[-empyre-] Ontology again

sdv at krokodile.co.uk sdv at krokodile.co.uk
Tue Oct 23 04:13:17 EST 2007


Symbolic murder ? hummmm

The kernal of the issue is that science is not restricted to the
theory/verification model, this restrictive understanding, as Nancy
Cartwright and others have demonstrated, cannot adequately describe what
happens within high energy physics labs, let alone within biology and
economics work. Once the nature of this restrictive model is accepted 
then science is not the conservative model that you refer to, 
importantly it refuses the centrality of the matheme. Which enables us 
to place the human sciences on the same plane of reference as high 
energy physics.

Actually I disagree with the way in which you present ontology as a 
philosophy of being, for isn't ontology at the very least concerned with 
the the investigation of being or existance which is disallowed by the 
proposition that ontological work might result in an act of 'symbolic 
murder'. I would however further amend this by quoting D&G that "before 
being is politics" with the implication that ontology is always already 
political. It is interesting and perhaps significant that you choose to 
support non-existant entities, rather than say; sexism or something 
equally terrible. It raises the question of whether a philosopher or a 
scientist must attack an 'ontology', a 'belief' that contains incorrect 
and possibly oppressive statements. There is something terrifyingly 
tragic about philosophers like Heidegger and Husserl, it's not just the 
formers Nazisim but Husserls relationship to the first world war.

It's after the symbolic murder statement that things are said that 
remind me to say (sadly misquoting Rosa L and other marxists): late 
capitalism is an imperialist system and it will continue to expand until 
all the non-capitalist socio-economic systems have been destroyed. 
Negotiation ? it really doesn't look like negotiation from here.


Brian Holmes wrote:

> sdv at krokodile.co.uk wrote:
>> To argue that 'science is not THE best way to explain everything' well 
>> that's just nonsensical, what do you have left but religion, faith, 
>> magic, transcendentalism, humanism none of which explains anything.
> Well, this could be a semantic issue, but "science" nowadays refers most 
> commonly to a method of experimental verification that doesn't bring 
> ontology into question. I have very strong reasons to suppose that the 
> organic chemist with whom I discussed cellulose polymers on my last 
> airplane trip does not for a moment suppose that the form, procedure and 
> results of his experiments have anything whatsoever to do with his basic 
> right to be the master and possessor of nature, i.e. everything that is 
> not him! I really do think that "science" based on the strict 
> subject-object distinction is NOT the best way to explain everything. It 
> certainly does not explain the basic valuations that motivate humans in 
> their life choices, and crucially, in their political allegiances, 
> despite the crucial effects those allegiances ultimately have on the 
> transformation of the world and its "nature."
> After all that, if you want to extend the word "science" to cover every 
> kind of deliberate reasoning, and if you want to refer to the rare (but 
> of course, still numerous) scientists and philosophers of science who do 
> question their first principles, then OK, proclaiming science in this 
> incredibly broad sense as the best way to explain everything becomes a 
> near-tautology. However, if we start to make less crude distinctions, 
> then there is clearly a kind of Marxist humanism, of which Lukacs for 
> example has been a serious representative, which does not elide or 
> simply mathematicize the observer, but rather takes into account the 
> inertia of historical time and the struggle against the hierarchies that 
> have sedimented in the course of time. That is a very different position 
> and definition of the subject of inquiry, with very different results in 
> terms of the thinking of human destiny.
> I am relatively ignorant vis-a-vis the philosophy of sciences, but for 
> example, Prigogine's inquiries into the "arrow of time" and all that any 
> serious consideration of it does to previous formulations of the truths 
> of science, appear important to me. Heidegger would clearly be another 
> example, not a trivial one either, even if you do not agree with his 
> understanding of what it is to be human (I do not personally agree). 
> Furthermore I think the idea that religion explains nothing is a bit 
> rash. When you try to tell a group of people that their ontology and all 
> its consequences simply mean nothing, it's symbolic murder, and that 
> will invariably produce a violent reaction. I think an enlarged 
> philosophy of life would take on the plurality of ontologies and the 
> need for dialogue that ensues. Indeed, I think that process of 
> negotiation describes the real situation now in the world, since the 
> collapse of hegemonic modernizing programs. However, the difficulties of 
> this dialogic process, and the time it takes to go through them (as 
> opposed to thinking, as the militarists do, that you can just bomb the 
> others into submission) are not sufficiently recognized today, with the 
> result that the negotiating process takes on quite horrible and tragic 
> contours. A real dialogism would accept that the creation of values is 
> the greatest human power, and that negotiation over the consequences of 
> divergent values is the greatest human challenge. Imho.
> all the best, and yes, warmly, Brian
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