• Punshhh
    544
    As usual with pragmatism, the proof is in the pudding. The right ideas measurably work.


    Yes, I've no issue with pragmatism, but metaphysics presumably is looking to what we can say about existence. In which case there is no workability, because we can't presume that "what works" in our eyes is anything more than an intellectualisation of a reflection of the predicament(existing as humans with all the consequential physical reality that goes along with that) that we are presented with upon birth and throughout our lives. A kind of navel gazing, or solipsism.

    As I said before surely a mature metaphysics acknowledges the extent to which we are both in ignorance of the nature of our predicament(it's foundations) and potentially polarised (two dimensional) in our attempts to understand it intellectually.

    Did you have some other criteria in mind?
    Well the trouble is there is no established school in the development of metaphysical ideas apart from academic philosophy that I can think of. Other than what is handed us from religion and mystical/spiritual traditions. There is a lot of creative activity in our culture, but not much creativity aproaching the issue of metaphysics that I have come across. Personally I have found following a creative mysticism beneficial and enlightening, but in terms of rational argument or logic, it would appear to require a lot of work to encapsulate it.
  • Terrapin Station
    2.7k
    So YOU can only understand a relation as another part. Yet how many things must you have to have a relation? I count a minimum of three ... even for the reductionist.apokrisis

    Counting the relation as a thing, you mean? (I'm not disagreeing with that, just clarifying that that's what you had in mind.)
  • mcdoodle
    570
    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.
    apokrisis

    It seems to me you think I'm attacking you when I'm not. You're a believer in metaphysical naturalism, and your naturalism is of an unusually complex and non-reductive kind. I'm not denigrating that at all. I'm not a believer in metaphysical naturalism, though, so I disagree with your saying 'At the core of philosophy is the assumption that nature is intelligible.' I think my kind of (analytic) philosophy will inquire into what we mean by 'nature', not take it as the core concept whose intelligibility we are inquiring into. But this is metaphysics, and metaphysics is an area in which all is speculation and belief.

    I'm a strong supporter, in the old Landru terms, of methodological naturalism. I'm questioning whether that method has the tools to understand ethics, the arts, politics and spirituality in a philosophical manner, a manner that expresses love of wisdom. I'm nevertheless interested enough in the analytic method of philosophy to be back at Uni studying it in what is very nearly my old age. It has its limits, is all I was saying in this thread: and I think its limits are exemplified in there being a limit to whether the multiplication of sciences - db's original proposal in the op - and the supposed gradual self-slaughter of philosophy as these sciences replace it, are really on the right mental tracks.

    In my life-experience many scientists are artistic morons, and many are much more artistically informed than is the average arty-fart about science. My debate is about linguistic tools and methods, not people. (If you think Schoenberg is about the tropes of Romanticism I'm game to disagree with you: I'd argue that that's where he began but he ended in a totally different intellectual place: but that belongs on another thread and probably in another forum)
  • apokrisis
    1.4k
    Good luck with your creative mysticism - which you seem to have faith in without even being able to justify it as a method.

    Meanwhile scientific reasoning - as defined by Peirce - started producing extraordinarily powerful insights from the moment the ancient Greeks first got going with it.

    So no surprise that the "two dimensional polarity" of Metaphysical dialectics and hierarchical organisation are what folk stick with. It's success has been "unreasonably" spectacular. We know how and when the Universe began, how and when it will die.
  • apokrisis
    1.4k
    I said part or aspect to try to bridge the obvious gap between my holistic point of view and the reductionist language which DC wants to conduct the conversation in. So understand my use of "thing" as part of the same effort. Start by presuming it is being as neutral as possible in terms of its ontic commitments.
  • apokrisis
    1.4k
    But this is metaphysics, and metaphysics is an area in which all is speculation and belief.mcdoodle

    But demonstrably, historically metaphysics is founded on the assumption that nature is intelligible, rational, logical, organised by mathematical patterns.

    It is then a speculative turn - only possible given this positive central thesis - that nature might be other.
  • darthbarracuda
    2k
    So you accept the irreducible triadicity of relations ... and now want to change the subject. Sweet.apokrisis

    Only to point out that the irreducible triadicity of relations doesn't mean relations themselves are irreducible. One can pick apart an engine without worrying about keeping the engine intact. And we can pick apart a relation without worrying about keeping the relation intact.
  • apokrisis
    1.4k
    The fact that you have to resort to arguing your case in terms,of an engine demonstrate that you are only thinking mechanicallly and not organically.

    A clue: machines are designed to operate only by efficient/material cause. Formal and final cause is engineered out of them so that these facets of reality are made a matter of human free choice.

    So try again with my earlier example of scooping a vortex out of a flow in a bucket.
  • darthbarracuda
    2k
    So try again with my earlier example of scooping a vortex out of a flow in a bucket.apokrisis

    Yet clearly the vortex is a vortex of something - a flow of water. It's not just a vortex, it's a vortex of something else.
  • apokrisis
    1.4k
    Holism requires material cause too. The point is that there is always more than just that.
  • darthbarracuda
    2k
    But do Peircean signs require material cause? What are Peircean signs made of, more signs?
  • apokrisis
    1.4k
    You just keep repeating the only question that makes sense from your own reductionist ontology. What is it made of, what is it made of, what is it made of?

    As explained, a constraints based view of materiality sees matter being produced via the limitation on possibility. So solidity arises as freedoms of actions are removed.

    This is why Peirce notoriously described matter as effete mind. When spontaneity is deadened by the accretion of constraints, you wind up with what we call matter.

    So what is material/efficient cause made of? Top down constraints on possibility.
  • csalisbury
    983
    Haven't read all the other responses, I'll admit - but all I see in the OP is the sketch of an idea about what philosophy is. There's nothing in it to recommend - argue for, defend - that idea. Which makes it hard to argue for or against - all one can do is assess it on an theoretico-aesthetic level. As in: How's the idea feel, how satisfying is it?

    It's alright, in terms of that second question, but, maybe ironically, feels like the classical account of Hegelianism (ideas that had to flourish in order to bring about that which supersedes them.) (Hegel's better than that, of course, but that's how ppl talk about him.)
  • csalisbury
    983
    @apokrisis Do you have a 'skeleton key' recommendation for the Peirce texts which matter most?
  • csalisbury
    983
    perhaps more pertinent is: What is science? Science is doing a lot of work in the OP. Everything can be elucidated by science. So also what is 'explanation'. What is Science and what is Elucidation and what does it mean that Science can/will Elucidate everything?
  • apokrisis
    1.4k
    Fraid not. But there is now a real industry of secondary sources. So things are miles better than even a decade ago.

    Cheryl Misak is good for a summary that puts him in context. She's done a new book as well as papers.

    Peirce's populist articles for The Monist are a good introduction in that they clearly written.

    But because Peirce never summarised his mature ideas in book form, only left a heap of notes that went unread for decades, there just isn't a canonical text that everyone can focus on.
  • unenlightened
    891
    I'm not a believer in metaphysical naturalism, though, so I disagree with your saying 'At the core of philosophy is the assumption that nature is intelligible.'mcdoodle

    I think one can (pragmatically) get by with methodological naturalism. Nature is only intelligible to the extent that it is intelligible, and whereof one cannot make sense, thereof don't bullshit.

    I must say I like Piercean triad as a way of seeing or a way of understanding, but if one notes that it is itself a model, then I think the way is opened to answering your question/objection in some interesting ways.

    The observer cannot be left out of the model but the observer is, to some degree made of the model. I think this means that with regard to ethics and aesthetics, and other matters near the centre of human understanding, there is a necessary gap of vagueness that cannot be filled in by observation, and a necessary distortion that cannot be straightened out.

    The way I have put this in the past is that the 'science' of psychology has a deep problem that the science of cosmology does not except at the quantum limits, and even there not to the same extent. This is that the atoms of psychology have the property of having a psychological theory, and what theory they have changes their fundamental properties. Thus when Freud was theorising, sexual repression ruled and women had hysteria. People have changed as a result of his theories, to such an extent that the theories have become false. This happens in psychology on a regular basis about every 20 years, as each theory becomes known and accepted.

    There are interesting things to be said about human nature, human understanding, and so on, but it is a mistake to think there is completeness.
  • darthbarracuda
    2k
    I'm not an "expert" but I would recommend "Peirce: A Guide for the Perplexed" and "Pragmatism: A Guide for the Perplexed". The "Guides" are typically very good. The latter book is nice not only by how deep it goes but also how it questions some of the pragmatist ideas, especially the post-modern "pragmatism" of Rorty but even some of the ideas of Peirce (for example, I found the authors convincingly argued that pragmatism, although attempting to be anti-foundationalist, nevertheless was empiricist and thus foundationalist in that empirical perceptions are the foundations of belief.)
  • darthbarracuda
    2k
    As explained, a constraints based view of materiality sees matter being produced via the limitation on possibility. So solidity arises as freedoms of actions are removed.apokrisis

    So what is material/efficient cause made of? Top down constraints on possibility.apokrisis

    I go back to your example of a vortex in water. You can't just scoop out a vortex. Similarly I have a hard time visualizing what a constraint is supposed to be independent of a material basis.
  • darthbarracuda
    2k
    perhaps more pertinent is: What is science? Science is doing a lot of work in the OP. Everything can be elucidated by science. So also what is 'explanation'. What is Science and what is Elucidation and what does it mean that Science can/will Elucidate everything?csalisbury

    Yes, this is probably the biggest issue at play here. Re-defining what "science" is, is exactly how charlatans like Sam Harris get away with murder and trick the average person into believing that science can actually answer philosophical questions like morality.

    And of course I am sympathetic of philosophers of science like Feyerabend who argue for a more "anarchic" version of science. Where there's no "one-single method" to getting something done. The Scientific Method is a general guideline for ideal circumstances but can also be a hindrance in some cases.

    The unifying piece that makes science what it is, I think, is the empirical nature of its approach. The use of data acquired from observation or instruments of reliability, which is used to model reality and produce theories that can accurately predict future outcomes. I suppose this is a primary reason why science is so seductive; it allows us to control nature. Not only are we diving into its quantum depths but we're harnessing the very stuff reality is made of. To engineers like myself this can make me salivate. (also being an engineer tends to make me focus more on material and efficient causes than formal or final, to the apparent dismay of )

    So the question, then, is this: is there anything that can't be studied empirically? Put under a microscope, modeled, placed within mathematical structures, etc? The first things that come to mind are the various things we take for granted when we study the ontic, the empirical. And, if these cannot be studied empirically, then it looks like we might actually have to go through some sort of negative dialectic, i.e. figuring out what's not the case, and narrowing down the possibilities (similar to negative theology).
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