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Is Intuition Necessary for Defending Platonism?

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Gödel asserts that his philosophy falls under the category of conceptual realism. This paper gives a general picture of Gödel’s conceptual realism’s basic doctrines, and gives a way to understand conceptual realism in the background of Leibniz’s and Kant’s philosophies. Among philosophers of mathematics, there is a widespread view that Platonism encounters an epistemological difficulty because we do not have sensations of abstract objects. In his writings, Gödel asserts that we have mathematical intuitions of mathematical objects. Some philosophers do not think it is necessary to resort to intuition to defend Platonism, and other philosophers think that the arguments resorting to intuition are too naïve to be convincing. I argue that the epistemic difficulty is not particular to Platonism; when faced with skepticism, physicalists also need to give an answer concerning the relationship between our experience and reality. Gödel and Kant both think that sensations or combinations of sensations are not ideas of physical objects, but that, to form ideas of physical objects, concepts must be added. However, unlike Kant, Gödel thinks that concepts are not subjective but independent of our minds. Based on my analysis of Gödel’s conceptual realism, I give an answer to the question in the title and show that arguments resorting to intuition are far from naïve, despite what some philosophers have claimed.

Affiliations: 1: School of Philosophy, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872,


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