File Name: ci lewis mind and the world order .zip
Clarence Irving C. Lewis was perhaps the most important American academic philosopher active in the s and s. He made major contributions in epistemology and logic, and, to a lesser degree, ethics.
Clarence Irving Lewis
Lewis was a major American pragmatist. Known as the father of modern modal logic and as a proponent of the given in epistemology, he also was an influential figure in value theory and ethics. They admit of alternatives and the choice among them rests on pragmatic considerations pertaining to cognitive success. He showed that there are many alternative systems of logic, each self-evident in its own way, a fact which undermines the traditional rationalistic view of metaphysical first principles as being logically undeniable.
As a result, he concluded that the choice of first principles and of deductive systems must be grounded in extra-logical or pragmatic considerations. His Symbolic Logic presented his system of strict implication and a set of successively stronger modal logics, the S systems. He showed that there are many alternative systems of logic, each self- evident in its own way, a fact which undermines the traditional rationalistic view of metaphysical first principles as being logically undeniable.
After the War his work played an important part in giving shape to academic philosophy as a profession. The thoroughness of his discussion, and the technicalities of his writing were important models for postwar analytic philosophy.
Lewis played a pivotal role in shaping the marriage between pragmatism and empiricism which has come to dominate much of current analytic philosophy. After AKV, Lewis directed the final 20 years of his life to the foundation of ethics, giving numerous public lectures.
He died in leaving a vast collection of unpublished manuscripts on ethical theory which are housed at the Stanford University Library. Lewis was born on April 12, , in relative poverty at Stoneham, Massachusetts. He enrolled in Harvard in , working part time as a tutor and a waiter, and received his B. The following year he was appointed Instructor in English at the University of Colorado, moved to Boulder, and that winter married his high school sweetheart, Mabel Maxwell Graves.
They stayed in Boulder for two years and in he enrolled in the PhD program, receiving his degree two years later in , in part because financial concerns precluded a more leisurely pace. His thesis, The Place of Intuition in Knowledge prefigured important themes in his later work. Montague and Ralph Barton Perry at Harvard. The debate between Royce and James over monism and pluralism had been replaced by a debate between Royce and Perry over realism and idealism.
Lewis studied metaphysics with Royce, and he studied Kant and epistemology with Perry. It is worth briefly discussing his dissertation because in many way it prefigures his later views. Lewis used the egocentric predicament in a dialectical argument against both the realist and idealist solutions to the problem of knowledge. Against Royce, Lewis asserted the necessity of a given sensuous element that is neither a product of willing nor necessarily implicit in the cognitive aim of ideas.
Its purpose is rather to understand, or interpret, the given by referring it to an object which is real in some category or another. To be real is a matter of classification and only future experience will confirm or disconfirm the correctness of our classification, but some classification of the given will necessarily be correct. Whatever is unreal is so only relative to a certain way of understanding it Relative to some other purpose of understanding it will be real; the contents of a dream, for example are unreal only relative to a misclassification of them as a veridical perception.
All knowledge contains a given element which shapes possible interpretation but the object known also transcends present experience. It is remarkable how many themes in his mature work are already mobilized in his dissertation. At this point Lewis clearly had neither proof nor account of the relation of knowledge to independent reality.
The synthesis of his dissertation had raised deep problems which were only to be answered by the mature system in MWO. But idealism, as Lewis understood it, appealed to a necessary agreement between human will and the absolute in knowledge which was also unjustifiable. Lewis received his PhD in but there were no jobs. This was a bitter disappointment for Lewis, who with a wife and small child, had hoped the financial difficulties of the past two years would be over.
In the fall of , Lewis went to the University of California at Berkeley as an instructor where, except for a stint in the army during World War I, he was to stay until his return to Harvard in During this period, Lewis worked primarily on epistemology and logic and, finding no logic texts available, was soon at work on a text on symbolic logic.
This work would appear at the end of the war in as A Survey of Symbolic Logic the first history of the subject in English — and would form the basis of his better known Symbolic Logic , written together with C.
Langford and published in However, Lewis was still exercised by the problem of knowledge from his dissertation and was increasingly unhappy with the quasi-idealist solution he had explored there.
To solve the problem of knowledge the idealist needed logical truth to be absolute, for if the categorial form of our constructive will could vary then we would have no reason to take our interpretations to be true of the world. Lewis would attack the idealist assumptions in four related ways. First, he would argue that the coherence of a system of propositions depends upon the consistency of the propositions with each other and not on their dependence upon a set of absolute or self-evident truths.
Secondly, he argued that a system rich enough to capture the notion of a world, or system of facts, is necessarily pluralistic in the sense that it must contain elements which are logically independent of each other. Finally, he concluded that given the existence of alternative systems of logic, the choice of first principles and of deductive systems must be grounded in extra-logical, pragmatic considerations.
Lewis constructed his own logical calculus based on relations in intention and strict implication, which he saw as a more adequate model of actual inference. Material implication has the property that a false proposition implies everything and so argued Lewis it is useless as a model of real inference. He argued that the line dividing propositions corroborated or refuted by logic alone necessary or logically impossible propositions from the class of empirical truths or falsehood was of first importance of the theory of knowledge.
The categories of possible and impossible, contingent and necessary, consistent and inconsistent are all independent of material truth and are founded on logic itself. In Lewis was invited to return to Harvard to take up a one year position as Lecturer in Philosophy and was to remain for over 30 years until his retirement in Lewis was given the job and although the task of arranging and cataloguing the papers ultimately passed to others, the two years he spent on that task gave Lewis the final building blocks for his mature epistemological position which he would call conceptualistic pragmatism.
Lewis in effect would turn the idealist thesis that mind determined the structure of reality on its head without giving up the idealist view of the legislative power of the mind. The mind interprets the given by way of concepts: the real, ultimately, becomes a matter of criterial commitment. The mind does not thereby manufacture what is given to it, but meets the independent given with interpretive structures which it brings to the encounter.
The epistemological view Lewis would now develop retained this basic structure but embedded it in a richer, psycho-biological model of inquiry and a more adequate account of the role of a priori concepts in knowledge.
The concepts we formulate are in part determined by our pragmatic interests and in part by the nature of experience.
Fundamental scientific laws are a priori because they order experience so that it can be investigated. The same is true of our more fundamental categorial notions. The given contains both the real and illusion, dream and fantasy. Our categorial concepts allow us to sort experience so that it can be interrogated.
Thus the fact that we must fix our meanings before we can apply them productively in experience, is entirely compatible with their historical alteration or even abandonment. The distinctively pragmatic character of this theory lies both in the fact that knowledge is activity or interpretation and that the concepts with which the mind interrogates experience reflect fallible and revisable commitments to future experiential consequences. Knowledge is an interpretation of the experiential significance for an agent with certain interests of what is given in experience; a significance testable by its consequences for action.
A priori truth is independent of experience because it is purely analytic of our concepts and can dictate nothing to the given. The formal sciences depend on nothing which is empirically given, depending purely on logical analysis for their content. So a priori truth is not assertive of fact but is instead definitive.
There is logical order arising from our definitions in all knowledge. Ordinarily we do not separate out this logical order, but it is always possible to do so, and it is this element which minds must have in common if they are to understand each other.
In short, shared concepts do not depend upon the identity of sense feeling, but in their objective significance for action. The concept, the purely logical pattern of meaning, is an abstraction from the richness of actual experience. It represents what the mind brings to experience in the act of interpretation. The other element, that which the mind finds , or what is independent of thought, is the given. The given is also an abstraction, but it cannot be expressed in language because language implies concepts and because the given is that aspect of experience which concepts do not convey.
Knowledge is the significance which experience has for possible action and the further experience to which such action would lead. Lewis first major book, Mind and the World Order MWO develops these results in three principal theses: first, a priori truth is definitive and offers criteria by means of which experience can be discriminated; second, the application of concepts to any particular experience is hypothetical and the choice of conceptual system meets pragmatic needs; and third, the susceptibility of experience to conceptual interpretation requires no particular metaphysical assumption about the conformity of experience to the mind or its categories.
These principles allow Lewis to present the traditional problem of knowledge as resting on a mistake. There is no contradiction between the relativity of knowledge to the knowing mind and the independence of its object.
For Lewis knowledge does not copy anything but concerns the relation between this experience and other possible experiences of which this experience is a sign.
Knowledge is expressible not because we share the same data of sense but because we share concepts and categorial commitments. All knowledge is conceptual; the given, having no conceptual structure of its own, is not even a possible object of knowledge. Foundationalism of the classical empiricist sort is thus directly precluded. Prefiguring contemporary externalist accounts of representation, Lewis argues that both representative realism and phenomenalism are incoherent. The question of the validity of knowledge claims is thus for Lewis fundamentally the question of the normative significance of our empirical assessments for action.
Lewis argued that our spontaneous interpretation of experience by way of concepts that have objective significance for future experience constitutes a kind of diagnosis of appearance. If we could not recognize a sensuous content in our classification of it with qualitatively similar ones which have acquired predictive significance in the past, interpretation would be impossible. Despite the fact that such recognition is spontaneous and unconsidered it has the logical character of a generalization.
The basis of the empirical judgment lies in the fact that past instances of such classification have been successful. Our empirical knowledge claims are dependent for their justification upon this body of conceptual interpretations in two ways. First, the world, in the form of future events implicitly predicted or not by our empirical judgments, will confirm or disconfirm those judgments: all empirical knowledge is thus merely probable.
But secondly, the classification of immediate apprehensions by way of concepts justifying particular empirical judgments is itself generalization even when those concepts have come to function as a criterion of sense meaning.
Concepts become criteria of classification because they allow us to make empirically valid judgments, and because they fit usefully in the larger structure of our concepts.
This structure, looked at apart from experience is an a priori system of concepts. The application of one of its constituent concepts to any particular is a matter of probability but the question of applying the system in general is a matter of the choice of an abstract system and can only be determined by pragmatic considerations. The implications of a concept within a system become criteria of its applicability in that system. If later experience does not accord with the logical implications of our application of a concept to a particular, we will withdraw the application of the concept.
Persistent failure of individual concepts to apply fruitfully to experience will lead us to readjust the system as a whole. Our conceptual interpretations form a hierarchy in which some are more fundamental than others; abandoning them will have more radical consequences than abandoning others. There is no need for synthetic a priori or metaphysical truths to bridge the gap between abstract concepts in the mind and the reality presented in experience. Without a system of conceptual interpretation, no experience is possible, but which system of interpretation we use is a matter of choice and what we experience is given to us by reality.
The importance of the given in this story is its independence. Our conceptual system can at best specify a system of possible worlds; within it the actual is not to be deduced but acknowledged.
Journal of the History of Philosophy
The purpose of this paper is to explore the epistemological origin of Shewhart's and Deming's ideas in their development of a theory of quality. Shewhart's and W. Edwards Deming's ideas concerning a theory of quality originated not solely from insights about variation within statistics but also from the field of philosophy, particularly epistemology. Shewhart and Deming, both seen as quality pioneers, were strongly influenced by the conceptualistic pragmatist Clarence Irving Lewis and his theory of knowledge. This is, and has often been, a neglected connection; however, in today's competitive business environment knowledge and competence have become crucial success factors.
Pragmatism in Transition pp Cite as. Once widely recognized as a leading twentieth-century philosopher, Clarence Irving Lewis has been largely forgotten in the minds of contemporary philosophers. Though Lewis has never been without his defenders, such as Roderick Firth and Sandra Rosenthal, and there are signs of a nascent Lewis renaissance e. Lewis than remembered for his philosophical views. Skip to main content.
Mind The World Order
Two Concepts of the Given in C. It has also generally been assumed that a central component in Lewis's thought, the doctrine of the given, involves a commitment to foundationalism. The combination of these two assumptions natually leads to the conclusion that what Lewis says about the given in MWO and AKV is essentially the same, and that both works are defenses of foundationalism. There is a good deal of plausibility to this reading of Lewis, but it faces two formidable problems. The first is that it is very difficult to bring Lewis's diverse remarks on the given into coherence, especially when those in MWO are compared with those in AKV.
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Lewis was a major American pragmatist. Known as the father of modern modal logic and as a proponent of the given in epistemology, he also was an influential figure in value theory and ethics. They admit of alternatives and the choice among them rests on pragmatic considerations pertaining to cognitive success. He showed that there are many alternative systems of logic, each self-evident in its own way, a fact which undermines the traditional rationalistic view of metaphysical first principles as being logically undeniable. As a result, he concluded that the choice of first principles and of deductive systems must be grounded in extra-logical or pragmatic considerations.
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A major American pragmatist educated at Harvard, C. Lewis taught at the University of California from to and at Harvard from until his retirement in Known as the father of modern modal logic and as a proponent of the given in epistemology, he also was an influential figure in value theory and ethics.
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