Complexity’s Bearing on Philosophical Anthropology
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The real world is a manifold of complexity—so intricate and intractable in its make-up—that its cognitive mastery in satisfying detail is somewhere between impracticable and impossible in many matters of interest and importance for us. The theorist who has perhaps most emphatically stressed the standardistic aspect of philosophical conceptions was the English philosopher R. G. Collingwood. As Collingwood stressed, “imperfect” generalizations of the sort that standardism typifies are bound to play a key role in philosophical theorizing. In any case, philosophical standardism opts for practicable modesty in a complex world. For, “All philosophical generalizations are problematic” carries obvious consequences for this generalization itself. The fact that philosophy may use the scientific facts of life for its explanatory purposes—how else, after all, would a philosophy of nature or a philosophical psychology be possible—does not make philosophy into a natural science.