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Ideas of Stephen S. Colvin, by Text

[American, 1869 - 1923, Professor at Brown University.]

1902 The Common-Sense View of Reality
p.140 p.140 We can only distinguish self from non-self if there is an inflexible external reality
     Full Idea: Were there no inflexible reality outside of the individual, opposing and limiting it, knowledge of the self and the non-self would never develop.
     From: Stephen S. Colvin (The Common-Sense View of Reality [1902], p.140)
     A reaction: Presumably opponents would have to say that such 'knowledge' is an illusion. This is in no way a conclusive argument, but I approach the problem of realism in quest of the best explanation, and this idea is important evidence.
p.141 p.141 Common-sense realism rests on our interests and practical life
     Full Idea: It is the determination of the external world from the practical standpoint, from the standpoint of interest, that may be defined as the common-sense view of reality.
     From: Stephen S. Colvin (The Common-Sense View of Reality [1902], p.141)
     A reaction: Probably more appropriately named the 'pragmatic' view of reality. Relying on what is 'practical' seems to offer some objectivity, but relying on 'interest' rather less so. Can I be an anti-realist when life goes badly, and a realist when it goes well?
p.144 p.144 Metaphysics is hopeless with its present epistemology; common-sense realism is needed
     Full Idea: Despair over metaphysics will not change until it has shaken off the incubus of a perverted epistemology, which has left thought in a hopeless tangle - until common-sense critical realism is made the starting point for investigating reality.
     From: Stephen S. Colvin (The Common-Sense View of Reality [1902], p.144)
     A reaction: It seems to me that this is what has happened to analytic metaphysics since Kripke. Careful discussions about the nature of an object, or a category, or a property, are relying on unquestioned robust realism. Quite right too.
p.145 p.145 Arguments that objects are unknowable or non-existent assume the knower's existence
     Full Idea: Arguments for the absolute unknowability or non-existence of an external object only works by assuming that another external object, an individual, is known completely in so far as that individual expresses a judgement about an external object.
     From: Stephen S. Colvin (The Common-Sense View of Reality [1902], p.145)
     A reaction: Anti-realism is a decay that eats into everything. You can't doubt all the externals without doubting all the internals as well.
p.145 p.145 If objects are doubted because their appearances change, that presupposes one object
     Full Idea: If objects are doubted because the same object appears differently at different times and circumstances, in order that this judgement shall have weight it must be assumed that the object under question is the same in its different presentations.
     From: Stephen S. Colvin (The Common-Sense View of Reality [1902], p.145)
     A reaction: [compressed] Scepticism could eat into the underlying object as well. Is the underlying object a 'substrate'? If so, what's that? Is the object just a bundle of a properties? If so, there is no underlying object.
p.150 p.150 The idea that everything is relations is contradictory; relations are part of the concept of things
     Full Idea: The doctrine [that all we can know is the relations between subject and object] is in its essence self-contradictory, since our very idea of thing implies that it is something in relation either actually or potentially.
     From: Stephen S. Colvin (The Common-Sense View of Reality [1902], p.150)
     A reaction: Ladyman and Ross try to defend an account of reality based entirely on relations. I'm with Colvin on this one. All accounts of reality based either on pure relations or pure functions have a huge hole in their theory.