Wallace Matson

in Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199812691
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919420 | DOI:

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Overview. Genesis of the work in attempt to solve Popper's Demarcation Problem, separation of sense from nonsense, by considering beliefs and verifications instead of propositions and verifiability. I go at this historically, showing what beliefs are and how they arise in animals in the course of coping with their environments, and how language makes possible unverified (“high”) beliefs, conflatable into grand theories. Thales of Miletus invented science with the first grand theory based on everyday (“low”) beliefs. I identify the main characteristics of science as monism, immanence, and rationalism and trace their vicissitudes until their displacement by the Christian world view of the old type. Philosophy, I contend, has still not recovered from being handmaiden to theology. Medieval notions hang on unnoticed in the notions of logical possibility, possible worlds, and, in ethics, commandments. I conclude with sketches of renaturalized ethical and political theories, and rather unhappy prognostications.

Keywords: popper; demarcation problem; belief; language; Thales; monism; immanence; reason; Christianity; commands

Chapter.  2132 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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