Tag Archives: epistemology

Criticizing Aristotle on “substance”

Here’s a simplified criticism of the Aristotelian theory of substance. For Aristotle, a substance has three components: matter, form, and accidents, each playing a different explanatory role. Consider a tree. It’s one thing, but also a member of a particular natural … Continue reading

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Spinoza, Platonist?

Spinoza notoriously argues that there is only (and could only be) one substance (Ethics 1p14), “God or nature” (1p29s) and everything else, including human persons, is just a “modification” of the attributes of God (2p10). But he has a very high bar for … Continue reading

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Placing Nature in the “Space of Reasons”

I’ve expressed my admiration here before for McDowell’s development of Sellars’s distinction of the “space of nature” from the “space of reasons,” but I’ve also criticized him for side-stepping the metaphysical problems that arise from his determination to see the … Continue reading

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Perception, Knowledge, and Being

The discussion in the Theaetetus really takes off when Theaetetus tries out his first definition of knowledge, suggesting that it’s “nothing other than perception” (οὐκ ἄλλο τί ἐστιν ἐπιστήμη ἢ αἴσθησις) (151e). Socrates immediately equates this definition with the sophist Protagoras’s claim that “Man … Continue reading

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Intension vs. Extension in the “Theatetus”

Plato’s Theaetetus really gets going when Socrates asks Theatetus to define knowledge (145e), and Theaetetus answers with a list: whatever you can learn from Theodorus (Theaetetus’s teacher), or (perhaps implicitly) another expert: disciplines such as geometry, and crafts such as cobbling. Socrates then … Continue reading

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Perception and Concepts in Brandom’s “Articulating Reasons”

From Wilfrid Sellars and from Hegel (“Sense Certainty” in the Phenomenology), Brandom suggests, we learn “that even such noninferential reports [as color perceptions] must be inferentially articulated” (48, and cf. my discussion of roughly the same point in McDowell). “Without that … Continue reading

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Brandom’s Got No Soul

Brandom, like McDowell, wants to tell “a story” in which human animals as “initially merely differentially responsive creatures can be initiated into the implicitly normative social practice of giving and asking for reasons” (26, cf. chs. 1-3 of Making It … Continue reading

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