The Death of Philosophy: Reference and Self-reference in Contemporary Thought
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Philosophers debate the death of philosophy as much as they debate the death of God. Kant claimed responsibility for both philosophy's beginning and end, while Heidegger argued it concluded with Nietzsche. In the twentieth century, figures as diverse as John Austin and Richard Rorty have proclaimed philosophy's end, with some even calling for the advent of "postphilosophy." In an effort to make sense of these conflicting positions—which often say as much about the philosopher as his subject—Isabelle Thomas-Fogiel undertakes the first systematic treatment of "the end of philosophy," while also recasting the history of western thought itself.
Thomas-Fogiel begins with postphilosophical claims such as scientism, which she reveals to be self-refuting, for they subsume philosophy into the branches of the natural sciences. She discovers similar issues in Rorty's skepticism and strands of continental thought. Revisiting the work of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century philosophers, when the split between analytical and continental philosophy began, Thomas-Fogiel finds both traditions followed the same path—the road of reference—which ultimately led to self-contradiction. This phenomenon, whether valorized or condemned, has been understood as the death of philosophy. Tracing this pattern from Quine to Rorty, from Heidegger to Levinas and Habermas, Thomas-Fogiel reveals the self-contradiction at the core of their claims while also carving an alternative path through self-reference. Trained under the French philosopher Bernard Bourgeois, she remakes philosophy in exciting new ways for the twenty-first century.
discursively uttered. Beyond this common structure—oscillation, contradiction—this examination also yields another conclusion: the critique of philosophy in this chapter has been done in the name of a new theory of meaning. If, to put it in Putnam’s terms, skepticism (analyzed in the first chapter) was born from excessive respect for the sign and scientism from excessive respect for reference,134 in this second chapter, the “catastrophe of the semantic triangle” was avoided even though
Levinas) or even minimization of Kant’s Shadow in the Current Philosophical Landscape 97 philosophy’s role (Habermas) leads to an insurmountable contradiction that annuls the denial or minimization. And indeed, among all the authors I’ve examined Apel is the only one to assert that philosophy is a first,2 autonomous, and distinct discipline. Before I tackle Apel’s view, unique in an otherwise relatively unanimous context, I shall first analyze the reconstruction of Kantianism that
commonly called the metaphysics of subjectivity32 thus makes no sense at all. However, to even better describe this version of self-reference, which is becoming the backbone of philosophical knowledge, we must now understand the last dimension that distinguishes it—the dimension of action, of A Definition of the Model 141 Tun. In the Fichtean framework, self-reference is defined neither as a thing nor an object but as a “doing,” realization, an act of saying. Why speak of an act of utterance
details clarify the nature of the authority of the utterance. Indeed, in the given example, it appears that the authority, as a philosopher, is not an “I” but a “we”; a “we” that is immediately given as a “we” and not by the addition of several “I”s. Let’s try to clarify this key point, starting with a comparison of several propositions. 148 c hallengi n g t h e “ d eat h o f p h i l o s o p h y ” In the proposition “All swans are white,” the authority of the utterance (philosopher or
necessary to conceive the existence of objects outside myself.” 4. It is true or it is necessary that q. “Objects outside myself exist.” 1. The first objection comes from Barry Stroud in a 1968 article.12 Taking up Strawson’s work, he attacks transcendental argument on the grounds that the latter does not manage to achieve the goals that it is assigned. Thus, for Stroud, transcendental argument had meaning only in Kant in opposition to skepticism, that is, for him, to philosophies that