Advertisement

Between biology and philosophy: Our knowledge of the real world

  • Gerhard Vollmer

Abstract

Cognition takes place in our heads. Using the signals that we receive from our sense organs our brain builds up a picture of the world in to a whole worldview. We construe the world as three-dimensional, as ordered and directed in time, as regular, even structured by laws of nature, and causally connected. With some of our constructions we are successful, with others we fail. The principles by which we construct this world picture are not only dictated by our sense organs or exclusively by external stimuli. How did they come into our heads? This question is answered by evolutionary epistemology. We recapitulate its main theses, characterizing it as a naturalistic position and answering three typical objections. We then turn to more recent arguments, concerning language, realism, and the theory of natural selection.

Keywords

Natural Selection Sense Organ Good Argument Cognitive Faculty Language Faculty 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Bickerton D (1983) Creole languages. Sci Am 249 (July): 108–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bickerton D (1984) The language bioprogram hypothesis. Behav Brain Sci 7: 173–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brunswik E (1955) “Ratiomorphic” models of perception and thinking. Acta Psych 11: 108–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chomsky N (1966) Cartesian linguistics: a chapter in the history of rationalist thought. Harper & Row, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  5. Goldwin-Meadow S, Mylander C (1998) Spontaneous sign systems created by deaf children in two cultures. Nature 391, no. 6664: 279–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gorgias, cited by Sextus Empiricus (ca. 200, 1998) VII 65 ff.Google Scholar
  7. Kaplan R W (1985) On the numbers of extant, extinct, and possible species of organisms. Biol Zbl 104: 647–653Google Scholar
  8. Kimura M (1983) The neutral theory of molecular evolution. Cambridge UP, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Locke J (1706) An essay concerning human understanding. Fifth editionGoogle Scholar
  10. May R M (1992) How many species inhabit the earth? Sci American 267 (October): 42–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Mayr E (1988) Toward a new philosophy of biology. Harvard UP, Cambridge MAGoogle Scholar
  12. Pinker S (1994) The language instinct. Morrow, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  13. Pinker S (1997) How the mind works. Norton, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  14. Putnam H (1976) What is “realism”? Proc Aristotelian Society 76: 177–194, p 177Google Scholar
  15. Putnam H (1981) Reason, truth and history. Cambridge UP, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Quine W V O (1969) Epistemology naturalized. In: Ontological relativity and other essays. Columbia University Press, New York, p 90—Quine: Natural kinds. Ibid., p 126Google Scholar
  17. Ruse M (1995) Evolutionary naturalism. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  18. Sellars R W (1922) Evolutionary naturalism. Open Court, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  19. Sextus Empiricus (ca. 200, 1998) Adversus mathematicos/ Against the mathematicians. Clarendon, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  20. Simpson G G (1963) Biology and the nature of science. Science 139: 81–88, p 84PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Slobin D I (1985-1997) (ed.) The cross-linguistic study of language acquisition. Erlbaum, MahwahGoogle Scholar
  22. Vollmer G (1986) Die Unvollständigkeit der Evolutionstheorie. In: Vollmer G (1986) Was können wir wissen? Vol. 2: Die Erkenntnis der Natur. Hirzel, Stuttgart, pp 1–38Google Scholar
  23. Vollmer G (1987) What evolutionary epistemology is not. In: Callebaut W, Pinxten R (eds.) Evolutionary epistemology: a multiparadigm program. Reidel, Dordrecht, pp 203–221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Vollmer G (1994) Was ist Naturalismus? Logos, N. S., 1: 200–219Google Scholar
  25. Vollmer G (2003) Woran scheitern Theorien? In Vollmer G (2003) Wieso können wir die Welt erkennen? Hirzel, Stuttgart 2003, pp 89–120Google Scholar
  26. Wittgenstein L (1922) Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag/Wien 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerhard Vollmer
    • 1
  1. 1.Neuburg/DonauGermany

Personalised recommendations