Kant's masterpiece, Critique of Pure Reason, is universally recognized to be among the most difficult of all philosophical writing, and yet it is required reading in almost every course that covers modern philosophy. Most students find Critique of Pure Reason impenetrable without the help of secondary sources. While there are numerous advanced scholarly works on the topic, Dicker's is the first treatment explicitly designed for undergraduates to read alongside the primary text, rendering Kant's views accessible without oversimplifying them. His book (...) will be useful to both undergraduate and graduate students tackling this notoriously difficult yet highly influential thinker in courses in modern philosophy, epistemology, and Kant. (shrink)
A solid grasp of the main themes and arguments of the seventeenth century philosopher Rene Descartes is an essential tool towards understanding modern thought, and a necessary entree to the work of the empiricists and Immanuel Kant, and to the study of contemporary epistemology and philosophy of mind. Clear and accessible, this book serves as an introduction to Descartes's ideas for undergraduates and as a sophisticated companion to his Meditations for more advanced readers. After a thorough discussion of the main (...) themes and arguments of the Meditations, the historical background of the work, and its critical reception, the author offers his own reflections on Cartesian doubt, the cogito, the causal and ontological proofs of God's existence, the Cartesian circle, Cartesian dualism, and Descartes' views of the material world. The commentary includes and cross-references the full text of Meditations I, II, and V, and most of Meditations III and VI, employing John Cottingham's highly-praised translation. (shrink)
David Hume's _Treatise on Human Nature_ and _Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding_ are amongst the most widely-studies texts on philosophy. _Hume's Epistemology and Metaphysics: An Introduction_ presents in a clear, concise and accessible manner the key themes of these texts. Georges Dicker clarifies Hume's views on meaning, knowledge, causality, and sense perception step by step and provides us with a sharp picture of how philosophical thinking has been influenced by Hume. Accessible to anyone coming to Hume for the first time, _Hume's (...) Epistemology and Metaphysics_ is an indispensible guide to Hume's philosophical thinking. (shrink)
This book grew out of the lectures that I prepared for my students in epis temology at SUNY College at Brockport beginning in 1974. The conception of the problem of perception and the interpretation of the sense-datum theory and its supporting arguments that are developed in Chapters One through Four originated in these lectures. The rest of the manuscript was first written during the 1975-1976 academic year, while I held an NEH Fellowship in Residence for College Teachers at Brown University, (...) and during the ensuing summer, under a SUNY Faculty Research Fellowship. I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the National Endowment for the Humanities and to the Research Foundation of the State University of New York for their support of my research. I am grateful to many former students, colleagues, and friends for their stimulating, constructive comments and criticisms. Among the former stu dents whose reactions and objections were most helpful are Richard Motroni, Donald Callen, Hilary Porter, and Glenn Shaikun. Among my colleagues at Brockport, I wish to thank Kevin Donaghy and Jack Glickman for their comments and encouragement. I am indebted to Eli Hirsch for reading and commenting most helpfully on the entire manuscript, to Peter M. Brown for a useful correspondence concerning key arguments in Chapters Five and Seven, to Keith Lehrer for a criticism of one of my arguments that led me to make some important revisions, and to Roderick M. (shrink)
Dans son Discours de Métaphysique‚ Leibniz maintient que le concept individuel d'une substance comprend et permet la déduction de tous ses prédicats, et certains prédicats d'une substance lui appartiennent néanmoins d'une manière contingente. Arnauld objecta contre Leibniz que implique la fausseté de — ce qui démontre, selon Arnauld, l'absurdité de . En puisant les réponses de Leibniz à Arnauld dans leur Correspondence, l'auteur soutient que la position de Leibniz, pourvu qu'elle soit interprétée à la lumière des principes générales de sa (...) métaphysique, peux tenir compte d'une distinction véritable entre les propositions nécessaires et contingentes touchant les substances individuelles. Les prédicats d'une substance qui sont liés avec d'autres prédicats de la même substance grâce à une vérité gouvernée par le Principe de Contradiction sont nécessaires ; tandis que ceux qui sont liés avec d'autres prédicats grâce seulement aux principes de Raison Suffisante et de Perfection sont contingents. Mais ceci n'empêche pas que les prédicats contingents autant que les prédicats nécessaires peuvent être déduits du concept individuel complet d'une substance. (shrink)
ABSTRACT E. M. Curley has said that Descartes’ cogito, ergo sum “is as obscure on examination as it is compelling at first glance.” Why should that be? Maybe because the cogito raises so many textual and interpretive questions. Is it an argument or an intuition? If it is an argument, does it require an additional premise? Is it best interpreted as a “performance?” Is it best seen as the discovery that any reason proposed for doubting its success entails the meditator’s (...) existence? And so on. But all these questions typically arise in the wake of worries about the cogency of the cogito when it is treated as an argument and worded in its canonical form, “I think, therefore I exist.” In this essay, I focus on what I take to be the most fundamental reason for questioning the cogito’s cogency when it is so treated—namely that the “I” in its premise is question-begging. I distinguish that reason from other reasons that are sometimes conflated with it, and I argue that it is not a good reason. I then comment on some of the questions mentioned above in light of my defense of the cogito seen in that traditional way. (shrink)
In William L. Rowe’s “The Ontological Argument,” an essay that appears in the most recent editions of Feinberg’s Reason and Responsibility and as a chapter in Rowe’s Philosophy of Religion, Rowe reconstructs Anselm’s Proslogium II argument for the existence of God, surveys critically several standard objections to it, and presents an original critique. Although Rowe’s reconstruction is perspicuous and his criticisms of the standard objections are judicious, his own critique, I argue, leaves Anselm’s argument unscathed. I conclude with some programmatic (...) remarks about what a more adequate critique of Anselm’s argument should do. (shrink)
In (Noûs, 47), I defend a version of the Refutation, pioneered by Paul Guyer in Kant and the Claims of Knowledge, whose core idea is that the only way that one can know the order of one's own past experiences, except in certain rare cases, is by correlating them with the successive states of perceived external objects that caused the experiences. Andrew Chignell has offered a probing critique of my reconstruction of Kant's argument (Philosophical Quarterly, 60), and I have responded (...) (Philosophical Quarterly, 61). In a rebuttal of my response, Chignell raises three new objections (Philosophical Quarterly, 61). My purpose in this paper is to reply to these. (shrink)
In this paper I explore the relationship between the “Humean” regularity view of causation, the view that a cause is a necessary condition of its effect, and the asymmetry of causation—the principle that if an event e1 causes e2, then it is false that e2 causes e1. I argue that the regularity view, in combination with the view that a cause is a necessary condition of its effect, is inconsistent with the asymmetry of causation, and that the inconsistency can be (...) removed by a modification of the view that a cause is a necessary condition of its effect that captures what is plausible in that view. I defend Hume, then, against the objection that he cannot accommodate a cause as being a necessary condition of its effect without absurdly denying the asymmetry of causation. This is only a limited defense, though, for I do not address the issue on which the tenability of the regularity view ultimately depends: viz., whether it can distinguish between causal laws and accidental generalizations without appealing to natural necessity. (shrink)
Georges Dicker here provides a commentary on John Locke's masterwork, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding-the foundational work of classical Empiricism. Dicker's commentary is an accessible guide for students who are reading Locke for the first time; a useful research tool for upper-level undergraduate and graduate students; and a contribution to Locke scholarship for professional scholars. It is designed to be read alongside the Essay, but does not presuppose familiarity with it.
Why does Hume think that the “distinct existence” of sensible objects implies their “continu’d existence”? Does Hume have any reason for thinking that objects have an intermittent existence, other than that they lack a “distinct” existence? Why does Hume think that the inference from the “coherence” of our impressions to the continued existence of objects is “at bottom” considerably different from causal reasoning? The answers proposed are, respectively, that perceptually delimited objects would for Hume be causally dependent on being perceived; (...) that Hume’s collapse of the object/perception distinction leads him to the view that objects have as “gappy” an existence as our perceptions of them, and that cases of coherence falsify the generalizations that would need to hold for inferences from coherence to qualify as causal reasoning. (shrink)
I argue that philonous gives two versions of the argument from perceptual relativity--One for the secondary qualities and another for the primary. Further, Both versions ultimately turn on the epistemological assumption that every case of perceiving, Regardless of the conditions of observation, Is a case of "knowing" the character of some "object". This assumption is made in order to avoid a vicious regress that arises when one tries to understand how perceptual knowledge is possible.
I have previously argued that within an argument to show that we cannot perceive the causes of our sensations, Berkeley's Philonous conflates a psychological and an epistemic sense of 'immediately perceive', and uses the principle of perceptual immediacy (PPI), that whatever is perceived by the senses is immediately perceived. George Pappas has objected that Berkeley does not operate with either of these concepts of immediate perception, and does not subscribe to (PPI). But I show that Berkeley's argumentative strategy requires him (...) to use these two concepts, and that the concept of immediate perception Pappas attributes to Berkeley would weaken this strategy. I also defend attributing to Berkeley a slightly modified version of (PPI), on which it both serves his strategy and allows sense perception to incorporate what he calls 'suggestion'. (shrink)
Anyone familiar with some of Dewey’s major works knows that they are highly critical of nearly all that has traditionally passed under the name of “epistemology” or “theory of knowledge”. Even a casual reading of a few chapters of Reconstruction in Philosophy, The Quest for Certainty or Experience and Nature reveals Dewey’s iconoclasm toward “that species of confirmed intellectual lock-jaw called epistemology”. The source of this attitude is Dewey’s belief that all theories of knowledge previous to his own are based (...) upon an unexamined and mistaken conception of knowing. This is that knowing is a relation between a knower and a thing known, in which the knower is essentially a viewer or passive spectator of the thing known. Knowing is conceived on the analogy of seeing an object; it is, as Dewey says, “modeled on what [is] supposed to take place in the act of vision”. For Dewey, it is not a matter of consequence how the two members of the knowledge-relation are described. Whether the knower is identified with the self and the thing known with a material thing, or the knower with the mind and the thing known with an idea or collection of sense-data, or the knower with the knowing “subject” and the thing known with the “object”, is not important. Dewey’s contention is that no matter how one characterizes the spectator and the thing known, this conception of knowing is fundamentally mistaken, mythological. He collectively dubs all theories which share it “The Spectator Theory of Knowledge”. This common label reflects the fact that for Dewey theories as different as direct realism and epistemological dualism, British empiricism and continental rationalism, are simply variations on the same unlikely theme. (shrink)