Philosophy ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-27-1970


Philosophy pursues a rational explication of our under­standing, experiences, and values in terms of objective truth and reality. Conspicuously, its view of rationality has been rigid and preconceived. Application of this preconceived reason in the explication of the essential features of our world fails and issues in a network of dialectical tangles. These artificially created tangles pose a unique intellectual challenge, but the perennial failure to resolve them limits the intellectual response of philosophers to remaining caught in the tangles, or to taking intuitively favorable sides, or to simply denouncing the tangles as meaningless. Each is understandable.

Superficially, traditional philosophical reason looks like a correct tool for the explication of our world of com­mon sense, but its applications to the world result in logi­cal tangles showing its inadequacy. The philosopher's faith in such reason ends up in one of two positions: abandoning our world in the interests of such reason, or embodying it­ self in the world through a special form of reason. Classi­cally, Plato took the first and Aristotle the second position. My analysis shows that Plato failed to explicate the relation between his world of Forms and our world of particulars, and, more importantly, between the Forms and the intuitive reason which grasps them. Aristotle, in my analysis, cannot conceal that the law of noncontradiction is a mere exhortation and has no descriptive necessity with respect to thought, things, or meaning. We also find such dialectical difficulties in Augustine, Hume, and Strawson.

"Microphilosophical feasibilism" is our proposal for the best treatment, if not the definitive solution, of these problems. Instead of separating philosophical method into logic, epistemology, axiology, and metaphysics on the one side, and partitioning the projected results of philosophi­zing into validity, truth, valuation, and reality on the other, we need to start philosophizing with a general dis­tinction between "method employed" and "intended result." This distinction is not pre-colored by claims to ultimate verities. It is a direct aid to understanding. I consider the basic inevitable paradox that a philosopher should ex­plain not only our understanding of experience but also his philosophizing itself. The circularity between "method em­ployed" and "intended result" needs to be admitted as an initial fact about reason rather than circumvented by an implausibly claimed capacity of philosophical reason to formally transcend everything including this circularity.

Presuppositions are reduced to a minimum inevitable number. Being our primary microphilosophical criteria, they are reason, experience, and value in their minimal sense. They cannot be plausibly substituted or further reduced. They cannot be preferred one or more to others arbitrarily. We show how, in rnicrophilosophy, they coincide or synchro­nize. Jointly and basically, they form the minimal method employed. The initial, basic, intended result is called minimum feasibility. The fundamental circularity between method and result leaves no way out but to ground self­ reference in such a manner that method and result "logico­ genetically" coincide. Two extreme situations are avoided: "the logical zero-situation" where nothing is true or real, and "the credulous open situation" where everything is true or real. Finding a mean manifests a basic value. If the meaning of truth and reality is to be preserved, the basic value must have a clear impact and express descriptive rather than revisionary reason.

Several other stringent demands are raised as condi­tions which microphilosophy should fulfil to achieve feasi­bility. The final, joint, outcome of both "method" and "result," in the thesis of microphilosophical feasibilism, is formulated thus: Self refers freely and symbolically to itself, own person, own body, material bodies, other persons' bodies, other persons, and other selves.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Paul Frederic Schmidt

Second Committee Member

Brian Edgar O'Neil

Third Committee Member

Hubert Griggs Alexander

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