McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Analytic philosophy, Cognition, Epistemology, German Idealism, Language, Perception
"Can one know mind-independent reality?" There are two fundamental positions concerning this question: either 1) mind-independent existence causes us to know mind-independent existence, or 2) all knowledge is a construct of the human mind, and therefore mind-independent existence is unknowable. This question holds enormous significance as it establishes the source of truth as being either mind-independent or mind-dependent. It thereby sets the stage for the type of epistemic claims that can be properly defended.
Of all the myriad formulations of idealism, Analytic Philosophers have consistently singled out German Idealism to either reject or misappropriate for its own ends. The most significant and provocative occurrences of this trend can be found in the writings of Moore, Russell, Strawson, Sellars, McDowell and Brandom. One objective of this text is to explicate the manner in which these Analytic Philosophers either reject or borrow from German Idealism.
A second objective of this text is to answer the following question: "what does it mean for Analytic Philosophy when its leading members, such as McDowell and Brandom, continue in the Sellarsian tradition of couching traditional Analytic concerns within the framework of German Idealism?" Will it be found, in the final pages of the Analytic tradition, that its original rejection of German Idealism was only a hiccup that restored the Anglo/American traditions back to 18th century German thought? More bluntly still, will we find that only in becoming idealists can Analytic Philosophers have a future?
My analysis of Analytic Philosophy's relationship to German Idealism, as it concerns our ability to know mind-independent existence, culminates in two related claims. First, Kant and Hegel hold superior epistemic views to Moore, Russell, Strawson, Sellars, McDowell and Brandom, in that Kant and Hegel can demonstrate their objects of knowledge, while the above noted Analytic thinkers cannot. Second, Sellars, McDowell and Brandom have maneuvered themselves into a corner by borrowing (directly and indirectly) from Kant and Hegel: in order to make their core conceptual, linguistic, and epistemic claims internally consistent, they must proceed to a version of German Idealism and deny their respective versions of realism.
Reider, P. (2011). German Idealism, Analytic Philosophy, and Realism (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1092