On the Concept of "The World"

Review of Metaphysics 31 (4):555 - 579 (1978)
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CONSIDERING the vast extent of its use, the idea involved in the terms "the world" and "the universe" has received less than adequate philosophic attention. Common speech, religion, literary art, theoretical physics, and philosophy all seem to require and apply the terms frequently. Yet it is safe to say that no one is very confident about their meaning and that no appreciable range of meaning has developed cumulatively. In their most rudimentary and most insistent sense, the terms suggest "everything," "all there is," and perhaps we must in some way cling to this sense, whatever else we emerge with. Some people like to speak of an all-embracing totality, but they are uncertain about what is implied. Beyond this, and more precariously, "the world" is often tied to the notion of a whole or wholeness, regarded not only as inclusive, but as an overarching unity which encompasses whatever pluralities there are, and as an overarching continuity which encompasses whatever discontinuities there are. These ideas are notoriously full of difficulties, although it may be questioned, as it will be here, whether the most serious underlying difficulties have been identified or metaphysically formulated in a satisfactory way.



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Local Naturalism.Lawrence Cahoone - 2009 - Contemporary Pragmatism 6 (2):1-23.

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