- Essentially interdisciplinary in nature, this thesis is both historical and speculative. On the one hand, it is an analysis of the Western conception of reason as it formed through the Renaissance and Enlightenment. On the other hand, it offers a conception of reason developed from the Renaissance magi's and nineteenth century Romanticism's emphasis on imagination. Drawing on Leibniz's and Aristotle's definitions of possibility in relation to those of necessity and choice, it delineates the purpose and nature of metaphysics. Modern philosophy's attempt to secure methodological certainty, specifically the Cartesian concept of a mathesis universalis, is interpreted in the light of classical mechanics and its metaphysical assumptions concerning the nature of knowledge. Hegel's Phenomenology of Mind, as an example of systematic metaphysics, is presented as the work which culminates the Modern quest for certainty. The Phenomenology is analyzed as articulating most clearly the necessary conditions for objective knowledge, and as demonstrating the impossibility of fulfilling those conditions. Most importantly, however, Hegel's conception of knowldge as a process of consciousness articulated by 'speculative thought' is presented as the significant insight which redefines the task of metaphysics and epistemology. Adopting Hegel's concept of the speculative proposition, the author develops a metaphysical schema which takes as its primary axion the definition of thought as self-constitutive. Using the model of a thought experiment, the author suggests that the hypothetical thinking underlying the scientifc method is fundamentally imaginative, and further, that imaginative thought is a basic dimension of all aspects of human life: the universal that Modern philosophy attempted to secure as the certain ground of knowledge. This hypothesis is amplified and developed through an analysis of language and meaning, focusing specifically on the distinction between literal and figurative language. All language is defined as a figurative image of the constitutive activity of thought, including the scientific language of 'fact' and the metaphysical language of concepts. In conclusion, the author demonstrates that objective knowledge cannot be achieved without the expression of self-constitutive thought.
- Dissertation Note:
- Ph.D. The Pennsylvania State University 1983.
- Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 44-05, Section: A, page: 1476.
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