Discussions with Crispin on the Prolegomena: Vol. 1

by Daniel A. Kaufman


The first of what will be several dialogues with Crispin Sartwell (Dickinson College) on my Prolegomena for a Pluralist Metaphysics.



3 responses to “Discussions with Crispin on the Prolegomena: Vol. 1”

  1. […] running an ongoing series of conversations with Crispin Sartwell alongside these prolegomena, the first one of which just posted. Crispin holds a number of the […]

  2. This was a great video! You guys have a good chemistry in feeding each other leads. It was a fun discussion to watch.

    One thing I noticed is that you are entirely right that the difference between the two of you is personality. I can absolutely frame it in the terms Isaiah Berlin gave us between Hedgehogs and Foxes. Crispin is struggling to make things fit in his monistic conception of how things are, especially since he has such a great affinity for the humanities and squaring them with materialism is beyond my capacity, at least, to understand. He has a sort of schizophrenia that many philosophers experience between their intellectual life and their daily life, and the values that appertain to each. Sellars’ stereoscopic solution at least makes that mental fragmentation workable. The analogy of transparancies was a good one, I think. F. Scott Fitzgerald once said that “An artist is someone who can hold two opposing viewpoints and still remain fully functional.” In a sense we are all natural artists in this way. We do this all the time, and Sellars’ version is simply one among many varieties of doing so.

    I almost think the metaphysical pluralism is the easiest of the ways we accommodate such fragmentation. The ease with which you rattle off our divergent ontologies is a great example of how little problematic this normally is in our daily life. Perhaps Sellars is overstating the difficulty simply because he is talking to primarily monistic hedgehog philosophers who often have so much more trouble reconciling their intellectual commitments with their casual navigation of the sphere of daily life. In other words, he is explaining more a problem for a certain type of philosopher than a general human condition.

    I happen to think pluralism has a greater challenge among folks in general with value rather than ontology. Some vales are simply mutually exclusive, while only philosophers seem to think ontologies are mutually exclusive. There are exceptions of course, but in general value seems the more problematic of the two. Perhaps it’s because we are defined by our values but our ontologies are given to us from the outside? Haven’t thought it all the way through, but this seems at least a start to answering it. You can’t convince a vegetarian to eat bacon or an atheist to embrace the sacrament, etc. Holding one value simply excludes other values. Admitting one sort of ontology in no way disallows other ontological manifestations, unless one is doing philosophy.

    Or so it seems…..

    Gotta go! Thanks for sharing the video!

  3. Interesting conversation. Sartwell seems to hold a position requiring more than he can defend, premises that simply won’t hang together, and he seems to grow more aware of this as the dialogue goes on. Following this conversation with much interest.