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The Logic of Cultures

Three Structures of Philosophical Thought


Paul Taborsky

This book proposes to identify three long-term structures in causal reasoning – in particular, in terms of the relationship between cause and identity – that appear to be of value in categorizing and organizing various trends in philosophical thought.
Such conceptual schemes involve a host of philosophical dilemmas (such as the problem of relativism), which are examined in the first chapter. A number of naturalistic and transcendental approaches to this problem are also analysed.
In particular, the book attempts to construct a theoretical basis for Foucault’s tripartite classification of epistemological structures in European thought.
The final chapter attempts to buttress the above schema by extending the analysis from cause and identity to growth, change, and stability, critiquing certain ideas of Foucault and Heidegger, as well as examining the contemporary thought of process philosophy and complexity theory.


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Introduction 1


1Introduction Plurality and Causality It is surely no exaggeration to say that in our contemporary era we have become accustomed to the idea of plurality and contextuality, and take its intuitive reasonableness for granted, much as an earlier age did not. As the Indologist J.F. Staal has written, ‘In popular culture and among many natural and social scientists, doubts have arisen with respect to the universality of logical principles.’1 Even formal logic itself, once the bastion and model of universality, has fallen to plurality, much as its cousin geometry (the earlier model of deductive rationality) did in the nineteenth century. Logic now presents us with a vast array of ‘logics’: Relevance logics, linear logic, arrow logic, temporal logics, modal logics, logics of ‘this, that and the other’. The plurality of logics is now, ‘a fact of modern scientific culture’2. As for relativism in general, some analytical philosophers oppose, but their logic, though impeccable, is unconvincing, and seemingly too abstract, too easy. Relativism is indeed self-refuting; yet it can be intuitively compelling. This leaves us with a dilemma — a logically sound argument that has little persuasive force. Why is it compelling? It might be said that logical and philoso- phical arguments do not destroy the fact of culture; but culture on its own hardly implies that thought is relative. One can look for univer- sals in culture, as Staal does. 1 Staal, (1988), p.2. For a discussion of this attitude within contemporary academic philosophy, in the analytic, continental, and historical traditions,...

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