Foundations and Foundationalism

Joseph Vidal-Rosset joseph at
Thu Jul 7 14:18:52 EDT 2022

Le 26/06/2022 à 14:16, Mark Lance a écrit :
 >> "Vuillemin gave a seminal classification of *genuine* philosophical
 >> systems that is to say systems that are based  on only one or two  basic
 >> assertions. ... Another important point is that every genuine
philosophical theory *is* a foundation"

 > Yes, if you build into the definition that the system is based on one
 > or two assertions, then - depending on (or perhaps ignoring) details
 > of "based on" and "foundation," it is hardly surprising that you get
 > the conclusion that the theory has a foundation.
 > No true scotsman.


My first reaction to this email was a reluctance to reply on the list,
because I sent only the advice of reading "What are philosophical
systems" by Jules Vuillemin, an important book, in my opinion. That's
all.  It is, of course, possible to disagree with Vuillemin's theory of
philosophical systems, but not without the least effort to reading this
book in order to understand this theory that I only sketched quickly in
this email, for the reader of this list. I had no polemical intention.

Nevertheless, it is true that I had certainly been insufficiently
precise, hence this impression of a circle in what I wrote.
This theory is a classification of genuine philosophical systems. The
class of philosophical systems are defined by choices of such or such
basic assertion to communicate experience. It must be stressed on the
point that these fundamental assertions are not arbitrary, and therefore
the fact that every genuine philosophical theory is a foundation is not
trivial, contrarily to what Mark Lance suggested.

Systems belonging to the same class can be in disagreement on certain
points, but not on basic principles. All Platonists agree on both the
reality and the transcendence of ideas, for example, as well as all
intuitionists agree on the claim that truth does not transcend proof.

Last, according to Vuillemin, these free philosophical choices are
independent of scientific theories. That means that, from his point of
view, philosophy is not science and that no class of genuine
philosophical systems can be destroyed by a scientific theory: there
will always be Platonists, Conceptualists, Nominalists, Intuitionists
and Skeptics.

All the best,


More information about the FOM mailing list