Plato's founding position in the tradition of epistemological nativism has been underestimated. In addition to his notorious, naively non-dispositional model of learning as recollection, Plato offers several neglected dispositional models of innate ideas, including Diotima's model of mental pregnancy in the Symposium, in which maturing mental embryos begin not with the actual content of the knowledge to be acquired, but with a specific potentiality that must be actualized through series of specific kinds of experience and mental activity. A survey of dialogues from Meno to Phaedrus shows that Plato typically favors such dispositional models, and that he raises doubts about the non-dispositional details of the recollection model where it occurs.
Augustine, Saint, Bishop of Hippo. Contra academicos.
Epicureans (Greek philosophy)
In Contra Academicos 3.11.24, Augustine responds to skepticism about the existence of the external world by arguing that what appears to be the world — as he terms things, the "quasi-earth" and "quasi-sky" — cannot be doubted. While some (e.g., M. Burnyeat and G. Matthews) interpret this passage as a subjectivist response to global skepticism, it is here argued that Augustine's debt to Epicurean epistemology and theology, especially as presented in Cicero's De Natura Deorum 1.25.69 - 1.26.74, provides the basis for a much more plausible, realist interpretation of Augustine's argument.
In this paper I explain how Spinoza's ontological monism is related to the monotheism of a distinct tradition in medieval Aristotelianism exemplified by Maimonides. My main contention is that Maimonides' God, conceived as intellectual activity has the same structure as Spinoza's Deus sive Natura. The main difference between them is that Maimonides' God is confined to cognitive activity, whereas Spinoza's God is extensive activity as well. I trace the impact of the medieval doctrine of God on Spinoza's thought from the Cogitata Metaphysica to the Ethics, establishing conceptual parallels, literary links, and an explanation of the steps leading from the former to the latter.
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm, Freiherr von, 1646-1716.
In this paper, I investigate Leibniz's conception of final causation. I focus especially on the role that Leibnizian final causes play in intentional action, and I argue that for Leibniz, final causes are a species of efficient causation. It is the intentional nature of final causation that distinguishes it from mechanical efficient causation. I conclude by highlighting some of the implications of Leibniz's conception of final causation for his views on human freedom, and on the unconscious activity of substances.
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, 1770-1831. Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts.
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, 1770-1831 -- Political and social views.
This paper offers a distinctive interpretation of Hegel's Doppelsatz from the Preface to the Philosophy of Right: 'What is rational is actual; and what is actual is rational'. This has usually been interpreted either conservatively (as claiming that everything that is, is right or good) or progressively (that if the world were actual, it would be right or good, but that there is a distinction that can be drawn between existence and actuality). My aim in this paper is to argue against both interpretations, so that the position I offer is neutral between the two. My claim is that when Hegel identifies what is actual with what is rational in the Doppelsatz, his intention is not to offer a normative assessment of what is actual; rather, it is to suggest that genuine philosophy must be committed to reason in its methods of inquiry, if it is to properly undertake an investigation into the "spiritual universe" as well as the "natural" one. The Doppelsatz is thus a defence of philosophical rationalism, rather than a normative claim about "was ist wirklich".
What is at stake philosophically for Russell in espousing logicism? Peter Hylton has argued that Russell has a narrowly metaphysical motive for defending logicism. He maintains that for Russell in the early years of the twentieth century "logicism was the basis for a complex argument against idealism, of both the Kantian and the non-Kantian varieties." In particular, Russell was interested in refuting certain Idealist views on the nature of truth, by showing that mathematics could be true in an unqualified sense. By contrast, I argue that the purposes for which Russell intends to use logicism are chiefly epistemological and mathematical in nature, and that the refutation of post-Kantian idealism is not among them. Russell uses logicism to give an account of the character of mathematics and of mathematical knowledge that is compatible with what he takes to be the uncontroversial status of this science as true, certain and exact. The unqualified truth of mathematics is a starting point for Russell, not a destination.
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, 1770-1831 -- Influence.
Philosophy, German -- Public opinion.
Public opinion -- United States -- History.
From 1882 to 1903, Dewey explicitly espoused a Hegelian philosophy. Until recently, scholars agreed that he broke from Hegel no later than 1903, but never adequately accounted for what he called the "permanent deposit" that Hegel left in his mature thought. I argue that Dewey never made a clean break from Hegel. Instead, he drew on the work of the St. Louis Hegelians to fashion a non-metaphysical reading of Hegel, similar to that championed by Klaus Hartmann and other Hegel scholars since the 1970s. This reading of Hegel is remarkably consistent with Dewey's mature philosophy. Although Dewey abruptly repudiated Hegel during World War I, I contend this reflected the exigencies of war rather than philosophical concerns.