The Rational Human Condition 1, Preface and General Introduction, Section 1.2–Rational Anthropology vs. Analytic Metaphysics, the Standard Picture, and Scientific Naturalism.




Section 1.0  What It Is

Section 1.1  Bounded in a Nutshell

Section 1.2  Rational Anthropology vs. Analytic Metaphysics, the Standard Picture, and Scientific Naturalism

Section 1.3  Philosophy and Its History: No Deep Difference

Section 1.4  Works of Philosophy vs. Philosophical Theories: Presentational Hylomorphism and Polymorphism

Section 1.5  Analytic Philosophy, Continental Philosophy, and Rational Anthropology

Section 1.6  What is a Rational Human Animal?

Section 1.7  An Important Worry and a Preliminary Reply

Section 1.8  The Biggest Windmills

In the fullness of time, The Rational Human Condition will also appear as a series of five e-books published by Rounded Globe, each of which, in turn, will be available in hard copy, on demand, from Out of House Publishing.

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Section 1.2  Rational Anthropology vs. Analytic Metaphysics, The Standard Picture, and Scientific Naturalism

Rational anthropology is committed to what I call real, human-faced, or anthropocentric metaphysics.

Real metaphysics in this sense starts with the primitive, irreducible fact of purposive, living, essentially embodied, conscious, intentional, caring, rational and moral human experience, and then reverse-engineers its basic metaphysical theses and explanations in order to conform strictly to all and only what is phenomenologically self-evident in human experience.

By “phenomenologically self-evident” I mean this:

A claim C is phenomenologically self-evident for a rational human subject S if and only if (i) S’s belief in C relies on directly-given conscious or self-conscious manifest evidence about human experience, and (ii) C’s denial is either logically or conceptually self-contradictory, really metaphysically impossible, or pragmatically self-stultifying for S.

This leads directly to what I call the criterion of phenomenological adequacy for metaphysical theories:

A metaphysical theory MT is phenomenologically adequate if and only if MT is evidentially grounded on all and only phenomenologically self-evident theses.

Real metaphysics therefore rejects the idea of any theoretically fully meaningful, non-paradoxical ontic commitment or cognitive access to non-apparent, non-manifest, “really real” entities that are constituted by intrinsic non-relational properties, i.e., to “noumena” or “things-in-themselves.”[i]

Such entities are logically, conceptually, or “weakly metaphysically” possible, but strictly unknowable by minded animals like us, both as to their nature, and as to their actual existence or non-existence.

In this sense, real metaphysics is methodologically eliminativist about noumena.

Therefore, real metaphysics rejects all noumenal realist metaphysics, including contemporary analytic metaphysics.[ii]

In the first half of the 20th century, the new and revolutionary anti-(neo)Kantian, anti-(neo)Hegelian philosophical programs were Gottlob Frege’s and Bertrand Russell’s logicism, G.E. Moore’s Platonic atomism, and the “linguistic turn” initiated by Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, which yielded The Vienna Circle’s logical empiricism, and finally its nemesis, W.V.O. Quine’s critique of the analytic-synthetic distinction.[iii]

Logical empiricism also produced a domestic reaction, ordinary language philosophy.

Powered by the work of H.P. Grice and Peter Strawson, ordinary language philosophy became conceptual analysis.

In turn, Strawson created a new “connective,” i.e., holistic, version of conceptual analysis, that also constituted a “descriptive metaphysics.”[iv]

Strawson’s connective conceptual analysis gradually fused with John Rawls’s holistic method of “reflective equilibrium” and Noam Chomsky’s psycholinguistic appeals to intuitions-as-evidence, and ultimately became the current Standard Picture of mainstream analytic philosophical methodology.[v]

Coexisting in mainstream contemporary analytic philosophy, alongside the Standard Picture, is also the classical Lockean idea that philosophy should be an “underlaborer” for the natural sciences, especially as this idea was developed in the second half of the 20th century by Quine and Wilfrid Sellars, as the reductive or eliminativist, physicalist, and scientistic[vi] doctrine of scientific naturalism, and again in the early 21st century in even more sophisticated versions, as “experimental philosophy,” aka “X-Phi,” and the doctrine of second philosophy.[vii]

From the standpoint of rational anthropology and its real metaphysics, what is fundamentally wrong with the Standard Picture is its intellectualist, coherentist reliance on networks of potentially empty, non-substantive concepts,[viii] and above all, its avoidance of the sensible, essentially non-conceptual side of human experience and human cognition, which alone connects it directly to what is manifestly real.[ix]

Correspondingly, what is wrong with scientific naturalism/X-Phi/second philosophy is its reduction or elimination of the primitive, irreducible fact of human experience.[x]

Rational anthropology and its real metaphysics are all about the rational human condition, and not all about noumenal entities, coherent networks of concepts, or fundamentally physical, essentially non-mental, facts.


[i] See, e.g., R. Hanna, “Kant, the Copernican Devolution, and Real Metaphysics,” in M. Altman (ed.), Kant Handbook (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).

[ii] The leading figures of analytic metaphysics include David Lewis, David Chalmers, Kit Fine, Ted Sider, and Timothy Williamson; and some of its canonical texts are Lewis’s On the Plurality of Worlds (Oxford: Blackwell, 1986); Sider’s Writing the Book of the World (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2011); Chalmers’s Constructing the World (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2012); and Williamson’s Modal Logic as Metaphysics (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2013).

[iii] See R. Hanna, Kant and the Foundations of Analytic Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2001).

[iv] See P.F. Strawson, Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics (London: Methuen, 1959); and P.F. Strawson, Analysis and Metaphysics: An Introduction to Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford Univ.Press, 1992).

[v] See, e.g., F. Jackson, From Metaphysics to Ethics: A Defense of Conceptual Analysis (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1998).

[vi] On the crucial distinction between science and scientism, see R. Hanna, Kant, Nature, and Humanity (Fall/Winter 2016/2017), available online at URL = <>, part 1; and also S. Haack, Science and its Discontents (Rounded Globe, 2017), available online at URL = <>.

[vii] See, e.g., W.V.O. Quine, “Epistemology Naturalized,” in W.V.O. Quine, Ontological Relativity and Other Essays. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1969), pp. 69–90; W. Sellars, Science, Perception, and Reality (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1963); and P. Maddy, Second Philosophy: A Naturalistic Method (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2007).

[viii] See also P. Unger, Empty Ideas: A Critique of Analytic Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2014).

[ix] See R. Hanna, Cognition, Content, and the A Priori: A Study in the Philosophy of Mind and Knowledge (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2015), esp. chs. 1–3.

[x] See R. Hanna and M. Maiese, Embodied Minds in Action (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2009).

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