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Ontology=Metaphysics. Anyone Denying It Is Selling Something :)

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Posted by Luis Hamburgh on August 25, 2002 22:05:55 UTC


I see what you’ve done to your stance since . By now calling personal stances “ontological biases,” you maintain your premise that ontology exists apart from any personal consideration of it. But this exercise is tautological, as it is, in and of itself, a personal consideration. It is a way of claiming, “I make a deeper consideration of Ontology when I compare Ontology to my own, personal ontology – which, by the way, I arrived at through careful consideration.”

>>>”Reality is beyond our ultimate ability to know it!”

I’d like to agree, but even as an agnostic I wouldn’t assert this as something we know. Agnostics avoid certitude like George W Bush avoids books without pictures. I wonder how, in light of your judgment that reality is unknowable, an admission of human fallibility, you assert that there exists a “true” ontology.

>>>”My view isn't circular.”

Although I may be oversimplifying things a bit (I apologize for doing this), I do “totally reject” your argument for its peculiar elasticity:

P1 - ‘Reality exists.’
P2 - ‘We are not capable of fully knowing reality.’
. ~ .
C1 - ‘Hence, reality is metaphysical.’

Any premise should be a given. A premise is a conclusion of its own right. With this in mind, let us consider P2, your assertion that “reality is beyond our ultimate ability to know it.” As best I can tell, your proof for P2 is the following:

P1 - ‘Reality exists.’
P2 - ‘Reality is metaphysical.’
. ~ .
C2 - ‘Hence, we are not capable of fully knowing reality.’

Look familiar?

I agree that we do not yet know everything about reality. But to draw from our imperfect and incomplete explanations of reality the conclusion that reality is metaphysical is quite a leap. I’d express my partial agreement with these ideas thus:

P1 - ‘Reality exists.’
P2 - ‘We do not fully know reality.’
. ~ .
C3 - ‘Hence, there is a lot more to reality than what we currently know.’

>>>”Ontology is a discussion of 'what is'.”

Ontology is the product of bias. It’s a bias, in my opinion, that stems from the natural course of human cognitive development (ontology is a metaphysical proposal; it presumes metaphysics). You have avoided this synonymous reference, for obvious reasons I think, but ontology is only real in our minds. "Ontology is a discussion," sure, but the only way one can continue, "of 'what is' " and not "of 'what we think' " presumes metaphysics. Surely you see this!?

Here is where I should clarify how my stance differs from Psychologism. Psychologism would oversimplify thought, in my opinion; I think it works from the position that we are on the verge of “cracking the thought code.” It’s a lot like the Stafford paper; it’s another Wile E. Coyote, shooting rubber bands at the moon. I think we’re so far from reaching this level of knowledge (i.e. - knowing enough about thoughts to purport to identify how “memes” separate from, and thus also join to, the objects they consign during ‘normal’ communication), that to even estimate how “close” we actually are is silly. As for the sake of our own discussion, psychologism holds its own “bias,” asserting that there is a strict division between our thoughts and what we approximate with our thoughts. Indeed, as far as a description of the launching point from which I contemplate these things, “psychologism” is less accurate even than “antirealism,” in my not-so-humble opinion.

Aha! Does this mean I am an antirealist? Not really, but I’d humor this label just as happily I’d humor the accusation that I am an “anti-timist” (see next paragraph). My objection to your use of the term ‘antirealist,’ is based in that which you presuppose before arriving at the term itself. You would have that I impute meaning onto the universe, and therefore am an antirealist. I would say that to speculate as to the meaning of the universe independent of our speculation of it is impossible. Indeed -- the thrust of my stance in this latest chain of debates is that, in order to (attempt to) justify your “realist” position, you would stress that there is a “true” ontology.

>>>”Einstein was able to remove the bias toward ether and therefore able to revolutionize the physics of his day.”

I would go further and say that Einstein removed the need for an ontological definition of time*. I fear that, instead of taking this as evidence that 19th century time ontology was merely a mental phenomenon, you simply jump back to your (conclusion in A1, second premise in A2).

The modern definition of time is difficult for some to grasp . . . because people are “ontologically” biased towards regarding time as a metaphysical phenomenon (even Stafford’s “proof” is based within the old “ether”-esque definition of time). So, I am as much an “antirealist” as an “anti-timist.”

>>>”A bias doesn't have to be incorrect. For example, I have a bias toward pleasant conversations. Is that an incorrect bias?”

I really think you’re stretching things a bit here. The idea it seems you’re looking for is affinity. If your affinity for pleasant conversations causes you to only believe those who speak pleasantly, then I’d say you have a problem with bias.

>>>"I want to ask you again, Luis, how do you know that your (bias) is an absolutely correct bias?"

I don't! Why do you continue to demand that my cognitive threshholds match your own?


* I can spot, marching down 5th Avenue, your inclination to add something like, “But you’re basing this revised definition of time within (a deeper/another/a better) ontology!” However, this line of questioning is inutile until you can show me proofs for ‘we are not capable of fully knowing reality’ and ‘reality is metaphysical’ that don’t look suspiciously alike.

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