Beyond Realism and Idealism

By Wilbur Marshall Urban | Go to book overview
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Chapter VI
Beyond Realism and Idealism (continued). Objections to the Preceding Dialectical Solution.

I --


IN THE preceding chapter we have presented the process of dialectical transcendence by which, as we believe, the enlightened philospher may come to the insight that the cognitive 'values' embodied in the opposition of realism and idealism are not contradictory and that when the irrefutable minimal presuppositions of both positions are critically examined there is no reason why they should not be found complementary.

It goes without saying that a position such as this will scarcely commend itself to the majority of philosophers. For those in whom the opposition is so hardened that defence of their chosen position has become a large part of their intellectual life, the response can be only that of indignant repudiation. For many the method of solution proposed will arouse only amused contempt. With neither of these emotional attitudes am I, of course, concerned. But there are really plausible if not convincing objections, and these it is incumbent upon us to consider. There are at least three points which should, I think, be singled out for special examination. There is (a) the objection to the whole idea of the dialectical method in general, and especially to its application to a problem such as this. There is (b) the objection that the position described as beyond realism and idealism is in unstable equilibrium and must, in the end, pass over into some form of idealism or realism. (c) Finally, there is the objection that, even if such a position were conceivable or plausible, it could not be shown to be true; for dialectic is concerned with explication of meanings, never with knowledge in the sense of verification or demonstration.


Any philosopher who introduces the notion of dialectic and dialectical method at all is, of course, bound to be open to the gravest suspicion as to his philosophical competence. He is immediately charged with doing violence to the sacred principle


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