Domingo, 20 de Janeiro de 2013
Mistakes about Phenomenalism and Idealism on «Metaphysics, the Key Concepts»

The British authors and teachers of Philosophy  Helen Beebee, Nikk Effingham and Philip Goff wrote in his book «Metaphysics»:


«Phenomenalism and idealism are closely related philosophical positions and basically amount to the view that the external world (and the familiar objects that populate it - trees, cars, bananas and so on) is really no more than a collection of sensations or experiences or sense data. As George Berkeley put it, "esse es percipi" or "to be is to be perceived". Phenomenalism and Idealism are both version of anti-realism(...); because on both views the existence and nature of the external world are mind-dependent (indeed the external world are mind-dependent (indeed the external world just is mental, it is just a collection of sensations).»(Helen Beebee, Nikk Effingham and PhilipGoff, Metaphysics, The Key Concepts, pages 162, Routledge, London and New York, 2011; the bold is put by me).


It is true that for idealism the external world just is mental but that is not a correct definition  for phenomenalism as a hole. Phenomenalism is not, necessarily, anti-realism. There can exist four versions of phenomenalism: idealistic (like Hume, Kant), realistic, phenomenological, skeptical. What is phenomenalism? It is empiricism: the view that we only know the phenomena, the objects as they appear to us, the data-sense, and that we can only infer, by metaphysical intuition, in a vague way, the nature of what is behind the phemonena (an unknown matter, as realism says; a spiritual world or nothing, as idealism sostains; something unknown, as skepticism).


Why was David Hume an idealistic phenomenalist?  Because he sostained that the permanence of the objects and their matter were ideas of our imagination, and not realities in themselves. However, no author of analitical philosophy classifies Hume as an idealist: they don´t have a clear vision of ontognosiology. Idealism is beyond empiricism, on the ontological plan. And Kant was also an idealistic phenomenalist: he maintaind that we only know the phenomena (for example: houses, dogs. cities, humans bodies), which are creations in our external mind (the space), and that the real objects are the the noumenon, metaphysical beings outside of space and time, that is, outside the sensibility of each person (noumenon : God, Soul, Freedom).


«Phenomenalists and idealists do not want to deny obvious facts such as the fact that my feet still exist when I am asleep, and the difference between them comes to exactly how they account for those facts. Idealism - the position advocated by Berkeley -  appeals to the existence of God: you might not feel your feet when you are asleep, but God is all-seeing, and he perceives your feet, thus ensuring their continued existence.»(...)

«Phenomenalism makes no such appeal to God. On the phenomenalist view an object is (as J.S.Mill put it) a "permanent possibility of sensation».

  (Helen Beebee, Nikk Effingham and Philip Goff , Metaphysics, The Key Concepts, pages 163, Routledge, London and New York, 2011)


It is an error to assure that « phenomenalists and idealists do not want to deny obvious facts such as the fact that my feet still exist when I am asleep». In fact, the phenomenalist David Hume has doubts about the existence of our feet when we are sleeping, since the notion of permanence resides in us, in our mind, and not in the problematic external world, including our body. Of course some idealists and phenomenalists guarantee the invariably permanence of our feet organically linked to body while sleeping,  but not all support this opinion.


Another error of this text above is to postulate that «Idealism - the position advocated by Berkeley -  appeals to the existence of God». Some kind of idealistic Buddhism holds that the world is illusion and there is only my spirit and need not conceive of God. Even Descartes, when formulating the reasoning «I think therefore I am», plunges into solipsistic idealism without needing the existence of God.


«The phenomenalist denies that there is any distinction between the way the world is and the way our experiences represents it as being.»(Helen Beebee, Nikk Effingham and Philip Goff , Metaphysics, The Key Concepts, pages 165, Routledge, London and New York, 2011).


This is a falsehood. All phenomenalists distinguish between the sensa-data, the way they perceive the problematic external world, and the partially or totally ignored constitution of these last. For example, Kant, a phenomenalist, distinguish between phenomena and noumenon, the unknown reality. Only the naive realism identify the content of the external world and the content of empirical perception of it.


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© (Direitos de autor para Francisco Limpo de Faria Queiroz)

publicado por Francisco Limpo Queiroz às 21:22
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Sábado, 15 de Dezembro de 2012
Misconceptions on Max Scheler ´s theory

.Notwithstanding being a thinker of high quality, German phenomenologist Max Scheler (August 22, 1874 - May 19, 1928), slides on the ice of some theoretical mistakes on explaining the different  onto-gnosiological currents. He wrote:


"A third principle of sociology of knowledge, which is simultaneously a knowledge theory, asserts that there is a law of fixed order  at the origin of our knowledge of reality, ie, " capable of action ", and in the concretion of spheres typical  and constant of human consciousness and its correlative object spheres. Let´s indicate what are the spheres of being and objects mutually irreducible  before enumerating the law. They are: a) the sphere of Absolute real and valuable, the Holy b) the sphere of contemporary, ancestors and descendants, ie, the sphere of society and history, or of the "other", c) the spheres of the world outer and the inner world with the sphere of his own body and his environment; d) the  sphere of what is considered "alive"; e) the sphere of the dead corporeal world that appears as "dead." The theory of knowledge did several tests untill today- there is no reason why exposing it here - to reduce each other these spheres of being, whose content changes as naturally in a constant way in history: either the inside world to the outside world (Conte , Mach, Avenarius, materialism); either the outside world to the inside world (Berkeley, Fichte, Descartes); either the sphere of absolute to other spheres  (for example, trying to "infer" casualy existence and essence from a divin principle) either the world's life from previous world  (as the "introafectiv" theory  of life, for example, in Descartes and in Lipps); either admiting   the existence of contemporaneous to previous existence of the inner world and of outer corporeal world  (theory of awareness of other consciences by means of  analogic inference introafection); either  the distinction between subject and object in general to the previous existence of the "next", to which someone "introjects" first integral he part of the environment, by example, "this tree", soon to be internalized by the own person by the viewer's (Avenarius);  either  the own"body" to a mere associative coordenation and of self perception of the I and of organic sensations and the own body's  perceived from outside. '


"All these tests are, in principle. erroneous. The spheres  are irreducible and as given spheres,  the same primary mode with entire consciousness. What, yes, we can show to the fullest extent is that there is an order to give up and to precede these spheres, which is subject to an essential  law and remains  constant throughout all the possible evolution of man . I mean: each sphere is already "achieved" in the entire state of evolution, when the other sphere is not yet, and is implemented in a specific way when the other is still so undefined. Secondly, the reality of an object of a certain essence within each of these spheres can still "be questioned", or you can let it "undecided" when it can not be doubting, or you can  leave undecided the reality of an object of a certain essence in other spheres. Leaving therefore aside, the place of the sphere of the Absolute, in this order, the following law is valid, fundamental for the purposes of our sociology of knowledge: the "social sphere of contemporaneous " and the "historic sphere of  ancestors" precede in this sense all other spheres: a) in reality b) in a content and in given content  . The "You" is the most fundamental category of existence in human thinking. '


"Therefore, among the primitive, is applied equally to all phenomena of nature; all nature is primarily for them an expressive field and a "language"of spirits and demons hidden behind the phenomena. I add some other equally important laws of precedence: 1) The sphere of outside world always precedes the one of the inner world. 2) The world regarded as "alive" always precedes the world regarded as "dead", ie simply "not alive." 3) The outside world of other contemporary subjects  always precedes what  "I" as individual possess and what i "know" precisely about  the outside world; and not least the world outside of "my" contemporary always precedes the  interior world of "my" contemporaries. 4) The inner world of contemporary, ancestors and posterity (as prospect of expectation) always precedes my own inner world as a sphere. That means: all self analysis is - as Thomas Hobbes saw clearly - only a "drive me" with myself as if I were "other"; the self analysis is not a self observation is not an assumption, but a consequence and imitation of the of the observation of others. 5) My own body and every alien body precedes as expressive field (not as tangible object) any distinction between body and soul (ie, "inner world") '(Max Scheler, Sociology of Knowledge, p. 60 - 62, Editorial Leviatán, Buenos Aires, 1991, the emphasis in bold is put by me).


There are some inaccuracies in the text. Scheler confuses many plans here: the one of factual ontology, up to date, (realism, idealism, phenomenology, or neutral monism /empirio-criticism) with the ontogenesis (spiritualism / nousalism, materialism, nousmaterialism). He mixes different kinds of genres, which is anti dialectical. The supreme gender ontology is divided into several species - updated ontology (being present), ontogenesis (the principles of being or paramount being ) ontology of the future - each of which is a genre subdivided in species.


Moreover, it is incorrect to say that the currents that reduce the inside world to the outside world are exemplified in Mach and Avenarius. These two theorists of empirio-criticism, the precursor of logical positivism, merge the inside with the outside,  eliminating both, on sustaining that the material bodies are complex of sensations. We do not see that the interior is reduced to the outside ... and the reverse doesn´t happen in empirio-criticism? This one is neither realism (ontological dualism) - Scheler calls this, with some imprecision, materialism - nor idealism (ontological simple monism ).


Also it is not exact to classify Descartes  as one speciman of the philosophers that reduce the external world to the inner world: Descartes only did this reduction in the  moment of absolute doubt - and in subsequent moments of "I think therefore I am " and of  "If I exist as mind and I possess some perfections, there must exist a being more perfect that me that created me, God " - because, at the end of his reasonings on this subject, he admitted that there exists a world outside of matter, though free from color, odor, weight, hardness, taste, sound (critical realism of primary and secondary qualities).


Moreover, if the realism. idealism, Empirio-criticism of Avenarius and Mach and phenomenology (perceived in the sentence above: either the Existence of contemporaneous admiting to previous Existence of the inner world and outer of corporeal world (theory of awareness of other consciences by means of analogic inference introafection) are "erroneous", what remains in pure gnosiology? Scheler drift to sociology, to sociological principle of the individual depending on the masses or social class of the interior and the exterior of the function, and does not explain, in fact, what is his gnosiological position.


On the other hand, when writing "3) The outside world of other contemporary subjects always precedes what " I "possess as individual and what I know precisely about the outside world", Scheler is denying that creativity and knowledge of an individual can overcome and precede - in the ontological sense of the word: be original, to be before - the creativity and knowledge of his contemporaries.  It is the same mistake that Hegel committed on saying that an individual, however he is creative, can never exceed the spirit of his people.





Scheler wrote further:


"Admitting reality and a certain constitution of society and of history within which there is a man  is, Therefore, far from on founding to admit  reality A Certain admit constitution of the so called the" corporeal world "or the contents of Certain interiorself perception, the many continues to believe yet. It was in vain that there existed numerous philosophers who deny that there is a real world, extensive, dead (Plato and Aristotle, Berkeley and Fichte, Kant and Leibniz, etc..) but very few that deny the existence of a real animal or even a plant. "(Max Scheler, Sociology of Knowledge, p. 62, Leviatán Editorial, Buenos Aires, 1991, the emphasis in bold is put by me) 


Schele tries, in this excerpt,  to demarcate from realism ("corporeal world" in itself or self subsisting) and from idealism (the material world as "inner self percepction") and affirms the supremacy of vitalism, in the sense that the universe is alive . But vitalism is a species of a genus different from ontological genus whose species are realism and idealism and phenomenology. There is a vialistic realism and no vitalistic realism, i.e, a mechanical or mechano-chemical realism.


About Plato, Scheler errs on saying that he denied the reality of a dead and exterior world. And on Aristotle, Scheler is also wrong because the Greek philosopher admitted that this space is extensive, extramental, filled with matter of various natures.

Plato's conception of the world is a realistic view, "materialist" if we want to say it in a way a bit surly: matter is real and exists independently of human minds. Moreover, it is eternal, and stays before humanity existence. Plato is the antithesis of Kant, on onto-gnosiology. It seems Schopenhauer did not   stress sufficiently this difference between them, before exalting the similarities. Plato is realistic, whereas Kant is idealistic.

The so-called idealism of Plato should be designated, yes, realism of Ideas-object. These forms are objective, transcendent, which occupy a place outside of human minds, on the invisible and highest sky. In Plato's theory, there is, indeed, an extensive  worl, originally dead: a space filled with a diffuse matter, shapeless, the Chora. It amazes that Scheler alignes Aristotle and Plato, realistic, next to Berkeley, Kant and Fichte, idealistics. It is a serious lack of clarity.The doctorates in philosophy don´t filter, don´t debug, the lode gold of intellectual thought from the gangue of metaphysical or logical errors. Scheler, one of the few that deserves a title of doctor of philosophy at the university ideal, committed, nonetheless, paralogisms.


© (Direitos de autor para Francisco Limpo de Faria Queiroz)

publicado por Francisco Limpo Queiroz às 11:55
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