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Knowing Things in Themselves

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Mind, Brentano and Acquaintance

image of Grazer Philosophische Studien

A perennial epistemological question is whether things can be known just as they are in the absence of any awareness of them. This epistemological question is posterior to ontological considerations and more specific ones pertaining to mind. In light of such considerations, the author propounds a naïve realist, foundationalist account of knowledge of things in themselves, one that makes crucial use of the work of Brentano. After introducing the resources provided by Brentano’s study of mind, the author reveals the ontological framework in which it takes place. Doing so is instrumental to illuminating acquaintance, the state that enables the direct engagement of a mind and some other thing. The author discusses this state and shows how it has the epistemic heft, with a Brentanian account of judgment, to provide the foundations of one’s knowledge of the world. A naïve realist, foundationalist account of knowledge is open to a compelling objection; the author presents this objection with the means of undermining it. In conclusion, the author recurs to the opening theme of the primacy of ontology and suggests that familiar misgivings about knowing things in themselves are all based on questionable—and ultimately untenable—ontological presuppositions.

Affiliations: 1: University of California, Irvine


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