Tom Rockmore
Beth J. Singer
Copyright Date: 1992
Published by: Temple University Press
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    "[The book] illuminate[s] the philosophical urge to attain certainty and system, and especially system that is based on certain and indubitable ground. The historical approach works well.... This collection makes no pretensions, yet manages to deliver important contributions to the continuing inquiry." --John Lachs, Vanderbilt University The debate over foundationalism, the viewpoint that there exists some secure foundation upon which to build a system of knowledge, appears to have been resolved and the antifoundationalists have at least temporarily prevailed. From a firmly historical approach, the book traces the foundationalism/antifoundationalism controversy in the work of many important figures--Animaxander, Aristotle and Plato, Augustine, Descartes, Hegel and Nietzsche, Habermas and Chisholm, and others--throughout the history of philosophy. The contributors, Joseph Margolis, Ronald Polansky, Gary Calore, Fred and Emily Michael, William Wurzer, Charlene Haddock Siegfried, Sandra B. Rosenthal, Kathleen Wallace, and the editors present well the diversity, interest, and roots of antifoundationalism.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0093-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    My task here is to introduce a collection of original essays, arranged in historical order, concerning various issues of foundationalism and antifoundationalism throughout the philosophical tradition. An introduction should seek to present the book to follow, to lead into it, to induce the reader to follow along in the book; it should not seek to take the place of the book, by anticipating the arguments to follow. For that reason, rather than providing another essay on foundationalism and antifoundationalism, I limit myself here to preliminary remarks intended to characterize these alternatives, to show why they are problematic, and to justify...

  5. One The Limits of Metaphysics and the Limits of Certainty
    (pp. 13-40)

    Possibly the most mysterious and provocative remark in the whole of pre-Socratic philosophy is the famous fragment from Anaximander: “Out of those things whence is the generation of existing things, into them also does their destruction take place, as is right and due; for they make retribution and pay the penalty to one another for their offense [or ‘injustice,’adikía], according to the ordering of time.”¹ Martin Heidegger, following Friedrich Nietzsche, struggles manfully with the task of finding an ancient anticipation of his own insistence on the puzzle of the separation of plural things from the formless source of all...

  6. Two Foundationalism in Plato?
    (pp. 41-56)

    The several forms of foundationalist theories of knowledge aim to avoid infinite regresses of justifications through locating principles that stop the regress and justify whatever else is known. Strong forms of foundationalism require that these principles be in some sense self-certifying, for example, by direct presentation through sense perception or immediate intuition of the mind. Weaker forms of foundationalism allow that principles might merely be acceptable in some sense, for example, that they be prima facie acceptable or acceptable beyond a reasonable doubt.¹

    These various versions of foundationalism are not new. They have been around as long as philosophers have...

  7. Three Foundationalism and Temporal Paradox: The Case of Augustine’s Confessions
    (pp. 57-84)

    In book XI of theConfessionsSaint Augustine introduces a series of celebrated paradoxes, a dialectical chain of impasses and resolutions concerning the nature of time. This mind-numbing sequence of contradictions constitutes an argument from which Augustine appears to draw three conclusions. These are that: the present is the whole of temporal reality (that is, past and future are not “real” and thus not per se measurable); the present is a moment of pure passage without duration; and time itself is analytically resolvable into two discontinuous, independently real aspects, one subjective, the other objective. For the most part these distinct...

  8. Four Hierarchy and Early Empiricism
    (pp. 85-104)

    Foundationalism is a term of art, and one of recent vintage. It is also a term of criticism; those who espouse foundationalism seem to be rather defensive about it. The main target of the critics of foundationalism appears to be the views of logical empiricists and sense datum theorists. But these views are seen as being new incarnations of very old ideas, found articulated in a work as early as Aristotle’sPosterior Analytics. Foundational theories are said to have the following kind of structure. Any such theory has a set of basic theses that are self-evident or self-justified, or at...

  9. Five Hegel, German Idealism, and Antifoundationalism
    (pp. 105-126)

    This essay concerns the foundations of knowledge in German idealism, with particular attention to G. W. F. Hegel’s ambiguous interest in antifoundationalism. We can begin with a comment on the meaning of “German idealism.” There is an unfortunate tendency to consider this period as beginning with Johann Gottlieb Fichte and ending with Hegel. In my view this tendency should be resisted since it eliminates from consideration two of the most interesting thinkers of this or any other period: Immanuel Kant and Karl Marx. For present purposes, I shall understand German idealism as the wider period including both Kant and Marx....

  10. Six Nietzsche and the Problem of Ground
    (pp. 127-142)

    The history of metaphysics has largely been guided by what Leibniz calls “the grand principle” of ground whose concise formula states, “Nihil est sine ratione.” Nothing is without reason or ground, without ultimate explanation, without the certitude of dialectic presence. Moreover, the principle of ground signifies a system of concepts, a totality of connected ideas in a unique dialectic terrain that consolidates reason and ground. This peculiar but certain Oneness is first and foremost radically questioned by Friedrich Nietzsche. Indeed, one of the important aims of his philosophy is the undoing of the metaphysical identity ofVernunftandGrund. Thus,...

  11. Seven Like Bridges without Piers: Beyond the Foundationalist Metaphor
    (pp. 143-164)

    Foundational metaphors have long been privileged in philosophical writing. They have seduced even pragmatists. Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss, for instance, selected the following sentence from Charles Sanders Peirce as a fitting opening for their multivolume collection of his writings: “To erect a philosophical edifice that shall outlast the vicissitudes of time, my care must be, not so much to set each brick with nicest accuracy, as to lay the foundations deep and massive.”¹ No false modesty mars Peirce’s ambition to provide the basis for the human and physical sciences: “The undertaking which this volume inaugurates is to … outline...

  12. Eight Pragmatism and the Reconstruction of Metaphysics: Toward a New Understanding of Foundations
    (pp. 165-188)

    Though the understanding of a particular philosophic method is perhaps tile key to understanding any philosophic position, this is more than usually crucial to understanding the position of classical American pragmatism—that movement incorporating the thought of William James, John Dewey, Charles Peirce, C. I. Lewis, and G. H. Mead.¹ Various forms of inadequate appreciation for the systematic significance² of the pragmatic understanding of the creative dimension within scientific method and of its relation to human biologic activity had far-reaching results. Pragmatism was viewed as, on the one hand, foundationalist in its epistemological and/or metaphysical claims, and, on the other...

  13. Nine Metaphysics without Mirrors
    (pp. 189-208)

    In his well-known bookPhilosophy and the Mirror of NatureRichard Rorty attacks the mentalistic and epistemological foundationalism and universalist, antihistoricist pretensions of “mainstream” Western philosophy from René Descartes to contemporary “analytic” philosophy, and proposes a new approach to philosophizing. Along with Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger, W. V. O. Quine, and Wilfrid Sellars, he credits John Dewey with revealing the arbitrariness and confusion of the entrenched ways of doing and conceiving philosophy and with opening the way to a new and more appropriate approach. He nevertheless finds none of these philosophers to have articulated an adequate program, and in some...

  14. Ten Metaphysics and Validation
    (pp. 209-238)

    Metaphysics, it has been reputed, is dead, or has at least run out of things to say. Presumably at least some of us do not ascribe to such a view, even if we sometimes feel at a loss to articulate what it is that we do when we do metaphysics. I do not think that there are any easy answers to this, in part because I do not think we can overcome our perplexity on purely methodological grounds. In other words, in the spirit of Martin Heidegger,whatmetaphysics is, is itself a metaphysical question. In what follows, I first...

  15. About the Contributors
    (pp. 239-242)
  16. Index of Names
    (pp. 243-246)
  17. Index of Titles
    (pp. 247-251)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 252-252)