By Lee Braver
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Additional resources for A Thing of This World: A History of Continental Anti-Realism
Philosophical debate is productive, but it requires signiﬁcant mutual understanding, as well as a basic recognition (in multiple senses of the word) of what the other is doing. Rather than trying to bring peace, this book attempts to instigate fruitful debate. My narrative describes the history of continental philosophy in two phases: the Kantian Paradigm and the Heideggerian Paradigm. Loosely following Kuhn, I call them paradigms because each phase takes place within a broad framework of deep, organizing, orienting presuppositions that set the 8 A THING OF THIS WORLD starting point, basic assumptions and outlook, and the issues of relevance for the thinkers working within it.
They had the right picture of the mind as a blank slate passively written upon by experience, as well as a healthy dose of good old British (broadly speaking) common sense; no subjectively constituted reality here! Russell’s great innovation (at least at one point in his career) was to combine an empiricist epistemology with his own extrapolations of Frege and Peano’s logic to create “modern analytical empiricism . . [which] differs from that of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume by its incorporation of mathematics and its development of a powerful logical technique.
It would describe “the world that is ‘already there’ . . that is there anyway, independent of our experience” (Williams 1985, 138). Since it has ﬁltered out all that is particular to us, “the absolute conception will, correspondingly, be a conception of the world that might be arrived at by any investigators, even if they were very different from us” (139). This will be “a conception consisting of nonperspectival materials available to any adequate investigator, of whatever constitution” (140).