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Hello Luis

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Posted by Harvey on August 17, 2002 19:18:38 UTC

Hi Luis,

As long as this site maintains some sort of professionalism, I see no harm in responding now and then. I'm not one for 'horsing' around. In any case, I don't want to get too enmeshed here again.

*** 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.***

I guess what I have failed to communicate to you Luis is that you need an ontological base in order to reach this conclusion. Every statement, everything you say about anything, whether that be statements about our psychological intent, statements about self-consistency, etc, all stem from an ontological bias. You most likely wouldn't use psychologism as a form of ontology if you lived in the 3rd century B.C. - for example. Living at that time you might use supernaturalism as a form of ontology. Psychologism is a modern ontological bias based on certain premises. These premises are necessary to be believed in order to accept a psychologist thesis. It appears that you accept many of the premises of psychologism, however the reason that you accept many of these premises is because of your pre-conceived ontological view of the world. If we had the power to change the environment in which you grew up (say from an American environment to a fundamentalist Hindu environment in India), then you would no longer have grown up accepting the premises of psychologism. What changed in that scenario? Your ontological framework is what has been meddled with, and hence your fundamental perception of the world.

***Science does not separate knowledge into epistemology and ontology***

I disagree with this statement. Science is mainly based on epistemological models (i.e., justified explanations). Ontology is more in line with the philosophy of science.

***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!).***

I'm not understanding you here. The issue behind Dick's approach is that he confuses ontology and epistemology. He starts his paper with epistemological concerns, but he uses ontological bias in order to obtain his results. For example, when Dick says that 'reality is a set of numbers', he is attempting to define reality in an epistemological fashion (i.e., not assuming anything about the world, just trying to define reality in a workable fashion so that he can develop his model), but the ontological bias is that reality requires the existence of people since numbers acquire their meaning in human minds (no other creature holds a meaningful concept of a number as far as I know). This destroys the very purpose of his paper which is to eliminate epistemological doubt which he states correctly that science cannot eliminate. Hence, Dick himself is unable to eliminate epistemological doubt since he introduces fallible human mental constructs as part of his definitions.

Now, it is no fault of Dick that he is relying on ontological bias to construct an epistemological model. Everyone is limited in that way! The problem is that Dick is completely unaware that he is doing it - at least when he makes his conclusions about reality. All of his statements are based on bias. This is also true of science, which he criticizes.

So, there is nothing incorrect about citing ontological bias, it is just that you should cite them when you make your conclusions. In your case, your ontological biases allow you to construct a psychologist view of the world. That's okay, but be aware that your pre-psychologism is based on a hidden ontology. Change the hidden ontology, and sure enough your view of the world would radically change.

***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.***

I'm not sure what you mean "in order to preserve reality itself as the only provable concept", but as an illustration what I am talking about, let's label this statement as Luis' "X-belief" about Harv. Now, if we look at X-belief, we should ask how you construct it. We should look at your premises, education, philosophy, etc that allowed you to believe X-belief as true. At some point we will see that X-belief is based on certain biases which cannot be proven true, but are merely accepted by you as true. This collection of biases form an ontological (or pre-ontological view) of the world.

***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."***

Here's a case in point. If I ask you to define 'material stuff', 'psychological effect', etc, eventually we see a whole slew of unproven biases which allow you to make these deductions. Change your environment in which you grew up, and these biases would invariably change. How can you be so sure that your biases are absolutely correct?

Warm regards, Harv

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