[SydPhil] Andy Hamilton on Conceptual Holism, University of Wollongong, Wednesday, 14 Dec, 3pm-4pm

Sally Cole cole at uow.edu.au
Mon Dec 12 11:00:36 AEDT 2022

ANDY HAMILTON: "Analytic versus synthetic philosophy: The case for conceptual holism"

WHEN: Wednesday, Dec 14, 3pm-4pm.
WHERE: Building 19, Room 1093 (first floor), University of Wollongong

We will be going for drinks at the Uni Bar straight after the talk.

 A claim of conceptual holism between two concepts says that one cannot acquire one without acquiring the other, nor manifest understanding of one without manifesting understanding of the other. Conceptual holisms contrast with one-way presupposition, such as that between "photograph" and "picture".
A philosophically uninteresting holism is that between "monarch" and "subject", which is analytic. Genuinely conceptual holisms include memory and personal identity; proprioception and bodily individuation; my body and objectivity concepts; belief and assertion; concept and object; intention and action; natural law and causation; the right and the good; art and the aesthetic.
Conceptual holisms give rise to Euthyphro-type paradoxes. The original paradox asks - roughly - whether God commands something because it is good, or is something good because God commands it. My answer is a distinctive no-priority resolution - converting the dilemma, effectively, into a trilemma. The neglected disjunct claims a conceptual holism between God and goodness. Thus the traditional objection to the divine command interpretation, that God might will something that is by secular standards morally outrageous, could not arise. So Euthyphro-type paradoxes can be used to undermine the standard assumption of circularity objections, that one of the pair of concepts in question must be more fundamental.
Conceptual holisms illustrate what I call synthetic philosophy. At least since Quine's attack on analyticity, Analytic philosophers have become paranoid about circularity. But philosophy involves synthesis as well as analysis, and deals in benign as opposed to vicious circularities. I defend these views through examination of two conceptual holisms, that of art and the aesthetic, and that of memory and personal identity.

Andy Hamilton teaches Philosophy at Durham University, specialising in aesthetics, philosophy of mind, political philosophy and history of 19th and 20th century philosophy, especially Wittgenstein. His monographs are Aesthetics and Music (Continuum, 2007), The Self in Question: Memory, the Body and Self-Consciousness (Palgrave, 2013), and Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Wittgenstein and On Certainty (Routledge 2014).

Dr Talia Morag
Head of Postgraduate Studies; Honours Coordinator
School of Liberal Arts
Faculty of Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities
Building 19, room 1092
University of Wollongong | NSW 2522

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