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Sign

(3,172 words)

Author(s): Rudolph, Enno | Brown, Robert F. | Slenczka, Notger
1. Term A sign in the most general sense is something understood to stand for something else, for something other than the sign itself. To serve as a sign, it must be recognized as signifying what it stands for. People and computer programs recognize and employ signs. To determine whether other animals do too depends on what counts as a sign, and on the assessment of their cognitive and instinctual functions. There is no unanimity as to what counts as a sign or how to classify different sorts of signs. Some signs have a direct or natural connection between their characteristics or oc…

Skepticism

(1,033 words)

Author(s): Rudolph, Enno
1. Antiquity Skepticism (from Gk. skeptomai, “examine”) is a principle of thought, constantly modified in the history of philosophy, whereby doubt is cast on everything. It originated with the founder of the third post-Aristotelian school, Pyrrho of Elis (ca. 360–ca. 272 b.c.). Pyrrho’s teachings were handed down by Sextus Empiricus (fl. early 3d cent. a.d.), ¶ which gave rise to the traditional equating of Pyrrhonism and skepticism. Pyrrho established the possibility of a radical skepticism with his argument that there are no convincing reasons for …

Causality

(1,313 words)

Author(s): Rudolph, Enno
1. Classic Definition The term “causality” is used to identify a natural event or action as the effect of a cause. In conflict with the skepticism of D. Hume (1711–76), the principle that all that happens has a cause has been a basic epistemological formula from the time of I. Kant (1724–1804). Strictly speaking, its general validity became possible and meaningful only with Kant’s epistemology. According to Kant, causality is one of the necessary conditions of the possibility of experience (Kantianism). As a pure concept a priori, it precedes experience. We interpret an event ¶ as causall…

Philosophy of Nature

(3,093 words)

Author(s): Rudolph, Enno | Brown, Robert F.
1. Term and Concept In a secular context “nature” refers to “all that there is,” all the matter and energy in the universe, all the objects and forces that can be studied by the physical sciences. A narrow and popular sense, as in “nature study,” concerns mainly the plant and animal species, as well as the geology and meteorology, of earth’s environments. Philosophy of nature in the broad sense involves theoretical consideration not only of the kinds of natural entities that exist but also their int…

Symbol

(2,971 words)

Author(s): Bucher, Anton A. | Brown, Robert F. | Rudolph, Enno | Bürki, Bruno
1. Term “Symbol” (Gk. symbolon, Lat. symbolum) is a broad term with various senses and applications. Symbols are like signs in that they represent, or refer to, something that is other, or more, than themselves. The category of symbols is usually said to overlap that of signs. Some interpreters use the two terms almost interchangeably; others treat symbols as special kinds of signs with characteristics of their own. Still others seek to distinguish clearly between the two (Sign 1). Symbols and signs point beyond themselves. The conventional kind of sign usually has a singl…

Bergson, Henri

(437 words)

Author(s): Rudolph, Enno
[German Version] (Oct 18, 1859, Paris – Jan 4, 1941) became professor of philosophy at the Collège de France in 1890 and a member of the Académie Française in 1914. He was president of the “Commission for intellectual cooperation” of the League of Nations from 1922 to 1925, and received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1927. He is one of the most important th…