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Can Such a Thing be Doubted? Nietzsche and Principle of Identity in the History of Science
August 15, 2019, 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
The principle of identity (A=A) has formed the foundation of western knowledge and science since the work of Plato, Aristotle, and Euclid. It is well known that Friedrich Nietzsche fundamentally changed and influenced the political and intellectual climate of the 20th century. However, it is less well known that Nietzsche’s critiques of the principle of identity predate, by decades, the largest epistemological crises encountered by western thought. The consequences of this crisis began to be felt near the middle of the 20th century in logic, mathematics, and physics. Nietzsche’s explanation for why we were so easily misled has recently been confirmed by contemporary evolutionary cognitive science. Much of what we hold to be indubitably true and conceptually unassailable, including the principle of identity, are likely only useful illusions.
William A. B. Parkhurst is a philosophy PhD candidate at the University of South Florida and a Research Fellow at the Linda Hall Library. He received his BA in philosophy from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He received his MA in philosophy at San Jose State University. His archival research has been accepted for publication in several volumes as well as Nietzsche-Studien. His historical archival research focuses on Nietzsche’s critique of the principle of identity. This extends into Nietzsche’s critiques of logic, mathematics, language, morality, physics, and philosophy of science. Parkhurst’s research project at the Linda Hall Library uses Nietzsche’s critique of the principle of identity as a focal point of orientation for understanding how, historically, the principle of identity was established and then called into question in the western tradition and western science.
The main entrance to the Library grounds is on Cherry Street. Parking is free in Library parking lots and along the west side of Holmes Street between 51st and 52nd streets. The Linda Hall Library is not affiliated with UMKC. Parking in all UMKC lots is by permit or meter. Doors open at 6:00 p.m.