The Fear of Instability

The Helsinki Circle

Ilkka Pättiniemi

While Ilmari is dealing with the errors of empiricism (an endeavour on which I hope to contribute), I will continue diagnosing the realist’s condition. There is of course the idea that if we are not in touch with the really real, then anything goes. That is, a straightforward fear or relativism. But there is also a related fear, the fear that if we do not have solid, unquestinable grounds on which to build, things will be unstable – we will not be able to rely on anything. It is this fear that I wish to address.

We earlier encountered the worry that mere conventions will not support enough weight to do any actual work in our enquiry. Conventions, after all (we are told), can be – are – quite arbitrary. Related is the fear that if language is not built on solid foundations all talk will be rendered…

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