• Leontiskos
    Yeah that makes sense. I think we'd proceed better by going into tangential discussions at this point. But I'd not be interested in pursuing them without a detour, onto the original path, through more of Fine's work.fdrake

    Sounds Fine to me. Is there a particular part or aspect of Fine's article that you are interested in discussing?

    It seems like I can refer to my friend's blegbleg successfully even though I have no interpretation of its nature...fdrake

    I am inclined to doubt this, although it depends on what we mean by 'refer'. On my view not knowing something prevents you from referring to it. Suppose I get into a conversation with my mechanic and starting using the word "catalytic converter," despite having no idea what it means (I am feigning competence). In this case we are both using the token 'catalytic converter', but in entirely different ways. Now if language is for communication then this is a failure of language. Even if I manage to fool the mechanic for a few minutes, no substantive communication is taking place.

    I recognize that Anglo-American philosophy is keen to promote the idea of objective meaning, apart from the mere intention of the speaker. That's fine, but I would say that we can only prescind so far from intention and private knowledge. In my conversation with the mechanic intention and private knowledge come to the fore, and it seems that the term 'catalytic converter' when found on my tongue cannot be referring to a real catalytic converter, because I have no idea what a real catalytic converter is.

    At best the ignorant person's working definition of 'blegbleg' or 'catalytic converter' seems to be, "That thing that my interlocutor knows about." It is the same in the earlier example about the novice who inquires about Thales.

    I can just tell you. The only philosophy background I have is in scientific inference - so logic and statistical theory + methodology work. The research I've done has been fundamental in that intersection. Not fundamental in terms of importance, of course, but in terms of abstraction. So learning "conceptual analysis" has been useful.fdrake

    Okay, interesting. But you've obviously delved into philosophy given that you are able to discourse on a number of different philosophical topics with relative ease. For example, your interpretation of Fine seems quite apt, and your analysis of the debate between Banno and creativesoul was very cogent. Are there other philosophers or traditions that you have picked up along the way?

    Also studied philosophy a bit as a student. Yours?fdrake

    I took an undergraduate degree in computer science, and then later took an undergraduate degree in philosophy along with some graduate work in theology. But the only field I have formally worked in is computer science. The philosophy was in large part a kind of analytic Thomism (Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle often in the sphere of analytic philosophy). But this was years ago and much of it feels rusty.
  • schopenhauer1
    You are combining both the questions about whether the world exists (or whether there is existence) and how do we know that the world exists.

    "How is it that the world exists without an observer". Asking this question entails that existence depends on our knowledge (the observer).

    Tell me, are you asking "how do we know the world exists?"

    I am not saying that the world doesn't exist without an observer (necessarily), but the explanation of what that is (ontologically).
  • Leontiskos
    I've listened to some of his lectures and generally like his survey of the philosophers, though I thought he was a bit too dismissive of Schopenhauer due to his pessimism. But fairly enough, I think he does that to all the philosophers giving his critiques as he goes.schopenhauer1

    I agree. Sugrue is good although overly critical at times, but his criticism is usually evenly distributed.

    But anyways, to the broader point, much of philosophy revolves around how it is that the world exists without an observer, or sometimes formulated as a human observer.schopenhauer1

    Yes - much of modern philosophy. :smile:

    This video might help as a good jumping off point for a Harman's view of objects. Perhaps we can have a discussion on it?schopenhauer1

    I found this to be good and interesting. I welcome this sort of approach in our day, these realist attempts to overcome the divide that Sugrue talks about. In fact I find myself on the same page as this reviewer, both in his commendations and his criticisms.

    There was <a thread> that ended up getting into Lloyd Gerson's work a bit, particularly his paper, "Platonism vs Naturalism." Anti-physicalism reminds me of Gerson's anti-materialism, and anti-smallism reminds me of Gerson's anti-mechanism. The opposition to "anti-fictionalism" and "literalism" don't have parallels in Gerson's article, but I also sympathize with these tenets.

    I also think that his idea of "undermining" and "overmining" an object is useful here. Undermining would be reducing to separate constituents. Overmining would be how it is related to every other thing, more-or-less.schopenhauer1

    Right, these were interesting ideas as well, and I think "overmining" relates to Fine's article to some extent. A lot of this resonates with Aristotle.

    It is speculative because it obviously can never prove that reality, but it is believed one has the ability to speculate from the perspective of the human. They are not allowing this to hamper their ability to speculate.schopenhauer1

    I wonder if it comes from the idea of speculative knowledge (as contrasted with practical knowledge). His argument against scientism is basically the idea that science is only concerned with practical knowledge, and the obvious alternative here is speculative knowledge. In that sense "speculative realism" could be something like "realism as an attempt to understand reality, with no ulterior motive."

    Along these lines, I agree with the author in his wariness of Harman's attempt to see nothing unique in human thought:

    Realists are willing to speculate about the world, not caring how representation formulates the empirical evidence, per se.schopenhauer1

    For a classical realist like Aristotle or Aquinas, "realism" means realism with respect to universals (this is Gerson's anti-nominalism and anti-skepticism). The crucial idea here is that the human mind is capable of knowing reality as it is, and this is precisely where modern philosophy in all its forms departs. This inevitably leads to positing certain things about the human intellect, such as that it is immaterial due to its ability to comprehend material realities. (Interestingly, the one point in the video where Aristotle is brought up is with respect to knowledge of singulars, and on my view this is crucially related to this thread. It's a rather complicated topic, though. (link to Aquinas' view).)

    Now the Speculative Realist seems to be committed to the view that the human mind can know reality as it is, and therefore I don't see how they can remain neutral on the question of the nature of the human mind (and the uniqueness of the human mind as an object).


    More generally, a problem I see with so many modern philosophies is that they are largely reactionary, reacting to other philosophers' views on very limited and discrete issues. "A related problem is that such individuals basically started with a critique, and then interpolated their more systematic views on that basis of that critique" (). I hope Harman is careful about this, because there is a danger of reacting to current problems in philosophy rather than setting out an ontology that can stand on its own.

    The other broad problem in modern philosophy seems to be a simplistic subordinationism. The approach is often mathematical, where one seeks a perfectly stable starting point and then attempts to derive all of the rest from that point. Once the starting point fails the philosophy is thrown into abeyance, and remains in abeyance. Aristotle really doesn't do philosophy this way, and it is a deep merit of his work. I wouldn't call his approach coherentism, but there are all sorts of different footholds, accessible from different directions and different realms of inquiry, and the system is not reliant on a single point or first principle. Neither is there an overemphasis on epistemology.

    Anyway, sorry for the choppy and meandering response. The posts deserved more time than I had. Thanks for sharing the video. :up:
  • schopenhauer1
    Right, these were interesting ideas as well, and I think "overmining" relates to Fine's article to some extent. A lot of this resonates with Aristotle.Leontiskos

    Indeed, in a sense the idea that something tangential to the object itself (causal connection or the set of itself or something like that), seems to miss the mark perhaps with these modalists? There is a level at which the object is and overmining and undermining can be tricky not to miss it altogether.

    I hope Harman is careful about this, because there is a danger of reacting to current problems in philosophy rather than setting out an ontology that can stand on its own.Leontiskos

    Good point. If I remember, his ideas are influenced by Heidegger's idea, but a completely object-oriented inverse of it. Heidegger I think stays within the correlationism of the "human being". It's also clearly has some Aristotlean/Medievalist influences (vicarious causation for example).

    For Harman, Heideggerian Zuhandenheit, or readiness-to-hand, refers to the withdrawal of objects from human perception into a reality that cannot be manifested by practical or theoretical action.[9] Furthering this idea, Harman contends that when objects withdraw in this way, they distance themselves from other objects, as well as humans.[1] Resisting pragmatic interpretations of Heidegger's thought, then, Harman is able to propose an object-oriented account of metaphysical substances.OOO Wiki
    Neither is there an overemphasis on epistemology.Leontiskos

    Yep true. You can almost see the break in approach at Aristotle vs. Plato as the seeds for later analytic vs. continental traditions.
  • L'éléphant
    I am not saying that the world doesn't exist without an observer (necessarily), but the explanation of what that is (ontologically).schopenhauer1
    Meaning what?
  • schopenhauer1

    What is existence without an observer? What’s the relation of observer with the world. These kind of things.
  • L'éléphant
    What is existence without an observer? What’s the relation of observer with thevworld. These kind of things.schopenhauer1
    "Stuff" is what exists without an observer. Actually, reality would be reduced to two-dimensional world without an observer. Do you agree?
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