Re: [quickphilosophy] Re: 1.12; 1.13; 1.2 & 1.21

  • From: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 10 Sep 2010 09:01:01 +0100

The supposed distinction between rationalism and empiricism seems to me 
hard to sustain with clarity.  Come to that, Kant dismisses both realism 
and idealism as being mistaken by virtually of both being 
transcendentally realist, and thereby subject to contradictions.

Hegel seems to belong under "rationalism" (thanks to Walter for a good 
example of why) although he has also been described as the source for 
modern anti-rationalism.  And then again, it's perhaps helpful to 
remember that rationalism might well be seen in opposition to 
authoritarianism rather than empiricism.

I'm not altogether clear on your position or your reasons for holding 
it.  In what sense do you regard W as rationalist, and why?  And with 
respect to what do you regard him as realist?

I don't really know what is meant by saying that a body of work is 
literal nonsense.  So, at least to that extent, I don't agree with 
Diamond et al.  Nor would I regard knowing the author as necessarily 

Almost any piece of writing can be found to have a meaning.  And this 
does not necessarily relate to authorial intent.  Computer generated 
poetry has been sometimes been regarded as meaningful.  Religious texts 
are frequently found to have many, sometimes contradictory, meanings.

And the example of religion is perhaps not irrelevant. Anscombe's 
comments make more sense if they are a description of a journey of 
revelation rather than the assumption of a reasoned position.  As I said 
earlier, there must be many routes to a position that relies only on a 
rational exposition of our situation in the world - it cannot be the 
case that there is only one journey by which it can be reached.  But 
contrarily, it can be argued that certain states may only be reachable 
by a particular kind of revelatory experience.  There seems some 
justification for regarding W as ultimately holding quasi-religious 
beliefs that could never be entirely meshed with his philosophical 
claims.  This line of thought also brings to mind Hilary Putnam's 
question "Why is it good to be rational?"

Or you could regard the TLP as a pseudo-Kantian argument that 
deliberately makes illegitimate use of particulars of the noumenal world 
in order to reach a position where the argument is thrown away because 
of its illegitimacy.  Whether that would be a good way to reach a 
Kantian conclusion is unclear to me.

On 10/09/2010 01:41, Ron Allen wrote:
> Hi Martin:
> Oh, I agree with you on rationalism vs. empiricism (epistemology) and
> realism vs. idealism (ontology). I think that Wittgenstein in the
> Tractatus is not idealist, but realist, and more rationalist than
> empiricist. Russell's logical atomism, by way of contrast, is much more
> empiricist, although one could argue that any form of logical atomism is
> rationalist in spirit.
> I agree with your classifications of Berkeley and Hume, and I'll just
> accept your expert judgment on where Kant fits into the
> epistemology-ontology picture. Not sure about Hegel as an empiricist,
> though. Of course, he was a keen student of the Enlightenment, and took
> pains to explain why its Napoleonic realization was so far off the mark,
> but his explanation relied heavily on a logic of being that could only
> be characterized as rationalist. So, I'd be tempted to paint Hegel as a
> rationalist.
> The empiricists within the Hegelian tradition would be Marx, Engels, and
> Lenin, and perhaps some later thinkers in the European Marxist
> tradition, such as Timpanaro. High culture Social Democracy rejected
> Hegel's dialectical logic, by and large, so his tradition does not
> continue within that intellectual milieu. I'm thinking that most 20th
> century Hegelians aren't realist-empiricists, i.e. materialists, but
> idealists instead. I guess Walter's gonna take us on a tour of
> McTaggart, so we'll see what's in there.
> Findlay's remark is intriguing. It does seem--for lack of examples and
> the consequence that they don't seem to have phenomenological properties
> (colors, for example)--that the simple objects in W's ontology really
> are Kantian things-in-themselves.
> OK, I guess we agree to disagree on TLP nonsense. But Anscombe did know
> the guy. You agree, then, with the austere reading (Conant/Diamond)?
> Thanks!
> --Ron

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