[-empyre-] Ontology again

Brian Holmes brian.holmes at wanadoo.fr
Tue Oct 23 23:06:30 EST 2007

sdv at krokodile.co.uk wrote:

> 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,

Certainly not, you are quite right and I agree. But alas, the larger 
institution of technoscience still appears to operate on the 
subject-object split, and that has big consequences, maybe it's a kind 
of historical inertia, a very powerful one. Among other things, it 
supports the notion of a sovereign identity, also called possessive 
individualism. If you think the majority of economists, or even of 
sociologists supplying information to our governments and corporations, 
are not operating on this basis, hmmm... then maybe I am totally deluded!

> 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'.

Well, on this point I would like to appeal to the philosophers among us 
for some thoughts on ontology. I would say, ontology doesn't exist in 
the absolute, it rather names certain kinds of presuppositions about 
existence that people make and/or act upon, the point being that many 
such sets of presuppositions have been developed among the cultures and 
societies on this earth. I get the impression that you tend to find the 
most promising definition of whatever interests you and then assume that 
this is THE operative definition, for everyone. Which after all is a 
wonderful optimism!

> 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.

No, not to me either. What's more, negotiation and even dialogism is a 
lousy word for what I was trying to talk about. What I mean is a kind of 
relation where the boundaries of one's identity give way enough to 
become permeable to the life and the time of the others, multiplying the 
positions from which one sees and feels, and making violence a much-less 
obvious recourse. What I see a lot of instead is powerful people 
ignorantly pursuing their position as masters and possessors of nature....

best, BH

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