Ideas from 'Individuals:Essay in Descript Metaphysics' by Peter F. Strawson [1959], by Theme Structure

[found in 'Individuals: Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics' by Strawson,Peter F. [Methuen University 1974,0-416-68310-x]].

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1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 1. Nature of Metaphysics
Descriptive metaphysics aims at actual structure, revisionary metaphysics at a better structure
                        Full Idea: Descriptive metaphysics (e.g. Aristotle and Kant) is content to describe the actual structure of our thought about the world; revisionary metaphysics (e.g. Descartes, Leibniz, Berkeley) is concerned to produce a better structure.
                        From: Peter F. Strawson (Individuals:Essay in Descript Metaphysics [1959], Intro)
                        A reaction: This distinction by Strawson was incredibly helpful in reinstating metaphysics as a feasible activity. I don't want to abandon the revisionary version. We can hammer the current metaphysics into a more efficient shape, or even create new concepts.
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 6. Metaphysics as Conceptual
Descriptive metaphysics concerns unchanging core concepts and categories
                        Full Idea: Descriptive metaphysics is primarily concerned with categories and concepts which, in their fundamental character, change not at all. They are the commonplaces of the least refined thinking, and the indispensable core for the most sophisticated humans.
                        From: Peter F. Strawson (Individuals:Essay in Descript Metaphysics [1959], Intro)
                        A reaction: This seems to be the basic premise for a modern metaphysician such as E.J.Lowe, though such thinkers are not averse to suggesting clarifications of our conceptual scheme. The aim must be good foundations for a successful edifice of knowledge.
1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 5. Linguistic Analysis
Close examination of actual word usage is the only sure way in philosophy
                        Full Idea: Up to a point, the reliance upon a close examination of the actual use of words is the best, and indeed the only sure, way in philosophy.
                        From: Peter F. Strawson (Individuals:Essay in Descript Metaphysics [1959], Intro)
                        A reaction: Probably the last bold assertion of ordinary language philosophy, though Strawson goes on the defend his 'deeper' version of the activity, which he says is 'descriptive metaphysics', rather than mere 'analysis'. Mere verbal analysis now looks hopeless.
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 4. Other Minds / d. Other minds by analogy
I can only apply consciousness predicates to myself if I can apply them to others
                        Full Idea: One can ascribed states of consciousness to oneself only if one can ascribe them to others. One can ascribe them to others only if one can identify other subjects of experience, and they cannot be identified only as subjects of experience.
                        From: Peter F. Strawson (Individuals:Essay in Descript Metaphysics [1959], 3.4)
                        A reaction: A neat linguistic twist on the analogy argument, but rather dubious, if it is actually meant to prove that other minds exist. It is based on his view of predicates - see Idea 9281. If the rest of humanity are zombies, why would I not apply them?
16. Persons / B. Nature of the Self / 7. Self and Body / a. Self needs body
A person is an entity to which we can ascribe predicates of consciousness and corporeality
                        Full Idea: What I mean by the concept of a person is the concept of a type of entity such that both predicates ascribing states of consciousness and predicates ascribing corporeal characteristics are equally applicable to a single individual of that single type.
                        From: Peter F. Strawson (Individuals:Essay in Descript Metaphysics [1959], 3.4)
                        A reaction: As Frankfurt points out, merely requiring the entity to be 'conscious' is a grossly inadequate definition of what we mean by a person, which is typically a being that is self-aware and capable of rational decisions between alternatives.
19. Language / C. Assigning Meanings / 3. Predicates
The idea of a predicate matches a range of things to which it can be applied
                        Full Idea: The idea of a predicate is correlative with a range of distinguishable individuals of which the predicate can be significantly, though not necessarily truly, affirmed.
                        From: Peter F. Strawson (Individuals:Essay in Descript Metaphysics [1959], 3.4 n1)
                        A reaction: Said to be one of Strawson's most important ideas. The idea is that you understand a predicate if you understand its range, not just a one-off application. So you must understand the implied universal, whatever that is.