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Title: The naturalisation of transcendental idealism
Author: Irvine, B. T.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2008
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In the early section of the thesis I argue for a position which endorses what is usually considered to be an unacceptable paradox: the paradox of the Naturalisation Idealism (hereafter, ‘the paradox’). The paradox occurs most vividly in the work of Arthur Schopenhauer, a philosopher who claimed notoriously that the brain is responsible for the ideality of the whole world even though the brain is itself an object within the world. I argue that there are four key philosophical intuitions whose indubitability leads to the paradox, but I suggest that the paradox may be considered in a more positive light by construing the intuitions in terms of a key analogy. I call the resulting position ‘contraspectivism’. Contraspectivism enables us to countenance what I call a ‘four-fit’ between the key philosophical intuitions, with a ‘fulcral’ role for the brain in connecting them. I claim that this position comprises a ‘Copernican turnaround’: a position which upholds Kant’s Copernicanism but which nonetheless explicates it according to the original reality of the world within which the brain is environed. I allege that three philosophers, in particular, are committed – explicitly or implicitly – to the tenets of contraspectivism, namely, Schopenhauer, Richard Rorty and Donald Davidson. I also suggest that the paradox is embedded within the ‘justified true belief’ construal of knowledge. In the penultimate section I assess Schopenhauer’s claim that there is an ‘originary’ thing-in-itself – knowable as the ‘will’ – within which the terms of the paradox can be reconciled. I reject the notion that any entity could possibly possess the kind of ‘maybeing’ necessary to fulfil this conciliatory role, and I criticise David Cooper’s doctrine of ‘mystery’ in the light of this discussion. I conclude that contraspectivism offers a solution to what Cooper calls the problem of ‘alienation’ in philosophy; but it is a solution which asserts that the terms of the supposed problem are actually perfectly acceptable as they stand.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available