Inference and the Metaphysic of Reason: An Onto-Epistemological Critique

Inference and the Metaphysic of Reason: An Onto-Epistemological Critique

Inference and the Metaphysic of Reason: An Onto-Epistemological Critique

Inference and the Metaphysic of Reason: An Onto-Epistemological Critique


This book elucidates how the so-called “problem of inference,” long a matter of debate among philosophers of logic, epistemology, language, and other domains of speculation, is inextricably tied to the issue of how, in the classical idiom, Knowing is of Being. Motivating this project is an underlying question that guides the discussion throughout: namely, How is it most rational to orient ourselves in thinking about the way that the inferential intelligence articulates the actual? The principal task of the essay as a whole is to think-through this metaphysical question by addressing the Reason (Vernunft) of the act of inference critically and from an onto-epistemological standpoint.

Part I demonstrates how contemporary analytic epistemologies of inference, currently the leading speculative approaches to the topic, and earlier philosophies of inference fail in different ways to account, in sufficiently rational terms, for the Reason of inference—and by that token fail to explicate the onto-epistemology of discursive thought with due cogency.

Part II of the inquiry probes, along onto-epistemological lines, the conceptual logic of inference as act. In the process, Stambovsky reintroduces the notion that the principle of sufficient reason is on a par with that of (non)contradiction—at least in the conceptual logic of inference. Moreover, in an original yet broadly substantiated move the author argues that sufficient reason, so far as it is the signal principle that grounds the Reason of the act of inference, is in the first instance properly a function of formal cause.


As in science and in history, so in philosophy the ideal of thought
demands that no proposition be admitted into the body of knowl
edge except for sufficient reason, or, in logical terms, as the conclu
sion of an inference.

R. G. Collingwood, An Essay on Philosophical Method

This book is an inquiry into the reason of the act of inference. It investigates the nature of discursive thought conceived metaphysically, as the being of knowing. the “onto-epistemological” purport of this study differentiates it from what contemporary philosophers typically associate with “analytical metaphysics.” the first and third epigraphs on page eight, above, signal as much. the second indicates the underlying speculative end of this work, namely to elucidate the coincidence of inferential intelligence and the formal realization of fact. Beyond its metaphysical orientation, what sets apart the discussion in the chapters ahead from other philosophies of inference is a series of critical and constructive initiatives, enumerated below, that together establish a more deeply rational approach to the topic than those sponsored by either analytic epistemology or the older systematic expositions of inference as a species of judgment.

The introductory chapter sketches in a preliminary way the inquiry’s lines of investigation and principal emphases. After providing an overview of the three chapters that compose the core of the study, it delineates the onto-epistemological orientation to inference that distinguishes this investigation from other philosophical approaches. Lastly, the Introduction identifies and explicates the most distinctive heuristic component of this inquiry: Kant’s metaphysical notion of “positing” (Position oder Setzung)—the concept that Kant identified with the concept of being in general (Sein überhaupt).

Part I of the core exposition is a two-chapter critique. the first, chapter 2, assesses several leading analytic philosophies of inference, while the second, chapter 3, probes two important metaphysically keyed doctrines from the decades immediately preceding the period that saw analytic epistemologies of inference come to dominate the . . .

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