Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

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Count Lucanor
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Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Count Lucanor » April 7th, 2020, 9:34 pm

Hereandnow wrote: No, the reason why epistemology is the beginning of trouble for establishing a foundation of the Real is because of the quantitative and qualitative distinction, or, as Heidegger or Husserl would put it, in the matter of "proximity": The "actuality" of what lies before me has an immediacy in its presence, or a presence in its immediacy, if you will, for these are bound mutually affirming, but the point is that there is an epistemological proximity of what is present qua present that commands belief and justification with arguable absolute authority (after all, Husserl and Heidegger are quite different on the matter of hermeneutics) that exceeds that of the natural sciences. The leaf is, in its various descriptive accounts, delivered to us "free" of extraneous interpretative constraints, which is Husserl's epoche, and this is simply the idea that in the immediacy of the given, there is an analysis that is logically and, if you will, existentially prior to what natural science can say. Dismiss the scientific presuppositions that attend naturalistic thinking, and "observe" what is there, simply (that is, reduced to its "presence") and a qualitative movement occurs. Such a movement is toward what Heidegger called primodiality.
Here we see how the idealist phenomenologist's critique turns agains himself. He takes the immediate appearance, dismisses any possibility of epistemological connection with an objective reality outside his perception, and embraces with full credulity this intuition, in a kind of Cartesian fashion, as the thing itself (or what counts as it). This "immediacy" is supposedly a firm ground for justifying belief, cogito ergo est. While he denies any justification for an underlying order outside his perception, which would have to be taken as a mere leap of faith, he assumes an underlying order inside his perception, which is, nevertheless, no less of a leap of faith. The same skepticism that he applies to believers in the external thing in itself, applies to his own intuition (that he by no means accepts as an illusion) of the internally given. And just the same as an advocate of the idealist phenomenologist's project can claim that natural science is just going around in circles, taking as conclusions the principles from which it departed, phenomenology itself embarks in a no less tautological, self-referential, paradigmatic adventure. By doing that, the idealist phenomenology has not proven anything, not even refuted science or its epistemic base (whether he tried or not), he has just attempted to rescue the old idealist project of replacing the material immanent nature, for a transcendental one of pure consciousness, where he can dwell without the disturbance of real practical matters.
Hereandnow wrote:Now, this matter gets technical, to be frank, and to explain would require a great deal of writing. Kierkegaard's thoughts about actuality are not Husserl's, and his not Heidegger's. But the essentials can be laid out illustratively: observe the leaf, dismiss from your knowledge all that science and everyday thought would tell you, and attend only to what it IS before you, then give analysis to what it means to BE at all. It turns out (via Kant, Hegel, Husserl, and many others) that questions of its Being, Reality, Existence, whatever you want to call it (outside of the theories that would be very careful about these words) are ones that lead to a wholly different discipline which lays out what it means to BE at all in vastly complex terms.
This is why phenomenology, at least its idealist version, is a complete failure. What any realistic science of things shows is the opposite of what these phenomenologists claim: it is the first-hand impression of things the most deceiving, precisely what the thing is not. Or more precisely, there's some truth in how the thing appears to us, in other words, its appearance is not really a deception, it's a form of its existence, but at the same time, its appearance also hides other internal developments, its transformation. And it is more often that natural and social sciences are able to distinguish fallacious connections or separations from the real ones. A theory of ideologies or the structure of myths wouldn't have been possible if there was nothing to disclose from what's immediately given. It's true that phenomenology attempts to disclose deeper structures, but by dismissing a key dimension of the empirical as meaningless in itself, in favor of the "science" of mere contemplation. While pretending to avoid naivety, it becomes the more naive enterprise of all.
Hereandnow wrote: First, it is most certainly not epistemological nihilism, any more than quantum physics is Newtonian nihilism. It is a way to open up the more fundamental problems in epistemology. And regarding Moses, incidentally, the assumption is that God were there and delivered the tablets in "person" and this kind of thing, a direct intimation of God's will, thoughts, whatever, is miraculous, not science.
I just took your own example to make a point: even if Moses had forgotten where the tablets came from, I mean, even if he had no mystical, absolute knowledge, of their source, knowing what the tablets in his hands are in terms of what they work for, would give him right away the clue of where he has to look for. Just the same, fundamental questions about the universe in general, and about the social world, have been answered by science and the materialistic view attached to it, which even when not being complete, absolute answers, guide us towards the path most likely fruitful to find the missing pieces of the puzzle. And we know that the miraculous path, which used to be the main source of answers to our fundamental problems, has been refuted by science.
Hereandnow wrote: Serious philosophy is much more subtle than this and the hermeneutic circle needs to be understood. WHEN you try to confirm that logic and language, that are not simply the vehicle to understanding but ARE what understanding IS, can say something about the world that is true independently of logic and language, then you are in la la land. You have to work this out for yourself but it is not arguable, and since this is a stable, apriori assumption (the "logic" should be crystal) one must therefore conclude that all propositional posting about the way the world is, is constituted by the language and logic. This is at the very heart of phenomenology. In order to address this the onus is on you the make clear how it is otherwise. But this is imply not possible.
As I said, this kind of approach refutes itself: by asserting that there IS nothing independent of logic and language, you're actually asserting that logic and language ARE in the world, and they should also be constituted by logic and language, in other words, are mere tautologies. Claims of stable, a priori assumptions are in la la land, too. All that the idealist phenomenologist can do is to proclaim that he is in a different ball game: he is doing cricket and the others are doing soccer or baseball. Fine, as long as he does not pretend that his rules of cricket, where the agents at work have been predetermined as the relevant ones, should apply to soccer and baseball and make them better sports. Interestingly, one can take a non-idealist approach to phenomenology, which takes into account the possibility of other agents at work constituting reality, independent of our perception, and can also take into account the necessary mediation of logic and language. But even more, each one is dialectically grounded on each other, as man and his consciousness are a product of nature, and then language can be more than a vehicle of understanding. This surely is a richer, subtler, more profound enterprise than any idealist self-absorbed in pure contemplation can ever imagine.
Hereandnow wrote:I do like that question, but a fair answer requires me to refer you to Kierkegaard (The Concept of Anxiety)and Wittgenstein (Tractatus) and it again deals with notions of quantitative and qualitative "knowledge" in quotation marks because these are hard to separate. Anyway, the only way to truly understand what the meaning of eternity, one has to drop the quantitative idea of an infinite succession of events, and embrace the qualitative idea of a withdrawal from events altogether--in the eternal present.
The eternal present is not a concept well suited for analytic discussion because it is a metaphysical impossibility, that is, a present that is altogether NOT informed by the past cannot be conceived since the conceiving logically requires thought and content. BUT: when the Buddhist sits quietly, doing nothing, denying explicitly the intrusion of the past to define the present moment, interesting things do happen, revelatory things. And this is one the reasons existential thought is often considered to bridges the span between the "mystical arts" and theory. This is actually the whole point of philosophy, if you ask me. Analytic philosophers are clueless about this, as I have read in Quine, Putnam, Davidson, Dennett, and others.
Actually the question was not aimed to getting an answer about what is the eternal, the absolute. And certainly, if we were to avoid the "vastly populated land of religious silliness", Kierkegaard should be the first one to get away from. The problem was that if breaking through the "in-here" to get to the "out-there" implied dropping away our finitude and landing in the transcendental realm, isn't that basically the same mystical operation that the idealist phenomenologist performs, since by dropping the "out-there", he has already stood outside his first point of view to witness its absence? It is like saying that according to the rules of cricket, a goalkeeper in soccer cannot touch the ball with this hands.

Hereandnow wrote: But the scientific method is not ad hoc, and it is what all scientists do, it's what doing science begins with, regardless of the special nature of the content or procedure. Here, I am defending a pragmatic definition of what this method is about: Observations occur in time, and are forward looking for what is anticipated, a "pregiven" anticipation, that rests on previous encounters in the world that make for "normal science" as Kuhn put it.The "practical output" as you call it is precisely what this is about. Regarding the "way of organizing with "abstract concepts and math operations," such concepts and operations are originally "about" the world and observations made of it. Walking down the street, one could say, is descriptively obvious, observationally simple, yet the formal physical equations that can be brought in to to discuss this can be highly technical, but this latter, the particle physics, wave analysis of the reflected light of the surface of the sidewalk as the walk is executed, the study of the retina where waves enter the biological system, and so on, and so on; these are bound to observations that can be traced to phenomena as simple as the nitro's volatility, and without such tracings, there is no science. It's wrong to suggest natural science is not about the observed world. An example of such a thing does not exist, for even in the most abstract mental exercise, even in analytical apriority or synonymy, you will find observational data rendering it meaningful.
Hmm, no, I'm sorry, but science does rest on ad hoc principles (not to be confused with Popper's ad hoc hypothesis). While talking of the scientific method in general seems to give a fair description of science, one that fits the Baconian program, it falls short for describing science as the complex human praxis that it is. Observation is not the starting point, because the scientist arrives there prepared with the properly calibrated lens, in terms of methods, theories, norms, etc., which surely accommodate knowledge of previous encounters. This is not against the notion that science is about the observed world, it certainly is, but here we should strip off from the word "observation" the connotation of naive empiricism, which would make the work of men of science no different than witchcraft. And it is evidently more than a matter of translating every simple observed event into the technical language of equations. There's a theoretical framework that gives sense to what is observed. This was well figured out by Kolakowski and no one sets a better example than Galileo, whom most likely didn't drop some weights from the Pisa Tower; it was a thought experiment, a model in the abstract that would explain the agents at work in mechanical movement, notwithstanding that practical experiments had to prove the model. As I mentioned before: science is a continuous movement between the general principles and the local ones.
Hereandnow wrote: Take this notion of the "pregiven" you mention, and ask, what would a scientific discipline be without this? Ask also, what is the nature of this pregiveness? That is, when approaching the novelty of a scientific problem, what is it to be ready, able to interpret? You know what this is. The philosophy being offered here says that this same kind of predelineation of issues occurs at the level of basic apprehension of the world. Quite literally, we are all scientists in knowing anything at all, for to know the sun will rise rests essentially with an inductive argument; and to know when my foot hits the pavement is just this, having repeatedly landed said foot enough times to construct a very strong case for this. Thus, the world is our laboratory, and all knowledge is forward looking, anticipating repetition, and repeated results is the essence of natural science (notwithstanding how discursive processing may be, for all of the discursivity that may be brought to bear in analysis is inherently pragmatic. See the above).
I cannot disagree. Yes, the world is our laboratory, and we are all scientists, even philosophers. And we are all philosophers, even scientists.
Hereandnow wrote: Not at all that interpretation is immune to the failures in judgment. Quite the contrary, it makes the world "open" to future disclosure on all fronts. What is sought, it should be emphasized, is a way of describing and explaining a foundational theory of the world, all that is, and this is asking what all knowledge claims are about as knowledge claims. All terms are theoretical; we live in theory; facts are hypothetical deductive theories that are handed to us as historical paradigms, and the same can be said for my knowledge that...
Again, I don't disagree if we speak of all disciplines that seek knowledge, although perhaps I would look nuance in what we mean a theoretical world, which is not a leveled field of contrasting ideologies, relatively valued in function of the subjective interests of the parties. Our world as a cultural habitat is a social construction indeed, but the Earth does revolve around the sun.
Hereandnow wrote: "No clash with the view that the world can only be seen in terms of interpretation"? Odd you would say this, if you are defending "some versions" because if the world can only be seen as interpretation...


If you look at it again, you will notice that I didn't say the statement that you put between quotation marks. There's some difference in saying that A can only be seen in terms of B, than saying that A can be seen only in terms of B. I could see my house only as a financial investment, avoiding on purpose any other criteria, which would also be valid. I could see it only as my family's home, or just the place where I dwell. But it would be different if I asserted that my house can only be seen as a financial investment, excluding anything else.
Hereandnow wrote: Knowing there is a bus coming is a pragmatic "knowing". It does not presuppose the philosophical ontological assertion that when systems of interpretation are removed, there are still buses and streets, for the ideas of 'bus' 'street' and bring things into comprehension. What actually happens absolutely cannot be said. The argument as to whether a term like 'absolutely' can be made sense of is one of the interesting issues of phenomenology. Another one is: does, in the interpretative act, the Being there, the actuality of Being there, present any absolute in the material (phenomenological) presentation? That is, is "Being as such" just a concept bound contextually to other concepts and possessing nothing of conditions outside hermeneutics? Can sense be made at all of such an outside? See, Fink, Levinas; see Anthony Steinbach's Phenomenology and Mysticism.
Phenomenology takes one to the Real frontier where meanings meet actuality. Fascinating, really.


But that's of course what phenomenology can say of itself, of its own paradigmatic enterprise. It sets its boundaries and claims complete ownership of that domain of first-person point of view and its concurrent interpretations. As I said, fine with that. Some people are in another ball game.
Hereandnow wrote: Kant is not on the material realist side of this argument. He is literally the father of phenomenology and positivism and the founder of German idealism. But the above passage set me to looking. He certainly can be confusing, especially in ambiguous matters dealing with inner and outer where distinctions are readily made in empirical matters, great and small, but when it comes to our issue, the "outside of experience" kind of outer, ambiguity needs straightening out.

If you want me to speak in a scholarly fashion about Kant's Critique, the language has to be very carefully drawn up, and here, he does sound ambiguous, but he's not, really. When Kant says, "natural science must deduce the legitimacy of its designation only from a pure part of it, [a part] namely, which contains the principles à priori" he is referring to scientific descriptions of the things apriori, that is, with the spatial characteristics the are universal and necessary, like numbers, shapes, sizes, "a triangle's longest leg is opposite it largest inner angle," for example; numbers run apriori, larger ones being analytically the sum of smaller ones; this kind of thing. Geometry, which is apriori synthetic (is necessary and universal and thus antecedent to experience, AND is determinant of things in the world), is exactly the kind of thing, Kant tells us, that makes our spatial apprehensions representational and not not independent of the way things are taken up in experience. Apriority is an essential feature of of analytic of Space in the Transcendental Aesthetic, and it is a sure fire indication that space is a constructed experiential foundation of all possible experience. Outside of this, it is "nothing". After all, a priority is what WE do, if you will, in thinking, not issuing from the "outside" at all, this latter being received contingently, not a priori (keeping in mind that ALL things coming in from "outside" are transcendentally, that is, apriori, constructed through the faculty of reason, making all outside things, well, INSIDE.

To see this more clearly, one would have to study the Critique itself. I've read it, but it's been a while.


I will not claim that I know exactly what Kant meant, I mean, that all the scholarly interpretations of his work can easily be conciliated, and that I can judge it accordingly. As far as I know, there are major disagreements among scholars in key issues, and a general agreement too about his confusing terminology, often explained away as some obsession Kant had for the "architectonic" structure of the concepts. But my point was, regardless of this, that Kant seemed not to dismiss reason completely, nor the concept of "science" as a "systematic body of principles on which you can ground truths that are once universal and necessary". Whether these are hermeneutical truths or empirical ones, that's another problem.
Hereandnow wrote: I would argue that all knowledge comes from experience, but then, what is experience?

Remember Kant, that all knowledge comes along with experience, is not the same as knowledge arising from experience.
Hereandnow wrote: I don't buy the analytic/synthetic distinction, really. there was this paper by Quine I read, the Two Dogmas, which questioned synonymy and analyticity, and showed how this latter cannot be distinguished. Anyway, here, the question of experience and "pre delineation" where one emerges into a world with an awareness that informed by interpretative resources always already in place. The issue is TIME, and I refer you to Caputo's Radical Hermeneutics to understand this. I will only talk about it is you want to. This is not Parmenedes' world; it is Heraclitus', and all the frameworks, interpretations, in all fields of knowledge (your above) are In the structure of time.


I remember Quine's paper, as well as some criticism of it. I really don't mind accepting the analytic/synthetic distinction. Experience could be perhaps understood as either the encounter between the subject and the phenomenon, or the simple act of awareness of existence that possibilitates any encounter. In the first case, one might say, there's a movement of one thing towards the other, an event which implies the notion of time. In the second case, if it were possible, it seems as if the act is immediate, devoid of time frames. I always wonder to which category of experience belongs finding yourself (theoretically) inside the womb, without any other reference but your awareness of being aware. I can hardly think of any other circumstance closer to this, apparently free of a posteriori conditions, and yet this theoretical situation shows the most basic being in the world as an event, the consciousness of something, which implies its encounter in time. However, another issue comes up: we are assuming a discrete and static nature of consciousness, so it doesn't matter whether you're the consciousness of a 3rd month or a 8th month fetus, of a newborn child, or an adult. Dropping off such assumption would mean that our cognition is developed gradually in time, and our basic encounter becomes an indeterminate continuum, where the a priori/a posteriori synthetic distinctions make little sense as absolutes, and are only useful to describe these categories of knowledge by reference to their relative position in that continuum. You might want to locate space and time as an input of a priori knowledge in a given stage of cognitive development, something that our minds contribute to our basic experience, but that might as well be the output of another previous stage of that development, which makes it a contribution a posteriori. The first person point of view is now dispersed in time and the immediacy of direct presence dissolved. Phenomenology can't study this because of its summary ditching of the empirical; it works, as all idealist philosophies, with consciousness in the abstract.
Hereandnow wrote: Yes, very good. But the question here is does the positing of material substance bring us to the most primordial interpretation? No because presents a model that begs questions that challenge this. For example, material substance as foundational would have be able to show the connection between the outer and inner worlds, to put the matter loosely. But if the inner world (assuming how materialist might frame the matter) presents conditions that reveal an analytic impossibility of separating the two due to epistemic analysis, then the question turns toward what it is that binds them and how.
And what exactly is the most primordial interpretation? It seems here as if you're not talking about epistemic foundations in our claims of knowledge, of how we justify beliefs "internally", but ontological foundational claims: what justifies or possibilitates (externally) true beliefs. Anyway, is it how the world is structured (what are its constitutive elements and how they are related to each other), or is it what are the properties of its constitutive elements, or is it both? The answers that material monism gives to these overshadow any attempts by other substance monisms or dualisms, because such knowledge is consistent with human experience at all levels, even on its phenomenical description. There are simply no outer/inner worlds, that's truly a subjective and linguistic construction imposed over our real experience of the only world, which is not just a receptacle where I move. Actually the world and me form a continuum and there's no need to find the magical glue that artificially binds us. One could say that this continuum is pure consciousness, precisely our supposedly primordial first encounter, but that would require a completely new set of explanations about the structure, the constitutive elements, the properties and laws, that would directly oppose and refute those of material monism, in other words, a science of the spirit. The closer to a research program aiming to dethrone the principles of natural science would be theology, and it is entirely ridiculous and absurd, not even a science. And phenomenology is in another ball park, not contending natural science, but dismissing it.
Hereandnow wrote: Hermeneutics makes sense. At root all knowledge is interpretation, I say, pragmatic interpretation. Everybody knows this. Scientists don't think they "know" what energy is absolutely. Kuhn was a Kantian, so he didn't think, say, our knowledge of electricity had anything to do with what is "there" when experiential systems are removed, for "thereness" is structured by concepts, and no concept is stand alone, but are other-referential in nature (Derrida called this "deference"). This is the hard issue, one that all this discussion falls upon, and it has a lot to do with the "pregivenness" you spoke of earlier, for the matter of pregiveness in time has a different analytical perspective: is it possible for an apprehension of a "thing" to be a "pure" apprehension, one that stands apart from the body of associated ideas? Can one think tree without the body of implicit things we think of about trees? Or is 'tree' literally a conceptual (and more broadly, experiential; after all, concepts are not simply Kantian syntheses, are they? They are abstractions from a stream of consciousness that at the time was an actuality of many things, interests, appetites--was the researcher hungry at the time?-- and so forth) matrix of temporal problem solving events that consummates in the term?
Hermeneutics makes sense? Generally speaking, yes, it does. Whether it makes complete sense of the world, that's another story. There should be no problem with science's work as interpretation, but a particular type and method of interpretation. There's no possibility of refutation of the type of interpretation that science adopts, consisting of a direct relation and conformity between our sensible experience of the world and its real objective existence, even if it is a distorted mirror that needs to be corrected. Phenomenologist think that this is not warranted by the experience itself, because no one has direct cognitive access to the rest of the world. To see a tree is to see something "as" a tree, forcing all the immediate relations surrounding "treeness" to concur into the concept of a tree. We overcome that limitation by an indirect access, given the appropriate systematic approach, that justifies our certainties (more or less the same way we took the first picture of a black hole, it was not a direct shoot of an object presented to the camera, but actually a complicated reconstruction that gave us the final image). Science and materialist monism make sense, too, but even more complete sense, and the world keeps imposing itself on us, independent of our interpretations and paradigms. On the other hand, the progeny of phenomenology has produced a way of thinking that dissolves any distinction between reality and illusion, everything is a subjective construction, the individual has no biological foundations and they are whatever they subjectively want to identify with.
Hereandnow wrote: Hermenuetics simply understands that perception is essential to make the object an object. Beyond this is "eternity" if you will. Materialists want to say, to give credit where it is due, that science approximates eternity, if you will; that an empirical scientist's knowledge reveals more about what is "out there" but the phenomenologist will counter: to say this you will have to show how such knowledge can be sufficiently "unconditioned" such that the world is revealed through the knowledge. But knowledge is inherently conceptual and this eidetic composition seems simply inescapable. Rorty is a radical in this: truth is made, not discovered. To see how strong his and other arguments are, one would have read them. (Part of why I post here and elsewhere is to try get others to read this kind of thing. So much judgment at the ready, so little actual reading.)
Truth is made, sure, but the point is whether truth and reality ever touch. If reality is an unreachable "eternity", it is so for the phenomenologist, too. He can say that there's nothing to say about reality from the scientist, but he can't say anything, either, for he can't escape from what he has defined himself as inescapable. All he can say is he has built his own truth, just as he claims the scientist has done.
Hereandnow wrote: Of course there is out thereness. But what do you say about it?
No, I'm not so much interested in out-thereness being acknowledged. It's far more interesting to know where the "of course" comes from, and how that conciliates with the phenomenological project. I mean, I really wish to grasp the seriousness of that term, and not simply be dismissed as a problem outside of philosophy. Because then, well, that will look like an incomplete philosophy to me, especially if it proclaims its concern about the primordial and the essential.
Hereandnow wrote: I don't know what you mean by you're not saying it, but phenomenology is perfectly content to talk about others.
I assume you must mean "others" in the phenomenological sense of "in-hereness", that is, within the boundaries of its self-constructed truth, a product of one's subjectivity. "It is there" actually means "it is here", as there's nothing to say about anything "out there".
Hereandnow wrote: Kant gave us the Critique so as to open the door for faith, which must be beyond knowledge.
To open the door, really? If there was any coherence in his thought, the first thing to say was that all doors are closed, that we are trapped in the eidetic composition of knowledge. How can suddenly something called "faith" stand alone, free of the conceptual conditions, and escape? Yeah, I know, it's complicated.
Hereandnow wrote: The solution is begins with Kant's Copernican revolution. It does not, obviously, provide terminal answers. But the field is exactly where philosophy should be.
The problem, let me reinstate it, apparently not solved by Kant, Husserl or Heidegger, is that if everything in the sensible world conforms to the laws constructed by the human mind, one has to ask: which human mind? Is there by any chance a mind out there? If they say "yes, of course there's something out there", they would be contradicting themselves, as they would be acknowledging that there's something more than the sensible impressions conformed to their own human mind. If they say no, then they can only speak of the only mind immediate to their experience, their own. Should they ever posit the presence of a plurality of minds in that "inner" world, they should explain their hermeneutic necessity, what are the laws that govern such plurality in their own minds.
Hereandnow wrote:
Well, the way you put this, a person could say the similar derogatory things of the presumptuous empirical scientist, who cares little about where the begged questions lead and the implications it has for basic questions, dogmatically clinging to assertions so familiar, she can't even imagine thinking beyond them; and so on.
I would be the first to applaud some derogatory terms against such presumptuous scientist. I've been critical myself of scientism and many stances of positivism. I despise the silly philosophical pretensions of some highly acclaimed physicists, or the altogether proscription of philosophy in our dealings with nature, a position embarrassingly held by Hawking, Neil deGrasse and Krauss.
Hereandnow wrote: The arguments presented by phenomenology are, as with all ideas, theory, but to think they are without merit before reading them is a little perverse to reason. Why not spend some time, well, a lot of time on them. Obviously you have an interest in philosophy, joining a philosophy club at all, why not look more deeply into what these philosophers have to say?
I have not held that phenomenology is without merit, in fact I have considered the field in general worth my attention in relation to the philosophy of mind, but I also doubt there's perfect epistemological unity among phenomenologists. No need to convince you of that, you have shown yourself some disagreement with major figures. And so I have myself centered the critique on what I call the idealist phenomenologist, that should give some clue about my belief in the possibility of a realist phenomenology. Some ideas I have seem to be pointing into the direction of Merleau-Ponty, a phenomenologist, but I don't know, I'm not there yet.

Anyway, I do find without merit popping out names and demanding that the entire canon of said disciplines be read thoroughly before making comments on this forum. I understand that the well-versed in a particular school of thought might find frustrating a level of discussion less than scholarly, but given the present context, such demand is not particularly justified. The topic was not phenomenology, but its flag was raised and brought into the discussion as the potential solution to the problems being submitted. If one comes waving what purports to be relevant and decisive, it is the burden of such person to demonstrate its relevance, and for the rest suffice to have a general knowledge of the principles in question and to remain open to such knowledge being amended if deemed appropriate. If I don't dig deeper in all of Husserl or Heidegger is because from what I have already dug I don't expect to find anything worth the effort, but a good argument does stimulate my interest in challenging the soundness of my current view, which could actually end up reinforcing it. That is, I think, the whole purpose of these debates, to gain insights in a dialectical manner and advance our knowledge. I could send anyone to read Kolakowski or Lakatos and ask not to present Heideggerian doctrines without having thoroughly read Mario Bunge first, but that would be simply useless.
Hereandnow wrote: Sorry, this is just wrong. there is a good reason why scientists don't have anything to say about ethics, which is ethics cannot be observed. See Moore's Prinicpia Ethica, for starters. Here, the issue is metaethics, and the matter turns on the question, "what is it that grounds ethics qua ethics?" Ethics comes to us via pragmatic constructions of behavior prescriptions, but then, question is,m what IS it? Metaethics is NOT within the purview of empirical science.
Sorry, but I never said that scientists should be the ones approaching the problems of ethics, I said they could provide a good aid to those who will. And that's because ethics is not that abstract thing floating in ethereal heights as idealists imagine, but it ultimately deals with predispositions and concrete acts of human behavior, which fall within the scope of science. So I would never ask to make sense of a "natural science of ethics", although certainly a realist and materialist point of view of ethics is more than possible, and actually going on in humanist and secular circles.

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Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Hereandnow » April 11th, 2020, 12:05 pm

Count Lucanor
Here we see how the idealist phenomenologist's critique turns agains himself. He takes the immediate appearance, dismisses any possibility of epistemological connection with an objective reality outside his perception, and embraces with full credulity this intuition, in a kind of Cartesian fashion, as the thing itself (or what counts as it). This "immediacy" is supposedly a firm ground for justifying belief, cogito ergo est. While he denies any justification for an underlying order outside his perception, which would have to be taken as a mere leap of faith, he assumes an underlying order inside his perception, which is, nevertheless, no less of a leap of faith. The same skepticism that he applies to believers in the external thing in itself, applies to his own intuition (that he by no means accepts as an illusion) of the internally given. And just the same as an advocate of the idealist phenomenologist's project can claim that natural science is just going around in circles, taking as conclusions the principles from which it departed, phenomenology itself embarks in a no less tautological, self-referential, paradigmatic adventure. By doing that, the idealist phenomenology has not proven anything, not even refuted science or its epistemic base (whether he tried or not), he has just attempted to rescue the old idealist project of replacing the material immanent nature, for a transcendental one of pure consciousness, where he can dwell without the disturbance of real practical matters.
I know this is difficult. Phenomenology seems counter intuitive at the start, but it is through repeated exposure to the arguments that things make sense. You need to drop the everydayism of your perspective on philosophy and the world.
Some of these statements above are a little mystifying given all that has been discussed. We are being asked to analyze this "epistemological connection" so if you want to look more closely at the matter at issue, you should look to the analysis. It wasn't me who said epistemology is the cause for the trouble, it was Rorty, and he was right, for if you look closely at the "connection" you will not find the kind of confirmations you're looking for. THAT is the problem, and it is in the analysis of this problem phenomenology presents itself. "Justification"? When you bring this up, tink of the tradictionall analysis of knowledge: S knows P iff S believes P; S is justified in believing P; and P is true--that is, I justifiably believe there is a lamp on my desk, AND it's true; therefore, I know there is a lamp on my desk. In the world of familiar thinking, all is well. But take this to the level of philosophical inquiry, and it falls apart instantly: How can you affirm P independently of believing and justifying? These are what WE do.

If you can do this, of course, you will have a place in the history books. Gettier solutions were impressive failures (see the lit. online). But not only in the geekish textbooks; you will be like a God, for the knowledge connection would transcend the boundaries of our space and time finitude! That is what it means connect up with infinite Other (did I not mention something like this? Oh well).

Talk about "an order outside his perception" is obviously just fine, as long as you are not pretending to be addressing basic assumptions. Here you will encounter Kant. Of course, Kant is also the "father" of positivism (as well as phenomenology) and held that empirical science is the ONLY thing one can say about the world! This is where you simply have to follow the literature for what they are saying is slippery, an I can't go into this here.

You say the "phenomenology itself embarks in a no less tautological, self-referential, paradigmatic adventure" and this is close. Phenomenologists of course realize that there is an "actuality" that is imposing, but it manifests itself as the familiar, what Levianas called the "Same"delimited by the finitude of knowing. The "qualitative" nature of this is not knowable, which has been my point all along. It is not the Kantian noumena, but the transcendence "present" in the appearance which is not Kantian at all. Kant said we are stuck in this place where sensory inttuition meet concepts and this has nothing beyond itself. How can he speak like this and affirm noumena at the same time? Noumena cannot be spoken, yet he speaks! The noumena is not, therefore, outside, but inside, the presence of the Other, of transcendence within the immanent.

This is how actuality is dealt with, an immanent transcendence. Positivists are not on board here, notwithstanding Wittgenstein's talk of absolutes and mysticism in the Tractatus. They dismiss this, affirm the test of confirmability and falsifiability in assessing propositions, and proceed into analytic philosophy. Phenomenologists, on the other hand, closely examine this "given" and inquire about its "ontology". My brief talk about proximity and primordiality is lifted from Heidegger who would disagree with every characterization you made of phenomenology. He claimed there is a metaphysics at work in all this kind of talk. His mission was to bring ontology home in an analysis of the ontology of the world.

You say, "By doing that, the idealist phenomenology has not proven anything, not even refuted science or its epistemic base (whether he tried or not), he has just attempted to rescue the old idealist project of replacing the material immanent nature, for a transcendental one of pure consciousness, where he can dwell without the disturbance of real practical matters."

Science and its epistemic base are not on the table; only the extension of this into areas where it has no place. There is still quite clearly belief in Jupiter's gravity, justification for this, and yes, Jupiter's gravity does exist! But this is NOT philosophy.

As to circularity, is this so foreign? Every time you open your eyes your mind is telling the same thing about everything. You are not shocked by the clock on the wall. Why? Recollection, repetition, familiarity. Now think of this at the level of basic questions: things are familiar because of the repetition, and the ideas you bring forth to explain what they are are themselves repetitions of what you already knew. We talked about predelineation of knowing, and this is it, and in terms of basics questions, all of this is question begging, i.e., circular. The point being made here is that when you look for a foundation where the question begging stops, there is none to be found outside of the structures that conceive it. Imagine our knowledge being a computer program constituted by ones and zeros. What do you do with the insight that your knowledge is consituted by one's and zero's, that is, what do you with the "aboutness" of your ones and zeros vis a vis an object?

Of course, a self is not this, but we do process information through a medium, a mind, and you would have to figure out the answer to my original question above: that connection, describe it.
I just took your own example to make a point: even if Moses had forgotten where the tablets came from, I mean, even if he had no mystical, absolute knowledge, of their source, knowing what the tablets in his hands are in terms of what they work for, would give him right away the clue of where he has to look for. Just the same, fundamental questions about the universe in general, and about the social world, have been answered by science and the materialistic view attached to it, which even when not being complete, absolute answers, guide us towards the path most likely fruitful to find the missing pieces of the puzzle. And we know that the miraculous path, which used to be the main source of answers to our fundamental problems, has been refuted by science.
Well, if you mean by science the hypothetical deductive method, of course. There is no other method. Experience itself is a sequence of confirmations of a history of problems solved, that lights go on at the flip of a switch, and thunder is mostly harmless and my utterance of a certain sound will be received with understanding; I mean we live this moment to moment. Growing up is a series of pragmatic events. But nothing in this demands what should be studied and what shouldn't. Such demands are made by the world, and the world has structure and content. We just look at what is there and analyze. Phenomemology simply observes the logically presupposed structures of experience, which Kant called transcendental reasoning: the inference from what stands before us to what must be the case in order for this to be. You brought up space. Kant looked at space, realized its structure was apriori, and understood that intuitive necessity cannot come from outside experience (of course, this "outside" is representational) as such knowledge, empirical knowledge, finds its true propositions grounded in contingency, which means something could have been otherwise. Space must be a form of intuition.
If there is one abiding principle in phenomenology that survives from Kant in tact it would be this: intuitions without concepts are blind; concepts without intuitions are empty. The color yellow without the concept: what is this? Of course, you can say yellow, but what does this mean? What do concepts do? How do they work? Empirical scientists do not ask these questions. Philosophers do.

As to the miraculous path, tell me, why are we born to suffer and die? Note that evolution is not an an answer to this. If you think so, then you have a lot of thinking to do about ethics and the world.
I just took your own example to make a point: even if Moses had forgotten where the tablets came from, I mean, even if he had no mystical, absolute knowledge, of their source, knowing what the tablets in his hands are in terms of what they work for, would give him right away the clue of where he has to look for. Just the same, fundamental questions about the universe in general, and about the social world, have been answered by science and the materialistic view attached to it, which even when not being complete, absolute answers, guide us towards the path most likely fruitful to find the missing pieces of the puzzle. And we know that the miraculous path, which used to be the main source of answers to our fundamental problems, has been refuted by science.
Well, if you mean by science the hypothetical deductive method, of course. There is no other method. Experience itself is a sequence of confirmations of a history of problems solved, that lights go on at the flip of a switch, and thunder is mostly harmless and my utterance of a certain sound will be received with understanding; I mean we live this moment to moment. Growing up is a series of pragmatic events. But nothing in this demands what should be studied and what shouldn't. Such demands are made by the world, and the world has structure and content. We just look at what is there and analyze. Phenomemology simply observes the logically presupposed structures of experience, which Kant called transcendental reasoning: the inference from what stands before us to what must be the case in order for this to be. You brought up space. Kant looked at space, realized its structure was apriori, and understood that intuitive necessity cannot come from outside experience (of course, this "outside" is representational) as such knowledge, empirical knowledge, finds its true propositions grounded in contingency, which means something could have been otherwise. Space must be a form of intuition.
If there is one abiding principle in phenomenology that survives from Kant in tact it would be this: intuitions without concepts are blind; concepts without intuitions are empty. The color yellow without the concept: what is this? Of course, you can say yellow, but what does this mean? What do concepts do? How do they work? Empirical scientists do not ask these questions. Philosophers do.

As to the miraculous path, tell me, why are we born to suffer and die? Note that evolution is not an an answer to this. If you think so, then you have a lot of thinking to do about ethics and the world. If one is going to describe the world, then there will be no ad hoc omissions: eternity, ethics, suffering and delight, the living present, and so on. These are always already there in all there is. In fact, is can be argued that any attempt to exclude what is in the presence of the world is an abstraction, which is why Kant's rationalism is rejected, as if actual consciousness were a vessel of reason only and the passions of life were incidental.
As I said, this kind of approach refutes itself: by asserting that there IS nothing independent of logic and language, you're actually asserting that logic and language ARE in the world, and they should also be constituted by logic and language, in other words, are mere tautologies. Claims of stable, a priori assumptions are in la la land, too. All that the idealist phenomenologist can do is to proclaim that he is in a different ball game: he is doing cricket and the others are doing soccer or baseball. Fine, as long as he does not pretend that his rules of cricket, where the agents at work have been predetermined as the relevant ones, should apply to soccer and baseball and make them better sports. Interestingly, one can take a non-idealist approach to phenomenology, which takes into account the possibility of other agents at work constituting reality, independent of our perception, and can also take into account the necessary mediation of logic and language. But even more, each one is dialectically grounded on each other, as man and his consciousness are a product of nature, and then language can be more than a vehicle of understanding. This surely is a richer, subtler, more profound enterprise than any idealist self-absorbed in pure contemplation can ever imagine.
Every thought is logical, and this makes our world logocentric. Language and logic are not IN this world; they constitute it. what constitutes logic and language cannot be spoken! This is Wittgenstein and his reason for saying, "that of which we cannot speak, we should remain silent." The "world" that these are "in" cannot be spoken for obvious reasons, but we CAN recognize this as true, and this is at the very threshold of the constitution of the world itself. Eugene Fink takes this into very interesting and detailed analysis in his 6th Meditation. A worthy read, and if you did take the time to do so, you would understanding a LOT more about why this stuff is so interesting.

As to different ball games:

Philosophy wants to conceive of the world at the level of the MOST basic questions, and so its job is to bring thought and inquiry to the point where these meet their own genesis. That is a "miaculous" thing to say, contradictory, and per above, wittgenstein was clear tht such a thing is not to be talked about, and it is HIS insistance that drives the defense of natural science that you are backing. Wittgenstein was in this a great positivist, as are you. Wittgenstein is just wrong about this and the proof is in the pudding. I think Husserl has a point, a Kierkegaardian point that is rejected by Heidegger, Rorty, and others. This has to do with actuality. Rorty is most helpful and I am convinced our "sense" of being in the world, in the familiar world, that is, in which we pay our taxes, get married and so forth, is "known" pragmatically, that is, it is a reified familiarity with settled problems of language and culture assimilation. Heidegger calls this the ontic mode in which primordial questions are never asked and one is simply "thrown" into existence and marches through obediently, dogmatically. He gets this from Kierkegaard, though without the religion. But Rorty and Heidegger are limited, in my view. What happens when a person starts looking into matters closely, questioning assumptions? Actuality makes it's "miraculous" appearance. This is the beginning. Existential thinking takes on the entire range of our being here, not just the abstract forms of specific interest. All are "equiprimordial" as Heidegger put it. Empirical science has its place, but it comes nowhere close to the totality of our being here. to encompass this, one has to do thorough ontology, one has to see the world as it presents itself in its modalities: caring, value, pragmatic, in time and space, conceptual in the understandingand here, disclosing the world, the blindness of never questioning, the question opening discovery, and so on. it is phenomenological ontology; not an ontology of exlusively of knowledge (Kant) but an ontology of Being in the world, the broad scope of all that IS. This goes very far and deep and can be understood only to those who take the time buy into this theoretically challenging body of thinking. Stidying philosophy from Kant to Derrida is massive and upturns most assumptions that are common and without relection.


quote]Actually the question was not aimed to getting an answer about what is the eternal, the absolute. And certainly, if we were to avoid the "vastly populated land of religious silliness", Kierkegaard should be the first one to get away from. The problem was that if breaking through the "in-here" to get to the "out-there" implied dropping away our finitude and landing in the transcendental realm, isn't that basically the same mystical operation that the idealist phenomenologist performs, since by dropping the "out-there", he has already stood outside his first point of view to witness its absence? It is like saying that according to the rules of cricket, a goalkeeper in soccer cannot touch the ball with this hands.[/quote]

You have to look at Kierkegaard through Heidegger's eyes. Heidegger thought he was just a religious writer, and never gave him credit for inspiring his ontology. But if you read The Concept of Anxiety you will see Kierkegaard throughtout Heidegger's Being and Time. You will also find Hegel, Kant, Nietzche, the Greeks, and on and on; but Kierkegaard is a powerful presence. To see this, you have to read it. Anxiety is not a religious text; it just uses the religious theme of original/hereditary sin as a heuristic to study the analysis of our "alienation," and this term is meant synchronically first, and what this means is essentially Husserl's epoche, the phenomenological reduction that takes inquiry to the "thing itself" (not the Kantian idea here). It gets complicated, and that is a solid fact. Most do not want to understand philosophy enough to make the effort.

The reason you have so many obvious problems with Kierkegaard is the singular idea, as if philosophy is supposed make the unread comfortable. Einstein said gravity is the curvature of space, but wait: "curvature" logically presupposes space, that is, it is a concept that only makes sense given stable spatial dimensions. Things curve IN space, but for space to curve it would require yet another space in which it curves, and THAT space would itself require another space, and so on. Therefore, reductio ad absurdum, gravity cannot be the curvature of space.

Have I refuted Einstein, or is that I just don't know a damn thing about general relativity? Common sense has no place in matters that examine the assumptions of common sense. Same here. For me to genuinely understand Einstein on this I would have to do a LOT of reading and develop my math skills., and think long and hard. Great thinking is like this. Analytic philosophical positivists do not care at all about phenomenology because they haven't read it. How does that logic work?: I haven't read Kierkegaard but there are things in his thinking that contradict common sense; therefore, he must be wrong.

I mean, do you really think serious thinking works like this?
Hmm, no, I'm sorry, but science does rest on ad hoc principles (not to be confused with Popper's ad hoc hypothesis). While talking of the scientific method in general seems to give a fair description of science, one that fits the Baconian program, it falls short for describing science as the complex human praxis that it is. Observation is not the starting point, because the scientist arrives there prepared with the properly calibrated lens, in terms of methods, theories, norms, etc., which surely accommodate knowledge of previous encounters. This is not against the notion that science is about the observed world, it certainly is, but here we should strip off from the word "observation" the connotation of naive empiricism, which would make the work of men of science no different than witchcraft. And it is evidently more than a matter of translating every simple observed event into the technical language of equations. There's a theoretical framework that gives sense to what is observed. This was well figured out by Kolakowski and no one sets a better example than Galileo, whom most likely didn't drop some weights from the Pisa Tower; it was a thought experiment, a model in the abstract that would explain the agents at work in mechanical movement, notwithstanding that practical experiments had to prove the model. As I mentioned before: science is a continuous movement between the general principles and the local ones.
Yes, you do have it. I don't want to be critical, but what you have described above, this "general principles to local ones" is exactly IN the paragraph you are objecting to. I wrote, Observations occur in time, and are forward looking for what is anticipated, a "pregiven" anticipation, that rests on previous encounters in the world that make for "normal science" as Kuhn put it. What you wrote is, Observation is not the starting point, because the scientist arrives there prepared with the properly calibrated lens, in terms of methods, theories, norms, etc., which surely accommodate knowledge of previous encounters.

This is what the hypothetical deductive method IS. Observation does not occur ex nihilo. The very notion of predelineation is this. Thomas Kuhn was talking about just this: Normal science is the body of existing theory always already there. Observation confirms or denies this with every experiment, and this occurs in time, its structure is temporal. Observation is what we DO to confirm results that are IN normal science; etc., etc. The method is the same, but the predelineation is different from science to science, from tying my shoes to swimming in the lake. All knowledge is like this. We go into a situation already, ready to hand, as Heidegger put it.

This predelineation is what hermeneutics is about.
But that's of course what phenomenology can say of itself, of its own paradigmatic enterprise. It sets its boundaries and claims complete ownership of that domain of first-person point of view and its concurrent interpretations. As I said, fine with that. Some people are in another ball game.
Again, it's a philosophical thesis, and as such an attempt to give an account of all things, not just what empirical science assumes for its need )its game). Such a science cares nothing for the inclusion of all that is in the world, or what the world is at the most basic level of inquiry. Moving from empirical science's privileged range of interests to the broad scope of all that is is a fallacy of category, at least. At most, it is an expression of blatant bias in reasoning, an attempt to move from what is familiar to an overarching principle.

But you know, just so you understand a bit about what you're dealing with, the pragmatic hypothetical deductive method does not really reduce things to more general ideas. It gives analysis to the nature of an idea itself, which is logically presupposed by affirming or denying anything at all. "There are no beliefs and skills to get clear about; only skills and practices," says Hubert Dreyfus on Heidegger. An idea is a practice, a temporal event that
"discloses" the world, makes what is hidden, "unhidden" but what becomes manifest is always through the process of the idea. What IS is understood at all times as BECOMING.
I will not claim that I know exactly what Kant meant, I mean, that all the scholarly interpretations of his work can easily be conciliated, and that I can judge it accordingly. As far as I know, there are major disagreements among scholars in key issues, and a general agreement too about his confusing terminology, often explained away as some obsession Kant had for the "architectonic" structure of the concepts. But my point was, regardless of this, that Kant seemed not to dismiss reason completely, nor the concept of "science" as a "systematic body of principles on which you can ground truths that are once universal and necessary". Whether these are hermeneutical truths or empirical ones, that's another problem.
Kant did not use this kind of language. He was a rationalist. A hermeneutics like Heidegger's objects to the Kantian structures that give primacy to reason. His thesis was "equiprimordial." Here is a great example ( and I persist in this because I really want other to see how interesting these arguments are): Space, Kant said, is an apriori form of intuition. Such an idea presents a definitive claim





But that's of course what phenomenology can say of itself, of its own paradigmatic enterprise. It sets its boundaries and claims complete ownership of that domain of first-person point of view and its concurrent interpretations. As I said, fine with that. Some people are in another ball game.
Again, it's a philosophical thesis, and as such an attempt to give an account of all things, not just what empirical science assumes for its need )its game). Such a science cares nothing for the inclusion of all that is in the world, or what the world is at the most basic level of inquiry. Moving from empirical science's privileged range of interests to the broad scope of all that is is a fallacy of category, at least. At most, it is an expression of blatant bias in reasoning, an attempt to move from what is familiar to an overarching principle.

This does NOT mean that we have to rethink, reinterpret everything in all things, any more than simply causal affairs need to be reassessed because of quantum entanglement. Life goes on as usual. These are question beneath the questions we usually deal with, and this will be counter intuitive until one understands what is being talked about. What does the scientific community thinks of Derrida? Not one single thing, which is what happens when one doesn't read Derrida. Of course, opinions and careless thinking fly forth encouraged by the rigid authority of hard science. Clueless, though.

But you know, just so you understand a bit about what you're dealing with, the pragmatic hypothetical deductive method does not really reduce things to more general ideas. It gives analysis to the nature of an idea itself, which is logically presupposed by affirming or denying anything at all. "There are no beliefs and skills to get clear about; only skills and practices," says Hubert Dreyfus on Heidegger (is Heidegger a pragmatist? Of a sort). An idea is a practice, a temporal event that "discloses" the world, makes what is hidden, "unhidden" but what becomes manifest is always through the process of the idea. What IS is understood at all times as BECOMING.
I will not claim that I know exactly what Kant meant, I mean, that all the scholarly interpretations of his work can easily be conciliated, and that I can judge it accordingly. As far as I know, there are major disagreements among scholars in key issues, and a general agreement too about his confusing terminology, often explained away as some obsession Kant had for the "architectonic" structure of the concepts. But my point was, regardless of this, that Kant seemed not to dismiss reason completely, nor the concept of "science" as a "systematic body of principles on which you can ground truths that are once universal and necessary". Whether these are hermeneutical truths or empirical ones, that's another problem.
You should probably steer clear of Kant. The things you say place you too far outside of a proper representation of his thought. ALL things are controversial in philosophy. That is its nature. But the ticket to buy into what is controversial and not is at the very least reading the Critique of Pure Reason.
Remember Kant, that all knowledge comes along with experience, is not the same as knowledge arising from experience.
Don't forget the "but then, what is experience" part. "Comes from" and "arises from" remain ambiguous until given context. If apiority is considered apart from experience then you have a division. If you think of the whole as an interpretative affair, then such a division is analytical only.
I remember Quine's paper, as well as some criticism of it. I really don't mind accepting the analytic/synthetic distinction. Experience could be perhaps understood as either the encounter between the subject and the phenomenon, or the simple act of awareness of existence that possibilitates any encounter. In the first case, one might say, there's a movement of one thing towards the other, an event which implies the notion of time. In the second case, if it were possible, it seems as if the act is immediate, devoid of time frames. I always wonder to which category of experience belongs finding yourself (theoretically) inside the womb, without any other reference but your awareness of being aware. I can hardly think of any other circumstance closer to this, apparently free of a posteriori conditions, and yet this theoretical situation shows the most basic being in the world as an event, the consciousness of something, which implies its encounter in time. However, another issue comes up: we are assuming a discrete and static nature of consciousness, so it doesn't matter whether you're the consciousness of a 3rd month or a 8th month fetus, of a newborn child, or an adult. Dropping off such assumption would mean that our cognition is developed gradually in time, and our basic encounter becomes an indeterminate continuum, where the a priori/a posteriori synthetic distinctions make little sense as absolutes, and are only useful to describe these categories of knowledge by reference to their relative position in that continuum. You might want to locate space and time as an input of a priori knowledge in a given stage of cognitive development, something that our minds contribute to our basic experience, but that might as well be the output of another previous stage of that development, which makes it a contribution a posteriori. The first person point of view is now dispersed in time and the immediacy of direct presence dissolved. Phenomenology can't study this because of its summary ditching of the empirical; it works, as all idealist philosophies, with consciousness in the abstract.
AS to the analytic/synthetic distinction, there is here the separation of logic from the world, and this kind of thing encourages a false division, an ontology of separation when phenomena are not presented like this at all. The world presents its objects "of a piece" meaning the taking of something in use, a hammer or a concept, the taking itself, the world construction that lies before one is never irreducible, that is, there is always the explanatory body there, ready to hand, if you will (big question as to whether Heidegger meant language to be instrumental, but not here) and it is in this existence, the backdrop of all solved problems that implicitly attend a given thing that (Heidegger says) is the constitutive basis for our "sense" of reality. BUT, each implicitly attending idea (realized by questioning, which opens up meaning) is itself presented "of a piece". There is in this no traditional ontological distinction made. All of our affairs are infinitely self referential, but before you object: Of course, there is the qualitative (at this recalls our original discussion) presence, the sensory intuition as such and this kind of thing presents conditions the insist on revision in understanding, and here we have my original claim about emergence, reduction, quantitative and qualitative issues. And it's tricky, complicated. Heidegger looks at the perceptual act as a kind of flashlight of "intentionality" (though this is Husserl's word) that attends to this and that, but when off, not attending, there is nothing to say, for the Being lies in the attending. Try explaining what a lamp is....while you're asleep. To carry the theoretical disposition beyond what this flashlight can do is, to extend the metaphor, of light to where there is no light. You can assume there is light, of course, and we do this all the time, leaving the kitchen and assuming there is a kitchen still there, but this is a practical matter, not philosophical. Heidegger had no doubt, obviously, that there were "things" that present the conditions of interpretative conformity and resistance, BUT every time we try to say what those things are, we refer to, if you will, the light; even the term "thing" does this.
Analytic/synthetic talk certainly makes sense to me, but beneath this is an interpretative structure that makes these distinctions less important.

As to the other parts of your discussion, there are many. Too many for me to address. But interesting. Phenomenology doesn't ditch the empirical. I don't know what this means.
If you are Heidegger, you think that the fetus does not become a self, a human dasein, until a certain threshold of Being in the world has been reached. In the womb, one might argue there are experiences tumbling around and such, pragmatic encounters of the simplest form regarding simply arm movement and the like, non verbal, or perhaps proto verbal: for if language is pragmatic, and this the hypothetical deductive process of anticipating results from actions, then proto verbal events do occur. Is this a human dasein? No. Of course, Heidegger would deny that a feral child is a person by this, and it is one way to approach the issue of ethical nihilism and the "thick" concept of personhood, which is where modern analyses usually head. The Kierkegaardian take would be quite different, obviously, because the spirit is conceived as a struggle between soul and culture, roughly put. This assumption of the soul is a religious idea, but K tries to ground it existentially, which is what makes him interesting. Wittgenstein took him very seriously, and if you read his Concept of Anxiety, you would, too. It is rigorous and extremely intelligent, reaching through the ages of philosophy into Hegel, and beyond, His thesis has to do with actuality, the actuality of our Being here, which will NOT be subsumed by the categories of our logic. Actuality transcends logic; these are qualitatively distinct, so when you say something is the case, you have always already moved away from actuality. Error, let's call it. occurs when this "movement" away from actuality, our true self, into affairs of living, talking, socializing, becomes essentially what we are, or, are "pretending" to be. K is concerned with this false persona that inhibits the "qualitative" move toward actuality. This actuality is the eternal present, and THIS is a theme that carries forth in many ways in subsequent philosophy, most of which has noting to do with religion. Alienation is the key word.

Finding yourself inside the womb would, I think, not be possible, for it is the question that opens up self discovery, and this requires language. Being in the world as an event, as you say, is not going to be understood here. By the time the question of Who one is arises, one is already IN a culture, which Heidegger calls our "throwness". Foolish to think as if one could think outside of thinking which is already contextual, thick with references bound implicitly to encounters. The "pure" experience Heidegger calls primordial, and he seeks this in taking apart the great villain of human alienation: metaphysics and technology. Bad ideas about how to think about being a self. He is Nietzschean in this.

Interesting about space and time: You are suggesting space being a recollection of previous events, inferred in the fleeting present as a continuity. Time is no more than recollection, an aposteriori affair of anticipations of what is to come. I think this is true. Modus ponens may be apriori (deductively) true, but the process of apprehending it is a temporal event.

This:
The first person point of view is now dispersed in time and the immediacy of direct presence dissolved. Phenomenology can't study this because of its summary ditching of the empirical; it works, as all idealist philosophies, with consciousness in the abstract.
; is puzzling. The first person point of view dispersed in time: this IS exactly the way phenomenologists like Heidegger and Husserl and Kierkegaard (complicated here) and Levinas (complicated as well) think.
And what exactly is the most primordial interpretation? It seems here as if you're not talking about epistemic foundations in our claims of knowledge, of how we justify beliefs "internally", but ontological foundational claims: what justifies or possibilitates (externally) true beliefs. Anyway, is it how the world is structured (what are its constitutive elements and how they are related to each other), or is it what are the properties of its constitutive elements, or is it both? The answers that material monism gives to these overshadow any attempts by other substance monisms or dualisms, because such knowledge is consistent with human experience at all levels, even on its phenomenical description. There are simply no outer/inner worlds, that's truly a subjective and linguistic construction imposed over our real experience of the only world, which is not just a receptacle where I move. Actually the world and me form a continuum and there's no need to find the magical glue that artificially binds us. One could say that this continuum is pure consciousness, precisely our supposedly primordial first encounter, but that would require a completely new set of explanations about the structure, the constitutive elements, the properties and laws, that would directly oppose and refute those of material monism, in other words, a science of the spirit. The closer to a research program aiming to dethrone the principles of natural science would be theology, and it is entirely ridiculous and absurd, not even a science. And phenomenology is in another ball park, not contending natural science, but dismissing it.
What makes possible true beliefs should be clear by in the pragmatic account of knowledge as forward looking problem solving. I should quickly add that this kind of truth is propositional. There is another, which I would call revelatory truth, and this has to do with the dimension of our bing here that is one the one hand, clearly there, to be acknowldge; on the other beyond what language will allow. This makes such things impossible, miraculous, and questions like "what are joy and suffering?" lie here for us. That's a metaethical matter.

Is it how the world is structured (what are its constitutive elements and how they are related to each other), or is it what are the properties of its constitutive elements, or is it both?[/i ]Both. See Husserl's Ideas and the concept of hyle. See the above, too. The world is "of a piece" and "to be" is a predicative affair: "X is a cloud" has "cloud" predicated of X, and attendant implicitly are a multiplicity of other predicative possibilities, which thickens, makes more meaningful, the presence of the world (alternative take on this is Wordsworth, the poet who believed maturing to adulthood is a process of corruption of the spirit. Think of childhood, the freedom, the joy. This innocence is lost, and if you try understand this, you may give Kierkegaard a bit of a break; though I should add that my readings of him have not revealed this nostalgia of childhood bliss. A curious business).
Actually the world and me form a continuum and there's no need to find the magical glue that artificially binds us
. The trouble I have with this kind of thing goes back to an earlier thought: this material monism is not the paradigm given to us by empirical science, for this latter has absolutely nothing to say about material substance and the substrate of all things, and I say this for a very good reason: such a thing has never appeared to any researcher studying anything in the world. A good reason to apply Occam's razor. I mean, you simply have to admit that the world is utterly transcendental when it comes to basic questions; these question simply trail off into eternity. Not that one cannot call it all material substance, but such a term would have to accommodate observation and evidence of ALL there is, and stringing things together like this is tantamount to calling it all God; and this latter term may even be preferable because the factual affairs of this world include value (notswithstanding Wittgenstein) and science has nothing to say about this. Material substance as an all embracing concept leans understanding toward solid ground where this none, and this divests thinking of certain critical dimensions of our being here, namely, our alienation. But this takes the matter into existential readings not accessible from t he outside.

Out of time for writing. You're comment are provocative and I can't resist long answers. Have to wait for the rest till next week when I have time.

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Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Hereandnow » April 11th, 2020, 2:19 pm

Just noticed repetitions. Confusing. I didn't check. Sorry.

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Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Hereandnow » April 12th, 2020, 11:20 am

Count Lucanor
makes sense? Generally speaking, yes, it does. Whether it makes complete sense of the world, that's another story. There should be no problem with science's work as interpretation, but a particular type and method of interpretation. There's no possibility of refutation of the type of interpretation that science adopts, consisting of a direct relation and conformity between our sensible experience of the world and its real objective existence, even if it is a distorted mirror that needs to be corrected. Phenomenologist think that this is not warranted by the experience itself, because no one has direct cognitive access to the rest of the world. To see a tree is to see something "as" a tree, forcing all the immediate relations surrounding "treeness" to concur into the concept of a tree. We overcome that limitation by an indirect access, given the appropriate systematic approach, that justifies our certainties (more or less the same way we took the first picture of a black hole, it was not a direct shoot of an object presented to the camera, but actually a complicated reconstruction that gave us the final image). Science and materialist monism make sense, too, but even more complete sense, and the world keeps imposing itself on us, independent of our interpretations and paradigms. On the other hand, the progeny of phenomenology has produced a way of thinking that dissolves any distinction between reality and illusion, everything is a subjective construction, the individual has no biological foundations and they are whatever they subjectively want to identify with.
What do you mean there is no refutation if the "mirror" is distorted? This latter is exactly the definition of possible refutation. And the claim is not that the mirror is distorted, but that "distortion" is a concept that applies only when sense can be made of clarity, and in this case, none can be made. An approach to an unknown in science is preceded by a body of solved problems that offer this clarity, a predelineated clarity grounded in history. But when it comes to basic questions of "what IS", there are no defining paradigm, especially coming from science itself, because this is not an empirical concept, Being, Reality, Existence, apart from their various contextually technical definitions, each are simply what I call "place holding" terms with no actual content, no observational meaning. The term "corrected" has the same issue, implying something independent that corrections should be oriented toward. The standards rest with an interpretative history, but the interpretation is not ABOUT the world: it IS the world. Obviously interpretations change in time, but these changes do not intimate what the world IS apart from interpretation (which is, in the natural mode, assertoric; This is Heidegger's jargon), only what to DO: This is the forward lookingness of the hypothetical deductive method.

It is not that experience is not rich with content, changing, full of passion and beauty and horror and all the rest; it is rather that our knowledge does not tell us what these things are. The what of things, material substance, phenomena, idea, reason, is NEVER revealed. We live, when the we rise to ontological reflection (not when we are IN our daily lives) in transcendence, or metaphysics (Levinas), of you like.
My biggest complaint regarding ontological concepts like materialism is that a place holder overextends its function, and gives the illusion that beneath our many inquiries into the our world, there is a foundation. There is not such a foundation demonstrated in empirical knowledge; BUT: the matter of ETHICS is entirely different. I am a moral realist.
Truth is made, sure, but the point is whether truth and reality ever touch. If reality is an unreachable "eternity", it is so for the phenomenologist, too. He can say that there's nothing to say about reality from the scientist, but he can't say anything, either, for he can't escape from what he has defined himself as inescapable. All he can say is he has built his own truth, just as he claims the scientist has done.
The phenomenologist can say, look, this is what is happening at the basis of our knowledge claims. Beyond this, to even consider a beyond at all, one has to look to ethics and value, for here, the "presence" of the world, of course, exceeds the interpretation; but ethics and value possess a quality that, while interpretatively like all other things, yet meaning is imposing in a way as to make an absolute claim.

This kind of thing can only be discussed if you are willing. Tough issue, but the most important in all of thought itself, and this claim is axiomatic.
No, I'm not so much interested in out-thereness being acknowledged. It's far more interesting to know where the "of course" comes from, and how that conciliates with the phenomenological project. I mean, I really wish to grasp the seriousness of that term, and not simply be dismissed as a problem outside of philosophy. Because then, well, that will look like an incomplete philosophy to me, especially if it proclaims its concern about the primordial and the essential.
Objects are manifestly beyond this egoic center of mine. Can I prove this within the "hermeneutic circle". Yes, but "outthereness" is not going to be an absolute outthereness. It will be an interpretative one. Even my apprehension of the most local, or "proximal" events, like my own thoughts are not free of this because, per above, language, logic, thought, these are not set up, structured to do this. They point, they "disclose" they reveal what is undisclosed, and In this, "otherness" presents itself. Now, I use the pragmatist's conception, and someone like Rorty just dismisses that any intimation whatsoever of "outthereness" as nonsense UNLESS one is talking in one or other normal mode is discourse. At the level of phenomenological pragmatic ontology, that is, we are IN problem solving epistemology, period. Outsides and inside are in THIS region of thought, nonsense. I think this is right, no way around it. Just in plain talk: I cannot see at all how anything out there gets in here. I have tried, looked at this from every angle, and if even if you buy into the monist concept of materialism, AND RORTY DOES, but simply because basic questions of ontology are nonsense to him ( I do, too, but again, not at the level of basic questions), you're stuck with a model of localized events, and this local event here, my brain, is not over there, that tree. As Rorty puts it: I no more "know" that tree than my fender knows the offending guard rail. Even if quantum physics came upon an answer to quantum entanglement that revealed the connectedness of all things, I couldn't around this locality, for the apprehension that all things are connected would itself rise out of a matrix of connectedness, and this makes for the worst kind of question begging.

Of course, again, value and ethics are profound exceptions. Rorty never imagined.
I assume you must mean "others" in the phenomenological sense of "in-hereness", that is, within the boundaries of its self-constructed truth, a product of one's subjectivity. "It is there" actually means "it is here", as there's nothing to say about anything "out there".
To ask such questions means you understand where the theoretical stand meets its problems, but it is not a problem with phenomenology, it is a problem of the world. This is our situation. Actuality, the imposition of actuality upon has actual content, meaning, and in this there is an intimation of otherness. But an analysis of language and thought and truth does not make clear what this is. The issue with material monism is that term 'material'. Monism says it is all one, somehow. A phenomenologist might say (they are different, of course) what unifies all things is the experience that knows them, loosely put. Otherness is evident, but it cannot serve as a basis for unity bacause it presents matters in manifold ways. What connects things is thought, feelings, interest, caring, moods, attitudes, and so on.

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Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Count Lucanor » April 12th, 2020, 6:48 pm

Hereandnow wrote:Out of time for writing. You're comment are provocative and I can't resist long answers. Have to wait for the rest till next week when I have time
I was expecting to wait patiently for the complete response, so I thought meanwhile I could go ahead clarifying a few concepts around what seem to be the key controversies. While at it, your other post arrived, but I decided to keep the format I was working with.

First, there is the claim that phenomenology refutes materialism on its certainties about a material substance because there is no possibility of connection with a reality independent of our minds, without the filters of a priori intuitions. The main argument advanced for this is Kant's apriority of time and space. To this I have contended that:

- The same criticism of the connection with an independent reality as it is, applies to the connection with mental states as they are, the so called metaphysics of presence. If the first is an assumption, the latter also is. If we cannot know or say anything of the first, we cannot know anything of the second. If we impose a priori the intuitions of space and time on the first, we impose them on the second, too, by means of the internal/external sense distinction. The myth of the given closes the door for everyone, thus epistemological nihilism.

- So, there's a problem with what Kant says we do know for sure: the self, which nevertheless also appears to us in time. For how can the a priori consciousness, with its supposedly timeless propositions of logic and math, not have a history itself? It is some kind of subjective ascertainment of the objective existence of the self. And Kant, of course, won his place in the history books.

- I would add that although Kant appears to make a good point about the innate intuition of space and time, it does not mean that space and time are not real, it just means that we would not know. This argument is, obviously, tantamount to saying that even if we don't know that God exists, it doesn't mean it does not exist. The key question is, however, do we really not know?

The next major controversy is what is the task and scope of philosophy and whether it is in a different business than science. A subsidiary problem is what branch of philosophy carries all the burden of founding the primordial knowledge, having posited phenomenology as the main contender. To this I have contended that:

- There's no opposition between science and philosophy, but even more than that, science does answer fundamental questions (precisely those that philosophy by mere speculation cannot answer), and they are found in the intersection between predelineated theoretical approximations and controlled experiences. J.J. Thomson's discovery of the electron exemplifies this approach: there was no phenomena of particles that Thomson set out to study and he never observed an actual electron. Yet he managed to say something about the invisible structure of matter (its distorted appearance). And even though his theoretical model of the atom was still not accurate, the existence of the electron was confirmed and from then on, deep-rooted in our view of the universe. And when Higgs made the inference that there had to exist a fundamental particle, 50 years before it was actually observed, contributing a piece to the puzzle of what the universe is made of, he helped to solidify the already established notion that things can be said about the world without and before having its "presence" formally promulgated, before ever being a local event in our brain. Nothing to do with "everydayism". Question begging? Impossible.

- It is not argued, however, that knowledge ends with empirical science. The kind of knowledge that science gives must be completed by a philosophical attitude that gives science credit where its due and adds the appropriate interpretations, the ontological reflections to construct a realistic view of the universe. Even though we're still immersed in interpretations and paradigms, it is there where the somehow distorted mirror is corrected. Unfortunately for phenomenologists and anti realist skeptics alike, the claim that no correction is possible because you operate through the mirror itself, refutes their own project, as explained above. Yet, they pretend to provide an orientation, which would not be possible under their own terms. We know how this ends: the hermeneutics of phenomenology as just another text.

- While I acknowledge the importance and efficacy of positivist philosophy, I have been always aware of its shortcomings when it comes to dealing with living systems and social analysis. So I don't defend positivism with tooth and nail all the time, in every inquiry about the world, neither I posit the hands-on scientist as the ultimate expression of positivism.

- It is not argued that phenomenology, leaving aside its limitations, cannot provide valuable insights. I already stated that phenomenology makes some sense, and I'm pretty sure phenomenological approaches to problems will render phenomenological solutions that are worth witnessing. But it is not an issue of how much you get into it, it will not make any more sense beyond its current limits. That it does the most self-absorbed, abstract philosophy, dismissing the rest as "everydayism", does not put it above all other philosophical projects. It is one among many trying to be entitled.

- There's also the issue, that I have brought up several times, that phenomenology is not a unified set of doctrines or systematic analysis, but a diverse field with specific differences among thinkers and schools. So, even if one thought that phenomenology is the "man for the job" in terms of profound knowledge in philosophy, the place where the major question are to be answered, it would not mean that it has answered them all, or that it has answered any of them correctly.

Another controversy has to do with the type of debate that must ensue after these problems are presented. The claim here is that the matter is just too complicated for non-phenomenologists and that all that is required for clarification is to read all that Kant, Husserl, Heidegger and others said about it. To this I have contended that:

- It is not true that only by reading everything from Kant you will understand Kant. If it were so, we wouldn't need Kant scholars or for any other school of philosophy. What we need to do is to study them, which implies a combination of one's own readings and interpretations of other who have also read them. If one starts waiving the authority card in favor of phenomenologists, at least be aware that there's good company at the other side, too, and some of them come from the phenomenological tradition.

There's another group of concerns related to moral issues in phenomenology and a materialistic foundation of ethics. I would prefer to deal with those in a separate post.

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Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Count Lucanor » April 15th, 2020, 2:55 pm

Let me address this issue:
Hereandnow wrote:As to the miraculous path, tell me, why are we born to suffer and die? Note that evolution is not an an answer to this. If you think so, then you have a lot of thinking to do about ethics and the world.
If the alternatives to answering the question why are we born to suffer and die are theology and science, I don't think it will be in dispute, from any rational perspective, that science provides by far the best answers. There's plenty of pain, suffering and death in raw nature, it is no mystery. We too come from raw nature, and so we have pain, suffering and death, but that's not the end of the story for us. We are not just another organism on Earth, completely determined by natural forces, because somehow nature also endowed us with the cognitive traits and social mechanisms from which human culture emerges as a second nature, one that is developed in history. And there's where the moral and ethical dimensions appear, not just in an abstract realm, but in our concrete practice of individual and collective interests. And one of the key elements of that praxis is the recognition of the other, and the self-awareness of my being through the other, in whom I see myself reflected. No moral system is worth a penny without awareness of the other, just with my pure consciousness. The social dimension is required, even though there are innate factors to take into account. It is a field of almost infinite interactions, an open system of multiple possible outputs and outcomes, thus also a field where agents freely participate and transform. Subjects and their relative positions ultimately define the system, and that's why there is a history of moral views. And that's why neither moral realism, nor moral objectivism, can deal with moral issues appropriately.

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Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Hereandnow » April 16th, 2020, 10:08 pm

Count Lucanor
If the alternatives to answering the question why are we born to suffer and die are theology and science, I don't think it will be in dispute, from any rational perspective, that science provides by far the best answers. There's plenty of pain, suffering and death in raw nature, it is no mystery. We too come from raw nature, and so we have pain, suffering and death, but that's not the end of the story for us. We are not just another organism on Earth, completely determined by natural forces, because somehow nature also endowed us with the cognitive traits and social mechanisms from which human culture emerges as a second nature, one that is developed in history. And there's where the moral and ethical dimensions appear, not just in an abstract realm, but in our concrete practice of individual and collective interests. And one of the key elements of that praxis is the recognition of the other, and the self-awareness of my being through the other, in whom I see myself reflected. No moral system is worth a penny without awareness of the other, just with my pure consciousness. The social dimension is required, even though there are innate factors to take into account. It is a field of almost infinite interactions, an open system of multiple possible outputs and outcomes, thus also a field where agents freely participate and transform. Subjects and their relative positions ultimately define the system, and that's why there is a history of moral views. And that's why neither moral realism, nor moral objectivism, can deal with moral issues appropriately.
This is why I considered this a risky issue, but it is where all of this leads to; it goes back to the original qualitative/quantitative distinction I made much earlier. Unfortunately, most who think as you do are not familiar that such an issue even exists. When you say we "too come from raw nature, and so we have pain, suffering and death" you move quickly past the very sticking point that makes ethics what it is, and is frankly the biggest problem with assumptions about materialism, namely, that it proceeds with assumptions that are by far the most poignantly at issue. To wit, raw nature? This term is without meaning at the level of basic assumptions, for it is used only to indicate that which is there from which, in our case, suffering issues, as if because this backdrop of existence is an irreducible foundation, we can proceed. But closer examination shows that what is there, at issue, is in no way settled or better understood by the use of the term. The "moral and ethical dimension" appears logically prior this "second nature"; indeed, it emerges at the first, where raw nature makes its mark. It is IN the presence of the world as world that the essence of ethics is presented, not in the ethical institutions you allude in your "concrete practice of individual and collective interests" for, just as to talk about logic and its structure we must begin with the presence of logic in language as it appears before us, unconditioned by discursive analysis, so in the matter of ethics, we must look to what is given in the world that gives rise to questions about the nature of ethics. Here we find the unconstituted and genuinely "raw" presence of value, or, in the case of discussing the nature of ethics itself, metavalue: suffering as such (and joy, bliss, pain, misery, wretchedness, and so on) is simply there. It is what the world does, and this is not to be disputed, that is, it is not just a Wittgensteinian fact, it is a metafact.

This opens the discussion to the nature of value, metavalue. G E Moore talks about this in his Principia Ethica, Wittgenstein in his Lecture om Ethics and well as his Tractatus. It has a history of argument.The reason why empirical science cannot touch metaethics is because it is not empirically accessable. In short, ethical good and bad is not like contingent good and bad at all. A good chair is not like a ethical goodness, as the latter is, essentially, about the goodness and badness inherent in value-in-experience. Apply a lighted match to your finger and observe. The pain is a fact, says Wittgenstein, but that the pain is bad is simply not observable. It is, he concludes, transcendent.

I don't agree with Witt's positivist denial that talk about the nature of ethics is not fit for words at all. I follow Kierkegaard (close to Witt) really, Levinas, and others, though I have issues with them as well. To me, extreme pain, in the clarity of its presentation, AND the badness of it, as awkward as this sounds, are of a piece, the metaethical just as factual as the fact of the pain itself. this is why I call myself a moral realist: metaethics is just as much "there" as the the most ontologically present thing one can even imagine.

Keep in mind, this kind of talk leaves petty differences between idealism and realism far behind. If you would like to be a materialist/realist/physicalist whatever, and you would like to make metaethics, metavalue an emergent feature of one of these, you are simply adding a redundancy, which, and I have said this several times, Occam's razor should deal with handily.

The biggest complaint with materialism is that it puts a foundation out there where there is none. And this presupposition gives comfort and complacency where there should be none at all, for this is the world, open and mysterious. If you proceed as if you know, you let facts fill space where they have no place.

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Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Hereandnow » April 17th, 2020, 11:12 am

Count Lucanor
- The same criticism of the connection with an independent reality as it is, applies to the connection with mental states as they are, the so called metaphysics of presence. If the first is an assumption, the latter also is. If we cannot know or say anything of the first, we cannot know anything of the second. If we impose a priori the intuitions of space and time on the first, we impose them on the second, too, by means of the internal/external sense distinction. The myth of the given closes the door for everyone, thus epistemological nihilism.
This business of the myth of the given: Discard the term 'myth' for it is a generalization that falsely equalizes as it is "equally" dismissive, and this is not the case here. Your argument seems to be that if all things are hermeneutically conceived, then no one has epistemic privilege, and further, is privileging does occur, it is, by my admission, pragmatic only, and once the pragmatic context is removed, the truth that is privileged by the context also vanishes.

You have to ask what it is that drives philosophical thought. It is inquiry, the question, and questions lead to other questions, and this is a process of discovery, for one does not find a foundation, but rather some things being more foundational than others in a given inquiry, which is one way to look at why I side with Levinas and some other enlightened religious thinkers in saying that ethics is a Real foundation: All questions that penetrate the superficiality of our day to day relatedness look, not for epistemic grounding, but meta valuative grounding, the former being the genuine "myth" of philosophy and frankly, all things. In other words, critical analyses of all things lead to only one final question: what is the value of the endeavor? Of questioning at all? All contingency is analytically reducible to its implicit value claims, and the knowledge claims that attend all this are hermeneutical and pragmatic FOR some implicit value.

Thus, the privileging finds it Real center, which is value, and given that value questions move to metavalue questions, and these disclose the primacy of value IN the given, it grounds the given. Put it like this: we are looking for, in all this search for a foundation that is clear and apodictic, something that is apriori true for ALL endeavors whatever, and we discover that all inquiry and its subject begs the value question, that is, the point, the meaning that underlies, say, a scientist's inquiry into the genetic analysis of a species empties into purpose, and an analysis of purpose always produces contingencies, like the taxonomic system in which features are categorized, the way biochemical characteristics are explained in genetic descriptions, and so on, but beneath these inquiries and positings there is the value of the whole affair, of putting the eye to the microscope and recording data.

Phenomenology makes discoveries like this possible (and you will not find this thesis in any one historical thesis). It subordinates knowledge claims to value claims, to the point where ontology and epistemology themselves yield to metavaluative wonder, i.e., the wonder of the meaning of Being here. This wonder is the critical break in the usual scientific understanding that assumes notions like a material basis to all things. Questions about what is turn into questions of why, and the why if things goes to value. In the long run, this is the only conclusion for philosophy: we are IN a problem solving matrix (some would say we ARE a problem solving matrix, which is question begging in very interesting ways) and our knowledge claims are all structurally contingent. There is only one absolute, and this is value (recall the match applied to your finger), that toward which all things tend. "All things" here, being all inquiries about things. Again, at the level of basic questions, talk about physicalism, materialism and the like are simply marginalized.

The genuine point of philosophy is always, as a search for a foundation, therefore, personal, subjective, for the kind of endeavor we are in is one of value and caring, of love and joy and despair and dread, and the like. It is an intersubjective affair, hence our ethical entanglements. But prior to this is actuality of value as such, or, value-in-Being as such; the ontology of value, this is what we really are about.

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Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Count Lucanor » April 18th, 2020, 9:43 pm

To assert our relation with the world, with the environment where we move, is not, as you portray, a careless and naive attempt to take the immediate data of the senses and its representations as the foundational knowledge. If science and materialism had to do with first-hand experience, the history of thought would have started with science and materialism. Actually, the more we were submitted to the forces of nature, the less transparent was the world to our perception and understanding. It was through the long process of domination of nature, propelled by our own basic material needs, that we finally started to untangle the underlying relations. In any case, whether it was done by pure philosophical speculation, or by scientific study, of by a bundle of them, it was against this background of what is and how it is, that we have historically projected our ideas of what ought to be, our moral systems. This has nothing to do with the is-ought problem, it is not claimed that from what is we necessarily derive epistemic conclusions of what ought to be, but from what is we do derive decisions to act, and all acts are context-driven, situational. While the judgement of goodness of a chair or badness of pain in a finger may not be factual, the prohibitions or encouragements to sit on a chair or burn a finger are concrete observable acts which in themselves reveal something about the nature of the judgement. The idealist wants to work with all of this in the abstract, positing an ideal realm of ethics out of touch with concrete human behavior, a reign of pure essences, hypostasized as presence. He will look for joy in the metaphysical essence of joy, of pain in the essence of pain, of duty in the essence of duty, and so on, and will claim that this is what philosophy does. Well, not necessarily, as philosophy must divorce from these mystified forms and come to grips with the indisputable evidence of the neurological basis of pain and joy, as well as its relation with concrete human praxis. And then the discussion goes back to what we have already talked about: skeptical criticism of the type of knowledge that science produces, self-refutes the claims of better or more profound knowledge from idealist phenomenology, as it turns out to be another metaphysics of presence. In morality, it completely shuts the door to applied ethics, since nothing foundational can be said about the world and consequently, nothing foundational can be said of what we do in it. Even worst, its claim about the foundational character of the immediate presence of being goes in straight collision with the impossibility of grounding belief in other conscious beings, the necessary step for building a system of ethical relations, in which the others, which are not "here", but "there", participate in community. Since there are no thinking subjects, no thinking entities, but plain "thinking", all that is left is a sort of introspection based on blind assumptions. No wonder why the idealist cannot understand his suffering, he cannot place it in context with the world; stuck with himself, he must look to the gods for answers. "Everyone knows what the highest is" said Kierkegaard. The truth is that ethics does not belong to a transcendental realm, a world of ghosts, it belongs to the category of praxis, of concrete, real beings. Value in the abstract, in its supposedly true essence, is completely meaningless.

And again, the argument that "empirical science cannot touch metaethics because it is not empirically accessible" rests on the false assumption that empirical science is the only methodological tool of a materialist philosophy. This fallacy is in line with the oversimplifying notions about materialism entailed by Nagel's views at the beginning of this thread.

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Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Hereandnow » April 19th, 2020, 11:15 pm

Count Lucanor
o assert our relation with the world, with the environment where we move, is not, as you portray, a careless and naive attempt to take the immediate data of the senses and its representations as the foundational knowledge. If science and materialism had to do with first-hand experience, the history of thought would have started with science and materialism. Actually, the more we were submitted to the forces of nature, the less transparent was the world to our perception and understanding. It was through the long process of domination of nature, propelled by our own basic material needs, that we finally started to untangle the underlying relations.
Science is fine and no one takes issue with this at all. In fact, Husserl called what he did a science of the given, of what is there antecedent to drawing inferences for physics, biology and the rest. It is the scientific method, the hypothetical deductive method that is the essence of science, and certainly not the assumption of material things, this latter being a place holder for an otherwise pointless metaphysics. Again, "material" is upon analysis simply a nonsense word as it has no descriptive features, no predicative possibilities, no presence, in no way even speculatively important.
This untangling of relations has been an endeavor to solve practical problems, and of course, who would argue? Not me. But when the question turns to basic questions, the content and theoretical themes change, and it is not longer a matter of filling teeth or feeding a population, but of discovering foundations of knowledge and ethics.
While the judgement of goodness of a chair or badness of pain in a finger may not be factual, the prohibitions or encouragements to sit on a chair or burn a finger are concrete observable acts which in themselves reveal something about the nature of the judgement. The idealist wants to work with all of this in the abstract, positing an ideal realm of ethics out of touch with concrete human behavior, a reign of pure essences, hypostasized as presence. He will look for joy in the metaphysical essence of joy, of pain in the essence of pain, of duty in the essence of duty, and so on, and will claim that this is what philosophy does
No, the factual nature of a contingent judgment is not disputed; just the opposite. Contingent affairs are facts just as are contingent identities. I ask what a bank teller is, and you can give me paragraphs, and among each definitional term, there are yet paragraphs more. This is how meaning goes, an endless passing, if you will, the ontological "buck" to "deferred" related regions of thought, all comfortably placed within a grid of familiarity and logical construction. The "is ought" issue is, by my lights, simply an arbitrary way to dismiss ethics (and aesthetics) from facts. Nor is the factual nature of the pain in your finger debated in the matter. It is the ethical dimension of the pain. Clearly, pain is a presence to be acknowledged, but the "badness" of pain, this is the source of disagreement. I say it is just an analytical fallacy, a false division that invents a between what is there and what is not. This issue is very important as it decides whether ethics is objective or not, for if the ethical can be grounded in the "given" and the given is the world (what else? It's not as if we made up suffering and delight; we made up the incidental conditions for these, but certainly not THAT we experience them as they are) then the world is ethical just as if God put out his mighty hand. God, after all, is just a personification of an absolute, what is IN the world is an absolute.

The idealist (phenomenologist) wants to work with all this in the abstract? No; just the opposite, and it is in fact the material that abstracts from the real and thereby underrepresents the phenomenon.Look at it like this: a phenomenon of any kind, but especially one with a strong value, like falling in love of being tortured, has a stand alone presence. Interpretatively, it is bound to a community of shared ideas, granted, but the is that the more theory takes an interpretative hold upon "what it is" the more one's understanding has been swayed from its actuality, and a clear idea of how this happens is this: familiarity asserts an implicit knowledge claim, thereby rendering the phenomenon common, understood, justified, or, as Levinas put it, the Same. It is the leveling regard we have for all things that undoes an original potency. In short, we become inured by familiarity, and this is what the pretense of knowing does to the world. The worst offender here is so called scientism, a pejorative term, but well deserved when the "naturalistic attitude" (Husserl) asserts itself into basic questions, and this I would call materialism, a term that yields to the mind's need to know when it doesn't. Scientific endeavor tends to be rather dogmatic, meaning, clear, delineated, positivistic--all virtues for affairs that are well with given paradigms, but alas, dogmatic in the attempt turn this into metaphysics, and materialism IS a dogmatic metaphysical term, not unlike standard religious terms that attempt to connect to the great beyond. Phenomenological views vary, but most take materialism to be obtrusive and presumptuous, but worst of all, distracting and misleading as to what it is to be human foundationally.

Metaethical arguments are difficult to grasp intuitively. One has to look at the ethical badness and goodness and this is not familiar (yet, as Heidegger put it, it is closest in familiarity. Too close, and ontologies can only be seen if one pulls away from what she is deeply in always, already.
You have to turn away from idealism talk because its suggests that everything is idea, and this is certainly not what phenomenologists think. Ideas are essences, as in Husserl's eidetic reduction in which objects are presented as predelineated through ideas AND adumbrated experiences that are recollected; but what imposes from "without" is hyle, the actuality that is entirely not our doing and is independent inits origin. It is an imposition.
Well, not necessarily, as philosophy must divorce from these mystified forms and come to grips with the indisputable evidence of the neurological basis of pain and joy,

Neurological basis? No one denies this, but it isn't philosophy; it's just the groundwork for speculative science. It doesn't touch foundational issues, for scientific observation is derivative: ask what neurology is, and a true response would be that it is a reference to the organic brain, its chemistry, composition, and so on. But then: is this not a brain conceiving what a brain is? You simply have to look clearly here, and understand that brains declaring what brains are all about can never be able to explain the organic processes that produce thoughts about brains. The logic is simply unmistakable: the thought itself, the eidetic presence, is originary.

as well as its relation with concrete human praxis. And then the discussion goes back to what we have already talked about: skeptical criticism of the type of knowledge that science produces, self-refutes the claims of better or more profound knowledge from idealist phenomenology, as it turns out to be another metaphysics of presence.
The metaphysics of presence starts with the Heideggerian criticism of Husserl, the latter having conceived of the "predicatively formed eidetic affair" as simply the presence of the world which is intuited as a categorial intuition. Nobody likes this term 'intuition' in the current philosophical culture, analytic or otherwise. It is NOT a fault of phenomenology, though, indeed, its worst critic, Derrida, is considered to be a phenomenologist.

In morality, it completely shuts the door to applied ethics, since nothing foundational can be said about the world and consequently, nothing foundational can be said of what we do in it. Even worst, its claim about the foundational character of the immediate presence of being goes in straight collision with the impossibility of grounding belief in other conscious beings, the necessary step for building a system of ethical relations, in which the others, which are not "here", but "there", participate in community. Since there are no thinking subjects, no thinking entities, but plain "thinking", all that is left is a sort of introspection based on blind assumptions. No wonder why the idealist cannot understand his suffering, he cannot place it in context with the world; stuck with himself, he must look to the gods for answers. "Everyone knows what the highest is" said Kierkegaard. The truth is that ethics does not belong to a transcendental realm, a world of ghosts, it belongs to the category of praxis, of concrete, real beings. Value in the abstract, in its supposedly true essence, is completely meaningless.
No, no. Most existentialists don't understand ethics at all. Heidegger made caring a major part of his ontology, but then, his regard for others is generally negative. You have to read G E Moore's Principia Ethica to understand my views on metaethics. It is a different question, one that goes to the very existential basis for ethics, its ontology, which, he says, is not phenomenological at all. It is simply irreducible given. He's right. Other's can only be understood against a priori understanding about what ethics IS. Ontological questions are logically prior to intersubjective questions because the former deal with what is presupposed in the latter. Not unlike trying to understand the nature of a virus prior to understanding how it is entangled in the world. Ethics deals with entanglements; metaethics asks what ethics is all about such that these entanglements are important.
It is not value in the abstract, but exactly the opposite since the focus is exclusively on the phenomenon, free from presuppositions that are otherwise imposed and assumed. Not "stuck in himself" at all. No phenomenologist is a radical solipsist. Indeed, the Other is a elementary theme in existential thinking.

There are several arguments you need to acquaint yourself with. I didn't invent them, and they are not exclusive to phenomenology by any means.

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Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Count Lucanor » April 22nd, 2020, 1:15 pm

Hereandnow wrote:It is the scientific method, the hypothetical deductive method that is the essence of science, and certainly not the assumption of material things, this latter being a place holder for an otherwise pointless metaphysics. Again, "material" is upon analysis simply a nonsense word as it has no descriptive features, no predicative possibilities, no presence, in no way even speculatively important.
Materialism is a monist ontology, the most compatible, or perhaps the only one compatible with science. And yes, science is fine. Its methods are fine. "Material" refers to matter, not very likely a nonsense word, at least not in the vicinity of nonsensical as "inmaterial". Of course, you can take any word as "substance", "entity", etc., and declare that it is a nonsense word with no predicative possibilities, because it is an "endless passing of meaning", even though one can fill entire libraries with what you have to say about it. And why stop there, since we can add to the list of nonsense to deconstruct: meaning, thought, logical, phenomenon, fact, etc., pure circular linguistic constructions. Why even bother.
Hereandnow wrote:The "is ought" issue is, by my lights, simply an arbitrary way to dismiss ethics (and aesthetics) from facts. Nor is the factual nature of the pain in your finger debated in the matter. It is the ethical dimension of the pain. Clearly, pain is a presence to be acknowledged,
Pain in the abstract or pain in my finger, it has absolutely no ethical dimension per se, that is plainly absurd. From my feeling of pain, as a sensation alone, nothing else can be said but that it's unpleasing. The subjective "fact" of my pain involves the unity of other perceptions: that it's a contingent state of affairs affecting a part of my body (something is going on in my finger), that certain objective conditions appear to have caused this state of affairs (hypothetically, the hammer that fell on my finger) and that the unpleasing sensation, the hit of the hammer and the state of affairs appear to be empirically related as an event in my experience of the world (it might be an illusion, but that's how it appears to me). If the "fact" is disputed, there's nothing to act upon (perhaps not even making a statement), there's a pain and that's it. If this "fact" is not disputed, I'm given the possibility of dealing with that pain in the sphere of my actions, including the desire of not having this experience again, involving my wilful acts. It could be argued that a moral judgement can arise along with this "fact" alone: it is good or bad to produce pain in your body, or to hit yourself with a hammer, etc. No such judgement can come with the feeling alone, absent its conceptual factual framework. But even so, this would not tell from where the goodness or badness come from and attach to the "fact". For there to be an ethical dimension, there must be a space of relations with other beings. Unless I thought my finger is not me (we hope it's not G.E. Moore's hand), as soon as I can mirror my own painful experience upon The Other, including my own desires and expectations, I can begin to define the normative context of that type of experience, what is good or bad as universal rule. In that space of possibilities of interaction lies the ethical dimension, in the lifeworld, regardless of it being purely phenomenical or not.
Hereandnow wrote: Neurological basis? No one denies this, but it isn't philosophy; it's just the groundwork for speculative science. It doesn't touch foundational issues, for scientific observation is derivative: ask what neurology is, and a true response would be that it is a reference to the organic brain, its chemistry, composition, and so on. But then: is this not a brain conceiving what a brain is? You simply have to look clearly here, and understand that brains declaring what brains are all about can never be able to explain the organic processes that produce thoughts about brains. The logic is simply unmistakable: the thought itself, the eidetic presence, is originary.
Well, actually, neurology is not "a reference to the organic brain", but to the nervous system. Asserting that something is the basis of something else should not trigger from us a desperate response to find the ultimate cause or convert every issue into an existential problem. Some think that this is what philosophers do, but I disagree. Physiological pain is simply what it is, if we care to know what are its causes, effects, properties, and so on, an it is indeed related to the nervous system. Denying it would be completely absurd, not less than denying the bus on the street. Of course, one could take the physiological process and begin to question what it means to an organism suffering from it, how this is poured into the social context and updated historically, what culture is created around the concept of pain and how it is compared to existential pain, and so on. No doubt that interesting insights can come up from this, but nothing will change what physiological pain is.
Hereandnow wrote: The metaphysics of presence starts with the Heideggerian criticism of Husserl, the latter having conceived of the "predicatively formed eidetic affair" as simply the presence of the world which is intuited as a categorial intuition. Nobody likes this term 'intuition' in the current philosophical culture, analytic or otherwise. It is NOT a fault of phenomenology, though, indeed, its worst critic, Derrida, is considered to be a phenomenologist.
Yes, of course, Derrida is a phenomenologist. But no big figure in phenomenology thinks they're worth the title if they don't reject the phenomenological tradition from which they came. So did Husserl against Kant, Heidegger against Husserl, and Derrida against Heidegger. The French philosopher had no problem in turning Heidegger's own metaphysics of presence against himself:

"Derrida has had a long and complicated association with phenomenology for his entire career, including ambiguous relationships with Husserl and Heidegger, and something closer to a sustained allegiance with Lévinas. Despite this complexity, two main aspects of Derrida’s thinking regarding phenomenology remain clear. Firstly, he thinks that the phenomenological emphasis upon the immediacy of experience is the new transcendental illusion, and secondly, he argues that despite its best intents, phenomenology cannot be anything other than a metaphysics (SP 75, 104). In this context, Derrida defines metaphysics as the science of presence, as for him (as for Heidegger), all metaphysics privileges presence, or that which is. While they are presented schematically here, these inter-related claims constitute Derrida’s major arguments against phenomenology.

According to Derrida, phenomenology is a metaphysics of presence because it unwittingly relies upon the notion of an indivisible self-presence, or in the case of Husserl, the possibility of an exact internal adequation with oneself (SP 66-8). In various texts, Derrida contests this valorisation of an undivided subjectivity, as well as the primacy that such a position accords to the ‘now’, or to some other kind of temporal immediacy."
Hereandnow wrote: No, no. Most existentialists don't understand ethics at all. Heidegger made caring a major part of his ontology, but then, his regard for others is generally negative. You have to read G E Moore's Principia Ethica to understand my views on metaethics. It is a different question, one that goes to the very existential basis for ethics, its ontology, which, he says, is not phenomenological at all.
Well of course it is not phenomenological at all, that's what I've been saying all along. And one wouldn't expect a different stance from the man who went into the particular business of proving with both hands that there is an external world. He also went for more than a hundred pages to prove it in "The Nature and Reality of the Objects of Perception". Although he was right about this, he certainly was wrong about the objective quality of moral judgements.
Hereandnow wrote: Not unlike trying to understand the nature of a virus prior to understanding how it is entangled in the world. Ethics deals with entanglements; metaethics asks what ethics is all about such that these entanglements are important.
It is not value in the abstract, but exactly the opposite since the focus is exclusively on the phenomenon, free from presuppositions that are otherwise imposed and assumed. Not "stuck in himself" at all. No phenomenologist is a radical solipsist. Indeed, the Other is a elementary theme in existential thinking.
This a perfect example of the aporetic absurdities of phenomenology, or whatever version of it you want to advocate. To deal with entanglements in the world, be ethics or a virus, one must come to grips with the notion that there is a world, even if it's Husserl's lifeworld or Habermas' lifeworld, which has to be, anyway you want to look at it phenomenologically, a presupposition imposed and assumed. Clearly, when one connects the dots, it must be posited in order to save from sinking the idea that ethics is grounded on the "stand alone presence", which is completely contradictory. The stand alone presence didn't need the world, it dismissed it promptly in this debate along with materialistic science, but ethics had to pay the price of not being applicable and of gravitating in a ethereal realm of value in the abstract, so now the world has to be invoked again to make ethics stand on something. The phenomenon, interestingly, is necessarily tied (entangled?) to its impositions and assumptions, and phenonemonology is saved from solipsism, also at the price of being no more than an endless passing of meaning.

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Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Hereandnow » April 24th, 2020, 11:57 am

Count Lucanor
Materialism is a monist ontology, the most compatible, or perhaps the only one compatible with science. And yes, science is fine. Its methods are fine. "Material" refers to matter, not very likely a nonsense word, at least not in the vicinity of nonsensical as "inmaterial". Of course, you can take any word as "substance", "entity", etc., and declare that it is a nonsense word with no predicative possibilities, because it is an "endless passing of meaning", even though one can fill entire libraries with what you have to say about it. And why stop there, since we can add to the list of nonsense to deconstruct: meaning, thought, logical, phenomenon, fact, etc., pure circular linguistic constructions. Why even bother.
Well, that's hardly a defense, to say materialism is "just as bad as other things I don't believe in." I mean, on your end, you're supposed to defend the idea, deny it outright. Phenomenology is actually a very simple notion: forget about the metaphysics and theorize about what is there, before us as an intuited presence. Natural science thereby becomes just one mode of the variegated affairs that constitute the world, rather than a presumptive overarching notion. This latter, again, has no grounding whatever in the world outside of its place in the jargon the specific sciences. Meaning, thought, logic, and...what could this be about? Look, the circularity of definitional meanings is just the way inquiry takes us when we look for foundations. All of those terms are theoretical because all terms are theoretical. It doesn't make all claims nonsense, but it simply observes that all are contingent, contextual. Terms become meaningless when their contexts are removed and they sit as if they were an absolute. Of course, an absolute, a noncontingent concept would have to be grounded in something extraordinary, like God. There is only one such term that approaches this, and this is metaethics/metavalue, and this argument is disputatious and few understand it. The only ones close would be Levinas, Kierkegaard, but these are not clear. Wittgenstein understood it, but claimed it couldn't be discussed. He was mistaken.
Again, you will not find agreement in the literature, or, you would have to piece it together as I did. Takes a need to understand.
Pain in the abstract or pain in my finger, it has absolutely no ethical dimension per se, that is plainly absurd. From my feeling of pain, as a sensation alone, nothing else can be said but that it's unpleasing.


I understand how one comes to think like this. It comes from reaching into a basis for meaning in the world, finding the empty concept of materialism, and producing inferences that cannot exceed this model (as I said, THE biggest complaint about such a term: its disabling actualities to conform to a vacuity). It is called scientific dogmatism, of scientism. The "absolutely no ethical dimension per se" turns up true only if your analysis is so overcome by the dogmatic model that it cannot see what is clearly directly before you. Put it this way: There is a very good introduction for this issue in Mackie's Ethics, Inventing Right and Wrong in which he posits his argument from queerness. Here he says an existential foundation for ethics would have to be something too odd to believe; it would have to be a kind of ontological sui generis, and he is right. That is exactly what it is, for to consider how queer something like a metaethical ontology would be, one first has to ask one the standard of non queer suppositions would be, and here are clearly the facts, as Hume would have it. An example would be any of those in Wittgenstein's famous book (see his Lecture on Ethics), the fact my shoes are untied, or that mountains erode in wind and rain. I would ask that one put her scientistic prejudices aside, and focus on the phenomena: on the one hand there is the spear in my side, on the other, the fact that my front yard grass is growing. If these are both facts, and they are, is there a difference, and there is, but as differences go among facts, here, there is something IN the fact of the one that is missing in the other, and the difference is not factual in the usual sense at all. Pain possesses something that is, indeedm sui generis. It is the metaethical, non natural property (G E Moore's term).

It could be argued that a moral judgement can arise along with this "fact" alone: it is good or bad to produce pain in your body, or to hit yourself with a hammer, etc. No such judgement can come with the feeling alone, absent its conceptual factual framework. But even so, this would not tell from where the goodness or badness come from and attach to the "fact". For there to be an ethical dimension, there must be a space of relations with other beings.
You're close. It is NOT disputed that ethical situations require other people (animals, as well, I would argue), so just let this stand. The question then is, what makes this ethical relationship ethical? One could ask the same about reason: certainly rationality would be rather mute if one were rational simply by oneself, but the question, what is the nature of reason? invites a critique that, while may include references to intersubjecitive relations, can be examined for its logical form, which one may call its essence. Here, the ethical looks to the essence of ethics, which deals with what is there, the absence of which would constitute an absence of ethics, and without hesitation, we look to the pain, pleasure, suffering, joy and the like. These are what makes ethics possible. No value, no ethics, and I consider this axiomatic and unproblematic. Thus, it is not a matter of conceiving of ethics as a solitary affair, but of analyzing the constitution of ethical possibility. My argument is that what it is that makes ethical agency possible is the individual valuative endowment, i.e., that one can experience value.
Unless I thought my finger is not me (we hope it's not G.E. Moore's hand), as soon as I can mirror my own painful experience upon The Other, including my own desires and expectations, I can begin to define the normative context of that type of experience, what is good or bad as universal rule. In that space of possibilities of interaction lies the ethical dimension, in the lifeworld, regardless of it being purely phenomenical or not.
So the finger and the lighted match: It is simply an illustration of what it IS in the world that makes ethics possible. As a metaethical problem, the question is not what one should do, weighing utility against rules against sentiment and so on; but rather, what IS ethics existentially? It is a uniquely philosophical question, and is, in my estimation, the ONLY question that matters at all, for as it turns out, the question about ethics' essence is a question about, if you will, to quote Douglas Adams, life, the universe and everything. It is not materialism that is the foundation of all things, but value, metavalue, and this is true analytically, for the proof lies in the "mattering" of what matters and value is in its essence, about mattering.

Yes, of course, Derrida is a phenomenologist. But no big figure in phenomenology thinks they're worth the title if they don't reject the phenomenological tradition from which they came. So did Husserl against Kant, Heidegger against Husserl, and Derrida against Heidegger. The French philosopher had no problem in turning Heidegger's own metaphysics of presence against himself:

"Derrida has had a long and complicated association with phenomenology for his entire career, including ambiguous relationships with Husserl and Heidegger, and something closer to a sustained allegiance with Lévinas. Despite this complexity, two main aspects of Derrida’s thinking regarding phenomenology remain clear. Firstly, he thinks that the phenomenological emphasis upon the immediacy of experience is the new transcendental illusion, and secondly, he argues that despite its best intents, phenomenology cannot be anything other than a metaphysics (SP 75, 104). In this context, Derrida defines metaphysics as the science of presence, as for him (as for Heidegger), all metaphysics privileges presence, or that which is. While they are presented schematically here, these inter-related claims constitute Derrida’s major arguments against phenomenology.

According to Derrida, phenomenology is a metaphysics of presence because it unwittingly relies upon the notion of an indivisible self-presence, or in the case of Husserl, the possibility of an exact internal adequation with oneself (SP 66-8). In various texts, Derrida contests this valorisation of an undivided subjectivity, as well as the primacy that such a position accords to the ‘now’, or to some other kind of temporal immediacy."
Heh, heh, well, of course, you know that if presence is not confirmed and gets lost in YOUR analysis of the world, then materialism goes down the drain with it, after all,the material thing DOES essentially present itself in the apprehension of what is material. And to truly understand this will put you one foot deep into phenomenology, for phenomenologists don't argue that there is first the presence, then the theory of materialism; rather, in a big way, they argue that the presence IS the material, just minus the monism (without the monism, materialism just becomes eternal malleable stuff): there ARE things out there, they do have all of that which a hard or soft science would say, and so on. The point they make is, generally, the concept of material is not foundational. What is foundational? Phenomena. What are phenomena? All that are there before you, just as they are in everyday living and, of course, in the text books of our natural sciences. The inner and outer of things abides just as it always did, and brains (roughly speaking, those organic things in our skulls connected through a central nervous system to other organs) produce experiences: apply a probe to a living brain, and there it is, the scent of lilacs. I mean, none of this changes at all. It's just that it is ALL pre philosophical. And this is because, one may say, that this idea of presence cannot confirm at all anything more fundamental! For Heidegger, an ontological analysis of the world yields multiple disciplines, discourses, that take up the world in distinct ways. The world is, for him, "equiprimordial" which is a denial that "presence" as a singular concept, like an entity, like 'yellow' and 'cloud' makes any sense, for it bears that stigma of "inner oracle" which intuitively, in the sense of bad metaphysics (think of the matter in physics when the notion of action at a distance had some paradigmatic pull, simply made no sense; the how of made no sense) resisted analysis, and we don't believe in things that resist analysis.

Derrida takes up where Heidegger leaves off: IF you are stuck with language for and as the primordial account (after all, equiprimordiality puts the given in the hands of what can be said, e.g., scientific paradigms) of what is, of Being, then let's take a serious look at language. If Heidegger undoes all centeredness to presence, then Derrida undoes all centeredness period. Heidegger was on a mission to recover philosophy from the alienating tendencies of metaphysics, but this presupposed there was SOMETHING we are alienated FROM, and this claim, says Derrida, has no privilege over anything else! For language and interpretation refer to Wittgensteins' FACTS, and facts qua facts have no ontological hegemonic order.

That is the nutshell of a nutshell of what you are talking about up there. All I can say is that the discussion these philosophers are into is really interesting. All it takes is the philosophical will to read about it. As with all things worth their ink, it is a challenge, but so what?

Read Caputo's Radical Hermeneutics to get the picture, though he takes you into unfamiliar territory, it becomes familiar with reading.
Well of course it is not phenomenological at all, that's what I've been saying all along. And one wouldn't expect a different stance from the man who went into the particular business of proving with both hands that there is an external world. He also went for more than a hundred pages to prove it in "The Nature and Reality of the Objects of Perception". Although he was right about this, he certainly was wrong about the objective quality of moral judgements.
Sorry, but this is just vague talk. Look directly at the matter. Literally apply the match to your finger, and observe, as if you were, like a competent scientist, committed to a comprehensive descriptive account of what you witness. One cannot theorize until one has observed well, notwithstanding how complex theory can get. WHAT, in earnest, is the most salient feature of this event? Put theory aside as best possible, a difficult thing to do, but it is the essence of phenomenology, which is in essence purely descriptive, a scientist's ideal. Husserl (who did not talk about ethics much as I have read, but so what) thought that the epoche (https://www.iep.utm.edu/phen-red/) liberated the observational perspective so that attending to the thing itself was possible. Partially right, I think, but for my purpose here, it is dead on: the most outstanding thing is the excruciating pain.

Now look at John Mackie's argument that in this observation, we must not allow ourselves to posit anything to explain what is plainly there that is "queer" which is his term for being outside what is factual, and here our paradigms are the typical ones, but note what is typical: a very big basket of facts (states of affairs, Wittgenstein called them). The question I pose to you and all is this: a fact, like the color of my shirt or plate techtonics, is exhausted by it empirical description (and the theories that converge on it that are equally committed observation and other theories duly committed, and so on. Even something as remote as string theory and talk of possible other dimensions, while being entirely conceived on the chalkboard, is nonsense if down the explanatory road not contingent on observational data), and a competent theorist could go on all day.

But that flame on your finger would exceed the observational dimensions, for when the explanation is through, there is the ethical, and this is apriori. There is something before your observational "eye" that is left unaccounted, and this is not permitted in science. I consider it the grand blunder of materialism (the monistic kind which lurks in the empirical shadows) to provide a model of possibilities that cannot accommodate the most salient thing in all the history and presence of the presentation of the world.

It strikes me that I really have no issue with materialism at all if you define it as an indefinitely yield concept, whose definition is simply "whatever is out there behind everything that shows up in our observations as this and that" the nature of which yielding to observation and "intuition" (taking logic to be an intuition, in a limited way); as infinitely deferential to whatever "presents itself".

But this, then, is consistent with what might called "good" metaphysics.
This a perfect example of the aporetic absurdities of phenomenology, or whatever version of it you want to advocate. To deal with entanglements in the world, be ethics or a virus, one must come to grips with the notion that there is a world, even if it's Husserl's lifeworld or Habermas' lifeworld, which has to be, anyway you want to look at it phenomenologically, a presupposition imposed and assumed. Clearly, when one connects the dots, it must be posited in order to save from sinking the idea that ethics is grounded on the "stand alone presence", which is completely contradictory. The stand alone presence didn't need the world, it dismissed it promptly in this debate along with materialistic science, but ethics had to pay the price of not being applicable and of gravitating in a ethereal realm of value in the abstract, so now the world has to be invoked again to make ethics stand on something. The phenomenon, interestingly, is necessarily tied (entangled?) to its impositions and assumptions, and phenonemonology is saved from solipsism, also at the price of being no more than an endless passing of meaning.
NO ONE denies there is a world. That's insane. See the above (and prior to that, and prior to that): the point is that the analysis leads us to the origin, and there we find value-in-actuality. It is NOT in the institutions of our culture, our language, not in our theory; these appear as a consequence of our entanglements with each other GIVEN this essential constitutive actuality of the subject.

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Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Count Lucanor » April 25th, 2020, 7:25 pm

Hereandnow wrote:Well, that's hardly a defense, to say materialism is "just as bad as other things I don't believe in." I mean, on your end, you're supposed to defend the idea, deny it outright.

That could be one way to see it. Another one will be: "materialism is just as good as other things you do believe in", which means that on your end, the simple denial of materialism because everything is "an endless passing of meaning" invokes a skepticism that makes your own belief susceptible of skepticism. If you want to defend that there are some things that we definitely cannot be skeptical about, such as the phenomenological doctrines, it will require more than saying that they make sense and that therefore, belief is justified, even though true knowledge is not completely guaranteed. Materialism makes sense, too, and belief in it will be justified, even if true knowledge was not completely guaranteed. The key question is whether true knowledge is completely guaranteed. If not, and there's only a fairly good knowledge of things, the key question becomes which approach does a better work of explaining how things are, how they work and how do we know. When one joins materialist ontology with epistemology and the methodology of science, of which the latter one you have agreed works fine for itself, they also work together very well, almost perfectly. Let's take the argument from analytic philosophy that this is just metaphysics and metaphysical propositions are meaningless, and let's leave it waiting right there for a moment. On the other hand, what do idealist ontologies have? Turns out they have their own metaphysics, so under the analytical critique, they don't hold. Leaving that aside, the metaphysics of material monism shows to be far superior than that of idealism. So what is left for the idealist to neutralize material monism without resorting to some form of metaphysics? To say that every claim about everything is prejudiced, a circular construction of language, an endless passing of meaning. But then, of course, as I said from the beginnning, it shoots itself on its feet, because that claim becomes itself prejudiced, and endless passing of meaning. Its only foundational claim is that there are no foundations. Claiming that the interpretative context is the foundation only reinforces the circularity of the prejudice. Try escaping that trap and you'll be again in the jaws of metaphysics. And with metaethics, you'll be in its stomach, that's the worst of all attempts.
Hereandnow wrote: I understand how one comes to think like this. It comes from reaching into a basis for meaning in the world, finding the empty concept of materialism, and producing inferences that cannot exceed this model (as I said, THE biggest complaint about such a term: its disabling actualities to conform to a vacuity). It is called scientific dogmatism, of scientism. The "absolutely no ethical dimension per se" turns up true only if your analysis is so overcome by the dogmatic model that it cannot see what is clearly directly before you.

Absolutely not. We are talking about the supposed immediate presence of pain, what's clearly before us, absence of all the so called prejudices. Forget materialism, forget science, forget the "fact". There's a pain and that's it, no more. To say something, then you can bring all the prejudices, science included, but so the prejudices of the phenomenical world, its assumptions, its metaphysics, its dogmas.
Hereandnow wrote: Put it this way: There is a very good introduction for this issue in Mackie's Ethics, Inventing Right and Wrong in which he posits his argument from queerness. Here he says an existential foundation for ethics would have to be something too odd to believe; it would have to be a kind of ontological sui generis, and he is right. That is exactly what it is, for to consider how queer something like a metaethical ontology would be, one first has to ask one the standard of non queer suppositions would be, and here are clearly the facts, as Hume would have it. An example would be any of those in Wittgenstein's famous book (see his Lecture on Ethics), the fact my shoes are untied, or that mountains erode in wind and rain. I would ask that one put her scientistic prejudices aside, and focus on the phenomena: on the one hand there is the spear in my side, on the other, the fact that my front yard grass is growing. If these are both facts, and they are, is there a difference, and there is, but as differences go among facts, here, there is something IN the fact of the one that is missing in the other, and the difference is not factual in the usual sense at all. Pain possesses something that is, indeedm sui generis. It is the metaethical, non natural property (G E Moore's term).

But again, one can pretend to dispense with the scientistic prejudices or any other, and believe one has reached the essence, but the true is that one has just imposed another prejudice. To raise any system of differences as the fire torch of philosophical inquiries is to bring back a new structuralism and proclaim a new stabilizing "center" in the eidetic reduction, not so different than the one Derrida pretended to squash in his famous lecture in 1966. To make something sui generis is to already make a commitment about his classification among classifiable things, it immediatele invokes the difference, the metaphysical structure from which it is trying to detach:

"...a series of substitutions of center for center, as a linked chain of determinations of the center. Successively, and in a regulated fashion, the center receives different forms or names. The history of metaphysics, like the history of the West, is the history of these metaphors and metonymies. Its matrix is the determination of being as presence in all the senses of this word. It would be possible to show that all the names related to fundamentals, to principles, or to the I center have always designated the constant of a presence-eidos, arche, telos, energeia, ousia (essence, existence, substance, subject) aletheia [truth], transcendentality, consciousness, or conscience, God, man, and so forth.
Hereandnow wrote: You're close. It is NOT disputed that ethical situations require other people (animals, as well, I would argue), so just let this stand. The question then is, what makes this ethical relationship ethical? One could ask the same about reason: certainly rationality would be rather mute if one were rational simply by oneself, but the question, what is the nature of reason? invites a critique that, while may include references to intersubjecitive relations, can be examined for its logical form, which one may call its essence. Here, the ethical looks to the essence of ethics, which deals with what is there, the absence of which would constitute an absence of ethics, and without hesitation, we look to the pain, pleasure, suffering, joy and the like.

But here we are clearly back into the problem of circularity of the definitions, the constant passing of meaning, and then you just suddenly pretend you have escaped the circle, as if you have found the essence because you have peeled off the supposed dogmatic models in a logical, apparently neutral, operation. But on closer examination, no, the logical form always reinserts the prejudiced concepts of your preference, no less of a vacuity than the despised materialist ontology it wants to replace. Pain, pleasure, suffering, joy and the like, are to be put right beside the other things that appear in our experience of the world. You are forced to admit that ethics must deal with "what is there", something that, as you may well remember, we could not say anything, but all of the sudden, we can open the door "without hesitation" to find "pain, pleasure, suffering, joy and the like", the very first things that were "here", not "there". From here to here, such abstract ethics has not moved one inch, has not reached anything.
Hereandnow wrote: These are what makes ethics possible. No value, no ethics, and I consider this axiomatic and unproblematic. Thus, it is not a matter of conceiving of ethics as a solitary affair, but of analyzing the constitution of ethical possibility. My argument is that what it is that makes ethical agency possible is the individual valuative endowment, i.e., that one can experience value.

But can value be detached from the matrix of determinations? Without its mediation, it's meaningless, another nonsense word. To posit it as something beyond the contexts of significance is no better than positing god or the material, as another mind-independent truth. Ultimately, value is the judgement of the goodness or badness of something, but we are still left without clarifying what's goodness or badness, and back to square one where we asked ourselves what value is. Value comes along with the matrix of determinations, and the matrix of determination comes along with praxis, it is not an a posteriori development of value in the abstract. The "individual valuative endowment" is no different than Moliere's virtus dormitiva, a classic placeholder in the category of idealist essences.
Hereandnow wrote: So the finger and the lighted match: It is simply an illustration of what it IS in the world that makes ethics possible. As a metaethical problem, the question is not what one should do, weighing utility against rules against sentiment and so on; but rather, what IS ethics existentially? It is a uniquely philosophical question, and is, in my estimation, the ONLY question that matters at all, for as it turns out, the question about ethics' essence is a question about, if you will, to quote Douglas Adams, life, the universe and everything. It is not materialism that is the foundation of all things, but value, metavalue, and this is true analytically, for the proof lies in the "mattering" of what matters and value is in its essence, about mattering.

We can agree that ethics is a fundamental issue of our existence, and is to take an important part of our philosophical inquiries. Materialism is evidently not closed to the examination of ethical matters, since it can recognize the ethical dimension in human action, consistent with a monist ontology. The idealist demand for an abstract, necessarily reductive, mind-independent essence of ethics as the foundational issue, clashes with many materialist conceptions of what is foundational. Even when physicists devote their biggest efforts to discover the fundamental nature of reality, no one is compelled by a materialist ontology to reduce the complex structures of the world of the living and non-living to the basic constituents of matter, and actually that's what some well-known idealists do. Ethics can be founded in human praxis and this involves meaning and other sets of interdependent determinations where values take form in acts of judgement. The idealist critique that involves bracketing the subject/object relation, as we have seen above, ultimately ends up the phenomenologist requiring to bracket the "essence" too, leaving no better alternative than epistemological nihilism if he wants to sustain his initial skepticism. His refusal to embrace the results of his own critique is a concession to the materialist.
Hereandnow wrote:
Heh, heh, well, of course, you know that if presence is not confirmed and gets lost in YOUR analysis of the world, then materialism goes down the drain with it, after all,the material thing DOES essentially present itself in the apprehension of what is material. And to truly understand this will put you one foot deep into phenomenology,

But the issue is, as I have explained, that the phenomenological operation, very much concerned with sending materialism down the drain, MUST send idealism along with it. Oh, sure, we are supposed to believe candidly that the "endless passing of meaning" just applies to the materialist ontology. Well, no, it is the limit self-imposed by phenomenology, a project which has found its culmination in the work of the phenomenologist Derrida, that shatters its own foundational basis. It is not the materialist critique, not the so called "pre-philosophical" inquiries, but the auto-proclaimed philosophical idealist critique that sends idealism down the drain. It goes down as metaphysics. That's the aporia in which phenomenology's skeptical nonsense ends by its own means.
Hereandnow wrote:Sorry, but this is just vague talk. Look directly at the matter.

This is G.E. Moore's talk, looking directly on the matter. I thought you endorsed his views, but anyway.
Hereandnow wrote: Literally apply the match to your finger, and observe, as if you were, like a competent scientist, committed to a comprehensive descriptive account of what you witness. One cannot theorize until one has observed well, notwithstanding how complex theory can get. WHAT, in earnest, is the most salient feature of this event? Put theory aside as best possible, a difficult thing to do, but it is the essence of phenomenology, which is in essence purely descriptive, a scientist's ideal.

That is exactly what I did. I didn't throw in any scientific theories, I simply took pain at its most fundamental level, and there was no "essence". The essence is a pregivenness, an article of faith of the phenomenologist, one thing he claims is just there, grasped directly by its mere presence. But it is just another prejudiced assumption, that one can easily spot as soon as the phenomenologist attempts to describe it. The matrix of determinations is soon revealed, one thing connects with the other needing explanation and this one gets explained in terms of the other. It is purposefully done this way, it is in the requirement of the hermeneutic method itself, interpretation over interpretation, with the joker card of the "essence" when it needs a way out.
Hereandnow wrote: Now look at John Mackie's argument that in this observation, we must not allow ourselves to posit anything to explain what is plainly there that is "queer" which is his term for being outside what is factual, and here our paradigms are the typical ones, but note what is typical: a very big basket of facts (states of affairs, Wittgenstein called them). The question I pose to you and all is this: a fact, like the color of my shirt or plate techtonics, is exhausted by it empirical description (and the theories that converge on it that are equally committed observation and other theories duly committed, and so on. Even something as remote as string theory and talk of possible other dimensions, while being entirely conceived on the chalkboard, is nonsense if down the explanatory road not contingent on observational data), and a competent theorist could go on all day.

But that flame on your finger would exceed the observational dimensions, for when the explanation is through, there is the ethical, and this is apriori. There is something before your observational "eye" that is left unaccounted, and this is not permitted in science. I consider it the grand blunder of materialism (the monistic kind which lurks in the empirical shadows) to provide a model of possibilities that cannot accommodate the most salient thing in all the history and presence of the presentation of the world.

The problem here, obviously, is that were not talking about the flame on my finger, the color of a shirt, nor plate techtonics. If that were the case, we would have gone back to the discussion about the exterior world. The example of pain provided us with something apt to speak about the experience possibly less prejudiced by concepts. That's why we could forget that it was like a finger in Moore's hand, the purported proof of the exterior world. All I have is a pain that is undoubtedly my pain, free of any other determinations. No scientific concepts here, not even the observation, that is, the representation of a state of affairs occurring in my finger. But there were no facts in that pure immediacy of pain, nothing could be said of it as phenomena. When descriptions arrived and the fact began to surface, there was already a structure of meaning informed by multiple perceptions and involvement with the world. That was the fact of my pain, which as I said, could be disputed on the basis of the prejudiced concepts about the world. But in that case, there's nothing pregiven in pain, and from that side it is not foundational, certainly not foundational to value, ethics, etc. You can complain as you want for the supposed blunders of science and materialism, but what can be worst than an intellectual journey that starts by denying the existence of a mind-independent reality and ends up positing a mind-independent reality in a field of passive pregivenness.

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Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Hereandnow » May 2nd, 2020, 2:00 pm

Count Lucanor
That could be one way to see it. Another one will be: "materialism is just as good as other things you do believe in", which means that on your end, the simple denial of materialism because everything is "an endless passing of meaning" invokes a skepticism that makes your own belief susceptible of skepticism. If you want to defend that there are some things that we definitely cannot be skeptical about, such as the phenomenological doctrines, it will require more than saying that they make sense and that therefore, belief is justified, even though true knowledge is not completely guaranteed. Materialism makes sense, too, and belief in it will be justified, even if true knowledge was not completely guaranteed. The key question is whether true knowledge is completely guaranteed. If not, and there's only a fairly good knowledge of things, the key question becomes which approach does a better work of explaining how things are, how they work and how do we know. When one joins materialist ontology with epistemology and the methodology of science, of which the latter one you have agreed works fine for itself, they also work together very well, almost perfectly. Let's take the argument from analytic philosophy that this is just metaphysics and metaphysical propositions are meaningless, and let's leave it waiting right there for a moment. On the other hand, what do idealist ontologies have? Turns out they have their own metaphysics, so under the analytical critique, they don't hold. Leaving that aside, the metaphysics of material monism shows to be far superior than that of idealism. So what is left for the idealist to neutralize material monism without resorting to some form of metaphysics? To say that every claim about everything is prejudiced, a circular construction of language, an endless passing of meaning. But then, of course, as I said from the beginnning, it shoots itself on its feet, because that claim becomes itself prejudiced, and endless passing of meaning. Its only foundational claim is that there are no foundations. Claiming that the interpretative context is the foundation only reinforces the circularity of the prejudice. Try escaping that trap and you'll be again in the jaws of metaphysics. And with metaethics, you'll be in its stomach, that's the worst of all attempts.
Skeptical about foundations, yes. And even my position regarding the privileged place of the metaethical is expressed in terms that are not aligned with the "fabric of things" as I can see. All roads of basic level inquiry lead outward and away from foundations. Metaethics, I will add quickly here, has the intuitive dimension that empirical facts do not, and I try to emphasize this because it is sui generis in this, for no other empirical analysis yields this kind of thing. Ethics (aesthetics) step forth and announce themselves in an entirely different way. Philosophers who deny this are simply being disingenuous. I place this here because in the circularity phenomenologists like Heidegger talk about, that you say above leads to the inevitable self contradiction of ALL claims, I contradict you both: the presence of ethical/aesthetic metavalue, an absolute is intimated notwithstanding the hermeneutical circle. This I believe is a violation of the circularity the you say is so damning to prepositional privileging. Here, in ethics, the world actually "speaks". Odd locutions for odd affairs, and there is nothing more odd than that which underpins ethics. To imagine what actual interpretative intimations could even be, there would have to be an articulation of the ethical in language, as if God actually spoke.
You say, what do idealist ontologies have? Turns out they have their own metaphysics, so under the analytical critique, they don't hold. Leaving that aside, the metaphysics of material monism shows to be far superior than that of idealism. If, again, materialism were construed as a term infinitely deferential to all that is disclosed in inquiry, then you would have me nearly sold, but then, this would be a useless term analytically if terms are supposed to do something, because it would do nothing but hold in place continuities; it would be a kind of reification of familiarity and continuity (not my expression, but I find it fitting).But it isn't just a benign redundant term as it confuses the world with its terrible bias that tends to neutralize the affairs of being human to conform with science's materialist paradigms. The assumption that "it is all material" or "all that presents itself in the world is derivative of material 'stuff"" pulls all affairs into the gravity of this concept, and this occludes actualities. It is the kind of thinking that leads to the "reduction" of ethics to a neutral construal. It doesn't matter if you're a reductionist, a derivativist, an emergentist, the distortion is the same: X becomes OF material, taken AS material; and what is material? As I have said several times, IF material is construed as deferential to all that occurs, presents itself, looms large in our experiential horizon, then it simply becomes a synonym for metaphysics, and there is something to this, after all, there was a BIg Bang, "prior" to which there was, call it foundational Being (???) and all things "emerged". A solid empirical hypothesis which I believe true, as much as I believe in continental drift and a spectral analysis of light. But again, this is NOT the way the term 'material' is played out. In short, it systematically ignores or reduces the most underscored features of the world, and these are the themes of existentialism.
Absolutely not. We are talking about the supposed immediate presence of pain, what's clearly before us, absence of all the so called prejudices. Forget materialism, forget science, forget the "fact". There's a pain and that's it, no more. To say something, then you can bring all the prejudices, science included, but so the prejudices of the phenomenical world, its assumptions, its metaphysics, its dogmas.
Phenomenology only has the "prejudice" of allowing what is there to declare itself, and not let it be subsumed under an interpretative bias. Of course, in the clarity of the intimation of the actuality, the question arises as to what biases are still in place. Husserl said that in the epoche there is a "suchnes"s that presents itself and others (see Steinbach's Mysticism and Phenomenology and the notion of verticality) have taken off with this. Such an idea implies that we are capable of an intuitive grasp that is qualitatively profound. This finds agreement here and there in the literature. but it does highlight one of the most striking features of the phenomenological reduction: it lifts the subject out of the congestion of theory to the extent that something genuinely sui generis is intimated.

And one forgets neither materialism, science nor fact any more than one "forgets" these when she does her taxes or drives to work. These stay in the background, ready to hand when the situation arises where they are useful. It is more compartmentalizing what has no application. The epoche puts on hold what has no place, and materialism, say, has no place in the reduction. It continues to have a place elsewhere.

Phenomenological dogmas? I wonder what this would be. A dogma implies a failure to examine and critique. You seem to be saying that non foundational ideas must therefore be dogmatic for this is what circularity implies.

I've bee trying to drive home an idea that does indeed provide a foundation for the human enterprise: Ethics. I've already laid down my thoughts on this. Pls review. I said outright that I have not found that Heidegger and others understood ethics at all. Levinas did. See his Existence and Existents: "It is not the truth, but the good" that gives our world its foundation. Our truths are pragmatic and propositional truth as such is valueless, that is, Hume was right, reason HAS no value when reduced to it FORM, as a Platonist or a Kantian might conceive it. My position is that it is not this kind of truth but another, a "revelatory" truth that has to be understood as what grounds our endeavors. Heidegger is helpful here as he does try to amend this tradition of a pernicious metaphysics and rationalism that pins truth to truth values and logic, as if these could be a foundation to anything beyond what they are. By revelatory I mean a "revealing" and a "hiddeness" that becomes unhidden in intuitive ways that are inherently valuative, or metavaluative.

Such a thing may sound odd, but just consider that the world is not a body of propositions, and what is there is something else altogether than the reason that attempts to bring all things to heel. This is, of course, a major existentialist theme: what we are all about as agencies of endeavor (not a bad way to put it, I think) is NOT an attempt to find truth in propositional agreement. Not that this is undesirable, but it hardly constitutes what it means to be a human being. My argument is THE existential complaint: that being human has depth and breadth and meaning such that the grounding of all things under the rubric materialism occludes and trivializes this.

Dogmas ignore resistance, what I would call the hallmark of a dogma. The materialism you defend does just this, per the above.
But again, one can pretend to dispense with the scientistic prejudices or any other, and believe one has reached the essence, but the true is that one has just imposed another prejudice. To raise any system of differences as the fire torch of philosophical inquiries is to bring back a new structuralism and proclaim a new stabilizing "center" in the eidetic reduction, not so different than the one Derrida pretended to squash in his famous lecture in 1966. To make something sui generis is to already make a commitment about his classification among classifiable things, it immediatele invokes the difference, the metaphysical structure from which it is trying to detach:

"...a series of substitutions of center for center, as a linked chain of determinations of the center. Successively, and in a regulated fashion, the center receives different forms or names. The history of metaphysics, like the history of the West, is the history of these metaphors and metonymies. Its matrix is the determination of being as presence in all the senses of this word. It would be possible to show that all the names related to fundamentals, to principles, or to the I center have always designated the constant of a presence-eidos, arche, telos, energeia, ousia (essence, existence, substance, subject) aletheia [truth], transcendentality, consciousness, or conscience, God, man, and so forth.
As to your concerns about a "center, see the above. But then again, "centerlessness" is not a dogma; it is simply a description. Phenomenology is descriptive; that is all. As is empirical science, but with phenomenology, my phenomenology, that is, in that description value looms large and claims hegemony, not of the dogmatic kind, but the intuitive kind. Kant's enlightenment ideal: the truth is there to see for all, independently; but for me, the truth is not propositional truth (though that IS a sticky wicket, granted. Is Heidegger's account logocentric?), but revelatory.

I am a qualified pragmatist and this centers our affairs on problem solving, and this is not at all a free for all foundation. And to understand Derrida, , you can begin with Rorty: "Truth is not discovered, but made." Now, I don't agree with this entirely because I literally believe, in a qualified way, in absolutes, as with metaethics/metavalue' e.g., I elieve we have a defeasable obligation not to bludgeon our neighbors, but here "defeasable" is used only because our language and logic cannot keep up with, if you will, the world--our entanglements create uncertainty (as I have argued elsewhere more than once), but metaethically, beneath our entanglements and prior to acquired systems of entangled engagement, the obligation not to bludgeon one's neighbor, the metaethical obligation not to do so, is absolute.
But here we are clearly back into the problem of circularity of the definitions, the constant passing of meaning, and then you just suddenly pretend you have escaped the circle, as if you have found the essence because you have peeled off the supposed dogmatic models in a logical, apparently neutral, operation. But on closer examination, no, the logical form always reinserts the prejudiced concepts of your preference, no less of a vacuity than the despised materialist ontology it wants to replace. Pain, pleasure, suffering, joy and the like, are to be put right beside the other things that appear in our experience of the world. You are forced to admit that ethics must deal with "what is there", something that, as you may well remember, we could not say anything, but all of the sudden, we can open the door "without hesitation" to find "pain, pleasure, suffering, joy and the like", the very first things that were "here", not "there". From here to here, such abstract ethics has not moved one inch, has not reached anything.
That is actually a pretty good response to what I just said. I did say it was a sticky wicket. To at least try to see my position on this, you have to put down critical judgment for a moment, just to look, as Einstein was willing to put down standard Newtonian concepts, and other 19th century concepts in physics. Call it a paradigm shift. Just observe a given event, be it painful or joyful. The painful ones are most poignant; there is something about the idea of torture that stands out. The idea is to understand this event, and to do this, we remove what is incidental to focus on what is essential. We do this all the time. It's called analysis, a taking a thing apart to observe its parts. I have presented this already, but again: once you have exhausted all that is "plainly" observable, there is something else, and to deny this is, I say, simply an ad hoc omission, for we all can see not equally plainly, but more so than equally; indeed, with a clarity exceeds all other clarities, BUT, and here is the rub, one of the "sticky" parts, IN the pain there is more than the empirical description yields: the ethical good and bad.

What are these? Consider what contingent good and bad is, first. Good knives, tables, anything you can think of, really are good because or their relation to some other thing; a good chair is comfortable, that is, unless it is meant to be uncomfortable for some reason, and we can imagine all sorts of possibilities for this. But the ethical goodness and badness is quite different, for one cannot imagine pain being good IN ITSELF. A sharp knife becomes bad if used in a play and you con't want anyone to get hurt. In fact, the sharpness actually becomes bad. In metaethics, where these goods and bads are examined for themselves, we see that one cannot even imagine a case where one becomes the other. It is not a conceptual thing, but intuitive, for what we are considering is a decontextualizing (an epoche method) so the good or bad stands by itself for inspection. We find metaethical goodness and badness entirely unassailable. E.g., there is no imaginable condition that would make torture inherently good, regardless of how conditions are contrived to do so. Imagine torturing one child to save a million others from a far worse fate, and this does not diminish one scintilla the metaethical "badness" of the torture of the one; it simply relativizes it.

Because of this argument. I am convinced that the world is a metamoral one in its foundation. This not only matches empirical claims to "truth" but far exceeds it. Not that an interpretation of ethical affairs are cleared up with the concepts of ethical good and bad; far from it. This is another aspect of the "stickiness" for all of our language is interpretative, and we treat ethical goods and bads AS goods and bads because we are not gods and do not know how some metaphysical perspective might be conceptualized. But then again, the intuitive presence is undeniable.

This world is philosophically difficult to penetrate, and the one guaranteed way to know you are on the wrong track is to claim foundational knowledge. But in a pragmatist's conception, this is exactly what is endorsed, and someone like Rorty will try endlessly to defend his liberalism under the rubric of problem solving (ethical behavior is grounded in what works@; but why should we do what works? we have a choice not to. Rorty has no answer to this. I do: we have in our "theory" of metaethics an intuition that declares itself clearly, through, alas, the in interpretative settings available.

This that offer here is what I think is really what the world is about. It is NOT a rug without wrinkles. Oh well. It does require a genuine attempt to understand it to see its value. One has to move beyond tit for tat arguing.

But can value be detached from the matrix of determinations? Without its mediation, it's meaningless, another nonsense word. To posit it as something beyond the contexts of significance is no better than positing god or the material, as another mind-independent truth. Ultimately, value is the judgement of the goodness or badness of something, but we are still left without clarifying what's goodness or badness, and back to square one where we asked ourselves what value is. Value comes along with the matrix of determinations, and the matrix of determination comes along with praxis, it is not an a posteriori development of value in the abstract. The "individual valuative endowment" is no different than Moliere's virtus dormitiva, a classic placeholder in the category of idealist essences.
The context of significance is the explanatory context above. As with all analytical affairs, things are taken apart, isolated for examination, as with what Kant did with pure reason. Not that I defend "pure" reason, but his method is not called into question. Analytical method is not to be challenged, it's just here, it's not reason, but value, that presence of the ethical/valuative within the factual, and this is the source of all obligations of a moral nature (as opposed to a merely contingent nature, as in a good couch being comfortable).

So one has to drop the "matrix of determinations" just as Kant did not attend to the incidental applications of reason. In such a praxis, there are elements that are arbitrary to metaethics, and these are contingent matters. The baker has to produce a quality bagel to have business, to feed her family, to have respect in the community, and these in turn have their justifications bound up in the various cultural and qualifying conditions that abide. Such conditions are the reason so many turn to ethical relativism in the final analysis, bypassing altogether the metaethical analysis.
We can agree that ethics is a fundamental issue of our existence, and is to take an important part of our philosophical inquiries. Materialism is evidently not closed to the examination of ethical matters, since it can recognize the ethical dimension in human action, consistent with a monist ontology. The idealist demand for an abstract, necessarily reductive, mind-independent essence of ethics as the foundational issue, clashes with many materialist conceptions of what is foundational. Even when physicists devote their biggest efforts to discover the fundamental nature of reality, no one is compelled by a materialist ontology to reduce the complex structures of the world of the living and non-living to the basic constituents of matter, and actually that's what some well-known idealists do. Ethics can be founded in human praxis and this involves meaning and other sets of interdependent determinations where values take form in acts of judgement. The idealist critique that involves bracketing the subject/object relation, as we have seen above, ultimately ends up the phenomenologist requiring to bracket the "essence" too, leaving no better alternative than epistemological nihilism if he wants to sustain his initial skepticism. His refusal to embrace the results of his own critique is a concession to the materialist.
AS to ethics, I don't hold any standard view, so you pretty much have to read what I write and ignore "well known idealists". Idealism is a term I am not comfortable with because it implies an opposition to realism, and these go, the both of them, misunderstood. Phenomenology insists that what the world IS, is no more or less than what it appears to be, and in this, it sidelines bad metaphysics and other distortions. What could be more clear than to observe "things themselves"? You would have to explain two tings to make material monism even prima facie interesting. One would be how it is that a material thing can be at all conceived apart from the act of conceiving. The other is how anything out there gets in here. Both I have raised, neither addressed, and with good reason: it can't be done. I mean, just try; indeed, it is the very materialist assumption that makes irt impossible. Take any material object A, vis a vis another, B: how does materialism allow for an "aboutness" to occur if I am A and my lamp is B? You would have to yield to Rorty (who, in the affairs of everyday materialism is on YOUR side; but at he level of basic questions he was a pragmatist): I no more know B than a car fender knows the offending guardrail. Take a hard look at this example, because Rorty is right: Knowledge in your head, according to the materialist model, about objects in the world is impossible, for "aboutness" cannot travel from A to B.

It is certainly not true that all concepts of classification and relations are the same. And of course phenomenology is bound to the very possibilities that all explanatory affairs have, but here, the general heading "phenomenology" is an open concept and is truer to the way the world presents itself. It's only "bias" is that it insists that a phenomenon be observed and understood beyond the possibilities of a single idea. Phenomenology does nto hodld events to a single idea's prejudice, but drops all such prejudice. The "what is it?" looks not to some

similarity and causal relations tell us nothing of the presence,the manifestation that has emerged, if you will. This is what is wrong with all emerging and reductionist (keep in mind that the epoche is a reduction TO the manifold of presence, not to the metaphysical concept that attempts to pull an event into it interpretative gravity; thing sare left, in my view, inspired by Heidegger, to be what they are. Materialism is a a causal accounting, as soon as one know the genesis of X, we know X. The question begging is obvious, isn';t it: that whcih is causally prior to X is also defined by its prior, and the qualitative nature that stands before one is altogether ingnored IN the explanation.
Phenomenology drops the assumption that X is anything but what it appears to be, and looks to baisc structures, not derivative ones. After all, is this not the purpose of the original question as to what a foundational. nonderivative (or at least, the least derivative) concept would be?

ethics: Where does empirical science speak of existential themes? It doen't. This is why we divide science from religion, for the latter is about faith, and science is hard, caluculative.

It is also reductionist to the proposition.
Should make it clear that my views are not found IN the literature of any one philosopher. Generic crit may be a drit I myself abide by.

sinply looks t different things and claims these to be more fundamental, not cklear of bias at all.
It is about this more fundamental that goes ignored that demands examination, for it is abiding unseen. Phenomenology provides theoretical opening for the unseen structures of experience. Of course, to be aware that there are such things one has to read philosohy, thought that points, looks to foundations that begin at the root of the most basic, what is presupposed in any and all experience. Experience is fundamental, says Dewey. If you want to talk about foundations, look first to where all things issue, experience.
But the issue is, as I have explained, that the phenomenological operation, very much concerned with sending materialism down the drain, MUST send idealism along with it. Oh, sure, we are supposed to believe candidly that the "endless passing of meaning" just applies to the materialist ontology. Well, no, it is the limit self-imposed by phenomenology, a project which has found its culmination in the work of the phenomenologist Derrida, that shatters its own foundational basis. It is not the materialist critique, not the so called "pre-philosophical" inquiries, but the auto-proclaimed philosophical idealist critique that sends idealism down the drain. It goes down as metaphysics. That's the aporia in which phenomenology's skeptical nonsense ends by its own means.
It seems to be important to your thinking that IF one endorses a privileging of phenomena over material conceptions of the world, then they are at least on equal footing when it comes to interpretative indifference to content, that is, phenomenology

Derrida by absolutely no means represents everyone here, not Husserl, beyond Heidegger (read Caputo's book) and light years from Levinas and Kierkegaard and Shestov and Buber and Rorty (the pragmatist; and not light years from him, really. Not that sure)...these phenomenologists (if Buber counts as one) do not believe there is no way assume a position regarding how things are foundationally. The problem arises because they are different, but they do have a common base line thinking which is that the world has to be understood in the terms of the way it presents itself and not through something else.

Now, you find it tempting to say that the epistemological primacy of interpretation, you might say, yields NO winners, and you move naturally to Derrida. I will admit this: from my reading of Derrida and various papers, I think he is right to say that language and and logic alone yield no metaphysical center for anything. I just don't see how any other conclusion can be gotten, for the idea is a fact, as I see it, is bound to the grid of logicality and meaning making that cannot point beyond itself (Wittgenstein's Tractatus). To make a proposition at all is to invoke that idea of propositional truth, and there is no truth "out there," only "in here" as Rorty put it. Rorty is in the "natural attitude" here: IF the world is to be described as a body of particulated matter (with granted theoretical extensions), then events are localized, and IF this is true, no thing over there magically gets IN here, the mind, the conscious awareness, and IF this is so, then knowledge about the "outthereness" cannot be made sense of at all. Notwithstanding quantun entanglement, localized affairs (us) cannot "know" other localized affairs. You would have to present a model of local affairs "mechanics" that allows my lamp to "intimate" itself, a kind of magical action at a distance. (Interesting to note that Derrida, the post modern language philosopher, and Quine, the champion of the hard sciences, actually come together. Too long to discuss here, but Quine's indeterminacy concludes in a way that is consistent with Derrida's uncenteredness.)
So there you have it: language being a self referential system and materiality a system of local actualities. How does one ever come to the conclusion that an adequate account

Having said this, phenomenology does not deny "outthereness' at all; but it does claim existence is an out-there/in-here synthesis. We are what I call in the "in-the-middle", and it is not a closed system but an open one,and "material" is a part of this, but it is a derivative concept. What comes first is the embeddedness of meaning from which all concepts come. And again, this idea is presented in full understanding that it too issues from such an embeddedness. The grounding comes from, if you read Husserl, the hyle, the way the world imposes itself on thought and in its indeterminacy intimates that what lies before one exceeds one's intentional possibilities; this is transcendence. His epoche puts us in the middle, and here is where we encounter the threshold of our understanding which is, by accounts other than Husserl, where philosophy reveals its true nature: a revelation about who or what we are, for these events are not abstractions, they are existential (hence the name), and this makes the whole affair about you, the inquirer, an actual agency of endeavor, alienated from its foundation which is seeks in its sciences, literature, arts, all of which possess an "elsewhere" of theor source, evidenced by the "presence" of metaphysics that permeates all (not "bad" metaphysics, assertive and dogmatic, but a "revelatory" metaphysics).

This little snippet of existential thought is just a foretaste of what you would encounter if you would read the literature seriously. If you don't, you will remain outside, as most do. It is not easy look at foundational truth as a lived personal experience. It likely sounds extravagant , but I think you are not aware that this judgment issues from a working model in your mind that is prohibitive of this. One of the many problems with materialism is that is encourages exactly this "distance" between the individual and truth. It "exteriorizes" truth (care with this term, though. the opposite of what Levinas had in mind) making it closer to utility, information, what Heidegger called "enframing".

You may claim, not entirely wrongly, that phenomenology is a turn inward, but it is only in the framework of "externality" set up by materialism that "inward" has become inimical to truth. Religion not only gets a back seat, but tossed into the trunk entirely; the mystery of our existence reduced to terminal points of (Wittgensteinian. He;s is complicated, but he sets up a very strong distaste for may existential themes) sense making; the world receives its foundational position from a default that is mechanical (note that I say "the world receives" this. I am aware that materialism is a concept theoretically "open" to thought and experiment; I refer to here its foundational bias that rings through all accounts) and free of the incidentals of human vagaries and attitudes.

Phenomenology allows the most underscored dimensions of our existence to be given primordiality (this is MY view, but implicit in other forms in others' views).
That is exactly what I did. I didn't throw in any scientific theories, I simply took pain at its most fundamental level, and there was no "essence". The essence is a pregivenness, an article of faith of the phenomenologist, one thing he claims is just there, grasped directly by its mere presence. But it is just another prejudiced assumption, that one can easily spot as soon as the phenomenologist attempts to describe it. The matrix of determinations is soon revealed, one thing connects with the other needing explanation and this one gets explained in terms of the other. It is purposefully done this way, it is in the requirement of the hermeneutic method itself, interpretation over interpretation, with the joker card of the "essence" when it needs a way out.
But in the pregiveness, one can follow foolishness, can be distracted, can believe the flame is a God. The point is NOT that all interpretative postures becomes validated is one moves away from the claims of pregiven possibilities; it is to free one's perspective from interference of everydayness, of commonly held, unquestioned thinking, the bland and foolish, the technical and irrelevant. Husserl thought that if a object/event is released from the implicit underlying knowledge claims, it will be presented as it is, eidetically endowed with all the constitutes it being there as such, or, IN the intuition of being there. It is a controversial claim, and Heidegger wanted nothing to do with this mysterious, quasi Kierkegaardian "intuition" (of course, neither did Derrida), the baseline for ontology was established.
So all of this "connectedness" is grounded IN the system and its general plausibility. What grounds this? Everyone is different. The color yellow is what it is, and all my concepts can do is point to it and say "yellow" and underlying this is a vast system of internalized world-thinking. This system Heidegger calls present at hand, close to Rorty (NOT the same) on this: pragmatic assumptions, for all knowledge is pragmatic, says Rorty (the hypothetical deductive method). Yellow, that "sensory intuition," is NOT sayable. It sits there like a lump, and all such "sensory intuitions" or "qualia" (I care not which) are like this. Math is like this, too. Explain the "intuition" of modes ponens" and you would be explaining using the same "intuition" that informs modus ponens. See what Wittgenstein is on about? There IS a foundation, and it DOES coerce compliance. 'Red" is not 'yellow' but observing the difference, does not intimate the "what" of the intuition. NO WORDS CAN DO THIS. One encounters the given as given, and it is an odd event, but quite real. It is what engenders a genuine exixtential encounter with the world. You have to read about it to understand it, and even then, what you understand will be mysterious. This is what happens when the safety net of metaphysical assumptions, materialism, is abandoned. In reality, there is no safety net. We are NOT trying to simply understand propositional accountability. We are trying to understand the world as it presents itself.

T
he problem here, obviously, is that were not talking about the flame on my finger, the color of a shirt, nor plate techtonics. If that were the case, we would have gone back to the discussion about the exterior world. The example of pain provided us with something apt to speak about the experience possibly less prejudiced by concepts. That's why we could forget that it was like a finger in Moore's hand, the purported proof of the exterior world. All I have is a pain that is undoubtedly my pain, free of any other determinations. No scientific concepts here, not even the observation, that is, the representation of a state of affairs occurring in my finger. But there were no facts in that pure immediacy of pain, nothing could be said of it as phenomena. When descriptions arrived and the fact began to surface, there was already a structure of meaning informed by multiple perceptions and involvement with the world. That was the fact of my pain, which as I said, could be disputed on the basis of the prejudiced concepts about the world. But in that case, there's nothing pregiven in pain, and from that side it is not foundational, certainly not foundational to value, ethics, etc. You can complain as you want for the supposed blunders of science and materialism, but what can be worst than an intellectual journey that starts by denying the existence of a mind-independent reality and ends up positing a mind-independent reality in a field of passive pregivenness.
Passive giveness is not a bad way to put it. It is both an elusive thing, yet there is nothing more salient, and this is why it demands attention. Your thinking on the matter here is dismissive, and this can't stand. The trouble with phenomenology goes back to Dostoevsky's Underground man, who asked, Am I a piano key? asserting his freedom vis a vis the threat of determinism. It says, for my purpose, that even though the world is coercively presented, there is distance in the immediacy of apprehending it. I can say one plus one equals four thousand, can't I, and I can reject, deny, stand apart from what is there. I am not "instinctually" bound to it, you might say, for the question can interpose itself, and this is all well and fine, unless I am in a context in which I am required to adhere, as when I am designing an automobile or teaching math (or anything).

However, and this is a big point: when it comes to "passive giveness" of the color yellow, or logic or whatever, the mattering requires context to make the mattering make sense at all; otherwise, I am free to do as I please with modus ponens, gravity--I can laugh, sneer, ridicule, create alternatives; BUT, when it comes to the "intuition" of pain, its "passive giveness" is not silent at all, and NO context can countervail. Consider again the discussion about the torture of the child against that of thousands" Utility tells me clearly how to choose, but the torturing of the one is in no way mitigated in itself, because in itself it is unassialable, noncontingent, absolutely coersive. Yellow is not like this.

Review that idea as laid out earlier. If you still don't see this, I suspect it is due to the insistence of a misplaced primordiality of materialism. Ethics, metaethics/metavalue is the only truly primordial "given" that is, while interpretatively bound, intimates a directive that has no equal. It is sui generis, foundational.

I write too much. Hard to help. Pick and choose as you please.

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Count Lucanor
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Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos

Post by Count Lucanor » May 5th, 2020, 10:27 pm

Hereandnow wrote:Phenomenology allows the most underscored dimensions of our existence to be given primordiality (this is MY view, but implicit in other forms in others' views).
Should make it clear that my views are not found IN the literature of any one philosopher. Generic crit may be a drit I myself abide by.
Phenomenology is a first-person perspective. This is undisputed. As I have explained before, there can be valuable insights found with such an approach, and I'm always open to accommodate such insights in my world views. This would not be the first time that a filter is used to shed light and examine a subject, purposefully dimming out the background. I don't have a problem then, with treating the world AS IF it were only the first-person perspective. Unless, of course, its pretensions of discovery exceeded far more the possibilities of a first-person perspective, as it is the case when phenomenology, or a strand of phenomenology, or your particular view of phenomenology, claim that they have discovered that first-person perspective is all there is, that the world IS the perspective of the world.

As I have shown, there are fundamental problems with this view. First, because the argument advanced for the claim that the world not only CAN BE SEEN, but that it MUST BE SEEN that way is flaw. The problem begins when phenomenalism is extended from its epistemologigal premises to ontological ones, giving to the first-person perspective the exclusive rights over claims about how the world is. So it starts denying materialism and science any justification to their "natural attitude" about the existence of things, supposedly inaccessible by the necessary mediation of consciousness, followed by its own claims of accessibility to the existence of things, with the necessary mediation of consciousness, this time with a "bracketing" that makes no more sense than mystic revelation. You use a lot that word: revelatory.
Hereandnow wrote:Metaethics, I will add quickly here, has the intuitive dimension that empirical facts do not, and I try to emphasize this because it is sui generis in this, for no other empirical analysis yields this kind of thing. Ethics (aesthetics) step forth and announce themselves in an entirely different way.
This is again ethics in the abstract, or should we say, of ethics assumed to be founded in the abstract, in an ethereal dimension, disguised as the "intuitive dimension". There's no good reason to believe, however, that such dimension can really get divorced from the empirical facts and phenomenalism itself does not provide it. The prefix meta surely sends us into a theorizing zone, but ultimately, what it theorizes about does not belong to a lifeless domain of unpractical affairs. It is a domain by definition bound to judgements and actions of living subjects immersed in existence. Whether the connection of that existence with an "out there" is disputed or not, you're still faced with a lifeworld that even if phenomenically structured, has its own internal logic, and as such, entails a context of "otherness" against which the conscious subject is a passive agent, but in which nevertheless he acts. Don't believe me, listen to Husserl himself in his latest work, a so-called masterpiece in response to Heidegger:

"Thus we are concretely in the field of perception, etc., and in the field of consciousness, however broadly we may conceive this, through our living body, but not only in this way, as full ego-subjects, each of us as the
full-fledged "I-the-man." Thus in whatever way we may be conscious of the world as universal horizon, as coherent universe of existing objects, we, each "I-the-man" and all of us together, belong to the world as living with one another in the world; and the world is our world, valid for our consciousness as existing precisely through this "living together." We, as living in wakeful world-consciousness, are constantly active on the basis of our passive having of the world; it is from there, by objects pregiven in consciousness, that we are affected; it is to this or that object that we pay attention, according to our interests; with them we deal actively in different ways; through our acts they are "thematic" objects.

...Obviously this is true not only for me, the individual ego; rather we, in living together, have the world pregiven in this "together," as the world valid as existing for us and to which we, together, belong, the world as world for all, pregiven with this ontic meaning. Constantly functioning in wakeful life, we also function together, in the manifold ways of considering, together, objects pregiven to us in common, thinking together, valuing, planning, acting together.
"

Before you start distancing from Husserl, I clarify that I'm not appealing to his authority, I'm not Husserlian myself. Neither I'm Heideggerian or Derridian. I'm just pointing out the inconsistencies of phenomenology as a broad discipline and underscoring the fact that they arise from problematic tenets in the phenomenological approach in itself. This is important, since it cannot be presented as a critique from the "dogmatic materialist approach of science". I suppose one could be a hardcore idealist and still find these phenomenical arguments unacceptable.
Hereandnow wrote: If, again, materialism were construed as a term infinitely deferential to all that is disclosed in inquiry, then you would have me nearly sold, but then, this would be a useless term analytically if terms are supposed to do something, because it would do nothing but hold in place continuities; it would be a kind of reification of familiarity and continuity


Here we go back again to the same problem: it launches a critique of materialism on analytical grounds that damages at the same time its own anti-materialist basis. What could be more of a reification of familiarity than the phenomenical, precisely that which supports itself on the immediate appareance, whereas the epistemological, methodological and ontological approach that precisely challenges the deceptive structure of immediacy, ruins our everyday familiarities. The counterargument comes handy: "philosophy is not to wander in such unprofound trifles", but then one asks: if not interested, then why it constantly needs to refer to them? In what sense the reflection upon ordinary things that the phenomenologist commits to, which he often calls "scientific investigations" is any better or of a different kind than that of the natural scientist? Its purported superiority cannot be found in the object of his inquiries, since he readily wants to deal with all of them, and the excuse that the "natural attitudes" of science and materialism need to step aside because they are about the "things in the background", irrelevant to the profound philosopher, is just that, a bad excuse for allowing the profound philosopher to mess with "things in the background", undisturbed by true scientific investigations. Aren't we, after all, navigating in the "intuitive dimensions" of the lifeworld? Evidently, the idealist needs to eliminate from existential inquiries that which gets in the way of transcendence, ironically, still appealing to the immanent familiarity of the given.
Hereandnow wrote: But again, this is NOT the way the term 'material' is played out. In short, it systematically ignores or reduces the most underscored features of the world, and these are the themes of existentialism.
This is simply not true and against the evidence of materialistic systematic approaches to human existence which take into account its specificity and examine the concrete man in his objective reality. And this comes in all flavors in the philosophical reflections of multiple authors committed to realism, from Marx to Habermas, that assert the primacy of existence over consciousness. The notion that material existence is meaningful and that matter does matter to man, cannot be taken as ignoring the most important features of the world, it is actually the opposite.
Hereandnow wrote: Phenomenology only has the "prejudice" of allowing what is there to declare itself, and not let it be subsumed under an interpretative bias.
This is obviously an appeal to some form of objectivity which contradicts the phenomenological project. But now just think what would happen if we apply the same waiver to natural science:

Science only has the "prejudice" of allowing what is there to declare itself, and not let it be subsumed under an interpretative bias.

Once you cannot offer the precise analytic deduction of how things come to be "there to declare themselves" without interpretative bias, outside of mystic revelations, methodological assumptions, or blind faith, what is the difference between any prejudice?
Hereandnow wrote: Such an idea implies that we are capable of an intuitive grasp that is qualitatively profound.
Just an idea, quite mystical indeed.
Hereandnow wrote: Phenomenological dogmas? I wonder what this would be. A dogma implies a failure to examine and critique. You seem to be saying that non foundational ideas must therefore be dogmatic for this is what circularity implies.
If you read again the previous dialogue, you should see that the idea comes from phenomenology's own complain of prejudice in the "natural attitudes", the passing of meaning that it accepts as undisputed grounding of truths, a circularity from which phenomenology cannot escape itself. I dedicated several paragraphs to show precisely that. If science and materialism are accused of dogmatic because of it, let's not forget that the glove fits phenomenology perfectly.
Hereandnow wrote: My argument is THE existential complaint: that being human has depth and breadth and meaning such that the grounding of all things under the rubric materialism occludes and trivializes this.
I don't see how materialism would necessarily require trivialization of what being human entails. Such a notion most likely shows the typical bias of idealism against immanence in favor of transcendence, which it regards as the highest realization of humanity. There's nothing really profound in a reluctance to acknowledge that we are a contingent speckle of star stuff in a vast, lifeless universe, that we could have not be here, that there were things before us and that there will be after us, that we make our own history and at the same time history makes us, and that we have done so while organizing our material conditions of life. That for millennia we have confused the forces of nature and imagined heavens and gods that don't really exist. And so on...
Hereandnow wrote: Just observe a given event, be it painful or joyful. The painful ones are most poignant; there is something about the idea of torture that stands out. The idea is to understand this event, and to do this, we remove what is incidental to focus on what is essential. We do this all the time. It's called analysis, a taking a thing apart to observe its parts.
There's no problem with analyzing events, is done every time by many disciplines. But if one gets limited to analysis without resorting to other conceptual tools available, that can be used along with analysis, one misses an important chance of comprehending the world in all its complexity. It took Thomson a good level of proficiency in those conceptual tools, including analysis, to figure out the existence of the electron, to understand what was happening without he ever seeing it happening. But of course, Thomson had a theoretical model to start, one among many possible theoretical models to test, and his methodology ensured that he could isolate in the experiments the incidental from the essential. He did not just go out to observe nature candidly and figure out things by pure speculative analysis, his analysis came within a conceptual and methodological frame, which was precisely what allowed him to discover new things, the "something else", things that were not immediately perceived. Of key importance is that what he discovered was shown to exist independently of Thomson's mind, electrons were not supposed to wait billions of years to appear as the product of consciousness. Further analysis shows that those entities literally needed to be out there before any consciousness had arrived. This, claims the phenomenologist, are but illusions of the "things in themselves".

Phenomenical analysis intentionally dismisses all of this, sends it to the background as irrelevant, and worst of all, as lacking any ontological value. It is, they say, the prejudiced "natural attitude" that must be surpassed. Then departs from the immediate observable events with its own ontological assumptions taken, as said above, from the phenomenical epistemology, and with the task of finding, as you said, the something else. But the "exhausted plain observations", unlike Thomson's attitudes, are the naive ones of the ordinary lifeworld. This, claims the phenomenologist, are the true "things in themselves". As point of departure, they are clearly prejudiced, too, but in the worst possible way, since its prejudice obscures, rather than clarifies the analysis. As I already said, the logical form always reinserts the prejudiced concepts of your preference. It leaves out a lot of stuff that may be relevant, before it decides what's essential or accessory. It is as if Thomson had stayed under a tree to speculate about atomic particles. The phenomenologist will argue that he doesn't mind Thomson, that we can leave him alone, because he does not add anything of worth to the inquiries about our own existence, but then asks right away what can we say about the pain in a finger, as if these things had no previous context.
Hereandnow wrote: But the ethical goodness and badness is quite different, for one cannot imagine pain being good IN ITSELF. A sharp knife becomes bad if used in a play and you con't want anyone to get hurt. In fact, the sharpness actually becomes bad. In metaethics, where these goods and bads are examined for themselves, we see that one cannot even imagine a case where one becomes the other. It is not a conceptual thing, but intuitive, for what we are considering is a decontextualizing (an epoche method) so the good or bad stands by itself for inspection. We find metaethical goodness and badness entirely unassailable. E.g., there is no imaginable condition that would make torture inherently good, regardless of how conditions are contrived to do so. Imagine torturing one child to save a million others from a far worse fate, and this does not diminish one scintilla the metaethical "badness" of the torture of the one; it simply relativizes it.
If this is what comes out of phenomenological analysis, it just serves to highlight its inadequacy for figuring out what are the real things of the world we have to deal with, how they work, and how we, as transformative agents, can do something about them. There's simply no absolute, archetypical, decontextualized badness or goodness. These representations are in permanent movement within the contexts of human action, and they're constantly changed and updated in those context. The reason pain is often regarded, but not always, as not good in itself, has very little to do with any intuition of an ethereal, abstract essence, but because of the memory of typical concrete situations of disagreeable bodily sensations, which placed in the context of basic human interactions, are often represented as socially undesirable, therefore deemed as "bad". But it is no secret that even these very common sensations are updated in different contexts of social actions, so that many times pain becomes a sign of goodness. The examples abound in history and in current practices that you can read in a newspaper. Certainly, the primary sensation of pain has been relativized, but that just epitomizes the way we humans construct our reality, and reconstruct ourselves in the process. For sure, the painful sensation felt by a tiger today is no different than what a tiger felt two thousand years ago. And most likely, in experiencing the sensation, the tiger does not experience it as sensation. Interestingly, people who suffer from Congenital Insensivity to Pain (CIP) cannot feel any pain, but no one believes that the absence of pain implies any goodness, quite the contrary, they are thought to be suffering a terrible disability that hinders the possibility of having a normal life, where pain is deemed as necessary.
Hereandnow wrote: You would have to explain two tings to make material monism even prima facie interesting. One would be how it is that a material thing can be at all conceived apart from the act of conceiving. The other is how anything out there gets in here. Both I have raised, neither addressed, and with good reason: it can't be done.
Material monism is interesting because it is the only ontology compatible with science, and science is interesting in itself. Its richness and fruitfulness is astounding. There are plenty of philosophical themes there, too. It is odd that opponents of materialism would point at the large gaps in our knowledge about the precise mechanisms of cognition, while ignoring the abundant evidence of its material basis. Cognitive neuroscience may be in its infancy, but it surely knows where to look for answers, and it is not in a ghostly realm. When asking what makes cognition possible, the key question is not how we cognize material things (which ultimately boils down to how we cognize anything), but what makes cognition a material process. By the way, apparently, you assume that for materialism to make sense, the material nature of reality must appear directly in the act of cognition itself, which would reduce a realist epistemology to the old belief in a sort of direct transfer of the objects of perception to the intellectual order. Materialism (or the realism in materialism) does not posit such theory, in fact it does not pretend to move beyond the phenomenal world, but conceives its lawfulness to be directly related to the objects themselves. It of course does invoke a form of direct realism (see Sellars) by causal mediation in perception.

But it is odd, as I said, since outside materialism and science there's no alternative account of how anything is conceived. I mean, what is the answer from idealism to how it is that phenomena can be at all apprehended? No philosopher committed to pure phenomenalism has given an answer to that question. Pointing to a "faculty" is going back to Moliere's virtus dormitiva. Let's see what the founder of idealist phenomenology himself said:

If understanding in general be defined as the faculty of laws or rules, the faculty of judgement may be termed the faculty of subsumption under these rules; that is, of distinguishing whether this or that does or does not stand under a given rule (casus datae legis). General logic contains no directions or precepts for the faculty of judgement, nor can it contain any such. For as it makes abstraction of all content of cognition, no duty is left for it, except that of exposing analytically the mere form of cognition in conceptions, judgements, and conclusions, and of thereby establishing formal rules for all exercise of the understanding. Now if this logic wished to give some general direction how we should subsume under these rules, that is, how we should distinguish whether this or that did or did not stand under them, this again could not be done otherwise than by means of a rule. But this rule, precisely because it is a rule, requires for itself direction from the faculty of judgement. Thus, it is evident that the understanding is capable of being instructed by rules, but that the judgement is a peculiar talent, which does not, and cannot require tuition, but only exercise. This faculty is therefore the specific quality of the so-called mother wit, the want of which no scholastic discipline can compensate.

Mother wit? I mean, seriously?
Hereandnow wrote:
ethics: Where does empirical science speak of existential themes? It doen't. This is why we divide science from religion, for the latter is about faith, and science is hard, caluculative.
Why is this constant resorting to the implication that science pretends to speak of human existential themes? I have said it before, and will say it again: science is not in such business. But human existence falls into the broader category of the existence of things in general, and things exist in ways that science help us shed a light on, and such knowledge can be fed into a holistic, synoptic view of the world, which ultimately also illuminates our human existence.
Hereandnow wrote:
Phenomenology provides theoretical opening for the unseen structures of experience. Of course, to be aware that there are such things one has to read philosohy, thought that points, looks to foundations that begin at the root of the most basic, what is presupposed in any and all experience. Experience is fundamental, says Dewey. If you want to talk about foundations, look first to where all things issue, experience.
But the experience approached by phenomenology, as explained above, is a limited experience, intentionally divorced of the "natural attitude", and as such, not only comes prejudiced, but with the worst, more naive prejudices of all.

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