Date: Fri, 14 Feb 1997 10:23:16 -0500
In his message of 21:44 Feb 13 1997, Gabriel writes:
> First, philosophy stands out as opposed
> to science inasmuch as its objects exist in thoughts, i.e to do
> philosophy one needs no more than a mind. From this perspective,
> Foucault's work is partly outside philosophy.
In fact, what Gabriel seems to have done here is to bring up the entire
epistemological question about idealism vs empiricism - that is, the
question about the possible source(s) of non-trivial knowledge: can it be
had through ideas alone (idealism) or must it be gained through sensory
information (empiricism). Gabriel seems to be suggesting that both
idealism and empiricism can explain knowledge, and, further, that the
knowledges so gained can be described as philosophy and science,
Twenty-five hundred years of epistemology have been devoted to the
question about the source of knowledge. Suffice it to say that there are
a number of important arguments suggesting why Gabriel might be wrong
about this sort of easy distinction.
Supposing Gabriel is correct, though, I wonder who he thinks might then
be classed as a "pure" philosopher. Is there anyone who does philosophy
whose "objects" involve none other than objects extant in thoughts -
*whatever* that might mean?
I take it that Plato wouldn't be doing just philosophy in the Republic,
since he is talking about people, and land, and walls, and so on.
However, one might suggest that these objects were speculative, didn't
*really* exist outside of his thoughts. But that could be said of
fiction writers, too; are they philosophers? Are the "objects" of
thought the universal form of the objects, or the particular objects?
And, conversely, are there any "pure" scientists, whose "objects" involve
none other than objects extant outside of thoughts? What of numbers?
When a scientist counts using numbers, aren't these numbers and the
other categories she uses to make observations (time, etc) objects that
exist only in her thoughts? Or are you suggesting that numbers actually
"exist" in this sense as objects in the world, apart from people
I hope I'm not taking Gabriel's point out of context. But I wonder if we
ought to use the "objects" criterion to determine whether someone is or
is not doing philosophy. It is incredibly problematic.
Philosophy (I think!?)