Pentti Määttänen





University of Helsinki & Aalto University

Helsinki, Finland


maattanenpentti (at)







Activities in the field of fine art


List of publications with links to online papers



Basics of Anti-Cartesian Anti-Foundationalism


If you want to know whether stone exists, kick it. This is what essayist Samuel Johnson said as a counter-argument to George Berkeley’s doubts about the existence of the material world. It is sometimes called philosophy of common sense or sane reasoning. The characterization is somewhat odd, since its connection both to sanity and to reason can be questioned. By kicking stones one endangers one’s health, and the reasoning is inadequate.


Berkeley accepted René Descartes’ dualism of mental and material substance, internal and external world, and after this move the kicking of stones does not help. Stones and legs belong to the same world, and if the stone is material, then so is the leg. The soul that is beforehand located in the mental substance can consistently doubt the existence of the material world while having a dream about some pain in the leg. Johnson’s meditations may perhaps be called philosophy of sane leg if one’s understanding of philosophy is broad-minded enough and Johnson’s words are interpreted as a warning.


Instead it is sane and reasonable to doubt seriously the existence of disembodied consciousness. Descartes’ arguments in favour of the existence of such consciousness are not valid. On can, indeed, doubt the existence of one’s body on the rest of the material world. And it is true that the doubt itself cannot be doubted, at least as long as one is entertaining the doubt. But nothing important follows from these two premises – especially it does not follow that the doubting consciousness exists independently of the body. Mere thought cannot create or annihilate real existence. If Descartes had wanted to really find out whether cogito still exists after the body is gone, then he should have taken some concrete measures in order to annihilate the body. Instead of the hasty conclusion cogito, ergo sum he should have resorted to the practical conclusion cogito, ergo pum and then observe how the cogito survives in the new situation.


Such measures Descartes did not perform, which is perfectly understandable. Why hurry? Everyone faces one day the fact that the existence of the body is seriously questioned. After that point one will have all the time in the universe to consider whether cogito continues existence or not. It is hard to be absolutely sure about what will happen, but for time being nobody has come back to tell that it continues existence. There is not much evidence of bodiless souls. On the other hand, morgues and cemeteries are full of evidence telling that bodies can exist independently of the cogito, at least for some time, in a more or less good condition. Quite unambiguous empirical evidence leads to the conclusion that we are live creatures, pieces of flesh moving around in time and space, whose consciousness is tied to bodily existence.


Mind is embodied, and this implies that the classical dichotomy external and internal must be reconsidered. Serious doubt about the existence of the “external” world makes sense only if internal and external are classified as separate worlds. After the rejection of Cartesian dualism there is no room for ontological scepticism. As live creatures we are ontologically at exactly the same level as the nature in which we live. Instead of the dualism of internal and external we should talk about the web of interactions where knowing subjects and objects of knowledge are ontologically (but not epistemologically) in a symmetrical position. We are all in the web as acting agents. The situation resembles well-known conditions in the Wild West. Everybody is in, the cards are dealt out, and the stakes are set. Heavy Colts are lying on the table. Exit through the morgue only.


                                                                             Pentti Määttänen



Activities in the field of fine art


Philosophical Labels (11 digiprints, 55x77 cm, with Mika Karhu)











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AWE Exhibition, Kiasma, Helsinki 2000

                      Philosophical Illustrations, video.

Digital Surface Conference, Tate Britain, London 2003

                      Skeptic’s Daydream, video

Memory Traces, Exhibition in Vantaa Art Museum, 2006

                      Descartes’n karuselli (Descartes’s Carousel), video (with Mika Karhu)

                      Filosofisia etikettejä (Philosophical Labels), 10 digiprints (with Mika Karhu)

Brave New World, Exhibition in Manes, Prague, 2008

                      Philosophical Labels, 10 digiprints (with Mika Karhu)

                      Hunting for Meaning, video (with Mika Karhu and Peter Maury)

Artworks in collections

                      Vantaa Art Museum

                      Private collections




List of publications


Scientific monographs



Action and Experience, A Naturalistic Approach to Cognition, Annales Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae,  Dissertationes Humanarum Litterarum 64, Helsinki 1993, 185 pp.


Toiminta ja kokemus. Pragmatistista terveen järjen filosofiaa, (Action and Experience. Pragmatic Common Sense Philosophy), Gaudeamus, Helsinki 2009, 187 pp.


Taide maailmassa. Pragmatistisen estetiikan lähtökohtia (Art in the World. An Outline of Pragmatist Aesthetics), Gaudeamus 2012, 202 pp.


Mind in Action. Experience and Embodied Cognition in Pragmatism, Springer 2015, 94 pp.





Filosofia, johdatus peruskysymyksiin (Introduction to Philosophy), Gaudeamus, Helsinki 1995, 282 pp.



International journals, periodicals and books


Book chapter


Emotionally Charged Aesthetic Experience, Aesthetics and the Embodied Mind: Beyond Art Theory and the Cartesian Mind-Body Dichotomy, ed. by Alfonsina Scarinzi, Springer 2015, pp. 85–99.


The Concept of the Scheme in the Activity Theories of Il’enkov and Piaget, The Practical Essence of Man. The ‘Activity Theory’ in Late Soviet Philosophy, ed. by Andrey Maidansky & Vesa Oittinen, Brill 2016, pp. 154–166.




(With Heidi Westerlund) Tradition, Practice, and Musical Meaning. A Pragmatist Approach to Music Education, Nordisk Research in Music Education. Yearbook Vol: 3, 1999, ed. by F.V. Nielsen, S. Brändström, H. Jörgensen & B. Olsson, pp. 33–38.


Elliott on Mind Matters, Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education 144, Spring 2000, pp. 40–44.


(With Heidi Westerlund) Travel Agency of Musical Meanings? Discussion on Music and Context in Keith Swanwick's interculturalism, British Journal of Music Education 3/18, 2001, pp. 261–274.


Aesthetic Experience: A Problem in Praxialism, Action, Criticism &Theory for Music Education 1/1, 2002.



Aesthetic Experience and Music Education, Philosophy of Music Education Review, 1/11, 2003, pp. 63–70.


Reimer on Musical Meaning, Action, Criticism and Theory of Music Education (ACT), 1/2, 2003.


Aesthetics of Movement and Everyday Experience, Contemporary Aesthetics, Special Volume 1, 2005.


Classical Pragmatism on Mind and Rationality, Action, Criticism and Theory of Music Education (ACT), 1/4, 2005.


Semiotics of Space: Peirce and Lefebvre, Semiotica 1/166, 2007, pp. 453–461.


Shusterman on Somatic Experience, Action, Criticism &Theory for Music Education 1/9, 2010.


Emotions, values, and aesthetic perception, New Ideas in Psychology Dec 2015, pp. 91–96.




Review of Philosophical Perspectives on Music by Wayne D. Bowman, British Journal of Music Education 3/16, 1999, pp. 302–304.


Review of Michael Shapiro, Cinematic Geopolitics, Theory & Event 2/13, 2010.


Review of David Hildebrand, Dewey, Beginner’s Guide, Transactions of Charles Peirce Society 1/47, 2011, pp. 109–111.



International conference proceedings


Mind, Reality, and the Concept of Schema, Annalen für dialektische Philosophie IV, Hrsg von J.Manninen und H.H.Holz, Pahl-Rugenstein, Köln, 1988, S. 29–32.


On the Operative Basis of Cognition, 5th European Conference on Cognitive Science Approaches to Process Control, ed. by Leena Norros, VTT Symposium 158, VTT, Espoo 1995, pp. 227–236.


Intelligence, Agency and Interaction, SCAI'97, Sixth Scandinavian Conference on Artificial Intelligence, ed. by G.Grahne, IOS Press, Amsterdam 1997, pp. 52–58.


Pragmatist Semiotics as a Framework for Design Research, Design + Research. Proceedings of the Politecnico di Milano conference, May 18-20, 2000, ed. by S. Pizzocaro, A. Arruda and D. De Moraes, Politechnico di Milano, Milano 2000, pp. 70–73.


Meaning as Use: Peirce and Wittgenstein, Time and History, Papers of the 28th International Wittgenstein Symposium, ed. by Friedrich Stadler and Michael Stöltzner, Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society, Kirchberg am Wechsel, 2005, pp. 171–172.



Naturalism: Hard and Soft, Science – A Challenge to Philosophy? Proceedings of the XV Internordic Philosophical Symposium, Helsinki, May 13–15, 2004, ed. by Heikki J. Koskinen, Sami Pihlström and Risto Vilkko, Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2006, pp. 227–236.


Language, World and Structure, Cultures: Conflict – Analyses – Dialogue, Papers of the 29th International Wittgenstein Symposium, ed. by Gasser, Kanzian and Runggaldier, Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society, Kirchberg am Wechsel, 2006.


Space, Time, and Interpretation, Place and Location V, ed. by Eva Näripea, Virve Sarapik and Jaak Tomberg, Tallin 2006, pp. 11–20.


Art and Interpretation in Peircean Semiotics, Music and the Arts, Proceedings from ICMS 7, ed. by Eero Tarasti, Acta Semiotica Fennica XXIII, 2006, pp. 193–198.


Secondness and the Limits of Conventionality, Communication: Understanding / Misunderstanding. Proceedings of the 9th Congress of the IASS/AIS, June 2007, Vol. II, Helsinki 2009, pp. 964–970.


Habits as Vehicles of Cognition, Applying Peirce. Proceedings of International Peirce Conference, Helsinki, June 2007, ed. by Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen et al., Nordic Pragmatism Network, Helsinki 2010.


Music and Emotions, Recasting Aesthetic Experience: Emotions and the "Continuity Principle" - 2nd conference "Aesthetics and the Embodied Mind" 24th August 2015, Birkbeck College London, UK, ed. by Alfonsina Scarinzi, Cuvillier Verlag - internationaler wissenschaftlicher Fachverlag, Göttingen 2018, pp. 293–307 (the figure of the structure of experience is erroneous due to the editing process, consult my Mind in Action, Springer 2015).


Hegel and pragmatism, paper presented at the 32nd International Hegel Congress, Tampere, Finland, June 5–8, 2018.




Finnish journals and periodicals




Kant, Piaget ja skeeman käsite (Kant, Piaget and the concept of scheme), Tiede & edistys 4/1983, pp. 47–52.


Havaitseminen ja toiminta C.S.Peircen pragmatismissa (Perception and Action in C.S. Peirce’s Pragmatism), Ajatus 47, 1990, pp. 194–201.


Content, Conceptuality, and Connectionism, Mind and Cognition: Philosophical Perspectives into Cognitive Science and AI, ed. by L.Haaparanta and S.Heinämaa, Acta Philosophica Fennica, Vol. 58, Helsinki 1995, pp. 75–90.


Deweyn idealismista (On Dewey’s idealism), Tieteessä tapahtuu 4/2001, pp. 55–58.

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Pragmatismi ja suunnittelun teoria (Pragmatism and Planning Theory), Yhdyskuntasuunnittelu 4/2012, pp. 20–27.


Todellisuuksia joka lähtöön (Realities for choice), Tieteessä tapahtuu 5/2013, pp. 60–62.





Pragmatistista musiikin filosofiaa, David J. Elliott musiikista ja musiikkikasvatuksesta (Pragmatist Philosophy of Music, Review of D.J. Elliott, Music Matters), Musiikkikasvatus 1/1996, pp. 47–50.


Musiikin filosofiaa laidasta laitaan (Review of Wayne D. Bowman, Philosophical Perspectives on Music), Musiikkikasvatus, 1/1999, pp. 113–116.


Taiteenfilosofian klassikko raakakäännöksenä (Review of the Finnish translation of John Dewey, Art as Experience), Tieteessä tapahtuu 1/2011, pp. 68–70.


Filosofian uudistaminen – yhä alkutekijöissään (Review of the Finnsih translation of John Dewey, Reconstruction of Philosophy), Tieteessä tapahtuu 1/2013, pp. 70–72.


Kokemuksen filosofiaa (Review of Kai Alhanen, John Deweyn kokemus-filosofia), Tiede & edistys 3/2013, pp. 256–255.



Finnish conference proceedings


Kaila ja Piaget: Arkikokemuksen esineet sensomotoristen skeemojen kohteena (Kaila and Piaget: Objects of Everyday Experience as Objects of Sensorimotor Schemes), Olio, ed. by Leila Haaparanta, Reports  from the Department Of Philosophy, University of Helsinki, No. 3, 1984, pp. 183–192.


A Naturalistic Notion of Computationality, STeP-92 Tekoälyn uudet suunnat (New Directions in Artificial Intelligence) - Vol. 2: Symposiot - Symposia, ed. by E. Hyvönen, J. Seppänen and M. Syrjänen, Suomen Tekoälyseura, Helsinki 1992, pp. 85–89.


Toiminta ja mielen mallintaminen (Action and the Modelling of Mind), Älyn ulottuvuudet ja oppihistoria (Dimensions of Intelligence and History of Learning), ed. by Leila Haaparanta et al., Suomen Tekoälyseuran julkaisuja, Symposiosarja 13, Helsinki 1995, pp. 92–97.


What is "Pure" in Mathematics, Logiikka, matematiikka ja tietokone (Logic, Mathematics, and the Computer), ed. by C. Gefwert et al., Suomen Tekoälyseuran julkaisuja, Symposiosarja 14, Helsinki 1996, pp. 80–84.


Kokeellinen käytäntö ja realismin ongelma (Experimental Practice and the Problem of Realism), Käytäntö (Practice), ed. by Sami Pihlström et al., University of Helsinki Press, Helsinki 2002, pp. 293–300.


Taideteos kokemuksena: John Deweyn taiteenfilosofian lähtökohtia (Artwork as Experience: Basic ideas of John Dewey’s Philosophy of Art), Kokemus (Experience), ed. by Leila Haaparanta and Erna Oesch, Acta Philosophica Tamperensia 1, Tampere University Press 2002, pp. 192–203.


Secondness ja konventionaalisuuden rajat (Secondness and the Limits of Conventionality), Vastarinta/resistanssi, ed. by Harri Veivo, Yliopistopaino, Helsinki 2007, pp. 117–129.



Articles in Finnish anthologies


Onko Veikko Rantala olemassa? (Does Veikko Rantala Exist?), Malli, metodi, merkitys. Esseitä Veikko Rantalan 60-vuotispäivän kunniaksi (Model, Method, and Meaning. A Festschrift on the Occasion of Veikko Rantala’s 60th Birthday), ed. by Leila Haaparanta et al., Filosofisia tutkimuksia Tampereen yliopistosta, 49. Tampere 1993, pp. 289–292.


Naturalism and Metaphysics, Filosofisia tienviittoja Heikki Kanniston 50-vuotispäivän kunniaksi (Philosophical Signposts on the Occasion of Heikki Kannisto’s 50th Birthday), ed. by Sami Pihlström et al., Reports from the Department of Philosophy, University of Helsinki, 3/95, Helsinki 1995, pp. 38–42.


Popperin maailmat (Popper’s Worlds), Tieto, totuus ja todellisuus (Knowledge,  Truth, and Reality), ed. by I.A.Kieseppä et al., Gaudeamus, Helsinki 1996, pp. 53–56.


Merkitykset musiikissa – pragmatismin näkökulma (Musical Meanings – A Pragmatist viewpoint), Musiikin filosofia ja estetiikka (Philosophy and Aesthetics of Music), ed. by Juha Torvinen and Alfonso Padilla, Helsinki University Press, Helsinki 2005, pp. 233–248.


Taiteistuminen ja modernin perinne (Artistification and the Modern Tradition),Taiteistuminen (Artistification), ed. by Yrjänä Levanto, Ossi Naukkarinen and Susann Vihma, University of Art and Design, Helsinki 2005, pp. 38–53.


Tiedostuksen alkulähteillä (On the Origin of Consciousness), Merkityksellistymisen Pohjasäikeet (Fibers of Meaning), ed. by Päivi Kosonen and Tuomas Nevanlinna, Tutkijaliitto, Helsinki 2006, pp. 119–124.


Tila, liike ja tulkinta – liikkuvan lihan filosofiaa (Space, Movement and Interpretation), Mobiiliestetiikka – kirjoituksia liikkumisen ja liikkeen estetiikasta (Mobile Aesthetics – Essays on the Aesthetics of Movement), ed. by Arto Haapala and Ossi Naukkarinen, International Institute of Applied Aesthetics, Helsinki 2006, pp. 86–101.


Pragmatismin näkökulma taiteen tutkimiseen (A Pragmatist Viewpoint on Art), Pragmatismi filosofiassa ja yhteiskuntatieteissä (Pragmatism in Philosophy and Social Sciences), ed. by Erkki Kilpinen, Osmo Kivinen and Sami Pihlström, Gaudeamus, Helsinki 2008, pp. 231–256.


Luonto, ymmärrys ja skeemat Kantilla (Nature, Understanding and Schematism), Kant-antologia, ed. by Vesa Oittinen, Gaudeamus 2013, pp. 78–87.



Other publications


Taide, fenomenologia ja pragmatismi (Art, Phenomenology and Pragmatism), Teoreettisia väliintuloja (Theoretical Interventions), UIAH Working Papers, F4, Helsinki 1998, pp. 4–9.


John Dewey on Aesthetic Experience, Pragmatist Viewpoints on Art, ed. by Pentti Määttänen, UIAH Working Papers, F 19/2001, pp. 75–79.


Henkimaailman asioita (Spiritual issues), Torso 3/2013, pp. 137–141.





John Dewey, Pyrkimys varmuuteen, Gaudeamus 1999. (Preface to and translation of John Dewey, The Quest for Certainty.)