The Fighting Mongoose

Philosophy, n. A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing. -Ambrose Bierce
A group weblog by the graduate philosophy students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Here's something from an email I sent to Adam:

"One approaches metaphysical inquiry with a number of beliefs. Many of these will not trace back to empirical beliefs, at least not in any direct way. These beliefs may be particular, as for example the belief that I was once a young boy, or they may be more general and theoretical, for example the belief that identity is transitive. One then develops a theory preserving as many of these ordinary beliefs as possible, while remaining consistent with science. There is a familiar give and take: one must be prepared to sacrifice some beliefs one initially held in order to develop a satisfying theoretical account. But a theoretical account should take ordinary belief as a whole seriously, for only ordinary beliefs tie down the inquiry."

Theodore Sider, Four-Dimensionalism

Now, I realize that such a methodology is not one that is exclusive to contemporary analytic metaphysics. Also, I am ready to admit that this may not be the best or even appropriate form of inquiry. However, I am suspicious of those positions that seem dismissive of this sort of project. Again, I may just be interpreting the continentals incorrectly, but it just doesn't seem to me that guys like Nietzsche, Heidegger, and the German idealists (as well as those crazy French postmoderns) are interested in engaging in the above-mentioned investigation. If it happens to be the case that they are, then I'll go and take a look at what they have to say. If not, I am still open to what their reasons may be as to why such a program as the one mentioned here might be wrong or ill-conceived.

3 Comments:

At 10:47 PM, Blogger Mark Arciaga said...

I certainly don't know enough about the continentals to comment on their method. But do these philosophers truly dismiss the project so described by Sider? I suppose that were I well-versed in continental philosophy, I would not call Sider's method ill-conceived or wrong. There would be no point in my doing so. Admittedly, there is something intuitively appealing about considering our ordinary beliefs the basis for inquiry.

 
At 2:34 PM, Blogger James Lee said...

Well, like I said, I'm not sure if they really are dismissive. First, I wonder if they are engaging in the same project to begin with. When Nietzche or Heidegger use the term 'metaphysics', do they mean the project given above, or something else entirely? What justifies their understanding of the term above Sider's?

 
At 8:09 AM, Blogger Jeremy said...

Why are you suspicious of those who dismiss such a program? If, as you admit to be a possibility, such an approach is flawed, why not dismiss it?

Certainly the program, as stated, is based on notions that are open to criticism. Notions such as what beliefs are, how they are differentiated, what theoretical consistency amounts to, etc. If you're interested in discussing those issues, or simply have a different perspective on them, how can a program such as that have any relevance to you?

 

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