• darthbarracuda
    1.8k
    Been thinking about this for a while now, and I'm looking for input.

    The case I present as a possibility is what I would call meta-philosophical eliminativism, or the idea that philosophy does not have hegemony over some area of inquiry, and that the goal of philosophy is to develop a system for its own demise, similar to Russell's idea that philosophy should aim to create scientific fields. According to meta-philosophical eliminativism, things like "positions", "theories", "doubt", "principles", etc. are "human constructs" in the sense that they are merely methods of organizing data and can be eliminated naturalistically in the same way the eliminativist materialist believes that "belief" and "desire" can be eliminated, including the belief in eliminativist materialism as well.

    This makes philosophical questions not metaphysically necessarily philosophical but rather contingently philosophical, i.e. philosophical only insofar as we have no other more precise method of understanding the matter. In this eliminativist approach, which is naturalistic and scientistic, nothing is inherently impossible to study scientifically; the only constraint is that we have no current method of doing so.

    Thus philosophy is not so much a discipline with a subject matter as it is simply a necessary pre-requisite to the formulation of a scientific field. The meta-philosophical eliminativist understands that their position is philosophical, but also a contingent and volatile position in that they believe that eliminativism will eventually be shown to be correct by scientific development. Thus it is eliminativist in that it attempts to eliminate philosophical positions entirely, including eliminativism itself, i.e. eliminativism is a temporary tool, a stepping-stone, needed to understand why these tools aren't actually needed, similar to a trust fall or a leap of faith. Once the leap is done, the philosophical position is no longer needed, as there will be no need for positions anyway, since the very nature of knowledge will be elucidated by a perfect science.

    This leads to the almost soteriological conception of inquiry; by embracing meta-philosophical eliminativism, our crude theories and positions will eventually be left behind as we transcend "that kind" of knowledge and approach a singularity, fully self-contained and self-justifying in its own right.

    Would like to hear input on this. I highly suspect it is wrong and I don't particularly believe it, but only because I doubt that such a truly holistic scientism would even be possible to attain (the idea of achieving such a feat would be literally supra-human). However it does raise the question as to what makes something "philosophical" and what does not, and asks us to consider the nature of and relationship between science and philosophy.
  • apokrisis
    945
    I highly suspect it is wrong and I don't particularly believe it, but only because I doubt that such a truly holistic scientism would even be possible to attain (the idea of achieving such a feat would be literally supra-human). However it does raise the question as to what makes something "philosophical" and what does not, and asks us to consider the nature of and relationship between science and philosophy.darthbarracuda

    At the core of philosophy is the assumption that nature is intelligible. Rational inquiry can thus produce some kind of answer.

    But from there, you get a major divergence. The very position that nature is intelligible leads "philosophically" - by the same dialectic method - to the counter position that existence is fundamentally irrational. Or contingent. Or whatever else is the rationally contradictory position that could be thus put forward as the stark alternative.

    So I think the accurate way to understand philosophy is as a pragmatic core - the broadly scientific method of reasoning described by Peirce - surrounded by its flotilla of splinter projects, the various "reactions" that the stately advance of that core engenders.

    So yes. The core can aim at its "truly holistic scientism". And all the reactions to that core can remain part of philosophy to the extent which they are properly engaged as reactions. In that way, philosophy can be both a broad church and a productive trajectory of inquiry.

    I think you want a more mechanistic definition - one that rules the wrong stuff out. But I would prefer an organic approach that only cares about the general "growth of reasonableness" in human models of existence.
  • intrapersona
    445
    According to meta-philosophical eliminativism, things like "positions", "theories", "doubt", "principles", etc. are "human constructs" in the sense that they are merely methods of organizing data and can be eliminated naturalistically in the same way the eliminativist materialist believes that "belief" and "desire" can be eliminated, including the belief in eliminativist materialism as well.darthbarracuda

    i.e. philosophical only insofar as we have no other more precise method of understanding the matter. In this eliminativist approach, which is naturalistic and scientistic, nothing is inherently impossible to study scientifically; the only constraint is that we have no current method of doing so.darthbarracuda

    I don't see why this wasn't included in eliminative materialism to begin with:

    "Eliminativism about a class of entities is the view that that class of entities does not exist.[4] For example, materialism tends to be eliminativist about the soul; modern chemists are eliminativist about phlogiston; and modern physicists are eliminativist about the existence of luminiferous aether. Eliminative materialism is the relatively new (1960s-1970s) idea that certain classes of mental entities that common sense takes for granted, such as beliefs, desires, and the subjective sensation of pain, do not exist.[5][6] The most common versions are eliminativism about propositional attitudes, as expressed by Paul and Patricia Churchland,[7]and eliminativism about qualia (subjective experience), as expressed by Daniel Dennett and Georges Rey.[2] These philosophers often appeal to an introspection illusion."

    A belief or desire is relatively close to being a theory, principle or attitude except that they usually pertain to something concrete in the world that is objectively measurable. Desires and Beliefs however are more subjective and prone to fault.

    "Many problematic situations in real life arise from the circumstance that many different propositions in many different modalities are in the air at once. In order to compare propositions of different colours and flavours, as it were, we have no basis for comparison but to examine the underlying propositions themselves. Thus we are brought back to matters of language and logic. Despite the name, propositional attitudes are not regarded as psychological attitudes proper, since the formal disciplines of linguistics and logic are concerned with nothing more concrete than what can be said in general about their formal properties and their patterns of interaction. One topic of central concern is the relation between the modalities of assertion and belief, perhaps with intention thrown in for good measure. For example, we frequently find ourselves faced with the question of whether or not a person's assertions conform to his or her beliefs. Discrepancies here can occur for many reasons, but when the departure of assertion from belief is intentional, we usually call that a lie."

    Thus it is eliminativist in that it attempts to eliminate philosophical positions entirely, including eliminativism itself, i.e. eliminativism is a temporary tool, a stepping-stone, needed to understand why these tools aren't actually needed, similar to a trust fall or a leap of faith. Once the leap is done, the philosophical position is no longer needed, as there will be no need for positions anyway, since the very nature of knowledge will be elucidated by a perfect science.darthbarracuda

    But how can you have science without positions of any kind? Do you mean scientific fact will make positions redundant? Isn't fact just a kind of position on something given what the factual data is?

    This leads to the almost soteriological conception of inquiry; by embracing meta-philosophical eliminativism, our crude theories and positions will eventually be left behind as we transcend "that kind" of knowledge and approach a singularity, fully self-contained and self-justifying in its own right.darthbarracuda

    It sounds like you think we will eventually come towards knowing absolute truth. knowledge that would be self-justifying in it's own right. I thought knowledge and truth was always relative?
  • mcdoodle
    468
    In this eliminativist approach, which is naturalistic and scientistic, nothing is inherently impossible to study scientifically..darthbarracuda

    Thanks db, I am interested in this too, though from a different point of view: why it is that so much analytic philosophy seems to me, a latecomer to philosophy, as if it aspires to be a philosophy of science, rather than philosophy proper.

    One can also have a non-eliminativist view that scientific method can be applied to anything. The question is, what will the outcomes tell us? Is the discourse that issues from applying such methods to 'data' somehow a complete account? Or is there a remainder on which science is necessarily silent?

    There seem to me many areas of human life in which scientific discourse would always remain incomplete, and sometimes feels impoverished when it tries to address them. The arts; ethics; politics; spirituality; the deeper meaning of what science has to take for granted - all these seem to me to have their own discourses which are poorly susceptible to scientising.

    At the core of philosophy is the assumption that nature is intelligibleapokrisis

    At the core of my philosophy is intelligibility, but while I admire your complex and subtle understanding of 'nature', which is far from eliminativist, it still seems to me to want to encompass areas of human life and talk which are beyond 'nature'.

    Some of this relates to the 'I' and 'you', the encounters between people and what they involve. As an old arty-fart and writer/amateur singer/musician, I don't think a scientific approach has much of interest to say about many of these encounters. The science of jokes, for instance, would be a poor guide to the skill of joke-telling, and to the nature of jokes and comedy. But a philosophical inquiry might well be more fruitful. (I once tried to incorporate jokes Freud uses in 'Jokes and...Unconscious' in a play and discovered how hard it was to migrate his theory into humorous practice :) )

    As a general example, analytic philosophy about aesthetics often seems risible to me, trying to utilise pseudo-scientific or quasi-logical concepts to describe facets of human life that need a different broader faculty of understanding. In what way can a scientising philosophy march on into these areas? Say what you like about those Continentals, but quite a few of them know how to talk about poetry and symphonies.
  • Terrapin Station
    2.4k
    The old "scientization" drive under slightly different language.

    Philosophy can't somehow "become science." What makes the two different is that they have different methodologies. That's how you can have a philosophy of science, philosophy of physics, philosophy of biology, etc. In those fields, we're looking at the subject matter of science/physics/biology/etc. from a philosophical perspective, with philosophical methodology, philosophical aims, etc.

    Philosophical methodology includes things like analysis of concepts where we're not simply making empirical observations and reporting them, it includes examination of assumptions, logical analysis, etc. You could say something like, "Well, we could do those things under the rubric of the sciences." You could, and you could call it "science" if you like, but insofar as you're doing those things you're actually doing philosophy.

    Likewise, if you were to come up with hypotheses, complete with empirical predictions, and proceed to empirically test them by setting up experiments, recording data, etc., then you'd be doing science, regardless of whether you choose to call it "philosophy" or not.

    There's no subject matter, at least broadly construed, that's off-limits to either methodology, but they're not the same methodology and there's no way to make them the same.

    There are things that are off-limits to both science and philosophy, including methodological approaches, because as above, you're simply not engaging in the activity in question any longer with certain methodological approaches.

    But also, the sciences rest on assumptions such as uniformity, replicability in the wake of uniformity, causality, etc.--experimentation would make no sense if we didn't make those assumptions. That doesn't mean that there are no one-off phenomena that can't in any way be replicated. It just means that science is not constructed to be able to deal with that possibility. It's part of philosophy's job to examine these assumptions, by the way.

    Science also can't really address anything from other than a third-person perspective.

    And obviously you can't get rid of beliefs, views, etc. Eliminative materialism isn't exactly a good model for anything, because as it is, in philosophy of mind, it's a ridiculous view.
  • apokrisis
    945
    As a general example, analytic philosophy about aesthetics often seems risible to me, trying to utilise pseudo-scientific or quasi-logical concepts to describe facets of human life that need a different broader faculty of understanding. In what way can a scientising philosophy march on into these areas?mcdoodle

    But doesn't the "scientific" or "analytic" approach to nature have the advantage of being suitably modest? At least under the pragmatic or modelling relations approach to intelligibility, there is a clear demarcation between what the models can and can't achieve by way of "explaining things".

    So it is understood, for example, that explanatory ambitions must be limited by the exhaustion of counterfactuality. You can't explain the ineffable redness of red, or the fundamental absurdity of existence, if there is no counterfactual observation to justify some theory.

    And theory, on the whole, relies on the informality of acts of measurement. So the model can be completely formalised - the world can be described in terms of a closed tale of causal entailment. But measuring the values to plug into the equations always involves a free choice by the observer. Quantum mechanics merely illustrates how real this issue is in general for science.

    Likewise pragmatism in particular stresses that modelling also includes the modeller's purpose. So that is another active limitation on "explanatory completeness".

    Thus being a "scientist" involves great epistemic humility. It means understanding the limits of knowledge and developing a method of inquiry accordingly.

    And it is because pragmatism doesn't fudge things that it can then inquire into any natural phenomenon with great confidence.

    Say what you like about those Continentals, but quite a few of them know how to talk about poetry and symphonies.mcdoodle

    It might be useful to consider the standard tropes by which continentalism operates.

    A primary one is an attempt to use the principle tool of intelligible analysis - the dialectic - against itself. So the continental strives to show that dichotomies are paradoxes and such reasonings are circular.

    Metaphysical analysis aims to discover nature's dichotomous limits. Pure possibility is separated into its "otherness". So if flux is one extreme of possibility, then stasis is its other. And so on through all the familiar categories of nature.

    And then dichotomies give rise to hierarchies as the divided then mix. So the logic of nature is hierarchical - not circular, chasing its tail on a single scale of being, but itself dichotomised into the whole and the part, the global and the local, the constraints and the freedoms.

    So proper scientific naturalism (which recognises all four Aristotelean causes) has its ur-model of intelligibility. Dialectical reasoning works because existence is shaped by the self-organising logic of dichotomies and hierarchies.

    And then along comes Continentalism which attempts to establish itself by twisting this naturalism to say its very opposite.

    So now every dichotomy must be turned into a paradox. The continentalist says look, we have two contradictory things - like flux vs stasis. Well which is it going to be? And if it must be both, well then nature is fundamentally "unintelligible".

    Likewise the continentalist seeks to make a muddle out of the hierarchical outcomes that result from dichotomies reaching equilibrium balances (that is, the broken symmetries being equilibrated by being fully broken over all possible scales of being).

    The continentalist - citing Marxism or political correctness - wants to reject hierarchy as a political choice. It is just not right that power structures could be natural. It is only democratic that all existence is on the same level. Fluid networks of relations are fine, but concrete hierarchical order is coercive and abhorrent.

    So there is no coincidence that continentalism chooses the play of paradox and the virtue of relativism as two principle tools of argument. If the pragmatic/analytic approach is managing to explain the world in terms of the rational inevitability of dichotomies and hierarchies, continentalism has to define itself as the unintelligible "other" to that.

    So in Bizarro world fashion, continentalism exists in a way that simply only confirms what it seeks to deny. Dichotomies and hierarchies are what make rational sense of nature. Paradox and relativism then become the natural tools when mounting Romanticism's inevitable riposte to the triumph of Enlightenment reasoning.

    If you are not onboard the pragmatic/analytic juggernaut, it is essential to create the fiction that dialectical metaphysics leads to mystification rather than intelligibility. It is the only way to seize back cultural control of the conversation.
  • mcdoodle
    468
    It might be useful to consider the standard tropes by which continentalism operates.apokrisis

    My remark about Continentals was brief and light-hearted, though with a serious intent: that some of them have found a philosophical language in which to talk about the arts, in a way which analytics have not. I stand by that. I think the rest of your riff against 'continentalism' is about something else that I don't feel this thread is concerned with, so I'm not going to respond to.

    I would be glad to know how a naturalist approach might enable philosophy to deal with subjects for which the scientific method seems to me wide of the mark like aesthetics, ethics, politics and meta-science.

    Thus being a "scientist" involves great epistemic humility. It means understanding the limits of knowledge and developing a method of inquiry accordingly.apokrisis

    It may involve inward humility. The scientistic approach, however, sometimes involves outward epistemic arrogance and rather large claims to 'know' . Fair enough with a range including dna, testable or verifiable physics and their ilk. But db's question is about philosophy doing itself out of a job by accreting more and more sciences. I'm claiming there are limits beyond which the language of scientific discourse just doesn't provide illumination, and indeed provokes obscurantism. I am thinking say of 'possible worlds' applied to literature or 'objectivity' applied to ethics, for instance. I am thinking say of speculative physics which tries to claim the same mantle of truth as experimental physics. 'The limits of knowledge' are not something to be decided by scientists alone. I just came here from listening to some (bracing !) Schoenberg: there is a kind of knowledge, for example, in the way those notes are constructed and sung played. Perhaps there is in the spirituality Wayfarer is interested in too, or in love between people.
  • apokrisis
    945
    I would be glad to know how a naturalist approach might enable philosophy to deal with subjects for which the scientific method seems to me wide of the mark like aesthetics, ethics, politics and meta-science.mcdoodle

    In keeping with the OP, I am dealing with the meta-theoretic level issues. And you don't seem "glad" at all. ;)

    So it should be clear that I am talking about the "scientific method" from the perspective of a Peircean semiotician and systems thinker. I am sure that you are thinking of scientific inquiry in terms of analytic or reductionist traditions where a full "four causes" approach is normally rejected.

    Reductionism only wants to concern itself with the modelling of material and efficient cause (as formal and final cause is "naturally" eschewed, being what self-interested human modellers want to freely bring to the table themselves). But pragmatism - in treating formal and final cause as real, fully part of nature - has a way of putting human modellers in their proper place.

    So there is not a lot of point attacking me for the sins of reductionist Scientism when I am in fact a natural philosopher in the four causes Aristotelean tradition.

    I just came here from listening to some (bracing !) Schoenberg: there is a kind of knowledge, for example, in the way those notes are constructed and sung played. Perhaps there is in the spirituality Wayfarer is interested in too, or in love between people.mcdoodle

    The usual move - trying to suggest the "scientist" is somehow deficient in spirit, unable to enjoy life like a regular person.

    The tropes of Romanticism are perfectly familiar. The issue is getting folk like yourself to actually question the grounds of such beliefs.

    But of course rejecting analysis absolves one of the need to ever respond to a demand for actual intelligibility. Catch 22, or the escape via mystical paradox.
  • darthbarracuda
    1.8k
    At the core of philosophy is the assumption that nature is intelligible. Rational inquiry can thus produce some kind of answer.

    But from there, you get a major divergence. The very position that nature is intelligible leads "philosophically" - by the same dialectic method - to the counter position that existence is fundamentally irrational. Or contingent. Or whatever else is the rationally contradictory position that could be thus put forward as the stark alternative.
    apokrisis

    Yes, I suppose I agree with this. You have to be able to conceive of something in order to reject it.

    I think you want a more mechanistic definition - one that rules the wrong stuff out. But I would prefer an organic approach that only cares about the general "growth of reasonableness" in human models of existence.apokrisis

    Well, I was attempting to construct a view that captures the modern scientistic views of many of the average Joes, which resembles a foundationalist approach (science is the bread and butter of everything). The idea that science can answer everything is simplistic, but I don't think it's problematic at the metaphysical sense, rather, simply the pragmatic sense. "Do not block the road of inquiry" as Peirce said. If we are serious about inquiry, then philosophy is something that is needed, not as a field with a subject matter itself but as a field that engenders subject matters and clarifies the notions of other fields.

    Or, alternatively, we could just go the Deleuzean route and call philosophy the study and assimilation of concepts.
  • apokrisis
    945
    Or, alternatively, we could just go the Deleuzean route and call philosophy the study and assimilation of concepts.darthbarracuda

    The problem with this is that even concepts make no real sense except when defined in ways that permit acts of measurement. Or in Peircean terms, you can't have habits of interpretance if you can't recognise the signs that are the subject of interpretation.

    So it all keeps coming back to the "scientific method of reasoning". Or the modelling relation. We conceive of qualities. But that only makes sense if we are able to carry out acts of quantification. There is no such thing as a quality that can't be quantified. And so empiricism - for some reason much derided - is basic to philosophical thought. You can't talk intelligibly about the general if you can't successfully point to its proper instances.
  • aletheist
    358
    And so empiricism - for some reason much derided - is basic to philosophical thought. You can't talk intelligibly about the general if you can't successfully point to its proper instances.apokrisis

    There is a new book out by Aaron Bruce Wilson, Peirce's Empiricism: Its Roots and Its Originality. I have only been able to read snippets via Google Books - it is too recent to borrow via interlibrary loan - but it looks pretty good.
  • darthbarracuda
    1.8k
    So it all keeps coming back to the "scientific method of reasoning". Or the modelling relation. We conceive of qualities. But that only makes sense if we are able to carry out acts of quantification. There is no such thing as a quality that can't be quantified. And so empiricism - for some reason much derided - is basic to philosophical thought. You can't talk intelligibly about the general if you can't successfully point to its proper instances.apokrisis

    If I am understanding correctly, you are saying that when I conceive of the color "red", I am not only conceiving of "red" but also a single (one) instance of "red"? That as soon as any concept reaches my sphere of awareness, there is already a number attached to it?

    At any rate, there's the separate issue of how scientism fails to account for the poor ability of science to study certain things, at least at the current moment. It's one thing to say "science" (however we're describing it as) can "study everything", and another thing to say that it's actually recommended that we use this "science" to do this. To postpone inquiry simply because it's not able to be studied scientifically is an instance of unwarranted dogmatism and short-sightedness.

    If we're talking about ethics, say, there doesn't seem to be a clear way of coming to terms with ethical answers that isn't suspiciously similar to how it's already being done in philosophy. Adding a brain scan to the mix is only going to supplement the process, not finish the process. The only test we know of for normativity is how we ourselves react to certain things in a normative way. Thus a "science of ethics" could only study how ethics is done, i.e. what conclusions ethicists produce (ethics as an anthropological phenomenon), but this is still not normative ethics. Only a kind of meta-ethics (re: moral psychology is on the rise in meta-ethics).

    Or say we want to study the aesthetic under scientific means. In order to even study the aesthetic, we have to know what the hell the aesthetic even is. Thus ontology is fundamentally necessary to any other mode of inquiry. Attempting to do ontology purely by empirical means would be an exercise in wastefulness and tedium - surely it's conceivably possible, but practically impossible.
  • apokrisis
    945
    Or say we want to study the aesthetic under scientific means. In order to even study the aesthetic, we have to know what the hell the aesthetic even is. Thus ontology is fundamentally necessary to any other mode of inquiry. Attempting to do ontology purely by empirical means would be an exercise in wastefulness and tedium - surely it's conceivably possible, but practically impossible.darthbarracuda

    But really, you make my point. We don't know what the aesthetic is unless we have some concept that seems measurable. It is airy fairy meaningless talk until we can at least do something as primitively quantitative as point at a Picasso and exclaim that's what I'm talking about.

    So the ontic commitment is to counterfactual definiteness in fact. One has to be able to say that this is a particular instance of that general idea.

    Thus conception is inherently empirical. Unless an idea can be cashed out in an act of measurement, we would have to ascribe to it the dismal status of being an idea that is "not even wrong".
  • darthbarracuda
    1.8k
    What if we want to go beyond the ontic and pursue the status of the ontic itself? Ontic investigations are inherently tied to a human-world relation. But surely the human-world relation is "not all there is". Surely we must go "beyond" the human-world interaction and investigate what the world is actually like independent of perceivers, investigate what we mean by "Being", what the conditions are for intelligibility and how everything "falls into place" a la Sellars.

    And of course there's also the potential that natural observations of the world will lead us to believe in something "more" to the natural order of things, something commonly seen as supernatural. Natural theology and even atheological metaphysics thus stems from general empirical observations and modality and creates a metaphysical order of things that is implicitly outside the order of the ontic and presentable; being qua being. Yet this goes against what a meta-philosophical eliminativist would believe. What makes it the case that such matters are outside of "direct" empirical study?
  • aletheist
    358
    It is airy fairy meaningless talk until we can at least do something as primitively quantitative as point at a Picasso and exclaim that's what I'm talking about ... Thus conception is inherently empirical. Unless an idea can be cashed out in an act of measurement, we would have to ascribe to it the dismal status of being an idea that is "not even wrong".apokrisis

    I am not sure how pointing at something qualifies as "primitively quantitative" or "an act of measurement." It is certainly an index in Peirce's terminology, and it is the necessity of those that he upheld as the indispensable connection between cognition and existing objects. Even the pragmatic maxim does not require quantitative measurement as such, just experiential consequences so that we can ascertain whether our predictions are borne out.
  • apokrisis
    945
    Ontic investigations are inherently tied to a human-world relation. But surely the human-world relation is "not all there is". Surely we must go "beyond" the human-world interaction and investigate what the world is actually like independent of perceivers,darthbarracuda

    Well remember that Peircean pragmatism is distinguished by the fact that it does indeed generalise the notion of the perceived. So existence itself becomes a modelling relation - a kind of pansemiotic state of mind.

    So pansemiosis is the ontic argument that there is no such thing as "unperceived existence". And thus it fits with quantum physics and it's demand for "someone" to collapse the wavefunction.

    So your natural presumption - the standard reductionist position - is that reality could be observer independent. Acts of measurement don't disturb what they claim to exist.

    But Peircean metaphysics says all that can happen is a separation of indeterminate possibility towards the complementary poles of the observer and the observables - the interpretation and its sign. It is a very different ontology.

    And the proof of which ontology is right is in how fundamental science is turning out. Observeless worlds don't make much sense.
  • apokrisis
    945
    Measurement is experience. But it grows in rational sophistication as we go from the firstness of naming some brute quality - exclaiming "I see red" - to the thirdness of some habit like reading numbers off the dial of an instrument.
  • javra
    77
    Measurement is experience. But it grows in rational sophistication as we go from the firstness of naming some brute quality - exclaiming "I see red" - to the thirdness of some habit like reading numbers off the dial of an instrument.apokrisis

    In referent to this and to other previous comments concerning quantity and quality:

    I agree that quantity and quality co-occur with domains of space and time—by which I here intend realms of distance and duration. And what you say of aesthetics to me makes sense; otherwise we’d be lost in opinions of faith where anything goes.

    I would first like to be clear by emphasizing the aforementioned: imo, quality and quantity is not an either-or dichotomy but a necessary conjunction of anything that holds duration and closeness/furtherance. This in some ways can be comparable to the dyad of up and down.

    Yet there remains for me the issue of metaphysical priority. I’d like to import into the conversation what you’ve termed the apeiron. If the apeiron is perfect symmetry, then it—in and of itself--would by definition be a non-quantity. It would thereby also be immeasurable. Despite this, it would yet be qualitatively different than anything non-symmetrical. As I understand it, to the extent that symmetry occurs within space and time, this same non-quantitative quality would also be present within realms of existence.

    There may be disagreements with the aforementioned. If, however, there’s general agreement:

    There then occur some aspects of existence that remain immeasurable. At the very least, the proposed finale which you term the apeiron would itself be something which holds presence (not to be confused with the presence held by physical objects) while not being quantifiable in and of itself.

    I address all this in my belief that quality holds metaphysical priority over quantity--and therefore that some quality is immeasurable. But, as I’ve previously emphasized, this is not arguing that quantity’s importance is diminished within realms of space and time. It’s akin to arguing that meaning is primary to language, though its due to language that we can entertain the meanings which we entertain.
  • apokrisis
    945
    If the apeiron is perfect symmetry, then it—in and of itself--would by definition be a non-quantity. It would thereby also be immeasurable. Despite this, it would yet be qualitatively different than anything non-symmetrical. As I understand it, to the extent that symmetry occurs within space and time, this same non-quantitative quality would also be present within realms of existence.javra

    Yep. A Metaphysical dichotomy like quantity~quality is not an either/or story but about mutually dependent origination. They would be the two complementary faces of a process of symmetry breaking or coming to be.

    But then logically, as the grounding symmetry that could beget such a division, the Apeiron, or a state of vagueness, would have to lack both quality and quantity in any definite or actual sense. The Apeiron is the potential for both those things, but cant be considered as iteself one of those things in any determinate fashion.

    So on the one hand we want to characterise vagueness in a way that is useful for reasoning. And the maths of symmetry is the obvious way to get started. So we can say the Apeiron has the quality of perfect symmetry ... and hey, the maths of symmetry and symmetry breaking then allows us to talk about the degrees of any departure from that symmetry state. So in fact by talking of the quality of perfect symmetry, we also bring with that the tools to make justifiable measurements.

    It's a negative space or constraints based argument. We define perfection in terms of the observable absence of imperfection. But it does mean that we can treat the Apeiron as a quality which we know how to quantify.
  • darthbarracuda
    1.8k
    Well remember that Peircean pragmatism is distinguished by the fact that it does indeed generalise the notion of the perceived. So existence itself becomes a modelling relation - a kind of pansemiotic state of mind.apokrisis

    This is not very coherent to me, unfortunately. By saying existence is x, someone is inherently advocating a kind of monism. I know you call the relation irreducibly complex and triadic, but this means that existence is not basic, that there is "something more", "below" existence, that makes up the relation. A relation without parts makes no sense.

    Similarly, let's say I argue the world is a giant cobweb. That is at least coherent, as I am saying that the world as a whole is structured so that it is a cobweb. The same thing applies to theories that make the universe an expanding sphere, or a tube, or whatever.

    But when I say that existence itself is a giant cobweb, that is when things are not coherent. A giant cobweb is still an ontic substance that I can visualize. But I can't "visualize" existence. I can't predicate anything about it. This is exactly why Heidegger, when read charitably, can be seen as using difficult and obscure words simply because he was struggling to explain something that normally cannot be explained using language.

    So when you say that existence itself is a modelling relation, this is using an ontic phenomenon to explain all ontic phenomenons. It's just ontic all the way down. That doesn't make sense.

    So pansemiosis is the ontic argument that there is no such thing as "unperceived existence". And thus it fits with quantum physics and it's demand for "someone" to collapse the wavefunction.apokrisis

    But Peircean metaphysics says all that can happen is a separation of indeterminate possibility towards the complementary poles of the observer and the observables - the interpretation and its sign. It is a very different ontology.

    And the proof of which ontology is right is in how fundamental science is turning out. Observeless worlds don't make much sense.
    apokrisis

    You have a lot more in common with speculative realism than you might think. The idea of ancestrality, ontic communication, metaphysical architecture, etc is all very important in it, and I believe some of them even take from Peirce as well.
  • javra
    77

    But it does mean that we can treat the Apeiron as a quality which we know how to quantify.apokrisis

    I’m for now presuming we’re on the same page in this regard: It’s there because we can point to it as abstraction via use of our reasoning as a pointing instrument. It’s that, and not other than that which it is. It therefore holds discernable identity. To us.

    The apparent disagreement resides in this:

    You seem to want to say it is known because some of its properties are known. Among these being that quality and quantity emerge from it.

    I disagree by upholding that what the Apeiron is can only be unknowable, even when specified mathematically by the system of metaphysics you uphold. Again, within your system, the Apeiron is utterly other than what we are as existent beings. This though we are all, in some way, aspects of the Apeiron. It is, and is for the reasons given qualitatively different from any quality we can be aware of. Because it is non-quantity, however, no quantitative resemblance between it and that which is resultant of it can be made.

    These conclusion, again, makes quality metaphysically prior to quantity.
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