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Locke tells us that his purpose in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding is “to inquire into the original, certainty, and extent of human knowledge, together with the grounds and degrees of belief, opinion, and assent” (1.1.2). He provides a characterization of general human knowledge as universal truths in propositional form. In doing this he presupposes a striking doctrine about the “extent” of man's general knowledge, and he draws freely upon a theory meant to explain both the materials (the “original”) out of which this knowledge is constructed and the way in which it is constructed. He holds that the “certainty” which characterizes general knowledge is obtained only if we proceed from the right materials or foundations in the right way, and that the right foundations themselves can only be obtained in one specific way. In this study I try to show how much more Cartesian Locke is than many commentators would allow. I argue that on Locke's own view the way to obtain the foundations for general knowledge is that of Cartesian analysis, and the way to construct general knowledge once these foundations have been obtained is that of Cartesian synthesis.
Monsieur Schouls a établi un certain nombre de points, avec lesquels je me declarerai d'accord. Je crois qu'il a raison d'affirmrr que pour Locke, le fondement de toute connaissance au niveau initial de l'expérience est un divers de la sensation ou de la réflexion formé par des combinations d'idées unies ensemble. D'autre part, la description de la maniere dont l'esprit acquiert la connaissance générale (general knowledge) par un processus d'abstraction et done d'analyse me semble conforme à l'épistémologie de Locke.
Mais je crois que par ce processus, l'esprit atteint seulement le niveau de la connaissance générale; la connaissance générale elle-même consiste dans la démonstration (reasoning) et, meme si la démonstration se raméné à une chaîne d'intuitions, conformément au modèle cartésien des Regulae, c'est seulement dans l'illatio que l'on peut situer ce que M. Schouls qualifie de synthèse: c'est cette illatio qui constitue proprement la science.
D'où le problème de cette éthique démontrable dont il faudrait établir, conformément à cette thèse, le mode de formation “synthétique” à partir d'axiomes et de principes.
There are many echoes of Descartes and of other Cartesians (especially Arnauld) in Locke's Essay. There is one particularly curious passage in the Essay which is clearly taken from the Regulae. This passage may be the one clear instance of the method of analysis and synthesis in Locke. Before I cite that passage, I want to raise a few questions about some of the claims in Professor Schouls’ paper.
(1) Professor Schouls is right to call attention to the need for some careful analysis of the concept of experience in Locke. He concentrates upon the form experience takes initially (p. 583): lf“he means temporally first, as with infants (p. 595 speaks of “our initial sentient state“), the examples he cites do not fit this concept. The quotes he gives on p. 583 all refer to adult, sophisticated experience, not to the learning experience of children (Cf. p. 586). There is a rudimentary genetic psychology in Locke's Essay and in his Education. He does list some brief order in the acquisition of ideas by children, in the very earliest stages of experience, e.g., with the foetus, “some faint ideas of hunger, and thirst, and warmth, and some pains” are acquired (1.4.2).
Within the limitations which I have set for myself ‒ namely, those of a discussion of the attaining of the foundations for general knowledge, and of the construction of general knowledge once these foundatio11s have been obtained ‒Professor Yolton agrees with my argument. His major concern consists in urging me to extend my thesis into the domain of knowledge of nature. The main question is whether the method I have argued is present in Locke's Essay can help account for particular knowledge claims Locke might make in physics rather than in the realm of conceptual relations, in the realm of the mixed modes of mathematics, geometry, and morals. The difficulty I here face (and hence one reason for the limitation of my thesis to that of general knowledge) is stated unambiguously by Locke himself:
In this paper I want to suggest that, while the argued philosophical distinction between logic, epistemolgoy and ontology is one of the many achievements of Aristotle, his predecessor Parmenides was in fact already operating with a theory of knowledge and an elementary propositional logic that are of abiding philosophical interest. As part of the thesis I shall be obliged to reject a number of interpretations of particular passages in his poem, including one or two currently fashionable ones. Since so much turns on points of translation, I note for purposes of comparison what seem to be significant alternatives to my own in any particular instance. The line numbers are those of the DK text.
Included among the many topics on which Aristotle writes in the Nicomacheon Ethics is an account of incontinence or akrasia. Many controversies have arisen among interpreters of Aristotle on this issue, and a few of these disputes will be discussed in this paper. In the first part of this paper I shall indicate the usual way of reading Aristotle's account of incontinence, which I shall call the natural interpretation. In the second section I shall raise some apparent difficulties with the natural interpretation by pointing out three passages in the Nicomacheon Ethics which seem to be inconsistent with it. Finally, in the concluding three sections of this paper I shall argue that the three passages allegedly inconsistent with the natural interpretation can be shown to be consistent with the general line of argument that the natural interpretation takes Aristotle to be following. In showing how these passages can be reconciled with the usual way of reading Aristotle's account of akrasia, a much clearer and more complete picture of what his view is emerges. In addition, this reading makes Aristotle's account of incontinence more philosophically acceptable - though it is not without its problems - than it is normally supposed to be.
In this paper, I wish to revisit some familiar terrain, namely an argument that occurs in many of Russell's writings on the theory of descriptions and which he repeatedly describes as a “proof.” For the past two decades this argument has been the subject of considerable philosophical controversy. The prevailing view has been that it is invalid. Leonard Linsky, for instance, maintains that it is (viciously) circular, while Peter Geach, W.V.O. Quine, and Alan White have argued that it equivocates on two different senses of the word “means” and is therefore fallacious. Yet the argument has also had its defenders. In an acute and persuasive paper, R.K. Perkins has recently contended that some of these critics fail to understand that Russell is employing the term “means” in a special and technical sense, where it is equivalent to “naming”, and that when so understood, the argument does in fact go through.
That something is implausible or Impossible does not go to show that I did not dream it. In a dream I can do the impossible in every sense of the word.
Malcolm nowhere suggests why this remark should be regarded as true. Indeed, many philosophers would regard it is palpably false. After all, it is not at all obvious that one can hope for, intend to do, or believe what is in every sense of the word, impossible. I think, however, that Malcolm's observation is correct; and this paper is devoted to showing why it is correct. In the concluding section I present an account of dreaming that shows why it is that impossible dreams are possible.
“What can a person dream?” This is an odd query; and what it might mean to put this question (if, indeed, it is a sensible question) is not at all transparent. It is not like asking what a person might dream, when this is understood as a request for what someone is likely to dream, or what one may reasonably expect someone to dream, say, on the evening of a day in which one had visited a dentist.
This essay is arranged in three sections. In the first I consider interaction problems that can frustrate maximizers. My object here is to add to the kind of case discussed by Gauthier, another in which maximizers would not do well. In the next section I set out conditions under which ‘straight’ or ordinary maximizers could avoid their problems as surely and as easily as could Gauthier's ‘constrained’ maximizers. And in the last section I comment on the relative merits of straight and ‘constrained’ maximization. Attention here is paid first to the suggestion that straight maximizers in view of their problems would choose not to be straight maximizers, would indeed choose to be ‘constrained’ maximizers, and that this shows that there is something wrong with straight maximization. Rejecting this inference, I turn in conclusion to the idea that it follows from the ‘incompleteness’ of straight maximization, from the fact that it is not always possible, that there is something wrong with it. This inference too is rejected.
The notion of moral philosophy that has been dominant in Anglo-American philosophizing since G.E. Moore is peculiar. Reviewing traditional works such as Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Hume's Treatise, Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, and Mill's Utilitarianism, one is tempted to call this new notion of moral philosophy a different subject; and if one does this, it is less peculiar. However, let us accept that this new sort of moral philosophy does belong to the previous tradition; granted this, I shall explain why I think it peculiar through considering the status of the judgement that Hitler was a bad man.
Consider the sentential function ‘x is (was) a bad man’. ‘Hitler’ seems an obviously suitable substitution for ‘x, at least in the most important sense. That is, one wants to say that if it is not proper or true to say that ‘Hitler was a bad man’ or ‘Hitler was bad’, it fs never proper or true to issue a sentence of this form, restricting x to human beings. Hitler seems indeed, in this most important sense, to be a paradigm case. One wants to say: if Hitler was not a bad man, who could be?
A number of philosophers have defended the view that mental or psychological verbs share a certain distinctive logical feature, though there is disagreement as to exactly what feature it is. Harold Morick has recently accused several of these philosophers (including Brentano, Chisholm and me) of having “ignored or misinterpreted” verbs of a certain kind, in their search for this characteristic trait of mental verbs (normally called “intentionality“).
The verbs he is talking about are those that represent some of a person's activities, which are physical activities but which that person must allegedly be conscious in order to perform. Since a “basic sentence” containing such a verb typically entails the existence of its object's referent, Morick contends, the verb in question fails io count as “intentional” either on Brentano's definition, on Chisholm's, or on mine (each of these three definitions requires that a basic sentence containing an intentional verb not entail the existence of its object's putative referent.). Thus, Brentano, Chisholm and I have failed to make good our claim that all mental or psychological verbs are intentional.
My paper “On the Indispensability of Intentionality” is faulted on two counts by William Lycan:
(i) I fail to show that there are any non-intentional psychological verbs
(ii) my argument against eliminative materialism contains a false premiss.
I intend to deal swiftly with Lycan's indictment, as I believe it to be patently insubstantial. The aim, in my paper, of pointing out that there are non-intentional psychological verbs was to show that Lycan and others have been mistaken in believing that every psychological verb is intentional.
I shall respond first to (ii), to Lycan's charge that the fifth premiss of his reconstruction of my argument against eliminative materalism is false, or at least not obviously true. The premiss reads: “If language takes place, it takes place between persons.” The eliminative materialist can reasonably deny this premiss, Lycan maintains, since it “seems plausible” to predict that we will someday be able to explain, with no reference to people's mental states or activities, what language is and how it works. I believe that because this “prediction” is in fact self-contradictory, it casts no doubt whatsoever on the fifth premiss of my anti-materialist argument.
Can an omnipotent being create a stone too heavy for him to lift? If not, he is not omnipotent. But if so, he is not omnipotent either, since there is something he cannot lift. Hence there can be no omnipotent being. J .L. Cowan's recent reformulation of this paradox of omnipotence (this Journal, vol. III, no. 3, March, 1974) has been sharpened through a number of objections and clarifications, and, in its final form, constitutes a significant problem for the analysis of the concept of an omnipotent agent. I will develop fragments of two systems in which the problem can be defined more exactly, and try to indicate some formal guidelines within which constructive steps towards a solution may be possible. I will argue that the paradox shows the need for a special kind of restriction on omnipotence that can be distinguished from some related restrictions.
It is customary to dismiss such queries as ‘Can God create a being he cannot control?’ and ‘Can God create a knot he cannot untie?’ with the comment that such questions in fact fail to specify a task for God to perform. The reason given is that omnipotence is included in the idea of God, with the alleged result that such expressions as ‘a being God cannot control’ and ‘a knot God cannot untie’ contain contradictions. J .L. Cowan has argued that this conventional response is mistaken, and subsequently expanded upon this contention in reply to some of its critics. I shall try to show that Cowan's defense of the coherence of expressions like these is mistaken, and with it his conclusion that since an omnipotent God clearly cannot perform such tasks the concept of omnipotence is self-contradictory.
Cowan has no quarrel with one assumption of the customary reply. If the specification of a task is self-contradictory, he agrees that the inability of God to perform it is no blemish on his omnipotence.