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The shape of the conceptual

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Where, and how, does thought engage the world? More specifically, we, being the sorts of thinkers that we are, see possibilities for judgments of certain specific shapes. The world provides certain things to judge about. Why think (or how to see) that the opportunities we (seem to) see are actually provided? Kant thought this was a problem to which there was just one possible solution: ‘transcendental idealism’. Frege (as extended by Tractarian Wittgenstein) thought this was not a problem, thus provided, in effect, a dissolution. But, while Kant’s conception of the problem lapses into incoherence, Frege’s dissolution will not do (as the Tractatus inadvertently shows). Putnam was the first to see (clearly) how to answer the question (in seeing what the shape of the conceptual should in fact be taken to be). In this essay, I try to say what Putnam’s response to the question is.

This talk is part of the Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science series.

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