Download Philosophers Past and Present: Selected Essays by Barry Stroud PDF

By Barry Stroud

This quantity of uncollected essays by way of Barry Stroud explores valuable matters and concepts within the paintings of person philosophers, starting from Descartes, Berkeley, Locke, and Hume to Quine, Burge, McDowell, Goldman, Fogelin, and Sosa in our personal day. Seven of the essays specialise in David Hume, and think about the resources and implications of his "naturalism" and his "scepticism." 3 others care for the legacy of that "naturalism" within the 20th century. In each one case Stroud strikes past supplying an outline of historic contexts and advancements, and confronts the philosophical matters as they current themselves to the philosophers in query.

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Some of the illusory attractiveness of rival doctrines is attributed to the influence of the pernicious theory of abstract ideas, but Berkeley is most interested simply in laying his view before the reader. Some truths, after all, ‘are so near and obvious to the mind that a man need only open his eyes to see them’ (§6). In those early sections there is no attempt to explain how a person knows, on a particular occasion or in general, that ‘those bodies that compose the mighty frame of the world’ exist, or that they really have the properties they appear to have, or are ordinarily taken to have.

What was needed to yield substantive metaphysical results were the necessary conditions of thinking, and so of thinking certain determinate thoughts about the world, not simply necessary connections between the contents of those thoughts. Even if Kantian necessities between different ways of thinking could be firmly established by this procedure they would seem to fall short of implying that the judgements shown to be required for the ways of thinking in question are actually true. It is one thing to discover that it is not possible to think at all or to think in certain ways without having certain other determinate thoughts or capacities.

But although that would leave me almost completely deceived, is it also true that if all that existed in the universe was a would-be deceiving demon and me, then I would have or could be given just the beliefs and perceptions that I have as things are now? That is harder to accept, whatever we try to imagine the demon doing. Of course if we imagine, as I suppose we must, that the demon is a supernatural being, he might seem capable of doing anything that can be consistently described. So he might be said to convince me that there are mountains and pieces of paper and such things, or to persuade me to believe that I see a red tomato on a table, or somehow simply to give me such beliefs or perceptions, even though everything I think and believe under those circumstances is false.

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