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WB, Harv! Allow me To Revive Our Previous Discussion!

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Posted by Luis Hamburgh on August 17, 2002 03:57:08 UTC


Welcome back. We all missed you.

As for , I'd like to bring our previous discussion back to the top (my turn).

My last reply, , covered an option you seem to omit. It is my assertion that "ontology" is not the deep foundation you imply; it's a psychological function. "Ontology" is a double-take on 'reality,' when one way of looking at reality is logically complete. We should never assert a position beyond our capacity to reach that position.

As I said in , "contemplation consists of things and actions." I think many philosophers imply that two actions (ontology and epistemology) are commensurate with one thing (reality). Science does not separate knowledge into epistemology and ontology, as there is no logical division, as per the "verbs vs. nouns" notion I try to highlight in .

I think that, by presuming ontology (that is, by stating the case as you do against Stafford), you're pitting two actions

{1} - the questioning of reality, and
{2} - the knowledge of reality

against each other, when in fact they are each other. It is a lopsided fight, and I think your one and only thing (reality) has a guaranteed spot in the winner's circle. After all, in your book reality warrants two separate actions (consider: this sanction comes from a stance that admits its own shortcomings!).

You might not agree that your own biases cause you to separate one action into two, but I see you separating the contemplation of reality into two halves in order to preserve reality itself as the only provable concept.

Against your apparent line of thinking, I say reality is one thing, and conceptually its own contemplation constitutes but one action. We can never know reality beyond our knowledge of reality, and so to pit reality our ability to know it is a lopsided bill, at best. I assert that, when you question reality, you are (probably inadvertently) presuming that this thing is automatically beyond your own ability to question it (therefore splitting contemplation of it into two categories).

Maybe this all sounds silly . . maybe I've just had too many Sam Adams "Cream Stout" (I HAVE!), but I think you need to review in order to revisit the flavor of our last discussion. A quick review:


Harv: "There's a bigger aspect to this picture -- metaphysics! We know of metaphysics because our thoughts are more than just material phenomena. Hence, without a backdrop for this hyper-material thoughtstuff, we could never make the connection to the mere material world."

Luis: "At some point I think we all feel this way, and I wonder . . . maybe this is a self-preservation device. Certainly, I don't think it's logically economical to assume 'thoughtstuff' is more than just a material phenomenon. Our view of the world is simply another part of the world. Nothing 'meta'-physical is required."

Harv: "Aha! You think we impute meaning onto the world! You're an anti-realist!"

Luis: "No, I think everything is real. In fact, I'd say that nothing is unreal."

Harv: "So how do you manage to stay away from the fire-breathing dragon in your garage?"

Luis: "Hmm... I bet that when you were a child you learned that 'imaginary' phenomena are not 'real.' Maybe at one point your guardian(s) had to assure you there was no monster under your bed. Consequently, you constructed a wall between 'real' and 'unreal.' Since that time you've reinforced this wall, with the ultimate goal of self-preservation. 'I am more than just worldly, material stuff,' and so forth...'"

Harv: "Not quite. I base my stance that there is something beyond the material level upon metaphysics. And, like it or not, you base your own opinions within metaphysics! Indeed, we cannot have conceived of the things we've conceived of if metaphysics weren't there to begin with. Metaphysics is the foundation of everything!"

Luis: "First it was reality, a valid definition of our own, admittedly circular labels. Now, it's metaphysics -- the underpinnings of reality -- why not just call it 'reality' itself?"

Harv: "Because metaphysics is the backdrop for reality -- it's the spiritual fountain from whence our thoughts and certain other immaterial phenomena spring..."

Luis: "Again, it seems quite obvious that you're basing your stance upon a mental model that proposes there is something beyond the materially real world. You have to conclude 'metaphysics,' because your initial assumption is 'metaphysics.' Your premise equals your conclusion. But it's all just a part of self-preservation."

Harv: "It might be a function of self-preservation, but you're basing this view from your own particular footing within metaphysics! I mean, without metaphysics you'd have no basis from which to move yourself towards this position of yours!"

Luis: "Let's look beyond the circular rationale... I can explain how your sense of 'metaphysics' is an emotionally-based psychological mechanism, a mechanism built within a normal, human bias."

Harv: "No matter how many reductionist devices you drag out and align in this way or that, you're still basing your views from your own particular footing within metaphysics! Without metaphysics you'd have no basis from which to move yourself towards this position of yours!"

Luis: "I think that empirically it's safer to say the basis from which we move ourselves towards any position is the sense of self."

Harv: "Aha! You're a solipsist!"

Luis: "No, I think everything is real. But hear me out -- the more we strive to value ourselves, the more we might tend to affirm this sense that our innermost thoughts (and thus WE) are, in some way, other-worldly. But I think this is human psychology at work, and not an affirmation that some ultra-reality exists."

Harv: "But at some point you're basing this view from your own particular footing within metaphysics! Without metaphysics you'd have no basis from which to move yourself towards this position of yours!"

Luis: "I think you're running into a mental obstacle. Your predisposition to the whole psychological effect of 'self' -- i.e., your succumbing to the emotional appeal of 'metaphysics' -- is much stronger than your capacity to step back and distinguish the constituents of the particular psychological effect itself. We wish to sense something beyond a material reality because we don't want to face the fact that maybe we're just material stuff. Hence, we impose a 'foundation' for reality 'metaphysics' which I think is just a tautological spiral of self-preserving psychology."

Harv: "But you're basing this view from your own particular footing within metaphysics! Without metaphysics you'd have no basis from which to move yourself towards this position of yours!"


I think it's time philosophers like yourself recognize that science no longer dismisses ontology, but is capable of explaining HOW ontology and epistemology are an unnecessary division of one action into two -- a psychological mechanism employed specifically to preserve the mental estimation of one thing -- reality.


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