Topics are arranged alphabetically in the INDEX.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Pioneers of Logic

Alice C. Linsley

Ancient logic

Plato’s view of reality was based on his belief that pattern can be seen in the order of nature and that we recognize pattern because it reflects the pattern intuitively grasped by the soul or inner person. The observable patterns in nature include the binary sets uniformly applied in the logic of the ancient world.

In mathematical terms, a binary set would be 1a+1b = {1} (binary set) in which the two entities are not equal. An example is male + female = human, but the male is larger and stronger than the female. The paradoxical nature of this is evident. This paradox was rejected as logical by modern pioneers in logic who, like Frege, insisted that 1+1 = a set of 2 and 2 = 1+1, a set of equals.

The anthropologist Levi-Strauss has demonstrated how binary logic is reflected in the thought of primitive peoples, and Jacques Derrida has shown how binary thinking is inescapable even in modern logic. This is because in a binary set we have more than one thing. Through disclosure or deconstruction, we find there are sets within sets.

Derrida saw the middle as a function by which binary opposites acquire extended meaning as merisms and reversals. These thinkers discovered in analysis of primitive myths that there are some universal ideas related to the most fundamental of human experiences such as birth, the Sun, and nourishment. This suggests weakness in nominalism, the view that there are no universal essences; that no abstract entities, essences, classes, or propositions have real existence.

Syllogistic reasoning

Aristotle (384-322 BC) is often credited with being the "father" of logic. He taught his students syllogistic logic. A syllogism attempts inference of one proposition from two premises. Each premise has one term in common with the conclusion. If (1)A = B, and (2)B = C, then (3)A = C. A standard-form categorical syllogism meets the following four conditions:

  1. All three statements are categorical propositions.
  2. The two occurrences of each term are identical.
  3. Each term is used in the same sense throughout the argument.
  4. The major premise is listed first, the minor premise second, and the conclusion is last.

Aristotle also deserves credit for modal logic because his evaluation of involves concepts like possibility, necessity, belief and doubt. He also identified several common fallacies

Aristotle dealt with the logical constants and, or, if ... then ..., not, and some and all. This is referred to as Naïve Set Theory because it relies on natural language to describe sets and the words and, or, if ... then, not, for some, for every are not subject to rigorous definition. Syllogisms may be useful in training young minds to reason according to a pattern, but they do not lead to discovery of anything new.

Naive sets are common in informal logic, but the 19th and 20th centuries saw the rise and refinement of formal logic, initiated by John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) and the brilliant mathematician Gottlob Frege (1848–1925).

John Stuart Mill

Mill was a British empiricist who formulated five principles of inductive reasoning in his A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive (1843). These are 1 Direct method of agreement2 Method of difference3 Joint method of agreement and difference4 Method of residue and 5 Method of concomitant variations.

John Stuart Mill
As an empiricist, Mill insisted that there is no metaphysical necessity. All necessity is conveyed in language and a matter of propositions. The world we describe propositionally is the world of our ordinary experience and observation. The ontology of the world is reflected in the language we use. Knowing the meaning of terms enables us to evaluate the importance of propositions.

Mill's Nominalism

Mill believed that the early versions of nominalism held that "there is nothing general except names." He was mistaken in this, as anthropologists subsequently demonstrated.

The earliest nominalism, as reflected in ancient lexemes, involved general names and complex related experiences including attributes and related ideas. Lexemes are the basis for early scripts such as ThamudicA solar lexeme such as Y or T or O represented a deified or divinely appointed ruler, his territory, his people, and all his resources such as water and gold. The Horite rulers are identified with the solar symbol Y: Yaqtan, Yishmael, Yitzak, Yisbak, Yacob, Yosef, Yeshua, etc. Other ancient lexemes include V, W and X.

Mill was correct that names of entities (nouns) have levels of meaning, or connotative variables. He showed that names denote either individuals or the attributes of individuals. A general name - white, for example - connotes an attribute and denotes all individuals that have that attribute. White connotes the attribute whiteness, and denotes all things that have that attribute.

Mill explored the variability of names through analysis of syllogisms. Here is one he used to illustrate that there is a connection between attributes connoted by terms, but the attributes are logically independent.

Consider the syllogism:
Man is mortal.
Socrates is a man.
Ergo, Socrates is mortal.
In the syllogism "man" and "mortal" are attributes. Given Mill's claim that attributes are logically independent, the major premise - Man is mortal - adds nothing to the truth of the propositions concerning Socrates. What matters is the particulars - Socrates and the attributes man and mortal. In other words, deductive inference cannot advance knowledge. There is nothing new discovered by the syllogism.

George Boole
George Boole (1815-1864) was an English mathematician and philosopher who developed some of Leibniz's ideas about the relationship between mathematics and logic in his book The Mathematical Analysis of Logic (1847). His later work An Investigation of the Laws of Thought, on Which Are Founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic (1854) presents a more complete system of symbolic reasoning.

Boolean logic is easy to understand. Begin with the idea that some statement (P) is either true or false. (He applies the law of the excluded middle). Then other statements can be formed, which are true or false, by combining these initial statements together using the fundamental operators And, Or and Not.

Boole's syllogistic reasoning did not place importance on the existential question, as happened with Aristotle. For Aristotle any proposition involving unicorns or satyrs, for example, would render an argument invalid. In Boole's view, anything named in a proposition does not imply that it in fact exists.

Consider the difference in their views:

All men are humans.  This implies the existence of men.
No maple trees are oaks.  This implies the existence of maple trees.
All unicorns are grand creatures.  This does not imply the existence of satyrs.

All men are humans.  This does not imply the existence of men. (Heidegger would love this!)
No maple trees are oaks.  This does not imply the existence of maple trees.
All unicorns/satyrs are grand creatures.  This does not imply the existence of unicorns/satyrs.

Gottlob Frege

Gottlob Frege
Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege is considered another founder of modern logic and the father of analytic philosophy. Frege's logic is now known as second-order logic.

His first major work was Begriffsschrift, published in 1879. In 1884, The Foundations of Arithmetic appeared, and this was followed by two volumes known by the German title Grundgesetze.

Frege's writings were largely ignored when first published, partly because the English philosophers were not capable of reading the original German. That would change with Bertrand Russell (1872–1970), whose knowledge of German made it possible for him to understand Frege and even to refute him.

Russell was introduced to the significance of Frege's work in logic through Giuseppe Peano (1858–1932), who he met at a conference in Paris in and both of whom saw the merit of his work.

In 1903, Russell wrote an appendix to The Principles of Mathematics in which he presented deficiencies in the assumptions that Frege made in Grundgesetze, which Russell recognized led to paradox or contradiction. Russell communicated this to Frege by letter and Frege's response was to accuse Russell of undermining the whole of mathematics.

Others influenced by Frege's work include Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947), Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951), Willard van Orman Quine (1908-2000), and the Logical Positivist Rudolf Carnap (1891–1970). In his Der logische Aufbau der Welt, Carnap attempted to apply the concepts of Principia Mathematica to his discourse about sense data, the external world and logic. Quine would go beyond the Vienna Circle’s position that philosophy is properly defined as the philosophic study of the language of science. Though Quine was not a scientist, he saw his philosophy as science.

Proper Names and Cognitive Value

Leibniz developed an approach to questions of necessity, possibility, contingency that served an important function within his metaphysics and epistemology. This is called modal metaphysics and it has important implications for logic. Carnap thought one could give a possible world semantics for the modalities of necessity and possibility by giving the valuation function a parameter that ranges over Leibniz's possible worlds. We will explore this under "Modal Logic."

Frege agreed with Leibniz that natural language is unsuited to formal logic. This led Frege to create a symbolic language in which logical relations and possible inferences would be clear and unambiguous.

Frege’s term for such a language -“Begriffsschrift” - may have been borrowed from a paper on Leibniz written by Adolf Trendelenburg, considered by Søren Kierkegaard "one of the most sober philosophical philologists I know."

Leibniz’s Problem: Why doesn’t ‘2+3 = 5’ reduce to ‘5 = 5’? Frege does not address this problem, but instead recasts it. Frege’s Puzzle is about the semantics of proper names.

(1) Hesperus is Hesperus. (Hesperus is a proper name for the planet Venus.)
(2) Hesperus is Phosphorus. (Phosphorus is a personification of the planet Venus.)

Each of these sentences is true. 'Hesperus' refers to the same object as 'Phosphorus' (the planet Venus). Nonetheless, (1) and (2), though synonymous, differ in what Frege called "cognitive value." Frege thus rejects John Stuart Mill's view that a proper name has no meaning above and beyond the object to which it refers. Frege develops this in his book Sense and Reference.

David Kaplan demonstrates how it is rationally possible to believe one while denying the other with this:

"I am David Kaplan", spoken by David Kaplan.
"He is David Kaplan", spoken by someone pointing at David Kaplan.
"David Kaplan is David Kaplan", spoken by anyone.

All express the same content and refer to the same individual. Yet each has a different cognitive value. Kaplan explains this by associating cognitive value with character rather than content, thus providing what seems a remedy to Frege's problem.

Frege's Concept-Writing

Frege's most famous work is Begriffsschrift (Concept-Writing: A Formal Language for Pure Thought Modeled on that of Arithmetic). It marked a turning point in logic. Here Frege demonstrates that true contents do not follow directly from other true contents. This requires a mediating system or what has come to be called axiomatic predicate logic. The book includes a rigorous treatment of functions and variables.

Frege declared nine of his propositions to be axioms, and justified them by arguing informally that, given their intended meanings, they express self-evident truths. In contemporary notation, these axioms are:










Frege wanted to show that mathematics grows out of logic, and devised techniques that took him beyond syllogistic and propositional logic to symbolic or formal logic. He accomplished this through his invention of quantified variables, which solved the problem of multiple generality.

Frege's symbolic logic was able to move beyond the logical constants and, or, if ... then ..., not, and some and all to more complex inferences. He prepared the way for the analysis of logical concepts by  Bertrand Russell (theory of descriptions), Kurt Gödel's incompleteness theorems, and to Alfred Tarski's (1901–1983) theory of truth. All owe a great debt to Frege's work.

Other philosophers who have responded to Frege's work include Saul Kripe (Naming and Necessity, 1980), David KaplanRuth Barcan Marcus, and Hilary Putnam. (We will look closer at Kripe's contribution when we study Modal Logic.)

Frege's Intention

In his work Frege intended to set forth a system to isolate logical principles of inference. He perceived the need for this because he saw that only formalized logic could be applied to the sciences. No longer would an intuitive element be permitted as an assumption/premise. It would be isolated and represented separately as an axiom. The proof was to be logical and without gaps.

Frege was an important influence on Russell who influenced Quine. Russell's work inspired Quine to pursue logic. Quine wrote, “Russell’s name is inseparable from mathematical logic, which owes him much, and it was above all Russell that made that subject an inspiration to philosophers.” In 1962, Quine wrote to Russell that “Principia Mathematica was what, of all books, has influenced me the most.”

Wittgenstein also studied Frege's work and in 1911, he wrote to Frege concerning his solution to Russell’s paradox (see below). Frege invited him to Jena to discuss his views. The two engaged in a philosophical debate, and Wittgenstein reported that Frege “wiped the floor” with him. However, Frege was impressed with Wittgenstein and suggested that he study with Russell at Cambridge.

Russell's Paradox and Wittgenstein's solution

Russell's paradox Z = {x : x is not a member of x}

If Z is a member of Z how can it not be a member of Z?

Is Z a member of Z? If yes, then by the defining quality of Z, Z is not a member of itself. This forces us to declare that Z is not a member of Z. Then Z is not a member of itself and so, again by definition of Z, Z is a member of Z. What we have here is the following contradiction: Z is a member of Z if and only if Z is not a member of Z.

In 1923, Ludwig Wittgenstein proposed to "dispose" of Russell's paradox as follows:

The reason why a function cannot be its own argument is that the sign for a function already contains the prototype of its argument, and it cannot contain itself. For let us suppose that the function F(fx) could be its own argument: in that case there would be a proposition 'F(F(fx))', in which the outer function F and the inner function F must have different meanings, since the inner one has the form O(f(x)) and the outer one has the form Y(O(fx)). Only the letter 'F' is common to the two functions, but the letter by itself signifies nothing. This immediately becomes clear if instead of 'F(Fu)' we write '(do): F(Ou). Ou = Fu'. That disposes of Russell's paradox. (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 3.333)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

David Bradshaw on the Relationship between Philosophy and Theology

University of Kentucky Professor of Philosophy, Dr. David Bradshaw, is interviewed in Moscow about the connection between Philosophy and Theology. Dr. Bradshaw is an Orthodox theologian and philosopher who explores the historic and current links between theology and philosophy.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Truth, Not Slogans

Alice C. Linsley

Americans love slogans as evidenced by the bumper stickers that adorn our vehicles. Campaign managers and public relations experts are not the only people who specialize in slogans. Christian congregations ride the slogan band wagon as well, reducing deep truths to cliches.

Terrorists have slogans designed to intimidate and inspire. Slogans can rally people to a cause, but people do not sacrifice their lives for slogans. They die for truth. When ISIS terrorists kidnapped 21 workers in Libya, a non-Christian from Chad was caught in the net. He could have joined his captors, but instead he chose to die. It is reported that some who watched Christians being killed in the Roman "games" jumped into the stadium to die with them.

The Obama campaign of 2008 gave us the slogan: Hope and Change, and hoisted this mantra: "Change we can believe in." These became so popular that hardly anyone paid attention to the 2012 slogan: "Forward" and many doubt that the present administration can take the nation forward. We are still waiting for change we can believe in.

In reality, nothing has changed. There is no moving forward as a people.

Read it all here.

Related reading: The Removal of Wisdom's Tongue; Seats of Wisdom; Who Laid the Foundations of Science?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Challenge of Heidegger's Terms

Alice C. Linsley

In our study of ontology, we have investigated Martin Heidegger's early thought and attempted to understand his contribution to the philosophical project. As with all contributions to the philosophical project, he builds on the work of others, especially Aristotle and Husserl, and he reacts against the work other philosophers, namely Descartes. Heidegger's replacement for terms such as subject, object, consciousness, and world is "Being-in-the-world", a term he created to avoid the subject-object (mind-body; extended-not extended) discourse that had dominated Western philosophy. He also exposed the weaknesses in Husserl's approach to consciousness.

Heidegger's Being and Time (Sein und zeit) is one of the most important philosophical works of the twentieth century. It is both a systematization of the existential insights of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche and a radicalization of Husserl's phenomenological account of intentionality. It is an original interpretation of the human condition expressed through Heidegger's unique use of terms. Because of the challenging vocabulary, Being and Time is one of the most difficult books to read. The fact that we are reading an English translation of a work written originally in German adds to the challenge.

Being and Time represents Heidegger's attempt at Destruktion of the Cartesian tradition that he believed was "ossified" - a rigid fossil. Or perhaps the Cartesian tradition is a stagnant pond covered with a film of algae so that everything important is hidden. That is how I would express Heidegger's concern, but by using this analogy, I run the risk of reimposing the very subject-object discourse that Heidegger sought to get beyond. I (subject) observe the pond scum (object). We can move away from this a few steps by speaking instead of Dasein's consciousness of water concealed by something. My awareness of the water is not based on my observation of the water, but on my prior experience that a pond holds water and algae grows on the surface of the water. There is something prior, as Heidegger notes in his understanding of being-in-the world. He has oriented ontology to Dasein rather than to objects. However, one must wonder how far we can move from the subject-object/mind-body discourse. (We do keep coming back to this binary feature, to merisms. In telling the story of ontology, we cannot escape it. Think Mobius strip: two edges, a single, indivisible unit.)

As we wrap up our study of Heidegger, it is helpful to review some of the neologisms that appear in Being and Time to see how Heidegger employs them.

Aletheia: Heidegger's German word for aletheia (truth) is Unverborgenheit, meaning unconcealment.

Attunement: Mood, neither knowledge nor contemplation. It is like background music that compels us to act according to the beat. Mood is the background of discourse in which we are already engaged and are expressing in our situation. Attunement arises from being-in-the-world. A mood manifests how one is and how one is faring; having a mood signals attachment (concern/care) to Dasein. Mood is why "being there" matters.

Being-in-the world: the basic and inescapable state of Dasein

Dasein: Human existence; "being there" in the sense of daily existence; being with
When a particular Dasein talks about its Being, it is as the self-evident "my Being". Dasein has two modes: authentic and inauthentic. Inauthenticity is expressed when Dasein flees in the face of its Being, its search for one's possibilities of Being; that is of not facing up to and acknowledging the meaning of one's existence. Authenticity requires facing the reality of our extinction/negation and coming to grips with the anxiety posed by our mortality.

Discourse: The articulation of the situation in which we currently find ourselves. The manifestation of our everyday existence. Called "uncovering" by Aristotle. Discourse in not simply articulation of Dasein's situation. It is also being-in-the world.

Clearing:  Heidegger uses the German word Lichtung, which relates to a clearing, as in a clearing in the woods. Since its root is the German word for light (Licht), it is sometimes also translated as "lighting," and refers to the necessity of a clearing in which anything at all can appear, the clearing in which some thing or idea can show itself, or be unconcealed. Hubert Dreyfus writes, "things show up in the light of our understanding of being." ( Being-in-the-World. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995. p. 163)

In the Eucharist, when the consecrated bread is broken in half and the two sides set apart, there is a clearing made for those who come to receive Christ.

Covering up: hiddenness, concealedness, disguise, buried

Ontic:  Heidegger often uses the term ontic in contrast to the term ontological. Ontological pertains to existence in general, whereas ontic is descriptive of a the plain facts of an entity's existence. What is ontic is what makes something what it is.

Present-to-hand:  There are three kinds of presence-at-hand:
  1. Entities within the world understood ontically 
  2. Dasein as Being-in a situation or a context 
  3. Understanding of Dasein which a particular Dasein already has. Dasein is always something "pre-ontological" in that it signifies being in such as way that one already has an understanding of Being.
Ready-to-hand:  Dasein's use of equipment, like a hammer, and our discovery or (uncovering) of the hammer's equipmentality. An object in the world with which we have meaningful dealings.

Towards-which: What our activity is directed toward, the goal of an action; for the sake of

Unheimlich : not being at home, unsettledness, existential groundlessness

Related reading: Glossary of Terms in Heidegger's Being and Time; Heidegger's Later Thought; George Pattison on Martin Heidegger; Merisms in Genesis; Heidegger and Aristotle

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Blind Science vs. Blind Faith: Some Thoughts on Breaking the Deadlock

Dallas Willard

Students in our colleges and universities live constantly in a tension between two authority systems: one more or less vaguely associated with science and the other with religion. Both systems are “blind” in the sense that the edicts they impose on thought and behavior are never, for the vast majority of people, reduced to anything close to understanding, verification, or proof. An illustration comes from a recent experience reported by one of my students.

Dallas Willard
This student was walking across campus with a professor whose field is religious studies. In their conversation, the student happened to mention the resurrection of Christ. The professor's response: The resurrection is inconsistent with the laws of physics. Now, in fact, the laws of physics lie at a considerable conceptual distance from phenomena such as human death and decay and their possible reversal. This particular professor in any case, would have little if any idea where to begin showing that resurrection conflicts with physics—or why it matters, if it does conflict. Indeed, who would? Very few, I would imagine. "Science" was vaguely invoked to end the discussion, just as in other contexts, "religion" is used for the same purpose.

But then the professor probably will never be confronted with the task of actually demonstrating how the resurrection is inconsistent with the laws of physics. The student in question, an extremely bright as well as devout young man, was too gracious (and perhaps stunned) to force the issue; and certainly he would have found it difficult to show that the resurrection and physics are not inconsistent or why it doesn't matter if they are.

It is painful to observe that our culture provides no friendly meeting place for the authorities of science and religion to engage in good‑faith efforts to understand the truth about our life and our world. How many people seek or find the preparation required to deal profitably with issues such as resurrection and the laws of physics? To be genuinely open to truth and able to seek it effectively is surely one of the greatest human attainments. I am convinced that it can come only as a gift of grace. It implies faith in a cosmic context where one no longer feels the need to hide, to invoke explanations that really explain nothing at all but simply enable one to hold a position with an appearance of reasonableness.

The professor who invoked physics is surrounded constantly with things and events for which no physical explanation yet exists, nor even the beginnings of one. Just look at the physics texts and see. A most obvious case is the existence of the physical universe itself, as well as of life and human consciousness. When confronted with the de facto inability of physics in this respect, the academically sanctified dodge is to invoke chance, along with huge spans of time, for everything to "work," and further, to invoke the promise of what science (really, physics) supposedly will be able to explain in the future as it continues to make progress. But chance is not something that can produce or explain anything. Rather, it is invoked precisely at the point where there is no known explanation or cause. And if something is, indeed, impossible, it will not help to have more time to get it done. We need a demonstration of the possibility, for example, of life's emerging from the inorganic, and then we can talk about time. But the assumptions of this "scientific" evasion are so complicated and culturally protected that most people confronting it do not realize they have been handed intellectual sawdust instead of bread.

Unfortunately, religion frequently invokes its own non‑explanations as a means of holding its ground. Usually these involve the idea that God's power is so great that we can say with reference to anything simply that He did it and thus have an explanation that protects us. There's no need to look further or think further.

Now God's act as an explanatory principle has an advantage over chance in that we all know something of what it is like for an act or choice to bring something about. Nothing comparable can be said of chance. Personality is a source of energy and causation with an intelligible structure. It simply is not a physical structure. But there is no good reason it should be, and once you think about it, every reason it should not. For if it were, the fundamental feature of human life and consciousness would be destroyed or reduced to illusion. As long as we recognize that knowledge does not reduce to physics, and as long as we understand that science is just knowledge, we have every right to speak of the possibility of a science that encompasses consciousness in divine and human forms along with the physical and whatever else there may be.

The impasse of authorities confronting authorities (or intimidating others) begins to dissolve when prepared and thoughtful people devote themselves to the humble examination of facts and evidence rather than to defending their positions. It is difficult to imagine anything more necessary and Godlike than this. We must escape the cultural deadlock that is turning universities—and churches—into places of “right views,” rather than thought and knowledge, and producing a Christian personality split into a religious side and a professional, intellectual side which never come into contact.

Important work of reconciliation needs to be done. Progress is possible if a vast number of Christians, devoted and qualified, will permeate all dimensions of society and bring the Spirit and power of Christ to bear upon the points where the authority structures of the intellectual professions are in blind conflict with genuine faith in Jesus Christ.

From here.

Related reading: Reasons to Believe; The Folly of Scientism by Austin L. Hughes; C.S. Lewis on Christian Apologetics

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Heidegger and Aristotle

Alice C. Linsley

Martin Heidegger's early morning lectures at the University of Freiburg focused on the writings of Aristotle. The lectures became known as the "Aristotle breakfast club" and Heidegger's scholarly approach to Aristotle, which was philological, historical and phenomenological, influenced many of his students. Some became scholars of classical and pre-Socratic Greek philosophy; among them were Hans-Georg Gadamer, Hannah Arendt, and Leo Strauss. Strauss once wrote that Martin Heidegger impressed him as no other contemporary thinker had.

The influence of Aristotle on Heidegger's work should not be underestimated. He wanted to understand how Aristotle renders a practical understanding of being. In books IV, VI and XI of the Metaphysics, Aristotle defined ontology as the science or theory of being qua being (ὂν ἢ ὀν). It is significant that he expresses it this way and Heidegger took this as his cue to explore being qua being.

Another significant influence on Heidegger's thought was Edmund Husserl. Heidegger pointed out the weaknesses in Husserl's conception of consciousness and cognition, and in developing his thoughts he came to recognize that he was once again dealing with Plato and Aristotle. He wrote, "Phenomenology radicalized in its ownmost possibility is nothing but the questioning of Plato and Aristotle brought back to life: the repetition, the retaking of the beginning of our scientific philosophy." (History of the Concept of Time: Prolegomena, p. 136)

As Heidegger read long passages of Aristotle in Greek to his students, he explored the texts in a scholarly manner, drawing on philology, history, and literary criticism. He found that ontological research is essentially historical. It requires looking behind the text; being conscious of what can be seen through the text. He wrote, "It is necessary to surpass Aristotle - not in a forward direction in the sense of a progression, but rather backwards in the direction of a more original unveiling of what is comprehended by him." (Aristotle's Metaphysics [theta] 1-3: On the Essence and Actuality of Force, p. 69)

Related reading: Crash Course on Phenomenology; Learning to Question Narratives; Dreyfus on Metaphysics and Phenomenology; George Pattison on Martin Heidegger

Friday, January 30, 2015

Dreyfus on Metaphysics and Phenomenology

Hubert Dreyfus (age 85)

Hubert Lederer Dreyfus is an American philosopher and professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. His interests include phenomenologyexistentialism and the philosophy of both psychology and literature, as well as the philosophical implications of artificial intelligence.

Dreyfus is well known for making the work of continental philosophers, especially Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Michel Foucault, intelligible to analytically trained philosophers.

Dreyfus is especially known for his exegesis of Martin Heidegger. Dreyfus considers Heidegger's Being and Time (Sein und zeit) to be one of the most important philosophical works of the twentieth century. It is both a systematization of the existential insights of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche and a radicalization of Husserl's phenomenological account of intentionality. What results is an original interpretation of the human condition leading to an account of the nature and limitations of philosophical and scientific theory. This account has important implications for psychology, anthropology and sociology.

Here is an interview with Hubert Dreyfus on Metaphysics and Phenomenology.

Related reading: The Story of Ontology; Crash Course on Phenomenology