Simplicity : A Meta-Metaphysics

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Simplicity presents a new, wide-ranging philosophical theory, one that concerns how reality is conceived. In so doing it also provides a new logic with which to approach conceptual situations. In this book, Craig Dilworth replaces the dualistic, true/false approach of formal logic with a three-part basis for thought. This basis consists of the categories of simplicity, complexity, and nothingness. The category of simplicity is paradoxical, while that of complexity is unproblematic, and that of nothingness is self-contradictory. When applied to ontological categories, such as those of substance, self, or causality, these categories of reason can resolve, rather than solve, intellectual issues. The notion of perspective is integral to the simplicity way of thinking. A particular entity-such as the self-may be conceived as simple in one perspective, while being complex or nothing in another. Combined with the categories of the simplicity theory, Dilworth uses the notion of perspective to reveal a type of conceptual conflict that differs from contradiction.
So, for example, simplicity better represents the relation between competing scientific theories-such as the wave and particle theories of radiation-as a form of perspectival incompatibility. The book distinguishes between two forms of simplicity: analytic and synthetic, which can respectively be conceived of as a point and a whole. Again, the notion of perspective is employed: what is analytically simple in one perspective may well be synthetically simple in another. In this book, the simplicity way of thinking is applied to intellectual issues in philosophy, set theory, and physics. These applications show how simplicity can provide real insight into a wide variety of conceptually complex situations.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 202 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 22.86mm | 453.59g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739177230
  • 9780739177235

Review quote

Dilworth's book is an extraordinarily insightful reflection on one of the most comprehensive of philosophical subjects, metaphysical categories. Dilworth illuminates a great variety of philosophical ideas, often in binary pairs requiring subtle distinctions...Simplicity is not an easy book, as it requires constant shifting among perspectives and levels of thought. But Dilworth aids the reader with a set of novel conceptual tools...[the author] avoids siding with any school of thought, which is important in grasping the work's originality...Simplicity deserves and will deeply reward careful attention by a wide range of those interested in metaphysics. It is a signal advance in category theory. Review of Metaphysics All in all, in my view Simplicity belongs in that rarified pantheon of masterpieces on fundamental metaphysics and category theory (what Dilworth calls meta-metaphysics), which includes Plato's Sophist, Aristotle's Categories, Aquinas' On Being and Essence, Descartes' Meditations, Berkeley's Principles, Hume's Treatise, Kant's Critiques, Bradley's Appearance and Reality, Russell's Logical Atomism, Wittgenstein's Tractatus and Philosophical Investigations, Husserl's Ideas, Strawson's Individuals, and Butchvarov's Being Qua Being, as well as foundational work in logic and mathematics by Aristotle, Euclid, Newton, Leibniz, Boole, Cantor, Frege, Russell, Godel, Boolos, and Prior. Beside these, Dilworth's effort is worthy indeed. -- J. K. Swindler, Illinois State University The impression I have got [of Simplicity] is unconditionally positive: one perceives that a long meditation and detailed reflection have paved the way to the production of this book, which is remarkable for its clarity and systematicity, and whose structure shows an absolute internal consistency. I also appreciate the originality of much of the contents of the work. It is brought to a very stimulating unity under the powerful impulsion of the concept of simplicity, of which [Dilworth] shows the fruitfulness of a great deal of unsuspected potentialities. -- Evandro Agazzi, University of Genoa [T]he writing for the most part is lucid and very pedagogical, it flows well and is highly readable for such an abstruse topic. -- Lars Hertzberg, Abo Akademi The philosophers before the twentieth century used to build their philosophies on grand visions of the world and reality. With the advent of analytical philosophy, the usefulness of this approach was called in question and the focus moved to the methodology of philosophy. Now the primary goal was to reach solid conclusions with as precise methods as possible, to the price of considering only narrow problems. In the present book, Craig Dilworth succeeds in combining the best in the classical and the modern tradition. In his youth, he had an overwhelming vision of the metaphysical character of the world and reality, a character which he calls simplicity. In the book, he gives a mature exposition of this idea. Using the methods of analytical philosophy, he draws conclusions from this insight - for philosophy in general and for an understanding of the nature and role of metaphysics in particular. Irrespective of whether a reader agrees with everything in the book or not, it is always interesting and stimulating reading. -- Kaj Borge Hansen, Uppsala University
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About Craig Dilworth

Craig Dilworth, Canadian by birth, received his PhD at Uppsala University, Sweden, where he is presently Reader in Theoretical Philosophy. His work has included creating and running various environmental projects, as well as purely academic studies in metaphysics, philosophy of science, human ecology, theoretical physics, theoretical biology, and the social sciences. He is the author of two major works in the philosophy of science, Scientific Progress (1981; 4th ed. 2008) and The Metaphysics of Science (1996; 2nd ed. 2007), as well as, most recently, a book in human ecology entitled Too Smart for Our Own Good (2009).
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Table of contents

List of Principles and Definitions Foreword Chapter 1: What is Philosophy? Chapter 2: Simplicity Chapter 3: Various Kinds of Category and Principle Chapter 4: Ontology vs. Epistemology Chapter 5: Understanding vs. Knowledge Chapter 6: Fundamental Conceptual Principles Chapter 7: Non-Physical Dimensions Chapter 8: Language Chapter 9: Set Theory Chapter 10: Paradox Chapter 11: Empiricism vs. Rationalism Chapter 12: Empiricism vs. Realism Chapter 13: The Special Theory of Relativity Chapter 14: Quantum Mechanics Chapter 15: God Chapter 16: Ethics Chapter 17: Love, Death, and Aesthetics Chapter 18: Buddhist Philosophy Chapter 19: Taoist Philosophy
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