On Philosophy: What Kind of Realism?

by Michele Marsonet. To what extent are we entitled to draw a border line between ontology and epistemology? To many contemporary thinkers a positive answer to this question looks attractive, mainly because it reflects convictions deeply entrenched in our common sense view of the world. However – they argue – anyone wishing to clarify the distinction between the ontological and the epistemological dimensions, without having recourse to unwarranted dogmas, should recognize that such a positive answer poses more problems than it is meant to solve. This is due to the fact that the separation between factual and conceptual is not sharp and clean, but rather fuzzy.[1] To this recognition another remark should be added. As long as humans are concerned – so the argument goes – the world is characterized by a sort of ‘ontological opacity’ which makes the construction of any absolute ontology very difficult. Our ontology is characterized by the fact that the things of nature are seen by us in terms of a conceptual apparatus that is inevitably influenced by mind-involving elements.[2] All this has important consequences on both the question of scientific realism and the realism/anti-realism debate. Read More

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Common sense and science

by Michele Marsonet.

1. Are there two images of man in the world?

          It has often been said in the context of contemporary philosophy that the scientific world-view is fated to replace the view of the world provided by common sense. It may be argued, however, that common sense holds a sort of methodological primacy over the aforementioned scientific world-view. For example, the thesis of the indeterminacy of radical translation entails the impossibility of establishing, in any absolute sense, what a scientific theory is talking about. We can say what a scientific theory deals with only by having recourse to our ordinary language, i.e., by assuming that we know and understand in advance what we are talking about normally, in our daily life. It follows that the speculative building of science cannot be conceived of as a form of knowledge which is totally independent of ordinary language and, therefore, alternative to it. According to such a stance, even scientific theories stem from the universe of meanings that belong to common language. Read More