Richard Taylor, University of Rochester This classic, provocative introduction to classical metaphysical questions focuses on appreciating the problems, rather. Metaphysics · Richard Taylor. Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice-Hall Metaphysics, General Works in Metaphysics. (categorize this paper). Reprint years. Richard Taylor (November 5, – October 30, ), born in Charlotte, Michigan, was an American philosopher renowned for his dry wit and his contributions to metaphysics.


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Metaphysics (Foundations of Philosophy Series)

The thinking of past generations often richard taylor metaphysical dogmatic; we wonder how they could have become so attached to certain general conceptions which appear to us totally groundless. Yet to their adherents these conceptions seemed quite obvious. They were what gave life and meaning to their thoughts.


I believe, moreover, that we of this age are by no means emancipated from the general conception; if we look closely and sceptically at contemporary thought we richard taylor metaphysical find that it, too, proceeds within a certain framework, no less arbitrary than those it has displaced.

It is usually called, misleadingly, the framework of scientific explanation.

The thing to stress, however, is that scientific explanation usually richard taylor metaphysical not now mean simply explanation based richard taylor metaphysical and verifiable by observation, but rather, explanation that fits into a certain general conception of what reality ought to be like.

The framework is, in other words, not simply a method of discovery, but rather a fairly large metaphysical hypothesis.

Richard Taylor (philosopher)

It is, for example, quite uncritically thought to be "scientific" to hold that men are richard taylor metaphysical very like machines and that their behavior can "ultimately," as we are always told be understood in terms of the same principles by which the behavior of inanimate things is understood.

Or, again, it is somehow deemed "scientific" to deny that men ever act freely. Hence arguments in favor of the causal determinism of human behavior are always received with the keenest interest and guaranteed an audience, while arguments casting doubt upon this hypothesis are generally met with scepticism and even hostility.

Arguments of the former kind need not even be very good, richard taylor metaphysical.

Taylor, Metaphysics, 4th Edition | Pearson

They can be question-begging, or even quite irrelevant, like so many of the speculations of psychologists. They are nevertheless sensed to richard taylor metaphysical somehow "on the right track"— scientific in spirit if not in content.

Of course, their being on the right track does not in the least entail their being cogent, objective, undogmatic, or philosophically perceptive. Instead, it results from their seeming somehow to fit more or less into the general conception of what reality must be like, a conception which was borrowed from physical science, and which thus inherited the honorific appellative "scientific.

Obviously the mere observation of human behavior does not point richard taylor metaphysical such a conception.

Metaphysics - Richard Taylor - Google книги

On the contrary, such an idea would not have been possible had men been guided from the start only by observations of human behavior, without any science of inanimate things. The reason such speculations find ready acceptance is, rather, that they fit into the general conception of the world that has been derived from physical science—that they fit, in other words, into a very general, metaphysical framework which contemporary thinkers find congenial, and which they are fond richard taylor metaphysical assuming must, "ultimately," prove all-encompassing.

I am not, of course, suggesting that science and philosophy have not progressed, that the present generation does not know more than previous ones. What I am suggesting, however, is that contemporary thought is hardly less dogmatic than that of our predecessors. The general conceptions and prevailing ideas change, but are no less stubbornly clung to, and—what is rarely appreciated—are no less arbitrary than the ones they have replaced.

We find it quaint that earlier thinkers should have wanted to interpret physical nature anthropomorphically, that they should have wanted to explain everything, including the existence of the world itself, in terms of such ideas as efficient and final causes.

Yet even learned men of today see no similar quaintness in the notion that human behavior must not be interpreted anthropomorphically, that is, in terms of a framework appropriate for the understanding of human behavior.

Metaphysics, 4th Edition

What seems obvious to one age seems dogmatic and arbitrary to another. It seems to richard taylor metaphysical naive to suppose that men today have suddenly ceased being arbitrary and dogmatic in the general conceptions which they have embraced, or to suppose that contemporary general conceptions are somehow more obviously correct than those of past ages.

Such general conceptions do not, at any rate, become less dogmatic by being baptized "scientific. If these implications sometimes seem to run contrary to what we had supposed and fondly hoped was the general truth of things, then it is no step in the direction of wisdom to pretend otherwise and fall back upon what we say will "ultimately" and "in principle" turn out to be so.

Now if we take the point of view of external observers, that is, the point of view experimental science necessarily restricts itself to, we cannot but regard men as natural objects differing only in complexity from physical objects and other living things, and governed by the same natural laws and principles that physical science presupposes.

There will, for example, be nothing in our observations, experiments, or data to convey such notions as purpose or creativity, except insofar as these notions can somehow be reduced to empirical concepts and thus made applicable, at least in principle, to all objects of observation, and at the same time rendered superfluous to any inquiry into human nature.

Indeed, from the point of view of an observer it is even possible to wonder, as philosophers have long since pointed out, how we can know that men are conscious, sensitive beings—a problem that cannot possibly arise for one who considers human nature, not as it exhibits itself to observation, but as it exists in himself.

For this reason, plus the fact that the problems I want to consider can only arise from reflections upon oneself, my subject of inquiry is human nature as I find it exhibited in myself.

This does not mean that I proceed by "introspection"—it is not even clear what that is—but rather that the most important test of any philosophical richard taylor metaphysical we shall consider will consist in its application to oneself.