In this paper I argue that aim-orientedempiricism (AOE), a conception of natural science that I have defended at some length elsewhere, is a kind of synthesis of the views of Popper, Kuhn and Lakatos, but is also an improvement over the views of all three. Whereas Popper's falsificationism protects metaphysical assumptions implicitly made by science from criticism, AOE exposes all such assumptions to sustained criticism, and furthermore focuses criticism on those assumptions most likely to need revision if (...) science is to make progress. Even though AOE is, in this way, more Popperian than Popper, it is also, in some respects, more like the views of Kuhn and Lakatos than falsificationism is. AOE is able, however, to solve problems which Kuhn's and Lakatos's views cannot solve. (shrink)
In this paper I show that Einstein made essential use of aim-orientedempiricism in scientific practice in developing special and general relativity. I conclude by considering to what extent Einstein came explicitly to advocate aim-orientedempiricism in his later years.
For three decades I have expounded and defended aim-orientedempiricism, a view of science which, l claim, solves a number of problems in the philosophy of science and has important implications for science itself and, when generalized, for the whole of academic inquiry, and for our capacity to solve our current global problems. Despite these claims, the view has received scant attention from philosophers of science. Recently, however, David Miller has criticized the view. Miller’s criticisms are, however, not (...) valid. (shrink)
For over 30 years I have argued that we need to construe science as accepting a metaphysical proposition concerning the comprehensibility of the universe. In a recent paper, Fred Muller criticizes this argument, and its implication that Bas van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism is untenable. In the present paper I argue that Muller’s criticisms are not valid. The issue is of some importance, for my argument that science accepts a metaphysical proposition is the first step in a broader argument intended (...) to demonstrate that we need to bring about a revolution in science, and ultimately in academic inquiry as a whole so that the basic aim becomes wisdom and not just knowledge. (shrink)
This chapter outlines improvements and developments made to aim-orientedempiricism since "From Knowledge to Wisdom" was first published in 1984. It argues that aim-orientedempiricism enables us to solve three fundamental problems in the philosophy of science: the problems of induction and verisimilitude, and the problem of what it means to say of a physical theory that it is unified.
In this paper I argue that aim-orientedempiricism provides decisive grounds for accepting scientific realism and rejecting instrumentalism. But it goes further than this. Aim-orientedempiricism implies that physicalism is a central part of current (conjectural) scientific knowledge. Furthermore, we can and need, I argue, to interpret fundamental physical theories as attributing necessitating physical properties to fundamental physical entities.
For four decades it has been argued that we need to adopt a new conception of science called aim-orientedempiricism. This has far-reaching implications and repercussions for science, the philosophy of science, academic inquiry in general, conception of rationality, and how we go about attempting to make progress towards as good a world as possible. Despite these far-reaching repercussions, aim-orientedempiricism has so far received scant attention from philosophers of science. Here, sixteen objections to the validity (...) of the argument for aim-orientedempiricism are subjected to critical scrutiny. (shrink)
Focusing on Nicholas Maxwell’s thesis that “science, properly understood, provides us the methodological key to the salvation of humanity”, the article discusses Maxwell’s aim oriented empiricism and his conception of Wisdom Inquiry as advocated in Maxwell’s (2009b, pp.1–56) essay entitled “How Can Life of Value Best Flourish in the Real World?” (in Science and the Pursuit of Wisdom: Studies in the Philosophy of Nicholas Maxwell 2009, edited by Leemon McHenry) and in Maxwell (2004 & 2009a).
In this article I reply to comments made by Agustin Vicente and Giridhari Lal Pandit on Science and the Pursuit of Wisdom (McHenry 2009 ). I criticize analytic philosophy, go on to expound the argument for the need for a revolution in academic inquiry so that the basic aim becomes wisdom and not just knowledge, defend aim-orientedempiricism, outline my solution to the human world/physical universe problem, and defend the thesis that free will is compatible with physicalism.
Cosmological speculation about the ultimate nature of the universe, being necessary for science to be possible at all, must be regarded as a part of scientific knowledge itself, however epistemologically unsound it may be in other respects. The best such speculation available is that the universe is comprehensible in some way or other and, more specifically, in the light of the immense apparent success of modern natural science, that it is physically comprehensible. But both these speculations may be false; in (...) order to take this possibility into account, we need to adopt an hierarchy of increasingly contentless cosmological conjectures until we arrive at the conjecture that the universe is such that it is possible for us to acquire some knowledge of something, a conjecture which we are justified in accepting as knowledge since doing so cannot harm the pursuit of knowledge in any circumstances whatsoever. As a result of adopting such an hierarchy of increasingly contentless cosmological conjectures in this way, we maximize our chances of adopting conjectures that promote the growth of knowledge, and minimize our chances of taking some cosmological assumption for granted that is false and impedes the growth of knowledge. The hope is that as we increase our knowledge about the world we improve (lower level) cosmological assumptions implicit in our methods, and thus in turn improve our methods. As a result of improving our knowledge we improve our knowledge about how to improve knowledge. Science adapts its own nature to what it learns about the nature of the universe, thus increasing its capacity to make progress in knowledge about the world. This aim-oriented empiricist conception of science solves outstanding problems in the philosophy of science such as the problems of induction, simplicity and verisimilitude. (shrink)
In Part I (Philosophy of Science, Vol. 41 No.2, June, 1974) it was argued that in order to rebut Humean sceptical arguments, and thus show that it is possible for pure science to be rational, we need to reject standard empiricism and adopt in its stead aim oriented empiricism. Part II seeks to articulate in more detail a theory of rational scientific discovery within the general framework of aim oriented empiricism. It is argued that this theory (a) (...) exhibits pure science as a rational enterprise (b) enables us to resolve problems associated with the key notions of simplicity and intelligibility (c) has important implications both for philosophy of science and for scientific practice itself. (shrink)
In this paper I argue for a priori conjectural scientific knowledge about the world. Physics persistently only accepts unified theories, even though endlessly many empirically more successful disunified rivals are always available. This persistent preference for unified theories, against empirical considerations, means that physics makes a substantial, persistent metaphysical assumption, to the effect that the universe has a (more or less) unified dynamic structure. In order to clarify what this assumption amounts to, I solve the problem of what it means (...) to say of a theory that it is unified. There are, I argue, eight different kinds of unity important in theoretical physics, all varieties of one basic idea. This provides us with a precise way of partially ordering physical theories with respect to their degree of unity. It also leads to a hierarchical view of physics, according to which physics makes a number of increasingly insubstantial metaphysical assumptions concerning the comprehensibility and knowability of the universe. Two of these are identified as constituting a priori conjectures. I conclude by arguing that the view developed in the paper resolves the traditional clash between empiricism and rationalism in the philosophy of science, and has important implications for science, and for academic inquiry more generally. (shrink)
Much of my working life has been devoted to trying to get across the point that we urgently need to bring about a revolution in the aims and methods of academic inquiry, so that the basic aim becomes to seek and promote wisdom rather than just acquire knowledge.
When scientists choose one theory over another, they reject out of hand all those that are not simple, unified or explanatory. Yet the orthodox view of science is that evidence alone should determine what can be accepted. Nicholas Maxwell thinks he has a way out of the dilemma.
A Mug's Game? Solving the Problem of Induction with Metaphysical Presuppositions Nicholas Maxwell Emeritus Reader in Philosophy of Science at University College London Email: email@example.com Website: www.nick-maxwell.demon.co.uk Abstract This paper argues that a view of science, expounded and defended elsewhere, solves the problem of induction. The view holds that we need to see science as accepting a hierarchy of metaphysical theses concerning the comprehensibility and knowability of the universe, these theses asserting less and less as we go up the hierarchy. (...) It may seem that this view must suffer from vicious circularity, in so far as accepting physical theories is justified by an appeal to metaphysical theses in turn justified by the success of science. But this is rebutted. A thesis high up in the hierarchy asserts that the universe is such that the element of circularity, just indicated, is legitimate and justified, and not vicious. Acceptance of the thesis is in turn justified without appeal to the success of science. It may seem that the practical problem of induction can only be solved along these lines if there is a justification of the truth of the metaphysical theses in question. It is argued that this demand must be rejected as it stems from an irrational conception of science. (shrink)
Most scientists and philosophers of science recognize that, when it comes to accepting and rejecting theories in science, considerations that have to do with simplicity, unity, symmetry, elegance, beauty or explanatory power have an important role to play, in addition to empirical considerations. Until recently, however, no one has been able to give a satisfactory account of what simplicity (etc.) is, or how giving preference to simple theories is to be justified. But in the last few years, two different but (...) related accounts have appeared, both of which address the above issues. On the one hand, James McAllister has argued that aesthetic criteria in science reflect scientists' judgements about what kind of theory is most likely to be empirically successful, based on the relative empirical success and failure of different kinds of theories in the past. Scientists employ what McAllister dubs "the aesthetic induction". On the other hand, I have argued that we need to see science as making a hierarchy of metaphysical assumptions about the comprehensibility and knowability of the universe, these assumptions asserting less and less as one ascends the hierarchy. One of the more substantial of these assumptions is that the universe is physically comprehensible. The key non-empirical feature a body of fundamental theories in physics must possess to be acceptable is unity. The better such a body of theory exemplifies the metaphysical thesis that the universe is physically comprehensible, in the sense that it has a unified dynamic structure, so the more acceptable such a body of theory is, from this standpoint. This affects not just theoretical physics, but the whole of natural science. In this paper I compare and contrast, and try to assess impartially the relative merits of, these two views. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that physics makes metaphysical presuppositions concerning the physical comprehensibility, the dynamic unity, of the universe. I argue that rigour requires that these metaphysical presuppositions be made explicit as an integral part of theoretical knowledge in physics. An account of what it means to assert of a theory that it is unified is developed, which provides the means for partially ordering dynamical physical theories with respect to their degrees of unity. This in turn makes it possible (...) to assess the empirical fruitfulness of (some) metaphysical theses, in terms of the extent to which they play a role in empirically progressive scientific research programmes. A new conception of physics is developed which makes metaphysical theses an integral part of physics and which, at the same time, makes it possible to assess such theses in terms of their empirical fruitfulness. Circularity objections are rebutted. (shrink)
Many scientists, if pushed, may be inclined to hazard the guess that the universe is comprehensible, even physically comprehensible. Almost all, however, would vehemently deny that science has already established that the universe is comprehensible. It is, nevertheless, just this that I claim to be the case. Once one gets the nature of science properly into perspective, it becomes clear that the comprehensibility of the universe is as secure an item of current scientific knowledge as anything theoretical in science can (...) be, more secure, indeed, than the most firmly established fundamental theories of physics, such as quantum theory or Einstein's general theory of relativity. (shrink)
There are two problems of simplicity. What does it mean to characterize a scientific theory as simple, unified or explanatory in view of the fact that a simple theory can always be made complex (and vice versa) by a change of terminology? How is preference in science for simple theories to be justified? In this paper I put forward a proposal as to how the first problem is to be solved. The more nearly the totality of fundamental physical theory exemplifies (...) the metaphysical thesis that the universe has a unified dynamic structure, so the simpler that totality of theory is. What matters is content, not form. This proposed solution may appear to be circular, but I argue that it is not. Towards the end of the paper I make a few remarks about the second, justificational problem of simplicity. (shrink)
Even though evidence underdetermines theory, often in science one theory only is regarded as acceptable in the light of the evidence. This suggests there are additional unacknowledged assumptions which constrain what theories are to be accepted. In the case of physics, these additional assumptions are metaphysical theses concerning the comprehensibility and knowability of the universe. Rigour demands that these implicit assumptions be made explicit within science, so that they can be critically assessed and, we may hope improved. This leads to (...) a new conception of science, one which we need to adopt in order to solve the problem of induction. (shrink)
This is a review of Craig Dilworth's The Metaphysics of Science (Dordrecht, Springer, 2007). The book propounds an immensely important idea. Science makes metaphysical presuppositions. Unfortunately, Dilworth ignores work that has been done on this issue which takes the matter much further than he does.
Both Popper and van Fraassen have used evolutionary analogies to defend their views on the aim of science, although these are diametrically opposed. By employing Price's equation in an illustrative capacity, this paper considers which view is better supported. It shows that even if our observations and experimental results are reliable, an evolutionary analogy fails to demonstrate why conjecture and refutation should result in: (1) the isolation of true theories; (2) successive generations of theories of increasing truth-likeness; (3) empirically adequate (...) theories; or (4) successive generations of theories of increasing proximity to empirical adequacy. Furthermore, it illustrates that appeals to induction do not appear to help. It concludes that an evolutionary analogy is only sufficient to defend the notion that the aim of science is to isolate a particular class of false theories, namely those that are empirically inadequate. (shrink)
Most scientists and philosophers of science take for granted the standard empiricist view that the basic intellectual aim of science is truth per se. But this seriously misrepresents the aims of scieince. Actually, science seeks explanatory truth and, more generally, important truth. Problematic metaphysical and value assumptions are inherent in the real aims of science. Precisely because these aims are profoundly problematic, they need to be articulated, imaginatively explored and critically assesseed, in order to improve them, as an integral part (...) of science itself. This was how Einstein did science in developing the special and general theories of relativity. Science needs to put a new aim-oriented empiricist methodology into practice. (shrink)
In this three-part paper, my concern is to expound and defend a conception of science, close to Einstein's, which I call aim-orientedempiricism. I argue that aim-oriented empiricsim has the following virtues. (i) It solve the problem of induction; (ii) it provides decisive reasons for rejecting van Fraassen's brilliantly defended but intuitively implausible constructive empiricism; (iii) it solves the problem of verisimilitude, the problem of explicating what it can mean to speak of scientific progress given that (...) science advances from one false theory to another; (iv) it enables us to hold that appropriate scientific theories, even though false, can nevertheless legitimately be interpreted realistically, as providing us with genuine , even if only approximate, knowledge of unobservable physical entities; (v) it provies science with a rational, even though fallible and non-mechanical, method for the discovery of fundamental new theories in physics. In the third part of the paper I show that Einstein made essential use of aim-orientedempiricism in scientific practice in developing special and general relativity. I conclude by considering to what extent Einstein came explicitly to advocate aim-orientedempiricism in his later years. (shrink)
Popper first developed his theory of scientific method – falsificationism – in his The Logic of Scientific Discovery, then generalized it to form critical rationalism, which he subsequently applied to social and political problems in The Open Society and Its Enemies. All this can be regarded as constituting a major development of the 18th century Enlightenment programme of learning from scientific progress how to achieve social progress towards a better world. Falsificationism is, however, defective. It misrepresents the real, problematic aims (...) of science. We need a new conception of scientific method, a meta-methodology which provides a framework for the improvement of the aims and methods of science as scientific knowledge improves. This aim-oriented empiricist idea can be generalized to form a conception of rationality – aim-oriented rationality – which helps us improve problematic aims and methods whatever we may be doing. In this way, Popper’s version of the Enlightenment programme can be much improved, indeed transformed. (shrink)
Most scientists would hold that science has not established that the cosmos is physically comprehensible – i.e. such that there is some as-yet undiscovered true physical theory of everything that is unified. This is an empirically untestable, or metaphysical thesis. It thus lies beyond the scope of science. Only when physics has formulated a testable unified theory of everything which has been amply corroborated empirically will science be in a position to declare that it has established that the cosmos is (...) physically comprehensible. But this argument presupposes a widely accepted but untenable conception of science which I shall call standard empiricism. According to standard empiricism, in science theories are accepted solely on the basis of evidence. Choice of theory may be influenced for a time by considerations of simplicity, unity, or explanatory capacity, but not in such a way that the universe itself is permanently assumed to be simple, unified or physically comprehensible. In science, no thesis about the universe can be accepted permanently as a part of scientific knowledge independently of evidence. Granted this view, it is clear that science cannot have established that the universe is physically comprehensible. Standard empiricism is, however, as I have indicated, untenable. Any fundamental physical theory, in order to be accepted as a part of theoretical scientific knowledge, must satisfy two criteria. It must be (1) sufficiently empirically successful, and (2) sufficiently unified. Given any accepted theory of physics, endlessly many empirically more successful disunified rivals can always be concocted – disunified because they assert that different dynamical laws govern the diverse phenomena to which the theory applies. These disunified rivals are not considered for a moment in physics, despite their greater empirical success. This persistent rejection of empirically more successful but disunified rival theories means, I argue, that a big, highly problematic, implicit assumption is made by science about the cosmos, to the effect, at least, that the cosmos is such that all seriously disunified theories are false. Once this point is recognized, it becomes clear, I argue, that we need a new conception of science which makes explicit, and so criticizable and improvable the big, influential, and problematic assumption that is at present implicit in physics in the persistent preference for unified theories. This conception of science, which I call aim-orientedempiricism, represents the assumption of physics in the form of a hierarchy of assumptions. As one goes up the hierarchy, the assumptions become less and less substantial, and more and more nearly such that their truth is required for science, or the pursuit of knowledge, to be possible at all. At each level, that assumption is accepted which (a) best accords with the next one up, and (b) has, associated with it the most empirically progressive research programme in physics, or holds out the greatest hope of leading to such an empirically progressive research programme. In this way a framework of relatively insubstantial, unproblematic, fixed assumptions and associated methods is created, high up in the hierarchy, within which much more substantial and problematic assumptions and associated methods, low down in the hierarchy, can be changed, and indeed improved, as scientific knowledge improves. One assumption in this hierarchy of assumptions, I argue, is that the cosmos is physically comprehensible – that is, such that some yet-to-be-discovered unified theory of everything is true. Hence the conclusion: improve our ideas about the nature of science and it becomes apparent that science has already established that the cosmos is physically comprehensible – in so far as science can ever establish anything theoretical. (shrink)
Do We Need a Scientific Revolution? (Published in the Journal of Biological Physics and Chemistry, vol. 8, no. 3, September 2008) Nicholas Maxwell (Emeritus Reader in Philosophy of Science at University College London) www.nick-maxwell.demon.co.uk Abstract Many see modern science as having serious defects, intellectual, social, moral. Few see this as having anything to do with the philosophy of science. I argue that many diverse ills of modern science are a consequence of the fact that the scientific community has long accepted, (...) and sought to implement, a bad philosophy of science, which I call standard empiricism. This holds that the basic intellectual aim is truth, the basic method being impartial assessment of claims to knowledge with respect to evidence. Standard empiricism is, however, untenable. Furthermore, the attempt to put it into scientific practice has many damaging consequences for science. The scientific community urgently needs to bring about a revolution in both the conception of science, and science itself. It needs to be acknowledged that the actual aims of science make metaphysical, value and political assumptions and are, as a result, deeply problematic. Science needs to try to improve its aims and methods as it proceeds. Standard empiricism needs to be rejected, and the more rigorous philosophy of science of aim-orientedempiricism needs to be adopted and explicitly implemented in scientific practice instead. The outcome would be the emergence of a new kind of science, of greater value in both intellectual and humanitarian terms. (shrink)
For forty years I have argued that we urgently need to bring about a revolution in academia so that the basic task becomes to seek and promote wisdom. How did I come to argue for such a preposterously gigantic intellectual revolution? It goes back to my childhood. From an early age, I desired passionately to understand the physical universe. Then, around adolescence, my passion became to understand the heart and soul of people via the novel. But I never discovered how (...) to tell stories in order to tell the truth. So, having failed to become a physicist, and failed to become a novelist, I studied philosophy at Manchester University and then, in six weeks of inspiration, discovered that the riddle of the universe is the riddle of our desires. Philosophy should be about how to live, and should not just do conceptual analysis. I struggled to reconcile the two worlds of my childhood ambitions, the physical universe and the human world. I decided they could be reconciled with one another if one regarded the two accounts of them, physics and common sense, as myths, and not as literal truths. But then I discovered Karl Popper: truth is too important to be discarded. I revised my ideas: physics seeks to depict truly only an aspect of all that there is; in addition, there is the aspect of the experiential features of the world as we experience it. I was immensely impressed with Popper’s view that science makes progress, not by verification, but by ferocious attempted falsification of theories. I was impressed, too, with his generalization of this view to form critical rationalism. Then it dawned on me: Popper’s view of science is untenable because it misrepresents the basic aim of science. This is not truth as such; rather it is explanatory truth – truth presupposed to be unified or physically comprehensible. We need, I realized, a new conception of science, called by me aim-orientedempiricism, which acknowledges the real, problematic aims of science, and seeks to improve them. Then, treading along a path parallel to Popper’s, I realized that aim-orientedempiricism can be generalized to form a new conception of rationality, aim-oriented rationality, with implications for all that we do. This led on to a new conception of academic inquiry. From the Enlightenment we have inherited the view that academia, in order to help promote human welfare, must first acquire knowledge. But this is profoundly and damagingly irrational. If academia really does seek to help promote human welfare, then its primary tasks must be to articulate problems of living, and propose and critically assess possible solutions – possible actions, policies, political programmes, philosophies of life. The pursuit of knowledge is secondary. Academia needs to promote cooperatively rational problem solving in the social world, and needs to help humanity improve individual and institutional aims by exploiting aim-oriented rationality, arrived at by generalizing the real progress-achieving methods of science. We might, as a result, get into life some of the progressive success that is such a marked feature of science. Thus began my campaign to promote awareness of the urgent need for a new kind of academic inquiry rationally devoted to helping humanity create a wiser world. (shrink)
The article discusses philosophical foundations of Nicholas Maxwell’s theory of scientific knowledge—Aim Oriented Empiricism (AOE). It is demonstrated that AOE evokes many illuminating, overshadowed by positivistic tradition, insights on the nature of cognition, language, and the relationship between philosophy and strict sciences. It corresponds with Jürgen Habermas’s theory of speech acts and R. G. Collingwood’s account of philosophical method. What calls serious doubts, though, is the very way in which Maxwell relates his conception to the project of wisdom society. (...) It is argued that while AOE considerably contributes to our understanding of science, wisdom and rationality, it nonetheless falls short of giving a convincing account of how the idea of wisdom society should be implemented. (shrink)
This paper is a reaction to the book “Science and the Pursuit of Wisdom”, whose central concern is the philosophy of Nicholas Maxwell. I distinguish and discuss three concerns in Maxwell’s philosophy. The first is his critique of standard empiricism (SE) in the philosophy of science, the second his defense of aim-oriented rationality (AOR), and the third his philosophy of mind. I point at some problematic aspects of Maxwell’s rebuttal of SE and of his philosophy of mind and (...) argue in favor of AOR. (shrink)
There is an enduring story about empiricism, which runs as follows: from Locke onwards to Carnap, empiricism is the doctrine in which raw sense-data are received through the passive mechanism of perception; experience is the effect produced by external reality on the mind or ‘receptors’. Empiricism on this view is the ‘handmaiden’ of experimental natural science, seeking to redefine philosophy and its methods in conformity with the results of modern science. Secondly, there is a story about materialism, (...) popularized initially by Marx and Engels and later restated as standard, ‘textbook’ history of philosophy in the English-speaking world. It portrays materialism as explicitly mechanistic, seeking to reduce the world of qualities, sensations, and purposive behaviour to a quantitative, usually deterministic physical scheme. Building on some recent scholarship, I aim to articulate the contrarian view according to which neither of these stories is true. On the contrary, empiricism turns out to be less ‘science-friendly’ and more concerned with moral matters; materialism reveals itself to be, in at least a large number of cases, a ‘vital’, anti-mechanistic doctrine which focuses on the unique properties of organic beings. This revision of two key philosophical episodes should reveal that our history of early modern philosophy is dependent to a great extent on ‘special interests’, whether positivistic or Kantian, and by extension lead us to rethink the relation and distinction between ‘science’ and ‘philosophy’ in this period. (shrink)
Constructive empiricists claim to offer a reconstruction of the aim and practice of science without adopting all the metaphysical commitments of scientific realism. Deflationists about truth boast of the ability to offer a full account of the nature of truth without adopting the metaphysical commitments accompanying substantive accounts. Though the two views would form an attractive package, I argue that the pairing is not possible: constructive empiricism requires a substantive account of truth. I articulate what sort of account of (...) truth and empirical adequacy the constructive empiricist must offer and then show why deflationists cannot uphold such an account. (shrink)
Value judgments are meaningless. This thesis was one of the notorious tenets of Carnap’s mature logical empiricism. Less well known is the fact that in the Aufbau values were considered as philosophically respectable entities that could be constituted from value experiences. About 1930, however, values and value judgments were banished to the realm of meaningless metaphysics, and Carnap came to endorse a strict emotivism. The aim of this paper is to shed light on the question why Carnap abandoned his (...) originally positive attitude concerning values. It is argued that his non-cognitivist attitude was the symptom of a deep-rooted and never properly dissolved tension between conflicting inclinations towards Neokantianism and Lebensphilosophie. In America Carnap’s non-cognitivism became a major obstacle for a closer collaboration between logical empiricists and American pragmatists. Carnap’s persisting adherence to the dualism of practical life and theoretical science was the ultimate reason why he could not accept Morris’s and Kaplan’s pragmatist theses that cognitivism might well be compatible with a logical and empiricist scientific philosophy. (shrink)
Abstract. Value judgments are meaningless. This thesis was one of the notorious tenets of Carnap’s mature logical empiricism. Less well known is the fact that in the Aufbau values were con-sidered as philosophically respectable entities that could be constituted from value experiences. About 1930, however, values were banished to the realm of meaning-less me-taphysics, and Carnap came to endorse a strict emotivism. The aim of this paper is to shed new light on the question why Carnap abandoned his originally (...) positive attitude concerning values. It is argued that Carnap’s non-cognitivist attitude was the symptom of a deep-rooted and never properly dissolved tension be-tween his conflicting inclinations towards Neokantianism and Lebensphilosophie. In America Carnap’s non-cognitivism became a major obstacle for a closer collaboration between lo-gical empiricists and American pragmatists. Carnap’s persisting ad---herence to the dualism of practical life and theoretical science was the ultimate reason why he could not accept Morris’s and Kaplan’s pragmatist the-ses that cognitivism might well are compatible with a logical and empiricist scientific philosophy. (shrink)
continent. 1.3 (2011): 187-194. 1. St. Reagan and the Return of the Storyteller The 2004 Republican National Convention was a significant event concerning language and aesthetics in contemporary politics. The Reagan myth appeared as a stellar aura of sentimentality that churned a cultic swoon. Among the polity this spectacular mystery passed a glow upon the shoulders of gleeful followers. Engulfing George W. Bush’s body, the Reagan aura of the protector, the prophet, the historian, and narrator of American destiny oft portrayed (...) as a humble man who simply transmits “content,” bequeathed upon the sitting president his missionary staff to guard that “shining city on a hill.” This proverbial key to New Jerusalem follows Reagan’s own mythical thinking about the sacred role of the United States. After all the organism-city was under attack by “terrorism.” The “real America” had to be preserved from suitcase nukes and radical Islam, what was needed, in fact, was the wise counsel of Reagan-Bush to survive not only as a nation, but as a world. When Bush ceremoniously accepted his spectral host his image was woven into Reagan’s, the ultimate sovereign who rode off into the screen on a white stallion. This journey scene manifested after two key elements of memorial montage: the late leader’s image preceded by a surging fighter plane that merged into the image of a priest calming his flock at what appeared to be Reagan’s own funeral service. With Reagan returning from heaven through media he assured the converted any crisis facing American providence was only a point of passage. Having returned a short time after ascension his “final journey to the West”1 was an aura every conservative leader need embody and project. Reagan’s channelers, the conservative faithful, amplified the aura of father Exceptionalism. This novelistic perpetuity endowed the faithful with an ability to overcome not only history and its seismic interruptions (given its attempt to claim the impossibility of nature), but as much the finitude of mortality. Contemporary crises of origin has breached a certain threshold of experience through broadcast media. This phenomenon is provisionally linked to authenticity and language, similarly articulated by Christopher Fynsk concerning the “way” one takes “in the saying of language.” The way is complicated by the “fact” of language itself, and the fact of language may indeed be our devices that transmit political messages.2 Thus how we engage what appears or inflects as an essence in the experience of media persists in relation to our own speaking or saying. The first barrier is a thinking of or with devices we inhabit daily. It is easy to call this a type of agency, yet to target the device in hand obscures the question of the apparatus itself and its relation to language. Far more ephemeral than the Reagan myth per se something surpassed a key threshold related to that question. The “funerary moment” as Jacques Derrida conceived of it examples, perhaps, the distinction Fynsk makes between Hegel and Heidegger on the fact of language in consideration of the way of its saying essence, it also links to a moment of terror and war as capitalism enters into its late phase. As Fynsk sets out in the introduction to Language and Relation, one must “attend to an implication of approach and object that is no less intricate than (though fundamentally different from) the one purposed by Hegel.”3 Method denotes the problematic of the death in language and the way it relates to political discourse, or, as we propound, the way death is turned against subjectivity.4 Derrida’s observation of Hegelian semiotics perhaps underscores this matter of the “fact” of language, that is, if we are concerned with recovering discourse from pure aesthetic manipulation, as a type of death-speaking in media devices is a language that is factual: Hegel knew that this proper and animated body of the signifier was also a tomb. The association s?ma/s?ma is also at work in this semiology, which is in no way surprising. The tomb is the life of the body as the sign of death, the body as the other of the soul, the other of the animate psyche, of the living breath. But the tomb also shelters, maintains in reserve, capitalizes on life by marking that life continues elsewhere the family crypt: oik?sis. It consecrates the disappearance of life by attesting to the perseverance of life. Thus the tomb also shelters life from death. It warns the soul of possible death, warns (of) death of the soul, turns away (from) death. This double warning function belongs to the funerary moment. The body of the sign thus becomes the monument in which the soul will be enclosed, preserved, maintained, kept in maintenance, present, signified. At the heart of this monument the soul keeps itself alive, but it needs the monument only to the extent that it is exposed—to death—in its living relation to its own body. It was indeed necessary for death to be at work [... ]5 Reagan became an incorruptible saint by a death at work, a mythical force indelibly printed through the incumbent Bush and his bio-formative constituency. Limited not to a particular ideological identity the embodiment of American providence and its sacral mission is at stake in this transferral of aura. Sure to spring from his or her mouth are the wise maxims and proverbs, that in a sense of scale, Bush attained the attributes of Benjamin’s storyteller as a Reaganesque narrator: speaking wise counsel from beyond the pale of broadcasting lumens. The device in hand is yet a mere distinction to Benjamin’s concept of the novel and its crystallized narrator whereby a solitary reader (hence viewer of broadcast politics) reunited with their own death-speaking capacity. The distinction between the novel and the device occurs in the withdraw from reading a novel and return to the realities of life. Our devices today are increasingly attached to our mode of encountering and cracking phenomenon once demarcated by the actual pages and limited by distances that gave readers a chance to see a report for what it was. Reagan’s ubiquitous Americana, telegraphed through folk speak crafted by his minders, is constantly recycled by neophytes. The likes of Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and Christine O’Donnell present to the American public newer developments of a candidate with special attributes of a storyteller narrator. These acolyte test models attempt to perfect what appears as a neo-romantic element of American cult. Even Barack Obama in his misguided attempt at Burkean consensus invokes Reagan.6 Given the lack of substance in conservative candidates today, the ultra synthetic reality surrounding political leaders denotes a crisis in authentic discourse. This demands a deeper mediation on the nature of essence, that is, where essence vanishes into the impossibility of nature and further, whether or not we can even think this distinction without committing an incredible fault of curiosity, that is, running the risk of participating in a fully synthetic political discourse. Our naive animality, if not our “bare life” holds the ability to distinguish what was given away to the device that understands more and more of our bodily movement. Since we are accustomed to thinking by way of self-reflection the experience of discovery has always lent itself to the destructive and “secret” mores of an ideology of progress. If I participate, no matter what, things might change. This is a matter limited to technological agency but not fully that: language has entered an eidetic blender. Therefore beyond this tendency to call Reagan acolytes religious lunatics we have entered a time of political eschatology. These candidates and the sophisticated elements of their campaigns gamble on our increasingly faltering capacity to grasp our own capacity for language. How are we to think the appearances of these figures in order to gain access to the displacement of a synthesis of reason, the crafting of thinking we have apparently left behind? The content of Reagan and Obama’s speeches are stabilizations of a death-lost polity. This phenomenon is analogous to the emergencies of a stock market. The nature of machine-driven trading demands a more emotive check on tensing outcomes. The practice of language is in doubt because the usurpation of discursively built community, that is, communities have adopted the logic of information as the basis for their meaning: broken, without brevity and lack of context. The media device is an interesting object. Its capacity to subjectify or structure perception depends on our lingering from actual reality in the same way the novel and the newspaper did. We cannot however limit our thinking to the object. Appearances are linked to the fact of language. If engagement with forming language continues by way of device habitation, pragmatic legislation which is the synthetic material for rule of law will face continual destruction. Law takes its place in the body. The body marks the limit of freedom by moving to the limits prescribed by law. A perpetual image crystallizing a general condition in the American polity suggests the reflections of salvation, a blindness of vanity or the narcissistic awe of our devices and networks allows essence to meet this law beyond our perceptual capacity of reflection. The law is no longer engaged by the body in formal thinking, it is engaged by whatever imagination may be, arguably the furthest extent of a thinking, human body. Imagination would become the essence of a new law. Neo-romantic vision quests for the real America become the blinding element of political identity dominated by the aesthetics of an obscure authenticity. What is the authenticating body then, for whom? The American polity has hit an ideological bottom. Wandering in portable magic mirrors listening to every revelation spouting about produces a result that pushes once calculative governance by argument into endless oblivion, hence the craft of reason aimlessly drifting into a multi-polar voidance without any legible consensus. The question “how do we think of the multiple?” is perhaps phrased more effectively as “how do we avoid what appears as reasonable discourse?” 2. Shock Values: Masses in a Post-Electro-Mechanical Age We think we are part of political movements every time we stroke our screens. Therefore when Reagan reappeared from death he was Benjamin’s storyteller, he was a saint and now incorruptibly true—this is the experience of devices and the claim of their ability to channel appearances of facts. This glazed upon Obama, who, no matter how brilliant, proves unable to stabilize the destruction of civic spatialization whereby law appears and may be thought about. Political strategists will continue to manipulate this factoring of language whether known to them or not. And the world beat essence of Obama once hailed as messiah can no longer keep up with the national quest for origin. “Birthers,” in fact, are a nonpartisan phenomenon that lends to our theorization. Birthers’ desire for authentic origin by way of mythical delusion indicates the power of appearances and a lack of perceptual literacy. Conversely Obama did precipitate a potential cure for the inadequacies of death care through devices that reach beyond “Hope.” Casual observance of “conservative” right ideologies congealing in contemporary America demonstrates a growing reactionary position against government and administration. The Obama campaign, following all the progressive elements of political identification and subjectification is no exception, no one can win without using technologies of an increasingly sophisticated apparatus of voter identification. This is differentiated by Obama’s pragmatic style of governance, the executive versus the messianic candidate. By the administration’s own admission their information was “ineffectively” communicated.7 The arguments as to the real appropriation of Reagan’s good governance, whatever the case may be, are appropriated today by a radical right that rejects any America whereby its modern institutions survive, and that is the real fall-out in Washington today. The bios that gives force to symbolic power is now oriented toward the thought of these bodies, not the bodies themselves. They have a whole new issue to enforce upon America: governance is no longer acceptable in any civic manifestation where organizing physical bodies was its primary task. These bodies are already in place. Governance would begin in our own blinding vanity as the submission to essence driven by a factored language. That is why following the wise counsel of contemporary politicians has less and less to do with how well one knows their leader or their half-baked conspiracies. Today more and more people do not clearly understand what these leaders really say or mean. Regardless of bravado, language contrasts to a general sense of reality these leaders exude once in office. Yet by 2012 it is not a gamble of prophecy to say this general rupture in political messaging will not be corrected and perfected. Everyone knows revolutionary leaders are insane, yet to be insane is generally a mode by which one has little way of confronting its suppositionary notions. We live in a time of demented and hallucinogenic language inherited from the post-war America of the 1950s, yet that phenomenon has begun to transpire into nothingness and along with it any revolutionary possibility. Would the new emergence of far right leaders really qualify for a whole group of insane revolutionary leaders appearing in such prolific numbers? This question rests upon the disappearance and emergence of something like an iconographic scaffold whereby our ability to read depends on our aesthetic health, that is, grasping the death in speaking, which would be the ineffable fact of language itself. Our “conservative” leaders of the day, are not yet full lunatics, they believe what they say and what they say is authenticated by invoking the storyteller of Reagan who holds the mantle as the most malleable blazon in American political lexicography. This diction or literacy-shaping is buttressed by nearly countless amounts of data crunching and micro-targeting, the goal, as it has been since the formal introduction of social and information sciences in the early 20th century, is to find a way into the subjectification processes of human bios.8 Walter Lippmann, a pioneer on journalistic ethics and social sciences defines the goal of seeing images forming in people’s head in uncomfortably similar terms: The pictures inside the heads of these human beings, the pictures of themselves, of others, of their needs, purposes and relationship, are their public opinions [. W]e shall inquire first into some of the reasons why the picture inside often misleads men in their dealings with the world outside. We shall consider first the chief factors which limit their access to the facts. They are the artificial censorships, the limitations of social contact, the comparatively meager time available in each day for paying attention to public affairs, the distortion arising because events have to be compressed into very short messages, the difficulty of making a small vocabulary express a complicated world, and finally the fear of facing those facts which would seem to threaten the established routine of men’s lives.”9 Hallucinogenic experience inherited something from the percussive shocks that shattered the body. Benjamin’s shattered human, as he thought it in “The Storyteller,” was one undergoing a decline in valuable experience. Lippmann’s cynical attitude stands in contradistinction to any progressive goal of educating and informing everyone by the merits of information and newspapers. Benjamin’s stance was quite similar to that. Despite the percussive assault of modern life and its loosing of biological sanctity, human-beings retained an ability to redress progressive obliteration. Benjamin therefore sought an “-ability” to think creatively against a desubjectification presaging the ascension of total war fascism. Would this form of desubjectification fully manifest today depends upon whether or not we are able to observe appearances proximate to death, or to authenticate the end of our personal world. The crises of finitude for the subject are linked to Benjamin’s analysis of a final review. A dying body allowed a necessary life-affirming transmission critical to human society.10 This is a society we conserve less and less of today. How do we engage technological claims on bios, and the use of our imaginations by political regimes exploiting those “plugged-in” to the system? Benjamin’s general prognosis aligns with this in a rather interesting way. The incessant wiring of the world digs into the destructive currents of our unknowable nature whereby our capacity to grasp our finite existence has few ethical stabilizations. In Benjamin’s thought one could attempt to strike against this type of historical determination. This observation was linked to the electro-mechanical experience of the human body. Today it takes place at an aesthetic level and requires a new articulation whereby a new praxis lacks a consistent engagement. How do we un-subjectify with “smart” technologies and conserve the dignity and nature of our own language? How do we smash them without destroying our own bodies and imaginations?11 If we follow a type of linguistically driven empiricism language is the last place whereby a sensible conversation takes place. In fact I think this is the enigma by which Obama will secure reelection. It is based upon means of a synthetic authentication through accessing a human based temporality we are quickly losing touch with. This will not secure whatever governance is already taking position, the new governance may be confronted by what Benjamin called “spectrum analysis."12 This mnemonic shift would drive death from language and throw it about the mediated world. It would, in effect, have to be supposed before imagined. Is this best addressed by whatever we are calling post-human? Is it merely an excrescence of writing that demands a more efficacious recovery? Would mourning for authentic language finally been overcome or does this post-human merely obscure it? Only a new art and poetry could emerge as a way to articulate it.13 3. Legibility in the Age of Sustained Beings: Thoughts on a Post-Human Militancy Today it seems language is completely packaged on a level of thought-utterance. Recovering the dignity and nature of authentic speaking, or dare I say “organic” voice, is a move toward smashing historical determination. From the inside-out language seems ripped apart from being; conversely, from the outside-in death is inhaled through endless objects of commoditized life. Aisle after aisle of produced thinking we ceaselessly inhabit a neo-bourgeois ideology of moderation. Profane thinkers of the day have yet to turn to novel tactics that are sustaining fronts of resistance. How does one address something that we cannot even see? Paradoxically this ends in the destruction of the body if the aim of any determinative machine would truly want anything at all. But what it really hints at is the reflection of a real body more available than we think. If Benjaminian shock served as a positioning agent for the “sustainability” regime we have now entered, would we not benefit from seriously engaging a project of aesthetic rebellion? If we inherited shock from the long-term incubation with the technology of writing we should have access to its claim on imagination. That would need to be tempered by the fact that writing has begun a type of disappearance. In the sense of its general “legibility” the essence of writing could be what powers the affect of canonized authenticity.14 If the ancient human today dissolves in the wake of the shock and awe by a disappearing writing, its own natural propellant (voice and the mystery of nature) would obtain an appearance. Would this new phenomenon have already begun a decline? Discourse for constructing communities would be one recovered through media that attempts to fully claim synthetic reason from thought. Discourse is therefore not directly from bodies in a sense of transmission, which would handle any effective construction of synthetic reason or moderation, i.e. Burkean calculation or post-Humean passion. Though clearly an issue of the posthumous it is in this death-notion that we surrender to our leaders appearing in devices. Whatever resembles of our own dead-death it is obscured by vanity. Vanity obscures scintillas of truth in media devices via storytellers by the essence of death itself. No matter what political or ideological identity, language is the device and perhaps the apparatuses of media in general. Powered by the force of death, our death, everyone’s dead-death, language is no longer a footnote for philosophical pause: it powers what appears now as political inanity. Imagination is in some sense legible, somewhere, somehow. Does object-philosophy promise to solve this problem through dejected curiosities, or veiled desubjectification? Thinking the claim on imagination would be the only way to confront the lunatics attempting to destroy public and civic governance. Yet this is a problem of immanence or waiting. God is a crisis of imagination incredibly difficult to conceive in the self-conceptualization we have today. It would depend upon those entrepreneurs savvy enough to create a type of space to accommodate radical language in an already fully exhibited human body. The affirmative and immediate truth we ignore today, or simply cannot stabilize any further for examination, enters a paradoxical crux.15 This seems confirmation enough to open a debate about the aesthetics of object philosophy as a proper place for the remnants of capitalist thought, if we are still thinking on terms of commodities. Dead-death is ripping imagination from the body and reselling it in what is called “wise counsel” from the likes of a used-car politician. I would like to take this question in this direction, because though this has never been the expressed goal of commodification, it is the result of late capitalism. Any new image of language presents a substantiation or claim on our “post-human” future and what type of politics it would produce. Does it appear in the ironic phrase of “Hope,” is it something intimate about our conditions with media? Are we in some sense entering a vast hopelessness but at the same time challenged not to fall victim to narratives of salvation? The human’s lingering ideal of having a “post” in society finds a possible irony as a type of Loughnerian grammar (the invisibility of constructing reason)16 and is linked to this pervasive loss or mourning. Indeed we may have fewer positions in society today. Conversely is not having a “post” the militant imperative of liberal democratic thought and its utopian undercurrents? What we have is equality through opposition and war. What was an inner contradiction in the promise of a welfare state was actually a warfare status of privileging groups or individuals in a larger manifestation or correcting apparatus of natural laws. By abusing “diversity” what was concealed are the nefarious elements of economic sciences and the invisible mastery of divisiveness, one that appears internally, as we see in contemporary politics, the most unnatural nature. This human position in liberal democracy is utterly collapsing. Authentic exchanges, friendship, and mutual care for creative destruction and construction are not nourished long on denatured excrement. Our post in contemporary society is thus messianic. The recycling of thinking has an end in itself, an end we must overcome. Our uncanny boot camp of psychosis, if never set down, will always obscure the locus of creative acts, that is, where reason or craft enters into the actual by way of reflection. That we all have a “Call of Duty” means the placement of the game controller in the hands of a biped: a direction that ends in the point-of-view. And the space between them presents an opportunity to move this orienting post. As for the word “orient,” the preverbal East is the last place the West appears as Western. Who or what is godlike has today a point of view that projects a world. What replaces orientation is the capacity to observe this schematic. First, one could destabilize the ordering of imagination itself by way of the individual imagination. This is our first “profanity.”17 Second, the imagination and the created world are thus voyages into the logic of an image and not the radical productivity of imagination alone. Their integration, or transmogrifying capacity, lends to our need to learn to read what is writing today in our imaginative bodies, that is, to read experience and navigate the punctual claim, its eidetic variations of our own movement in the world. To stop this novel illiteracy of sense from falling into a politician’s image of counsel one would have to recognize that any game console is not a true voyage without deference for reading “outside the box.” Here, object philosophies may offer thoughts on grammar. As it relates to its interiority, it, the post-human, must consider both until it is once again human. This is the only conservative position left in the world of thought. This would describe our musing about a post-ing, positing, or depositing—the punctual orientation of biology. For imagination available to each biological life is an imaginative “access” to their post or point in the world. This posting is what their real point of view could become as the perishing of this point of view, as an interior window to being. Every human has, in the military anyway, a “post.” And the post of Sarah Palin, among other inane creatures, is a twisted language, which has no regard for poetic care. The suppositions we operate on still concern on the imperatives of an “informed citizenry,” that is, their entire index of thoughts and thinking as a public property. The idealistic requisite for voting in a representative democracy is precisely what I mean by electro-mechanical profanity now relegated to a wet dream in the anti-humid reality of a computer. We are wise therefore to rethink the famous and certainly defunct “Canons of Journalism.” The modernist scientific answer of stabilizing information was to have its site in the bodies of thinking human beings. That is, the object of information and the newspaper itself were the plane by which one could reason effectively if they would just learn how to read them correctly. We have long since entered that phase, a time of readers and writers that we now no longer understand as separate positions. Benjamin observed that the vanity and egoistic desire of readers to be writers is often abused by editors. This is in no case diminished today, that is, “users” have constant reflection in the devices in hand and hackers find themselves committing the errorism of a Flusserian “functionary.” Perspective, that is, a point of view, is the habitation of the object of the paper by imagination, this is only sped up by way of the user comments. More precisely a migration of thinking-bios into information. The newspaper is now a motherboard, everybody reads them and no body understands it, the goal is to standardize the movement of bios. Science, in particular what is called “social science” does not determine democracy as we opined earlier. This cynical attitude toward participatory democracy is a cornerstone of a more accurate and forgotten conservative skepticism of “liberalism.” Thus liberalism fosters the correct conditions of warfare in order to gain access to imagination, and if democracy (the want of grammar) demands discursive freedom, we are far from that today. Conservatives today are merely liberal radicals who intentionally or not use information science to further manipulate every biotic form bleeding being into a corrective system of illegible grammar, that is the way to stabilize the orthodoxy of their followers, return the uncared death of language into the image of their regime. What is the point-of-viewing humans like that? The point-of-view, or the point-of-viewing has in some sense left us with a type of novel mourning. What is post-human is thus still human, a matter of access to positions of every moment of legible and illegible verbiage (referring here to Fynsk’s thinking of essence and language). We have to determine an increase in legibility that fits a criteria of dignity and privation. One can stop speeding-up to outsmart the calculative and programmatic nature of civil machinery and thus find ways to ethically engage ordering. Timing is thus the answer to impossible speed, at least in boxing. This imperative emerges in political want today, as in America and across the world the hard rightward migration toward national origins is based on the loss of a relationship to language and thus aims at destroying what it believes are results of a “big government.” The speed that has desubjectified the hobbits and ancient Vikings of a Tea Partying America are equally astounding, yet they too will undergo a perishing of becoming. The masticatory capacity of necrotic capitalism today is a type of political mourning for a reasonable discourse obscured in essence. But the answer is not by incarnating politicians as storytellers, or creating fictive worlds whereby our narrators emerge in actual certainty versus a general schematic of reality, these are things we merely attend to as objects and essences. 4. The Negative Kingdom of Sound Being It was the cultic and exhibitive dialectic that Benjamin thought in consideration of fascism and technology that excavated language, removing its production of wisdom for the finite subject into the device and returning it as something promising actual, infinite capacity. The weigh station remains the human body yet a body that has lost it capacity to handle the radical being concealed in language itself due to the technologization of metaphysical thought. If ana-logism or analog life characterized the annihilative expression of “world war” via media and its acceleration into images, what was underwritten was the capacity of seeing.18 Shock via media has left the body in a missionary-messianic position that indicates this lack of seeing as the site of almost every political utterance guided by the synthetic narrators of false histories. Iterated earlier, the ideological imperative of sustainability solidifies what appears as the imperatives of smart technology: a novel ground of human imagination and the mastery of the ineffable capacity we are no longer able to tacitly handle. Therefore Reagan’s post-humous appearances designate the ethics of optical thought as an ethics most inhumane. Reflected in the rise of Obama, the 2004 Republican Presidential Convention was only one site that is not fully consequential of what has since emerged as disquieting behavior exampled by “conservative” politicians and media despots. The emergence of cultic lunacy is built upon the incredible exploitation of language and being. We cannot fully account for these figures who seemingly occupy the fringes of imaginative thought through an inversion of bodily force into a nearly immaculate conception of the signification of wise counsel, that is, they emerge as our modern version of an effective storyteller capable of facilitating what was lost from real conversation, community and the essentiality of creative embellishments (not unlike the author Leskov for whom Benjamin afforded some finding of counsel even if the orator was merely a page). There is a bit of countermovement that may have an optimistic tenor. Our own recovery of being forces the question of how we recognize a return to being. If we have lost our collective vision it may be that we have only realized sight has nothing to do with appearances. This first theoretical step would address the ethical need erupting in not only our continuous digital migration, but the colonization of language by media and its claim on being. If our time is not engaged toward the preservation of biological thinking supposing the incredibly elusive element of human experience, it is at the same time an indifference oriented toward the utter destruction of human systems whereby a chaotic outcome would express a negative fecundity unseen, but one we conversely have some type of access to. Would this shift first appear in imagination itself or merely as another testing? Have we truly divorced ourselves from language by the pent up desire to escape the fact of finitude that has only resulted in near-death testimonies and theosophical doctrines? NOTES 1 Quoted from Ronald Reagan’s memorial as broadcasted by FoxNews 2 I refer in general to Christopher Fynsk’s inaugural questions concerning the “linguistic turn.” See Fynsk, Language and Relation. 3 Fynsk notes that verb status of essence relates to the “way-making that occurs properly in the speaking of language,” whereby discerning essence and language might lead, via Heidegger to an experience with language: “...namely, the relation of essence and language as it involves the human engagement of speaking its essence.” See Fynsk, Language and Relation , 76-7. 4 I have begun a theory of such a recovery, See Groves, “Ultima Multis: The Raising of Deathcare.” 5 See Derrida, “The Pit and the Pyramid,” 82-3. 6 Sam Tanenhaus has observed that Obama is most likely a consensus conservative in the Burkean sense of calculation. See Tanenhaus, The Death of Conservatism . 7 See Beam, “Speech Therapy.” 8 I refer here to Walter Lippmann’s Public Opinion , published in 1922, whereby the goal was to see the pictures in people’s heads. 9 Lippmann, Public Opinion , 30. 10 In “The Storyteller,” Benjamin assigns this to anyone, including the “wretch,” where after death was swept from view presaging the asylum mentality of the disciplinary society. 11 In fact one may begin the conversation of imagination as body forming rather than bodies forming imagination. 12 Benjamin’s concept of material theology as he articulates it in the “Paralipomena to ‘On the Concept of History’.” 13 I reject the narratives of non-anthropocentric thinking. Any thinking is only human thinking even if by proxy. 14 Benjamin’s notebook N from The Arcades Project as well as “On the Concept of History,” attempt to find ways in which historical continuity may be disrupted, either by colliding with this historical penitentiary or by the realization of our suspension in its directional domination of perception. 15 I refer to Judith Balso’s most current work on poetry and ontology whereby an astounding concept of subjectivity introduces a novel conceptualization of history. See Balso, Mandelstam, Stalin, Hölderlin, Heidegger . 16 See Sharrock, “Explained.” 17 I refer expressly to Giorgio Agamben’s concept of returning to the public by way of profanity from what was sacred. Yet returning to the public also contributes to the contemporary culture of exhibition and therefore has nothing to do with private dignity. See What is an Apparatus ? 18 Literary scholar Laurence Rickels identifies this as “not-see,” hence “Nazi.” See: Rickels, Nazi Psychoanalysis. (shrink)
Abstract: One of the institutional highlights of the encounter between Austrian “wissen¬schaftliche Philosophie” and French “philosophie scientifique” in the first half of the 20th century was the “First International Congress for Unity of Science” that took place 1935 in Paris. In my contribution I deal with an episode of the philosophical mega-event whose protagonist was the American philosopher and semiotician Charles William Morris. At the Paris congress he presented his programme of a comprehensive, practice-oriented scientific philosophy and, in a more (...) elaborated version he published it two years later in Logical Positivism, Pragmatism and Scientific Empiricism (Morris 1937). Morris aimed at a synthesis of formalism, pragmatism, and traditional empiricism that combined the virtues of these accounts while avoided their shortocmings. The core of approach was a comprehensive theory of the concept of meaning. Through an analysis of the concept of meaning he sought to sort out the existing differences and the options for a possible future rapprochment between logical empiricism and pragmatism. Against the overly narrow logical empiricist understanding of philosophy as the syntax of the language of science Morris argued for a “scientific pragmatism” that comprised four levels: (1) Philosophy as Logic of Science, (2) Philosophy as Clarification of Meaning (Peirce), (3) Philosophy as Empirical Axiology (Dewey), and (4) Philosophy as Empirical Cosmology (Whitehead). (shrink)
It is widely held that the current debate on the mind-body problem in analytic philosophy began during the 1950s at two distinct sources: one in America, de- riving from Herbert Feigl's writings, and the other in Australia, related to writings by U. T. Place and J. J. C. Smart (Feigl  1967). Jaegwon Kim recently wrote that "it was the papers by Smart and Feigl that introduced the mind-body problem as a mainstream metaphysical Problematik of analytical philosophy, and launched the (...) debate that has continued to this day" (Kim 1998, 1). Nonetheless, it is not at all obvious why these particular articles sparked a debate, nor why Feigl's work in particular came to play such a prominent part in it, nor how and to what extent Feigl's approach rests on the logical empiricism he endorsed. (shrink)
It is argued that, contrary to prevailing opinion, Bas van Fraassen nowhere uses the argument from underdetermination in his argument for constructive empiricism. It is explained that van Fraassen’s use of the notion of empirical equivalence in The Scientific Image has been widely misunderstood. A reconstruction of the main arguments for constructive empiricism is offered, showing how the passages that have been taken to be part of an appeal to the argument from underdetermination should actually be interpreted.
Empiricism has been a pivotal philosophical topic for more than two millennia. Several Sophists, Aristotle, the Epicureans, Sextus Empiricus, Francis Bacon, Locke, Hume, Mill, Mach and the Logical Empiricists represent a long line of historically influential empiricists who share a prioritising of the sensory over all other forms of knowledge. The latest influential incarnation, Bas van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism, takes science to aim at empirically adequate theories, i.e. theories that save all and only the observable phenomena. Roughly (...) put, an object or phenomenon is observable in van Fraassen’s view if a properly functioning member of the human epistemic community can detect it via their unaided senses. Scientific realists and other critics have contested this notion citing among other reasons that most knowledge in natural science concerns objects that can only be detected with instruments, i.e. those that are unobservable and hence unknowable by van Fraassen’s lights. Beg-the-question accusations fly back and forth. As a consequence a stalemate has ensued in the scientific realism debate. (shrink)
In this paper a constructive empiricist account of scientific change is put forward. Based on da Costa's and French's partial structures approach, two notions of empirical adequacy are initially advanced (with particular emphasis on the introduction of degrees of empirical adequacy). Using these notions, it is shown how both the informativeness and the empirical adequacy requirements of an empiricist theory of scientific change can then be met. Finally, some philosophical consequences with regard to the role of structures in this context (...) are drawn.Now, we daily see what science is doing for us. This could not be unless it taught us something about reality; the aim of science is not things themselves, as the dogmatists in their simplicity imagine, but the relations between things; outside those relations there is no reality knowable. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to provide a unified account of scientific and mathematical change in a thoroughly empiricist setting. After providing a formal modelling in terms of embedding, and criticising it for being too restrictive, a second modelling is advanced. It generalises the first, providing a more open-ended pattern of theory development, and is articulated in terms of da Costa and French's partial structures approach. The crucial component of scientific and mathematical change is spelled out in terms of (...) partial embeddings. Finally, an application of this second pattern is made, with the examination of the early formulation of set theory (in particular, the works of Cantor, Zermelo and Skolem). (shrink)
Constructive empiricism - as formulated by Bas van Fraassen - makes no epistemological claims about the nature of science. Rather, it is a view about the aim of science, to be situated within van Fraassen's broader voluntarist epistemology. Yet while this epistemically minimalist framework may have various advantages in defending the epistemic relevance of constructive empiricism, I show how it also has various disadvantages in maintaining its internal coherence.
Industrial shrimp farming has been promoted by international development and financial institutions in coastal indebted poor countries as a way to obtain foreign exchange earnings, reimburse external debt, and promote development. The promotion of the shrimp industry is a clear example of a more general trend of support of export-oriented primary products, consisting in monocultures of commodities, as opposed to the promotion of more diverse, traditional production directed to feed the local population. In general, it is assumed that export-oriented aquaculture (...) and agriculture, in a framework of liberalization policies, facilitates economic growth and this is associated with poverty reduction and the improvement of food security. However, it has been shown that the promotion of export-oriented production, mostly in the hands of big corporations, can have detrimental consequences for the livelihoods of local populations and the environment. As a result, international institutions, NGOs, and the industry aim to minimize these impacts by promoting sustainable export-oriented production. But some impacts may remain, since the main issue is the primary focus on international deregulated markets and the search for cheap primary products. To illustrate the relationships between the mainstream concept of development, the environmental and social impact of industrial farming systems, and the promotion of export-oriented production in developing countries, this article analyzes the case of the shrimp aquaculture industry. (shrink)
According to the received view on logical empiricism, the logical empiricists were involved in the same project as Popper, Lakatos and Kuhn: a project of describing actual scientific method and (with the exception of Kuhn) prescribing methodological rules for scientists. Even authors who seek to show that the logical empiricists were not as simpleminded as widely believed agree with this assumption. I argue that the received view has it wrong.