Categories of Being: Essays on Metaphysics and Logic

Categories of Being: Essays on Metaphysics and Logic

Categories of Being: Essays on Metaphysics and Logic

Categories of Being: Essays on Metaphysics and Logic

Synopsis

This edited volume is a comprehensive presentation of views on the relations between metaphysics and logic from Aristotle through twentieth century philosophers who contributed to the return of metaphysics in the analytic tradition. The collection combines interest in logic and its history with interest in analytical metaphysics and the history of metaphysical thought. By so doing, it adds both to the historical understanding of metaphysical problems and to contemporary research in the field. Throughout the volume, essays focus on metaphysica generalis, or the systematic study of the most general categories of being.

Beginning with Aristotle and his Categories , the volume goes on to trace metaphyscis and logic through the late ancient and Arabic traditions, examining the views of Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and William Ockham. Moving into the early modern period, contributors engage with Leibniz's metaphysics, Kant's critique of metaphysics, the relation between logic and ontology in Hegel, and Bolzano's views.

Subsequent chapters address: Charles S. Peirce's logic and metaphysics; the relevance of set-theory to metaphysics; Meinong's theory of objects; Husserl's formal ontology; early analytic philosophy; C.I. Lewis and his relation to Russell; and the relations between Frege, Carnap, and Heidegger. Surveying metaphysics through to the contemporary age, essays explore W.V. Quine's attitude towards metaphysics; Wilfrid Sellars's relation to antidescriptivism as it connects to Kripke's; the views of Putnam and Kaplan; Peter F. Strawson's and David M. Armstrong's metaphysics; Trope theory; and its relation to Popper's conception of three worlds. The volume ends with a chapter on transcendental philosophy as ontology.

In each chapter, contributors approach their topics not merely in an historical and exegetical fashion, but also engage critically with the thought of the philosophers whose work they discuss, offering synthesis and original philosophical thought in the volume, in addition to very extensive and well-informed analysis and interpretation of important philosophical texts. The volume will serve as an essential reference for scholars of metaphysics and logic.

Excerpt

Leila Haaparanta and Heikki J. Koskinen

Metaphysics has traditionally been understood as “first philosophy,” a discipline inquiring into the fundamental structure of reality as a whole and providing the most general categorial framework within which the pursuits of the various special sciences are conducted. in much of the twentieth-century analytic tradition, however, the aims and claims of metaphysics were treated with suspicion or even outright hostility. Despite the fact that in the beginning of the century analytic ontology had briefly flourished in logical atomism à la Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein, philosophy’s focus on language and logic, effected largely by studies in the foundations of mathematics, soon led the discipline into a linguistic turn, which was inimical to metaphysics both in the form of logical positivism and in the form of ordinary-language philosophy. F. P. Ramsey’s linguistically motivated critique of the universal-particular distinction together with his redundancy theory of truth helped to sow seeds of suspicion. Militant hostility toward metaphysics was epitomized by the Vienna Circle, and especially by its leading intellectual figure, Rudolf Carnap, who explicitly wanted to overthrow all metaphysics and replace it with research into the syntax and semantics of formal languages.

By the early 1960s prejudices against metaphysics were beginning to soften. Two centrally influential figures in this respect were W. V. Quine and P. F. Strawson, who themselves came from the two main branches of the anti-metaphysical linguistic turn. At present, it is generally agreed that a clearly recognizable rediscovery of metaphysics has occurred and that this central subdiscipline is undeniably back on philosophers’ agenda. the revival is evidenced by an ever growing number of research papers, journals, monographs, anthologies, textbooks, reference works, and conference programs on various topics in metaphysics. Even if the subtitle of Strawson’s Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics caused some lifting of eyebrows back in 1959, by the end of the century the time was ripe for publishing a five-volume series with the no longer provocative-sounding title Analytical Metaphysics. This collection of essays, edited by Michael Tooley, presents an extensive overview of original metaphysical work undertaken by twentieth-century analytic philosophers.

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