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Prof. David R. Cerbone, PhD


A short introduction

Prof. Cerbone is Associate Professor of Philosophy at West Virginia University. His ongoing research focuses primarily on two areas: the phenomenological tradition, with an emphasis on the work of Martin Heidegger and Edmund Husserl; and the writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein, especially his “later” work. Dr. Cerbone has published three books, 'Understanding Phenomenology' (Acumen, 2006; republished by Routledge in 2014), 'Heidegger: A Guide for the Perplexed' (Continuum, 2008), and 'Existentialism: All That Matters' (Hodder-Stoughton, 2015). He is currently working on a fourth book on Wittgenstein, realism, and idealism as part of the 'Cambridge Elements' series on Wittgenstein’s philosophy. Dr. Cerbone is also a series co-editor (with Søren Overgaard and Komarine Romdenh-Romluc) of the 'Routledge Research in Phenomenology' series, which now has nearly twenty volumes in print. He recently received an ECAS Outstanding Teaching award and was named one of the first three ECAS Woodburn Fellows.


Wittgenstein on the practical significance of the physicalism vs idealism debate (The Return of Idealism)

Physical realists and idealists argue about whether physical objects exist, whether they have standalone reality, or are just part of a world of ideas. But can they, at root, help us solve some other important philosophical questions? In this instalment of our ‘The Return of Idealism’ series, in partnership with the Institute of Art and Ideas (IAI), Prof. David R. Cerbone argues that Wittgenstein can help us return to more practical questions. Wittgenstein’s position is, indeed, that the metaphysical debate between physical realists and idealists is of little practical significance. We at Essentia Foundation strongly disagree with this: we believe that different metaphysical views have profound significance for how we experience the meaning of life, our relationship with the world, expectations about death, and have direct bearing on even very practical considerations such as how to further develop medicine and exploit phenomena such as neuroplasticity and the placebo effect. Nonetheless, we believe Wittgentein’s thoughts are worth considering, if only to make clear the degree to which they miss the point. This essay was first published by the IAI on 29 February 2024.

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