The philosophical debate about the concept of reality has been often polarized by the dichotomy between foundationalist realism and skeptical anti-realism. In fact, these apparently antithetical stances share the common illusory quest for an ultimate and absolute foundation of knowledge. As an alternative to the realism/antirealism aut-aut, this essay proposes an idea of reality as strictly intertwined with the concreteness of our cognitive and evaluative practices, with their complexity and the dynamism of the inescapable interference of empirical and logical-semantic factors that constitute it. In support of such perspective Wittgenstein’s late proposals about the logical-semantic functioning of the concepts of ‘knowledge' and 'certainty' will be outlined, showing as the quest for definitive, ultimate criterion for defining what is real appears as a typical case of the philosophical disease about which he tries to warn us. Consequently, On Certainty’s criticism of the epistemic value of common sense beliefs maintained by Moore makes room for a complicated and yet quite impressive pragmatic reassertion of some pivotal aspects of Wittgenstein’s philosophy, such as the anti-cartesianism, the option in favor of the descriptive method in philosophy, and the so-called community view of normativity. As the main result of this late text, one can find the claim of a plural notion of reality as well as a pragmatic rephrasing of the epistemic issues connected with traditional foundationalism. The continuities as well as the differences between Wittgenstein’s late work and pragmatism have been the object of a number of philosophical studies, and of course it is quite relevant to consider that, while the Austrian philosopher concentrates his analysis on language, classical pragmatists have experience as a key element of their conceptual toolkit. Yet, it is worth considering that also the opposition between experience and language appears flimsy when one pays attention to the classical pragmatists’ usage of the notion of experience, according to which no experience can be outlined a part from the linguistic/semiotic tools that constitute all human abilities and performances. Acknowledging that for pragmatist philosophers “language is the tool of the tools”- as Dewey asserts – allows one to appreciate the ‘family resemblance’ between Wittgenstein’s, Peirce’s and James’ respective attempts to overcome the realist-antirealist opposition. First of all, it will be possible to point out their common intent to emphasize that our reasoning and asserting about reality is strictly embedded in the inter-actions that set up human communities and their own lively engagements. In this respect, Wittgenstein’s, Peirce’s, and James’s positions on the matter, although may be different, correspond to the basic ‘therapeutic’ feature of their philosophy.

Calcaterra, R.M. (2015). Reality in Practice. ESERCIZI FILOSOFICI, 10(1), 136-153.

Reality in Practice

CALCATERRA, Rosa Maria
2015

Abstract

The philosophical debate about the concept of reality has been often polarized by the dichotomy between foundationalist realism and skeptical anti-realism. In fact, these apparently antithetical stances share the common illusory quest for an ultimate and absolute foundation of knowledge. As an alternative to the realism/antirealism aut-aut, this essay proposes an idea of reality as strictly intertwined with the concreteness of our cognitive and evaluative practices, with their complexity and the dynamism of the inescapable interference of empirical and logical-semantic factors that constitute it. In support of such perspective Wittgenstein’s late proposals about the logical-semantic functioning of the concepts of ‘knowledge' and 'certainty' will be outlined, showing as the quest for definitive, ultimate criterion for defining what is real appears as a typical case of the philosophical disease about which he tries to warn us. Consequently, On Certainty’s criticism of the epistemic value of common sense beliefs maintained by Moore makes room for a complicated and yet quite impressive pragmatic reassertion of some pivotal aspects of Wittgenstein’s philosophy, such as the anti-cartesianism, the option in favor of the descriptive method in philosophy, and the so-called community view of normativity. As the main result of this late text, one can find the claim of a plural notion of reality as well as a pragmatic rephrasing of the epistemic issues connected with traditional foundationalism. The continuities as well as the differences between Wittgenstein’s late work and pragmatism have been the object of a number of philosophical studies, and of course it is quite relevant to consider that, while the Austrian philosopher concentrates his analysis on language, classical pragmatists have experience as a key element of their conceptual toolkit. Yet, it is worth considering that also the opposition between experience and language appears flimsy when one pays attention to the classical pragmatists’ usage of the notion of experience, according to which no experience can be outlined a part from the linguistic/semiotic tools that constitute all human abilities and performances. Acknowledging that for pragmatist philosophers “language is the tool of the tools”- as Dewey asserts – allows one to appreciate the ‘family resemblance’ between Wittgenstein’s, Peirce’s and James’ respective attempts to overcome the realist-antirealist opposition. First of all, it will be possible to point out their common intent to emphasize that our reasoning and asserting about reality is strictly embedded in the inter-actions that set up human communities and their own lively engagements. In this respect, Wittgenstein’s, Peirce’s, and James’s positions on the matter, although may be different, correspond to the basic ‘therapeutic’ feature of their philosophy.
Calcaterra, R.M. (2015). Reality in Practice. ESERCIZI FILOSOFICI, 10(1), 136-153.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11590/284011
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