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Renaissance to the PresentTwenty-first-century Developments

It is difficult to predict the debates and positions for which the early twenty-first century era will be remembered. A result of the focus on language and meaning produced by logical positivism is perhaps that many important metaphysical debates at the beginning of the twenty-first century have centered not on the question of what existence is or is like generally but on the question of whether particular sorts of things exist. A response to the positivist challenge to ethics, for example, has been to claim that terms in ethics are meaningful in the sense that they refer to real, existing things in the world, good and evil. In modal metaphysics, questions about the meaningfulness of possibility have produced debates over the metaphysical status of possible worlds: are possibilities real, and if so, how are they different from actual existents? Finally, the mind-body problem, now recast as the question of the relationship between the mind and the brain, and the existence of general or natural kinds, often a problem for set theory, have remained hotly debated matters.

The tradition of phenomenology and existentialism has given way to the movements of structuralism and deconstructionism. Proponents of these methods might, like many phenomenologists, deny that they study anything like traditional metaphysics. Structuralists abstract from the genesis and subject of a particular kind of world or experience and analyze it as a product of thought, or text, without a thinker, who, it is argued, is irrelevant to meaning. Deconstructionism is the view that largely as a result of the fact that texts are created by thinkers, the relevant structures are binary and can be understood in terms of opposition within the structure. The aim of deconstruction is to show how, like the self and the world for Fichte, the opposed units in the structures depend upon one another.


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Michael LeBuffe

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Mathematics to Methanal trimerMetaphysics - Renaissance to the Present - The Renaissance (1433–1617), The Early Modern Period (1561–1753), Final Causes, Kant's "copernican Revolution" In Metaphysics