The Theory of Knowledge and Existence

The Theory of Knowledge and Existence

The Theory of Knowledge and Existence

The Theory of Knowledge and Existence

Excerpt

The title of this book would seem to indicate that it takes for its provinces both epistemology and metaphysics. First and foremost, however, it is an essay in epistemology. But the theory of knowledge which it advocates has implications regarding the nature of existence. Whether these implications are held to belong to metaphysics will depend upon how metaphysics is defined-- itself a difficult problem. I have, however, followed two principles in this matter. I have, firstly, dealt only with those questions regarding the nature of existence the answers to which seemed to be necessarily bound up with my epistemological premisses, and which, therefore, I could not avoid without leaving my work a torso. I have nowhere sought them out for their own sakes. Secondly, I have rigidly avoided any problem which I should regard as belonging to 'transcendental' metaphysics. My stand- point throughout is strictly empirical. This will be found more fully explained in the text. I would only add here that this exclusion of transcendental questions is not to be regarded as due to a contempt for them, or to an opinion adverse to their claims upon the human spirit. My view rather is that empiricism and transcendentalism do not clash (as has been commonly supposed), but are simply aiming at different ends, each of which may be quite legitimate. And as the inquiries on which this book is engaged are empirical inquiries, it appeared right to exclude transcendental issues.

One advantage at any rate it is worth while to claim for this procedure. When philosophers discuss transcendental problems, such as the ultimate nature of Reality with a capital R, or the first cause of the universe, there is . . .

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