Being with alleged separate substances or independent regions. I am endeavouring only to distinguish the types of reality that I encounter; and the lines of cleavage that I discern are moral and logical, not physical chasms. Yet I find this language applicable, and in that sense true.
But the realms of truth and of essence are in quite another case. . . . They are proposed as conceptual distinctions and categories of logic; as one of many languages in which the nature of things may be described. Anyone who wishes is free to discard these categories and employ others. The only question will be how he will get on; what sort of intellectual dominion and intellectual life he will achieve; also whether he will really be using other categories in his spontaneous and successful contacts with the world, or only a different jargon in his professional philosophy. Professional philosophies, sincere and even impassioned enough in controversy, are often but poor hypocrisies in daily life.
I am also in doubt about "social humanism" being implicit in my physics. Materialism may, psychologically, be allied in the materialist's mind with one or another view in ethics and politics. That will depend, if materialism is true, on the man's heritage and circumstances. In that sense I entirely accept historical materialism, which is only an application of materialism to history. But the phrase carries now an association with Hegelian or Marxian dialectic, which if meant to be more than the doctrine of universal flux, is a denial of materialism. My personal sympathies are personal, and of no ultimate importance: what is implied in my natural philosophy is that all moralities and inspirations are natural, biological, animal preferences or obsessions, changing and passing with the organisms and habits that gave them birth. That is not the Catholic doctrine, which you say I represent; but it is quite compatible with liking Catholic ways, considered as a form of human society and human imagination. Yet even there, I prefer the Greeks.
But in any case, [spiritual freedom] has nothing to do with the physical question of determinism or indeterminism in the genesis of events. Even "moral freedom" has nothing to do with it. Facing the matter afresh, I should say this: Existence being contingent intrinsically, the character of any event cannot be determined logically by that of previous events: every fact then is a part of the original groundless fact of existence. Yet any degree of regularity may be discovered in the ways of nature; and only in the measure in which such regularity exists is any science or prudence possible.
[F]eeling for me is an instance of consciousness, not a basis for consciousness; the basis being large-scale biological processes, having a moral or dramatic character in material life that I make the ground of consciousness or spirit. Tropes, belonging to the Realm of Truth, intervene between unconscious organic processes and moral or intellectual awakenings . . . . In a word, my notion of the relation of mind to body remains Aristotelian, as it has always been. Spirit is the second (actualized) entelechy of natural organic life in an animal . . . .
Yet the ontological overflow, the concomitant emergence of consciousness, alone seems to arrest the wonder, not to say the wrath of philosophers; and they are so surprised at it, and so wrathful, that they are inclined to deny it, and to call it impossible. I have not myself such an intrinsic knowledge of matter as to be sure that it cannot do that which it does: nor do I see why the proudest man should be ashamed of the parents who after all produced him. I am not tempted seriously to regard consciousness as the very essence of life or even of being. On the contrary, both my personal experience and the little I know of nature at large absolutely convince me that consciousness is the most highly conditioned of existences, an overtone of psychic strains, mutations, and harmonies; nor does its origin seem more mysterious to me than that of everything else.