Quick Thoughts

On page 13 of Williamson’s Philosophy of Philosophy, after a brief historical interlude which examines the development of necessary conditions for analytic philosophy, he claims the following:

“For those who deny the methodological priority of language to thought, the minimal fallback from Dummett’s three tenets is to reject the third but maintain the
first two. They assert that the goal of philosophy is the analysis of the structure of thought, and that the study of thought is to be sharply distinguished from the
study of the psychological process of thinking, but deny that the only proper method for analysing thought consists in the analysis of language. If thought has
constituents we may call them concepts. On this view concepts take the place of words in Dummett’s analytic philosophy.”

Hegel, it could be argued, does something quite similiar here. In the two Prefaces and the Introduction to the Wissenschaft der Logik, he addresses both issues, especially with regard to language. Williamson then claims that conceptual philosophy puts Intentionality at the centre of its philosophy. Can Hegel be said to do the same? Is there something like Intentionality in Hegel’s work?

Modern Philosophy can be characterized as an analysis of our access to the world. That is, the proper task of a philosopher is an investigation into the nature of our access to the objects constitutive of the world. Ours is a philosophy of access. Instead of talking directly about objects, those physical objects that exist in causal spatio-temporal relations, we philosophers investigate our means of access to this world. Language, Thought, Concepts, etc. Michael Dummett’s description of philosophy, I think, best captures the spirit of modern analytic philosophy. Dummett:

“Only with Frege was the proper object of philosophy finally established:                 namely, first, that the goal of philosophy is the analysis of the structure of        thought; secondly, that the study of thought is to be sharply distinguished from the study of the psychological process of thinking; and, finally, that the only proper method for analysing thought consists in the analysis of language…The acceptance of these three tenets is common to the entire analytical school.”

Modern philosophy, both so-called Continential and so-called Analytic, has a built-in default meta-mechanism in which the inquirer is necessarily blocked from inquiring philosophically into the nature of the world. If one ventures into this forbidden territory, a slew of insults await. Our Indiana-Jones philosophy has “regressed” to a pre-critical metaphysics. Embarrassing indeed. My question regards Hegel’s relationship to both Ontology and Metaphysics. To what extent does Hegel disagree with the philosophy of access? And, if he does, how should we understand Metaphysics in the work of Hegel in order that we avoid the shouting protesters?
Trascendental Ontology investigates the ontological conditions of our conditions of access to what there is. The existence conditions of our conditions of access to the world. The claim here seeks to include the subject within the domain of objects that exist in the world. That is, because the subject exists alongside other objects in the physical world, and because an essential feature of the subject is its access to the world, conditions of access to the world too must be included within any proper ontological-domain. “The subject exists, that the analysis of the concept of existence is, hence, methodologically prior to the analysis of the subject’s access to existence.” We are then led to inquire into the nature of being such that the nature of being is such that it can reflect on itself as being. What about being leads to this state of affairs? Zizek hits on this point in his rather informative study of Schelling (which I’ve not read in its entirety):

“the problem is not ow to attain the noumenal In-Itself beyond phenomena; the true problem is how and why does this In-Itself split itself from itself at all, how does     it acquire a distance from itself and thus clear the space in which it can appear”?

Reductive naturalism (RN) is the enemy. While historically related to logical positivism and good ol’ logical empiricism, which in pretense claimed to avoid all metaphysical sentiments and propositions, RN in spite of itself makes the worst of metaphysical blunders. When one makes claims about entities beyond the kin of possible experience, one is said to engage in metaphysical speculations. God, Freedom, Soul, The World. If we understand, additionally, that a part of metaphysics is the attempt to account for the World, or to engage in a philosophical act of totality then, RN commits a dialectical contradiction. A dialectical contradiction occurs when a contradiction emerges between the motivational act of a system and a propositional consequence of that motivational act. So, if one’s motivational act is to disengage from metaphysical statements, yet one’s system is based on a metaphysical commitment then we can conclude that one’s system contains a dialectical contradiction. What is the dialectical contradiction in RN? RN makes the following claim: Everything that exists exists within the causal, spatio-temporal domain of possible experience. Furthermore, everything which exists, known to exist or to be known to exist (known unknowns, even unknown unknowns) exists within this causal, spatio-temporal domain of possible experience. In this way, all that exists will be determinate within RN. The whole will be determined according to the ontological-theory of RN. RN operates according to a metaphysical thesis constituted by the following transcendental claim:
EC: objects exist only insofar as they exist in a domain of spatio-temporal              causal relations.

This formulation captures a condition for the possibility of a possible determination. In order for an object to appear, or to be, it must meet this existence-conditions laid down by RN. However, how does the RN go about justifying EC (Existence-Condition)? One can’t employ the consequent properties of one’s existence-domain as justification for itself! The RN is either led into an infinite regress or a vicious circularity.


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