Monday, November 19, 2007

I really must be stupid

Was doing some research earlier on R.G. Collingwood, the British philosopher from the first half of the last century, and came across this quote:

Philosophical propositions, unlike metaphysical propositions, make an epistemological claim, rather than an ontological one. They assert that mind exists for the historian and that matter exists for the natural scientist. Further, philosophical propositions cannot be accommodated within a Humean epistemology since they are neither about relations of ideas nor about matters of fact. They are not propositions about matters of fact because they are not empirically verifiable. They are not propositions about relations of ideas because they are not self- evidently true analytical propositions. Yet although philosophical propositions cannot be accommodated within Humean epistemology, accepting them does not entail a commitment to the metaphysics which Hume wanted to reject. As already mentioned, philosophical propositions are not presented as necessary existential claims but as methodologically necessary ones. Philosophical analysis thus brings us to know "in a different way things which we already knew in some ways" in so far as it enables us to become aware of the assumptions that we implicitly and unselfconsciously make in order to provide radically different and sometimes incompatible descriptions of the same thing.

Now, I'm an intelligent, educated person; I know a (very) little bit about this stuff, but I can read the above, understand the grammar of it, the logic, the meaning of the words, and I still have not the faintest conception of what it is actually saying. I find it mind-boggling that people can actually think on such an abstract plane. Hats off to them, I say. I'd like to add something on my views on the above, but I realise that I shall never know what they are.

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