An Introduction to Continental Philosophy by David West PDF

By David West

ISBN-10: 0745611850

ISBN-13: 9780745611853

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This approach faces a series of wellknown and intractable difficulties. How can we overcome sceptical doubts about the reliability of this instrument or doubts whether the external world exists at all? How can we know that there are other minds? How, Hegel is incHned to add, do we know that this view of knowledge is itself accurate? I f we adopt the stance of Cartesian radical doubt, then even this view must itself be questioned. Accord­ ing to Hegel, Kant's transcendental ideaUsm relies on a similar view of mind or 'understanding' as the unavoidable funnel of our experi- T h e H e g e l i a n Synthesis 39 ences of the outside world.

Germans should look for their own way through the thickets of modernity. On the other hand, relativism is for some only a few steps from nihilism. I f there is no universal moral standard, then there might as well be no C o n t i n e n t a l Critics o f E n l i g h t e n m e n t 33 standard at all. Any value can be defended as an essential component of a discrete cultural tradition. As we shall see, the apparently short path from the social constitution of the individual through relativism to nihihsm sets a stubborn and recurrent problem for subsequent thinkers in the continental tradition.

In effect, processes of modernization are reconstructed not as a linear 'progress' of uninterrupted development, but an uneven and conflictridden series of one-sided but improving manifestations of spirit. Hegel's dialectical method is also applied in his early and most famous attempt to escape from the central conundrum of Enlighten­ ment epistemology, The Phenomenology ofMind. The characteristic approach of the Enlightenment sees knowledge as a medium or instrument by which the subject, understood in Cartesian terms, gains access to an external reality.

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An Introduction to Continental Philosophy by David West

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