Topological Aspects of Epistemology and Metaphysics

In Silvano Zipoli Caiani & Alberto Peruzzi (eds.), Structures Mères: Semantics, Mathematics, and Cognitive Science. Springer. pp. 135 - 152 (2020)
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The aim of this paper is to show that (elementary) topology may be useful for dealing with problems of epistemology and metaphysics. More precisely, I want to show that the introduction of topological structures may elucidate the role of the spatial structures (in a broad sense) that underly logic and cognition. In some detail I’ll deal with “Cassirer’s problem” that may be characterized as an early forrunner of Goodman’s “grue-bleen” problem. On a larger scale, topology turns out to be useful in elaborating the approach of conceptual spaces that in the last twenty years or so has found quite a few applications in cognitive science, psychology, and linguistics. In particular, topology may help distinguish “natural” from “not-so-natural” concepts. This classical problem that up to now has withstood all efforts to solve (or dissolve) it by purely logical methods. Finally, in order to show that a topological perspective may also offer a fresh look on classical metaphysical problems, it is shown that Leibniz’s famous principle of the identity of indiscernibles is closely related to some well-known topological separation axioms. More precisely, the topological perspective gives rise in a natural way to some novel variations of Leibniz’s principle.

Author's Profile

Thomas Mormann
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München (PhD)


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