Toward a Critical Naturalism: Reflections on Contemporary American Philosophy

By Patrick Romanell | Go to book overview

II
A NATURALISTIC DEFENSE OF METAPHYSICS

Philosophy in the classical sense of a study of metaphysics has always had its detractors from the outside, but never before in its history as in recent years, does it seem to have been obliged to contend with so many militant critics from the inside. Consequently, today the question as to the proper task of philosophy is of the utmost importance and relevance. In fact, it is no exaggeration to declare that philosophy as a discipline is now in a state of crisis. Though the current crisis of philosophy should not be confused with that philosophy of crisis popularly known as "existentialism," there is no doubt that the two phenomena are intimately connected. Whatever be their connection with the modern revolt against reason, I must regretfully forego its discussion here and limit myself to a brief consideration of the underlying cause, from a technical philosophical standpoint, of the present predicament of professional philosophy.

The great illusion of classical philosophy was, doubtless, its claim to be in the possession of a superior method of knowledge. This pathetic claim was expressed in neat metaphorical language by the Kantian-sounding motto of the nineteenth-century Journal of Speculative Philosophy, the first philosophical periodical, incidentally, to be published in the United States of America: "Philoso-

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Toward a Critical Naturalism: Reflections on Contemporary American Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Contents xv
  • I - THE NEW NATURALISM IN AMERICA 1
  • II - A NATURALISTIC DEFENSE OF METAPHYSICS 15
  • III - THE LOGIC OF A CRITICAL NATURALISM 25
  • IV - JOHN DEWEY AND THE NATURALISTIC APPROACH TO ETHICS 39
  • V - DOES BIOLOGY AFFORD A SUFFICIENT BASIS FORETHICS? 48
  • VI - THE NATURALISTIC VIEW OF ETHICS 69
  • REFERENCES AND NOTES 83
  • Index 86
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