I get questions regularly about the bizarre nature of contemporary physics. I am sure practicing physicists with PhDs get these more regularly than I, yet I occupy an interesting and rare position in the academic disciplinary landscape: I’ve studied science, particularly physics, into the graduate level, and I am actively developing my expertise in the history and philosophy of science, particularly physics, as well as being a lifelong student of more traditional philosophy (e.g., analytic, contemporary, and Eastern). The question most regularly asked of late has been: What are physicists talking about with all of this “non-verifiable” theory; it sounds like philosophy? By this, they mean the fact that there is this apparent post-empirical turn, and the lack of requirement of empirical data to substantiate proposed theory. I’d like to spend some length explaining my thoughts on this, including a suggestion to all practicing scientists, regardless of discipline.
Category Archives: Epistemology
The Subject-Object Divide, Corey Anton, and on the Priority Debate between Being and Knowing (Part 2)
With the conceptual baggage drawn out more fully and clearly marked, it is clear that the heart of the matter is overcoming correlationism, whose tenet of the subject-object split is paramount. A great deal of work has been performed in the attempt to resolve the issue of the subject-object divide, which originally arose in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. It’s important to understand the centrality of the critical project in this discussion, because Kant’s way of resolving the debate between the rationalists and empiricists synthesized the positions in such a way as to instantiate in remarkably lucid terms, and formulating in its present form, the subject-object divide. Perhaps beginning with an exchange between Chad and Corey is the way to go, and then following it up with a very perceptive remark made in a video (“Ontological Creativity (response to professoranton)”) by Matthew Segall, a graduate student at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Continue reading
The Subject-Object Divide, Corey Anton, and on the Priority Debate between Being and Knowing (Part 1)
Prefatory remark: I will be breaking this blog into two parts, due to its length.
Corey Anton (of Grand Valley State University) recently published a series of videos (“Ontology”, “Epistemology Is a Subset of Ontology”, “A Lively Dialogue on Ontology, Epistemology, Emergence & Agency”, and “Understanding Agency (Information, Language, Literacy, Calendars)”), hosted by youtube, concerning the idea that epistemology is a subset of ontology.
At a conference I presented at, held at Duquesne University, notable scholar, Adrian Johnston, stopped me in the middle of something I was saying. ‘Whoa, whoa,’ he said (and I paraphrase), ‘but Meillassoux does away with phenomenology.’ What I had said prior is not important. What is important are the words “phenomenology” and “Meillassoux.” I really had no real clue what he meant. I mean, I knew that Meillassoux threw Heidegger, a phenomenologist, in the correlationist brig with all the other correlationists (Kant, Berkeley, etc.), and I knew that I was referring to phenomenology qua assessment of phenomenal experience. However, at that time —much has changed in a few months—, I knew absolutely nothing about phenomenology: nothing about Brentano, Meinong, Husserl, and the gang, and what their philosophies were all about. Coming from the hard sciences, the reason I jumped on the opportunity to work with the Speculative Turn in philosophy was because it requires an extraordinary knowledge of contemporary and near-contemporary philosophy, which constituted a knowledge gap for me, and has done much to remedy that. Continue reading
This is the full, uncut version of the paper I sent to the Harvard-MIT graduate philosophy conference. It is entitled, “Why Emergence Doesn’t Emerge and Secondary Qualities Are Not Secondary.” I may pursue this project further, depending on feedback. There are a number of shortcomings, among them being that I am not as well versed in Aristotle, and it has come to my attention (through al-Kindi, of all people!) that Aristotle’s epistemology contains the an idea of subtraction from perception to arrive at mental content. Contingent upon looking further into this, I may add a significant section on Aristotle, or just had his philosophy, insofar as it is applicable, to the Meillassoux-Objectivism discussion.
Also posted on my blog are two papers, “Cognition as Negation” and “The Onto-Epistemic Stance,” which line up with the purpose of this paper. If I take this collective project any further, I may look into writing a full-length monographic work for publication.
Again, this is the raw form of the paper, well over 5,000 words, and exceeding the 4,000-word limit imposed by the conference. Nonetheless, feel free to comment.
I have been working on an idea for a seminar, entitled “Unity of Science,” which involves collapsing epistemology and ontology into one branch of philosophy. The paper is called, “Abstraction as Dissection of a Flat “Ontology”: The Illusiveness of Levels” (click this sentence to view paper). One of the motivations for doing this is that I think pragmatism and theory-ladenness call for it; and the two notions, themselves, seem to be naturally married by van Fraassen’s pragmatics of explanation —not to mention having been sort of suggested by Peirce. I say “sort of” because theory-ladenness hadn’t been thought of, back then. Continue reading
There was an interesting paper (a couple of them, actually) presented at the Sixth Midwest Epistemology Workshop hosted by Indiana University Bloomington. The particular paper I have in mind, “The Practical Dogmatist” by Roy Sorensen of Washington in St. Louis, was very intriguing; but it was not all that well received by the IU Bloomington Philosophy Department. My impression is that the paper’s importance was missed, and this impression is supported by some of the questions asked and comments made after Sorensen gave his presentation. It could be that the paper is still in an early state of formation, inchoate in its development, but I think the merit in its line of thought can be seen. It could very well have been the case that few had actually read the paper prior to the presentation. Continue reading