• frank
    4.6k
    Arthur Holmes divides western philosophy into three phases marked by distinct conceptual equipment. He claims that during each phase, whether materialistic or idealistic, philosophers use the same conceptual framework. The phases are:

    1. Essences -- Plato, Stoics
    2. Mechanical -- Descartes, Newton
    3. Relational - Einstein, Kantians

    I think I get the first two, but it's not clear to me that we presently live in an age if relativism. How would you characterize our present conceptual framework?
  • Pfhorrest
    1.6k
    I think this is an interesting question and I'm disappointed it didn't get any responses back when.

    I lack time to think of an answer right now, but maybe I will get to one later.
  • 180 Proof
    915
    Arthur Holmes divides western philosophy into three phases marked by distinct conceptual equipment. He claims that during each phase, wzeehether materialistic or idealistic, philosophers use the same conceptual framework. The phases are:

    1. Essences -- Plato, Stoics
    2. Mechanical -- Descartes, Newton
    3. Relational - Einstein, Kantians
    — frank
    I've speculated along these lines in an old post, though emphasizing (epochal?) experiences - shocks - which I think have made philosophizing possible, so to speak, instead of "conceptual equipment ... frameworks" throughout history:

    a. Wonder (classical) - the question
    b. Eternity (scholastic, romantic) - the answer
    c. Despair (modern) - the nonsense

    Is 'metaphilosophy' nothing more or less than (a) historical dialectics of philosophy or nonphilosophical (e.g. genealogical, or sociological, or anthropological, or ideological, etc) critique? Or something else ...
  • csalisbury
    2.2k
    Some scattered thoughts on this:

    1. All three of Holmes' categories get scrambled when you add more detail. A few quick scramblings: Plato did have essences, but a lot of relational aspects too (participation, emanation for the neos). Something somewhere else relates to something here, and the essence is transmitted.Leibniz and Spinoza were extraordinarly relational, while being of the 'mechanical' age. Kant in many ways is platonism turned inside out where, instead of a higher place beaming down the forms, we beam them out from ourselves. And so, like Plato, both essence-focused and relational. & sort of mechanical as well.


    2. But you can also see the dialectic crystal of Holmes' break-down, regardless of how well it maps the terrain. There's the thing as it is (essence). Then there's the thing as a momentary 'snapshot' that expresses not itself, but what a linear process of matter-undergoing-laws-of-transformation looks like at time x. (mechanical). Finally, there's the addition of a 'ground' (transcendental apperception and spacetime, I guess, here) which provides a depth and connectedness for phenomena which Holmes' 'mechanical' would be lacking.

    So (1) the thing as it is, which is the thing it is (2) it's fragmentation into blind matter and (3) its reintegration into a whole.

    This sounds like the hero's quest. Many metaphilosophical accounts seem to tend that way


    3. But there's definitely some discernible progression. Is it that there's an innate tendency, in any time, to take the dialectic crystal Holme's has used, and cast it over any sort of material. So that two things are competing - an innate tendency to 'work out' that kind of framing with whatever material is handy (philosophical or not) + an attempt to adequately sketch what's happened in philosophy?

    4.
    I've speculated along these lines in an old post, though emphasizing (epochal?) experiences - shocks - which I think have made philosophizing possible, so to speak, instead of "conceptual equipment ... frameworks" throughout history:180 Proof

    If the Holmes thing is an instance of universal cognitive tool for re-arranging things according to a certain triadic structure of integration-disintegration-reintegration (a structure which works through the thinker, to realize itself) then an adequate 'meta-philosophical- perspective wouldn't seek to impose that structure over the whole history of philosophy (which seems like a response to the thinker's own personal shocks) but see the particular ways in which each epoch worked through that structure with regard to their specific shock, and the particular materials they had to make sense of it. @180 ProofI guess this would be what you called 'nonphilosophical critique.'


    5. It's hard, when breaking down things into epochs, not to see them as suggesting a new source, a center of stability, that organizes everything else. Plato has a fixed elsewhere. Newton's laws involve a fixed progression of matter through fixed transformations. So on, and so on. There's always something you can return to, in thought, which will always be there, and explain the rest. Not explain, necessarily, but organize. This still goes for Deleuze and whoever else. It's a kind of hearth.

    6. Maybe the question to ask of metaphilosophy, to figure out what it is, is what it is it looking for and why?

    7. At a certain point, I get a feeling like this all Dumbo letting go of his feather, slowly, through a series of of progressively more abstract transitional objects? I guess ala Wittgenstein's 'fly in the bottle' but with a little more empathy. Instead of a meaningless creature, meaninglessly stuck in a small bottle, you have a confused and earnest person slowly trying on new ways of organizing things once and for all, until letting go and cultivating their own ability to organize with others, in their particular situation. (but then this too seems to be an overhasty wrap-up of it all?)
  • Wayfarer
    9.5k
    Some notes from an article on Pitirim Sorokin's phases of cultural development:

    Sensate (Materialistic) Culture

    The first pattern, which Sorokin called Sensate culture, has these features:

    • The defining cultural principle is that true reality is sensory – only the material world is real. There is no other reality or source of values.
    • This becomes the organizing principle of society. It permeates every aspect of culture and defines the basic mentality. People are unable to think in any other terms.
    • Sensate culture pursues science and technology, but dedicates little creative thought to spirituality or religion.
    • Dominant values are wealth, health, bodily comfort, sensual pleasures, power and fame.
    • Ethics, politics, and economics are utilitarian and hedonistic. All ethical and legal precepts are considered mere man-made conventions, relative and changeable.
    • Art and entertainment emphasize sensory stimulation. In the decadent stages of Sensate culture there is a frenzied emphasis on the new and the shocking (literally, sensationalism).
    • Religious institutions are mere relics of previous epochs, stripped of their original substance, and tending to fundamentalism and exaggerated fideism (the view that faith is not compatible with reason).\

    This describes the secular west.

    Ideational (Spiritual) Culture

    The second pattern, which Sorokin called Ideational culture, has these characteristics:

    • The defining principle is that true reality is supersensory, transcendent, spiritual.
    • The material world is variously: an illusion (maya), temporary, passing away (“stranger in a strange land”), sinful, or a mere shadow of an eternal transcendent reality.
    • Religion often tends to asceticism and moralism.
    • Mysticism and revelation are considered valid sources of truth and morality.
    • Science and technology are comparatively de-emphasized.
    • Economics is conditioned by religious and moral commandments (e.g., laws against usury).
    • Innovation in theology, metaphysics, and supersensory philosophies.
    • Flourishing of religious and spiritual art (e.g., Gothic cathedrals).


    Integral (Idealistic) Culture

    Most cultures correspond to one of the two basic patterns above. Sometimes, however, a mixed cultural pattern occurs. The most important mixed culture Sorokin termed an Integral culture (also sometimes called an idealistic culture – not to be confused with an Ideational culture.) An Integral culture harmoniously balances sensate and ideational tendencies. Characteristics of an Integral culture include the following:

    • Its ultimate principle is that the true reality is richly manifold, a tapestry in which sensory, rational, and supersensory threads are interwoven.
    • All compartments of society and the person express this principle.
    • Science, philosophy, and theology blossom together.
    • Fine arts treat both supersensory reality and the noblest aspects of sensory reality.

    Taken from this blog post.

    Personally, I had never heard of Sorokin before reading the above blog post but he seems an admirable fellow.
  • csalisbury
    2.2k
    8. 'knowing' philosophically seems, inherently, to have something of the umbilical cord tied to something fixed. At the limit, you can do a thing of having an umbilical cord to the impossibility of the umbilical cord, but it effectively does the same thing, if you return again and again in thought to it.
  • Snakes Alive
    496
    Western philosophy is a European folk tradition that has remained practiced, pretty much unchanged, since Socrates (as portrayed by Plato).
  • csalisbury
    2.2k
    That's a good way to look at it. Still it's a particularly decadent and weirdly self-reflective folk tradition. The participants seem particularly concerned about what they're doing and why.
  • Snakes Alive
    496
    Not any more than other folk traditions. If you doubt it, well, you're a native, so prone to ethnocentrism...there's lots of ways in which philosophy is profoundly unreflective as well, as to its own nature, and so on.
  • csalisbury
    2.2k
    Yeah, I think there's a lot of truth to that. I was going to say that the tradition itself, in philosophy, tends to become a tradition of self-reflection on the tradition. Then, I realized that's not quite true, except in pockets. Well, you can separate the unreflective practicing of the tradition, from reflexive consideration. Maybe the latter thing is something different than philosophy.

    I suppose the effect of characterizing philosophy as a folk-tradition only works if philosophy thinks of itself as something different, so characterizing it that way says something new, reframes things. If it is the same as any other folk tradition, that characterization should have the same effect for any folk tradition (one says 'this is a folk tradition' and sees what the effect is) That may be the case.
  • Snakes Alive
    496
    I suppose the effect of characterizing philosophy as a folk-tradition only works if philosophy thinks of itself as something different, so characterizing it that way says something new, reframes things. If it is the same as any other folk tradition, that characterization should have the same effect for any folk tradition (one says 'this is a folk tradition' and sees what the effect is) That may be the case.csalisbury

    In general, only an outside view sees something as a 'folk tradition.' For the people in the tradition, it's just 'what's done,' or 'the tradition.' So if you ask a performer of the tradition, they'll say 'it's the most general form of inquiry' or 'it's the study of how things hang together in the broadest sense' or 'it's an inquiry into the deepest questions,' but these things aren't true. So what is it really...? Well that question hasn't been properly asked yet, because al the histories are written by natives, who give you the party line.

    Philosophy is 'self-reflexive,' OK, but so is Islamic hadith, and so on. Westerners have a blind spot for philosophy because it's their folk tradition, but an outsider is able to see that it isn't what it claims to be from the inside.
  • fdrake
    3.4k
    In general, only an outside view sees something as a 'folk tradition.' For the people in the tradition, it's just 'what's done,' or 'the tradition.' So if you ask a performer of the tradition, they'll say 'it's the most general form of inquiry' or 'it's the study of how things hang together in the broadest sense' or 'it's an inquiry into the deepest questions,' but these things aren't true. So what is it really...? Well that question hasn't been properly asked yet, because al the histories are written by natives, who give you the party line.Snakes Alive

    It is a folk tradition, which while providing a necessary perspective, isn't sufficiently precise to demarcate it from any other folk tradition. That's the start of a story, not the end of one.

    Philosophy is 'self-reflexive,' OK, but so is Islamic hadith, and so on. Westerners have a blind spot for philosophy because it's their folk tradition, but an outsider is able to see that it isn't what it claims to be from the inside.Snakes Alive

    Something that maybe distinguishes philosophy from religion and other folk traditions (when describing it from this exterior viewpoint) is that you can almost arbitrarily change the content of a philosophical work, and its form, and still be doing philosophy. Philosophy can be about anything, use anything, be done in any way. If you label something as philosophy correctly and say no more on the matter, it says nothing about what it's about or how it's done. Contrast "Catholicism".

    In this regard, it's actually very similar to broad terms like "folk tradition" or "art" which encompasses a plurality of styles and topics that can have mutually exclusive examples and overlapping examples at the same time. Contrast "Catholicism" and "religion". Philosophy's much more similar to the latter as an umbrella term.

    Philosophy is 'self-reflexive,' OK, but so is Islamic hadith, and so on. Westerners have a blind spot for philosophy because it's their folk tradition, but an outsider is able to see that it isn't what it claims to be from the inside.Snakes Alive

    I suppose the effect of characterizing philosophy as a folk-tradition only works if philosophy thinks of itself as something different, so characterizing it that way says something new, reframes things. If it is the same as any other folk tradition, that characterization should have the same effect for any folk tradition (one says 'this is a folk tradition' and sees what the effect is) That may be the case.csalisbury

    That reflexivity, the ability to take anything about itself or "outside of itself" as a topic of investigation or inspiration, can be (and has been) used to read this plurality of styles and contents back into philosophy on a conceptual level; as in, as a concept understood in the interior sense to philosophy rather than from the outside.

    Someone might take an imperialist view of that by itself'; it's a social practice that uses any other social practice and haughtily declares itself as more reasonable and rational than those bloody pagans and totemists. But it doesn't need to play that subjugating role, when it interfaces with politics it can be emancipatory, and it can attempt to highlight its own biases - like analysing philosophy in terms of ethnocentrism tries to do. (As Rick Roderick puts it "Rorty once called philosophy "the conversation of mankind", he didn't notice that some people aren't in it").

    Another interesting way of looking at that arbitrarity of content/form within philosophy and its infinite capacity for reflexivity together is provided by Francois Laruelle. who attempts to characterise how philosophy works on an abstract, schematic level articulated in terms of these two properties. Philosophy consists in a mode of interpretation that takes the infinite capacity for interpretation and distinction as a given. but (allegedly) when one practices philosophy one cannot help but produce work that posits, without articulation, the very groundlessness of infinite interpretation (no starting/stopping points when conceived as a historical system of concept articulation) arising from the ability to take anything as grist for the mill, in any way, and draw distinctions of any character.

    lengthy quote on Laruelle containing link to quoted essay
    Axiomatic Heresy, Ray Brassier on Laruelle[/url
    ]Decision minimally consists in an act of scission or separation dividing two terms: a conditioned (but not necessarily perceptual or empirical) datum and its condition as an a priori (but not necessarily rational) faktum, both of which are posited as given in and through a synthetic unity wherein condition and conditioned, datum and faktum, are conjoined. Thus the philosopher posits a structure of articulation which immediately binds and distinguishes the conditioned datum – that which is given – whether it be perceptual, phenomenological, linguistic, social or historical, and its condition – its givenness – as an a priori faktum through which that datum is given: for example, sensibility, subjectivity, language, society, history.

    What is crucial here is the way in which such a structure is immediately independent of, yet inseparable from, the two terms which it simultaneously connects and differentiates. It is a basically fractional structure comprising two differentiated terms and their difference as a third term that is simultaneously intrinsic and extrinsic, immanent and transcendent to those two terms. Thus, for any philosophical distinction or dyad, such as transcendental/empirical, subject/substance, being/beings, différance/presence, the distinction is simultaneously intrinsic and immanent to the distinguished terms and extrinsic and transcendent in so far as it is supposed to remain constitutive of the difference between the terms themselves. For the division is inseparable from a moment of immanent indivision guaranteeing the unity-in-differentiation of the dyadic coupling.

    The result is a structure wherein the coupling of related terms is also their disjoining – for example: pure synthesis as that which (dis)joins transcendental and empirical (Kant); self-relating negativity as that which (dis)joins subject and substance (Hegel); horizonal ekstasis as that which (dis)joins being and beings (Heidegger); différance as that which (dis)joins architext and signified presence (Derrida); ʻindi-different/ciationʼ as that which (dis)joins virtual and actual (Deleuze) – a (dis)joining that remains co-constituted by the two terms it is supposed to condition and so implicitly contained within both. Because it is posited as given in and through the immediate distinction between conditioned datum and conditioning faktum – the very distinction which it is supposed to constitute – this structure presupposes itself as given in and through the datum which it constitutes, and posits itself as a priori condition, or givenness, in and through the faktum which conditions that datum.

    Thus, because the disjoining of condition and conditioned is simultaneously extrinsic and intrinsic to their joining, all the moments of a philosophical decision are self-positing (or auto-positional) and self-presupposing (or auto-donational): a conditioned datum is given by being posited a priori through some conditioning faktum which is in turn only articulated as conditioning in so far as it has already been presupposed through that datum, and so on. There is a sense in which the structure of decision is circular in that it already presupposes itself in whatever phenomenon or set of phenomena it articulates. Hence the suspicion that philosophy manages to interpret everything while explaining nothing, because the structure of the explanans, decision, is already presupposed in the explanandum, the phenomenon or phenomena to be explained. Yet strictly speaking the structure of decision is not so much that of a circle as that of a Moebius strip – but one where the twist that joins the inner and outer faces of the strip and allows them to flow smoothly into one another is also a fracture, scission or split whose dimensionality is simultaneously more and less than, both in excess of and subtracted from, the immanent dimensions of the stripʼs opposing surfaces.

    This fractional loop, this auto-positional and auto-donational structure, constitutes philosophyʼs inherently reflexive or specular character. It guarantees that everything is potentially philosophizable, which is to say, possible grist for the decisional mill. Thus, if philosophizing (especially in the ʻcontinentalʼ manner) remains a loose-knit grouping of interpretative strategies rather than a rigorous theoretical praxis, it is because decisional specularity ensures the world remains philosophyʼs mirror. Philosophizing the world becomes a pretext for philosophyʼs own interminable self-interpretation. And since interpretation is a function of talent rather than rigour, the plurality of mutually incompatible yet unfalsifiable interpretations merely perpetuates the uncircumscribable ubiquity of philosophyʼs auto-encompassing specularity. Absolute specularity breeds infinite interpretation – such is the norm for the philosophical practice of thought.
    — Axiomatic Heresy, Ray Brassier on Laruelle
  • Snakes Alive
    496
    Something that maybe distinguishes philosophy from religion and other folk traditions (when describing it from this exterior viewpoint) is that you can almost arbitrarily change the content of a philosophical work, and its form, and still be doing philosophy. Philosophy can be about anything, use anything, be done in any way.fdrake

    It might superficially seem so, but I deny this. Its core practices are unchanged since Plato, and so is its content.

    It can be 'about anything' in the sense that the sophists could talk 'about anything' – that is, it has an emptiness to it that is mistaken for breadth.

    arising from the ability to take anything as grist for the mill, in any way, and draw distinctions of any character.fdrake

    This is not quite right – as a blind spot, philosophy isn't capable of making its own operations 'grist for its mill.' Seriously questioning philosophy from the inside simply ends it rather than creating a new meta-field where new distinctions can be drawn. The latter one is the play-reflexiveness that philosophers themselves indulge in. Much of philosophy is like play – it plays at reasoning, or is an empty shadow of actual reasoning, taking on superficial aspects of its form and moving them around.
  • fdrake
    3.4k
    Its core practices are unchanged since Plato, and so is its content.Snakes Alive

    When you say core practices, what do you mean?

    As an example, you can point to a few things that are core practices/doctrines of Catholicism.
    (1) The Trinity
    (2) The Eucharist
    (3) Baptism
    ...

    I'm asking what things you'd throw in the list for philosophy.
  • Snakes Alive
    496
    The core practices of philosophy consist in a family of dialectical moves. The basic idea within which they're housed is that you can 'think about anything' simply by asking questions about it and then answering them – that is, a conversation in of itself is taken to be some kind of 'inquiry.' This is a false belief.

    Some of these moves remain invariant, for example, saying 'Take case X. Is X an example of category Y?' or rephrased for the general case, 'what is Y?' This is perhaps the most important move of all, and is the Socratic move, but others consist in, for example, demanding that a premise taken for granted be rejected, and seeing what consequences follow from this according to the logic of the culture of language, so that you shuffle about the domain of several cultural concepts, with no 'cognitive' effect, but a reallocation of the way certain terms are applied in a small domain.
  • csalisbury
    2.2k
    In general, only an outside view sees something as a 'folk tradition.' For the people in the tradition, it's just 'what's done,' or 'the tradition.' So if you ask a performer of the tradition, they'll say 'it's the most general form of inquiry' or 'it's the study of how things hang together in the broadest sense' or 'it's an inquiry into the deepest questions,' but these things aren't true. So what is it really...? Well that question hasn't been properly asked yet, because al the histories are written by natives, who give you the party line.

    Philosophy is 'self-reflexive,' OK, but so is Islamic hadith, and so on. Westerners have a blind spot for philosophy because it's their folk tradition, but an outsider is able to see that it isn't what it claims to be from the inside.
    Snakes Alive

    Agreed mostly all around. Still Hadith (or midrash, say) are the go-to analogies rather than, say, Sufi Dance or Quilting etc. Though those can just be as imperial as philosophy, too. If the philosopher tries a a Sufi Dance and can't sync up, the community of Sufi Dancers may (justifaibly) see philosophy as correlated with a particular impediment to dancing. Or a novelist may place the philosopher in a certain role etc. Maybe the philosopher can't pray because thought modeled on litigation doesn't allow the right kind of silence to emerge. The concerns of the philosopher are recontextualized; their significance changes.

    Still, probably the people doing hadith would find more commonality, qua hadithers, with philosophers than they would with dancers.
  • Snakes Alive
    496
    Yeah, sure, so it's a folk art, but clearly a verbal / legalistic one. But my point is that it's as local as studying hadith. It's not a universal discipline, doesn't ask 'the biggest questions,' etc. It's a set of practices developed out of the Greek legal system, and outside of it, it can't really be taken seriously as what it claims to be (just like the hadith).
  • csalisbury
    2.2k
    Yeah, I agree with that. & I don't want to jump too in the middle of your conversation with fdrake, but I think (I think...Laruelle sprang to mind when I first posted in this thread, but I didn't know him well enough to confidently bring him up-) that you guys are actually largely in agreement. A lot of what you're saying sounds very close to what (I understand) Laruelle to be saying. When you say philosophy only superficially reflects on itself, applying the same techniques to itself while missing actual reflection, that's exactly the tack he takes. I understand fdrake (when referencing Laruelle) to be making that same distinction, between what philosophy claims to be doing and what it's actually doing
  • Snakes Alive
    496
    Cool. I've never read Laurelle, but I've heard the name. I like the idea of 'non-philosophy,' but I'd rather not give it a pretentious name like that, and just do an ordinary anthropology (that happens to have Westerners as its object).
  • csalisbury
    2.2k
    The big question for me is : Laruelle sure reads a lot like a parisian Intellectual, so is this just a magisterial one-up in a known tradition of one-upping? I'm not sure - it seems likes something's there, I really think that. I just wish he didn't come out of Paris. But it's also something to while the time.
  • csalisbury
    2.2k
    I think we just posted the same idea, essentially, at the same time.
  • Snakes Alive
    496
    Yeah, fuck Paris!

    I would like a real history of philosophy to be written. Not a summary of what philosophers have thought, but an actual historical account of what the heck it is and how it came to be in Greece. I'm particularly fascinated by the relation between philosophy, sophistry (something that I think may not really be distinct from philosophy, and was only thought to be so as part of a propaganda campaign that was pretty uncritically swallowed), rhetoric, and the Greek legal tradition. Looking back on it from 'outside the fly bottle,' what Socrates does is so weird, and it's an interesting historical question how such a practice comes about.

    I'm particularly interested in how philosophy relates to the sophist's claim to be able to 'speak about anything,' an ability made possible by the emptiness and verbal nature of the sophist's claims and practices. Philosophers don't seem to understand that they make the same claim – to be able to 'speak about anything.' But isn't this a stupid claim!
  • fdrake
    3.4k
    Cool. I've never read Laurelle, but I've heard the name. I like the idea of 'non-philosophy,' but I'd rather not give it a pretentious name like that, and just do an ordinary anthropology (that happens to have Westerners as its object)Snakes Alive

    I guess one difference with Laruelle (in this context) is that he's interested in neutering one specific dialectical move - or a class of them -, so that some interesting philosophy can be done without it. The "non" just means that Laruelle thinks this dialectical move (he calls it "decision") is part of the core practice of philosophy. In the way that "belief in the divine" is a core practice of religion; it doesn't refer to any specific god belief, but a general pattern he wants to suspend. There's no necessity in it, he just wants to see what happens by suspending it.

    Another difference is that he describes how concepts do stuff rather than how people do stuff; decision operates as a structure of thought rather than a practice of people. Though clearly the two are linked.

    @csalisbury was right I think, I'm not attacking viewing philosophy as a folk practice.

    Yeah, sure, so it's a folk art, but clearly a verbal / legalistic one. But my point is that it's as local as studying hadith. It's not a universal discipline, doesn't ask 'the biggest questions,' etc. It's a set of practices developed out of the Greek legal system, and outside of it, it can't really be taken seriously as what it claims to be (just like the hadith).Snakes Alive

    Maybe the PR statement of philosophy is the biggest questions, what is blah, the nature of truth and consciousness. It's kinda funny really, maybe you start out looking to make sense of the world in general, and then after 40 years of studying and teaching you write things like "the homeostatic cluster property theory of meta-ethical naturalism". Dan Dennett famously called philosophy a practice of "discovering higher order truths about chmess", chmess being a variant of chess that no one actually plays. Considering that people in the discipline seem to know that something is deeply weird about lots of its practice, I don't think it makes a lot of sense to leave out this instance of reflexivity from seeing it as a folk tradition.

    Also, seeing it as a folk tradition sort of brackets it, like a phenomenologist doesn't care whether the "external world" really exists when analysing their experience. You don't have to care about the veracity of its claims or practices when you want to describe them like an anthropologist.

    What I'm critical of, and I dunno if you're actually doing this, when someone says it's "just a folk practice", exactly the same shit is said about medicine from a similar perspective (seeing it as an organon of power over people's bodies). Confusing becoming indifferent for the purposes of an investigation for whether the content of a discourse reflects anything real or not and hypostatising this bracketing into a global refutation or annihilation of its internal sense.

    As an example, "Allah exists" isn't false (or true) because of the folk status practice of the hadiths.
  • fdrake
    3.4k
    The big question for me is : Laruelle sure reads a lot like a parisian Intellectual, so is this just a magisterial one-up in a known tradition of one-upping? I'm not sure - it seems likes something's there, I really think that. I just wish he didn't come out of Paris. But it's also something to while the time.csalisbury

    I dunno. It probably fits into the grand tradition of overblowing the significance of one's own insights. Non-philosophy's probably destined to become one of those intellectual cul-de-sacs that houses a university based cult.
  • fdrake
    3.4k
    I would like a real history of philosophy to be written. Not a summary of what philosophers have thought, but an actual historical account of what the heck it is and how it came to be in Greece. I'm particularly fascinated by the relation between philosophy, sophistry (something that I think may not really be distinct from philosophy, and was only thought to be so as part of a propaganda campaign that was pretty uncritically swallowed), rhetoric, and the Greek legal tradition. Looking back on it from 'outside the fly bottle,' what Socrates does is so weird, and it's an interesting historical question how such a practice comes about.Snakes Alive

    Out of interest, how would you view something like a syllogism from this anthropological perspective?

    All men are mortal.
    Socrates is a man,
    Socrates is mortal.

    Does it have anything to say about the widespread use of syllogism?
  • Snakes Alive
    496
    I take the discovery of the syllogism to be a kind of nascent natural language semantics, hit upon accidentally during considering how legal arguments worked. That is, people noticed certain properties of sentences: given the linguistic conventions, people who were committed to some then became committed to others 'automatically.'

    The idea isn't, of course, that folk traditions can't house real knowledge. But I don't think the way the discovery of the syllogism was interpreted (as involving a transcendental binding glue to the universe called 'logic') is at all correct.
  • Snakes Alive
    496
    Considering that people in the discipline seem to know that something is deeply weird about lots of its practice, I don't think it makes a lot of sense to leave out this instance of reflexivity from seeing it as a folk tradition.fdrake

    There's been the suggestion that philosophers are sort of like people with anosognosia. I think that's right – they sometimes get the inkling something is deeply wrong, but there is a cognitive block stopping them from understanding. Though some philosophers have 'understood' – and what happens to these people (historically, empirically) is that they stop doing philosophy in the usual mode at all, not that they add another self-reflexive layer to it. Historical figures to whim this apparently happened include Wittgenstein possibly, but definitely Morris Lazerowitz and Richard Rorty.

    Lazerowitz describes his transformation as something that 'clicked' and couldn't be undone when it happened – somehow the cognitive loop stopped working on him. There is something of a mystical quality to how breaking out is described (and Wittgenstein has the metaphor of the fly-bottle).
  • fdrake
    3.4k
    But I don't think the way the discovery of the syllogism was interpreted (as involving a transcendental binding glue to the universe called 'logic') is at all correct.Snakes Alive

    Seeing syllogisms as ways of deriving new behavioural commitments from old ones makes a lot of sense. The "binding glue" of a syllogism is ultimately normative/juridical from this perspective, you can be called to account for yourself through not adhering to the shared pattern.

    The idea isn't, of course, that folk traditions can't house real knowledge. But I don't think the way the discovery of the syllogism was interpreted (as involving a transcendental binding glue to the universe called 'logic') is at all correct.Snakes Alive

    Interpreting syllogisms as a means of logos itself unfolding is definitely an enduring myth. Though it has some ring of truth, as if you do make correct assumptions, you can derive correct conclusions through reasoning well. Correct in the sense that if you're an architect, say, you can tell if a given structure will be able to support its own weight through general principles.

    Wilfred Sellars speaks about the "manifest image", which is roughly the landscape of conceptual and behavioural commitments that we have by virtue of being in (life situations like this one); it's perspectival and normative. He also spoke of the "scientific image", which is roughly the a-perspectival description of nature and ourselves, it uses patterns of reason in the manifest image, but updates and modifies them as well as being able to postulate new entities and see what these postulations do.

    Philosophy navigates both of them; it (used to) posit entities regularly (like atoms, and logos, and Geist, and the transcendental subject, and the cogito...), now it seems (post Kant?) to posit explanatory categories more than new entities; to rethink and reconceptualise what is given rather than innovating new parts of nature (though the two aren't mutually exclusive). Having a "scientific image" of philosophy as a practice is an interesting project.

    Though some philosophers have 'understood' – and what happens to these people (historically, empirically) is that they stop doing philosophy in the usual mode at all, not that they add another self-reflexive layer to itSnakes Alive

    I think I disagree here? Maybe? People who've studied philosophy and find something deeply wrong with how it's done either stop, or try to effect a revolution in it; and in that manner define their own predecessors (as Zizek says about Borges). People who stop doing traditional philosophy can also start new stuff, like the origin of economics as a distinct discipline. They seem to emerge from a philosophical background and mutate it by fixing content somehow.

    Though this is biased for famous philosophers and academics generally, the intractable cases like us (presumably) who are suspicious of the enterprise but keep on going for reasons unknown, like finding some meaning in it, or practicing it like knitting but with words to make concepts and dis/connect others, seemingly do it because we find value in it rather than trying to shake the ground in accordance with our ideas.
  • Snakes Alive
    496
    you can derive correct conclusions through reasoning well. Correct in the sense that if you're an architect, say, you can tell if a given structure will be able to support its own weight through general principles.fdrake

    I don't think you can in the way philosophy traditionally has thought. The Skeptics actually already understood this, that all valid deductive arguments just beg the question. There is a sense in which they therefore don't produce 'new knowledge' (and why would they?). But what you can do with them is keep your behaviors in consistent order, or make sure commitments line up with each other, or realize that certain commitments, if followed through, require other commitments. And this can keep you straight if you're an architect or whatever. But pure deductive reasoning has, in my opinion, little to do with real intellectual life, and is an artifact of the folk circumstances surrounding the rise of philosophy. It preserves, again, a kind of shadow of reasoning in a limited case.

    Wilfred Sellars speaks about the "manifest image", which is roughly the landscape of conceptual and behavioural commitments that we have by virtue of being in (life situations like this one); it's perspectival and normative. He also spoke of the "scientific image", which is roughly the a-perspectival description of nature and ourselves, it uses patterns of reason in the manifest image, but updates and modifies them as well as being able to postulate new entities and see what these postulations do.fdrake

    I think the manifest / scientific distinction isn't real. I don't have much to say about it – it's made up and I don't know where the idea came from.

    Philosophy navigates both of them; it (used to) posit entities regularly (like atoms, and logos, and Geist, and the transcendental subject, and the cogito...), now it seems (post Kant?) to posit explanatory categories more than new entities; to rethink and reconceptualise what is given rather than innovating new parts of nature (though the two aren't mutually exclusive). Having a "scientific image" of philosophy as a practice is an interesting project.fdrake

    I don't think the function of the discipline has changed at all. The 'posits' of the older and newer philosophers aren't real 'posits' in the way a physicist posits things, because they're not interested in asking about how things are, they're just ways of shuffling categories and verbal commitments about. There might be some value to doing that, but philosophers rarely do it valuably, because they lack the self-reflection to understand what they're doing, so their movements tend to be pretty much random and and the whim of intellectual fashion.

    Though this is biased for famous philosophers and academics generally, the intractable cases like us (presumably) who are suspicious of the enterprisefdrake

    I wouldn't say I'm 'suspicious' of the enterprise, any more than I'm 'suspicious' about Islamic hadith. That would imply I think Islamic hadith might really be a faithful account of the Prophet's actions, but I just have to reconsider how, or something. I'm more interested in discovering the origins of the practice anthropologically. I am not 'suspicious' that something is wrong with philosophy because that would imply I am also 'suspicious' that it is something like that it claims to be, and I know that it's not, in the same way I know the hadith don't actually have any historical basis.
  • fdrake
    3.4k
    I don't think you can in the way philosophy traditionally has thought. The Skeptics actually already understood this, that all valid deductive arguments just beg the question.Snakes Alive

    Agrippa's trilemma is a classic philosophical move though, not something extra philosophical. It seems to me like you want to have your cake and eat it too; to see philosophy from the outside as a folk practice, but to be non-neutral about what its internal logic can demonstrate.

    I don't think the function of the discipline has changed at all. The 'posits' of the older and newer philosophers aren't real 'posits' in the way a physicist posits things, because they're not interested in asking about how things are, they're just ways of shuffling categories and verbal commitments about.Snakes Alive

    That's extremely oversimplified though. What makes, say, people like the Churchlands or Metzinger cease to be talking about the brain, and what we know about it, and what consequences this has for how we think about the brain and our consciousness?

    In the same regard, "consciousness" is made up, as is the idea of a folk practice. We can gesture at them, or posit that we see things in those terms, but I don't see a way of allowing other disciplines to interface with how things are and to simultaneously deny that of philosophy. Probabalistically, or as a general tendency within philosophy, this disconnection from how things are is a valuable part of describing it as a folk practice. What about its internal logic makes it lose contact with how things are?
  • Snakes Alive
    496
    Agrippa's trilemma is a classic philosophical move though, not something extra philosophical. It seems to me like you want to have your cake and eat it too; to see philosophy from the outside as a folk practice, but to be non-neutral about what its internal logic can demonstrate.fdrake

    This isn't part of some defense of Skepticism – it really doesn't matter to me. Though I will say that mature Skepticism was geared precisely toward exploding philosophy from inside and leaving it – it was compared to a laxative, and made you shit philosophy out and the bug it carried with it. Of course, the Skeptics continued the investigation, but only as a ward against further infection.

    That's extremely oversimplified though. What makes, say, people like the Churchlands or Metzinger cease to be talking about the brain,fdrake

    Because they just aren't. Eliminative materialism for example isn't a real hypothesis about the world or the brain or anything, it's just a suggestion to stop saying people have beliefs, etc., which is just shuffling about some words / categories.

    In the same regard, "consciousness" is made up, as is the idea of a folk practice.fdrake

    It's not made up any more than trees or rocks are. Words or practices referring to it, maybe.
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