Tracing Concepts to Needs

The Philosopher 109 (3): 34–39. 2021.

Why is the concept of truth so important to us? After all, it is not at all obvious why human intelligence would have evolved to do anything other than to dissimulate, deceive, cheat, and trick. Pragmatic genealogies like the genealogies of the value of truth told by Nietzsche and Williams can help us grasp why we think as we do. But instead of explaining concepts by tracing them to antecedent objects in reality, they trace them to practical needs and reverse-engineer the functions performed by the concepts.

Ideas that Work

Aeon: A World of Ideas. June 24, 2021.

Truth, knowledge, justice – to understand how our loftiest abstractions earn their keep, trace them to their practical origins.