In my research today I came upon this interesting article, “Here comes everything: the promise of object-oriented ontology” by Timothy Morton. (New link, old one broken.) It is of interest not only to speculative realism but also to some recent discussions on Caputo's ontology, modes of apprehension of such, and quantum theory. The article is 27 pages of text so I've culled some excerpts, lengthy in themselves.

 

Excerpts:

 

Speculative realism...asserts the deep mystery of a Non-Nature....object-oriented ontology (OOO)...goes further than this, rejecting essentialist Matter.... OOO is a form of realism that asserts that real things exist--these things are objects, not just amorphous “Matter”.... OOO extends Husserl's and Heidegger's arguments that things have an irreducible dark side: no matter how many times we turn over a coin, we never see the other side as the other side--it will have to flip onto “this” side for us to see it, immediately producing another underside. Harman simply extends this irreducible darkness from subject–object relationships to object–object relationships.... Causation is thus vicarious in some sense, never direct. An object is profoundly “withdrawn”--we can never see the whole of it, and nothing else can either.... We've become so used to hearing “object” in relation to “subject” that it takes some time to acclimatize to a view in which there are only objects, one of which is ourselves.

 

The notion of the “withdrawal” of objects extends my term strange stranger to non-living entities. Strange stranger names an uncanny, radically unpredictable quality of life forms. Life forms recede into strangeness the more we think about them, and whenever they encounter one another--the strangeness is irreducible....the uncanny essence of humans that Heidegger contemplates extends to nonhumans.... The more we know about a strange stranger, the more she (he, it) withdraws. Objects withdraw such that other objects never adequately capture but only (inadequately) “translate” them....This is what “irreducible” means.

 

Rhetoric is not simply ear candy for humans: indeed, a thorough reading of Plato, Aristotle and Longinus suggests that rhetoric is a technique for contacting the strange stranger....[it] amplifies imagination rather than trying to upstage it, and it revels in dislocation, not location.... Harman's imagery differs from ecophenomenological ecomimesis that confirms the localized position of a subject with privileged access to phenomena.... Harman's rhetoric produces an object-oriented sublime that breaks decisively with the Kantian taboo on noncorrelationist scientific speculation....ekphrasis is not about the reaction of the (human) subject, but about rhetorical modes as affective-contemplative techniques for summoning the alien.

 

The aesthetic, as we shall see, is the secret door through which OOO discovers a theory of what is called “subject”.... Melancholia is precisely a mode of intimacy with strange objects that can't be digested by the subject.... To lapse into Californian, OOO is so about the subject. There is no good reason to be squeamish about this. The more the ekphrasis zaps us, the more we fall back into the gravity well of melancholy. Sentience is out of phase with objects, at least if you have a nervous system. So melancholia is the default mode of subjectivity: an object-like coexistence with other objects and the otherness of objects--touching them, touching the untouchable, dwelling on the dark side one can never know, living in endless twilight shadows. If the reader has experienced grief she or he will recognize this state as an object-like entity that resides somewhere within the body, with an amortization schedule totally separated from other temporalities (in particular, the strict digital clock time of contemporary life). Through the heart of subjectivity rolls an object-like coexistence, none other than ecological coexistence--the ecological thought fully-fledged as dark ecology . The inward, withdrawn, operationally closed mood called melancholy is something we shake off at our peril in these dark ecological times.

 

Melancholy starts to tell us the truth about the withdrawn qualities of objects. OOO thus differs from theistic ecophilosophy that asserts, “There is a Nature.” It maintains no absolute distance between subject and object; it limits “subject” to no entity in particular. Žižek's suspicion of SR to do with the “feminine” self-absorption of objects: precisely what he doesn't like about Buddhism. Changing “self-absorption” to “withdrawal” or “operational closure” discloses what's threatening about Buddhism: an object-like entity at the core of what is called subjectivity. Like ecomimesis, Harman's passage affirms a real world beyond mentation. Unlike ecomimesis, this world doesn't surround a subject--it's a world without reference to a subject.

 

If OOO construes everything as objects, some may believe that it would have a hard time talking about subjects--indeed, Slavoj Žižek has already criticized SR in general along these lines. This subjectivity is profoundly ecological and it departs from normative Western ideas of the subject as transcendence. Thus we see off Nature and its correlate, the (human) subject. I argue that OOO enjoins us to drop Matter just as we must drop Nature, and that this means that it can save the appearance of the most coherent and testable physical theory we have, namely quantum theory.

 

Let's turn our attention to... things....how far “down things” does OOO really go? Are these things made of some kind of substrate, some kind of unformed matter? Does “withdrawal” mean that objects are impenetrable in some non-figurative, nonhuman sense? Do objects have a spatial “inside”? Surely they might. But the principle of irreducibility must mean that this inside is radically unavailable. It's not simply a case of the right equipment passing through it, like a knife through butter. Even a knife through butter would not access the butter in all its essential butteriness. The proliferation of things that ecology talks about--from trees to nuclear power--do not compromise a holistic Nature. Nor yet are they comprised of some intrinsic, essential stuff. To dispatch Matter, we must explore the most rigorous and testable theory of physical Matter we know: quantum theory.

 

Unlike some thinkers who discovered OOO in spite of deconstruction, I backed into OOO through deconstruction. SR tends to mistake deconstruction for nominalism, subjectivism and Meillassoux's correlationism.... Contemporary physics concurs with a principle tenet of Lacan and Derrida: there's no “big Other,” no device, for instance, that could measure quantum phenomena without participating in these phenomena. All observations are inside the system, or as Derrida puts it, “There is nothing outside the text” (or, in Gayatri Spivak's alternative, which I prefer, “There is no outside-text”). Arkady Plotnitsky has traced the affinities between deconstruction and quantum physics. People commonly misconstrue “there is no-outside-text” as nominalism: we can only know things by their names. Far more drastically, the axiom means: (1) Any attempt to establish rigid boundaries between reality and information results in unsustainable paradoxes; (2) Language is radically nonhuman--even when humans use it. It would be a mistake to hold that (1) is correlationism. “There is no outsidetext” occurs in a passage in which Derrida is analyzing Rousseau's position on Nature, so it's worth pausing here since this issue is directly relevant to ecocriticism. Derrida tacks close to the text he’s analyzing, which is why he appeals to close readers in the first place. He is not making a sweeping generalization about reality. Derrida is only saying, “Given the kind of closed system textuality that Rousseau prescribes, there is no outside-text.” That is, Rousseau can’t go around making claims about nature, not because there is nothing out there, but because the way he models thinking sets textuality up as a black hole....[but] Derrida abstained from ontology: he considered it tainted by the generalization-disease. Unfortunately this defaults to various forms of antirealism. Derrida's is a sin of omission.... OOO shares one thing at least with deconstruction--refraining from assertions about some general essence or substance at the back of things that guarantees their existence.

 

OOO is troubling for materialisms that rely on any kind of substrate, whether it consists of discrete atoms or of a continuum.... Certain uncontroversial facts, demonstrable in highly repeatable experiments, shatter essentialist prejudices concerning Matter.... Quantum phenomena are not simply hard to access or only partially “translated” by minds and other objects. They are irreducibly withdrawn.

 

OOO is form of realism, not materialism. In this it shares affinities with quantum theory. Antirealism pits quantum theory against its opponents, since quantum theory supposedly shows reality is fuzzy or deeply correlated with perception and so forth. In fact, quantum theory is the only existing theory to establish firmly that things really do exist beyond our mind (or any mind). Quantum theory positively guarantees that real objects exist! Not only that--these objects exist beyond one another. Quantum theory does this by viewing phenomena as quanta, as discrete “units” as described in Unit Operations by OOO philosopher Ian Bogost. “Units” strongly resemble OOO “objects.” Thinking in terms of units counteracts problematic features of thinking in terms of systems. A kind of systems thinking posed significant problems for nineteenth-century physicists. Only consider the so-called black body radiation problem. Classical thermodynamics is essentially a systems approach that combines the energy of different waves to figure out the total energy of a system. The black box in question is a kind of oven. As the temperature in the oven increases, results given by summing the wave states according to classical theory become absurd, tending to infinity.

 

By seeing the energy in the black box as discrete quanta (“units”), the correct result is obtained. Max Planck's discovery of this approach gave birth to quantum theory. Now consider perception, for the sake of which antirealism usually cites quantum theory. What does quantum theory show about our mental interactions with things? Perceptual, sensual phenomena such as hardness and brilliance are at bottom quantum mechanical effects. I can't put my hand through this table because it is statistically beyond unlikely that the quanta at the tip of my finger could bust through the resistance wells in the quanta on the table's surface. That's what solidity is. It's an averagely correct experience of an aggregate of discrete quanta. This statistical quality, far from being a problem, is the first time humans have been able to formalize supposedly experiential phenomena such as solidity. What some people find disturbing about quantum theory (once in a gajillion times I can put my finger through the table) is precisely evidence for the reality of things. (This is a version of an argument in Meillassoux, AF 82–5).

 

Quantum theory specifies that quanta withdraw from one another, including the quanta with which we measure them. In other words quanta really are discrete, and one mark of this discreteness is the constant (mis)translation of one quantum by another. Thus when you set up quanta to measure the position of a quantum, its momentum withdraws, and vice versa. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle states that when an “observer”--not a subject per se, but a measuring device involving photons or electrons (or whatever)--makes an observation, at least one aspect of the observed is occluded (QT 99–115). Observation is as much part of the Universe of objects as the observable, not some ontologically different state (say of a subject). More generally, what Niels Bohr called complementarity ensures that no quantum has total access to any other quantum. Just as a focusing lens makes one object appear sharper while others appear blurrier, one quantum variable comes into sharp definition at the expense of others (QT 158–61). This isn't about how a human knows an object, but how a photon interacts with a photosensitive molecule. Some phenomena are irreducibly undecidable, both wavelike and particle-like. The way an electron encounters the nucleus of an atom involves a dark side. Objects withdraw from each other at a profound physical level. OOO is deeply congruent with the most profound, accurate and testable theory of physical reality available. Again, it would be better to say it the other way around: quantum theory works because it's object-oriented.

 

Probing the quantum world, then, is a form of auto-affection. Bohr argued that quantum phenomena don't simply concatenate themselves with their measuring devices. They're identical to it: the equipment and the phenomena form an indivisible whole (QT 139–40, 177). This “quantum coherence” applies close to absolute zero, where particles become the “same” thing.

 

Implication and explication suggest Matter being enfolded and unfolded from something deeper. Even if it were the case that OOO should defer to physics, in the terms set by physics itself objects aren't made “of” any one thing in particular. Just as there is no top level, there may be no bottom level that is not an (substantial, formed) object.

 

To this extent, “object” (as a totally positive entity) is a false immediacy. Positive assertions about objects fail because objects have a shadowy dark side, a mysterious interiority like the je ne sais quoi of Kantian beauty. Is this nothing at all? Is there a path from the carnival of things to a bleak nothingness? Nihilism, believing that you have no beliefs, maintains that things emerge from an impenetrable mystery. Nihilism, the cool kids' religion, shuns the inconveniences of intimacy. We have objects--they have us--under our skin. They are our skin. OOO can't be a form of nihilism. It's the opposite view (relationism) that tends towards nihilism. Relationism holds that objects are nothing more than the sum of their relations with other objects. This begs the question of what an object is, since the definition implies a potential infinite regress: what are the “other objects”? Why, nothing more than the sum of their relations with other objects--and so on ad obscurum. At least OOO takes a shot at saying what objects are: they withdraw. This doesn't mean that they don't relate at all. It simply means that how they appear has a shadowy, illusory, magical, “strangely strange” quality. It also means they can't be reduced to one another. OOO holds that strangeness is impossible if objects are reducible to their relations. Since relationism is hamstrung by its reluctance to posit anything, it tends towards obscurantism. Relationism is stuck in a Euthyphronic dilemma: objects consist of relations between other objects—and what are those objects? An object as such is never defined. So while ecological criticism appears to celebrate interconnectedness, it must in the end pay attention to what precisely is interconnected with what.

 

This radical finitude includes a strange irreducible openness.

Views: 20920

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Bryant noted at FB he has a new article on Luhmann. I've weaved both Bryant's work on Luhmann and Luhmann himself in various places like the fold thread, and most recently in the Waking, Dreaming, Being thread. So I got out my copy of Onto-Cartography, which I plan to review next, and looked up Luhmann in the index and read a few pages in the text. He's talking about how the operational closure of an organic machine like us can lead to confirmation bias that doesn't accept new input from its environment. However via what Luhmann calls 'second-order observation' we can open to new input that contradicts our bias and change our minds, i.e., we can learn (59 - 62).

Which reminds me of this study showing that liberals are more open to new input and changing their biases while conservatives are not.

Is the (or a) God Function an "object?" The following theoretical account of how the Zero Point Field keeps electrons in stable orbit around the proton of an atom is, in functional terms, the same as the traditional spiritual notion that God will guide and protect us, and that God has resources we can get through prayer or otherwise which can help us. While the ZPF may not be God per se, it seems to be at least a body or vehicle expressing God-like action. It could at least be said to be the body or a body part of God. Not separate from the "mind" or "heart" or "essence" of God's being. No more separate than our bodies are separate from our "selves." We use our bodies to express our "selves." Express our "needs," our "wants," our "meaning" via goal-oriented behaviors or reactive behaviors. Our bodies reflect what is on our "minds." The human function would be a way of referring to being human which would seamlessly include the needs, wants and meanings of "mind" with the good old "body." The body is not just a middle man, but, rather, an instrument or extension of "mind." The ZPF would be the same for "God." It expresses the God Function. And in my opinion that is all that really matters. How can I utilize God, whatever God is, to improve the quality of my own life, others' lives, and life in general? How can God make this world a better and better place? If God or the ZPF has that potential, then it counts as "energy" because it (whatever IT is) has the "capacity to do work." The ZPF has the capacity to do the work or job of making electrons have stable orbits around the atom's proton and therefore not to collapse the atom. While entropy should rule, "exotropy" (Kevin Kelly and others) or order rules instead. Evidence of Intelligence that makes science's previous assumptions (based on thinking like matter) that all life rolls downhill into entropy wrong. There is something in the "vacuum" that creates order where collapse and disorder should be taking place at the subatomic level. Here is the theoretical account of how the ZPF provides a kind of God function by guiding and refeuling the electrons orbiting around an atom's proton (from Lynn McTaggart's The Field):

Quantum scientists struggled with the question of why an electron orbits around a proton, like a planet orbiting around the sun. In the solar system, gravity accounts for the stable orbit. But in the atomic world, any moving electron, which carries a charge, wouldn't be stable like an orbiting planit, bout would eventually radiate away, or exhaust, its energy and then spiral into the nucleus, causing the entire atomic structure of the object to collapse. ...

{description of Bohr's convoluted logic to explain why}

... But what Timothy Boyer had done, and what Hal {Puthoff} then perfected, was to show that if you take into account the Zero Point Field, you don't have to rely on Bohr's dictum. You can show mathematically that electrons lose and gain energy constantly from the Zero Point Field in a dynamic equilibrium, balanced at exactly the right orbit. Electrons get their energy to keep going without slowing down because they are refuelling by tapping into these fluctuations of empty space. In other words, the Zero Point Field accounts for the stabilituy of the hydrogen atom -- an, by inference, the stability of all matter. Pull the plug on zero-point energy, Hal demonstrated, and all atomic structure would collapse. "  

{Now this next sentence aligns with Kevin Kelly's "upcreation" or the panentheistic notion of incarnational theology in which we the creatures help create the Creator.} 

Hal also showed by physics calculations that fluctuations of the Zero Point Field waves drive the motion of subatomic particles and that all the mortion of all the particles of the universe in turn generates the Zero Point Field, a sort of self-generating feedback loop across the cosmos. ...

My point here is this: Is the God Function an "object?" The ZPF would seem to be an "object?" but is the support and feedback loop function, which seems very "God-like," an "object" according to OOO thought? 

darrell



Darrell R. Moneyhon said:

This {At least OOO takes a shot at saying what objects are: they withdraw. This doesn't mean that they don't relate at all. It simply means that how they appear has a shadowy, illusory, magical, “strangely strange” quality.}

These excerpts from Lynne McTaggart's book, The Field, seem to provide a somewhat plausible account of the "shadowy" aspect of objects. The shadowy aspect can be understood largely in terms of the "Zero Point Field" where objects dance dynamically together in rather non-object ways (at least ways that defy Whitehead's "simple location" -- but I sense by now that the OOO'ers are not clinging to simple location as being a criteria for an "object." Photons and quantum particles are seen as being objects. These energy packet smudges continue to move during absolute zero (or close approximations thereof) when no movement is expected in terms of classical physics. The Zero Point Field is a quantum substratum of reality that reminds me of the root systems of Aspen trees, except the "roots" are more moving/dynamic "objects" than the roots of Aspen trees. Not just a web, but a "sea" of activity. This underneath sea affects all objects. The earlier assumption was that it affects all objects equally, so it could just be subtracted from quantum formulas in a mathematical process called "normalization." But Hal Puthoff and others began to speculate about the ZPF energy source as being able to somehow be patterned (mentally or otherwise) in a way that explains cases of mental levitation of material objects (or my tree falling on a calm day while in a deep state of meditation?) and in a way that can cause a differential effect upon objects. In addition to energy effects the ZPF has obvious information exchange possibilities if we should learn how to mentally (or otherwise) tap into it. "God" guiding us might well be one of those uses. Prayer might be a means to go deep within to a zone somehow able to interact with the "Sea of Light," as Taggart metaphorically refers to the ZPF in her second chapter. This cutting edge scientific stuff is also very much in line with my "depth dynamic spirituality" approach. The second tier, if you will, of quantum theory is not a split between quantum theory and classical, Newtonian, theory, but a single reality with depth which includes a Zero Point Field that accounts for the apparent wave-particle duality proposed in the first tier quantum theories. Bohm and Hiley's "implicate order" is consistent with ZPF and they too say there is no need to assume such a duality, nor the observer effect (which says that measurement or observation seems to cause quantum wave potential collapse into a particle. 

Thus the "final fronteer" of both technology and understanding seems to be inner space. Having said that though, astro physic theorists like Bernie Hausch, author of The God Theory, see evidence of the Zero Point Field in the far reaches of outer space as well. 

Perhaps we have been living in a "Reality Sandwhich." To me, going deep seems to be the most reliable way to access the "plenum"  that Aristotle argued was in place of the empty void assumed by others. The plenum and the ZPF energy "sea" are more in line with, as you say, the non-nihilist, view of reality. 

Even "The Field" is some-thing -- a very big and dynamic thing, but thing (object) nonetheless. It is not an empty "nothing." Depth dynamic Christianity or Spirituality also assumes something way way in there deep inside. Not nothing, but perhaps so interrelated (like the Aspen tree roots) that they appear to be pure relationship rather than discrete objects per se. Or I suppose we could say this dynamic interrelationship is part of all objects' shadowy aspect. The objects are, but were never unrelated from the start. Instead largely emerging from a very inclusive object called "The Field." 

Like Wilber, I think philosophical notions such as my depth dynamic spirituality require a set of operations or yoga. My last 5 or 6 runs (5 to 6 miles lately) have been done with the mindset of unfolding from a deep inner core. Visualizing an even-flow out into my physical self (actually creating/forming the physical self) as I run has been my yoga. Not only does it seem to reduce the stress on affected muscles, but it seems to increase my potential or effectiveness of running. It is like humbly getting (the regular) "me" out of the way and just letting The Field do the running. Interesting that I came up with the term "field" more or less independently. After conceptualizing "three faces of energy" in preparation for a future book called Christians Thinking Like Energy (second in three book series called The Christian Potentiality Series), one ("face") of which was "field," I happened to see a book in Barnes and Noble called The Field. Too synchronistic or zietgeisty not to immediately purchase it (which I did). I know a good sign when I see it! 

Here are some interesting (and seemingly related) excerpts from The Field

"Zero point energy was the energy present in the emptiest state of space at the lowest possible energy, out of which no more energy could be removed -- the closest that motion of subatomic matter ever gets to zero. But because of the uncertainty principle {Werner Heisenberg} there will always be some residual jiggling due to virtual particle exchange {see below}." 

..."Although Heisenberg's principle most famously refers to the uncertainty attached to measuring the physical properties of the subatomic world, it also has another meaning: that we cannot know both energy and the lifetime of a particle, so a subatomic event occurring within a tiny time frame involves an uncertain amount of energy. Largely because of Einstein's theories and his famous equation of E = mc2, relating energy to mass, all elementary particles interact with each other by exchanging energy through other quantum particles, which are believed to appear out of nowhere, combining and annihilating each other in less than an instant -- 10 {to the power of} 23 seconds, to be exact -- causing  random fluctuations of energy without any apparent cause. The fleeting particles generated during this brief moment are known as  'virtual particles'. They differ from real particles because they only exist during the exchange -- the time of 'uncertainty' allowed by the uncertainty principle. Hal {Putoff} liked to think of this process as akin to the spray given off from a thundering waterfall.

  This subatomic tango, however brief, when added across the universe, gives rise to enormous energy, more than is contained in all the matter in the world. ..."

..."Hal {Puthoff} had been interested in the Zero Point Field for a number of years, ever since he'd stumbled on the papers of TimothyBoyer of City University in New York in a physics library. Boyer had demonstrated that classical physics, allied with the existence of the ceaseless energy of the Zero Point Field, could explain many of the strange phenomena attributed to quantum theory. If Boyer were to be believed, it meant that you didn't need two types of physics -- the classical Newtonian kind and the quantum laws --to account for the properties of the universe. You could explain everything that happened in the quantum world with classical physics -- so long as you took account of the Zero Point Field." 

The other two faces of energy that I conceptualize are: flow and force. Flow is slower and more continuous energy movement from the field. Force is when it happens so quick and intense that the field is forgotten in the process. The spikes of Beta wave brain activity are analogues of "force" as an aspect or "face" of energy. The gentle slopes of alpha rythms are like the flow face of energy. Material being/existence is by my definition a type of force. That means separate self Darrell is a force. My quanta or "soul" slows down the "little bang" (wave collapse) from the field (ZPF or otherwise) enough to remember the field from which the wave collapsed into the thing called me. The soul acts as an interface or gatekeeper between the (previously called) "spiritual" realm (or ZPF? or the "Implicate," and/or "super implicate order?" -- Bohm and Hiley) and the physical realm of large things ("classical objects"). 

Delta and Theta brain waves would seem to be analogues (or connect with?) the field face of energy. 

I am using "energy" to mean "capacity to do work." "Capacity" is potential. I am considering and focusing on potential in general as being a kind of actuality that we tended to minimize or overlook philosophically and socially. Human potential is a sea of as-yet-not-completed work. Human potential is our main resource. This is the emphasize of "integral Resourceism." Culturally speaking, the unseen becomes the new "orange." Social capital such as sense of wellbeing or sense of personal franchizement become the main "resources" that we attempt to develop and distribute in the resource allocation system ("economy") called Integral Resourceism. 

Layman and I will be writing a fictional account of the development of Integral Resourceism in our book The Pergram. Also much of the "depth dynamic" ideas I have been formulating will be used by characters called "The Programmers" as they mentally facilitate a reality favorable to developing Integral Resourceism and the world wide software program called the Pergram. For the first time in history the LR quad systems are integrated with human needs and being, with "humanity." I'm tired of sci fi stories which don't really believe in the future. The future must envision the capacity or potential to integrate once non-integrated functions, realities, or aspects of life. There is no future if it cannot include wholeness. We must come "home" to the Field. 

darrell

This Bryant FB post on the fractal nature of his Borromean theory reminds me of the word of the day:

Interosculate \ in-ter-OS-kyuh-leyt \, verb;

1. to form a connecting link.

2. to interpenetrate; inosculate.

See this story. It adds weight (aka mass) to OOO's contention that suobjects produce their own space-time gravity wells.

Bryant's post on pan-ecologism reminds me of Rifkin's ecological consciousness.

On a related note, Will Varey has an interesting take on ecology, with a focus on 'ecology of thought.'

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, this one of Onto-Cartography.

In this FB post Bryant gives some definitions of key terms we're explored in various places throughout the forum. For those of you with a reasonable and healthy aversion to FB I post it below for your edification and comment:

"Working definitions:

Ontology/metaphysics: Ultimate explanatory framework or grounds for the analysis of anything else. For example, if one is a materialist a materialist ontology would specify what matter is and then articulate what it means to give an account of events and things in terms of matter, e.g., a person suffering from demonic possession would be explained not in terms of demons or spiritual entities, but rather neurological conditions and or the signifiers and cultural practices through which they have been formed. By contrast, if one is a social constructivist (which is also an ontology), phenomena and events such as categories of plants would be traced back to signifying social practices through which these entities are carved out of the world by human agency.

Epistemology: The articulation of the set of criteria a proposition must meet in order to count as known (either in the sense of probabilities-- often completely overlooked in discussions of knowledge --or in the sense of certitudes; which really only belongs to the domain of mathematics). Epistemology basically articulates what it means for something to count as a reason in an argument. Epistemology is necessarily intersubjective in the sense that it is not about what a *single* agent might find convincing, but rather what counts as a shareable reason in a public space.

Ethics: The articulation of the ultimate grounds for determining either a) what counts as the good life, b) what determines whether an action is right or wrong, or c) what our duties and obligations are. Philosophical ethics differs dramatically from more common conceptions of ethics because it doesn't present a series of brute rules like the book of Leviticus, but seeks to provide ultimate criteria that would determine whether or not such proposals of rules are, in fact, moral. No doubt this is why philosophical ethics and moral theory (I make no distinction) is often so controversial. It often shows that norms people have taken as being at the core of their moral duties are, in fact, not duties at all and that sometimes they are even unethical.

In a nutshell, philosophy is that branch of thought that articulates what it means to give an account of beings and that articulates how we ought to live. It is in this regard that it differs from science for it is propaeduetic to science or a set of enunciations that precede the sort of inquiries we encounter in science. There is, of course, a dialectic here where scientific and mathematical discoveries require the revision of ontological claims."

Thank you for posting this, Ed; I'd wanted to link to it, too.  Here's a related, follow-up post he wrote this morning:

"Perhaps, based on my earlier post, we can distinguish between philosophical ontology and anthropological/sociological ontology. Anthropological/sociological ontology investigates the various ontologies that cultures and groups of people presuppose in their day to day dealings with the world, e.g., Aztecs, Christian fundamentalists, Medieval Europeans, Inuit, etc., without taking a position with respect to which of these might be right or true. We could imagine something similar being done in literary studies where the critic unfolds the ontology presupposed in a novel. By contrast, philosophical ontology attempts to get at what being really or truly is, treating all of these various ontologies as competing theories, many of which will be mistaken. No doubt, the sociologist can approach philosophy as just one more group with its own ontology governing its practice. The philosopher can then point out that the anthropologist presupposes an ontology in her investigations that she takes to be a true account of being. There will always be a tension between these two approaches."

He's unfortunately well-known in the blogosphere for not handling disagreements very graciously.

See this relevant post from another thread.

Today in my research I came across the work of Joseph Kaipayil.  He is not an object-oriented theorist, but I am mentioning him here because of his commitment to what he calls critical ontology.  His work is perhaps akin to OOO in its claim that reality consists only of particulars, but it differs considerably from OOO in its strong relationalism:  to be real (a real particular) is to be related.  Here's a brief essay on his work (and another unrelated philosopher's work who is also developing very similar ideas):  Relational Ontologies in Dialogue.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

Notice to Visitors

At the moment, this site is at full membership capacity and we are not admitting new members.  We are still getting new membership applications, however, so I am considering upgrading to the next level, which will allow for more members to join.  In the meantime, all discussions are open for viewing and we hope you will read and enjoy the content here.

© 2020   Created by Balder.   Powered by

Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service