Clarence I. Lewis, Il pensiero e l'ordine del mondo, a cura di Sergio Cremaschi

Torino, Italy: Rosenberg & Sellier (1977)
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The editor's introduction discusses Clarence I. Lewis's conceptual pragmatism when compared with post-empiricist epistemology and argues that several Cartesian assumptions play a major role in the work, not unlike those of Logical Positivism. The suggestion is made that the Cartesian legacy still hidden in Logical Positivism turns out to be a rather heavy ballast for Lewis’s project of restructuring epistemology in a pragmatist key. More in detail, the sore point is the nature of inter-subjectivity. For Lewis, no less than for the Logical Positivists at the time of the Protocols Controversy and Husserl in the Cartesian Meditations, this is a problem without a solution. The reason is that all these philosophers are apparently unable to realize that the existence of a plurality of knowing subjects cannot be treated at once both as a speculative problem and a methodological one. Lewis, thanks to his pragmatist approach both comes closer to the right answer and offers an even more naïve unsatisfactory solution to the pseudo-problem under discussion. The fact that he has clear in mind that inter-subjectivity means not only a plurality of linguistic utterances but also a co-existence of different kinds of practical behaviour. Eventually, the very idea of mind, the key-idea in the book, suffers from the above mentioned tension. In fact, if inter-subjective communication and action is considered at a methodological level, the very idea of mind would not need an analysis, and no kind of ‘reflexive’ analysis. Methodology might be limited to a ‘naïve’ level where the existence of the world and a plurality of subjects be taken as a bedrock of uncritically accepted evidence. Philosophical reflection on ultimate evidence, instead, would take a different approach, maybe the one Wittgenstein was putting into practice in the same years when Mind and the world order was written, namely it would be bound to question the very meaning of the idea of ‘mind’ as an undue fiction – the same carried out by Descartes – when he assumed the Cogito to be at once a body of self-evident truths and a thing or substance, the familiar Platonic idea of psyche or soul.

Author's Profile

Sergio Volodia Marcello Cremaschi
Università Cattolica di Milano (PhD)


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