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Disagreement and Communication among Various Philosophical Systems: A Biranian View SERGE MORIN MMNE DE BIgANt (1766-1824) often wondered how it can be that one metaphysical system will have some principles which are accepted as being "clear and distinct," and yet another system will reject these as being "obscure and confused" (0.I., p. 97). z What is the nature of this disagreement? Is it real or apparent? Is there any question of choosing between systems? Does it make sense even to talk of choice, here, and if so, what is to guide it? What is to count as evidence? And so on. Now in science such disagreement can usually be resolved, but the same cannot, it seems, be said for metaphysics. 3 Yet it would appear that here also we have a factual disagreement, "une opposition de fait" (0.I., p. 97). If so, then all one has to do is to bring both disputants together and show them what the facts are. This should bring an end to their disagreement. Now the difference, it would seem, is not a factual one, because after centuries we still see the same opposition arising time and again: "C'est la m~me division qui subsiste 6ternellement entre les philosophes sp6culatifs dont les uns prennent pour la base la subjectivit6 absolue, les autres l'objectivit6 absolue" (N.E.A., p. 357). Thus it would appear that there are no facts to which one may appeal in order to resolve this opposition. It may be simply a difference in the interpretation of the facts. If This paper may be read as a sequel to my "'Maine de Biran: une critique des th6ones physiologiques," Dralogue 12 (March 1973): 14-31. 2 Abbreviations (in their order of appearance): 0.1. ~Euvres m~dites de Maine de B~ran, ed Ernest Navdle, vol. 1 (Paris, 1859). N.E A. ~Euvres de Marne de Biran, vol. 14, ed. H. Gouhier (Pans: PUF, 1949). Several texts collected by Gouhier under the tttle "'Nouveaux Essais d'anthropologie " M.D.P. Biran, M~moire sur la d~composition de la pens~e, ed. Pierre Tlsserand, vol. 1 (Paris: PUF, 1952). I.H. Biran, Influence de l'habitude sur la facult~ de penser, ed Pierre Tisserand (Pans: PUF, 1954). N.C. CEuvres de Maine de Biran, vol. 13, ed. H. Gouhier (Parts: PUF, 1949) Several texts collected by Gouhler according to Tisserand's plan, including "'Nouvelles consid6rations sur les rapports du physique et du moral chez l'homme." J.I. Journal intime de Maine de Biran, ed. A. de La-Valette Monhrun, vol. 1 (Pans, 1927) P.J. (Euvres de Maine de Biran, vol. 1, ed. Tisserand (Paris: Alcan, 1920). Entitled by Tlsserand "'Le Premier Journal." P.P. M. Merleau-Ponty, La Ph~nom~nologte de la percepnon (Pans: Gallimard, 1945) C B.E. Fraser Cowley, A Critique of British Empirtc~sm (London: MacMillan, 1968). 3 As F.C.T. Moore tells us, "Marne de Biran often uses the word ~me~aphysics' loosely enough to be a near synonym of 'philosophy'. But he sometimes uses it to stigmatize a type of argument which he saw as the characteristic flaw of the leading metaphysical systems" (The Psychology of Maine de Biran ]Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968], p. 46). [2871 288 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY such is the situation, then how does one go about choosing the true interpretation? For by the nature of these metaphysical systems, if one is true, then the others must be very wrong. To answer this question we have to look at how and why these metaphysical systems were erected. Aside from possible psychological reasons, the different metaphysical systems appear to be attempts to offer a systematic explanation of the universe--a kind of "global" explanation. Each system has its special starting point or reference point which is accepted as evident, first, and indubitable. This reference point reveals which aspect of reality will be stressed at the expense of the others. Les syst6mes qui partent du possible de l'absolu ou du simple abstrait, comme ceux qui se fondent sur une exp6rience d6jtt compos~e, sont g6n6ralement sujets &prendre pour type de tous les modes intellectuels ou sensibles qu'ils...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 287-298
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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