Method in Metaphysics

Method in Metaphysics

ANDREW BEARDS
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 448
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442688605
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  • Book Info
    Method in Metaphysics
    Book Description:

    In the last few decades, analytical philosophers have rediscovered an interest in the subject of metaphysics. Surveying the contributions made by these philosophers,Method in Metaphysicsinitiates a critical dialogue between analytical metaphysics and the philosophy of Bernard Lonergan. It argues for a basic method in metaphysics, a method that arises from a critically grounded epistemology and cognitional theory. In addition, it serves as a much-needed overview and introduction to current trends in analytical metaphysics.

    Andrew Beards shows how Lonergan's philosophy can help to clarify not only particular issues in current debates but also the larger question of a basic method. He goes on to apply this method to topics at the forefront of discussions in contemporary philosophy - topics such as universals, tropes, events, causality, and the metaphysics of the self and the social. While the main focus of the study is on Lonergan and analytical philosophy, Beards also introduces the philosophies of Whitehead, Husserl, and Derrida into the debate. He brings Lonergan's critical realist philosophy into finely textured dialogue with a number of well-known contemporary metaphysicians such as Dummet, Putnam, Lewis, and Kripke.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8860-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-9)

    ‘Metaphysics’ in this book is taken to mean knowledge of reality acquired through philosophical reflection and analysis. I think that all of the philosophers whose work is discussed in this book, and who believe that metaphysics is a worthwhile pursuit, would endorse this initial definition. However, one may observe immediately that this description of what metaphysics is about includes within it reference to our cognitive processes. Metaphysics, we have said, is knowledge achieved through philosophical investigation. This at once suggests that it is in some fashion distinguished from other ways in which we might acquire knowledge of reality, of the...

  5. 1 The Revival of Metaphysics
    (pp. 10-19)

    It cannot be denied that there has been a quite remarkable revival of interest in metaphysics in Anglo-American philosophical circles during the last thirty years or so. Both those energetically pursuing research in metaphysics and those who look upon this ontological turn in analytical philosophy with grave suspicion are witnesses to the fact. It might, of course, be objected that metaphysics has never really disappeared from analytical thought, and there is certainly some truth in this contention. The work of Peter Strawson, who did much in the 1950s and 1960s to keep alive interest both in metaphysics and in the...

  6. 2 From Epistemology to Metaphysics
    (pp. 20-58)

    As was noted in the previous chapter the issue of method is recognized in one way or another to be crucial by those involved in the renewal of metaphysics. The need for a viable philosophical method was felt keenly by Bernard Lonergan and the attempt to elaborate such a method, a method also applicable in the field of metaphysics, is central to his intellectual endeavours from the 1940s until his last work in the early 1980s. The very notion of ‘method,’ of course, can be off-putting, to say the least. To many philosophers it conjures up images of the kind...

  7. 3 The Question of Method
    (pp. 59-96)

    In the previous chapter I outlined and defended Lonergan’s critical realist position on knowing. That position was seen to involve an account of our coming to know proceeding on three levels of conscious activities described as experience, understanding, and judgment. The validity of the claim that objective knowledge is attainable was seen to be established by arguments to the effect that coming to know the activities so outlined was a case of objective knowledge of reality. The attempt to deny the same was seen to be self-defeating, for the evidence that one did perform cognitional acts is found in the...

  8. 4 Metaphysics of the Self
    (pp. 97-122)

    The title of this chapter is in some respects misleading from the viewpoint of Lonergan’s philosophy, since the issues I propose to discuss arise in the area of what is referred to as ‘philosophy of mind,’ and Lonergan’s metaphysical position clearly regards mind as but one aspect of the human self or person. It is indeed the central feature of the human self, but is nevertheless a part of a larger metaphysical whole. In order to provide a more complete metaphysical account of the self or person one would need, at the very least, to engage in an inquiry as...

  9. 5 On Knowing and Naming
    (pp. 123-140)

    A mini revolution within the Anglo-American tradition in the last few years has resulted from the challenge made to what was regarded as the orthodox account of naming and reference that emerged from the work of Frege and Russell. This Frege-Russell position has been attacked over the last three decades by Saul Kripke, Hilary Putnam, and Keith Donnellan, and has been defended, usually in some modified form, by such notables as Peter Strawson, Michael Dummett, and John Searle.

    From the viewpoint of Lonergan’s philosophy, this debate on the philosophy of language within the analytical tradition has some interesting features. Nathan...

  10. 6 Natural Kinds: From Description to Explanation
    (pp. 141-192)

    The view that the Socratic endeavour to discover definitions that would yield insight into the essences of beings is at best illusory and at worst a kind of violent attempt to impose the categories of a particular human culture upon the non-human world has been gaining ground in one way or another for the last two centuries. German idealism, inspired by Hume’s attempt to liberate humankind from its perennial illusions as to its capacity to receive genuine answers from the interrogation of mother nature, moved from theories of ‘category imposition on the data’ to more disturbing anthropological accounts, in Schopenhauer...

  11. 7 Universals, Tropes, Substance, and Events
    (pp. 193-242)

    In an earlier chapter we saw Alex Oliver’s bold statement of confidence in the renaissance of metaphysics underway in many quarters in analytical philosophy. However, emphasis was also placed upon Oliver’s insistence that such a renewed interest in metaphysical questions on the part of philosophers in the analytical tradition is taking place in a context that pushes to the foreground the fundamental methodological questions concerning the possibility and scope of metaphysics. Such methodological concerns must be present in the mind of the analytical metaphysician if he would justify such a revival of interest in the face of the opposition of...

  12. 8 Causality
    (pp. 243-268)

    Daniel M. Hausman’s book is a good example of current work being done by analytical philosophers on the metaphysics of causality.¹ Hausman not only presents us with his own attempt to identify the defining characteristics of causality, principally in terms of various types of asymmetry in causeeffect relationships, and in terms of his Independence thesis, but he also provides a useful survey of approaches taken by other analytical philosophers, including influx theorists, Lewis’s counterfactual analysis, and agency theory. For the latter he has considerable sympathy although he pinpoints weaknesses in some current philosophies adopting this method of analysing causality, and...

  13. 9 Dispositions, Development, and Supervenience
    (pp. 269-296)

    Since Strawson’s dismissal of process metaphysics in his 1959 workIndividuals,analytical metaphysics, even in the phase of renewal and growth in the last two decades, has been marked by a lack of attention to metaphysical questions of growth, development and history. One might have the impression from reading the work that has gone on in possible-worlds semantics, and in the discussion of the constitution of individuals in terms of tropes, universals, or whatever, that recent analytical metaphysics demonstrates a penchant for the enumeration of the contents of the Platonic heavens rather than a concern with the ontological structures of...

  14. 10 Metaphysics of the Social
    (pp. 297-331)

    The analytical and continental traditions of modern philosophy during the twentieth century were characterized by antisolipsism in both epistemology and metaphysics. This reaction against Cartesian introversion can be seen in the stress placed upon the social dimension of language in the Anglo-American tradition, in which the ordinary language analysis of thinkers such as Austin and Wittgenstein became a dominant influence. In the continental world of philosophy emphasis was placed in phenomenology upon intersubjectivity, fellow feeling, and the immediate relation of the self to the other. In the case of Husserl, a dominant figure in the latter philosophical tradition, there is...

  15. Conclusion
    (pp. 332-342)

    This book has explored what contributions Bernard Lonergan’s philosophy can make to the renaissance in metaphysics underway in Anglo-American philosophy. It has been argued that Lonergan’s methodical development of a metaphysics based upon a critical realist epistemology provides a way forward for those concerned with foundational issues pertaining to how metaphysics is to be elaborated. Lonergan’s critical realism proves effective, I believe, in resolving issues of metaphysical method arising from current debates over realism and antirealism, for it shows the way beyond impasses created by the Kantian tradition in epistemology. The upshot of Lonergan’s view is that we are not...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 343-366)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 367-374)
  18. Index
    (pp. 375-383)