Ideas of John Richardson, by Theme

[American, fl. 2002, Professor at New York University.]

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1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 3. Metaphysical Systems
Metaphysics aims at the essence of things, and a system to show how this explains other truths
     Full Idea: The core of metaphysics is an account of the 'essence' or 'being' of things. ...And metaphysics needs system, to show how these primary truths reach out into all the other truths, to help us see that, and how, they are true.
     From: John Richardson (Nietzsche's System [2002], Intro)
     A reaction: I like the phrase 'the essential nature' of things, because it doesn't invoke rather dodgy entities called 'essences', but everyone understands the idea of focusing on what is essential, and on things having a distinct 'nature'.
Metaphysics needs systems, because analysis just obsesses over details
     Full Idea: Metaphysics makes system a virtue, contrary to the tendency of analysis, which breaks a problem into ever finer parts and then absorbs itself in these.
     From: John Richardson (Nietzsche's System [2002], Intro)
     A reaction: I disagree, because it seems to rule out analytic metaphysics. I prefer Bertrand Russell's view. Admittedly analysis oftens gets stuck in the bog, especially if it hopes for salvation in logic, only to discover its certainties endlessly receding.
Metaphysics generalises the data, to get at the ontology
     Full Idea: The evidence lies at the periphery of the [metaphysical] system and runs in from there, through decreasingly specific accounts of the data, to the central ontology.
     From: John Richardson (Nietzsche's System [2002], Intro)
     A reaction: Philosophy is the study of high level generalisations, IMHO. Studying them means studying the reasons for asserting them. Richardson puts it very nicely.
24. Political Theory / A. Basis of a State / 1. A People / a. Human distinctiveness
Humans dominate because, unlike other animals, they have a synthesis of conflicting drives
     Full Idea: In contrast to the other animals, man has cultivated an abundance of contrary drives and impulses within himself: thanks to this synthesis, he is master of the earth.
     From: John Richardson (Nietzsche's System [2002], 966)
     A reaction: If this is true, it presents the fundamental challenge of politicial philosophy - to visual a successful social system for a creature which does not have a clear and focused nature. For Nietzsche, this 'synthesis' continually evolves.
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 7. Eliminating causation
A mind that could see cause and effect as a continuum would deny cause and effect
     Full Idea: An intellect that could see cause and effect as a continuum and a flux, and not, as we do, in terms of an arbitrary division and dismemberment, would repudiate the concept of cause and effect.
     From: John Richardson (Nietzsche's System [2002], 112)
     A reaction: Maybe we do see it as a continuum? The racket swings and the ball is propelled, but the contact is a unity, not two separate events.