Re: Nagel's Project in Mind and Cosmos
Posted: May 16th, 2020, 11:51 am
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.
Keep in mind that a "filter" in any meaningful context presupposes a knowledge of that which is being filtered, otherwise the idea makes no sense at all. Filters can sift out, they can modify, but both concepts require an understanding of that which is filtered, otherwise you are speaking nonsense. It's like using a metaphor, but not having an actual entity before you to which the metaphor would apply. This is a Wittgensteinian argument: the idea of god you could say is like a metaphor, a grand old wizard of the like, without an object, and you are left with nothing to which the metaphor applies. An unattached metaphor is not even a proposition. Here, when you say you appreciate talk about a "filter" of the Real you simply presuppose the materialist thesis, and this "material" entirely absent from observation.
Important to see that (my eclectic) phenomenology recognizes the "other" of other things and people. It simply doesn't call them "material" at the level of basic questions, for it considers such an idea has an egregious reductive (or emergent) bias, one that obscures the actualities that comprise the world. What is an idea, a moral concept, pain and joy, the human drama, tragedy, romance, and so on? When the copula ''is' is interpreted as 'material being', these that are IN the world are called down to conform to a unifying theme that divests them of their nature. It is the kind of conditioning of thought that reduces this: a description of a wretched affair--a mother watching her children slowly suffer and die from plague, then she herself succumbs; to this: All is clear; the woman's unfortunate tragic affair is simply the product of an evolutionary process whereby suffering is condusice to reproductiona nd survival. This latter is indeed true, and I would not deny it for an instant. But to have an interpretative basis that in the final analysis gives to this state of affairs nothing beyond this is flatly perverse. This is why Heidegger's equiprimordialism (he is certainly not the moralist I am) is important: no one interpretative foundation to what the world IS. All things are given their due, and even his phenomenological ontology only removes the incidentals, not the essences. That is, Being and Time looks to the structural features of experience, but allows our dramatic affairs an equal place (though I do not subscribe to his understanding of these).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.
Then it is better not to think of ontology at all. Better to use terms like transcendence or metaphysics, because this is where such a term belongs (notwithstanding what some of the literature may say), and so placed it still does serious harm as a foundational notion to which all things must conform (for if no conformity, then the term is useless). This goes to metaethics/metavalue. If the entire matter before us were simply about the differences between scientific accounts, objective descriptions of "facts" in Wittgenstein's (or Hume's) conception or "states of affairs," then it simply would not matter one scintilla and you could reduce, unify, subsume as you please, for the facts of the world would be little more than pieces in a puzzle physical possibilities that had rule driven behaviors and philosophy could spend it final days trying to figure out where the rules lie, in experiential functions or out there independent of experience. This likely ends up with Rorty, who has the only defensible physicalist view: material is just a term for the best theory can do, and the phenomena our experience are simply material "things" in a particular locality called a brain where events occurs not unlike events in the core of the sun or in my pocket. All of it material....but wait: Of course, foundationally, a term like 'material' is just part of another "language game" in a cerebral event and talk beyond this to some "out there" of out there is just nonsense. This kind of thinking is what makes people wonder if Rorty or Wittgenstein was a phenomenologist. With the former, there is a pragmatic epistemology, and "things" like you and me do not know "things". How can a thing know a thing? But IN the thing we call a brain, there is another thing called "knowing it's raining" and another called " knowing my desk is populated with more than four objects" and I am bound to this world. Unifying things under a heading like materialism "works" according to pragmatists like Rorty, but don't step into the deep waters of metaphysics where language has no place. It is not that there is no materialism "out there" but rather "out there" is just without sense altogether. Remember, he argues extensively for not only for materialism, but for the denial that there is anything at all called consciousness.
This is the kind of thing, it seems to me, that you should be arguing for, Rortian materialism, physicalism, naturalism. For Rorty, epistemology be damned. It is just a long history of bad philosophy. If you want to read him, it is well worth your time. His Mirror of Nature is his tour de force (quite technical at times) but his Contingency Irony and Solidarity is great.
It is an essential part of my thinking. What sets me apart from what appears to be everyone save religious philosophers is my metaethical realism. Materialism, like all unifying terms, forces experience to conform to the principle that issues from its nature, and "material" has a nature such that every attempt to make phenomenon X visible and clear ends up being "like" what material is supposed to be. Of course, you can argue the idea of materiality is interpretatively amenable to all phenomena, but this just carries the distortion implicitly, and you find yourself rejecting the religiousity of human affairs (putting well aside the overt foolishness), or simply the depth of experiential possibilities (literally, the meaning of life) e.g.s, out of hand.The effect is a deadening of the the world's actualities. Rorty is a good example (I am reading his Mirror right now): here is a philosopher who wants very much to make ethics a priority ("cruelty is the worst a person can do") yet his thesis that truth is made and not discovered and that what is meaningful is always contextual and irony (in the spirit of Kierkegaard) is the "rub" against orthodoxy that makes progress possible, delivers ethics into the hands of pragmatism, and this cannot give value (the ooh's and ahh's and ugh's of the world) any privileged place. It can make ethics pragmatically feasible, defensible, but then, it's back to Dostoevski: nothing absolute compels you and you are free to tell pragmatic responsibility to take a hike.You use a lot that word: revelatory.
When I use the term 'revelatory' I refer to the qualitative difference in the way we experience the world at the foundational level when the presumption of knowing is removed. This is not a cognitive epiphany (though one could hardly think any experience is free of thought), as on a chess board. It's a realization, as the existentialists would say, of freedom from the constraints on self identity: A person is not a teacher, wife, dog owner, church going citizen (the so called fragmented self). to understand where this goes, one has to read what I read. Unfortunately, few are willing to take the burden of existentialist philosophy and all the reading it entails. It's a reading (mine) list that ends in Levinas, then onward to where language refuses to go. Heidegger talked a bit like this. His mission, after all, was to bring us back to a lost "at homeness" and find the answer to our alienation. Such alienation will never even be suspected, nor will what I call revelatory truth, if one does not make the essential move out of everydayness.
Just the opposite. Just reconsider the argument: what is ethics? Of course we know what it does, and the problem solving issues it produces, but what is it in the world that gives rise to ethical issues at all? This question should give you pause. It is the exact opposite of asking for abstraction; it is asking for the "material" (more loosely speaking here) essence of an ethical matter, the existential basis, what it is we find in the world that calls up discussion, the most concrete of inquiries, literally looking for what is there that is causing all the arguing. The only course of thought is to look at the world itself, and in ethics we do in fact find what it is there: what we call value. On the subjective end there is caring (Heidegger) but that which is cared about, or that which is mixed in caring, the phenomenon (Rorty argues against this), and this goes to the very concrete: the feeling of love, hate, joy, heartache, physical suffering and delight, interest, ennui, and so on. These may be entangled in the incidentals of our affairs, but this, as in all inquiries, looks for the part IN the incidental that makes ethics possible; that is, all ethical matters are particular circumstances, and IN these, there is value--no value, no ethics; if no one cares, you cannot have an ethical problem. It would be impossible. Value (and the intersubjective problems it produces) is the essence of ethics, the metaethical.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.
It is not to divorce it from entanglements, but to analyze it. If I want to understand something, I have to isolate it to see it, as a scientist might isolate the process of chlorophyll production or the behavior of an electron.
'Meta' is an odd classification for anything, and here, it is especially obscure. But then, this is what happens when things are closely examined; they lose their familiarity. I probably cannot change the way you think, and a change is what is needed. Putting aside all else, ask Why did Moore think it necessary to posit an unnatural property in the matter of ethics? It was not about the visible empirical features, and if it were about this, the "ethics" of ethics would vanish in the thought of it. It would be like asking any other question about the world. Why is the sky blue? Why is quartz harder than mica? What makes ethics so....meta? It's the simple observation of the concrete event. Put a match to your finger and give due analysis. It is not an abstraction that the howling pain is different from observing a leaf of grass and determining its taxonomic place. There is something qualitatively distinct going on here. It is what makes the human drama so dramatic; it's what makes mattering matter at all.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.
If this still sounds distant from justified belief to you, then perhaps it is simply not yours to see. Not that I understand you on this at all, for to me it is clear, crystal. My best guess is, as I have suggested, you experience the debilitating effects of prolonged exposure to the analytic prejudice of singular thinking: materialism. For materialism is not welcoming to aberrations that begin with 'meta' anything; they are not "material" enough. Oh well.
Not in dispute.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.
Why would you think I disagree with this? I've said many times, the world remains the world. Phenomenology is just a description of the world that attempts, as Kant did, to be clear about what is "there" at the level of basic questions. Kant was about reason, here, it is about all things, without the boundaries that privilege one over the other. Science becomes a region of Being, rather than an encompassing ontology. An "ontic" matter, as Heidegger put it. Talk about the "pregiven" is itself part of an analysis that questions the given, the immediacy of the given. Interesting to trace how this business evolves from Kierkegaard through Derrida, the given, that is.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."
See if I follow you: The analytic grounds that critiques materialism? I suppose it is analytic to say IF X is by nature entirely inaccessible to observation and inquiry, then X has no place in a theory of existence, given that such a theory requires justificatory evidence. where is the evidence for affirming materialism, that is, the existence of "something" called material? This is why I call it reified familiarity, or a hypostatized universal, if you prefer. Is the phenomenal the same? Well, I perceive the phenomenon, and this is a lot different from something not perceived at all, like material substance. This is really the point. But is my apprehension of a phenomenon just as much a reified familiarity? I say: Now you're talking! Welcome the world of revelatory truth. That bird on my porch table: what have I achieved by the nominal claim in the background that informs me that this is a bird? Stability. Recollection rises instantly to the occasion, and I "intuit" the "bird" as a bird.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.
Of course, in the case of a concept like material substance, there is nothing there at all to take us AS, is there? Wittgenstein would call such a word (in philosophical discourse, of course. He, like Rorty, will stand up for empirical science's as well as everyday uses of the word. He, like Rorty, thinks philosophy is mostly BS) nonsense. My position is that both are right, philosophy has reached its end, but they do not deal well with it properly (it is important not to be a slave to even great genius). Philosophy's purpose all along is not some cognitive apprehension of things; it is ethical/aesthetic, i.e., the GOOD. What this IS, is THE question of our existence; now, is the "good" an interpretative idea? Of course. The pragmatists are right: our understanding of the world is essentially pragmatic, the getting things "done"; it's the doing and language is a utility, a taking up of the world AS its own symbolic forms all in the service of realizing value. Am I reifying the Good?? Absolutely, BUT, I don't "know" absolutely what this is. Nevertheless, value has a presence that commands my interpretation what things "mean" that is both unyielding and enigmatic.
To see where I stand it is best not to seek the philosophical answers exclusively in argumentation. One first has to look closely at the world, and this is not the kind of thing given priority in the modern hyperintellectualizing analytic philosophical mentality. I take the bear encounter of the flame applied to the finger more seriously than all the historical discursive thought that offers itself on the matter simply because I ask the question, what is it in itself?
This confuses focus on the our material matters as human needs and social problems, with material substance as a philosophical ontology of being, or, what does being as such mean? "The concrete man in his objective reality," despite the inversion of Hegel, is well accommodated. No one denies material existence and the challenges it presents in this discussion. These are "ontic" matters, not relevant here, though it is not as if they do not influence judgment, after all, Heidegger's romance with nazism was in part do to his desire to vitalize human dasein. What does it mean to BE? Heidegger thought the answer was in the analysis of language, the structure of human "dasein" in time, a critique of traditional metaphysics, freedom, and so forth; others have their own thinking. Materialism certainly has its place and no one denies this, but it is not a foundational term, that is, an ontological term, not one that is useful when one steps back from all the that is there in all we do and observe to embody what is essentially true of things.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.
What is the difference between Apollo the sun god and a giant ball of fusion? A scientist will say the latter is factual; a pragmatist will agree, but will ask, what does it mean for something to be factual? For Rorty (recall I think he's right about knowledge even though he argues against phenomenology) takes this kind of inquiry as a line drawn in that the sun god interpretation simply does not work, and his pragmatism runs along the lines of what you support: if you accept that all things are these localities of material substance, and that all there is is material substance, which is an evolving term (Thomas Kuhn, the Kantian who wrote about how our paradigms in science are endlessly changing and really, due to a lack of some godly pronouncement of truth, will continue to be this way, strongly influenced Rorty) endlessly contingent, that is, dependent on contexts that are constantly modified by research, testing standards, then you have a defense for material substance. Of course, what is foundational is a pragmatic analysis of the world, and this seizes upon materialism as the best model for what is, given all competitors and their relative failings.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?
As I said above, Rorty really is your man, and it is almost incidental that he does not think anything out there(pointing to my cat) gets in here (pointing to my brain). He is a student of Wittgenstein, and materialism, naturalism, physicalism, I mean, putting aside how these have been given different values in different theories, these are sensible concepts that are a stable way to support facts/states of affairs. Only nonsense lies metaphysical/transcendental vocabulary, which is why he would never speak of ethics, or reality, or the world. Big words without a basis for the contingency or context: can you even imagine there not being reality? No. It's there, and philosophy provides insight as to what can and cannot be said.
So the answer to your question is this: In my view, phenomenology liberates the interpretation implicit in apprehending the world from Apollo the sun god type thinking. Not that materialism is given to myth making at all; but it does, in the apprehending event, insert an unwarranted term that, because it's usefulness and familiarity, tends to ground all judgment, and quite simply, this is not the way the world presents itself, that is, "as" material. Not at all. Rorty himself does not see things themselves, to borrow Husserl's words--not a Kantian term; he did not "see' the transcendental nature as inherent in the presence of things, as convoluted as that might sound, which is why analytic philosophy is wrong minded to me, its fear of inquiry that takes on the messiness that occurs when our concepts and their rigidity meet theoretical boundaries. Existentialists get close. Reading Jaspers. Heidegger, Levinas, and the rest shows this.
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.
It depends on the individual. I point out to you that the actuality before is one thing, and the language used to account for it another (not a Heideggerian position) and it likely will mean very little, an amusing "fact" perhaps. But then, this dismisses what is clearly revealed: the only means you have of assigning an identity does not encompass the actuality; the actuality is not a rational entity, the scent of a flower, the migraine headache, the taste of chocolate,in short, experience and all therein is not essentially a mere conformity to the concept that applies. It is alien to this, qualitatively unlike what the understanding gives to it, and it therefore stands as a transcendental entity. The reality that you believe to be the solid basis that constitutes the world is not material substance, but, to borrow from Rorty, an hypostatized universal (see above) or a reified familiarity. Look, the foundation of all things does not present itself, period. Materialism is just more like a manner of speaking, a place holder for the unknown je ne sais quoi, but a useful placeholder. This really isn't about phenomenology, it's about whether any real sense can be made out of a concept. Wittgenstein, again, considers such a thing nonsense, but then, he also dismisses terms like transcendence, the world, reality when they are taken as some kind of reference to an absolute. On this latter, I think he is wrong. Positivism stops talking just when things get interesting. I refer you to Wittgenstein's Lecture on ethics again: Say a man's head turns into a lion's, just like that. At first, it seems a miracle, that is, until someone explains it, then the miracle yields to science. For me and my ilk, this encounter with actuality sans its rational counterpart is the miracle that never gets explained away, for science is mute on the matter.Just an idea, quite mystical indeed.
Yours is a bit like saying to remove the conceptual constraints at the foundation of things is itself a conceptual constraint, so it is a self defeating idea. But see the above: What is the difference between Apollo the sun god and a giant ball of fusion?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.
You have to separate Husserl from Heidegger. Husserl thought that the epoche revealed an unquestionable presence of an eidetically formed predicative affair, e.g., the sun is hot. It is not that the scientific concepts of sun and heat are absolute, but the eidetically formed actuality is "absolute" (though I've read he really didn't mean absolute. An issue). It is this phenomenon that is Real, and is the foundation upon which science derives its content. Heidegger thinks Husserl is trying to walk on water, in his words, for the apprehension of the eidetic affair is no more absolute than anything else in its predelineation and the way this determines meaning. There is no privileged "presence" purely received. So, as to the claim that materialism is a dogmatic assumption, you're point seems to be that if every assertion about the world is an interpretation, then nothing is privileged at all. I might as well say everything is made of goat's milk.
Note how Rorty grounds things: epistemology has created a false dichotomy of mind and body, so just remove its contrived and convoluted concerns, and what remains is the world of things and us and its unified in the physical or material. There is no consciousness or intentionality, or, these are simply explained as physical events. But his epistemology is pragmatism, and he is right on this: what makes the grade for a believable thesis is that is what works, which gets pretty complicated in modern contexts. He really is committed to an ontology, yet again, hypostatized universals. Pragmatism is not an arbitrary method, and this is the real answer to your query: phenomenology works better than its competitors, including materialism, godhead (?), or anything else. There argument for this lies in its allowing the world to be what it presents itself to be.
There are many kinds of reductionists. Historical ones are no are no exception. My friend tells me, ah, the countless billions of lives crushed into the dirt....nothing redeeming, or meaningful, or "deep" in this. He didn't realize that he was treating humanity like things, or, he did, but thought it apt. But I do like "Contingent speckles of star dust" though; has a tinge of the romantic.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...
If people exhibited, inside what they appeared to be on the outside (loosely using these words) then I couldn't agree more. But there is that pesky actual world of within, where the human drama is actually played out---see the works of Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, James Joyce--such Jameian stream of consciousness writing make the point rather poignantly that what appears in conversation and events is a fleeting moment of what lies within, the Real lived life of frustrations and conflict and grasping for meaning. You really should see that this is our reality over which the thesis of materialism wants dominion. The idea is patently "unscientific" given that science's mission does not include the ad hoc ignoring of what stands before one's waking eyes. You demonstrate precisely what is wrong with materialism.
Absolutely not. I mean this is knock down, drag out wrong. Science remains science. Illusions? Reality is not an illusion, but it becomes so when one applies bad thinking in the discussion of basic questions. This is not an issue about what science says, but what happens when we look at what our assumptions, our presuppositions, of science are. You have to engage at this level.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".
You mean, in an examination of science's philosophical underpinnings. A good phenomenologist, my kind, borrows from Kierkegaard the simple, quasi Cartesian premise that the world is simply what lies before you, in the direct apprehension of it. It does not GIVE you an ontology of the kind you want, for "material" is simply not what lies before you. The whole idea is that while there is most certainly not nothing that underpins all things, when we do speak of it (something Wittgenstein, Rorty,and analytic philosophers in general are disinclined to do. Rorty straddles the fence) we have be careful not to prejudice thought.Phenomenical analysis intentionally dismisses all of this, sends it to the background as irrelevant, and worst of all, as lacking any ontological value.
Well, you should give the idea its due. I'm saying that a materialist bottom line for existence leads one to do just what you have done above, which is to think of all that we are as a kind of object, like a hammer or a potato or a drift from a stellar event. You do this and you commit, at the very least, a categorial error, for, say, caring or bliss, these are not objects, that is, they possess features of existence that are so distant from standards of objecthood that it is simply fatuous to call them objects. Caring is not like an electromagnetic field; a field, perhaps, but very different. My estimation is that the only way one could think of it as categorially well suited for the category of objects is if there is a running bias in their thinking that makes this happen. Popular religion has the same effect: you see a rusty image on a water tank, and there is Jesus. Everywhere is Jesus. Better to let the presentation of the event speak for itself as best one can.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.
This line of thinking doesn't work here. There is no equal ground established in the competition between one prejudice and another because they are both deemed prejudices. Phenomenology is not in competition with science, for science doesn't ask basic questions. But the terms of validity are the same, and this is the hypothetical deductive method: the question is, which one works better, and this is decided by the typical approach to problem solving: observation and theory. Material substance has never been observed and it has a dreadful effect on interpretation. See the above.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.
Hard to know where to begin with this. I note your emphatic tone, but you really don't demonstrate an understanding of what is set before you. The tiger does not experience pain as a sensation?? The CIP is not helpful here. The tiger? A sensation can be interpreted, is interpreted. But it is not through an interpretation that pain is conditioned to be what it is.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.
This business is not about "contexts of social action" and what is at issue has nothing to do with ethereal, abstract essences. It is simply precisely the opposite. We are looking directly at the sensation itself, pain qua pain, not pain qua utility or fairness or social incidentals. I don't know, frankly, why this is a difficult thing. I suspect you're looking for an argument, but in the wrong places.
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.
Phenomenology is perfectly compatible with science. No issues at all. I care not about such gaps.
Cognitive neuroscience may be in its infancy, but it surely knows where to look for answers, and it is not in a ghostly realm.
You are inventing ghosts.
My reasons for rejecting a materialist interpretation of human affairs has a lot to do with what philosophers like Sellars have as their priorities. I don't read analytic philosophy as a matter of habit, so I took a look at Stamford's nutshell. I found: This is the basic reasoning behind Sellars’s scientific realism. He boldly proclaims “In the dimension of describing and explaining the world, science is the measure of all things, of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not” and was not in the least surprised. The point of philosophy, I respond, is most emphatically not this.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.
The answer lies in the examination of phenomena, and it is not an answer, but an investigative advance into the implications of phenomenology. An answer, like "coffee cup" is an answer to the question, "what is the drinking vessel on my desk?" would be an ANSWER. It would be what Wittgenstein called ethics if we really understood it absolutely. All other questions would then be discarded, all books shelved: to actually grasp eternity itself!
The understanding is not the faculty of rules and laws. That is a rationalist's take. Kant is simply a beginning, a stepping off place. Keep in mind that is he is both the father of positivism AND phenomenology, so called.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.
Did I write something absurd? I write when I have time, in the in between of things, and when I come back after a while, I can lose touch with what I was doing. There may be one of these here yet again. Anyway, whatever it was, sorry about that.Mother wit? I mean, seriously?