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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-N048-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 16, 2024, from

Article Summary

‘Projectivism’ is used of philosophies that agree with Hume that ‘the mind has a great propensity to spread itself on the world’, that what is in fact an aspect of our own experience or of our own mental organization is treated as a feature of the objective order of things. Such philosophies distinguish between nature as it really is, and nature as we experience it as being. The way we experience it as being is thought of as partly a reflection or projection of our own natures. The projectivist might take as a motto the saying that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, and seeks to develop the idea and explore its implications.

The theme is a constant in the arguments of the Greek sceptics, and becomes almost orthodox in the modern era. In Hume it is not only beauty that lies in the eye (or mind) of the beholder, but also virtue, and causation. In Kant the entire spatio-temporal order is not read from nature, but read into it as a reflection of the organization of our minds. In the twentieth century it has been especially non-cognitive and expressivist theories of ethics that have adopted the metaphor, it being fairly easy to see how we might externalize or project various sentiments and attitudes onto their objects. But causation, probability, necessity, the stances we take towards each other as persons, even the temporal order of events and the simplicity of scientific theory have also been candidates for projective treatment.

Citing this article:
Blackburn, Simon. Projectivism, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-N048-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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