Cover of Immanuel Kant's book

Cover of Immanuel Kant's book "Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals".
Galileo Galilei
(1564 - 1642)


Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
(1642 - 1727)



Review, Part #2

Analytical concepts

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) labeled his own position "transcendental" or "critical" idealism. Kant claimed that there were some concepts (twelve in all) that were not learnt from experience but were thought by understanding independently of experience and then applied to it. The twelve categories form a sort of minimum conceptual apparatus for making sense of the world. Kant was using the term transcendental in the context of what he calls a transcendental deduction which is an argument or "exposition" that establishes a necessary role for an a priori principle in our experience. According to Kant, all analytical and conceptual truths are a priori propositions, independent from experience, so (in reverse) all a posteriori truths are synthetic or factual. Is there, in addition to analytic-aprioric and synthetic-aposterioric knowledge, also synthetic-aprioric knowledge? Kant set this problem to the main question of his epistemology - he aspired to indicate, that e.g. mathematical truths and "necessary qualifications to knowledge of experience", like "General law of causality", are synthetic-apriorics.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), while dealing with Kant's and Laplace's theory about the origin of our planet-system, in his work Parerga und Paralipomena I (1851) was handling "the inner reality" of every phenomena (the technique of the nature, nexus finalis and the mechanism of the nature, nexus effectivus). According to Schopenhauer, different types of things manifest the will to different degrees. He accounts for these differences by invoking Plato's Ideas (or Forms).

In his book "The problems of Philosophy" (1912) Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was supporting a calm realism, where general and relational concepts are "real" even though different way than thoughts, emotions or physical things - Russell was using instead of term "exist" words "have being" and "subsist" as their timeless existence.

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Nominalism and Conceptualism

Nominalists denied an existence of such properties like redness or raveness: according to them only individuals were really exist. Here they adapted the well-known principle presented by William of Occam (about 1285-1350) on 14th century - so called Occam's razor - according to that principle existences of beings have not to suppose more than is necessary.

Side by side with the concept-realism and the strict nominalism ("general concepts are only sounds") was during the medieval times presented also a compromised point of view. According to that general concepts exists in the mind of human being. This point of view is called conceptualism.

Influence of Galileo and Newton

Great scientists of natural science - especially Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) - were presented a clear point of view which can be called mathematical realism. According to Galilei the great book of universe is "written with the mathematical language and its symbols are triangles, circles and other geometric figures". Properties, which man can handle mathematical as "number", "form", "size", "place" and "motion" are really exist in objects, whereas qualities, which man can observe (like tastes, smells, colors etc.) are subjective, in other words in the mind of human being. In his masterpiece, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (appeared in 1687), Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) sets forth the mathematical laws of physics and "the system of the world". His statement of the laws of motion is preceded by an equally famous scholium in which Newton enunciates the ultimate conditions of his universal system: absolute time, space, place and motion. He speaks of these as independently existing "quantities" according to which true measurements of bodies and motions can be made as distinct from relative "sensible measures" and apparent observations.

Authors' calendar
Authors from Vergilius to latest Nobel Prize winners, great books etc.
Plato and his dialogues
Plato and his dialogues online including a list of Plato's works.
The computer revolution in philosophy
Aaron Sloman:
The Computer Revolution in Philosophy (1978).