Abstract for Hofweber’s Talk

Idealism seems like a bad idea. Although it is most often understood narrowly, as a view about the relationship between minds and matter, understood more broadly, as a view of the metaphysical place of minds in reality, it still seems like a bad idea. In particular, an ambitious version of idealism that holds that not just minds in general, but our human minds in particular are central to reality has more than the ring of hubris to it and seems to be in obvious conflict with our conception of ourselves as slightly complex material beings on an ordinary planet among billions. Nonetheless, there is reason to think that idealism so understood is correct even if we are just slightly complex material beings. I will present an argument for the conclusion that human minds are metaphysical central to reality: the overall large-scale metaphysical story of the world has a special place in it for us. Furthermore, the argument will come from a source that seems to be incapable of reaching conclusions of that kind: considerations about our own language. I hope to make clear how and why these considerations can nonetheless lead to such conclusions.