Thu Oct 8, 2009
Howison Library, 4:10–6 PM
NOTE: New date
Bas C. van Fraassen (San Francisco State University and Princeton University)
The Self–Beyond the Illusions of Reason
Empiricism, as a philosophical position, is associated first of all with a distinctive view of science as aiming at adequate representation of the phenomena rather than discovery of any deeper reality ‘behind’ the phenomena. What further views, on other philosophical issues, can be palatable to an empiricist? I’ll explore this with reference to philosophical naturalism, metaphysical realism, and the transcendence of the Self.
Having come to indexicality, self-reference, and Moore’s Paradox, the problem of the Self’s place in nature cannot be far behind. Is it possible to understand ourselves in the same way that we can understand natural phenomena? What Kant called the illusions of reason beckon here, but their false promises may be shown up if we subject the possibility of ‘objective’ scientific accounts of ourselves to a deeper logical scrutiny. While wishing to convey an existentialist theme, and though planning to present the material in non-technical form, the background to my argument includes technical literature about self-reference.
Thomason, Richmond “A Note On Syntactical Treatments Of Modality.” Synthese 44 (1980): 391-395.
Cross, Charles B. “A Theorem Concerning Syntactical Treatments of Nonidealized Belief”. Synthese 129 (2001): 335-341.
van Fraassen, Bas C. “Transcendence of the Ego: The Non-Existent Knight”, Ratio (new series) XVII (2004), 453-477.