Category Archives: Kantian Philosophy

Understanding the Role of Kant’s Antinomies in Refuting Transcendental Realism

In one of my first blog posts, I posted the notes for help in understanding the role Kant’s antinomies play in the refutation of transcendental realism.  It was just a skeleton of references and bits of commentary over a secondary sources and the first Critique.  I have recently been impelled to flesh out this skeleton.  The essay presented is a work in progress.  Continue reading

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There May Be No Such Thing as Quantity in Nature, with an Example from Physiology

Some time ago, I was discussing the qualitative-quantitative divide with a friend, a medical doctor, who happens to be very interested in the philosophy of science.  The discussion became a debate, where we trying to get to the bottom of whether it was as I said, that the world is a qualitative entity, wherein the mind supplies quantity; or as he said, that the world has a mathematical ontology, something like the worldview championed by Meillassoux or Galileo.  To be clear, I was just arguing that it could be either way, with some slightly greater likelihood that the world may not have quantity in it, apart from that supplied by the mind.  By contrast, my colleague, the M.D., did not understand how it could be that there is no such thing as quantity in the world, in the sense that he could not envisage as scenario in which number does not inhere in the world.  Between us was the barrier of language and experience, which was constituted in the difference between education of a physicist —though I did do a pre-med track and have interests in the philosophy of medicine— and that of a physician.  We ended up settling on an example that is grounded in physiology.  I will set up the groundwork for the discussion, then, give the example, and, finally, provide the resolution that has come to me only recently.

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Filed under Kantian Philosophy, phenomenology, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Science, Pure Philosophy, Science

Thoughts on a Fractured Reality

There is some discussion going on in the blogosphere (and youtube) about whether the world we live in is pluralistic or monistic.  Critical Animal’s blog (click here) contains a list of some of these blog posts.  As with most ideas, I am of many minds about the issue.  While I think I would prefer a world that is as envisioned by the zeitgeist of the Enlightenment, axiomatically and formally structured from the bottom up, it is becoming very difficult to see how the world could be anything other than pluralistic.  What I will do in the following is lay out why it seems to me that the world is pluralist, and then lay out why I think the human mind has such a natural bias toward mosism.  On the latter point, I think most readers will agree with me that the commonsense disposition —the disposition of any ole jane or joe on the street— is one inclined toward a single truth, possibly slightly more nuanced, in the axiomatic manner I described; and so I will spend some time explaining why this is probably the case.

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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

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Filed under Epistemology, Kantian Philosophy, Philosophy, Pure Philosophy, Speculative Realism, Uncategorized

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.

 

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Examining and Thinking Through “The Simplest Possible Universe”

This is the first in a series of blog posts about a work done by Dr. David Lee Cale, professor at West Virginia University.  Cale, a polymath, is chiefly a philosopher, trained in physics, political science, mathematics, economics, and numerous other disciplines, holds a Ph.D. in philosophy, an M.B.A., a B.A. in political science, and is ABD in economics, and is a notable ethicist.  The work of his being examined is “The Simplest Possible Universe,” a monograph that synthesizes ancient Greek and Scholastic styles of thinking with modern physical insight.  The work is striking, in that its brand of creativity is not common in modern intellectual enterprises.  Retaining the good sense and substance of modern physics, Cale employs modes of thinking that are on loan from times nearly forgotten.  The objective of this blog series is to deconstruct the monograph, examine its components, and assess the merits of each, redoubting where possible.  At the end, if efficacious, an attempt at resynthesis of the project, consequent upon the conceptual retooling, will be made.  Continue reading

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Meillassoux: On the Road to Absolutizing Phenomenology

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

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Filed under Epistemology, Kantian Philosophy, Philosophy, Pure Philosophy, Speculative Realism

Einstein, Poincaré, and Kant: Between Galison and Yourgrau

I find something deeply puzzling about Peter Galison’s Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps: Empires of Time.  In particular, this wonderful book develops the contextual settings in which the relativistic physics of Einstein’s and Poincaré’s physics were conceived, as well as the intellectual link that existed between them.  In brief, Galison makes clear the role that technology played in formulating the ideas of Einstein and Poincaré.  The hope of Europe was to establish a synchronized system of clocks, for economic reasons (e.g., train services without collisions due to timing issues), political reasons (e.g., von Moltke maintained that a strong relationship existed between German national unity and einheitzeit), and general technology concerns (e.g., inductance in wires can cause incredible and varying lag times in signal transmission, as a function of distance and current among other variables, in telegraphy).  Poincaré, having been educated at the École Polytechnique, possessed the “factory stamp” that their students possessed: even the mathematicians were essentially “mechanicians”. Einstein, educated at one of Europe’s leading technology universities and working in a patent office, machine patents abound, and Poincaré being thoroughly immersed in problems dealing with telegraphy (electrodynamics) and clock synchronization, Galison makes the claim that relativity theory is largely a product of the machine-minded science of the nineteenth century.   Continue reading

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“Nomos and Physis”: Duquesne University’s 7th Annual Graduate Conference in Philosophy

There was a very nice turnout at Duquesne University’s 7th Annual graduate conference in philosophy (themed “Nomos and Physis”).  A big thanks goes to the Duquesne Department of philosophy and Matt Lovett for running such a well-organized event.  The spread of papers presented was diverse array of subtopics: Phenomenology and Nature; Nature In Itself, Nature for Us; Nature in Ancient Philosophy; Contemporary Ontologies and Nature.  The general sentiment around the room seemed to be that the questions, discussion, and commentary was productive.  Probably the most fascinating element of the conference —I know not if it was by design or happenstance— was that the papers reflected holistic approaches to philosophical considerations pertaining to Nature.   Continue reading

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Filed under Cosmology, History of Science, Kantian Philosophy, Natural Philosophy, Philosophy, Philosophy of Physics, Philosophy of Science, Physics, Popular Science

Reasons to Be Excited about Immanuel Kant, Or, Why Should I read Kant?

“Two things fill the mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more intensely the mind of thought is drawn to them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.”

–Immanuel Kant

There is one thinker that is, in my opinion, far and away, the greatest thinker of all-time —and I mean it isn’t even close: Immanuel Kant.  He improved Newton’s physics by coming up with the modern idea of inertia (and Newton’s physics, still using Aegilus Romanus’ vis inertiae, was a bit of a mess); the idea that there are other galaxies (“island universes”); a metaphysical foundation for Newton’s physics; in a way, resolved the outstanding epistemological debate between the empiricists (Bacon, Hume, Locke, and so on) and the rationalists (Descartes, Berkeley, Leibniz, and so on), giving a framework illustrating that there was another, more attractive option; created the synthetic-analytic distinction that permitted mathematics and morality a completely new classification over and beyond the mere a prior and a posteriori, namely the synthetic a priori; created (as far as I know) the only rationalistic absolute system of morality; provided the modern foundation for cognitive science; and developing some loose rules of thumb for the predication of attributes in logic (resolving the Anselm’s Argument debate in definitive fashion…see below), among many other things.  The Critique of Pure Reason is Kant’s most important work, and I think it is the single most important piece of scholarship ever composed; so I recommend starting there.  The general consensus is that first Critique is difficult to understand, but a decent piece of secondary literature and Pluhar’s translation should be enough to understand the major points of the work.  (Pluhar’s translation sacrifices some accuracy, but this should be of little matter to general readership.) Continue reading

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