Friday, November 5, 2010

A Thing of This World

Review Article: Chronicling the Post-Kantian Erosion of Noumena -
In the conclusion, Braver returns to Kant, presenting once again the guiding hypothesis of the book: Kant as the common ground between the analytic and continental tradition. His most interestingly speculative claim is that the two traditions emerge from an internal dichotomy within Kant’s system:

My claim is that continental thought follows the spirit of his epistemology, while analytic thought follows the practical (which is rather ironic, given analytic philosophy’s emphasis on epistemology and continental’s insistence on the ubiquity of the ethical). Continental thought embodies the spirit of Kant’s theoretical work: we are essentially finite beings conditioned by forces beyond our control, and the job of philosophy is to help us understand these, not overcome them; there is nothing beyond them. Analytic philosophy takes up the ethical ethos: although we may be conditioned by accidental features, philosophy uses reason to pierce these conditions so that we can find truth which escapes their influence. (501-502)

Ultimately, Braver presents continental philosophy as a constant struggle with human finitude and the way contingent factors therefore influence subjectivity and the practice of philosophy itself. On the other hand, the analytic tradition was begotten by the ambition of pure rational thought to escape existential finitude and grasp truth- and things- ‘in themselves’.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Probability, Necessity, and Infinity

Quentin Meillassoux, "Potentiality and Virtuality":

"We have at our disposal the means to reformulate Hume's problem without abandoning the ontological perspective in favour of the epistemic perspective largely dominant today. Beginning to resolve the problem of induction comes down to delegitimating the probabilistic reasoning at the origin of the refusal of the contingency of laws. More precisely, it is a matter of showing what is fallacious in the inference from the contingency of laws to the frequency (and thus the observability) of their changing. This amounts to refusing the application of probability to the contingency of laws, thereby producing a valuable conceptual distinction between contingency understood in this radical sense and the usual concept of contingency conceived as chance subject to the laws of probability. Given such a distinction, it is no longer legitimate to maintain that the phenomenal stability of laws compels us to suppose their necessity."