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Realism Some things are independent of mind. Aristotle’s Argument for Realism “And, in general, if only the sensible exists, there would be nothing if.

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Presentation on theme: "Realism Some things are independent of mind. Aristotle’s Argument for Realism “And, in general, if only the sensible exists, there would be nothing if."— Presentation transcript:

1 Realism Some things are independent of mind

2 Aristotle’s Argument for Realism “And, in general, if only the sensible exists, there would be nothing if animate things were not; for there would be no faculty of sense. Now the view that neither the sensible qualities nor the sensations would exist is doubtless true (for they are affections of the perceiver), but that the substrata which cause the sensation should not exist even apart from sensation is impossible. For sensation is surely not the sensation of itself, but there is something beyond the sensation, which must be prior to the sensation; for that which moves is prior in nature to that which is moved, and if they are correlative terms, this is no less the case.”

3 Aristotle’s Argument Sensations are sensations of something Which must be prior to and independent of the sensation itself So, there are mind- independent causes of sensations: things-in- themselves

4 Jorge Luis Borges ( ) Tlön: “ Hume noted for all time that Berkeley's arguments did not admit the slightest refutation nor did they cause the slightest conviction. This dictum is entirely correct in its application to the earth, but entirely false in Tlön. The nations of this planet are congenitally idealist. Their language and the derivations of their language- religion, letters, metaphysics- all presuppose idealism. The world for them is not a concourse of objects in space; it is a heterogeneous series of independent acts.”

5 The Heresy of Materialism “ On Tuesday, X crosses a deserted road and loses nine copper coins. On Thursday, Y finds in the road four coins, somewhat rusted by Wednesday's rain. On Friday, Z discovers three coins on the road. On Friday morning, X finds two coins in the corridor of his house. The heresiarch would deduce from this story the reality— i.e., the continuity— of the nine coins which were recovered. It is absurd (he affirmed) to imagine that four of the coins have not existed between Tuesday and Thursday, three between Tuesday and Friday afternoon, two between Tuesday and Friday morning. It is logical to think they have existed-- at least in some secret way, hidden from the comprehension of men-- at every moment of those three periods.”

6 Borges’s Argument Realism is the simplest explanation of our experiences We perceive things only as perceived; the idealist is right Maybe things don’t exist or obey natural laws when we aren’t looking But it’s simpler to suppose they do

7 Wang Fuzhi ( ) “The world consists only of concrete things.” Chi: Material force, but also concrete things Li: Principle, concrete order of the world— arrangement of material objects Principle depends on material force

8 Wang’s Arguments The world has a causal structure; perception is part of it. The behavior of things, and how they appear to us, results from their real internal constitution Idealists infer: X can’t be perceived => X doesn’t exist. But why? Arguments against substance are like arguments against self: “Those who speak of non-self do so from the point of view of the self. If there were no self, who is going to deny the self?”

9 American Realism Edwin Holt, Walter Marvin, William Pepperel Montague, Ralph Barton Perry, Walter Pitkin, E. G. Spaulding Holt: “1. The entities (objects, facts, et caet.) under study in logic, mathematics, and the physical sciences are not mental in any usual or proper meaning of the word 'mental'. 2. The being and nature of these entities are in no sense conditioned by their being known.”

10 Montague on Realism “1. Realism holds that things known may continue to exist unaltered when they are not known, or that things may pass in and out of the cognitive relation without prejudice to their reality, or that the existence of a thing is not correlated with or dependent upon the fact that anybody experiences it, perceives it, conceives it, or is in any way aware of it.”

11 Argument for Idealism We have reason to believe that something exists only if we can know it We can know an object only by making it an object of consciousness Any object of consciousness is conditioned by consciousness Anything conditioned by consciousness is mind- dependent So, we have reason to believe that a thing exists only if it is mind-dependent

12 The Realists’ Critique Premises 3 and 4: Any object of consciousness is conditioned by consciousness Anything conditioned by consciousness is mind- dependent Realists: I see a cat. It becomes an object of consciousness. So, the cat is conditioned by consciousness? So, the cat is mind- dependent? That’s absurd! The cat isn’t affected by my seeing or not seeing it.

13 Equivocation in Idealism The idealists use ‘object of consciousness’ ambiguously Dignaga: actual objects (causes of perception) vs. internal objects (effects— appearances) We know actual objects by representing them as internal objects The internal object is conditioned and mind- dependent; the actual object is neither

14 Actual Objects Actual objects— things-in-themselves— are not conditioned by being known But they can be known— by being represented as internal objects Montague: “Cognition belongs to the same world as that of its objects. It has its place in the order of nature. There is nothing transcendental or supernatural about it.”

15 Real Essences Aristotle and Aquinas: We know objects by grasping their essences Locke: Which essence? Nominal: concept; conditioned Real: real internal constitution; unconditioned We study cognition as we study anything else We know real essences through scientific method


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