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Abstract

In this dissertation, I argue that contemporary analytic philosophers of language, particularly John McDowell, presuppose a problematic metaphysics of subjecthood that takes judgment to be the smallest unit of awareness. I propose that analytic philosophers turn to Alfred North Whitehead’s aesthetic ontology, as it provides an alternative understanding of how linguistic practices and noetic processes are in touch with the world. In this manner the dissertation enlists Whitehead to develop a new approach to the intentionality of belief, one that avoids leaving the modern subject ontologically “cut off” from ordinary objects. The upshot of this argument extends far beyond questions of ontology or epistemology, as I contend that analytic philosophy's failure to account for the way in which the world constrains our rational processes undermines the effort to translate philosophical reflection into effective social, political, and ethical critique. Moreover, by critiquing the metaphysical premises underwriting the tired binary between classical theism and classical atheism, this project clears the way for reframing theological discourse beyond the binary.

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