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Jan Westerhoff [15]Jan C. Westerhoff [2]
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Jan Westerhoff
Oxford University
  1. A World of Signs: Baroque Pansemioticism, the Polyhistor and the Early Modern Wunderkammer.Jan C. Westerhoff - 2001 - Journal of the History of Ideas 62 (4):633-650.
    This paper is an attempt to argue that there existed a very prominent view of signs and signification in late sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe which can help us to understand several puzzling aspects of baroque culture. This view, called here "pansemioticism," constituted a fundamental part of the baroque conception of the world. After sketching the content and importance of pansemioticism, I will show how it can help us to understand the (from a modern perspective) rather puzzling concept of the polymath, (...)
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  2. Self, No Self? Perspectives From Analytical, Phenomenological, and Indian Traditions.Jan Westerhoff - 2012 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (4):812-815.
    Amongst its many other merits this collection of essays demonstrates the growing maturity of the study of the Indian philosophical tradition. Much of the good scholarship done on non-Western, and in particular on Indian philosophy over the last decades has attempted to show that these texts hailing from east of Suez contain interesting and sophisticated discussions in their own right, discussions that have to be understood against the Ancient Indian intellectual and cultural context rather than evaluated by how closely they (...)
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  3. Costruzioni senza fine? Un problema per il costruttivismo goodmaniano.Jan Westerhoff - 2009 - Rivista di Estetica 41:101-107.
    Amongst the different forms of constructivism the Goodmanian variety (also known as irrealism) is one of the most extreme, and one of the most interesting. Unlike various localized constructivist theories it does not just claim that scientific theories or social institutions are constructs but that everything is a construct. This universal claim leads to an interesting problem.
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  4. Nāgārjuna’s Catuṣkoṭi.Jan Westerhoff - 2005 - Journal of Indian Philosophy 34 (4):367-395.
    The catuṣkoṭi or tetralemma is an argumentative figure familiar to any reader of Buddhist philosophical literature. Roughly speaking it consists of the enumeration of four alternatives: that some propositions holds, that it fails to hold, that it both holds and fails to hold, that it neither holds nor fails to hold. The tetralemma also constitutes one of the more puzzling features of Buddhist philosophy as the use to which it is put in arguments is not immediately obvious and certainly not (...)
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  5. Poeta Calculans: Harsdorffer, Leibniz, and the Mathesis Universalis.Jan C. Westerhoff - 1999 - Journal of the History of Ideas 60 (3):449-467.
    This paper seeks to indicate some connections between a major philosophi- cal project of the seventeenth century, the conception of a mathesis universalis, and the practice of baroque poetry. I shall argue that these connections consist in a peculiar view of language and systems of notation which was particularly common in European baroque culture and which provided the necessary conceptual background for both poetry and the mathesis universalis.
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  6. The Merely Conventional Existence of the World.Jan Westerhoff - 2011 - In Georges Dreyfus, Bronwyn Finnigan, Jay Garfield, Guy Newland, Graham Priest, Mark Siderits, Koji Tanaka, Sonam Thakchoe, Tom Tillemans & Jan Westerhoff (eds.), Moonshadows. Conventional Truth in Buddhist Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
    A platitude questioned by many Buddhist thinkers in India and Tibet is the existence of the world. We might be tempted to insert some modifier here, such as “substantial,” “self-existent,” or “intrinsically existent,” for, one might argue, these thinkers did not want to question the existence of the world tout court but only that of a substantial, self-existent, or otherwise suitably qualified world. But perhaps these modifiers are not as important as is generally thought, for the understanding of the world (...)
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  7. The No-Thesis View: Making Sense of Verse 29 of Nagarjuna's Vigrahavyavartani.Jan Westerhoff - 2009 - In Mario D'Amato, Jay L. Garfield & Tom J. F. Tillemans (eds.), Pointing at the Moon: Buddhism, Logic, Analytic Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
    The so-called `no-thesis' view is without a doubt one of the most immediately puzzling philosophical features of Nāgārjuna's thought and also largely responsible for ascribing to him either sceptical or mystical leanings (or indeed both). The locus classicus for this view is found in verse 29 of the Vigrahavyāvartanī: “If I had some thesis the defect [just mentioned] would as a consequence attach to me. But I have no thesis, so this defect is not applicable to me.” That this absence (...)
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  8. Logical Relations Between Pictures.Jan Westerhoff - 2005 - Journal of Philosophy 102 (12):603 - 623.
    An implication relation between pictures is defined, it is then shown how conjunctions, disjunctions, negations, and hypotheticals of pictures can be formed on the basis of this. It is argued that these logical operations on pictures correspond to natural cognitive operations employed when thinking about pictures.
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  9. The Madhyamaka Concept of Svabhāva: Ontological and Cognitive Aspects.Jan Westerhoff - 2007 - Asian Philosophy 17 (1):17 – 45.
    This paper considers the philosophical interpretation of the concept of svabhāva, sometimes translated as 'inherent existence' or 'own-being', in the Madyamaka school of Buddhist philosophy. It is argued that svabhāva must be understood as having two different conceptual dimensions, an ontological and a cognitive one. The ontological dimension of svabhāva shows it to play a particular part in theories investigating the most fundamental constituents of the world. Three different understandings of svabhāva are discussed under this heading: svabhāva understood as essence, (...)
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  10. Acquiring the Notion of a Dependent Designation: A Response to Douglas L. Berger.Jay L. Garfield & Jan Westerhoff - 2011 - Philosophy East and West 61 (2):365-367.
    In a recent issue of Philosophy East and West Douglas Berger defends a new reading of Mūlamadhyamakakārikā XXIV : 18, arguing that most contemporary translators mistranslate the important term prajñaptir upādāya, misreading it as a compound indicating "dependent designation" or something of the sort, instead of taking it simply to mean "this notion, once acquired." He attributes this alleged error, pervasive in modern scholarship, to Candrakīrti, who, Berger correctly notes, argues for the interpretation he rejects.Berger's analysis, and the reading of (...)
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  11. The Construction of Ontological Categories.Jan Westerhoff - 2004 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 82 (4):595 – 620.
    I describe an account of ontological categories which does justice to the facts that not all categories are ontological categories and that ontological categories can stand in containment relations. The account sorts objects into different categories in the same way in which grammar sorts expressions . It then identifies the ontological categories with those which play a certain role in the systematization of collections of categories. The paper concludes by noting that on my account what ontological categories there are is (...)
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  12. Defining 'Ontological Category'.Jan Westerhoff - 2002 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 102 (3):287–293.
    Although a considerable degree of precision has been introduced both into the formulation and the discussion of ontological theories by the use of formal methods there is still a remarkable indefiniteness about foundational issues. In particular it is not clear what an ontological category is and why we regard something as an ontological category. This is amazing given that the notion of ontological category is in fact the most basic of the whole of ontology: it is what this discipline is (...)
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  13. Nāgārjuna’s Arguments on Motion Revisited.Jan Westerhoff - 2008 - Journal of Indian Philosophy 36 (4):455-479.
    This paper discusses a somewhat neglected reading of the second chapter of Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, arguing that the main focus of a crucial part is a particular theory of properties and their relation to individuals they instantiate, rather than the refutation of specific assumptions about the nature of space and time. Some of Nāgārjuna’s key arguments about motion should be understood as argument templates in which notions other than mover, motion, and so forth could be substituted. The remainder of the discussion (...)
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  14. A Taxonomy of Composition Operations.Jan Westerhoff - 2004 - Logique and Analyse 2004 (47):375-393.
    A set of parameters for classifying composition operations is introduced. These parameters determine whether a composition operation is 1) universal, 2) determinate, 3) whether there is a difference between possible and actual compositions, 4) whether there can be singleton compositions, 5) whether they give rise to a hierarchy, and 6) whether components of compositions can be repeated. Philosophical implications of these parameters (in particular in relation to set theory) and mereology are discussed.
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  15. Defining Ontological Categories in an Expansion of Belief Dynamics.Jan Westerhoff - 2002 - Logic and Logical Analysis 10 (3):199-210.
    There have been attempts to get some logic out of belief dynamics, i.e. attempts to define the constants of propositional logic in terms of functions from sets of beliefs to sets of beliefs. It is interesting to see whether something similar can be done for ontological categories, i.e. ontological constants. The theory presented here will be a (modest) expansion of belief dynamics: it will not only incorporate beliefs, but also parts of beliefs, so called belief fragments. On the basis of (...)
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  16. The Underdetermination of Typings.Jan Westerhoff - 2003 - Erkenntnis 58 (3):379 - 414.
    This paper argues that there is no possible structural way of drawing a distinction between objects of different types, such as individuals and properties of different adicities and orders. We show first that purely combinatorial information (information about how objects combine to form states of affairs) is not sufficient for doing this. We show that for any set of such combinatorial data there is always more than one way of typing them – that is, there are always several ways of (...)
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  17. Ars Characteristica Kantiana: Ludwig Benedict Trede's Forgotten Necessary Grammar.Jan Westerhoff - 2003 - Kant-Studien 94 (3):333-351.
    This paper discusses a nowadays completely forgotten 18th century attempt of constructing an artificial universal language in a Kantian framework. I give a brief sketch of this language and then address the continuing philosophical significance of the project, focusing in particular on the notions of predication and the copula and on the problem of psychologism.
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