Discussion of R.Harre's "Dispositions and Affordances From Material Things to Human Societies"

Publication Type:


Vladimir Filatov
Russian State University for the Humanities
Alexander Nikiforov
Insitute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences
Vladimir Porus
Research University - Higher School of Economics
Issue number: 
No. 4 (Vol. 42)

Rom Harre’s paper is the text of his keynote speaker talk at the conference “Social Philosophy of Science: Russian Prospects” (Moscow, November 2014). Harre suggest a renovated realistic ontology which aims to solve the problem of equal ontological status of natural, social and psychological phenomena, which acquire meaning as aspects of a human’s world. Three Russian philosophers (Vladimir Filatov, Alexander Nikiforov, Vladimir Porus) comments on R.Harre’s ideas.

Vladimir Filatov discusses R.Harre’s notion of disposition in a historical-scientific persperctive and raises a worry about a trend towards our understanding of cognition and its products. Alexander Nikiforov argues that R.Harre’s conception is inconsistent with the correspondence theory of truth and thus changes the fundamental sense of the concept of truth which is by now used by the majority of scientists. According to Nikiforov, Harre’s conception also results in an appeal to change the definition of knowledge: knowledge is not information about the world any more, but, rather, about the world as well as our interaction with it. Nikiforov concludes that Harre’s reaslism is close to what can be called “Kant’s reaslism”: we interact with the world but we cannot say much about it. In his comment Vladimir Porus supports Harre’s thesis and argues that contemporary epistemology can only have a social-cultural character.

R.Harre, affordances, dispositions, social reality

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