Realism and the language dependence of the external world : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Philosophy at Massey University

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Massey University
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This Thesis falls loosely into 2 Parts. In Part 1 (Chs. 1-4) a certain version of the view generally called "Realism" is put forward. This Realism is a view that can take either of two forms, one weak or soft, the other hard or strong. The first form states that there is an external world, which we experience and which influences language. The second form states that there is an external world, which is mirrored in consciousness and which is also mirrored in language. That is, the contents of consciousness and the contents of language correspond exactly to an absolute external world. This second stronger version (which I call "Metaphysical Realism") is refuted in Chapters 2-4. Refuting it, however, still leaves us with the first view intact. In the rest of the thesis I argue that this first weaker version of Realism is essentially correct. This is because: a. Objects do indeed exist. (Ch. 5) b. At least part of what we do when we say we see X is refer to a genuine experience of X. (Chs 6 & 7) c. In a certain sense the world is known non-linguistically. (Ch. 8) The final chapter, Ch. 9, is designed to show how language influences what might loosely be called the "External World". Hence we end up with a genuine "Realism" which is yet in a sense "language dependent", for this "real world" is formed by language which then reports on the world so formed.
Substance (Philosophy), Realism