THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY
VOLUME XCI, NO. 9, SEPTEMBER
1994 SENSE, NONSENSE, AND THE SENSES: AN INQUIRY INTO THE POWERS OF THE HUMAN MIND*
"No theory is kind to us that cheats us of
LECTURE I: THE ANTINOMY OF REALISM
he besetting sin of philosophers seems to be throwing the
baby out with the bathwater. From the beginning, each "new wave" of philosophers has simply ignored the insights of the previous wave in the course of advancing its own. Today, we stand near the end of a century in which there have been many new insights in philosophy; but at the same time there has been an unprecedented forgetting of the insights of previous centuries and millennia. It would be absurd, however, to make the reactionary move of try- ing to believe what philosophers who lived two hundred or two thou- sand years ago believed. AsJohn Dewey would have told us, they lived under wholly different conditions and faced wholly different prob- lems, and such a return is impossible in any case. And even if it were possible to go back, to do so would be to ignore the correct criticisms of the abandoned positions that were made by later generations of philosophers. But I want to urge that we attempt to understand and, to the extent that it may be humanly possible, to overcome the pat-
* The Dewey Lectures at Columbia University, given March 22, 24, 29, 1994. Warm thanks to James Conant for his painstaking criticism of the successive drafts and helpful suggestions. Among others who assisted with criticisms, suggestions, and information at one point or another are Burton Dreben, Sam Fleischaker, Richard Heck, Ernie Lepore, David Macarthur, Sidney Morgenbesser, Alva Noe, Robert Nozick, Dan O'Connor, and, as always, Ruth Anna Putnam. My apologies to anyone whose help I may have forgotten to acknowledge. I Henty James to Robert Louis Stevenson, anuary 12, 1891, in Henty ames: elected Letters, eon Edel, ed. (Cambridge: Harvard, 987), p. 242. 0022-362X/94/9109/445-517 ? 1994 TheJournal of Philosophy, Inc.