Hans Vaihinger - The Philosophy of as If - Ebook download as PDF File .pdf) or read book online. 'As if' r\ S.l'stcut of tlrc, Itr':r.'ti.' liietiotts.,rl' I\'l;rnkin.l lly. H . VAIHINGER. 'fr:rrrslrk'd lry. C. K. OGDEN. NEW YORK. HARCOURT, BRACIi. Hans Vaihinger was a German philosopher, best known as a Kant scholar and for his Die Vaihinger's philosophy of 'as if' can be viewed as one of the central premises upon which . Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version.

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The Philosophy of 'As if': A System of the Theoretical, Practical and Religious Fictions of a book by the German philosopher Hans Vaihinger, based on his dissertation of . Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version . The philosophy of 'as if'; a system of the theoretical, practical and religious fictions of mankind. by: Vaihinger, Hans, ; Ogden, Charles Kay urn:acs6: philosophyofasif00vaih:pdf:ddea-5efa-4ea5-bd Vaihinger's philosophy of , avoiding re-formulations and qualifications in . “ If sensations are the starting-point of all logical activity and at the same Tübingen.

He argues, via a comparative historical analysis that is focused through the prism of his own synoptic interpretation, that these thinkers taken together show us how knowledge itself is best understood as an edifice of fictional constructs built atop the "optical illusions" and "aesthetic anthropomorpshisms" as Nietzsche called them, in Beyond Good and Evil created by our organismic embodiment in the world.

In this view, the clearest view we can attain of the real is the negative, self-reflexive view afforded us when we see our organismic illusions for what they are.

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Reading back from Nietzsche, Vaihinger casts a new light on the true epistemic function, for organismic existents, of the laws of nature, of causality, of the lines, points, and of axioms of the mathematician, of the independent substances inevitably postulated by the logician, and of the very principle of parsimony posited by Occam as the regulative principle of science. In a way, he shows how Nietzsche following Kant's re-interpretation of the foundational concepts of ontology in terms of the perspective of the human subject more seriously takes into account the epistemic implications of the purely organismic grounding of knowledge than do most optimistic, positivistically-inclined evolutionary epistemologists: namely, the fact that knowledge serves survival and organismic thriving, not the exigencies of objective truth.

Knowledge is the means whereby we construct a human, cognizable, systematizable world atop the intractable otherness of the real world.

The "philosophy as-if" suspends belief in the foundational faith of any rational epistemology, namely, the belief that the pattern of the mind is adequate to grasp the pattern of the world, that the human part can grasp the form of the universal whole. Once you suspend this foundational act of faith and take a very clear look at the nature of the knowledge situation, as well as the human drives that power it, Vaihinger persuasively argues, "the philosophy of as-if" is what is left to our honest perusal.

Among many other things, he shows that, in order to rightly understand any of these thinkers, we must understand them as tributaries that flow into and contribute to the unfolding of this larger pattern of philosophizing.

This, he argues persuasively, is especially true in the case of Kant and Nietzsche, neither of which you can understand unless you place them in relation to each other on this larger map of philosophical positions that converge around "the philosophy of as-if," which he also calls "fictionalism," or the view that whatever else our knowledge-constructs may happen to be, what we can most surely say about them, from the vantage point which we, in fact, occupy, is that they are postulates grounded solely in our organismic striving to progressively extend the pattern set by our organismic requirements by re-creating the world in a human form.

Following Nietzsche, Vaihinger ruefully notes that we do not seek to know the world in itself; this is the foremost illusion of pre-critical epistemologies. According to Appiah, "Vaihinger's fundamental thoughts.

Building on this general framework, Appiah illustrates through examples the great diversity of purposes that can make it reasonable for us to proceed as though something that we know to be false is true in the way that is characteristic of an idealization.

He suggests that, when faced with an idealization, it's often philosophically illuminating to i attempt to identify the false propositions that are being treated as true, ii inquire into why it might be useful to proceed as though these propositions were true despite their falsity, and iii identify the purposes for which it's useful to proceed in this way p.

For Appiah and Vaihinger then, idealizations are "useful untruths" that we adopt despite knowing that they are false. Although I don't think that it amounts to a serious objection, I note in passing that there is at least one odd consequence of this way of understanding Vaihinger.

On this interpretation, the example that Vaihinger himself cited as the central inspiration for his theory -- Kant's claim that as agents we must act as if we have free will, notwithstanding the knowledge that the best science of the day tells us that our actions are causally determined -- does not seem to qualify as a genuine instance of the phenomenon.

For although Kant held that we do not know that we have free will, he also held that we are not in a position to know that this proposition is false -- and it's precisely this absence of knowledge that allows us to treat the proposition that we have free will as a "postulate of practical reason," and an object of rational hope. However, I suspect that the disconnect here reflects, not a problem in Appiah's interpretation of Vaihinger and still less a problem for his preferred account of idealization but rather excessive enthusiasm on Vaihinger's part for claiming a Kantian ancestry for his ideas in an intellectual context in which doing so would have been attractive.

In any case, it would also be interesting to explore a more general notion that subsumes as special cases both idealization in Appiah's sense as well as the kind of stance that Kant recommended we adopt towards the postulates of practical reason.

While Appiah really does draw lessons from Vaihinger and also from Ramsey about whom, more below , a reader of the book naturally gets the impression that Appiah thinks that Rawls gets much more wrong than right, at least when it comes to issues in this vicinity. Here, Appiah adds his voice to recent critics of "ideal theory" within political philosophy. In general, the kind of ideal theorizing that he takes to be objectionable is one "that seeks to guide our actions in the actual imperfect world by the image of utopia" p.

In addition to Rawls, Dworkin and Nozick are also cited as examples of prominent theorists whose work embodies this shortcoming. In the context of Rawls' project, the allegedly objectionable idealization involves his explicit methodological stipulation of strict or full compliance. According to this stipulation, we should choose among possible rules for a society on the assumption that whichever rules are chosen will be consistently followed by the members of the society in which they are adopted.

But why, Appiah asks, should we suppose that the right way to frame the rules of a just society is to consider the consequences of adopting rules with which actual people will almost certainly not fully comply? A better procedure, he sensible suggests, would take into account what our best social science has to say about which norms it's realistic to expect people to follow pp. In addition, Appiah has another important objection to the kind of normative political theorizing that attempts to put us in a position to draw conclusions about our actual situation by way of delineating what an ideally just society would look like: it rests on a faulty moral epistemology.

The philosophy of 'as if'; a system of the theoretical, practical and religious fictions of mankind

Following Amartya Sen, Appiah points out that one is often in a position to recognize that some social option is better than an alternative, where this is not a matter of starting with a vision of the ideal society and then figuring out which of the two options would, if realized, bring us closer to that ideal.

Moreover, what holds at the individual level holds at the collective level as well: The history of our collective moral learning doesn't start with the growing acceptance of a picture of an ideal society.

It starts with the rejection of some current practice or structure, which we come to see as wrong. You learn to be in favor of equality by noticing what is wrong with the unequal treatment of blacks, or women, or working-class or lower-caste people. Vaihinger thought core mathematical theories were themselves works of fiction. Pasch found it useful to imagine the exploits of fabulous creatures when formulating his axioms.

He found it helpful to recount those exploits when explaining his axioms to others.

He did not, however, insist that his axioms chronicled those exploits. While he hoped this would help readers understand his axioms, there is no indication that Pasch wanted his readers to treat arithmetic itself as a fictional tale about the activities of calculators with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. On the contrary, Pasch hints that his axioms assert something true about the possibility of certain constructions a, p.

He does not develop this point in detail, however.

Contemporary nominalists with this same aspiration can recognize in him a kindred spirit, with good philosophical intuitions, who, as Pasch helped to demonstrate, went often astray. While contemporary philosophers have interpreted mathematics in various ways, Vaihinger thought the point was to leave mathematics unchanged, acknowledging its absurdity while explaining its utility.

Moritz Pasch was a practicing mathematician, not a professional philosopher. Among the figures philosophers now consider important he showed awareness only of Hilbert.

In his later papers, there is not one reference to Brouwer, Frege, Russell, or Weyl. Though he thought it important to understand the general character of mathematics and its relationship to other sciences, the greater part of his foundational work aims to improve our mathematical understanding of particular mathematical theories.

His elaborate just so stories were instruments he found useful in this project. The stories indicate the content; they do not necessarily express it. He does, however, hope to turn our minds in the right direction.

A point of particular relevance for the philosophy of mathematics today is that Pasch was no structuralist.

He insisted that a thorough understanding of his geometric and arithmetical theories involves more than a grasp of the structures of their possible models. Even a scholar as fair and meticulous as Stewart Shapiro , p.

Structuralism is the result. If we leave the content terms uninterpreted, then, Pasch concedes, the projective axioms will still characterize a system of relations. He denies, though, that they provide a definition of the fundamental concepts. Pollard Did Pasch believe that experience with bodies verified his axioms? It is not so clear that this was his mature view. There is another question, however. That is certainly wrong. Pasch appeals to us as creatures of flesh with faculties of sense, creatures who manipulate and modify physical bodies, because he thinks this will help us understand his axioms.

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This understanding could involve a grasp of a distinctively mathematical content and mathematical principles, when so understood, will not necessarily be subject to direct empirical test. A view Michael Detlefsen , p. Logical mastery of a set of axioms, on this view, does not in itself bespeak any significant mathematical insight into the subject thus axiomatized.

It is not evident that this view has died out among mathematicians. At any rate, it would be harder to show that than to confirm that mathematicians are disinterested in the empirical verification of their theories. Shapiro , p.

Eminent mathematicians are sources of data: data about the science we philosophers are struggling to interpret.

Mathematicians sometimes say foolish things. So some data can reasonably be ignored; but we have to understand what the mathematician is saying before we 11 Hans Freudenthal , p. References Dehn, M. Jahresbericht der Deutschen Mathematiker- Vereinigung, 44, — Detlefsen, M.

Philosophia Mathematica, 3 1 , 24— Einstein, A. Relativity: The special and general theory R.

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Lawson, Trans. New York: Henry Holt. Engel, F. Pasch in Giessen.

Jahresbericht der Deutschen Mathematiker-Vereinigung, 44, — Freudenthal, H. The main trends in the foundations of geometry in the 19th century. Nagel, P. Tarski Eds.

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Stanford: Stanford University Press. Gandon, S. Dialogue, 44, — Hegselmann, R. Erkenntnis, 35, — Mares, E. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic, 38, — Pasch, M. Leipzig: Teubner. Grundfragen der Geometrie. Die Forderung der Entscheidbarkeit. Jahresbericht der Deutschen Mathematiker- Vereinigung, 27, — Der Ursprung des Zahlbegriffs.Miller, A.

Notwithstanding the diverse range of topics that are touched on at least briefly, and the official theme of idealization as important for every area of philosophy and beyond, much of the book is devoted to what is in fact a particular case, albeit one that is central to several disciplines: the idealization that is involved in modeling human beings as fully rational. Jahresbericht der Deutschen Mathematiker- Vereinigung, 27, — When, ordinarily, a speaker utters a sentence that semantically expresses a proposition that entails that there are numbers, what she says is accurate so long as according to the relevant fiction, there are numbers.

In addition, Appiah has another important objection to the kind of normative political theorizing that attempts to put us in a position to draw conclusions about our actual situation by way of delineating what an ideally just society would look like: it rests on a faulty moral epistemology.