The existence and nature of the a priori are defining issues for philosophy. A philosopher's attitude to the a priori is a touchstone for his whole approach to the subject. Sometimes, as in Kant's critical philosophy, or in Quine's epistemology, a major new position emerges from reflection on questions that explicitly involve the notions of the a priori or the empirical. But even when no explicit use is made of the notion of the a priori in the questions addressed, a philosopher's methodology, the range of considerations to which the philosopher is open, his conception of the goals of the subject, his idea of what is involved in justification — all of these cannot fail to involve commitments about the nature and the existence of the a priori. So understanding the a priori is of interest in itself.
In Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein talks about action and the will. The main ideas we need to be acquainted with in order to understand Wittgenstein's remarks on this topic are, first, Arthur Schopenhauer's neo-Kantian theory of the will, which Wittgenstein seems to have fully accepted in 1916, and which still influenced his thinking in 1947, and second, the theory advanced in William James's The Principles of Psychology, which Wittgenstein encountered in the 1930s, and rejected root and branch. Schopenhauer and James were in turn reacting, in very different ways, to the empiricist theory of the will, which received its classic exposition in John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding. This article argues that Wittgenstein's treatment of action and the will in Philosophical Investigations is seriously flawed. Wittgenstein fails to disentangle the active/passive distinction and the voluntary/not voluntary distinction; he fails to see that voluntariness is not only an attribute of activity, but of passivity as well; and he confuses action and motion.
There are two main motivations for action-based approaches to perception: the parsimonious assumption that action and perception belong to a single overlapping functional system and the tendency to minimize the load of internal processing in perception. For example, according to the ecological paradigm, visual perception consists in detecting affordances for action. Many advocates of action-based accounts of perception reject the computational/representational approach and embrace instead an embodied approach to perception and an empiricist view of the contents of concepts. For example, enactivists argue for constitutive links between an agent’s bodily movements and the content of her perceptual experiences. While, enactivism is not easy to reconcile with evidence for the two-visual systems model of human vision, further support for action-based accounts of social perception has been derived from the discovery of mirror neurons and mirroring processes.
Christian Pohl, Bernhard Truffer, and Gertrude Hirsch-Hadorn
In a number of European countries a particular understanding of transdisciplinarity has evolved over the last decades, initiated by research on environmental problems. The focus of this type of transdisciplinary research is on helping society solve wicked problems. A specific feature is that, in addition to researchers of different disciplines, representatives of civil society and the private and public sectors are involved in the research process. “Addressing Wicked Problems through Transdisciplinary Research” describes this type of transdisciplinary research, its roots, and the challenges to be dealt with when addressing wicked societal problems.
The lengthy history of interdisciplinary activity in higher education offers important lessons about developing, administering, and assessing interdisciplinary programs. A deepening body of literature surrounding higher education studies and organizational theory surrounds these lessons. This literature acknowledges that, like any other system, higher education institutions face multiple influences from both internal and external stakeholders. This interaction requires an understanding of the environment in which higher education institutions operate. This chapter begins from the position of a changing environment for higher education to consider the challenges associated with administering interdisciplinary programs. After establishing organizational norms unique to higher education institutions, the chapter considers three specific areas: (1) the role of boundaries in shaping the university, and how interdisciplinary programs negotiate these boundaries; (2) the persistence of disciplinary cultures, and their impact on interdisciplinary programs; and (3) the resource challenge for contemporary higher education, and how this debate affects interdisciplinary activities.
This article focuses on the distinction between analytic truths and synthetic truths (i.e. every truth that isn’t analytic), and between a priori truths and a posteriori truths (i.e. every truth that isn’t a priori) in philosophy, beginning with a brief historical survey of work on the two distinctions, their relationship to each other, and to the necessary/contingent distinction. Four important stops in the history are considered: two involving Kant and W. V. O. Quine, and two relating to logical positivism and semantic externalism. The article then examines questions that have been raised about the analytic–synthetic and a priori–a posteriori distinctions, such as whether all distinctively philosophical truths fall on one side of the line and whether the distinction is relevant to philosophy. It also discusses the argument that there is a lot more a priori knowledge than we ever thought, and concludes by describing epistemological accounts of analyticity.
In the Posterior Analytics, Aristotle develops a theory of demonstration as a way of gaining causal knowledge of things or events (pragmata) under the general plan of constructing both an ideal structure for demonstrative science and a unified, comprehensive theory of heuristic inquiry. The Aristotelian idea of “demonstrative science” is derived from his attempt to characterize the conditions for “knowledge simpliciter (epistêmê haplôs),” that is, causal and necessary knowledge. This article first shows that Aristotle's inquiry theory is a heuristic theory and as such yields scientific knowledge within the scope of his theory of demonstration, and then examines the difficulties which arise concerning the relation between demonstration and definition. In particular, if demonstrations and definitions turn out to be unrelated in terms of their objects, predications, or methods, Aristotle's general plan will be a failure. The article explores how Aristotle attempts to construct a demonstration of what it is. Finally, by analysing his new theory of definition, the article considers how far he has succeeded in developing his heuristic demonstrative inquiry theory.
Catherine Z. Elgin
This article discusses the character of art and the centrality of art education to the curriculum. It argues against the claim that art is impervious to education. It explains that though inspiration is essential to art and inspiration cannot be taught, the assumption that art is entirely a product of inspiration is unfounded. In addition, sensory and emotional responses can be educated. It shows how a symbol-theoretic conception of art readily explains how art education is possible and why it is valuable.
The question of whether art gives us knowledge is as old as the philosophy of art itself: Plato in The Republic argued that, although poetry purports to give knowledge, it in fact does no such thing, but produces a mere deceptive appearance of knowledge. In contrast, Aristotle in The Poetics argued for the capacity of poetry to give its audience knowledge of universals. The dispute has reverberated down to the modern period, and a large part of the contemporary debate is still concerned with the classical form of the question. This can be dubbed the epistemic question: can art give its audience knowledge? Though the questions are rarely distinguished, there is a distinct issue which also needs to be addressed under the general rubric of art and knowledge.
This article describes the concept of ascriber contextualism in relation to skepticism. It explains that ascriber contextualism in epistemology is the view that the truth conditions for sentences containing “know” and its cognates are context sensitive. It discusses the motivations for contextualism, skeptical paradoxes, the mechanism of context shifting, and sensitive moderate invariantism (SMI). It also comments on objections to ascriber contextualism and SMI.