A Discussion on Realism, Anti-Realism, and the Question of Human Knowledge

by Daniel Kaufman and Dan Tippens

The two Dans — Kaufman and Tippens — discuss metaphysical Realism, its troubles, and what our knowledge is knowledge of.

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  1. Hi David – I would want to argue that formal analysis can and does reach a conclusion about the existence of the external world. It concludes that this idea gives rise to fatal contradictions. The whole idea of existence does so.

    A lot would depend on what we mean by ‘existence’, of course, but the conclusion of Nagrjuna’s formal argument (and the later arguments of Brown, Bradley, possibly Hegel et al) would be (it is often put this way) that nothing really exists, where the qualifer ‘really’ would allow for different meanings of ‘existence’. To exist would be to be a relative phenomenon, not an independently existing one. Here logic would seem to agree with physics.

    This would the doctrine of ‘dependent existence’ (all existence would be relative), which appears in consciousness studies as ‘relative phenomenalism’.

    To prove the independent existence of anything is not logically or empirically possible, while the problems caused by the idea of independent existence are well known. So, all in all I feel that reason and logic do the job in this instance.

    At any rate, I see no case for taking anything for granted.

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