Scientific Method

Scientific Method
Scientific Method

What follows is a description of various views on inductive inference and methods for inferring general theories as they have developed from the scientific revolution to modern times. Later, the development of methods for discovering causal relationships will be discussed.

MODERN METHODOLOGY. A strong influence on contemporary methodology is interdisciplinary research. In the twentieth century, the question of how we can use observations to attain empirical knowledge became the subject of research in a number of disciplines, such as statistics, econometrics, and computer science. Modern philosophy of method continues to contribute to and draw on developments in related disciplines.

Another strong influence on contemporary methodology arises from studies of the history of science, which captured the attention of philosophers because of the groundbreaking work of Thomas Kuhn (1922–1996) on the Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

Scientific Realism

Scientific Realism
Scientific Realism

Scientific realism is a philosophical view about science that consists of three theses:
  • The metaphysical thesis: The world has a definite and mind-independent structure. 
  • The semantic thesis: Scientific theories should be taken at face value. They are truth-conditioned descriptions of their intended domain, both observable and unobservable. Hence, they are capable of being true or false. The theoretical terms featured in theories have putative factual reference. 
  • The epistemic thesis: Mature and predictively successful scientific theories are well confirmed and (approximately) true of the world. So the entities posited by them, or entities very similar to those posited, inhabit the world.

Metaphysics

Let us call the first thesis of scientific realism metaphysical realism. What exactly is involved in the claim of mindindependence? One way to construe the opposite claim that the world is mind-dependent, along the lines of traditional idealism and phenomenalism, is to argue that the world consists of mental entities, be they ideas or actual and possible sense-data. Thus understood, minddependence is a thesis about the kind of stuff that makes up the world.

Michael Scot

Michael Scot
Michael Scot

Michael Scot was an astrologer, alchemist, and translator of Arabic and Hebrew works into Latin. Born in Scotland late in the twelfth century, he spent most of his active life in Toledo, Palermo, and mainland Italy—perhaps at Rome. He first appears with any degree of certainty at Toledo in 1217, when he finished a translation of alBitrogi’s (Alpetragius’s) Liber Astronomiae (On the spheres).

The next certain date is 1220, when he is reported to have completed a Latin translation of Aristotle’s Historia Animalium, probably at Toledo. Michael Scot seems to have become favorably known at the papal court, for he was offered the archbishopric of Cashel in Ireland in 1225.

Michael Scot refused the office because of his ignorance of Gaelic. Probably during this period he produced the translation of Aristotle’s De Caelo et Mundo, along with several other physical works of Aristotle with their Arabic commentaries by Averroes.

Scotism

Scotism
Scotism

Scotism refers variously to
  1. a loosely identified body of views thought to be original with or characteristic of John Duns Scotus,
  2. a tradition of texts, doctrines, and approaches that traces back to him, and
  3. a via (“way” or perhaps “school”) that had an institutional presence in the universities of the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries.
In the first sense scholars today speak of “logical Scotism” in the work of authors who perhaps have never heard of Scotus.

In both the first and the second senses scholars ask whether Charles Sanders Peirce, who had read Scotus with care but was a fiercely independent thinker, was a Scotist. In the third sense scholars inquire about the presence of Scotism in the arts and theology faculties of particular universities in the sixteenth century and investigate its fortuna.

John R. Searle

John R. Searle
John R. Searle

John R. Searle was born in Denver Colorado in 1932. He attended the University of Wisconsin (1949–1952), then Oxford (1952–1959) as a Rhodes Scholar. John R. Searle earned his PhD (Oxford) in 1959 and went to the University of California Berkeley, where he remained, and where he is Mills Professor of the Philosophy of Mind and Language Over the past forty years, Searle has been working on a selection of problems in philosophy at three levels o description: mind (the basic level), language (the middle level), and society (the highest level).

In each case John R. Searle can be seen as following a certain pattern: he proposes analyses of facts at one level of description in which they cause, are realized in, or constitute, facts at another higher level. Brute facts can count as institutional facts, and some objective brute facts can cause and realize other subjective, brute facts.

Like phenomenological analyses Searle’s approach is not classically reductive, but there is an explanatory asymmetry: higher level phenomena often are to be explained in terms of lower level phenomena (explaining is not explaining away). However, as contrasted with phenomenology, this procedure does not require that conditions revealed by analysis be revealed in experience.

Self

Self
Self

In its normal use the English expression “self ” is not even quite a word, but something that makes an ordinary object pronoun into a reflexive one (e.g., her into herself). The reflexive pronoun is used when the object of an action or attitude is the same as the subject of that action or attitude. If I say Mark Twain shot himself in the foot, I describe Mark Twain not only as the shooter but as the person shot.

In this sense “the self ” is just the person doing the action or holding the attitude that is somehow in question. “Self ” is also used as a prefix for names of activities and attitudes, identifying the special case where the object is the same as the agent: self-love, self-hatred, self-abuse, self-promotion, self-knowledge.

“The self ” often means more than this, however. In psychology it is often used for that set of attributes that a person attaches to himself or herself most firmly, the attributes that the person finds it difficult or impossible to imagine himself or herself without. The term identity is also used in this sense. Typically, one’s sex is a part of one’s self or one’s identity; one’s profession or nationality may or may not be.

Self in Indian Philosophy

Self in Indian Philosophy
Self in Indian Philosophy

The human phenomenological experience of the universe consists fundamentally of the self or subject encountering a world of objects. Thus the two main objects of philosophy are the subject or the self—its nature and constitution—on the one hand, and the universe, along with its nature and constitution, on the other. Indian philosophy is no exception to this rule.

This experiencing self is referred to by several terms in Indian philosophy, the one most widely used being atman. The word is usually derived from the root an, which means “to breathe”; apparently the fact that the perceiving self is an animate being who faces other animate beings and inanimate objects is central to its emergence as the marker of the self.

It is called purua when its distinction from inanimate nature or prakti is emphasized, and it is called jiva when the atman is viewed as caught up in the cycle of sasara or birth and death, freedom from which becomes a goal of this empirical self (jiva). In many systems this freedom is attained when the jiva or empirical self discovers its true relationship to the atman or metaphysical self.

Self-interest

Self-interest
Self-interest

Aristotle claims in the Nicomachean Ethics that it is the virtuous person “more than any other sort of person who seems to be a self-lover. ... he awards himself what is finest and best of all” (1168b28–30). Aristotle’s thought is that if one pursues things such as pleasure and wealth, one pursues what is base, injuring oneself.

Contrast this with the implication of the recommendation “Look out for number one.” This advice is not taken to mean that one should pursue virtue. Rather, the idea is that the interests of others should take second place to one’s own. Virtue is not usually seen as the path of self-interest, especially because it can often involve self-sacrifice.

This conflict suggests that effective pursuit of self-interest, or the interests of others, requires an account of the nature of well-being. (Henceforth, I will often use the term well-being rather than self-interest since that term is used more often in philosophical discussions of self-interest.) In the first part of this article, the major theories are discussed. In the second part, the focus is the importance (or lack thereof) of having an account of well-being for ethics.

Self-knowledge

Self-knowledge
Self-knowledge

Legend has it that when Chilan of Sparta asked, “What is best for man?” Apollo replied, “Know thyself.” Thus, carved into the lintel of the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi were the Greek words “gnothi seauton”—“Know thyself ” (Parke 1933).We can try to follow this Delphic injunction because we are self-conscious beings, capable of self-reflection.

Sigmund Freud (1923) maintained that we have unconscious beliefs, desires, motives, and intentions, and that extensive use of psychoanalytic techniques is often required to uncover them. Whether there is a Freudian unconscious is controversial, as is whether or not there is suppression or repression in the psychoanalytic senses.

Nevertheless, our mental lives can be dissociated. And self-reflection can be as biased as reflection on any topic. Too charitable an attitude towards ourselves can leave us overly sanguine about the strength of our characters or the goodness of our intentions. Too uncharitable an attitude can lead to an exaggerated view of our frailties: We may see ourselves as more selfish, less kind, and less well-intentioned than we really are.

Roy Wood Sellars

Roy Wood Sellars
Roy Wood Sellars

Roy Wood Sellars, the American critical realist, taught philosophy at the University of Michigan. Although he was never as well known outside philosophical circles as some of his contemporaries, after the publication of his first book, Critical Realism, in 1916, Sellars maintained a substantial reputation among his fellow philosophers as a vigorously independent thinker. His thought was rigorous and critical; he never yielded to the fashionable movements of the day but steadfastly pursued his own original insights into basic philosophical problems.

The core of Sellars’s philosophy is epistemological. He is concerned with showing that the critical realism of the philosopher is related to the “natural realism” of the “plain man.” The philosopher reflects on the plain man’s uncritical view of knowledge, which he clarifies and refines so that it is philosophically justifiable, but he does not vitiate its essential insistence upon the independence of the object of knowledge.

The most significant element in Sellars’s vindication of realism is his revision of the theory of perception, which he describes as a process of interpretation of sensa, as mediated by factors both external and internal to the perceiving subject.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

A Roman adherent of Stoicism with a particular interest in ethics, Lucius Annaeus Seneca had an extensive career in politics and literature. His Moral Epistles, two major treatises, and a series of essays including On Anger offer an engaging presentation of philosophical ideas and are an important source for earlier Stoic thought. Also extant are eight plays and a political lampoon.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca was of provincial origin, having been born at Córdoba in southern Spain, but was brought to Rome at an early age. There he received an extensive education in public speaking and literary composition. His knowledge of philosophy came from the lecturers Papirius Fabianus and Sotion (both adherents of Sextian moral philosophy), from the Cynic Demetrius, and from the Stoic Attalus.

He won considerable repute as an advocate, but his health was poor and he was in disfavor with the emperors Gaius and Claudius. Exiled by Claudius to Corsica, he was recalled in 49 to become tutor in rhetoric to the boy Nero.

Sensa

Sensa
Sensa

A distinction is often drawn in philosophy between two types of objects of awareness in perception. First, there are physical objects or substances (such as chairs, books, rocks, and water) and living organisms (animals, plants, and human beings insofar as they are perceptible, that is, their bodies).

A common technical term for all these is material objects. Second, there are data of immediate awareness, which we shall refer to as “sensa” (singular, sensum), such as color patches or shapes, sounds, smells, and tactile feelings.

This distinction is usually fourfold: (a) in status—material objects are external, located in physical space, and “public” (observable by different persons at once), while sensa are private and are usually held to have no external physical existence; (b) in extent— material objects may at one time correspond to several sensa and normally persist throughout the occurrence of many sensa; (c) in directness—the perception of material objects is indirect, that is, it involves inference from or interpretation of sensa that are “given” directly to consciousness; (d) in certainty—one is always certainly aware of sensa but not necessarily so of material objects.

Amartya K. Sen

Amartya K. Sen
Amartya K. Sen

Amartya K. Sen, an economist and philosopher, was born in Bengal in 1933. The memory of the Bengal famine of 1943, in which more than 2 million people died, drew him to work on economics and ethics. He studied economics at Presidency College, Calcutta, and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he received a doctorate in economics in 1959.

After he taught at the Delhi School of Economics, the London School of Economics, Amartya K. Sen held the posts of Drummond Professor of Political Economy at Oxford University (also Fellow of All Souls College), and then Lamont University Professor and professor of economics and philosophy at Harvard University.

His contributions to economics lie in the areas of social choice theory, theory of choice, development economics, labor economics, cost-benefit analysis, and the measurement of inequality and poverty. In 1998 he was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics “for his contributions to welfare economics” and appointed Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Anthony Ashley Cooper

Anthony Ashley Cooper
Anthony Ashley Cooper

Anthony Ashley Cooper (the Third Earl of Shaftesbury) was born in London in the home of his grandfather, the first earl, a prominent Whig politician, who put his secretary and friend, John Locke, in charge of his grandson’s education. Fluent at eleven in both Greek and Latin, Shaftesbury was an avid student of ancient philosophy, particularly Plato and the Stoics.

In 1686, accompanied by a tutor, he embarked on a three-year tour of the Continent, learning French and acquiring a sophisticated taste for the arts. He was elected to Parliament in 1695 and served for three years, although asthma prevented him from standing for reelection. In 1698 he moved to Holland, where he met Pierre Bayle, an advocate for religious tolerance and one of the first to argue that it is possible for an atheist to be virtuous.

After becoming the Third Earl of Shaftesbury in 1699, he attended meetings of the House of Lords until 1702, but once again ill health prevented him from continuing to serve and being more active in Whig causes.He married Jane Ewer in 1709; they had one son. His bad health forced him to move in 1711 to Italy, where he died in 1713.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley is usually thought of as a romantic and lyric poet rather than as a philosophical one. He was, however, the author of a number of polemical prose pamphlets on politics and religion; and both his prose and his poetry reflect a coherent background of social and metaphysical theory.

In general, Shelley’s beliefs are those of the radical English intelligentsia of the period immediately before and after the French Revolution, and in particular of William Godwin, who became his father-in-law. It has often been said that Shelley was really antipathetic to Godwin’s atheism and determinism and that he gradually threw off Godwin’s influence in favor of a more congenial Platonic transcendentalism. This view, however, seems to rest on a misunderstanding of both Godwin and Shelley.

Attack on Christianity

In The Necessity of Atheism, for which he was expelled from Oxford in 1811, Shelley argued, on Humean lines, that no argument for the existence of God is convincing. He developed this position in A Refutation of Deism (1814), a dialogue that purports to defend Christianity against deism, but which actually presents a strong case against both and in favor of atheism.

Sensationalism

Sensationalism
Sensationalism

“Sensationalism,” the doctrine that all knowledge is derived from sensations, takes several closely related forms. As a psychological theory it stresses the origins of knowledge and the processes by which it is acquired; it seeks to reduce all mental contents to unitary sensations and has close connections with associationism. It is sometimes, as by its acute but sympathetic critic James Ward, called presentationism.

As an epistemological theory it tends toward the view that statements purporting to describe the world are analyzable into statements concerning the relations between sensations and that this analysis elucidates the meanings of the original statements. It is sometimes regarded as a form of empiricism and adopted with antimetaphysical intentions.

Sensations are usually regarded as occurrences in us, either caused by external objects (Epicurus and John Locke) or not meaningfully attributable to external causes (James Mill and Étienne Bonnot de Condillac). By some they are explicitly likened to feelings or emotions (Anaxagoras and David Hartley), and by others to images (Ernst Mach); the more modern forms, however, probably depend, even if not explicitly, on taking them all as analogous to feelings.

Sense

Sense
Sense

“Sense” is the distinctive central notion in theories of thought and language inspired by the later work of Gottlob Frege (“sense” translates Frege’s Sinn). For Frege what we think (not the act of thinking it) is a thought, an abstract object. Thoughts have quasi-syntactic structure.

Any simple or complex constituent of a thought, even the thought itself, is a sense; thus, senses are abstract. Frege assumes that it is irrational to assent to a thought and simultaneously dissent from it. Since someone misled about astronomy may rationally combine assent to the thought that Hesperus is Hesperus with dissent from the thought that Hesperus is Phosphorus, the thoughts are distinct.

Although the names “Hesperus” and “Phosphorus” have the same reference, they express different sense, two modes of presentation of one planet. The role of a sense is to present the thinker with a reference—that is, something on which the truth-value (truth or falsity) of the thought depends; if the sense fails to present a reference, the thought lacks a truth-value.

Michael Servetus

Michael Servetus - Summer Screenprinted Women TShirt
Michael Servetus

Michael Servetus, the Spanish theologian and physician, was born in Spanish Navarre and was burned at the stake in Geneva. In the history of medicine he is remembered for having been the first to publish a description of the pulmonary circulation of the blood, and in the history of theology, he is noted for his systematic refutation of the Nicene doctrine of the Trinity.

In philosophy, he developed a Christocentric pantheism that included elements from the Neoplatonic, Franciscan, and kabbalistic traditions. It should be pointed out, however, that he believed that natural philosophy should be grounded in empirical investigation.

After studying the three biblical languages as well as mathematics, philosophy, theology, and law at the universities of Zaragoza and Toulouse, Servetus, in the capacity of secretary, accompanied Juan de Quintana, the Franciscan confessor of Emperor Charles V, to the latter’s coronation in Bologna.

Sexism

Sexism
Sexism

The term sexism denotes any system of beliefs, attitudes, practices, social norms, or institutional forms that functions to create or perpetuate invidious social distinctions among persons on the basis of their actual or presumed sex.

This characterization of sexism reflects a widespread consensus among feminist theorists and queer theorists that the phenomenon cannot be understood simply in terms of the prejudices or ill-intentioned behavior of individuals, but rather must be seen as involving wideranging social structures, structures that can affect both the meanings and consequences of the actions of individuals, even if such actions are otherwise benign.

Marilyn Frye (1983) has explained, in just these terms, the inadequacy of a definition of sexism as any act or policy involving an “irrelevant or impertinent marking of the distinction between sexes.” She then bids us to consider an employer who refuses to hire a woman for a managerial position on the stated grounds that his employees would not accept the authority of a woman.

Henry Sidgwick

Henry Sidgwick
Henry Sidgwick

Henry Sidgwick, the English philosopher and educator, was born in Yorkshire and attended Rugby and Trinity College, Cambridge. After a brilliant undergraduate career, he was appointed a fellow at Trinity in 1859. He had already begun to have religious doubts, and in the years following 1860 he studied Hebrew and Arabic intensively, hoping to resolve these doubts through historical research.

At the same time Sidgwick was teaching philosophy, and he had for many years been a leading member of the small group that met for philosophical discussions with John Grote. Gradually he came to think that if answers to his religious questions were to be found at all, they would be found through philosophy—but he never fully quieted his doubts.

In 1869 Henry Sidgwick resigned his fellowship because Henry Sidgwick felt he could no longer honestly subscribe to the Thirty-nine Articles, as fellows were required to do. His college promptly appointed him to a lectureship, and when religious tests were dropped, he was reappointed fellow.

Sextus Empiricus

Sextus Empiricus - Nozomi Sasaki
Sextus Empiricus

Sextus Empiricus was almost certainly, as his name suggests, a doctor of the empiricist school, which flourished from the third century BCE until at least the third century CE. His dates are very uncertain, but he probably lived and worked, perhaps in Rome, sometime early in the third century CE.

He is mentioned as a prominent skeptic in Diogenes Laertius’s Lives of the Philosophers (DL) 9.116, written probably in the third century; but the men Diogenes names as his teacher and pupil, Herodotus of Tarsus and Saturninus, are even more obscure. He was certainly known as the authoritative source of skeptical argument a century later, when Saint Gregory of Nazianzus blamed him for the “vile and malignant disease” of arguing both sides of a question that was infecting the church.

How original he was is unclear—it is hard to tell partly because our other sources for skepticism are so exiguous—but he seems to have been more of a compiler than an original thinker; and in any case it is to his preservation of a large body of skeptical argumentation, whatever its provenance, that his importance in the history of philosophy is due.

Shame

shame - Evelyn
shame

Shame is the painful emotion occasioned by the realization that one has fallen far below one’s ideal self—the person that one wants to be. Although shame no doubt originally involves a concern with being observed by others (its link with embarrassment), such observation need no longer be a part of shame once ideals of the self have been internalized.

Shame and Guilt

Shame is perhaps best understood initially by contrasting it with guilt. Both are painful emotions, but the relationship of shame to morality is more complicated than is the case with guilt. Guilt is necessarily a moral emotion, since it is essentially a painful negative self-assessment with a moral basis—namely, the belief that one has done something morally wrong. One may, of course, be mistaken about the actual moral status of what one has done—one may, for example, have mistaken moral beliefs—but this is a moral mistake.

Even those feelings of guilt that we classify as irrational or neurotic are typically labeled as such because we believe that the person experiencing the guilt has made a moral mistake—for example, our belief that the conduct is in fact not wrong; or our belief that the person is assuming responsibility when not really responsible; or our belief that, even if the conduct is wrong, the guilt that one feels is radically disproportionate to the nature of the wrong.

Shao Yong

Shao Yong - Korean Model Ju Da Ha (주다하)
Shao Yong

Shao Yong was a Chinese philosopher, historian, and poet born in 1011 (January 21, 1012, by European dating). He was the scion of a humble but educated family that had resided in northern China, near the modern-day national capital of Beijing, for several generations.

However, the border conflicts that pitted the Chinese Song dynasty (960–1279) against various hostile and encroaching non-Chinese peoples forced the Shaos into a series of moves southward toward the safer center of the empire. Thus, in 1049, Shao relocated to nearby Luoyang, the secondary imperial capital and nascent cultural hub, where he lived until his death in 1077.

Shao was influenced early by teachers—among them his father Shao Gu (986–1064) and the scholar and minor official Li Zhicai (1001–1045). But his philosophical development was surely determined much less by any one person than it was by the singular divinatory text that constitutes one of the five works included in the vaunted corpus of ancient Chinese classics—the Book of Change or Yijing.

Ali Shariati

Ali Shariati
Ali Shariati

Ali Shariati did not live to see the Islamic Revolution in Iran of 1979, but he was definitely one of its intellectual authors. Like many Iranians in the twentieth century he combined an education in the traditional religious sciences in Iran with more modern ideas from a European context—in his case Paris.

His connections with the anticolonialist movement in Paris led him to argue that Islam is a basically revolutionary and liberating doctrine; Shariati did not abandon religion as many of his fellow radical Iranians did, nor did he accept the reverence for the imam or spiritual leader so prevalent in Shi'i Islam. This set him firmly aside from Khomeini and the ideology of the Islamic Revolution itself.

He was a great borrower of ideas that he then applied in his own way. Thus while he rejected the dialectical materialism of Marxism, he did use the notion of history having a direction and a pattern—albeit one based on divine will and class struggle by individuals progressively perfecting their consciousness.

Mary Shepherd

Mary Shepherd - Erika Momotani | 桃谷エリカ
Mary Shepherd

Mary Shepherd was born in Scotland at her family’s estate on December 31, 1777, the second daughter of Neil Primrose, Earl of Rosebery; she died in London on January 7, 1847. Relatively few details of her life and education are available. She married an English barrister, Henry Shepherd, in 1808.

She published at least two works in philosophy, An Essay upon the Relation of Cause and Effect (1824), and Essays on the Perception of an External Universe and other Subjects Connected with the Doctrine of Causation (1827).

A third work, originally published anonymously in 1819, Enquiry respecting the Relation of Cause and Effect, has been credited to her, but it differs so significantly from her other work, both in style and content, as to make this attribution dubious. She was as well a participant in an exchange of views with a contemporary, John Fearn, which appeared in various venues.

Lev Isaakovich Shestov

Lev Isaakovich Shestov
Lev Isaakovich Shestov

Lev Isaakovich Shestov, the Russian philosopher and religious thinker, was born in Kiev. His real name was Lev Isaakovich Schwarzmann. Shestov studied law at Moscow University but never practiced it. He lived in St. Petersburg from the late 1890s until he migrated to Berlin in 1922; he later settled in Paris. He gave occasional lectures in Berlin, Paris, and Amsterdam and made two lecture tours in Palestine, but he held no regular academic position.

Shestov called William Shakespeare his “first teacher of philosophy”; in his later years he interpreted Hamlet’s enigmatic “the time is out of joint” as a profound existential truth. Shestov apparently turned to philosophy relatively late, perhaps in 1895, when he reportedly underwent a spiritual crisis.

He himself never referred to such a crisis; in general, his works are less confessional and autobiographical than those of most existential thinkers. However, they are neither impersonal nor unimpassioned; intensity and engagement (in a religious and moral rather than a political sense) are hallmarks of his thought.

Sydney Shoemaker

Sydney Shoemaker
Sydney Shoemaker

Sydney Shoemaker is the Susan Linn Sage Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Cornell University. Before joining the Philosophy Department at Cornell in 1961, he taught at Ohio State University and he held the Santayana Fellowship at Harvard University. He also delivered the John Locke Lectures at Oxford University (1972) on “Mind and Behavior” and the Royce Lectures at Brown University (1993) on “Self-Knowledge” and “Inner Sense.”

He has pioneered work in a variety of areas in metaphysics and the philosophy of mind, particularly on the nature of mind, the nature of the self and of self-knowledge, and the nature of properties. Some of the most important of his contributions in these areas are charted in this entry.

Shoemaker’s work on the topic of the self and selfknowledge is informed by a rejection of the Cartesian notion of an immaterial self and the accompanying view that self-knowledge involves a kind of “inner observation” of the contents of one’s mind that is perception-like in certain characteristic ways.

Gustav Gustavovich Shpet

Gustav Gustavovich Shpet
Gustav Gustavovich Shpet

In his most important phenomenological work, Iavlenie i smysl (Appearance and sense, 1914), Gustav Shpet took up Edmund Husserl’s idea of pure phenomenology and developed it in the direction of a “phenomenology of hermeneutical reason.”

In this theoretical framework he formulated, between 1914 and 1918, hermeneutic and semiotic problems, which in the 1920s he elaborated more specifically within the fields of philosophy of language and theory of art. In doing so, he was combining Husserl’s conceptions with ideas from other philosophical movements, particularly Wilhelm Dilthey’s hermeneutics and Wilhelm von Humboldt’s philosophy of language.

Shpet’s reception and transformation of phenomenology must be seen in the context of Russian intellectual and cultural life during the first two decades of the twentieth century. The Platonic “Moscow Metaphysical School” (which included Vladimir Solov’ëv and Sergei Trubetskoi) provided the intellectual atmosphere in which Shpet’s turn to Husserl’s phenomonology took place.

Frank Sibley

Frank Sibley
Frank Sibley

Frank Sibley was trained as a philosopher in postwar Oxford. His principal teacher was Gilbert Ryle, who, understandably, had a profound influence on Sibley’s way of doing philosophical analysis—an influence that is as apparent in his last papers as in his first ones.

Sibley must be credited with inaugurating the renaissance in aesthetics and philosophy of art in the English-speaking world after World War II, a renaissance that is still in full cry. He did it in 1959, in an article that, in the years since, has never ceased being discussed and cited in the literature, and, at the time of its appearance, produced a veritable deluge of essays, and even books in response or defense, that completely reinvigorated the discipline.

“Aesthetic Concepts” (1959a), as Sibley titled his inaugural article, dealt, in a surprisingly few pages, with three of the most basic and difficult issues in the discipline: taste, criticism, and the distinction between the aesthetic and nonaesthetic.

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