Thursday, July 5, 2007

Thursday July 5, 2007

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:48 PM
Their Name is Legion

“Although it may not at first be obvious,
the substitution for real religions
 of a religion drained of particulars
is of a piece with the desire to
exorcise postmodernism.”

Stanley Fish, July 2002

The previous entry linked to an entry of June 2002 that attacked the nominalism of Stanley Fish.  Here is another such attack:

From “Stanley Fish: The Critic as Sophist,” by R.V. Young, in Modern Age, June 22, 2003:

In one of the definitive works of conservatism in the twentieth century, Richard Weaver designates the rise of nominalism as a critical turn in the emergence of the intellectual and cultural disintegration associated with liberalism, which it is the business of a reviving conservatism to contest: “The defeat of logical realism in the great medieval debate was the crucial event in the history of Western culture; from this flowed those acts which issue now in modern decadence.” It is nominalism that provides the intellectual foundation– if a paradox may be hazarded– for the attack by Fish and numerous others (their name is Legion) on the very idea of intellectual foundations:  

It was William of Occam who propounded the fateful doctrine of nominalism, which denies that universals have real existence. His triumph tended to leave universal terms mere names serving our  convenience. The issue ultimately involved is whether there is a  source of truth higher than, and independent of, man; and the answer to the question is decisive for one’s view of the nature and destiny of humankind. The practical result of nominalist philosophy is to banish the reality which is perceived by the intellect and to posit as reality that which is perceived by the senses. (4)

(4). Ideas Have Consequences (Chicago and London, 1948), 3.

R.V. YOUNG is Professor of English at North Carolina State University and author of At War With the Word and Doctrine and Devotion in Seventeenth-Century Poetry (2000).

Related material:

Simon Blackburn on
Plato and sophists,
realism and nominalism
(previous entry)


Plato, Pegasus, and

the Evening Star

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