Philosophy Colloquium: The Basic Furniture of Reality?

Posted on 10/6/2014 10:06:27 AM

Eric Rubenstein (IUP) will give a talk entitled “The Basic Furniture of Reality?” on Friday, October 10, 2014, at 3:30 p.m. in Johnson Hall, room 247. 

Abstract: 

When it comes to questions about the fundamental nature of reality, we are all arguably Aristotle's heirs. In particular, we think of individual things, particular chairs, tables, cows, and the like as fundamental. All qualities of those individual substances are given a dependent, secondary status.

This paper seeks an alternative to Aristotle’s metaphysics. In particular, it turns to the PreSocratic philosophers, looking to make them relevant to contemporary debates. To that end I sketch a position where what is basic and fundamental are the familiar stuffs of our world—earth, air, mud, blood, etc. The goal is to make these general entities most basic, instead of seeing them as also derivative, in the way the properties of individual substances are. A world of stuffs would be a world where what is concrete and basic is radically different from what Aristotle thought. But it would also require a radical reconceiving of the individuals we seem to encounter in our everyday lives. Perhaps, in the end, there are no individuals, not even particular human beings. There is just a world of concrete, general stuffs. That would truly break Aristotle's enduring grip on how to think about our world.

Department of Philosophy