Two talks by Julianne Chung (Assistant Professor, University of Louisville)
Date: August 1st 2017
Venue: Seminar room No.10, 1st floor of Research Building No.2
Title: Taking Skepticism Seriously: How the Zhuangzi can Inform Contemporary Epistemology
Abstract: This paper explores a few of the ways that the Zhuangzi can inform contemporary analytic epistemology. However, to accomplish this, I must first give some account of what the Zhuangzi does. Because it is controversial as to how to interpret the positive philosophical project proposed in the Zhuangzi, I begin by briefly outlining and summarizing the case for my fictionalist interpretation of the text. Then I use this interpretation as a springboard for discussing how the Zhuangzi can be brought into productive dialogue with a perennial philosophical question: namely, the question of how we should respond to skeptical arguments (and similar). Specifically, I argue that the Zhuangzi can be reasonably interpreted as exemplifying an approach that is different from dominant contemporary responses to skeptical arguments in at least three significant ways: i) It is fictionalist, ii) It motivates a skeptical perspective rather than a claim, and iii) It accomplishes its aims in a stylistically and substantively atypical, but nonetheless contextually savvy way. However, there are also at least three significant ways in which it is relevant to contemporary debates about skeptical arguments: i) It can be used to respond to the same sorts of skeptical arguments that occupy contemporary commentators, ii) It can be used to address a number of questions, influential in contemporary epistemology, that arise in connection with such arguments, and iii) It can be used to suggest important new questions for epistemologists to pursue going forward―questions that promise to considerably advance epistemology (and philosophy more broadly).
Title: Skepticism, Metaphor, and Epistemic Feelings
Abstract: One feature of debates about skeptical arguments that has largely been overlooked by contemporary analytic philosophers is that disputes about them are pervasive across a number of philosophical traditions. Some of the most general and powerful skeptical arguments—arguments from regress, arguments from circularity, and arguments from skeptical hypotheses—have been defended, and attacked, by Euroamerican, Indian, and Chinese philosophers alike. In other words, skepticism—as well as resistance to it—is in some sense a cross-cultural phenomenon. Because of this, it cries out for a cross-cultural explanation: that is, an account of why this is so. In this paper, I argue that the view that believing is knowing is a primary conceptual metaphor (which I characterize as a form of epistemic fictionalism) promises to provide at least the beginnings of such an explanation. I proceed by first briefly explaining what primary conceptual metaphors are before going on to explain why believing is knowing is plausibly among them, drawing on recent literature on epistemic feelings. Following that, I show how this account can be used to offer a unified (if partial) response to these three particularly pressing philosophical questions: i) Why are skeptical arguments appealing? ii) Why are skeptical arguments difficult to accept? and iii) Why are these features of skeptical arguments widespread? In other words, why is skepticism—as well as resistance to it—in some sense a cross-cultural phenomenon?
This workshop is supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B), JSPS: Dialetheism and Asian Philosophy: Construction of international research basis for Analytic Asian Philosophy (16H03344).