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first philosophy

christopher hookway

Subject Philosophy » Epistemology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631192589.1993.x


The term ‘First Philosophy’ was used by Aristotle for metaphysics or the study of being qua being. But when a modern philosopher such as Q uine describes his naturalism as ‘abandonment of the goal of a first philosophy’, he takes this to involve the denial that our knowledge is ‘answerable to any supra-scientific tribunal’ (1981, p. 72). The paradigm of what is thus repudiated is found in descartes ’ Meditations on First Philosophy which undertakes to refute scepticism and explain the legitimacy of the sciences relying only on what is absolutely certain or indubitable. A first philosophy would thus be a philosophical investigation which was prior to, and more secure than, investigations in the special sciences. : Meditations on First Philosophy (1641) in The Philosophical Writings of Descartes trans. ( Cambridge : Cambridge University Press , 1985 ). : Theories and Things ( Cambridge , MA : Harvard University Press , 1981 ). ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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