foundationalism

Philip Goldstein pgold at strauss.udel.edu
Wed Jan 25 05:42:00 MST 1995


	Justin Schwartz concludes his very interesting and informed
account of foundationalism with the following point. "Thus understood,
foundationlism is what philosophers call realism, atleast
on its semantic and metaphysical sides, and anti-foundationalism is what
philosophers call idealism--the doctrine that the world itself depends on
or is constituted by our conceptions or language. So understood, I am of
course a foundationalist." I think he is right to say that
foundationalism implies some kind of realism but not that
anti-foundationalism is idealist. The reason is that language too can be
independent of our conceptions and ideas. Fixed by definitions and rule
governed discourse, language can be material, a real force. Nothing about
anti-foundationalism commits it to an idealist view of language, though
foundationalism may well be idealist or realist. A realist may want to
consign anti-foundationalism to the idealists and thereby prove that
class struggle is alive and well in philosophical circles, but there are
not real grounds for that dismissal. In other words, even though
anti-foundationalism rejects the analytic philosophers belief that
impressions, percepts, or facts are primary and accepts the Derridean
belief that discourse does not depend upon external grounds or realities,
anti-foundationalism need not fall into the idealist camp in which the
mind or spirit governs all. The neat, classical oppositions don't work so
well if one grants that language is material.

Philip Goldstein

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