Concordia University | MontrĂŠal, QuĂŠbec, Canada
Gnosis Journal of Philosophy
Volume XV, Number 1 2016
EDITORIAL COMMITTEE Editor-in-Chief Kay Rollans
Managing Editor Jaysen Penney
Copy Editors Blake Scott Dan Cook
Reviewers - â€‹Open CFP section Dan Cook Kaiah Eaton Laura Gallivan Anthony Gavin Madeline Glowicki Maggie Ivasecko Melody Mikhail Gabrielle Polce Patricia Roy Edward Taylor
Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
Table of Contents §I: General Call for Papers 2016 Teleology in the Phaedo’s Biographical Account……………………………………………..…4 José Manuel Osorio One and Many in Gadamer’s Philosophical Hermeneutics……………………………………. 17 Christopher Gibson Subjectivity and the Intuition of Time in Hegel’s 1830 Geistesphilosophie…………………...34 Alexander Liepins Non-intelligible Intellect, High on the Highest Branch: the Limits of Language in Neoplatonism and Poetry……………………………………………49 Laura Moncion
§II: Concordia Graduate Philosophy Students’ Association Conference 2015: Revolutions Scientific and Social Lingering Wariness toward Values in Science: A Perspective Considering the Historical use of Value-Laden Language……………………….63 Laura Gallivan Fields of Difference: Ideology and Epistemology in Scientific Worldviews………………………………………...75 Anthony Gavin Defending Patient Phenomenology: A Critique of Murphy’s Psychiatry in the Scientific Image……………………………………..89 Dennis Papadopoulos The Science of Modern Political Philosophy…………………………………………………….98 Alexander Anderson
Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
ยงI General Call of Papers 2016
Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
Teleology in the Phaedo’s Biographical Account José Manuel Osorio
The aim of this paper is to clarify the first section of Socrates's biographical account (the so-called first sailing) in Phaedo (96a-99d).1 Specifically, the aim is to have a better understanding regarding the teleological argument about the intellect in Socrates's speech. This is a complex and difficult passage which has been subjected to a series of what, in my view, are contradictory interpretations. Broadly speaking, it is possible to distinguish two very different groups of interpretations of the teleological arguments in the first part of the biographical section. In the first interpretation, scholars looking for the roots of the teleological arguments of the Timaeus arrive at the conclusion that they lie in the Phaedo. For this group of scholars, Plato employs a teleological argument in Socrates’s biographical account in the Phaedo, although it is considered to be in schematic form when compared to the one employed in the Timaeus.2 In the second interpretation, scholars focusing exclusively on the Phaedo’s biographical passage argue that teleological arguments are not used by Plato in the Phaedo3 since Socrates said in the first part of the biographical passage that he was completely incapable of finding a teleological cause (99c-d).4 The upshot is this: studies of the Phaedo support the thesis that teleology is not present in the dialogue, while studies of the Timaeus support the opposite, namely, that in Socrates’s biographical account teleology is present. So there seems to be a contradiction in the literature about the place of teleology in the Phaedo. Since there seems to be more than one philosophical argument involving teleology in the dialogue (e.g. the reminiscence argument (72e-77a) and the final myth (107a-115a)),5 a coherent reading of the dialogue is at stake. Put differently, if this contradiction is not resolved, then the reader cannot explore the full extent that teleology plays within the dialogue or its philosophical development in the Timaeus. How, then, to read the biographical account of the Phaedo so that we are able to recognize the teleological argument in it? In this paper I will challenge the reading of Phaedo that says that teleological arguments don’t play an important role there (in particular, in the biographical account). I will further provide a key for reading the teleological arguments in the Phaedo (which I will show to exist) that allows the reader to avoid the aforementioned contradiction. The key to understanding the passage lies first in distinguishing the different dramatis personae adopted by Socrates while telling to his audience his intellectual story, so that later we may look for similarities and repeated themes in Socrates’s different personae. Following this strategy I will show in the first part of the paper that Socrates employs up to three different dramatis personae: the first, an old Socrates who reports the protos plous (“first sailing”) and deuteros plous (“second sailing”) while sitting in jail; the second, a young Socrates who heard about Anaxagoras’s book in a public reading; the third, an old Socrates relaying his take on Anaxagoras’s use of intellect. This literary analysis will allow me, in the second part of the paper, to illustrate how Plato’s Socrates not only thought that teleological arguments were of the utmost importance for philosophy, but more importantly that he preserved the same rough sketch of his teleological arguments from his Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
younger days up until this point—namely, that intellect orders the universe according to the value of the best. 1.
Socrates's encounter with Anaxagoras’s theory of intellect
The philosophical exchange that leads to the discussion of teleology in the Phaedo begins with a discussion about whether the human soul will exist once it has left the body which it inhabits. Simmias and Cebes raise two objections to Socrates’s first proof of the immortality of the soul (70c-81a). The first objection is to ask whether the soul is nothing but the harmony of corporeal elements which disappears when the body ceases to exist (85e-86d). The second is to compare the soul with an old weaver, who survives some of his works, but inevitably dies after some time (86e-88b). While for Simmias the soul is the product of the body, in Cebes’s objection the soul seems to be the cause of the body (87d-e). Socrates responds to the first objection by providing three consecutive arguments (91c-95a) and then turns his attention to Cebes’s objection. Cebes’s argument raises the issue of the birth (genesis) and destruction (phthora) of the body and soul (95e10). Socrates grants that although his first proof shows that the soul exists before birth, it does not necessarily follow from it that the soul will continue to exist after leaving the body. To solve this matter, the causes of destruction and generation and how they could affect the soul should be investigated. The objection made by Cebes forces Socrates to deal with one of those things that are of “no small value” (phaulon pragma; P haedo 95e9), for the cause of generation and decay must be completely and systematically investigated (holos diapragmateuomai; P haedo 96a1). The most helpful way to address this problem, Socrates believes, is to relate his youthful intellectual experiences with the type of philosophical investigation called “natural history” (historia peri physeos; 9 6a7–8).6 Throughout this intellectual biography, Plato’s Socrates describes the way in which he was led to discover the hypothesis of forms and to demonstrate the indestructibility of the soul, but while on his path to uncovering the true cause of generation and corruption, Socrates tells us a story about Anaxagoras’s intellect theory. After a short period examining his predecessors’ positions regarding the causes of generation and destruction, young Socrates was disappointed with the causal explanations of the Presocratics and rejected their explanatory method. Amid his confusion, Socrates thought that the philosophy of Anaxagoras would deliver a coherent and systematic explanation of nature, one that would avoid making the same mistakes made by the physiologoi. In the book of Anaxagoras, Socrates thought he would find a teleological explanation of the cosmos: intellect orders everything in the best possible way. However, after reading Anaxagoras’s book, Socrates was completely incapable of finding, either on his own or with the help of others, a teleological cause: “Now I would gladly be the pupil of anyone who would teach me the nature of such a cause; but since that was denied me and I was not able to discover it myself or to learn of it from anyone else, do you wish me, Cebes, to give you an account of the way in which I have conducted my second voyage in quest of the cause?” (99c-d). These final words in the first sailing passage are usually taken by a number of scholars at face value and as the only evidence for Socrates's assessment of teleology. For example, in the Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
late 19th century, J. D. Logan wrote that teleological arguments are only found in Plato in and after the Timaeus (1897, 389). Although this was written more than 100 years ago, Logan’s interpretation of the Phaedo has persisted through time. Gregory Vlastos, in his influential 1969 paper on Plato’s concept of cause, wrote that “what Socrates has failed to discover by his own labors or from those of others and is prepared to do without for the present is the teleological aitia itself” (no. 15, 297-298). More recently, C. J. Rowe stated in his commentary on the dialogue that even though the Timaeus shows a combined application of a teleological explanation with the hypothesis of forms, “so far as concerns him [Socrates] here and now, in Phaedo, that kind of project belongs to the future” (1993, 239). It seems that for an important number of scholars the only significant evidence for interpreting Socrates's reception of Anaxagoras’s intellect theory rests in the final words of the protos plous. By taking literally Socrates's final statement about Anaxagoras, it seems to follow that Socrates was truly incapable of finding a final aitia and an articulate teleological explanation of nature. Nonetheless, this interpretation will not hold after closer examination of the passage. In order to resolve the issue we must pay close attention to the circumstances and the temporal and narrative structure of the encounter between Socrates and the book of Anaxagoras. It is in the analysis of the details of these circumstances that the key to understanding Socrates's reception of Anaxagorean teleology lies. The first thing to notice about Socrates's biographical account is that there are three distinct dramatis personae in his monologue. The first one is old Socrates who reports the whole affair while in jail. The second is the young and optimistic Socrates who heard about Anaxagoras’s book in a public reading and was delighted to hear this because he felt it was good that intellect should be the cause of everything. The third and final persona is old Socrates again, but in this case he is narrating his current take on Anaxagoras’s use of intellect. Since the narrative sequence of the biographic passage is somewhat intricate and complex, I believe it will be useful to break the passage into four distinct mini-episodes; that way, it becomes easier to discern what each of these three dramatis persona of Socrates says. The first episode (I) amounts to the public reading of Anaxagoras’s book, which the youthful Socrates attended (97b6-c1). In this public reading, Socrates heard that according to Anaxagoras “it is intellect that arranges and causes all things” (97c1-2). After hearing the fundamental tenet of Anaxagoras's theory of intellect, young Socrates was "very pleased” that intellect should be the cause of everything. Now, it can be inferred that Socrates gathered only that intellect causes and orders all things from the public reading from the fact that he was disappointed upon reading the book himself. Within the first moment of the passage, then, we can easily distinguish two events: (1) Socrates was present during a public reading of Anaxagoras’s work; and (2), Socrates seems to have paid attention only to one single statement from the book—the hint that intellect orders and causes everything—but did not come to know anything more about the role of intellect from Anaxagoras. The second episode (II) concerns Socrates crediting the intellect to be a teleological aitia. This attribution takes place before Socrates could have actually studied Anaxagoras’s writings. After hearing publicly that intellect orders and causes all things Socrates reasoned that "if this is so," i.e. if it is the case that intellect is the cause of everything, then "intellect in arranging things arranges everything and establishes each thing as it is best for it to be. So if anyone wishes to find the cause of the generation or destruction or existence of a particular thing, he must find out Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
what sort of existence, or passive state of any kind or activity is best for it” (Phaedo 97c5-d4). The new and complementary role attributed to intellect is presented by Plato as a reasonable inference from Anaxagoras’s thesis.7 As young Socrates heard Anaxagoras’s book he thought that if intellect causes all, then it should follow also that it causes and orders everything the best possible way. We can plot Socrates’s reasoning in the passage as follows: (1) if intellect orders everything, then it follows that (2) it organizes and establishes each thing as it is best for it to be; young Socrates thinks then that if (1) is true, then (2) follows naturally. However, only point (1) can be found in the work of Anaxagoras and the extant fragments we have come to possess, while point (2) is an inference made by Socrates from point (1). Socrates's choice of words in the second section of the passage seems to reflect a clear awareness that the attributed new teleological role of intellect is a product of his own mind: “As I considered these things I was delighted to think that I had found in Anaxagoras a teacher of the cause of things quite to my intellect” (97d5-7). After having indicated the teleological function of intellect (97e-98a), Socrates insists yet again that his account was an assumption (homen; 98a7) and an expectation (elpidas) (98b3). This is because, despite the fragmentary state of Anaxagoras’s philosophy, Anaxagoras nowhere says that intellect arranges things in a certain way because it is best for them to be so. In frag. B 12 Diels-Kranz (1966), for example, Anaxagoras assigns three functions to intellect: it has knowledge of everything (gnome peri pantos), inaugurates the rotation of the mass of ingredients, and controls its rotation. It would not be unreasonable to assume that intellect would also know why everything occupies a determinate place in the cosmos. However, no such thing is found in Anaxagoras’s fragments.8 Moreover, we have external confirmation from Aristotle’s Metaphysics and Proclus’s commentary on the Timaeus that intellect was never designated as a teleological cause in Anaxagoras’s theory. The important point is that Socrates is represented by Plato here as already adopting a teleological perspective before hearing Anaxagoras’s book and/or as a consequence of the public reading. Either way, the teleological perspective is Socrates's own philosophical reflection on intellect; he imagined that Anaxagoras would explain what was best for the individual, what was the common good, and guessed he would find some sort of textual confirmation to his teleological speculations about intellect. The third episode (III) of the passage comprises young Socrates's reading of the book and his consequent disappointment and critique of Anaxagorean cosmology. Young Socrates dashed to buy the book of Anaxagoras in order to discover as quickly as possible “what is best [beltiston] for each and what is good [agathon] for all in common [to koinon pasin]” (98b1-2). However, he was tremendously disappointed when he read Anaxagoras’s book himself and discovered that Anaxagoras never talks about intellect as final cause but, on the contrary, adopts a mechanistic explanation of nature: I prized my hopes very highly, and I seized the books very eagerly and read them as fast as I could, that I might know as fast as I could about the best and the worst. My glorious hope, my friend, was quickly snatched away from me. As I went on with my reading I saw that the man made no use of intelligence, and did not assign any real causes for the ordering of things, but mentioned as causes air and ether and water and many other absurdities. (98b2-c2) Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
From 98a to 98c, young Socrates criticizes Anaxagoras for having “introduce[d] any other cause for these things than that it is best for them to be as they are” (97e3-98a2). Young Socrates believed that Anaxagoras’s writings would resolve his doubts regarding which cause leads to which specific effect, and why this effect is the best possible outcome. He expected, for example, that if an explanation was presented as to why the earth is flat or spherical, that that explanation should also explain why this is best. But in his book, Anaxagoras turns only to material causes with respect to the shape and position of the earth, such as ether or water, and says nothing about why it is better that each of these phenomena be the way they are. According to young Socrates the problem with Anaxagoras’s theory is that it fails to provide a coherent account covering both the explanation of physical changes in physical terms—if the earth is flat or spherical—and the explanation of the same physical changes in teleological terms—why it is better that earth is this way or the other. Now, during these first three narrative episodes of the biographical account, it is old Socrates who remembers his past philosophical experiences and narrates them as if he were still a young man. That is, old Socrates personifies his younger dramatic self, speaks as from a past perspective, and narrates the encounter along with the disappointment and critique he charged against Anaxagoras’s philosophy. Socrates communicates to his audience his experience with Anaxagoras by assuming his younger point of view on Anaxagoras. From Phaedo 98c onwards, however, it is old Socrates who takes the stage to make a devastating and final critique of Anaxagoras’s theory. As old Socrates criticizes Anaxagoras, he also indicates his current opinion on the teleological role of intellect. As we will see in the following paragraphs, his current opinion matches his younger expectation about intellect. This is illuminated in the fourth episode. In order to explain to Cebes and Simmias how Anaxagoras failed to make coherent use of intellect as a teleological principle, Socrates employs an analogy between the real cause that has kept him from escaping jail and the conditions that are necessary to either run away or stay: “And it seemed to me it was very much as if one should say that Socrates does with intelligence whatever he does, and then, in trying to give the causes of the particular thing I do, should say first that I am now sitting here because my body is composed of bones and sinews, and the bones are hard and have joints which divide them and the sinews can be contracted and relaxed and, with the flesh and the skin which contains them all, are laid about the bones; and so, as the bones are hung loose in their ligaments, the sinews, by relaxing and contracting, make me able to bend my limbs now, and that is the cause of my sitting here with my legs bent. Or as if in the same way he should give voice and air and hearing and countless other things of the sort as causes for our talking with each other, and should fail to mention the real causes, which are, that the Athenians decided that it was best to condemn me, and therefore I have decided that it was best for me to sit here and that it is right for me to stay and undergo whatever penalty they order… But it is most absurd to call things of that sort causes. If anyone were to say that I could not have done what I thought proper if I had not bones and sinews and other things that I have, he would be right. But to say that those things are the cause of my doing what I do, and that I act with intelligence but not from the choice of what Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
is best, would be an extremely careless way of talking. Whoever talks in that way is unable to make a distinction and to see that in reality a cause is one thing, and the thing without which the cause could never be a cause is quite another thing.” (98c1-99b2) According to the comparison, it would be unreasonable to pinpoint the motions of his body as the cause for Socrates's decision not to escape from jail, as the same bodily parts and motions could be used to explain the opposite, that is, Socrates's escape to Megara or Boeotia. Socrates's actions are not explained in any way by his bodily parts, but instead by his opinion of the good, from which it follows that remaining in prison will be the best course of action for the Athenians and for himself. Therefore, in order to explain from a teleological and rational point of view why Socrates has not escaped, one must take recourse to Socrates's intellect and its knowledge of the good. In that regard, Socrates has drawn the distinction between that because of which someone does what he does and those things in the absence of which the cause could never be a cause. The problem of Anaxagoras (and of the rest of Presocratics) is that he was not capable of distinguishing between the "real cause" and that without which the "real cause" could not exercise its power (dynamis). In 99b-c, after having criticized Anaxagoras’s theory of the intellect, old Socrates gives details to his audience about the teleological dimension of intellect. From a cosmological perspective, old Socrates argues that intellect orders the universe according to the good; it is the cause “which causes things to be now placed as it is best for them to be placed” and it “embraces and holds together all things” (99c1-2). From a personal ethical perspective, the individual intellect consists in selecting pragmatic courses of action that produce the individual and common good. For example, old Socrates acts "from the choice of what is best" and decides that remaining in prison will be the best decision (99b1). In both cases, the good, as common and as individual, is the value and end of intellect, the paradigm that governs the actions of intellect. Now, let’s go back to episode number two to examine Socrates's early conception of intellect. Young Socrates thought that “the intellect in arranging things arranges everything and establishes each thing as it is best for it to be” (97c1-2) and “in respect to that particular thing, and other things too, a man need examine nothing but what is best and most excellent” (97d1-4). He then expected that Anaxagoras “would go on and explain what is best for each and what is good for all in common (ariston kai to beltiston)” (98b). Thus, in Socrates's early teleological theory, intellect arranges and orders each thing and the totality of things according to the value of good. Intellect causes everything to occupy its rightful place, and by doing so intellect is the source of particular and common goods. Comparing young and old Socrates's theories of intellect, it seems that both dramatis personae agree about the details of its causal powers. In both cases (1) intellect orders each and everything according to the good, (2) causes individual and common good, and (3) embraces all things together. The difference between the statements of one Socrates and the other, young and old, lies not in content, but merely in form: young Socrates portrays his theory of intellect in the form of an inference while old Socrates does it in the form of a critique. In summary, then, (a) young Socrates heard about the causal role of the intellect in Anaxagoras’s book; then (b) conceived a schematic teleological explanation of intellect and Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
good; (c) subsequently, young Socrates read Anaxagoras’s work and became disillusioned with the explanation given about intellect; and finally (d) old Socrates tells how he understands the teleological role of intellect and uses an analogy to criticize Anaxagoras. It becomes easy to see that points (b) and (d) represent the narrative episodes when young Socrates devised a theory of teleology and when old Socrates stated what he thinks intellect causes. 2.
Socrates's Teleological Model
Now, was Socrates really incapable of finding a teleological explanation? As we have seen, this cannot be true, since Socrates devised by himself a teleological theory of intellect that has persisted since his was young. But then what is the meaning of the final words of the first sailing? Since Socrates was deprived of a coherent explanation of intellect not only by Anaxagoras, but by all the Presocratics, we can conclude that no one was his teacher. Socrates believes that the Presocratics were more interested in coming up with ever more astonishing and dramatic causes rather than finding a suitable teleological aitia (99b6-c6).9 In this sense, Socrates's criticism can be understood as targeting and condemning all previous causation models for failing to incorporate intellect in their methods. But, importantly for my argument, that does not entail that Socrates was completely deprived of a teleological model. As we have seen, young and old Socrates agreed in their opinions about intellect. Beyond this overlap in opinions is the fact that Socrates calls the project of finding a teleological explanation something every “man need examine” in order to explain physis. Likewise, a teleological theory seems to be a sufficient explanation of nature, since Socrates says he would not need another method to explain it. Finally, in just 15 Stephanus lines, Socrates repeatedly calls intellect the "true cause": intellect is the real cause of Socrates's permanence in prison and it is the true cause that unites the whole cosmos.10 In this case, the repeated use of aletheia in reference to the status of intellect as a cause shows that Socrates's speech about intellect is considered to be truthful. From the evidence we can conclude that on the one hand, all these statements show the high esteem and value Socrates has for his own schematic explanation of intellect; on the other hand, as this theory is the product of his own intelligence, it can be maintained that Socrates discovers for himself the teleological function of intellect and regards it as a true cause. In conclusion, I have shown through textual evidence that it is impossible to deny the presence of a schematic theory of intellect in the first part of the intellectual biography (i.e. the first sailing). Although it is true that Socrates did not find a coherent theory of intellect in Anaxagoras’s writings, it is not true that he could not find one by himself. In that regard, the only possible interpretation of Socrates's failure seems to be ironic: in a self-deprecating manner, Socrates obscures the truth about teleology amongst the disappointment with the natural philosophers and lies to his audience about his incapability to find the real nature of intellect. But in reality, Socrates is himself the only person he needed to find the truth about the intellect.11 3.
The Dynamis of Intellect According to Socrates
What exactly then does Socrates believe intellect to cause? As a result of the analysis into the four different episodes and Socrates's dramatis personae that was carried out we can finally answer this question. Socrates seems to believe the following to be true about intellect : (1) “that Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
[intellect] arranges (diaskomein) all things (ta pragmata)”; (2) that “[intellect] in arranging things arranges everything and establishes each thing as it is best for it to be”; (3) that intellect is “the power which causes things to be now placed as it is best for them to be placed”; (4) that it is the “more powerful and more immortal and more all-embracing cause”; and (5) that it is that “which must embrace and hold together all things.” Regarding Anaxagoras, Socrates thought that (6): “when he [Anaxagoras] assigned the cause of each thing and of all things in common he would go on and explain what is best for each and what is good for all in common.” Finally, (7) that “a man need examine nothing but what is best and most excellent; for then he will necessarily know also what is inferior.” Socrates's intellect theory includes as its central tenet a cause that orders the universe in the best possible way. For Socrates intellect is a universal cause, since it affects all things, and also a systematic one, for intellect unites the objects of the physis without mixing them. In that sense, intellect is the most powerful of the causes, because it makes the world a complex unity where everything is interconnected. In Socrates's words it is possible to distinguish between intellect and the good, for the intellect uses the good as the criterion and principle for ordering the universe. What is the ontological status of this good? In Plato’s Timaeus 29a, it is affirmed that the divine craftsman, or intellect, was good. This statement has led some scholars to believe that intellect and the form of the good are one and the same.12 However, since the passage in Phaedo provides us with so little information about the nature of this good or best, as tempting as it is to identify them, I believe it is simply impossible to conclude whether the good of intellect is a form (or even the form of the good from the Republic). Rather than identifying its ontological status, it seems it is only possible to pinpoint the causal function of the good as some sort of paradigm of order. Thus we may say that before intellect the universe was in a chaotic state: intellect transformed chaos into order by acting upon the good, making the universe both good and an interconnected whole.13 4.
By ordering and dividing into distinct temporal sequences the closing section of the first sailing passage, we come to see that Socrates's early belief in the dynamis of intellect and his later criticism of Anaxagoras correspond in content and differ merely in form. Once each individual part of the narrative has been classified (public reading, inference about the causal role of intellect, disappointment, and late criticism with an analogy) it is possible to identify Socrates's views on teleology. For Socrates, the role of intellect should be to order the universe and make it a unity according to the paradigmatic value of the good. Additionally, Socrates did not find a logos of intellect as teleological cause in Anaxagoras’s work, but he was able to discover it on his own. At the end of the passage (96a-99d) Socrates speaks of himself as having made a second sailing “in search of the cause.” What would be the place of teleological explanations within the second sailing? There is no further direct reference to final causality in the second sailing passage.14 As we saw, Socrates argues in the first sailing that an adequate explanation would make use of the true cause and necessary material conditions. Later, in the second sailing, Socrates reasons that the true causes are equivalent to the forms. In the second sailing, Socrates states one more time that a satisfactory explanation of generation and corruption must employ Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
real causes (now the forms) and necessary material conditions—what Socrates calls the “subtle explanation.” In this second and final attempt to explain the causes of generation and destruction, Socrates makes no explicit mention of intellect. Thus, the theoretical linkage among intellect, forms and necessary conditions is not anywhere in Phaedo and any attempt to establish it would be highly speculative. However, the lack of information does not mean that intellect is not a true cause in Socrates's causation model. Since the teleological theory presented in Phaedo corresponds schematically to the full teleological explanation of Timaeus (where it is once again intellect that orders everything and brings the cosmos into unity according to the value of the good and forms from a previous unordered state), for Plato, then, the problem with intellect and teleology in Phaedo is as follows: How does one articulate intellect and the forms in a coherent causal theory? In this regard, statements that relegate Plato’s interest in philosophy of nature and teleology to his later writings should be put into serious question.15 Notes 1.
Socrates's biographical account is divided by Socrates himself in two parts. The first part, called protos plous or first sailing, deals with Socrates's youthful readings of the Presocratics. The second part, called deuteros plous or second sailing, deals with Socrates's late discovery of the theory of ideas and the hypothetical method. The expression “deuteros plous” is used by Socrates himself to allude to the significant methodological change that came from rejecting the Presocratic method and replacing it with the hypothetical one. The expression “biographical passage” is found in the literature; it is the section of the dialogue where Plato’s Socrates relates his own philosophical training and background. The philosophical meaning, relevance, and scope of this section of the Phaedo have been amply discussed since the beginning of the 20th century. Generally speaking, there is a consensus among scholars that the information revealed about Socrates's philosophical training is Plato’s own creation, although certain minor details about the anecdote can be independently verified, such as the price and availability of Anaxagoras’s book in Athens and Socrates's early interest in “natural history.” Sometimes the passage is referred to as an “autobiography,” but the expression is misleading since the writer of the passage is not Socrates, but Plato. Further note that all Stephanus numbers in this text refer to the Phaedo.
Socrates's statements about intellect (nous) in the Phaedo have, according to some scholars, a “programmatic air” with regard to the teleological cosmology carried out in the Timaeus. See, for example, Sedley (1990, 359); Gregory (2000, 17); Lennox (2001, 195-96); Ariew (2002, 10-12); Cornford (1937, 174-75); Johansen (2004).
See Archer-Hind(1894, 92-93; 96-97; 156-162); Gaye (1901, 249); Goodrich (1903, 381-383); Shorey (1933, 534); Murphy (1936, 40-44); Robinson, R. (1953, 138; 143); Hackforth (1955, 127; 131-2; 146); Bluck (1955, 111; 166-167; 199); Raven (1965, 89); Lynn (1966, 464-465); Sayre (1969, 4-5); Vlastos (1969, no. 15 297-298); Burge (1971, 1-2); Gallop (1975, 176); Frede (1978, 28; 39-40); Burger (1984, 140-145); Bostock (1986, 149); Chen (1992, 33); Rowe (1993, 238-239); Stern (1993, 114-118); Ahrensdorf (1995, 166-169); Cerri (2003, 58-60); Gower (2008, 336); Betegh (2008, 96-97).
This passage reads: “Now I would gladly be the pupil of anyone who would teach me the nature of such a cause; but since that was denied me and I was not able to discover it myself or to learn of it from anyone else, do you wish me, Cebes, to give you an account of the way in which I have conducted my second sailing in quest of the cause?” English translations are always of Fowler (1966). Greek quotations are from E. A. Duke
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et al. (1995). 5.
To my knowledge, the only scholars that have studied the place of teleology in other sections of Phaedo are David White (1989), David Sedley (1990) and Kenneth Dorter (1982).
Historia peri physeos, which can be translated as “investigation of nature” or “natural history,” was not only the title of many of the treatises of the Presocratics, but also the subject of these books: an investigation or research (historia) of the primary cause or causes of the origin, process and result of the universe or nature (physis) (Naddaf 2006, 17). In addition, historia peri physeos refers to the philosophical method for studying nature, the one rejected by Socrates: explaining the origin, process and result of nature from material causes such as fire, wind or human blood.
For a similar view on the rhetorical structure of the passage, see Robinson, T. M. (2008, 99; 102).
J. H. Lesher (1995) argues that gnome should not be understood as complete knowledge of the cosmic order, but as the power of decision. Anaxagoras’s intellect, then, does not know everything, but is rather the intelligent decision-making cause.
This passage reads: “And so one man makes the earth stay below the heavens by putting a vortex about it, and another regards the earth as a flat trough supported on a foundation of air; but they do not look for the power which causes things to be now placed as it is best for them to be placed, nor do they think it has any divine force, but they think they can find a new Atlas more powerful and more immortal and more all-embracing than this, and in truth they give no thought to the good, which must embrace and hold together all things.”
10. Twice as adverb (98e1, 99c5) and once as adjective (99a7). 11. Some of the claims in favor of the absence of teleology in the passage rely on a philological argument. Most translations of the passage seem to imply that since in the past Socrates was deprived of an argument about the teleological cause, then Socrates was never interested and will never be interested in finding a teleological explanation in the present. According to J. T. Bedu-Addo (1979a, 105-107), the impression of complete privation of the demiurgic cause comes from a mistranslation of the tense of the verbs στερέω (99c8: ἐστερήθην) and γίγνομαι (99c9: ἐγενόμην). The mistake consists in translating and interpreting ἐστερήθην and ἐγενόμην as if they were in the perfect present and not in the aorist tense. Translating the verbs as present perfect creates the impression that Socrates is still deprived of the teleological cause. If this interpretation is accepted, it follows from it that the search for a teleological cause has been a complete failure and, therefore, it has been abandoned altogether. Thus, young Socrates's statements about intellect would have not any sort of relation with the present from which old Socrates speaks. On the contrary, if the verbs are correctly translated as aorist, Socrates's privation refers to a specific past action which points directly to the experience caused by the reading of the treaty of Anaxagoras, but not necessarily means an absolute privation (Goodwin 2009, 24-26). In that sense, Socrates argues that he was deprived of a teleological cause by Anaxagoras, but he does not say that he continues to be deprived of one in the present time. Therefore, the supposed abandonment of the teleological cause Socrates speaks about should not be understood either retroactively or as prolonging into the future, but only in close and direct relation to Anaxagoras. 12. For example, Mathias Baltes (1999, 303-25) and Franco Ferrari (2003, 83-96). This interpretation actually goes back to Theophrastus himself (c.f. Theophrastus of Eresus 1993, fr. 230). 13. The passage presents a constant and repeated distinction between agathos (or beltistos) of each particular thing and agathos of the common (or koinon). The particular good (to eskaton bestiston) manifests itself not only in the specific arrangement and place each thing occupies in the universe (for example why the earth is round and why it is in the center of the universe), but likewise in the particular actions of men. For example, the decision to stay in prison is the only possible outcome
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that can come from Socrates's opinion of the good. Private and particular goods are, to that extent, articulated to the common good, which in both cases is caused by intellect. David White suggests, correctly in my view, that the distinction introduces the problem of how the individual good and the common good are articulated. This seems to be a pressing problem especially when the individual good and the common good do not seem to reconcile. For instance, if the individual good of Socrates—not to escape—and the common good of Athens—the respect of the law—match, what might be the particular good of Socrates's children if his father has to die? Between Socrates's particular good and that of his children, family, and Athens, there is an apparent conflict. Then, only knowledge of the good allows the agent to identify and understand the hierarchy and division of goods, and thus to be able to overcome the particular ethical interpretations and arbitrary actions of everyday life. 14. Although Bedu-Addo (1979a, 123–24); (1979b, 111) and Hans Krämer (1996, 80 n. 17) seem to think that there are. 15. A recent example is: Kahn (2014, xii).
Ahrensdorf, Peter J. 1995. The Death of Socrates and the Life of Philosophy: An Interpretation of Plato's Phaedo. Albany: SUNY Press. Archer-Hind, Richard Dacre. 1894. The Phaedo of Plato. London: Macmillan. Ariew, Andre. 2002. “Platonic and Aristotelian Roots of Teleological Arguments in Cosmology and Biology”. In Functions: New Reading in the Philosophy of Psychology and Biology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Betegh, Gabor. 2008. “Tale, Theology and Teleology in the Phaedo.” In Plato's Myths. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 96-97. Bluck, Richard Stanley. 1995. Plato's Phaedo. London: Routledge. Bostock, David. 1986. Plato’s Phaedo. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Burge, Evan. 1971. “The Ideas as Aitiai in the Phaedo.” Phronesis 16: 1-2. Burger, Ronna. 1984. The Phaedo, a Platonic Labyrinth. New Haven: Yale University Press. Cerri, G. 2003. “La pagina autobiografica del Fedone. Da Socrate a Platone.” Quaderni Urbinati di Cultura Classica, New Series 75 no. 3: 58-60. Chen, Kang Chen. 1992. Acquiring Knowledge of the Ideas. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner. Cornford, Francis. 1937. Plato’s Cosmology. The Timaeus of Plato. Indianapolis: Hackett. Dorter, Kenneth. 1982. Plato's Phaedo: An Interpretation. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Duke, E. A. et al, eds. 1995. Platonis Opera, Vol. I. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ferrari, Franco. 2003. “Causa paradigmatica e causa efficiente: il ruolo delle idee nel Timeo.” In Plato Physicus. Cosmologia e antropologia nel Timeo. Edited by C. Natali and S. Maso. Hakkert: Amsterdam, 83-96. Frede, Dorothea. 1978. “The Final Proof of the Immortality of the Soul in Plato's Phaedo 102a-107a.” Phronesis 23: 28-40. Gallop, David. 1975. Plato’s Phaedo. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
Gaye, R. K. 1901. “Note on Plato, Phaedo 99 D, sqq.”. Classical Review 15: 249. Goodrich, W. J. 1903. “On Phaedo 96 A - 102 A and on the Deuteros Plous 99 D.” Classical Review 17: 381-83. Goodwin, W. W. 2009. Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Gower, O. S. L. 2008. “Why Is There an Autobiography in the Phaedo?”. Ancient Philosophy 28: 336. Gregory, Andrew. 2000. Plato’s Philosophy of Science. London: Duckworth. H. Diels and W. Kranz. 1966. Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, Vol. II, 6th edition. Zurich: Weidmann. Hackforth, Reginald. 1955. Plato's Phaedo. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Krämer, Hans. 1996. Dialettica e definizione del bene in Platone. Interpretazione e commentario storico-filosofico di "Repubblica" VII 534 B3 - D2. Milano: Vita e Pensiero. Fowler, Harold North, trans. 1966. Plato, Vol. I, Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Lesher, J. H. 1995. “Mind's Knowledge and Powers of Control in Anaxagoras ‘DK’ b12.” Phronesis 40, no. 2. Bedu-Addo, J. T. 1979a. “On the Alleged Abandonment of the Good in the Phaedo”. Apeiron 13 no. 2: 105-107. Bedu-Addo, J. T. 1979b. “The Role of the Hypothetical Method in the "Phaedo". Phronesis 24 no. 2: 123–24. Johansen, T. K. 2004. Plato’s Natural Philosophy: A Study of the Timaeus-Critias. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kahn, Charles. 2014. Plato and the Post-Socratic Dialogue: The Return to the Philosophy of Nature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lennox, James. 2001. “Plato’s Unnatural Teleology.” In Aristotle's Philosophy of Biology: Studies in the Origins of Life Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Logan, J. D. 1897. “The Aristotelian Teleology”. The Philosophical Review 6 no. 4: 389. Lynn, Rose. 1966. “The Deuteros Plous in Plato's Phaedo.” Monist 50: 464-65. Baltes, Mathias. 1999. “Γέγονεν (Platon, Tim. 28B7). Ist die Welt real entstanden oder nicht?.” In Dianoemata. Kleine Schriften zu Platon und zum Platonismus, Stuttgart-Leipzig: Teubner. Murphy, N. R. 1936. “The Deuteros Plous in the Phaedo”. Classical Quarterly 30: 40-44. Naddaf, Gerard. 2006. The Greek Concept of Nature. Albany: State University of New York Press. Robinson, Richard. 1953. Plato's Earlier Dialectic. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Robinson, T. M. 2008. “Socrates, Anaxagoras, Nous and Noesis”. In Logos and Cosmos. Sankt Augustin: Academia Verlag. Rowe, C. J. 1993. Plato: Phaedo. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Sayre, Keneth. 1969. Plato's Analytic Method. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Sedley, David. 1990. “Teleology and Myth in the Phaedo”. Proceedings of the Boston Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy, vol. 5. Lanham: Brill. Shorey, Paul. 1933. What Plato Said. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Stern, Paul. 1993. Socratic Rationalism and Political Philosophy: An Interpretation of Plato's Phaedo. Albany: SUNY Press. Theophrastus of Eresus. 1993. Sources for His Life, Writings, Thought and Influence, 2 Vol., edited and translated by William W. Fortenbaugh, Pamela M. Huby, Robert W. Sharples and Dimitri Gutas. Leiden: Brill. Vlastos, Gregory. 1969. “Reasons and Causes in the Phaedo”. The Philosophical Review 78: 297-298. White, David. 1989. Myth and Metaphysics in Plato's Phaedo. Selinsgrove: Susquehanna University Press.
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One and Many in Gadamer’s Philosophical Hermeneutics Christopher Gibson
This paper elaborates the concepts of unity and multiplicity as ontological preconditions for the interpretation of meaning in Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics, and sources Gadamer’s understanding of these concepts in Platonic dialectic. Contemporary scholarship on theories of interpretation tends to develop from within an epistemological orientation, favoring either a monistic or pluralistic definition of meaning. The dogmatic adherence to a principle of unity or multiplicity entails the following dilemma: if meaning is essentially monistic—that is, identical to the author’s intention—one must sacrifice interpretive pluralism; yet if meaning is pluralistic—that is, not identical with authorial intention—the text can support many different interpretations but only at the expense of a non-relative ground on which public agreement about its essential structure can be established. Thus monism remains disinterested in the situational character of understanding and its value-laden contingencies, and pluralism takes no notice of the essential properties which an array of interpretations has in common.1 As Mark Taylor points out, neither side of this dilemma appropriately attends to “the dialectical relationship between unity and plurality in which identity and difference come to be through each other” (Taylor 1978, 45). Neither a monistic nor a pluralistic theory of meaning by itself properly establishes the necessary conditions for a productive theory of the interpretation and articulation of meaning. This paper traces a middle path through this dilemma and advances the claim that the ontological content of hermeneutic consciousness maintains both a monistic and pluralistic existence. 1.
The ontological orientation toward the articulation of meaning
Gadamer often uses the metaphor of play to describe the relationship between reader and text. The game encompasses the subjective attitudes of both players, and to play the game they must willfully subordinate themselves to its broader structure. In his essay “On the Problem of Self-Understanding,” Gadamer describes this activity as follows: Just as the relation between the speaker and what is spoken points to a dynamic process that does not have a firm basis in either member of the relation, so the relation between the understanding and what is understood has a priority over its relational terms. (1976, 50) And: The game is not so much the subjective attitude of the [interlocutors] confronting each other as it is the formation of the movement as such, which, as in an unconscious teleology, subordinates the attitude of the individuals to itself. (ibid., 54) Thus “neither partner alone constitutes the real determining factor; rather, it is the unified form of movement as a whole that unifies the fluid activity of both” (ibid.). The substantive content of Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
the game is a whole to which the players are related as parts, and within which they are, as parts, related to each other. Following Paul Armstrong, this paper favours a heteronomous definition of meaning. “A heteronomous conception of the text,” Armstrong writes, “acknowledges the paradox that interpretation is neither a total imposition of meaning nor a purely passive reception of it. Understanding both fixes a text's meaning and lets it emerge” (Armstrong 1986, 321). He recognizes that the monistic attempt to locate the intrinsic properties of a text which can verify an interpretation is itself an interpretive endeavor. Armstrong argues that this structure is only determined when one’s presupposition about what counts as an intrinsic property is confirmed through one’s interpretation of the text. It is therefore entirely possible that a radically different presupposition will entail a contradictory, yet no less valid, interpretation (ibid., 325). Insofar as these differing interpretations reasonably elaborate the content of the same text, there must then be some properties of the work that they have in common whose truth becomes indisputable. Thus despite the variance between interpretations, each interpretation can be measured at least by its coherence with these properties (ibid., 327). The salient feature of Armstrong’s approach is that it moves past the epistemological orientation toward the text to the ontological question of its existence. E. D. Hirsch Jr., for example, claims that there is no meaning of an entity beyond our apprehension of it.2 He criticizes what is, in his view, Gadamer’s commitment to an ontological determination of meaning not bound by human consciousness, which therefore lacks any objective measure. On Hirsch’s account, meaning for Gadamer becomes indeterminate at best, and nihilistic at worst. Hirsch’s point does not escape Gadamer’s notice. Gadamer recognizes that judgment cannot be allowed to proceed in any way whatsoever, as every judgment about being would then be equally valid. This relativity would entail, in his words, “an untenable hermeneutic nihilism” (Gadamer 2006, 82). It is important here to point out the relevance of Heidegger’s definition of truth as unconcealment or disclosure to Gadamer’s work. In his essay “What is Truth?” Gadamer writes simply, “Truth is unconcealment [Wahrheit ist Unverborgenheit]” (1994, 36). Truth has the character of an event of unconcealment when it is revealed in and through language. “The meaning of speech [die Rede],” Gadamer explains, “is to put forward the unconcealed, to make manifest. One presents something and in this manner something is known, communicated to the other just as it is known to oneself” (ibid.).3 Like Heidegger, Gadamer is interested in determining the depth of the relationship between being and understanding. In particular, they have a shared need to determine a notion of truth which is operative in understanding prior to the declaration of truth in the natural sciences, and which therefore can manifest the nature of beings on a level which scientific rationalism merely presupposes. Yet the hermeneutic presupposition of an original unity between language and being (ibid.) does not permit an objective standpoint outside of the relation between subject and object by which one could distinguish between true and false judgments. Part of Dasein’s self-understanding is the awareness of its essential finitude, and so naturally this excludes an outside perspective of its own limitations (Gadamer 2006, 83). The scientific objectification of being that characterizes Hirsch’s approach to the text makes this kind of distinction necessary, but without being able to assume an awareness of the totality of its subject matter. Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
Extending from the phenomenological presupposition of original connection between being and truth, Gadamer maintains that truth as unconcealment is discovered in assertions or judgments (apophansis). The scientific development of a correspondence model of truth, however, has usurped the priority of apophantic judgment, replacing it with the proposition as that which expresses the nature of beings. Like Heidegger, Gadamer finds that the truth of apophantic judgment has been overcome by the correspondence between speech and thing, and likewise that it was primarily Aristotle’s logical investigations which established this correspondence as the primary definition of truth (Gadamer 1994, 36).4 Heidegger’s criticism of the Greek origins of logic thereby amounts to the claim that the scientific proposition reduces truth to an ontic relation between subject and object (Gonzalez 2009, 262). Again following Heidegger, Gadamer prioritizes the apophantic mode of judgment due to its unique capacity to measure itself.5 He writes, “Judgment is determined, in distinction from all other forms of speech, by wanting only to be true; it measures itself exclusively by whether it reveals a being as it is” (Gadamer 1994, 36). By taking such a “theoretical stance” (die Lehre) toward the things themselves (die Sache), judgments reflect the content of the original unity between language and being. That is, in making this kind of judgment Dasein does not make a claim about only an external state of affairs but also its self-understanding in relation to this state of affairs. The proposition, by contrast, cannot measure itself the way judgment can because it presupposes the separation between subject and object rather than their conceptual unity. Therefore a proposition must be measured according to an external methodology: it obtains truth only after its content has been verified. “When verification—regardless of what form—primarily defines truth (veritas),” Gadamer writes, “then the standard with which knowledge is measured is no longer its truth but its certainty” (ibid, 37). Gadamer’s concept of tradition, and with it the notion of the authoritative or classical text, shows that he is not unaware of the need for some kind of normativity in understanding. Tradition broadly establishes a measure of the validity of interpretation within human consciousness. What is traditional in this sense is nothing more than what is communicated through the act of handing something down, whether through speech or writing (Gadamer 2006, 391). Tradition, then, constitutes the presuppositions of the reader, without which both the reader and the text are left in a kind of interpretive limbo. According to Gadamer, without any preconception of the meaning of the text, the reader has no basis on which to begin his interpretation, which in turn makes the text vulnerable to misinterpretation (ibid., 271). Some critics argue that by prioritizing the authority of tradition Gadamer maintains an uneasy conservatism in thought.6 It is one thing to argue that understanding always takes place within and in response to an historical situation. It is quite another to argue that understanding must always cohere with an established position. Contrary to the charge that hermeneutics entails total indeterminacy in meaning, deferring to the authority of tradition as the sole arbiter between legitimate and illegitimate interpretations arguably constrains thought within the boundaries of an established social or political institution. This confinement makes it difficult to see how hermeneutic consciousness allows for novel interpretations, especially if it does not allow one to bring into question the reasons for accepting the nature of the institution itself.
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Significantly, in Truth and Method, Gadamer assigns an ontological priority to the “probable” (wahrscheinliche) and “evident” (einleuchtend) over the “truth and certainty of what is proved and known” (2006, 479). “The idea,” he continues, “is always that what is evident has not been proven and is not absolutely certain, but it asserts itself by reason of its own merit within the realm of the possible and probable.” For this reason Gadamer is consistently critical of any attempt to systematize language as an effort to do away with this ambiguity. A conventional system of linguistic signs which admits of no ambiguity in the relation of words to objects is not language in his view. “The whole basis of language and speaking, the very thing which makes it possible,” he writes, “is ambiguity or ‘metaphor’” (Gadamer 1980, 111).7 The very possibility of a correspondence between thought and being presupposes that being can be spoken about at all. That is, prior to the scientific determination of the truth of any proposition is a relationship between truth and “effability” (Sagbarkeit) that “cannot be measured in terms of the verifiability of propositions” (Gadamer 1994, 40). However, the possibility of speaking about things in no way guarantees that one speaks correctly. Locating the content of hermeneutic judgment in the ontological disclosure of the probable couches this judgment in Dasein’s perceptive activity; yet because what is articulated is merely a possible mode of being, this judgment must be justified beyond the purely subjective scope of one’s own self-understanding. Dostal’s (1994, 56-57) congenial approach to Gadamer’s theory of meaning argues that the conversational model of hermeneutics implies only that the development of thought beyond any traditional institution simply takes time. In this way, the act of interpretation can remain responsive to the merit of authority without excluding the possibility of novel interpretations of meaning. For Gadamer things are judged primarily according to their “evidentness,” and only in a secondary sense are judgments measured against something like the objectified certainty of authorial intent. Gadamer’s hermeneutics defends the ontological claim that the possibility for a dialogue about meaning presupposes not only a tacit agreement about what the subject matter is, but also the possibility that what the other person says about this subject is true. To demand a principle by which a plurality of judgments can be measured against each other on the basis of their evidentness, rather than their certainty, is therefore misleading. This orientation toward the possibility of speaking about being thereby liberates hermeneutical inquiry from the “ontological obstructions” of scientific objectivity (Gadamer 2006, 268). Paradoxically, this liberation occurs by prioritizing the independent existence of beings over the will of the subject which creates meaning for these things. That is, the hermeneutical encounter with beings is liberating precisely because it allows the things themselves (die Sache) to speak for themselves, rather than confining their meaning to the scope of scientific utility or functionality. Gadamer argues that the “language of things” has been vanishing with the growing force of scientific rationality and its fixation on function and utility—that is, science’s prioritization of methodological control over what are otherwise independent beings. He writes, “Its own being in itself is disregarded by the imperious human will to manipulate, and it is like a language it is vital for us to hear” (Gadamer 1976, 72). The disclosure of truth (alētheuein) is essentially a reflexive activity one undertakes in “reaching back” behind an established position. It is liberating precisely because it attends to the fundamental uncertainty which constitutes thought, thereby revealing other ontological possibilities that an entity has of being known. Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
In this light, Robert Shusterman suggests that interpretation is guided by a kind of shared social reality. He argues that monism is essentially short-sighted by failing to take into account the practical dimension of interpretation. While understanding the need for a normative principle, Shusterman illustrates that the monistic approach nonetheless fails to appreciate the essential productivity involved in interpretation.8 He writes, “We must be careful not to confuse the seemingly incontrovertible assertion that all linguistic or textual meaning is intentional with the very challengeable assertion that the meaning of a text is identical with the author's intention or intended meaning” (Shusterman 1988, 399). Properly attending to the practical nature of interpretation supports a pluralistic existence of the text that can maintain the historical or social contingencies of both the author and the reader. As he puts it, “We should expect, for example, different responses of understanding to figure in the ordinary, the literary, and the psychoanalytic understandings of an utterance” (ibid., 405). This pluralism, however, does not exclude the text from enjoying a singular existence as the common ground of each orientation. Prioritizing an ontological orientation toward the articulation of meaning allows Gadamer to mediate effectively between monism and pluralism. The text or its analogue is understood in this way as a singular thing whose nature is constituted by, but not reducible to, the manifold interpretations of its content. Jean Grondin writes that “truth is always that which seems to us to be such, if we mean by this what successfully asserts itself as being within our horizon” (Grondin 1990, 51; emphasis his). Human understanding is finite and so never without some degree of uncertainty. Still, interpretation inescapably requires a minimal condition of objectivity. It cannot proceed in any way whatsoever, but must have some coherence with the nature of what is being talked about. Grounding truth within ontological possibility rather than epistemological certainty avoids the reduction of this nature, and therefore its meaning, either to a static objectivity adherent to tradition or a meaningless relativity couched wholly in the subject. The scope of one’s horizon develops through the dialogical encounter with other possibilities of meaning whose measure is ultimately the “things themselves.” Gadamer’s ontological approach thus orients the interlocutors within the broader framework of being that establishes their relation to each other, the whole to which they are related as parts. 2.
Plato’s dialectic of the One and Many
Gadamer approaches unity and multiplicity as ontological preconditions for the interpretation of meaning in parallel with his approach to Platonic dialectic. In Gadamer’s view, Plato’s description of the dialectical mediation between the One and the Many provides a ground for judgment by connecting judgment to the necessary, ontological structure of the entity being judged. In what follows, we will see how the hermeneutical model of understanding develops in Platonic terms from the dialectical relationship between the singular, unitary idea and the multiplicity of judgments about this idea. Historically, Plato located the measure of truth and meaning in stable, unchanging ideas in order to combat the threat that sophistry posed to the Athenian polis. By disrupting the connection between being and language, the sophists were able to change the meaning of words indiscriminately. They could argue that the just life is in fact unjust, or that courageous actions are cowardly. By situating the measure of truth in an entity which exists beyond its appearances in the sensible world, Plato introduced a kind of necessity in how things are talked about. If it Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
turns out that a statement and its opposite can be reasonably predicated of an idea—for example, that courage is (at one time) both standing one’s ground and (at another time) retreating (Lach. 190e ff.)—one is made to recognize that the essence of the idea encompasses both of these things within itself. The developmentalist thesis argues that, following the introduction of moral ideals as a solution to the ethical dilemma inherent in sophistry, Plato found that he was unable to account for the relation between these ideals and their manifestations in the sensible world. The developmentalist thesis proposes that the Parmenides illustrates Plato’s dissatisfaction with his own theory of ideas, after which he focuses on non-moral problems of dialectic (Fuyarchuk 2010, 45). For his part, Gadamer remains dissatisfied with the developmentalist thesis over the course of his own career.9 He finds that the concepts of unity and multiplicity remain at the center of Plato’s thought, and that because Plato does not undermine the dialectical relationship between the One and the Many, he does not forego the theory of participation which presupposes this relationship. Specifically, Gadamer sustains his focus on what he calls the arithmos structure of language. In his view, Plato uses the arithmos model to elaborate the dialectical relationship of the One and the Many. On this approach, the Parmenides illustrates rather the inherent dogmatism in defining being as either a unity or a multiplicity. Plato’s point is rather that unity and multiplicity are inseparable properties of being.10 The Parmenides, then, does not demonstrate that the one is just the principle of unity of the many. Rather, this dialogue expresses the negative insight that ideas cannot be defined in isolation from other ideas: the One cannot be apart from the Many, nor the Many from the One (Gadamer 1980, 110). “The idea of unity,” Gadamer writes, “does not exclude, but posits together with itself, the idea of multiplicity” (Gadamer 1991a, 97). Gadamer’s significant insight is that for Plato the Many is meant to be understood as a plurality of indivisible unities which constitute the nature of the One, which in turn is the principle of unity that the Many have in common. In this way, he claims that the problem of participation, which is originally formulated as the participation of a manifold, sensible reality in a unitary idea, is reformulated into another problem and solved that way. Gadamer writes in Plato’s Dialectical Ethics: It is shown […] that the unity of an Idea can include a multiplicity of Ideas under it. Just this is the basis of the “solution” to the problem of the one and the many which takes place in the Philebus of a solution to the insoluble problem (which is formulated there, too) of methexis [participation]. The one is shown to be many, but not as the undefined manifold of things that are coming to be but as a definite—which means a comprehensible—multiplicity of unities. ( 1991a, 97-98) Thirty years later Gadamer adds that this solution—that the unity of an idea is constituted by a multiplicity of ideas—implies the structure of the arithmos model.11 Thus the dialectical relationship between the One and the Many no longer refers to the participation of sensible things in a common, intelligible idea. The dialectic of the One and Many refers instead to the Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
possibility that a multitude of ideas have to exist in a substantive relation to each other based on their grounding within a single, unifying eidos. As its name implies, the arithmos model uses the concept of number as its paradigm. In ancient Greek mathematics, a number (arithmos) is specifically a countable number. That is, numbers exist in a series and each subsequent number is arrived at through the addition of the unit, the “one,” to the previous number. The smallest number, then, is actually two. One is not a number, but rather the principle of unity that numbers have.12 As a sum, then, each number is the unity of the ones that are counted to reach that number. Five is nothing other than the five ones which, unified, constitute the number five. Importantly, the participation thesis actually describes two different levels of interaction between the One and the Many. On the surface, this concept of participation indicates just that a set of particular entities has one idea in common, by virtue of which that idea can be predicated of the entities within this set. One of the key aspects of the arithmos model that Gadamer emphasizes is that it attends to a level of insight beyond the division of a genus into its species. On a deeper level, then, there is also a relation between the unity of these things and the figure that contains this unity: Now that which a certain number of sum or things may be said to have in common, that in which their unity consists, is quite distinct from that which unifies the members of a genus. For there are remarkable attributes which may be predicated of the sums of things but precisely not of the units, the things themselves of which the sum number is made up. (Gadamer 1980, 132) A sum can be odd or even, but its units cannot. Odd and even are properties of a sum and so can be predicated “of the unity of a number of things but not, in contrast, of the units which constitute that number” (ibid.). Each unit, on its own, is just a singular thing. The Theaetetus, for example, goes over the possibility that elemental entities can be knowable but utterly inexplicable. Thus the arithmos is essentially paradoxical: a sum is constituted by nothing other than its parts; yet the essential nature of the sum is also something wholly other than its parts and cannot be identified exclusively with them.13 3.
Gadamer’s hermeneutical orientation of the One and Many within language
Gadamer argues that in particular the second part of the Parmenides shows that the One and the Many can be seen to necessarily co-inhere (Gadamer 1991a, 96). He writes, “What is proved dialectically in the Parmenides is not that the one is the many of the things that come into being—which would mean that the undefinable manifold of what comes to be had been comprehended and ‘pinned down’ as such” (ibid., 97). In his view, being able to discern the participation of particular entities in a stable, unchanging idea does not constitute legitimate insight or knowledge of either those particulars or that idea. Rather, “[s]omeone understands what cognition, knowing, insight, is only when he also understands how it can be that one and one are two and how ‘the two’ is one” (Gadamer 1980, 135). Comprehending the mathematical structure of the arithmos is thus part of the initiation into the deeper mysteries of true, dialectical knowledge. That is, while numbers are countable, beings are not. Understanding involves an “ongoing process of concept formation” that reaches beyond the scope of any genus-species Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
relation (Gadamer 2006, 404). This does not mean that we are constantly coming up with new words, but neither does it imply that the use of language is nothing more than the particular application of a universal. The “undefinable manifold” is always indeterminate to some degree, necessitating a constant, reciprocal movement from the one to the many and the many back to the one. It is therefore always questionable if any given collection and interrelatedness among a manifold truly constitutes the nature of a being. In Gadamer’s view, the linguistic manifestation of being reflects the structure of the arithmos model and its paradigm, number. He writes, “Every logos contains the unity of an opinion which results from the multiplicity of words and concepts bound together in it … [T]he power of the logos to reveal the being of what is derives from the intrinsic interwovenness in it of Being and Not-being … [which] implies the structure of number” (Gadamer 1980, 148-150). He continues, perhaps most directly, “Plato’s concern is not with achieving a unified system of dihairetical generation but only with the fact that the principles of the One and the Two are able to generate the series of all numbers—just as they make all discourse possible” (ibid., 152). Being is “in the soul” for Plato, and so this deeper unity that belongs to being is necessarily presupposed in the dialectical mediation between the unity of a concept and the manifold aspects that can manifest and constitute the essential nature of this concept. The arithmos model, we recall, contains the deeper, ontological insight that the eidetic identity of the aspects that constitute the essential nature of an entity (that is, an idea) are “actually inseparable from each other and belong together” (Gadamer 1980, 136). This deeper unity is just what is reflected in the concept of number as a sum greater than its parts. The logic of this unity naturally applies even more broadly to the dialogues as a whole. This becomes especially clear when Socrates and his interlocutor discover that mutually incoherent or exclusive properties can be attributed to one and the same concept. The theory of recollection in the Meno is developed from the insight that people both have and do not have knowledge. Socrates and Protagoras discover that virtue both is and is not teachable. Theaetetus and the Stranger uncover no fewer than seven definitions of the sophist, and while none of them on their own captures the true essence of the sophist each is still true in some sense. The logic of this model also captures the essential reason why Socrates is never satisfied when someone identifies the essence of an idea with a particular manifestation of that idea. While the sum is constituted by nothing other than its parts, it is also a whole greater than its parts. The essential nature of the sum cannot be identified with just its parts, just as the essence of courage, temperance, or knowledge cannot be identified with any particular manifestation of them. With respect to Plato’s theory of language, Gadamer asks rhetorically, “Does not the unity of discourse also have a certain determinate property not found in any of its component parts (letters, syllables, words) and is this not exactly the point?” (Gadamer 1980, 132). His point about Plato’s theory of language and being is therefore just as relevant to his own hermeneutics. Significantly, the paradigmatic example of the dialectical relationship between the One and the Many is conceptualized linguistically. Gadamer locates this paradigm in the dilemma that Socrates and Theaetetus encounter near the end of the Theaetetus. He claims that “the true relationship of the One and the Many, which gives the logos its structure, is made evident in the analogy of the meaninglessness of the syllable and the dilemma with which it confronts us” (Gadamer 1980, 133). This dilemma emerges within the context of Theaetetus’s third and final Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
definition of knowledge, namely that knowledge is true opinion coupled with a rational account (meta logou alēthes doxa). Under this definition, being able to give an account of something is a necessary condition for having knowledge of it. According to a theory Socrates heard at one time, primary elements (stoicheia) have no logos and are therefore unknowable, whereas the complex entities (syllabai) that the elements form admit a rational explanation and are objects of knowledge (Theaet. 201e-202c). Accepting this theory for the sake of their argument, Socrates and Theaetetus create an analogy to language, namely with respect to the ability of letters to form syllables and words. The dilemma that Gadamer refers to is that the nature of the syllable must be explained either through its constituent letters, which are indivisible, or as a unique, indivisible entity whose meaning is not reducible to its parts. In either case, it becomes impossible to provide a rational explanation of any simple or complex entity, threatening one’s capacity to know anything (ibid., 205d-e). It becomes evident fairly quickly that Plato does not want the reader to take this theory seriously. After recounting it, Socrates indicates his suspicion with the claim that the primary elements are unknowable (ibid., 202d). Then, having led the theory into the above dilemma, he claims that it is based on a false premise. As children, he says, we naturally learn complex things by first learning the elements. One learns spelling and grammar, for instance, by learning the individual letters and music by learning the individual notes (ibid., 206a-b). He suggests to Theaetetus, then, that “the class of elements provides a much clearer manifestation of knowledge than the compounds and is better suited for obtaining a mastery of each subject” (ibid., 206b). The claim that only compound entities admit knowledge and the elements are unknowable is even considered a joke (paizein) in light of what common experience dictates.14 While it is clear that Socrates is rejecting the claim that the primary elements are unknowable, it is not made explicit if he is also rejecting the claim that there cannot be a rational explanation of an element. He says to Theaetetus, “We should not accept it if someone should say that a syllable is knowable and expressible [rheton], but a letter is not” (ibid., 205e). Although he demonstrates that there is symmetry between knowledge of elements and compounds, it remains unclear if he also believes that there is symmetry between accounts of these entities or if the elements still admit a name only. The letters of the alphabet suffer from an inherent boundlessness. As Theaetetus explains, most letters are mere noises, such as the hissing sound of the letter S, and some letters, such as B, do not even have a noise (ibid., 203b). The most substantial letters in this respect are the vowels (phōnēenta), which have a “voice” (phōnē), but this is hardly sufficient for admitting a logos.15 Nowhere here does Socrates claim that the knowability of the primary elements also suggests, guarantees, or necessitates their description or their accountability in a rational explanation prior to their formation of a complex entity. In his Posterior Analytics, Aristotle argues that in order to avoid either a circular or infinite regress with respect to the knowability of primary elements there must be some kind of non-discursive insight into the nature of these things (Post. An. I.3; cf. Fine 1979, 369). Aristotle is referring here to the originary premises governing any scientific demonstration, but his argument applies equally to the distinction in the Theaetetus between elemental and complex entities. Gonzalez points out correctly that the function of a name can be identified with its form “just as the form of a shuttle, as opposed to its matter, is defined in terms of its function” (Gonzalez 1998, 66). On this view, the function of a name is to refer to or distinguish “one Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
specific, stable nature” (ibid.), which in and of itself does not necessarily admit any description or explanation. This is not to say, however, that letters or musical notes are understood in isolation. In his appeal to the experience of learning the alphabet, Socrates says that one distinguishes between the individual letters “through sight and sound” so that their arrangement together in speech (legomenōn) and writing does not cause confusion (Theaet. 206a). The nature of each letter can and must be known discretely on some level, but the function of each letter is nothing other than its capacity to combine with other letters in order to form syllables and words.16 The implicit solution to the dilemma concerning the possibility of knowing letters and syllables is an extension of the logic of the arithmos model. This identifies the more substantial meaning behind Gadamer’s assertion that the relationship between letters and syllables captures the true relationship between the One and the Many. Theaetetus and Socrates discover that syllables and words have properties that cannot be attributed to their constituent parts, namely their capacity to mean something. However, as complex linguistic objects syllables and words are constituted by nothing other than the letters of the alphabet according to the inherent capacity that letters have to combine with one another. Thus the “clearer manifestation of knowledge” that the class of elements enjoys consists in the fact that the apprehension of this capacity permits advance insight into the potential that the elements have to exist in common with each other. Similarly, Gadamer’s notion of hermeneutic truth narrows in on the claim that interpretation (Auslegung) draws upon a tacit awareness of the possible ways that entities have of being understood. As we have seen, hermeneutic truth can be characterized as extending primarily from the evident (Einsichtig) structures of being. As Kisiel relates, “Even before they become a problem of knowledge, our ‘prejudices’ are an ontological fact, the facticity of historically transmitted contents, on the basis of which we understand anything at all” (Kisiel 1985, 7). Just as the primary elements provide a “much clearer manifestation of knowledge” than the compounds they form, so too “the prejudices of the individual, far more than his judgments, constitute the historical reality of his being” (Gadamer 2006, 278). The space in which hermeneutics operates and in which hermeneutic consciousness develops necessarily presupposes a common affinity between reader and text, namely, the “things themselves.” In Gadamer’s view, the presupposition of this common ground belongs to an insight that develops from common experience, and not specialized knowledge. In his essay “The Universality of the Hermeneutical Problem,” he characterizes this insight as follows: We say, for instance, that understanding and misunderstanding take place between I and thou. But the formulation “I and thou” already betrays an enormous alienation. There is nothing like an “I and thou” at all—there is neither the I nor the thou as isolated, substantial realities. I may say “thou” and I may refer to myself over against a thou, but a common understanding always precedes these situations. We all know that to say “thou” to someone presupposes a deep common accord. Something enduring is already present when this word is spoken. (1976, 7)
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This common ground establishes the nature and scope of any particular dialogue such that particular judgments are ultimately tested against the substantive content of the thing itself. These judgments, however, do not constitute its essential nature. This nature is “something that asserts itself, something we have to respect” (ibid., 71). As we saw, the interlocutors must subordinate themselves to the greater universality of the thing itself, a whole to which they are related as parts (ibid., 50). The scope of its meaning thereby determines the nature of the interlocutor’s dialogical relationship to each other, unifying the back-and-forth activity of questioning and answering (ibid., 54), just as the meaning of a word determines the order of its letters. Because they are based fundamentally on evidentness rather than certainty, the conditions under which Gadamer’s hermeneutics operates do not necessarily imply any distinction between valid and invalid interpretations. The circularity that describes the back-and-forth movement from interpretation to application to reinterpretation, such that one can distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate prejudices, is productive in the sense that it reveals new possibilities of meaning (Gadamer 2006, 298). The concept of meaning, Gadamer states, “represent[s] a fluid multiplicity of possibilities … but within this multiplicity of what can be thought—i.e., of what a reader can find meaningful and hence expect to find—not everything is possible” (ibid., 271). This ambiguity, however, is essential for the development of hermeneutic consciousness. The interaction between reader and text is a constant process of working out an inexhaustible array of possibilities, yet it is precisely because the text can speak to the reader in an unexpected way that the reader brings his own prejudices toward meaning into question. The “true locus of hermeneutics” is the space between the reader and the text, created by the simultaneous strangeness and familiarity of the text (ibid., 295). The reader is therefore always navigating dialectically between knowledge and ignorance of the subject he is interpreting.17 This activity is essentially finite as it never obtains a complete knowledge of its object. The nature of hermeneutic experience is a constant opening to further experience and other possible meanings. Yet the correspondence, if we may call it that, between consciousness and being as mediated through language is inexhaustible. Drawing an analogy between hermeneutic experience and the Christian doctrine of incarnation, Gadamer expresses that the human word is necessarily many because it is essentially incomplete, whereas the divine word, which contains the actualization of every human possibility, is one (Gadamer 2006, 423-424). “The object of understanding,” Gadamer writes, “is not the verbal means of understanding as such but rather the world that presents itself to us in common life and that embraces everything about which understanding can be reached” (ibid., 444). Thus “every language has a direct relationship to the infinite of beings” (ibid., 449). The “way of language” grounds the “infinite correspondence of soul and being” (Gadamer 1976, 75), such that human consciousness can effectively mediate between the unity and multiplicity of the word. Importantly, the identity of understanding as participation (Teilhabe; Gadamer 2006, 121) resonates with Gadamer’s approach to the problem of methexis in Plato. The problem of the participation of a manifold within their unifying eidos, Gadamer writes, inevitably brings into question the possibility of the participation of the ideas in each other (Gadamer 1980, 136-138). The event of understanding in hermeneutics reflects Gadamer’s view that for Plato knowledge depends on correctly apprehending the nature of the One and the Many (ibid., 135). The essential Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
indeterminacy and partiality that characterizes human knowledge necessitates that the Platonic logos posits ideas in combination with each other (ibid., 152). Similarly, understanding in hermeneutics is always coming to a shared understanding, and so always involves the dialogical interplay between self and other. Insofar as this dialogical activity is a reflection of the things themselves, what become manifested are the subject matter’s own possibilities of being (Seinsmöglichkeiten). In just its logical formulation, however, this relational structure does not sufficiently attend to the historical indeterminacy of thought that the hermeneutical phenomenon describes. That is, it is not enough for the self and other merely to participate with each other. They must do so in a way that they can overcome the differences in their historical situations and become contemporaneous. In Gadamer’s view, Plato’s discovery that the human word is both a unity and a multiplicity was therefore only the first step toward uncovering language as the universal medium of hermeneutic consciousness (Gadamer 2006, 454). By grounding the hermeneutical phenomenon in the essential finitude of historical experience, Gadamer thus claims to establish the true, fundamental ground of the One and the Many. Nonetheless, Gadamer’s speculative dialectic remains couched within the logic of participation, namely the participation of an image in its original. In Gadamer’s view, the principle of the indeterminate Dyad is for Plato “the principle of all differentiation and all differing, which is to say that it codetermines reality” (Gadamer 1980, 155). Grounding the hermeneutic phenomenon within the finitude of historical experience thus reinterprets the Dyad as the principle of historical differentiation and the codetermination of historical reality within hermeneutic experience, and the One as the principle of the unity of being whose self-presentation is revealed in a multiplicity of historical horizons. The self-presentation of being and its mediation in language is always determined “by situation and context,” but what is determined pertains “not to the speaker but to what is spoken” (Gadamer 2006, 483). In this way, the ontological gap between essence and appearance does not appear to be a problem for hermeneutics, any more than it is a problem, in Gadamer’s view, for Plato to claim that being is an “original image” that becomes imitated in appearances of it (Gadamer 1986b, 17). If anything, the apparent difficulty concerning participation is precisely the point that Gadamer wants to emphasize, as this concept so closely reflects what the hermeneutic phenomenon and hermeneutic experience has in common with Plato’s theory of participation and the dialectic of the One and the Many.
Gary Madison, for example, wants to defend Gadamer’s position against charges of conservatism by conceptualizing a tradition of metaphysics and a tradition of human finitude. He argues that Gadamer prioritizes a tradition of finitude in order to emancipate human thought from the prevailing metaphysical tradition and its demand for secure, cognitive foundations (Madison 1989, 172). Holly Wilson illustrates correctly, however, that this argument only creates a false dichotomy. While Gadamer’s thought is not without certain emancipatory elements, in her view Madison’s claim that Gadamer liberates the tradition of human finitude from its metaphysical foundations entails the complete relativizing of human knowledge. This relativity in turn demands
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just the kind of cognitive security from which Madison sees that the tradition of human finitude has liberated itself, entailing a vicious circularity (Wilson 1996, 149). 2.
Hirsch maintains the view that the meaning of a text is only what the author intends it to mean (Hirsch 1984, 209-210). This view extends from his thesis that “there is no magic land of meanings outside human consciousness" (Hirsch 1969, 4). All interpretations of the text other than just what the author intends indicate differences, he argues, in the significance that it can have for a plurality of readers, whereas the meaning of the text remains an objectively determinable truth. Similarly, Dieter Misgeld criticizes Gadamer’s concept of language as a universal medium of understanding insofar as Gadamer “seems to intimate that truth is somewhere beyond utterances” (Misgeld 1985, 156). He finds that there is an uneasy ambiguity in Gadamer’s thought between the particularity of human speech and the concept of a totality of meaning. Misgeld, however, misquotes Gadamer as saying only that “being is language” (ibid.). What Gadamer actually says is that being that can be understood is language (Gadamer 2006, 470). The inherent productivity in Gadamer’s hermeneutics contradicts claims that his concept of tradition is inherently conservative, a claim which Misgeld correctly rejects. But the fact that interpretation is essentially open-ended implies that it is also oriented toward things which are not yet understood, at least not explicitly.
In Plato’s Dialectical Ethics, Gadamer describes speech in nearly the same way. Speech, he writes, “has the character of making the entity available by exhibiting it to oneself and to others, and in such a way that the thing thus exhibited is held fast in its discovered state” (1991a, 28).
In Being and Time, Heidegger identifies the “traditional” characterization of the concept of truth which he claims has dominated Western thought since its inception. Truth, he claims, is located in the assertion or judgment (apophansis). Truth has however become determined by the agreement or correspondence between subject and object; and as the “father of logic” Aristotle was the one who established the definition of truth as correspondence. It is important to note that apophansis does not have immediately the negative connotation that Heidegger assigns to it here. For Heidegger, apophansis means primarily and originally a “pointing out” or “letting an entity be seen from itself” (Heidegger 1962, 196). The claim being made here is that the kind of correspondence involved in this primary meaning is the historical origin of the more traditional theory of correspondence. That is, in Heidegger’s view modern scientific rationalism has replaced the original meaning of the truth of this correspondence, i.e. what follows from letting the thing show itself, with the certainty or verification which follows from scientific methodology (ibid, 198).
In his lectures on Plato’s Sophist, Heidegger distinguishes between apophansis and semainein as modes of linguistic expression. To use the latter mode, he says, is simply to mean something, in virtue of which language as such becomes meaningful or comprehensible. The former mode is distinct because in addition to having meaning it “[lets] the thing meant show itself in this meaning” (1997, 124). Thus it is specifically the apophantic judgment which properly attends to the meaning of truth as unconcealment. Speech “becomes” apophantic, Heidegger says, “only if there is present in it either a disclosing, alētheuein, or a distorting, pseudesthai. For not only to disclose but also to distort is to let be seen, even if disclosing is the proper letting be seen” (ibid., 124).
Michael Gibbons, while he is ultimately supportive of the openness and productivity he finds inherent in Gadamer’s theory of interpretation, argues that understanding inescapably contains elements of conservatism as even the most radical interpretation is still a response to some
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preexisting historical situation (Gibbons 1985, 790-791). More strongly, Brice Wachterhauser argues that, lacking a measure beyond the concept of tradition, Gadamer’s theory of interpretation “will always create a presumption in favour of the status quo. … In the absence of some kind of criteria of what counts as a rational legitimation for such institutions, the presumption will always be in favour of the well-tried” (Wachterhauser 1988, 246). 7.
Similarly, in “What is Truth?” Gadamer takes umbrage with the 20th nominalist movement to produce just this kind of system. Nominalism, he writes, “believes that the whole secret and sole task of all philosophy consists in forming the proposition so exactly that it really is in a position to state what is meant univocally. Philosophy should develop a system of signs that is not dependent on the metaphorical ambiguity of natural language, and also not dependent in general on the linguistic multiplicity of modern cultures out of which flow misleading and erroneous claims, but rather one what attains the univocity and precision of mathematics” (1994, 39).
Gibbons makes the same point in his essay (1985, 786-787).
In Plato’s Dialectical Ethics, Gadamer states that the central claim of Plato’s participation thesis is that “the idea of unity does not exclude, but posits together with itself, the idea of multiplicity” ( 1991a, 97). The unity of the idea itself is taken to include a multiplicity “in regard to which there is unity” (ibid). In Truth and Method Gadamer contends that Plato’s ontology of the Beautiful and the Good suggests a way to overcome the ontological separation between sensible and intelligible reality ( 2006, 476). He repeats this claim in “The Relevance of the Beautiful” ( 1986b, 15). In Idea of the Good in Platonic-Aristotelian Philosophy Gadamer argues that, far from critiquing the ontological problem of participation, Plato is reinforcing the “logical connection of the many to the one” (Gadamer  1986a, 11). Against the developmentalist approach, he maintains that Plato had always intended to problematize the participation of appearances in ideas. It is not the case, Gadamer claims, that this problem went unnoticed for so long that Plato admitted to its potentially unsolvable logical difficulties only in his later works. In “Mathematics and Dialect in Plato” Gadamer states that the essential meaning of the logos is its ability to mediate between unity and multiplicity (Gadamer  1991b, 291).
10. Generally, proponents of the developmentalist thesis claim that Plato’s method of collection (synagōgē) under a genus and division (dihairesis) into species replaces the theory of ideas in the later dialogues. Gadamer argues by contrast that these activities operate within the dialectic of the one and many (Gadamer 1991a, 93 n. 18). 11. “Opposite this scheme of ‘development’ stands the thesis which I have been advocating for more than 30 years now and which I should like to put forward here although only as a hypothesis. It is the thesis that from very early on in the dialogues there are references to what in a word might be called the arithmos structure of the logos” (Gadamer 1980, 129). Gadamer continues to say that this structure is present also in the Philebus as well as Aristotle’s articulation of the one and indeterminate two as the first principles in Plato’s philosophy (ibid., 138). Gadamer’s unitary reading of Plato and Aristotle’s theory of the good, as developed in “Amicus Plato Magis Amica Veritas” and Idea of the Good, is based upon this structure as well (c.f. Gadamer 1986, 31-32, 88, 120). His claim that Plato and Aristotle are answering the same question from different starting points (the universal good and singular goods respectively) is another way of expressing the Platonic-hermeneutical insight that their discrete points of view are ultimately inseparable with respect to their unifying phenomenon.
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12. More specifically, each number is a unity of many, such that its ontological identity is constituted by unity and multiplicity. Logically, then, ‘one’ cannot be a number because it would not be the collection of many, but only one. 13. Socrates’ shift toward hypothesizing the eidos is initiated, after all, once he encounters the difficulty in determining the cause of two ones becoming two by their addition, or two becoming one by its division (Phaed. 96e-97b). Consider also Def. 1 and 2 of Euclid’s Elements VII: “A unit is that by virtue of which each of the things that exist is called one” (μονάς ἐστιν, καθ᾽ ἣν ἕκαστον τῶν ὄντων ἓν λέγεται); “A number is a multitude composed of units” (ἀριθμὸς δὲ τὸ ἐκ μονάδων συγκείμενον πλῆθος). 14. The question at hand in the dialogue, however, concerns primarily the veracity of the definition of knowledge as true opinion with a logos. Socrates and Theaetetus therefore leave behind the previous theory about the knowability and accountability of simple and complex entities as they continue to investigate the content of this definition. 15. While it may be questionable as to what meaning a syllable can express beyond the voicing of mere letters, at the very least the formation of a syllable establishes some kind of limit to the noise that letters make. 16. “An unequivocal, precise coordination of the sign world with the world of facts,” Gadamer writes, “is not language” (Gadamer 1980, 111). Similarly, Gonzalez refutes the argument that in the Cratylus there is evidence that Plato wants to develop this kind of one-to-one coordination between language and reality (Gonzalez 1998, 79). Moreover, the definition of being as dynamis in the Sophist is eventually reformulated as the capacity that things have to exist in common with each other, with the qualification that not every combination or mixture is possible (Soph. 254b-c). The extended implication, which cannot be treated fully here, is that this relational structure is a universal characteristic of all being. The specialized nature of the other is just its being other pros heteron. “What is other is always in relation to other,” the Stranger says (ibid., 255d). No kind of absolute (kath’auto) existence can be attributed to the other, as then there would be something in the set of things that are other than being an “other” that does not exist in relation to any other (ou pros heteron). Both absolute sameness and relative difference describe a relation, as “all being is relation, whether to itself or to something other” (Gonzalez 2009, 92). 17. It is not at all surprising, then, that Socratic elenchus is clearly in the background of Gadamer’s concept of experience (Erfahrung; Gadamer 2006, 347-348).
Bibliography Aristotle. 2001. “Posterior Analytics.” In The Basic Works of Aristotle. Translated by G. R. G. Mure. New York: Random House. Armstrong, Paul B. 1986. “The Multiple Existence of a Literary Work.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 44(4): 321-329. Dostal, Robert J. 1994. “The Experience of Truth for Gadamer and Heidegger: Taking Time and Sudden Lightning.” In Hermeneutics and Truth. Edited by Brice R. Wachterhauser, 47-67. Northwestern University Press: Illinois. Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
Fine, Gail. 1979. “Knowledge and Logos in the Theaetetus.” The Philosophical Review 88(3): 366-397. Fuyarchuk, Andrew. 2010. Gadamer’s Path to Plato. Eugene: Wipf & Stock Publishers. Gadamer, Hans-Georg. 1976. Philosophical Hermeneutics. Edited by. David E. Ling. Berkeley: University of California Press. -----. 1980. Dialogue and Dialectic: Eight Hermeneutical Studies on Plato. Translated by. P. Christopher Smith. New Haven: Yale University Press. -----. 1986a. The Idea of the Good in Platonic-Aristotelian Philosophy. Translated. P. Christopher Smith. New Haven: Yale University Press. -----. 1986b. The Relevance of the Beautiful and Other Essays. Edited by Robert Bernasconi. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. -----. 1991a. Plato’s Dialectical Ethics. Translated by Robert M. Wallace. New Haven: Yale University Press. -----. 1991b. Gesammelte Werke 7: Greichische Philosophie III: Plato im Dialog. Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr. -----. 1994. “What is Truth?” Translated by. Brice R. Wachterhauser. In Hermeneutics and Truth. Edited by Brice R. Wachterhauser, 33-46. Northwestern University Press: Illinois. -----. 2006. Truth and Method, 2nd revised edition. Translated by. Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall. London: Continuum Publishing Group. Gibbons, Michael. 1985. “Interpretation, Conservatism & Political Practice.” Polity 17(4): 777794. Gonzalez, Francisco. 1998. Dialectic and Dialogue: Plato’s Practice of Philosophical Inquiry. Illinois: Northwestern University Press. -----. 2009. Plato and Heidegger: A Question of Dialogue. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press. Grondin, Jean. 1990. “Hermeneutics and Relativism.” In Festivals of Interpretation: Essays on Hans-Georg Gadamer’s Work. Edited by Kathleen Wright, 42-62. SUNY Press: Albany. Heidegger, Martin. 1962. Being and Time. Translated by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. -----. 1997. Plato’s Sophist. Translated by. Richard Rojcewicz and André Schuwer. Indiana: Indiana University Press. Hirsch, E. D. Jr. 1969. Validity in Interpretation. New Haven: Yale University Press. -----. 1984. “Meaning and Significance Reinterpreted.” Critical Inquiry 11: 202-225. Kisiel, Theodore. 1985. “The Hermeneutics of Gadamer and Heidegger.” In Hermeneutics and Praxis. Edited by Robert Hollinger, 3-31. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. Madison, Gary. 1989. “Hermeneutics and (the) Tradition.” Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 62: 165-73. Misgeld, Dieter. 1985. “On Gadamer’s Hermeneutics.” In Hermeneutics and Praxis. Edited by Robert Hollinger, 143-170. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. Plato. 1914. Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Phaedrus. Translated by H. N. Fowler. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. -----. 1921. Theaetetus, Sophist. Translated by H. N. Fowler. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
-----. 1925. The Statesman, Philebus, Ion. Translated by H. N. Fowler and W. R. M. Lamb. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. -----. 1926. Cratylus, Parmenides, Greater Hippias, Lesser Hippias. Translated by H. N. Fowler. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. -----. 1962. Laches, Protagoras, Meno, Euthydemus. Translated by H. N. Fowler. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Shusterman, Richard. 1988. “Interpretation, Intention, and Truth.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 46(3): 399-411. Taylor, Mark C. 1978. “Toward an Ontology of Relativism.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 46(1): 41-61. Wachterhauser, Brice. 1988. “Prejudice, Reason and Force.” Philosophy 63(244): 231-253. Wilson, Holly. 1996. “Gadamer’s Alleged Conservatism.” In Phenomenology, Interpretation, and Community. Edited by Langsdorf, Watson, and Bower. 145-158. Albany: State University of New York Press. Wright, Kathleen. 1986. “Gadamer: The Speculative Structure of Language.” In Hermeneutics and Modern Philosophy. Edited by Brice R. Wachterhauser, 193-218. Albany: State University of New York Press.
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Subjectivity and the Intuition of Time in Hegel’s 1830 Geistesphilosophie Alexander Liepins
The goal of this paper is to interpret the relationship between subjectivity and the intuition of time in Hegel’s mature philosophical work. First, we propose a brief, hermeneutic reading of Hegel’s concept of Mind/Spirit as Geist, which helps contextualize our primary emphases. As we will argue, Hegel’s views on time and intuition are grounded within the structure of a certain approach to theorizing about subjectivity, which is conceptualized as Geist. Second, we explore the connection between intuition and time through both Hegel’s account of intuition from the third installment of the Encyclopedia and a contrasting exposition of the theories of intuition in Kant, Maimon, and Hegel. By demonstrating how Hegel’s ontological approach to intuition differs from Kant’s, Hegel’s theory avoids the pitfalls of subjective, transcendental idealism. 1.
The relation between subjectivity and intuition is an important one for the tradition of German Idealism, especially in the post-Kantian projects of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. Beginning with Kant, the intuitions of space and time are subjective forms of experience that make no claim to know being as such. Hence, the epistemological Kantian approach relies on transcendental accounts of subjectivity, intuition, and time. Contrarily, Hegel’s own conceptualization of intuition is situated within a fundamentally different approach to subjectivity than Kant. Unlike Kant, Hegel delivers an ontological account of subjectivity. Thus, any account of Hegel on intuition must say something about his own view of subjectivity wherein his account of intuition is situation. Furthermore, this helps contextualize a more direct engagement between Kant and Hegel regarding the intuition of time. Hegel’s corpus contains numerous discussions of subjectivity, all of which are systematically grounded within his tripartite approach to philosophy as a whole. The best picture of his system we possess is his three-part Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences in Outline (1830). Hegel only published a stand-alone volume of The Science of Logic, which was supposed to be followed by similarly substantial works on Nature and Mind/Spirit, the system’s second and third moments respectively.1 Our focus here is the system’s third moment, the Geistesphilosophie, which English readers familiar with Hegel may recognize as having been published in translation as Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind. More specifically, Hegel’s account of intuition occurs in the first part of the third volume of the Geistesphilosophie: Subjective Geist. Before proceeding to the account of intuition, it is worth pausing to briefly interpret this notion of Geist as an approach to theorizing about subjectivity and its ontological structure. To summarize why Hegel’s account of subjectivity is ontological from the level of Hegel’s system itself, since all being is becoming, subjectivity is what becomes. This complex inference begins with Hegel’s adherence to Heraclitus’s thesis that being is becoming in Logic, then proceeds to develop how being becomes Nature, and then, finally, Geist. In other words, Geist is what comes to be from systematically thinking about being and Nature. English readers Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
of Hegel are accustomed to seeing Geist translated as either Mind or Spirit. For French readers, on the other hand, the issue is less problematic, since Geist is translated as l’esprit, and, like its German counterpart, contains both what is commonly understood by both potential English variants. That said, in our view, translating Geist as either Mind or Spirit is not always helpful, especially since in the divisions of Subjective Geist we encounter Geist as soul, consciousness, and intelligence—each of which are different modes of conceptualizing subjectivity as Geist and differing in degrees of complexity.2 Therefore, in employing Geist we intend for the reader to recognize that it is inclusive of both Mind and Spirit, and to acknowledge that the account of subjectivity from the Geistesphilosophie is exceptionally comprehensive and exceeds what we can address here in a limited form. In order to advance to Hegel’s account of intuition in Subjective Geist, we must also qualify what Hegel intends by the term subjective, since the versatility of this term in his philosophy is particularly noteworthy, and because he employs the term subjective in more than one way. One usage, which still appears in common language today, refers to that which is one-sided, non-communal, selfish, and singular, as opposed to universal. Anything that is taken as one-sided in this way, that is, as a part isolated from a whole, cannot for Hegel constitute real and true knowledge, nor even a true idealism. Generally, this pejorative intention stands against what is rational through universal philosophical justification. In its Hegelian intention, the word subjective refers to what is driven to becoming objective by determining itself. In other words, the subjective is what becomes objective because the essence of subjectivity is freedom, that is, self-determination, as Hegel announces in §382 of the introduction to the Geistesphilosophie. Another way to qualify this idea of subjectivity is through Geist as the non-transcendental complex of forms of knowledge, each differing in degrees of complexity, and whose ultimate aim is self-knowledge. Not only is this precisely what is at stake in Subjective Geist and the account of intuition, but the commandment “know thyself” is precisely that of Geist itself, as Hegel states explicitly in the opening paragraph, §377, of the Geistesphilosophie. Therefore, insofar as the Geistesphilosophie provides a meaningful account of self-knowing subjectivity (Geist), this must include an account of how we know—this account begins with intuition. 2.
Introduction to Intuition and Subjective Geist
Subjective Geist is divided into three subsections. The “Anthropology” first considers Geist in its immediate determination as natural corporeality, then the “Phenomenology” conceives Geist as consciousness, where a subject stands in a knowing relation to an oppositional object. Finally, the “Psychology” outlines a holistic theory of mental activity and provides a coherent account of how Geist cognitively encounters the everyday world beginning with a description of how the empirical grounds the activities of cognition. The “Psychology” is largely an account of the psychogenesis of thought [Denken], since it gives a thoroughgoing account of the foundations of fully developed, rational, linguistic thinking. According to the “Psychology,” Geist is intelligence [die Intelligenz], which denotes a mode of knowing that is more complex than both immediate embodiment and the oppositional subject-object knowledge of consciousness.3 It is in the intelligence that the notion of a Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
self-determining, self-knowing subjectivity begins to have its structure explicitly defined. To that end, it is significant that the intelligence is defined by three moments: intuition [Anschauung], representation [Vorstellung], and thinking [Denken].4 Although there is a tendency to think of psychological approaches in terms of dividing the mind into isolable faculties, this is far from Hegel’s own intention regarding the intelligence, which he treats as a developing whole. Hegel considers a critique of isolable faculties of Geist when he develops the distinction between stages [Stufen] of Nature and of Geist in §380.5 While the lower stages of Nature are involved in the higher stages, the lower stages themselves can be thought as though they would exist in isolation: “The concrete nature of Geist involves for the observer the peculiar difficulty that the particular states [Stufen] and determinations of the development of its concept do not also remain behind as particular existences in contrast to its deeper formations. It is otherwise in external nature” (PM §380, 8). Hegel provides an example, citing matter and movement as existing both on their own and in the solar system, a higher stage of Nature. Nature is, therefore, distinct from Geist as concerns the discreteness of its stages. Hegel continues: “The determinations and stages of Geist, by contrast, are essentially only moments, states [Zustände], determinations in the highest stages of development [den hören Entwicklungsstufen]. As a consequence of this, a lower and more abstract determination of the Geist reveals the presence in it, even empirically, of a higher phase” (ibid.). Part of this issue concerns a methodological reflection that Hegel is offering for us: a higher stage of Geist is irreducible to a lower stage, but a lower stage might require looking ahead to a higher stage of development.6 Generally, we want to emphasize how this difference between stages indicates different levels of complexity, rather than fundamentally distinct and discrete entities. Additionally, what Hegel is explaining in §380 is that something such as sensation [Empfindung], feeling [Gefühl], or intuition [Anschauung], for example, does not have a particular existence in abstention of the more developed concept of Geist of which it is a non-isolable, integrated feature; nor are these moments of a progressive process of natural development; the stages of Geist have no particular existence except through Geist’s full actualization. Moreover, these moments of the intelligence are all forms of mental activity, none of which are isolatable as discrete faculties. Hegel is decisively critical of anatomical dissections of the “mind,” so we must be careful not to think of these mental activities, as separate states.7 This puts Hegel in stark contrast to the contemporary materialist who claims that mental states can be physiologically isolated, defined, and quite literally pointed to. In what follows, we will explore Hegel’s account of intuition with a specific emphasis on time in order to both set up a contrast between his view and Kant’s, and to establish the ontological upshot of Hegel’s position. 2.1
Feeling, Attention, Intuition
Far from being simply a faculty, intuition is, for Hegel, a conceptualization of an aspect of our mental activity that provides the preliminary part of an account of how it is that we know. Although intuition is not fully developed knowledge on its own, but rather precedes it (because immediate knowledge ought to become the mediated knowledge of rational thinking), Hegel’s account of intuition is fundamental to his own philosophy because it grounds knowledge in the knowable reality, or being, of the empirical. This is because intuition is the activity of positing and apprehending a spatio-temporal object. The ability to make things conceptually meaningful Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
belongs exclusively to Geist, but if the concepts we develop do not follow directly from empirical reality, or are at odds with it, then Hegel’s epistemology becomes a transcendental idealism, or, equally problematically, a subjective idealism. Consequently, it is important to be clear on the type of empirical realism that Hegel espouses with his account of intuition. Hegel’s account of intuition in the “Psychology” is divided into three parts: (i) feeling [Gefühl], (ii) attention [Aufmerksamkeit], and (iii) intuition proper. As the synthesis of the content of the “Anthropology” and “Phenomenology,” the first moment of feeling has the form of being a determinate affection [eine bestimmte Affektion], and the content of this affection is both subjective and objective.8 The absence of one-sidedness in the content is precisely why feeling in the “Psychology” is not the same feeling described in the “Anthropology” qua immediate embodiment.9 Furthermore, that the object of feeling is not merely a form of subjective experience is because the preceding arguments of the Geistesphilosophie have shown there to be no mind-world or mind-body dualism: For what the intelligence seems to receive from outside is, in truth, none other than the rational and is consequently identical with Geist and immanent in it. The activity of Geist has, therefore, no other aim than, by sublation of the ostensible being-external-to-its-own-self of the implicitly rational object, to refute even the semblance of the object’s externality to Geist. (PM §447A, 178) The empirical—what the “intelligence seems to receive from the outside”—has the intrinsic form of rationality in exactly the same manner as Geist as intelligence does, but just not immediately. The implicit rationality of the content requires development, and this is what the account of the intelligence provides. When the object of our feeling affects the intelligence, it does so because the form of feeling itself is capable of being affected, that is, the empirical content of sensation impacts the intelligence immediately through the senses, without yet engaging the activities of intelligence.10 As Hegel says, to feel something is to “find” it and, emphatically, not to make it (PM §446 & §448). That the content is found, as opposed to created or constructed, is crucial because it lends justification to the idea that the Geistesphilosophie provides a non-transcendental account of subjectivity. However, it is far from sufficient that we should be merely impacted by empirical objects since, qua feeling, no distinction is developed such that the rationality of the content can be posited for the intelligence. What is needed is a distinguishing activity whereby the immediate, affective content of feeling is apprehended. Due to the implicit rationality of the content of feeling, this content cannot simply affect the intelligence—it must become for it; and this is accomplished in what Hegel calls attention: “Without attention, therefore, no apprehension of the object [Objektes] is possible; only by attention does Geist become present in the subject-matter [der Sache] and obtain cognizance of it, though not as yet cognition of the subject-matter, for this requires a further development of Geist” (PM §448A, 179). What attention accomplishes is the breaking up of the immediate relation to the object in feeling so that the content becomes present to the intelligence, and this establishes a ground for the actual appropriation of the object, which is later accomplished in recollection [Erinnerung].
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Generally put, the move from the immediacy of feeling to intuition marks a transformation of both form and content such that what was immediately sensed becomes an object that is present for the intelligence. The forms of feeling, attention, and intuition are not forms of different contents, but different forms of one and the same content, which changes with respect to the form with which it is apprehended. In other words, both form and content are involved in a mutually implicating process of becoming such that the more complex the subjective form of apprehension of an object, then the more complex the objectivity of the content. Hegel makes this point explicitly with respect to intuition in §448A: The activity of intuition initially produces in general a shifting of sensation away from us, a transformation of what is sensed into an object present outside us. The content of sensation is not altered by this alteration; on the contrary, it is here still one and the same content in Geist and in the external object, so that Geist here still has no content peculiar to itself which it could compare with the content of intuition. Consequently, what comes about by intuition is merely the transformation of the form of internality into the form of externality. (PM §448A, 181) Thus, there is a mutual transformation of both form and content in intuition, as it is a more a complex cognitive mode. And because the new form of apprehension is that of externality, which is the form of Nature considered first in the transition from Logic to Nature, it follows that the immediate forms of the external as such, that is, space and time, have applicability to the object equally as it is for the intelligence, or “for us,” and as such, or “in itself.” So it is not surprising that, in PM §448A, Hegel states that sensation becomes both spatial and temporal in intuition, and those forms can only become as such because the content itself has the form of externality, rather than the spatio-temporal being exclusively a subjective form of mental activity. Therefore, intuition is the activity of the positing and apprehension of a spatio-temporal object. At first glance, in claiming that intuition determines the content according to the forms of space and time because they are the primary forms of intuition, it may appear as though Hegel is adopting the Kantian view of intuition—but this would reduce the reality of the empirical to the experience of the subject. As noted above, it is important that Hegel give cognition an empirical basis, but not merely as the knowledge of appearances or our experiences of them such that the entire account of knowing itself would be reduced to the primacy of the subject, leaving us unable to say much about reality as it is. In other words, it is important that Hegel’s idealism not be a subjective idealism, so it is essential that he distinguish himself from Kant concerning this issue insofar as it arises with respect to spatio-temporal intuition (PM §448A). However, before engaging with Hegel’s criticism of Kant’s view, and how those criticisms inform our understanding of the relation between subjectivity and time, we need to have a clear idea of Kant’s account of intuition. 2.2 Space, Time, and Intuition in Kant’s first Critique Kant’s claim that space and time are pure forms of sensibility is historically situated as a resolution to a prior debate between the Newtonian view of the absoluteness of space and time as substantial entities in their own right, and the Leibnizian view that space and time are abstract Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
relational structures.11 The forms of space and time are also foundational for Kant’s epistemology and the project of his transcendental idealism. For Kant, space and time, as subjective forms of experience, tell us nothing about being as such—that is, they have no ontological significance, as they do for Hegel. Hence, for Kant, they are the conditions of the possibility of the experience of any object whatsoever and they are, thus, merely subjective—that is, one-sided—determinations. For that reason, it is commonplace to refer to Kant’s idealism as subjective, which Hegel does. This is significant because time, whether in intuition or conceptually, is no mere subjective determination for Hegel, and although it is not one-sided in this way, it does significantly inform the Hegelian approach to subjectivity. It is necessary, then, to develop Kant’s account of intuition in order to show how Hegel incorporates it in such a way that does not undermine his account of subjectivity. Kant famously advances his epistemological view of space and time in the Critique of Pure Reason.12 The basics of his account are developed in the “Transcendental Aesthetic,” wherein he presents the following theses about time: (1) time is a pure form of sensible intuition; and, (2) time is empirically real and transcendentally ideal. Although much more could be said about time for Kant, these views will aid our capacity to frame Hegel’s Kant, particularly concerning the matter of Hegel’s account of intuition and the sense of time appropriate to it.13 After introducing the project of the Critique of Pure Reason as an investigation into the possibility of synthetic a priori judgments, Kant provides the foundation for his account of cognition in the “The Transcendental Aesthetic.” The manner in which objects are first given to cognition occurs in what Kant labels sensibility [Sinnlichkeit], which is a passive faculty for receptivity. It is only after being given to sensibility that an object becomes an intuition [Anschauung], and is later a thought in the Kantian sense of the division of these terms. Ultimately the importance of sensibility for Kant is profound, for without objects being given to sensibility, there would be no objects given to us at all (CPR, 172). Understanding the capacity of sensibility, as Kant develops it, depends on further terminological considerations, some of which correspond to Hegel’s language in Subjective Geist. According to Kant, when an object affects us, this is sensation [Empfindung], and intuitions about objects of sensation are called empirical intuitions. Kant qualifies these intuitions as empirical in order to engender the distinction between empirical and pure intuitions, the latter providing the ordering form to sensation. The idea of a pure intuition is not an arbitrary assertion for Kant, but follows from his analysis of the sensible. He argues: “Since that within which the sensations can alone be ordered and placed in a certain form cannot itself be in turn sensation, the matter [Materie] of all appearance is only given to us a posteriori, but its form must all lie ready for it in the mind a priori, and can therefore be considered separately from all sensation.” (CPR, 173) Because objects of sensation cannot be self-ordering and self-explaining, there must be some aspect of cognition that orders the sensorial givens such that the objects of sensation can be cognizable at all; and if all sensation is first experienced as appearance a posteriori, then the
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ordering form must be a priori. Kant famously refers to this a priori condition of sensibility in general as the pure forms of sensible intuition of space and time. For Kant, space and time denote two forms of sense with respect to the subject of which sensibility is the faculty of receptivity: By means of outer sense (a property of our mind) we represent to ourselves objects as outside us, and all as in space…Inner sense, by means of which the mind intuits itself, or its inner state, gives, to be sure, no intuition of the soul itself, as an object; yet it is still a determinable form, under which the intuition of its inner state is alone possible, so that everything that belongs to the inner determination is represented in relations of time. Time can no more be intuited externally than space can be intuited as something in us. (CPR, 174) The inner/outer sense distinction is significant for Kant because it furnishes the ground for our experiences of objects as external to us, and those experiences—or rather the conditions of possibility for those experiences—differ from those of inner sense, which Kant explains with the pure intuition of time as the sense of both the self and temporal sequences. The “Transcendental Aesthetic” first considers space as the condition for the possibility of our experience of things as external to us. Space is not apprehended a posteriori from experience, but makes the experiences we have of outer appearances possible a priori. Hence, Kant concludes, “Space is a necessary representation, a priori, that is the ground of all outer intuitions,” and, he continues, “[i]t is therefore to be regarded as the condition of the possibility of appearances, not as a determination dependent on them, and is an a priori representation that necessarily grounds outer appearances” (CPR, 175). Because space is a pure intuition, it is neither a substantial entity in its own right, a property of things, nor is it a concept. Ultimately, the insights Kant gleans into the intuition of space, as he does with time, tell us quite a bit about our “human standpoint,” but very little about being as such.14 The exposition of time as a pure intuition follows closely from that of space, and the two together exhaust the ground for the possibility of appearance in general. As it is with space, Kant argues that we do not have an empirical experience of time, as if pure succession or simultaneity were given as a posteriori phenomena. However, the pure intuition of time has superiority to that of space in that Kant links it with the experience of the self. This is in part what Kant means when he refers to it as a form of inner sense (CPR, 180). One of the central conclusions of the “Transcendental Aesthetic” is that space and time are empirically real and transcendentally ideal. For Kant the objectivity of time is dependent on the experience of appearances, so time is not objective with respect to things themselves. This is one way to frame the empirical reality and transcendental ideality of time. Concerning the former, time has empirical reality with respect to our experience of objects of sensation; this is the empirical reality of time. Kant claims that we cannot apply this empirical reality to a notion of absolute reality due to the transcendental ideality of time: that time is nothing outside of the subject (CPR, 181). In both considerations, the assertion that time has no status independently of
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a mind is fundamental and this amounts to making objectivity both derivative to subjectivity and dependent upon it (CPR, 181). Following Kant’s account we are unable to make ontological conclusions about the relation of time to being, or the status of time as being qua becoming. However, following the approach to time in the Naturphilosophie, Hegel does allow for an ontology of the concept of time.15 Because we are now dealing with how Kant and Hegel present their accounts of time in intuition, the question must be posed: How Kantian is Hegel’s account of intuition? Or, to put the question more precisely, is Hegel’s account of intuition in the “Psychology” transcendental? The critical position Hegel takes with respect to Kant concerning spatio-temporal intuition needs to be framed accordingly and made explicit. 2.3. Hegel’s Critique of Kantian Spatio-Temporal Intuition Given that one of the primary elements of Kant’s epistemology, as developed in the Critique of Pure Reason, is his account of the pure intuitions of space and time, it is noteworthy that Hegel makes no reference to Kant in the primary content paragraphs of his own account of intuition from the “Psychology.” As Scott Jenkins (2010) has remarked, it is a challenge to pinpoint a direct response to Kant’s arguments about intuition in Hegel’s works. In the Naturphilosophie, however, we locate an indirect reflection concerning intuition and Kant in the highly important place wherein Hegel deals with time qua becoming (PN §258R). There, Hegel states: Time, like space, is a pure form of sense [Sinnlichkeit] or intuition [Anschauens], the non-sensuous sensuous; but, as in the case of space, the distinction of objectivity and a subjective consciousness confronting it, does not apply to time. If these determinations were applied to space and time, the former would then be abstract objectivity, the latter abstract subjectivity. (PN §258R, 34-35) In describing time as a form of intuition, Hegel is evoking Kant, albeit without explicitly referring to him by name. This passage is very helpful for framing how we approach the question of Hegel’s adoption of Kantian intuition and the relevance of time because it makes an important claim with reference to the content of the Geistesphilosophie: time should not be approached dualistically in terms of the subject-object distinction for consciousness, which is the essential distinction underlying the phenomenology of consciousness from the Geistesphilosophie. This particular issue is important because it raises the question of the difference between the account of intuition and the phenomenology of sense-consciousness, which are two different stages of the development of Geist differing in degrees of complexity. The 1830 Encyclopedia’s section “Phenomenology” is the mediating stage between “Anthropology” and “Psychology”; it provides the necessary presupposition of the “I” of universal reason that makes the account of the “Psychology” possible as an ontology of the structure of human subjectivity. Setting aside the relationship between the Jena Phenomenology of 1807 and the later, mature Berlin version, the Encyclopedia’s “Phenomenology” has the tripartite division of consciousness as such, self-consciousness, and reason. It is under the first of these divisions that Hegel addresses sensory consciousness and makes reference to time such that Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
we can make sense of why Hegel claims in the Naturphilosophie that time is not the proper object of phenomenology, or, more generally, of a dualistic philosophical approach. In the Encyclopedia’s “Phenomenology,” consciousness as such is first the immediate relation between subject and object; this, for Hegel, is sensory consciousness. Hegel then states that the question of whether or not the object of the immediate relation of sensory consciousness is spatio-temporal belongs to an account of intuition: “Spatial and temporal individuality, the here and the now, as I have determined the object of sensory consciousness in the Phenomenology of Spirit, strictly belongs to intuition” (PM §418R, 147). The ability for consciousness to claim that it has an object that is here and now, which is the fundamental element of the argument against immediate knowledge in the 1807 Phenomenology, is here revoked. Instead, in asserting that the spatio-temporality of the object is accounted for by intuition, Hegel is referring ahead to the “Psychology,” wherein he continues to develop the Phenomenology-Psychology distinction, or, between the oppositional nature of Verstand and the more comprehensive Vernunft.16 Consequently, how we should approach the intuition of time is part of what Hegel is addressing in §258R of the Naturphilosophie where he repudiates a phenomenology of time while simultaneously referring to Kantian intuition. Naturally, then, we would expect direct reference to Kant in the content paragraphs of the “Psychology,” or the remarks about them, in which Hegel treats intuition, since this would complete the allusion made in PN §258R. The discussion of Kant appears, however, in an addition, and therefore is something Hegel lectured about. One way to resolve the issue is to say that both Kant and Hegel are more or less talking past each other because both philosophies are responding to different questions. Hegel himself framed the issue that way in his lectures on Kant: “But what the nature of time and space is, it does not occur to the Kantian philosophy to inquire. To it what space and time are in themselves does not signify ‘what is their Concept,’ but ‘Are they external things or something in the mind?’” (LHP, 436). The difference Hegel is largely illustrating here is between ontology and epistemology. He suggests that the Kantian focus on the knowledge of either mind dependent or independent entities does not respond to the question of the concept of something, as Hegel’s own philosophical standpoint does. Setting aside this difference in standpoints, since this issue is far too broad to resolve here, the indebtedness, or lack thereof, of Hegel to Kant on intuition and time can be addressed in two ways. First, we take Hegel to be following in the post-Kantian critical tradition of Solomon Maimon by arguing that space and time are not pure, but empirical intuitions. As such, time acquires a conceptual basis that affords no special priority to the one-sided view of subjectivity. Second, Hegel frames the real-ideal distinction in terms of the unity of form and content, so it is inappropriate to conceive spatio-temporal intuition dichotomously as empirically real and transcendentally ideal, as Kant does. Hegel’s most direct reflection in the “Psychology” on the Kantian account of intuition occurs in §448A, where, in the primary content paragraph, Hegel appears to be advocating some version of Kant’s view. Hegel, however, directly confronts the status of Kantian intuition in the addition, where we read: Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
When we said that what is sensed receives from the intuiting Geist the form of the spatial and temporal, this statement must not be understood to mean that space and time are only subjective forms. This is what Kant wanted to make space and time. However, things [die Dinge] are in truth themselves spatial and temporal; this double form of extrinsicality [Außereinander] is not one-sidedly imposed on them by our intuition, it has already been originally imparted to them by the infinite Geist that is in itself, by the creative eternal Idea. (PM §448, 181, translation modified) Although one might want to object and say that Hegel’s appeal to the “Idea” here does not constitute an argument, it is in fact making an explicit reference to the transition in his philosophical science from Logic to Nature, and as such amounts to a rigorous systematic argument. The move from Logic to Nature determines Nature first as the external, and space and time are first forms of externality. Therefore, it is not because space and time are subjective forms that they have applicability to the empirical objects of intuitive experience, but rather space and time are determinations of Nature whose form of externality establishes the objectivity of time.17 Consequently, the issue, and the essence of the upshot of Hegel’s position here, is the challenge to the subjective exclusivity of the intuition of time, which we find in Kant. Furthermore, Hegel is also challenging the status of time as an a priori intuition. According to Kant, empirical intuitions are those for which sensory objects are present (CPR, 193). Following Hegel’s account, sensation is everywhere directly involved in intuition due to the empirical foundation of the immediacy of feeling. So insofar as we speak of time as intuitive form, for Hegel, we must do so as an empirical intuition because time is both an objective determination of Nature and a subjective concept of the intelligence. Even those who would argue that Hegel’s Naturphilosophie is aprioristic, can at the very least grant, as Willem deVries (1988) does, that Hegel’s account of intuition is indicative of a “healthy realism.” Despite the fact that Hegel is not engaged in a transcendental account of cognition, Hegel’s position on the matter is comparable to that of Maimon’s critical stance toward Kant on space and time. Maimon largely advances the Kantian critical project, but criticizes the status of time and space as pure intuitions. Maimon (2010) claims space and time are empirical intuitions because they are predicates of intuitions, which give them a conceptual basis and elevates them from merely the level of intuition to the understanding (ETP, 18). This was Maimon’s attempt to bridge the divide between sensible particulars and categorical thought, which, according to post-Kantian criticism, Kant’s philosophy leaves disjunctively unexplained.18 Evidence that Hegel also viewed time as an empirical intuition can be found as early as the 1801 Differenz essay, where, despite his obvious status as a supporter of Schelling’s philosophy at that time, Hegel states the intuition of time is empirical (Werke 2:44). However, Hegel’s mature philosophy is not transcendental, and so Hegel differs in many respects from Maimon’s own attempt at a post-Kantian corrective transcendental philosophy, not to mention that Hegel neither continued to be a transcendental Schellingian after the 1807 Phenomenology. In sum, Hegel challenges the transcendental status of time advanced by Kant, initially by providing a conceptual account of time in the Naturphilosophie. In the Geistesphilosophie, we Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
then see how that account fits with an approach to spatio-temporal intuition that is grounded in sensory being. 3. Conclusion We have aimed to show that Hegel’s debt and appropriation of Kant’s account of intuition amounts to a rejection of transcendentalism. When speaking of an intuition of time we are developing an ontologically significant claim that cannot be restricted to the questions of epistemology, that is, the limitations of knowledge with respect to mind dependent or independent entities. For Hegel, both the subjective aspect of the content as form and the objective determination of the object itself cannot be separated in intuition because there is no fundamental ontological distinction between form and content. Even if we conceive the real as the sensible material [Stoff] that has the form of space and time, there is no significant ontological distinction between the object of intelligence and intelligence itself qua self-determining subjectivity, or reason. Insofar as space and time apply as forms of the content in general, this spatio-temporal form is equally subjective and objective. In other words, neither the form nor the objects are merely mental contents. Kant is a subjective idealist insofar as we are talking about intuition because the forms of subjective experience, which order the empirical sense data, determine the contents of intuition.19 So both form and content belong to the side of the subject, thus constituting Kant’s subjective idealism. For Hegel, the subject is not the legislator of appearances, but precisely that which becomes objective and one instance of this is the apprehension of time as a structural component inherent of being in intuition. Ultimately, Hegel’s account of intuition evidences a connection between an ontological conceptualization of subjectivity and the intuition of time, which both portrays a non-transcendental Hegelian metaphysics and highlights the complexity and revision of the concept of intuition in German Idealism more generally.
The Encyclopedia was Hegel’s manual for teaching his philosophy to his students. It is a dense text composed of numbered paragraphs that are organized according to their systematic exposition. In some cases Hegel includes a remark to the primary paragraph, which serves to further elucidate its meaning. These are Hegel’s own inclusions. Moreover, we have access to the notes taken by Hegel’s students during his lectures; these are published along with the Encyclopedia as additions to the primary content paragraphs. When we cite from Hegel’s Encyclopedia, we make note of whether or not we are referring to a remark or an addition by including ‘R’ or ‘A’ in the paragraph reference.
Rather than using a substantive, Terry Pinkard suggests translating Geist as “mindedness.” Because this term is in line with a deflationary, non-metaphysical reading of Hegel’s philosophy, we do not think it is the appropriate English translation.
English readers of Hegel must be careful not to confuse the intelligence with the intellect, which is sometimes employed as a translation of Verstand instead of the understanding.
Hegel first announces this division of the “Theoretical Psychology” in EL §2 by claiming that
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they are each forms of human consciousness that differ in form from thinking as such. It is odd, however, that he distinguishes feeling [Gefühl] along with intuition and representation, whereas in the “Psychology” feeling is the immediate moment of intuition. The oddity of this exception afforded to feeling disappears when we recognize that Hegel is commenting on the significance of thinking for humans, as opposed to animals, and more specifically the type of thinking proper to philosophy. Both animals and humans share sensation [Empfindung], but feeling is a form proper to human beings. Much could be said about the distinction between feeling and sensation, i.e., between Gefühl and Empfindung. We will restrict ourselves to highlighting two noteworthy interpretations. In “How the Dreaming Soul Became the Feeling Soul,” Jeffrey Reid (2013) demonstrates that between the 1827 and 1830 version of the Encyclopedia Hegel revised sections of the “Anthropology” to substitute Gefühl for Empfindung in order to challenge the religion of feeling espoused by Schleiermacher. Furthermore, Reid points out that while the 1827 Encyclopedia makes no distinction between Gefühl and Empfindung, the 1830 edition does so explicitly. According to Reid’s analysis, the intention behind Hegel’s increased emphasis on feeling between the 1827 and 1830 editions of the “Anthropology” is to show the pathological nature of Schleiermacher’s religion of feeling. Another possibility concerning the difference between feeling and sensation is that Gefühl is a spiritualized form of Empfindung involving some conception of the self, which is what Willem deVries (1988) argues in Hegel’s Theory of Mental Activity. Thus, because humans have a more developed form of self than animals, according to Hegel, that is perhaps why he singles out feeling in EL §2. 5.
Hegel earlier describes Nature in terms of a system of stages [System von Stufen] in the introduction to the Naturphilosophie, which is the second volume of the Encyclopedia.
“In sensation [Empfindung], for example, we can find all the higher phases of the mind as its content or determinacy. And so sensation, which is just an abstract form, may to the superficial glance seem to be the essential seat and even the root of that higher content, the religious, the ethical, and so on; and it may seem necessary to consider the determinations of this content as particular species of sensation. But all the same, when lower stages are under consideration, it becomes necessary, in order to draw attention to them in their empirical existence, to refer to higher stages in which they are present only as forms. In this way we need at times to introduce, by anticipation, a content which presents itself only later in the development” (PM §380).
Further confirmation of this can be located in the preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit, where Hegel writes that philosophical science ought not to dissect parts of the whole and treat them as inanimately isolated, as is done in the particular science of anatomy. See Werke (3: 11).
Bernard Mabille (2003, 103) explains the immediacy with which the “Psychology” opens as being the already mediated result of the “Phenomenology” and the “Psychology.” For that reason, the content of feeling presupposes the subject-object identity of what is rational, and, more significantly for our purposes here, Mabille claims the immediacy of the given in intuition is an immediacy that has become via the preceding stages of Subjective Geist. In other words, it is a spiritualized immediacy.
“In the mind the content of feeling is liberated from the two-fold one-sidedness which it had, on the one hand, at the standpoint of soul and, on the other hand, at the standpoint of consciousness. For this content now has the determination of being in itself both subjective and objective; and Geist’s activity now aims only at positing the content as a unity of the subjective and objectivity”
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(PM §446A, 177). 10. That Hegel takes the sensible quite seriously in his Geistesphilosophie is very important to his project therein, and, as John Burbidge (2005) has argued, to the relation of Logic and Geist. Concerning our approach to the “Psychology” in particular, the claim that Hegel believes that knowledge begins other than with sensation is untenable, e.g., in §11 of the Encyclopedia Hegel clearly states the content of feeling is the sensible [Sinnliches]. Although the empirical senses make the beginning, it does not end there. Also, his frequent criticisms of Jacobi and Schleiermacher have contributed to the view that Hegel devalues the cognitive importance and foundation of sensation. Concerning Hegel’s account of sensation [Empfindung], we refer to §400-§402 of the “Anthropology” and wish to highlight that Hegel considers the various sense faculties of human beings to be unconscious processes; for example, while we are non-conscious of the various neural impulses that are involved in sensory input, our mental activity fashions objects of sense into rational objects that we are aware of and that are for us. A Geistesphilosophie will provide an account of concepts that are meaningful for us; and a particular domain of the hard sciences will provide an account of how the senses physically operate. In this way Hegel is not opposed to modern developments in knowledge about the body and its functions. However, it is simply not the task of a speculative philosophy to deliver an account of such specific phenomenon anymore than it is the task of a speculative Naturphilosophie to provide a categorical sequence of species-to-species evolution. 11. For a survey of this debate, we suggest the Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence, edited by H.G. Alexander (1956). 12. Although the Kritik der reinen Vernunft was first published in 1781, our emphasis is the 1787 revised B edition. 13. While our focus is “The Transcendental Aesthetic,” we acknowledge that a full exposition of Kant’s account of time would also have to consider “The Transcendental Analytic,” “The Transcendental Deduction,” and the “Schematism.” 14. “We can accordingly space of space, extended beings, and so on, only from the human standpoint. If we depart from the subjective condition under which alone we can acquire outer intuition, namely that through which we may be affected by objects, then the representation of space signifies nothing at all” (CPR, 177). 15. In §258R of the Naturphilosophie Hegel makes it explicit that time is becoming, which is equally how he conceives being. 16. “With regard to the relationship of intuition to consciousness, the following remark must be made. In the broadest sense of the word, one could of course give the name of intuition to the immediate or sensory consciousness considered in §418. But if this name is to be taken in its proper significance, as rationally it must, then between this consciousness and intuition an essential distinction must be drawn: the former, in unmediated, entirely abstract certainty of itself, relates itself to the immediate individuality of the object, an individuality disintegrating into a multiplicity of aspects; whereas intuition is a consciousness filled by the certainty of reason, whose object has the determination of being something rational, consequently not an individual torn asunder into various aspects but a totality, a cohesive fullness of determinations” (PM §449A,
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182). 17. Our reading associates the relevance of space and time here to the concept of Nature, rather than because those are quantifiably pragmatic terms, as is recently suggested by Willem deVries (2013): “My guess is that space and time show up only here because Hegel thinks of them as precise and quantifiable, even metrical. Spatio-temporal determinations can be elaborated in endlessly precise ways and related to each other with mathematical precision. They are the rational elaboration of self-externality, so they make their appearance within subjective spirit only in its final, rational stage [Psychology], even if they appear as immediate determinacies” (150). 18. A similar project toward determining the foundations of critical philosophy was also undertaken by K.L. Reinhold. 19. According to Gilles Deleuze (1963), Kant makes the subject-object relation one of the relations of differing subjective faculties, which have a distinctly active role with respect to passive sensibility. Hegel’s views on space and time are rooted in an account of subjectivity that is very different from Kant’s, one that doesn’t treat the subjective as a mind divided into discrete faculties. Thus, Hegel’s account is arguably more robust than Kant’s formalistic spin on the Cartesian ‘I think’ for which Hegel claims Kant to be a subjective idealist. Thus, the difference between Hegel and Kant on the matter of spatio-temporal intuition can be conceived within the framework of alternate approaches to subjectivity. See Reid (2014), and Sedgwick (2012).
Bibliography Alexander, H. G. 1956. The Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Carlson, David Gray, ed. 2005. Hegel’s Theory of Theory of the Subject. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. de Laurentiis, Allegra, and Edwards, Jeffrey, eds. 2013. The Bloomsbury Companion to Hegel. London: Bloomsbury. Deleuze, Gilles. 1963. La philosophie critique de Kant: doctrines des facultés. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. deVries, Willem. 1988. Hegel’s Theory of Mental Activity: An Introduction to Theoretical Spirit. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Fichte, J.G. 1988. Early Philosophical Writings. Translated by Daniel Breazeale. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Hegel, G.W.F. 1970. Werke in zwanzig Bänden. [Werke]. Edited by Eva Moldenhauer and Karl Markus Michel. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. _____. 1970. Philosophy of Nature. [PN] Translated by A.V. Miller. Oxford: Clarendon Press. _____. 1977. Phenomenology of Spirit. Translated by A.V. Miller. Oxford: Oxford University Press. _____. 1991. The Encyclopaedia Logic: Part I of the Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences with the Zusätze. [EL]. Translated by T.F. Geraets, W.A. Suchting, and H.S. Harris. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. _____. 1995. Lectures on the History of Philosophy, Vol. 3. [LHP]. Translated by E.S. Haldane and Frances H. Simson. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
Inwood, Michael. 2007. A Commentary on Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Jenkins, Scott. 2010. “Hegel on Space: A Critique of Kant’s Transcendental Philosophy.” Inquiry 53(4): 326-355. Kant, Immanuel. 1956. Kritik der reinen Vernunft. Hamburg: Felix Meiner. _____. 1998. Critique of Pure Reason. [CPR]. Translated by Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mabille, Bernard. 2007. Cheminer avec Hegel. Chatou: Éditions de la Transparence. _____. 2013. Hegel: L’épreuve de la contingence. Paris: Hermann. Maimon, Solomon. 2010. Essay on Transcendental Philosophy. [ETP]. Translated by Nick Midgley, Henry Somers-Hall, Alistair Welchman, and Merten Reglitz. London: Continuum. Marmasse, Gilles. 2008. Penser le réel: Hegel, la nature et l’esprit. Paris: Éditions Kimé. McCumber, John. 2014. Understanding Hegel’s Mature Critique of Kant. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Reid, Jeffrey. 2014. The Anti-Romantic: Hegel Against Ironic Romanticism. London: Bloomsbury. _____. 2013. “How the Dreaming Soul Became the Feeling Soul, between the 1827 and 1830 Editions of Hegel’s Philosophy of Subjective Spirit: Empirical Psychology and the Late Enlightenment.” In Essay’s on Hegel’s Philosophy of Subjective Spirit. Edited by David S. Stern, 37-54. Albany: State University of New York Press. Sedgwick, Sally. 2000. The Reception of Kant’s Critical Philosophy: Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. _____. 2012. Hegel’s Critique of Kant: From Dichotomy to Identity. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Stern, David S., ed. 2013. Essays on Hegel’s Philosophy of Subjective Spirit. Albany: State University of New York Press. Stern, Robert. 1990. Hegel, Kant and the Structure of the Object. London: Routledge. Winfield, Richard Dien. 2010. Hegel and Mind: Rethinking Philosophical Psychology. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
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Non-intelligible Intellect, High on the Highest Branch: the Limits of Language in Neoplatonism and Poetry Laura Moncion
“God may be hidden but the truth is not.” Anne Carson
Language is a tricky thing. Anyone who has ever tried to explain complex emotional experiences—from the hurricane of attraction to the dampness of depression—will know this to be true. “Hurricane” does not quite capture the feeling of attraction, nor “dampness” that of depression—and there are thousands of metaphors for these feelings that never quite seem to capture them whole. Language reaches for the moon, and falls among metaphors. In so doing it also falls into what is often seen as a major problem of metaphor: non-identity. A metaphor is an expression of identity—x is y—and yet one thing can be a metaphor for another only if the first thing is not identical to the second. While the image of illumination might bring us closer to the dawning of an idea in the mind, it also clearly draws a distinction between illumination and knowledge. Illumination is not literally knowledge; it is a metaphor for knowledge. In clarifying this, I do not mean to denigrate the use of the word “illumination” in this context. On the contrary, I believe metaphor to be a powerful linguistic tool indicating an association between two or more things, tapping into a zoomed-out perspective on the world that allows one to make and grasp these connections. The problem of metaphor is a major concern for two seemingly disparate clusters of thinkers. In this paper, I will put two of these clusters in conversation with one another. On the one hand, I will present Neoplatonic philosophy/theology’s grappling with the problem of how to name God or talk about personal experiences of henosis (that is, union with God). On the other, I will look at how two contemporary Canadian poets—Jan Zwicky and Anne Carson—consider the paradoxes of putting experiences that feel enormous into language. Both, however, wrangle with language, shape it and re-shape it, play it like a flute. This similarity between philosophy of language—at least that of the Neoplatonic tradition—and the philosophical language of these two poets opens the door, as I will argue, to considering poetry as a potentially useful and interesting medium for philosophy more generally.1 While the major players in my discourse occupy very different temporal landscapes, there are nevertheless similar problems which Neoplatonic philosophy and contemporary poetry face, in particular the problem of metaphor. 1.
Negation and Multiplicity : the Poetry of Neoplatonism
Neoplatonic philosophy/theology has long been associated with philosophies of language, largely on account of its development of negative theology.2 A major feature of negative theology is apophasis, the linguistic negation of negation that performatively questions the ability to grasp a great and ineffable divine presence with the crude human tools of language. In Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
many—if not most—Neoplatonic works, one can find some recognition of the feebleness of language vis à vis the task at hand. In De Mysteriis, for example, Iamblichus begins its reply to Anebo by claiming that some questions can be answered straightforwardly, while others “require experience of actions for their accurate understanding.” For these, “it will not be possible to deal with adequately by words alone” (Iamblichus, 11). In other words, some questions, and presumably, answers, don’t fit into words. However, it is not silence that Iamblichus recommends with regard to those things that are awkward to verbalize. Some experiences, he writes, which are replete with intellectual insight [we will not be able] to clarify [completely] but one can reveal noteworthy indications, on the basis of which both you and those like you can be led intellectually to the essence of true being. (Ibid.) Even though words alone fail to capture certain experiences, they can act as place markers and road signs on the path to divine illumination. Iamblichus does not discard the intellect, moored though it is to discursive and rational things (such as language), just because it is flawed. Iamblichus is specific when it comes to the different kinds of language appropriate to different questions: “[W]e will provide… explanations proper to each, dealing in a theological mode with theological questions and in theurgical terms with those concerning theurgy, while philosophical issues we will join with you in examining in philosophical terms” (ibid.). In Iamblichus, as in other Neoplatonic thinkers, there is never a prohibition or taboo against using language in the pursuit of the ineffable, but quite the opposite: a precise and careful use of language that tries to bring the ineffable into words is sought as a means of edging closer to that which is beyond language. Neoplatonic writers are, after all, writers. The precise way of using language espoused by many Neoplatonic writers is the negation of negation—apophasis—as a method of talking specifically about the ineffable One, that is, God. The official endorsement of negation as the proper linguistic posture to take when discussing the One comes rather late, in Proclus’s commentary on Plato’s Parmenides (Williams, 3). Proclus argues that negations are superior to assertions when speaking about the One. Although technically “neither assertion nor negation is properly relevant,” nevertheless negations are preferable because they suggest that the One is free from the limitations of existence, from the attachment to the verb “to be.” Furthermore, assertions want to affix a name to something, “to lay hold of some Form,” whereas “the primal entity is… above Form, and it is not suitable to apply to it any of those attributes which are proper to secondary things” (Proclus, VI.1072). Effectively, Proclus opposes both the active verbalization and the predication that a positive assertion proposes: even the simple phrase “God is here” is inaccurate because God neither “is” simply right now, nor is specifically “here.” Furthermore, Proclus argues that negation opens up a field of play and uncertainty for the One (or any subject of a negative assertion): assertions slice up reality, whereas negations tend to simplify things from distinction and definition in the direction of being uncircumscribed, and from being set apart by their proper boundaries in the direction of being unbounded. (Ibid., VI.1074) Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
While assertions imply that everything has a name and is knowable through language, negations imply that there are some things that are nameless, some things which can’t be shoehorned into language. Rather than pin something down by naming and defining it, apophasis opens things up to complexity, ambiguity, and infinity—and that is why it becomes the preferred linguistic mode for Proclus’s discussion of the One. Although Proclus may have officialized apophasis, the tendency to use negative language and to distance the One from human categories of knowledge is already present in some of the earliest works of Neoplatonism, the Enneads of Plotinus. In the fifth Ennead, Plotinus begins by slicing up the human being, beginning by separating “the body from the man, viz. from yourself,” and then distancing as much as possible the soul, “which fashions the body,” from “sense, desire, and anger, and other trifles of this kind,” until he is left with “the image of the intellect… which preserves something of its light” (V.3 9). The intellect, the most refined element of the human, is an image of the divine intellect, a relative of the Platonic Nous. The divine intellect and its relationship to the One are what lead Plotinus to a discussion of language in V.3 of the Enneads. He sets out to map its terrain, asking what it is possible for the intellect to know. Using vision as an analogy for knowledge, Plotinus establishes that the intellect is divisible because it perceives itself: intellect is in want of the vision of itself; or rather that it possesses the perception of itself… for in consequence of there being a certain other thing, it is necessary that there should be vision; since if there were nothing else, vision would be in vain. (V.3 10) For Plotinus, the intellect must make itself the object of its own perception in order to know itself. Differentiation necessitates knowledge, and vice versa. In order to be able to say that the intellect knows itself, it must also admit to differentiation. This is its primary distinction from the One, the paragon of transcendent unity: the One and the intellect are both, according to Plotinus, “nature[s] which energize”—but while the intellect “energize[s] about another thing” or indeed “energize[s] in itself,” the One is “entirely quiescent, [therefore] it will not perceive intellectually” (ibid.). The energies and energizing of the intellect and the One seem quite similar, except for their aims: the intellect has differentiation around which to buzz, while the One admits of no differentiation and so it becomes quiescent, non-perceptive, and outside of knowledge, even self-knowledge. Despite their similar energies, the intellect can’t lay hold of the One: “intellect, therefore, will learn that it is itself a various eye, or that it consists as it were of various colours. For if it should apply itself to the One, and to be impartible, it would be silent” (Plotinus, V.3 10). The switch from the intellect to the One entails not just a switch in the ability to know but also a shift in metaphor: from a feast for the eyes in the perceptive intellect to the silence of the One, so tightly wrapped in itself that it seems not to lend itself at all to perception. While this is not strictly true—Plotinus does admit to perception of the One, through henosis, theophany, and other mystical experiences—the One does seem especially resistant to language. Elaborating on his claim that the intellect would be forced into silence by the One, Plotinus rhetorically asks, “[W]hat would it have to say, or discuss about it?” (ibid.). Furthermore, the One can’t speak for itself because to do so would be to separate what it is from what it is not, and so it would no Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
longer be impartible. This is a problem of language, more specifically the problem of metaphor: “When it says ‘I am this thing,’ if it says [it is] this thing as something different from itself, it asserts what is false; but if [it says it is this thing] as an accident to itself, it says that it is a multitude”(ibid.). At the level of sentence structure, again, the “I” is separated from “this thing” in a manner that does not apply or accurately capture how the One is singular and singularly all things. Even further, Plotinus argues, it is even a problem to imagine the One saying “I am, I am” or even “I, I.” If the One proclaims “I am, I am,” and is “alone two things”—in this case, simply a subject and a verb—then it is actually admitting to more than duality.3 Two things are “different from each other, and different in a certain respect”(ibid.). For example, “I” is a noun and “am” is a verb. Even in the simplest sentence, we have not only the first thing and the second thing, but a third thing which is the difference between them—“hence there will now be number and many other things” (ibid.). Multiplicity seeps in and floods every sentence. The intellect is various, multiple, knowable, and knowing, and this is its main obstacle in achieving the One. Experience of the One is “not an intellectual perception of, but a contact with it… an adhesion only ineffable and without intellection, possessing an energy prior to intelligence, intellect not yet existing, in consequence of that which adheres not perceiving intellectually” (ibid.). Even when a person does attain henosis, their intellect restrains them; it “falls from it [the One] always receiving another multiplied nature in itself” (ibid., V.3 11). The intellect cannot receive the One in oneness, but rather as a multiplied nature according to the intellect’s own ability to know, and not according to the object (in this case, the One) known. However, the intellect is still connected to the One through its energy. Thus “it indefinitely desires another thing, possessing at the same time a certain phantasm in itself” (ibid.). Although the intellect deals in multiplicity—of language, of things, of perceptions—it also desires the unity of the One which is at once so distantly transcendent and so energetically close. Plotinus puts it succinctly: “though we do not possess it by knowledge, yet we are not entirely deprived of the possession of it; but we possess it in such a way that we can speak of it, but cannot speak it” (ibid., V.3 14). The tension is not strictly between something unknown and something known, but between something which one feels is only just outside of one’s reach. There is something there, but we can’t know what it is; we can only sense or intuit it. We can’t box it into language. We can only “speak of it from things posterior to it” (ibid., V.3 14), like trying to climb a waterfall. The trick, though, is to not try to put the One into language; rather, we ought to use language to edge closer to it. Pseudo-Dionysius, writing well after Plotinus and about half a century after Proclus, uses language to undo itself in pursuit of a Christian Neoplatonic God. He begins his treatise on The Divine Names by setting up the object of inquiry as beyond language, hoping to be “ineffably and unknowingly joined to what is ineffable and unknowable in far greater union than we can attain through our rational and intellectual powers and activities” (Pseudo-Dionysius, 107). There is already a bit of a paradox peeking out: Pseudo-Dionysius is attempting to get at something beyond rational and intellectual powers, but he is nevertheless writing and communicating linguistically, using those powers to attempt to go beyond them. What is even more intriguing is that Pseudo-Dionysius then goes on to speak as if knowledge—which cannot, as we have seen, attain the One—is the dominant paradigm of experience. Introducing the ineffable subject of his writings, Pseudo-Dionysius asserts that “[o]ne must attribute to the unknowing of the beyond beingness itself—beyond logos, intellect, Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
and being —a knowledge beyond being” (107-108). The point is that we should not approach the ineffable God as something which can fold neatly into human categories—yet Pseudo-Dionysius nevertheless privileges knowledge above, for example, experience or sensation. Knowledge and “the persuasive logoi of human wisdom” are both obstacles and tools (1 Corinthians 2:4, cited in Pseudo-Dionysius, 107). He wants to fight language with language. He does so through a particular kind of negation. The statement quoted above is in fact typical of Pseudo-Dionysius’s use of language—not simple negation, as in Proclus and Plotinus, but assertion and negation in the same sentence: the unknowing also knows. Beyond being there is an unknowing and a kind of knowledge as well. In Pseudo-Dionysius’s linguistic formula, knowledge and unknowing cancel eachother out. This cancelling-out not only indicates but performs the ineffability of the divine: beyond being, there is both knowledge and unknowing because the beyond-being is limitless, and therefore not limited to our ideas of what “knowledge” or “unknowing” might be. Pseudo-Dionysius makes this move a number of times throughout the Divine Names, notably at the end of chapter one, section one. John D. Jones’s translation marks out the lyrical language by putting it in verse, although it is unclear whether the original manuscript would have done so. In any case, the language that closes the introduction of the Divine Names is markedly different from the rest of the chapter’s rather more prosaic discussion: The indefiniteness beyond being lies beyond beings. The unity beyond intellect lies beyond intellect. The one beyond thought is unintelligible to all thinking. The good beyond logos: ineffable to all logos, unity unifying every unity, being beyond being, non-intelligible intellect, ineffable logos, non-rationality, nonintelligibility, non-nameability, be-ing according to no being. (Ibid., 108-9) Although this is, of course, an English translation (and perhaps middlingly out of date), and the Greek may not have quite the same tonal effect, I think it is important to point out the potential impact of Pseudo-Dionysius’s use of repetition. Phrases such as “unity unifying every unity” seem to suggest either the repetition of prayer or a repetition unto meaninglessness—or both. Perhaps Pseudo-Dionysius is hinting towards devotional practices which undo words and discursive understandings of the world through repetition of a word or phrase ad absurdum.4 More to the point, he also weaves a web of contradiction through statements such as “non-intelligible intellect.” Later on, he refers to the divine as properly “nameless and in accordance with all names” (Pseudo-Dionysius, 114). Rather than just use negation, Pseudo-Dionysius shifts from positive to negative, effectively destabilizing any attempt at grasping the object at hand. The manner in which he states his point emphasizes the grandiosity, the all-encompassing and all-creative power of the One beyond being. “The godhead freely gives of itself” in creation, in illumination, and so on, because it contains the potential for everything, and nothing in particular (ibid., 108). It is “ineffable logos,” the origin of knowing and unknowing. By expressing the ineffability of the divine through two contradictory positive statements, Pseudo-Dionysius calls attention to the space between them, the implicit negation, Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
the third element of difference which Plotinus picked out. In the end, he opens up the same field of play that Proclus and Plotinus do, in pursuit of the same object. The problem of Neoplatonic language, at least as it is seen through these writers, is the problem of metaphor: How best to reach out for something outside of language, using language? Iamblichus, Proclus, Plotinus, and Pseudo-Dionysius all work through apophasis, using negation to gesture towards a divinity who is utterly beyond human categories. Yet even as they gesture beyond language, their gestures are nevertheless linguistic. The use of language seems to be a comfortable paradox in Neoplatonism: although each thinker wrangles with it, no one is quite able to solve the problem of how to correctly speak of the divine. Even Proclus, who advocates strongly for negation, has to recognize that “neither assertion nor negation is properly relevant” (VI 1073). And finally, Pseudo-Dionysius knits together assertion and negation, highlighting the paradox of Neoplatonic language and the problem of metaphor with every sentence. Phrases like “being beyond being” are—paradoxically!—at once comfortable and unsettling: they sound nice, but at the same time gesture beyond the simple pleasure of beautiful language. Pseudo-Dionysius’s poetic language performs a function that his more prosaic sentences do not: they unravel themselves in order to gesture outside of language. Language collapses onto itself, empties itself, carves itself out to make space for some wider, ungrammatical truth. 2.
Resonance and Eros: the Neoplatonism of Poetry
The problem of metaphor is central to the work of poets, and is a particular focus of Canadian poets Jan Zwicky and Anne Carson. Zwicky’s Wisdom & Metaphor (2003) and Carson’s Eros the Bittersweet (1986) both offer thoughts on language that recall and refigure the Neoplatonists’ linguistic woes. Zwicky’s foreword to Wisdom & Metaphor references Shelley’s claim that “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world,” and adds her own claim that poets are also “among its unacknowledged thinkers.”5 The grasp of metaphor that a poet must have is analogous to the connections made by a wise mind: the connection, for example, between “hurricane” and “attraction,” or between “being and nonbeing” and something ineffable. In the spirit of recognizing things beyond language, I will begin my analysis of Zwicky’s use of negative language by first considering that by which her language is presented: the book as an object. Unlike the Neoplatonic works, which have been translated, edited, bound, and copied in ways now very different from the original Greek texts, Zwicky’s book as I receive it is much closer to how she probably intended it to be received. Wisdom & Metaphor is published by Gaspereau Press, an artisan press based out of Kentville, Nova Scotia. According to its website, Gaspereau Press has very particular goals: “at the core of its philosophy is a commitment to making books that reinstate the importance of the book as a physical object, reuniting publishing and the book arts.” The form of the book is meant to be part of the experience of reading it—the book is already something that conveys not only linguistic but extralinguistic meaning. My copy of Wisdom & Metaphor is a larger-than-average trade paperback with a black cover. The cover is decorated with patterns of ampersands, which seem fittingly to suggest connections, albeit slightly ineffable ones. An ampersand stands in for the word “and,” already suggesting a way out of alphabetic language. On the cover, the ampersands are arranged in attractive, circular patterns, four to a cluster, and while they are clearly decorative they also look like a symbol which should have linguistic meaning, not simply a pretty shape. The text is small and crisply typeset in a Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
Laurentian typeface—as noted at the back of the book by the printer, Andrew Steeves, Laurentian types have a “slightly compressed character width with a quiet liveliness and surprisingly open counters.”6 Space is important in printing, and in poetry: spaces between letters, paragraphs, and pages have all been carefully considered by both Zwicky and Gaspereau. The interesting use of space is drawn to our attention through the pagination: rather than having a succession of numbers as in a conventional book, Wisdom & Metaphor has two sets of page numbers, one for the left-hand side and one for the right. Zwicky’s (2003) text is on the left-side pages, followed by quotations and excerpts from other thinkers on the right. For example, Zwicky’s questions, “What, indeed, do we mean by ‘rigour’? (Or perhaps, what is it that we want to mean?—and why?)” are on a page marked 4 0 LEFT, and on 4 0 RIGHT can be found block quotes from the works of Paolo Mancosu and Max Wertheimer. The connection between text and quotations is suggested not only by content, but also by structure: the reader feels that there must be a reason for this placement, even if it doesn’t seem immediately obvious. Your brain shifts from left (text?) to right (hemisphere?). You are encouraged to feel out the reflections and associations that you extralinguistically perceive as you read the texts. You feel the meaning before you can put it into words. Zwicky comments in her foreword on this aspect of the shape of the text, describing it as “a response partly to the demand that form follow sense and partly to the need to mediate between the lyric and the scholarly.” Specifically, this is a need to mediate between different types of language: between the scholarly, which she later semi-ironically terms “calcified linguistic gestures” (Zwicky 2003, 13L). and the lyric, “a fundamentally integrative mode of thought… that… is, at root, a flight from the condition of language” (ibid., foreword). It also suggests an extralinguistic comprehension that bridges the two. The gutter between the pages suggests a gulf of sorts, which we traverse with varying ease depending on the combination of texts. The pagination of Wisdom & Metaphor also links up with Zwicky’s concept of resonance, introduced in the foreword as a characteristic property of lyric, and elaborated in her paper “What is Ineffable?” (2012). Resonance, for Zwicky, is a way of imagining connections between things: [I]n the physical case of a resonance body, a vibration in one component will set off vibrations throughout the structure… in a resonant ideational structure, images, sounds, word meanings (if there are words), and connotation, etymologies, emotional associations, tone, colour, etc., will be attuned in this way: attending to one aspect of the meaning will quicken other aspects, too. (2012, 208) Resonance indicates the intuitive connections between things, the sudden feeling of oneness or wholeness or cosmic comprehension. Resonance is precisely what is ineffable for Zwicky (ibid.). Although she conceives resonance as reaching far beyond language, it is through resonance that metaphors are born, and swaddled in language. The left-and-right page set-up in Wisdom & Metaphor suggests not so much direct analytic or causal links between Zwicky’s text and the authors she quotes, as an attempt to create or capture resonances between her lyrical writing on the one hand, and accepted scholarly writing on the other.
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In Wisdom & Metaphor, Zwicky also directly discusses the tangles of language and resonance. Specifically, she discusses the problem of metaphor, and does so through highlighting negation: A metaphor sets one thing beside another and says, ‘See, they have the same form.’ Which is to say: they make the same gesture; they mean in the same way. Why, then, is metaphor, as a linguistic trope, dependent on an implicit ‘not’?—Metaphor results from an over-riding of calcified gestures of thought by being. (2003, 8L) Metaphor and metaphoric language emerge from a matrix of sameness and difference—both a “sameness in gesture” and an “implicit ‘not.’” An effective metaphor depends on an identity between two things: “being beyond being” seems a better metaphor for the One than “ham sandwich,” for example. Metaphor depends on identity, the existence of resonance between two terms, but it also depends on their nonidentity. “Being beyond being” is not properly the One; no words could fully describe it. There is also a sense in which the “calcified gestures” of linguistic differentiation must be present in order for them to be overridden by being and similarity. Zwicky continues: “the implied ‘is not’ in a metaphor points to a gap in language through which we glimpse the world. That which we glimpse is what the ‘is’ in a metaphor points to”(ibid., 10L). The metaphor’s implied “not” indicates a gap, a space, a void—something that non-metaphoric language does not do. That is, the negation that “calcified” language institutes—term A is not identical to term B—opens up the distance between language and our experiences, the gap between meaning and expression. What do we see through this gap? First of all, “the world”—a collection of particular things bound together by a unifying resonance (Zwicky 2012, 212). Second, “what the ‘is’ in a metaphor points to,” the element that neither literal language nor metaphor can capture or describe—in a word, the ineffable. The “is” of metaphor, and the “the world” of meaning seem to be extralinguistic for Zwicky; language does not seem to condition or fully contain our experiences, even if it does frame them. At the end of the day even metaphor is severely restricted in getting at the ineffable resonance. However, as a poet and writer Zwicky is hardly going to give up on language—its faults and shortcomings are simply part of its existence as a human activity. Language’s inability to grasp the ineffable, Zwicky argues, “is not a failure on the part of language any more than dying is a failure” (2003, 34L). It is simply something that happens. On the next page, she quotes Simone Weil: Intelligence can never penetrate the mystery, but it, and it alone can judge of the suitability of the words which express it. For this task it needs to be keener, more discerning, more precise, more exact, and more exacting than for any other. (Weil quoted in Zwicky 2003, 34R) Weil’s Neoplatonic influences are clear here: intelligence (that is, the intellect) can never grasp the mysterious divinity or ineffable gap, but it is extremely important to the quest. Weil, Zwicky, and Neoplatonists seem to agree: the task of metaphor is not to make meaning totally transparent, but to launch us into the gaps in language. Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
Anne Carson turns the above Weil quotation into verse at the third act of her Decreation poem-opera. Lying in her hospital bed in London, on the brink of death, Weil (Carson’s character) says (or sings?) the following: A need to know is not an abstract need. God may be hidden but the truth is not. I do not recognize any right of any person or institution on earth
to limit the workings of the intellect or the illuminations achieved by love. (Carson, 2005, 239) Language, intellect, and reason are all important to Weil’s mystical ascent, and to Zwicky and Carson’s poetry—the warp and weft of language is as important as the gaps in it. Carson’s lyric version of Weil’s thought also adds another dimension of metaphor: while Weil never spoke or wrote those exact words, they nevertheless resonate with her writings and life. They also resonate with certain questions. For instance: What is necessary to human life? What is truth? To what degree should institutions be allowed to govern our thoughts and lives? The power of poetry and poetic language lies, I believe, in its ability to evoke rather than define. Poetry does not promise unity, but holds together multiplicity. In Eros the Bittersweet, Anne Carson’s discussion of eros is historical and philosophical on top of being deeply poetic. Since the Symposium, eros has been commonly defined as a lack. More precisely, it is the pursuit of something (or someone) just out of reach—either something which can but mustn’t be attained, or something which is unattainable but yet promisingly attractive. For language philosophies which admit to something beyond language that can’t be captured in language yet is pursued by it, eros is entirely relevant. Carson demonstrates this eros through a linguistic analysis of a fragment of Sappho, “a small, perfect photograph of the erotic dilemma” (1986, 26): As a sweet apple turns red on a high branch, high on the highest branch, and the applepickers forgot— well, no, they didn’t forget—were not able to reach…(Sappho fr. 105A, quoted in Carson 1986, 26). The poem is fragmentary—half a simile, now a metaphor. The incompleteness of the poem mirrors the incompleteness of the applepickers’ attempt to get at the apple, even spatially: “desiring hands close on empty air in the final infinitive, while the apple of their eye dangles perpetually inviolate two lines above” (ibid., 27). The poem is a series of attempts to grasp the ungraspable, both with the literal hands of the applepickers and the linguistic attempts of the poet. The disappointment of the last line is set up by the previous lines, which “follow the poet’s mind on a trajectory through perception to judgement, a trajectory in which both the perception Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
(of the apple) and the judgement (of why it is where it is) suffer self-correction” (ibid.) The “high branch” becomes “the highest branch”; the apple’s location is explained, then re-explained. First, we are told “the applepickers forgot.” Then their failure of memory becomes more self-aware and acute: “well, no, they didn’t forget—were not able to reach.” The apple’s remaining on the branch is not a result of human negligence or forgetfulness, but a failure of human ability, a built-in limit to the scope of human endeavour not unlike the built-in limits of human language. Within the poetic fragment, language constantly corrects and re-orders itself. Carson notes that this mental action is mirrored in the sounds of the Greek words themselves: “as the anaphoric syllables reach after one another from verse to verse (‘akro… akron… akrotato lelathonto… eklelathont)” (1986, 27). Further, even, “this motion is corroborated in the rhythm of the verse: dactyls (in lines one and two) slow and elongate in spondees (in line three) as the apple begins to look farther and farther away” (ibid.). The general feeling that the poem gives off, as Carson argues, is of “gradually imposed restraint” (ibid., 28). While the apple may have seemed attainable at one time, in its pursuit the pursuer is foiled, and finds that they must contend more with their own restraints or limits than with the object of desire. According to Carson, Sappho’s fragment “acts out the experience of eros” (ibid., 29). So, too, do any linguistic movements that attempt to get at an extralinguistic object. Neoplatonist thinkers have to deal with the limitations of human language when trying to talk about the ineffable One. Poets have to deal with the human weaknesses and mortality of language when trying to access the object of poetry, the gap between language, or the extralinguistic experience. Applepickers have to deal with the short length of their arms when trying to pick apples from the highest branch. In each case, the conversation becomes about the human, the poet, the performer. Eros always shifts the focus back onto the lover: “reaching for an object that proves to be outside and beyond himself, the lover is provoked to notice that self and its limits” (ibid., 32-33). Eros makes one acutely aware of one’s limited worldview and limited set of tools for improving that view, at the same time as it makes one desire and attempt to squirm or shatter one’s way out of those limits. Interestingly, Carson situates eros not only in the movement of poetry and prose, but also within the very acts of reading and writing. She examines the development of the idea of eros among newly-literate ancient Greek civilization, and proposes to link eros to literacy. This is what she calls the “eros of alphabetization.” Ancient Greek poets who invented eros were also among the first literate poets in literate societies. The ensuing sensual reorganization in the shift from oral to literate culture, she argues, required a closing-off of the senses to outward stimuli and a concentration of perceptive power in the visual sense. This would explain the dominance of visual metaphors of knowledge in literate cultures or classes within societies. Literacy, then, would heighten awareness of the self as separate from others, a sensitivity to “personal physical boundaries and a sense of those boundaries as the vessel of one’s self” (Carson 1986, 44). Carson also connects this idea specifically to the Greek alphabet, as the first alphabet with consonants. Consonants do not denote pronounceable sounds but separate vowel-sounds into syllables, then link them together into pronounceable words. They aren’t sounds themselves, but mark “the edges of sound” (ibid., 55). Boundaries are an essential element of eros. Without boundaries between the self and the desired object, without multiplicity, there would be no desire for unity. Alphabetization, she argues, creates those boundaries: Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
A written text separates words from one another, separates words from the environment, separates words from the reader (or writer), and separates the reader (or writer) from his environment. Separation is painful. The evidence of epigraphy shows how long it takes people to systematize word-division in writing, indicating the novelty and difficulty of this concept. As separable, controllable units of meaning, each with its own visible boundary, each with its own fixed and independent use, written words project their user into isolation. (Ibid., 50) The experience of writing and reading words, slicing up reality into bite-sized pieces, seems to make us more aware of our own existence as finite, fragile, and alone. Earlier in the text, she alludes to this phenomenon with two short, sharp sentences: “Words have edges. So do you” (ibid., 35). The separation of sounds, ideas, and people through alphabetization results in the desire for unity outside of language, but that quest seems to take place more often than not within language. Carson also notes the similarity between the erotic desire for a person and the erotic desire for knowledge: “[B]oth mind and wooer reach out from what is known and actual to something different, possibly better, desired. Something else” (ibid., 70). When Plotinus speaks of eros, he speaks of the desire for the ineffable God that nevertheless ends up resting, whether comfortably or not, in language: although “every soul is a Venus” which wants to be united with God, it is “in the intelligible world, the true object of love is found” (Plotinus, VI.9 9). Love and knowledge are both important to the quest for the ineffable, though neither of them is properly the goal. The eros that drives Neoplatonists and poets such as Anne Carson has more than love and knowledge in mind. Their goal is to get at the gap in language, the sweet but untasted apple, the non-intelligible intellect. The aim is not only to get at something ineffable through language, but to unravel, examine, question, and reformulate language in the process. Language gets between the lover and beloved, the knower and the known, the believer and God; language reminds us of our condition as separate, earthly, limited beings. Rather than weighing us down, it diagnoses our condition—and often offers itself as a remedy. In this paper, I have tried to highlight language as a point of contact between ancient Neoplatonists and contemporary Canadian poets. Neoplatonic theologians/philosophers who come up against the problem of naming an ineffable God, respond by using apophatic language to speak “away from” the divine. Contemporary poets Jan Zwicky and Anne Carson come up against the problem of metaphor in describing resonance and eros, respectively, but rather than speak “away from” their objects, they speak around them, using lyric. In particular, Zwicky and Carson’s use of lyric and poetic language suggest that some of the problems of metaphor, seen as regrettable flaws by Neoplatonists, can in fact be seen as strengths, necessary gaps through which we glimpse the world. To sum up, the problem of metaphor is one of the major links between ancient Neoplatonic philosophers and contemporary writers. For both, the solution was never to abandon language altogether, but to transform it and tailor it to an ineffable ultimate reality. In the end, language is not only a workaday tool of communication, nor a flighty or mysterious entity that cannot get at “the truth,” but a fundamental aspect of our humanity, a mortal, multiple, imperfect,
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messy, often paradoxical, but ultimately promising, ultimately hopeful, ultimately necessary element of our world, and of our search for truth and knowledge
In so doing I will tacitly utilize the methodology of Carolyn Dinshaw (1999), whose queer historiography allows medieval and modern people to “touch across time,” without either of them leaving their historical contexts.
On this topic, see also Caputo and Scanlon (1999); Franke, (2006); Williams, (2000); and Ticciati, (2013).
This might be a reaction against the later Platonic Infinite Dyad, as outlined in Plato’s Unwritten Doctrines.
Such as the devotional method recommended by the 14th-century English author of The Cloud of Unknowing. The author of the Cloud certainly knew of Pseudo-Dionysius, and in fact translated some of his works into Middle English.
The foreward of Wisdom & Metaphor has no page numbers. Other details and eccentricities of page enumeration in this text are discussed below.
Like the foreword, this section has no page number.
Bibliography Dinshaw, Carolyn. 1999. Getting Medieval: Sexualities and Communities, Pre- and Postmodern. London & Durham: Duke University Press. Carson, Anne. 2005. Decreation: Poetry, Essays, Opera. Toronto: Random House. ———. 1986. Eros the Bittersweet. Champaign and London: Dalkey Archive Press. Findlay, J.N.  Plato: the Written and Unwritten Doctrines. New York: Humanities Press Franke, William. 2006. “Apophasis and the Turn of Philosophy into Religion: from Neoplatonic Negative Theology to Postmodern Negation of Theology.” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 60(1): 61-76. Iamblichus. . De Mysteriis. Translated by. Emma C. Clarke, John M. Dillon, and Jackson P. Hershbell. Leiden and Boston: Brill. Marion, Jean-Luc with response by Jacques Derrida. 1999. “In the Name: How to Avoid Speaking of ‘Negative Theology.’” In God, the Gift, and Postmoderism. Edited by John D. Caputo and Michael J. Scanlon, 20-53. Bloomington and Indianapolis, USA: Indiana University Press. “Meet the Press.” www.gaspereau.com. Accessed 22 September 2015. Proclus. . Commentary on Plato’s Parmenides. Translated by Glen R. Morrow and John M. Dillon. Princeton, USA: Princeton University Press. Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
Pseudo-Dionysius. . The Divine Names. Translated by John D. Jones. Milkwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Marquette University Press. Plotinus. . Enneads. Translated by Thomas Taylor. Frome, Somerset, UK: the Prometheus Trust. Sappho.  Poetarum Lesbiorum Fragmenta. Edited by E. Lobel and D. Page. Oxford: Clarendon Press Ticciati, Susannah. 2013. A New Apophaticism: Augustine and the Redemption of Signs. Leiden and Boston: Brill. Williams, JP. 2000. Denying Divinity: Apophasis in the Patristic Christian and Sato Zen Buddhist Traditions. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Zwicky, Jan. 2012. “What is Ineffable?” International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26(2): 197-217. ———. 2003. Wisdom & Metaphor. Kentville, Nova Scotia, Canada: Gaspereau Press.
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ยงII Revolutions Scientific and Social
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Lingering Wariness toward Values in Science: A Perspective Considering the Historical use of Value-Laden Language Laura Gallivan
A History of Wariness Toward Non-Cognitive Values
Philosophy of science has a history of wariness toward non-epistemic values.1 Deploying values that do not map directly onto verifiable facts is seen to risk muddying a relationship of “direct mapping” between theoretical statements and facts. This is partly a relic of the strict empiricism of the logical positivists. Currently, a nuanced sort of suspicion exists that is directed at so-called “non-epistemic” or “non-cognitive” values rather than at values simpliciter. Feminist philosophers such as Helen Longino and Elizabeth Anderson challenge this suspicion, and have recently suggested alternative epistemic accounts of knowledge as social or bi-directionally influenced by facts and values in a way that, for example, sometimes counts valued emotional evidence for value judgements. Both thinkers note that mistakenly “equating value freedom with methodological rigor” (Longino, 129) and exaggerating the exclusivity between cognitive and social realms of valuation are obstacles caused by wariness toward “wishful thinking” or “corrupted objectivity,” and feared as consequences of value-inclusive science. More specifically, both Longino and Anderson hold that arguments in favour of value-free science and their exaggerated claims about exclusivity between non-cognitive and cognitive, or epistemic, values rest on misunderstandings about how values work. In what follows I will argue, with the help of G.E.M. Anscombe’s “Modern Moral Philosophy,” that a main reason why critics of values in science have targeted not only dogmatically held values, but all types of values, is that the historical use of value-laden language mistakenly suggests that most or all values are held dogmatically. Further, I will suggest that an implication of this leads to insight about a revision to the question of values in science: the question is not whether factual judgements stand in evidentiary relations to value judgements, but how they do this, and whether or not this interaction is permissible in methodologically rigorous scientific practice. Longino’s “How Values Can Be Good for Science” calls for a revision of the currently “exogenous” or peripheral understanding of values in science. As Longino notes, it is not the so-called epistemic or truth-related values that face intense scrutiny, but rather “those that might interfere with the realization of the ‘good’ values: social values and to some extent pragmatic values (ideas about social relations or about social utility) that may without vigilance be expressed in scientific reasoning or representations of the natural world.” (Longino, 127). An exaggerated and “dichotomous” understanding of the cognitive and social aspects of science has led to a debate that, in part, pits monistic and pluralistic views of scientific knowledge against each other (Longino, 129). Feminist philosophers of science including Longino and Anderson provide opportunity for questioning the status of science with regards to values and specific research programs. This helps them to challenge conceptions of scientific knowledge that are in part the results of the realization that “treating the social dimensions of science as a set of Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
questions about values in science has distracted philosophers from investigating the social dimensions of science” (Longino, 128). In this this paper I align myself with Anderson’s and Longino’s defenses of the sociality of science. In other words, exaggerating the exclusivity of the social and the cognitive in methodologically rigorous scientific practice has distracted from the important social aspects of science, so as to prevent adequate inquiry into what the social dimensions might be and how they work. Longino’s social account of knowledge requires that neither monism nor pluralism be supposed. She holds that empirical adequacy is the only properly epistemic value: “Data alone are consistent with different and conflicting hypotheses and require supplementation” (Longino, 131). However, social values, often in the form of background assumptions, “facilitate the reasoning between what is known and what is hypothesized” (Longino, 131), and are thus needed due to the gap left by the underdetermination2 of theories by empirical data. If we grant the thesis of underdetermination, all available data are not enough to completely justify the acceptance or rejection of a scientific theory. Since it is the case, however, that we do clearly hold beliefs about scientific theories, underdetermination may help to account for a dimension of the relationship between facts and values which opens itself to be licitly, or even necessarily, influenced by social values. Background assumptions borne from social values do not spell the end of science’s epistemic and methodological rigour. On the contrary, the “socialization” of knowledge gives shape to a dynamic account of methodological rigour which considers the relevant connections required for justification of scientific knowledge. This includes not just connections between “sentences, beliefs, and perceptions of the individual” (Longino, 133), but the relationships and connections between knowers and their communities as well. If science does necessarily include background assumptions and social values, then a misguided notion of science as primarily indifferent to social concerns means that such values and assumptions will be more likely to go unexplored, unchallenged, and possibly even unnoticed as they continue to play a role in the facilitation of scientific reasoning. Taking such values seriously, however, may allow for “critical interaction [that would make] them visible, as well as [provide opportunity] to examine their metaphysical, empirical, and normative implications” (Longino, 133). Longino is clear that such sociality of knowledge does not provide the sort of guarantee which the strict, formal relations between observational statements and purely logical connections have been thought to provide, but rather that the emphasis on their presence in science contributes to an understanding of the discipline which aims to understand its arguably inevitable social dimensions. Elizabeth Anderson agrees that non-cognitive values and their link to scientific practice in the wake of feminist philosophy’s attention to underdetermination needs to be more closely examined. It will not suffice to proceed by selecting background assumptions for their congruence with one’s values unchecked, no matter how anti-oppressive or widely accepted those values may be. As she points out, “the underdetermination argument … assumes that all moral and political values are on a par with respect to their epistemic value” (Anderson, 2). The problem here is that failure to acknowledge the pervasive role played by social values in science has left critical engagement with social values and their interaction with cognitive values and Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
scientific practice underdeveloped. Seeing, like Longino, that “the link between evidence and hypotheses is mediated by background assumptions,” Anderson acknowledges that science necessarily includes values (1). She also notices that such values cannot and should not be taken for granted, but must be critiqued and ultimately well understood and managed if they are to be seen as a licit influence on the direction of scientific inquiry. Thus, Anderson evokes and elaborates upon Longino’s call for a re-conceiving of values in science: “The time has come to rethink the way [the argument from underdetermination] models the relations between values and hypotheses. As the argument stands, it does not help us evaluate the different ways that values might be deployed in inquiry. Yet surely some uses of values to select background assumptions are illegitimate” (Anderson, 2). Anderson clearly recognizes that the influence of values upon scientific practice is significant enough to merit a reframing of the question of their role in the discipline, with careful attention to how this role can be permissibly enacted. The exogenous relationship of values on theory choice is misguided, in her view, if it is not a bi-directional influence. Earlier we noted that Longino’s work calls attention to the influence of values on science as facilitated by background assumptions. The relationships between knowers and their communities generates criticism which helps to mediate the values that are permissible influences upon inferences about empirical theories. Anderson suggests that if values can have an influence on science, so too must empirical data or factual judgements be capable of influencing value judgements. Yet how this relationship might work is critically underdeveloped. Anderson says the tendency to take values for granted has “impeded the development of criteria to distinguish legitimate from illegitimate uses of values in science … and has also made it difficult to model the knowledge-enhancing roles of value judgements in science” (Anderson, 3). Anderson and Longino thus illustrate the ways in which both excessive wariness toward and unfettered acceptance of the role non-cognitive values play in science are problematic attitudes to take if our goal is to clearly understand this role. Here it is important to note that both thinkers do acknowledge that the debate surrounding values touches upon very real concerns. Longino characterizes these concerns as “wishful thinking” and as a threat to “universality”: avoiding wishful thinking is a legitimate concern for science since “we want our acceptance of theories to be impartial and not a matter of wishful thinking” (Longino, 128). An epistemic standard commonly associated with good science dictates that theories are not selected in accordance with their alignment with someone’s hopes, predilections, or opinions. Universality concerns the notion that scientific theories are, ideally, chiefly supported and accepted by more formal and “content-neutral” grounds such that “what counts as a scientific truth or scientifically supported claim for one person or community should count as such for any other, no matter how different their cultural values”(Longino, 128). We want to avoid a conception of science wherein inquiry is driven to predetermined conclusions and selective attendance to evidence, particularly if this means that scientific theories could turn out to favour certain groups in society. Anderson’s concern with impartiality in science also supports the idea that careful attention to values and biases in science is important, though not always in the way and to the Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
extent usually thought. She argues that good science can and ought to be impartial but need not also be neutral. Impartiality concerns grounds for accepting a theory, and stipulates that the only such grounds are those properly cognitive values and a theory’s relationship to evidence, whereas neutrality concerns the idea that science does not presuppose or support non-cognitive value judgements (Anderson, 4). In dividing concerns about values into impartiality and neutrality, it becomes easier to identify a significant role for non-cognitive values in science while still maintaining the reality of concerns about their involvement in theory choice. It is possible that science be impartial without being neutral. A cognitively exemplary and impartially justified theory might well support one non-cognitive value judgement over another (Anderson, 4). One can imagine, for example, that evidence collected from a well-designed study of a large, randomly selected population, which showed quantifiably fewer health risks in subjects who exercise regularly, could impartially support the theory that (a) exercise benefits human health, over the theory that (b) exercise shows little to no benefits to human health. In this case, theory (a) may be impartially supported by the evidence and may also plausibly serve as evidentiary support for the non-cognitive or normative value judgement that humans ought to exercise. Keep in mind that the judgement “humans ought to exercise” in this case is considered non-cognitive because all available evidence could not (logically) entail health as an intrinsic good. Here the suggestion is that the value judgement, though not properly epistemic, can be supported rather than entailed by an impartially justified empirical theory. This demonstrates Anderson’s claim about neutrality as logically independent from impartiality. The above is just one concrete example of the ways in which science might presuppose or support a non-cognitive value judgement, while maintaining epistemic and methodological rigor, as long as the theory at hand manifests high cognitive values and is informed with good scientific data. Anderson takes the evidentiary relationship between non-cognitive value judgements and—indirectly—factual statements to be bi-directional. If empirical theories can support non-cognitive value judgements, should not these value judgements in turn be able to influence empirical theories? Anderson thinks the answer to this question is a definite “yes.” This claim requires a rejection of the idea of good science as neutral. Earlier, we briefly examined some reasons to pay careful attention to the role that values play in science as presented by Longino. It is important to avoid driving inquiry to predetermined conclusions, and further investigation is warranted as to which values are licit in scientific practice and whether certain values might be systematically more epistemically fruitful than others (Anderson, 2). Neutrality seems a greater concern because it restricts the role of values within the process of scientific inquiry, and this may be seen to pose a greater risk of interfering with the actualization of the “good”—that is, cognitive—values. Impartiality may be seen as less threatening because it has more to do with the acceptance of theories “after the fact”—and although pragmatic or social values, as Anderson suggests, may be licitly involved at this stage, it seems less obvious that they would interfere with the actualization of epistemic values in the process of inquiry leading to the development of the theory. But what is the basis for this assumption that non-cognitive values interfere negatively with epistemic, cognitive values? Against what is this presumptive neutrality meant to protect science ? Longino, as we saw, Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
acknowledges that negative assumptions about the role of values in science emerge in part from concerns about wishful thinking and illicit biases, which in some sense are thought to risk undermining the formal justification that upon which science has been thought to rely. Her response to such concerns indirectly addresses the problem through the benefits of the criticism provided by the “socialization” of knowledge. 2.
Investigating the Roles of Non-Cognitive Values: Misconceptions About Non-Cognitive Value Judgements
By maintaining her point that the exclusivity of the cognitive and non-cognitive aspects of science is exaggerated, Longino is able to assert that social values can and do play an important role in science, the possibility and regulation of which is born from and maintained by knowers and their communities. The argument from underdetermination helps to show that truth on its own is insufficient to guide human inquiry. She further informs this argument by showing that “[t]ruth is not opposed to social values [and] indeed, it is a social value … [further] its regulatory function is directed/mediated by other social values operative in the research context” (Longino, 135). This is an important part of the story about values in science, but deals not so much with how as why values can be good for science (Longino, 127); since it is relatively more clear to us why defenders of neutrality are concerned about values, we must presently look to how their role in science plays out for a more complete understanding of the wariness toward their involvement in scientific inquiry. Anderson more closely addresses the how of values in science though specific attention to the nature of value judgements. We know that science has inherently social dimensions, and that social values do influence scientific inquiry in some exogenous—and some less exogenous—ways. If we are to better understand these ways, and if any undue fear about the risks of their involvement is to be dissolved, then it makes sense to develop an understanding of how they function. This closer understanding may also help us to determine whether and which values are licit or illicit in a scientific context. Anderson’s attention to the nature of value judgements reveals latent concern about dogmatism as associated with social or non-cognitive values. Consider Longino’s view that empirical adequacy is the only properly epistemic virtue. Even if this is not the case, empirical adequacy is an uncontroversial aspect of good science. “Psychological” arguments for what Anderson calls implication neutrality stipulate that “value judgements give people motives to believe or assert certain factual claims, even when the evidence does not support them” (Anderson, 7). This argument for implication neutrality, she contends, contradicts further apparently “logical” arguments in favour of what she refers to as presupposition neutrality, the view that “empirical theories neither (a) presuppose or (b) support any non-cognitive value judgements” (Anderson, 4). I take this to be a reformulation of “Hume’s Law,” which dictates that no descriptive statements can logically entail prescriptive or normative statements. Both claims about neutrality entail one another, and both rest on a claim about what can serve as evidence for value judgements. Cognitive values are understood to concern truth or what is the case; this associates them closely with facts, and supports the case for their use in scientific reasoning. What Anderson Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
would have us note, however, is that just because no factual judgements can logically entail a value judgement, this does not mean that value judgements cannot be presupposed, supported by, or stand in evidentiary relations to facts. Herein lies the exaggeration about the exclusivity between the cognitive and non-cognitive aspects of science: the former is painted as having an acceptable, formal link to the empirical, while the latter, it seems, can often be made out to be insulated from or in a dubitable relation to the facts. Misgivings about the link between value judgements and facts are properly framed as concerns about dogmatically held value judgements or beliefs—not values in general. This becomes clear if we notice that “[t]he judgements non-neutral inquirers are thought to have an interest in believing, regardless of evidence, are the factual claims that provide evidential support for their non-cognitive value judgements” (Anderson, 8). It is important to note that the value judgements at issue here are ones which exist regardless of evidence in such a way as to allow selective attention to other, so-called “convenient” facts. A feature of dogmatic knowledge is that it rests on a non-inferential foundation in a way that allows its foundational premises to be resistant to evidence. Values or beliefs which are dogmatic in nature are held such that contrary evidence is “wished away,” and value insulated, from criticism. As Longino has argued, criticism is extremely significant to responsible scientific practice insofar as it involves the incorporation of new evidence into personal belief systems and communities of knowledge. Considering the selective attention to evidence occurring in dogmatically held views helps to isolate an encouraging point about values in general: if the assumption about the role values play in science is that some are held dogmatically and will lead to selective attention to or ignoring of evidence, it can rightly be said that values must be able to stand in evidentiary relations to evidence or factual judgements. This is because “there could be no ‘inconvenient facts’ [for non-neutral inquirers to wish away], if facts could not provide evidence for or against value judgements” (Anderson, 8). Counter to the thesis of scientific neutrality, this means that there can be evidence for value judgements and, as Anderson mentions, that an understanding of neutrality “depends more on the character of ethical thought than is usually supposed” (Anderson, 7). In particular, this is because the thesis of scientific neutrality relies on a claim about practical reason—namely, the “instrumentalist model of practical reason”—and thereby concerns human conduct. The instrumentalist model stipulates that “we cannot reason about whether our ultimate values are right or wrong; we can only reason about what means would realize what we value … [which] supposes that nothing could ever count as evidence that some things are good or bad ” (Anderson, 8). It came to light above that although a fact may not logically entail a value judgement, there are good reasons to think that facts can stand in evidentiary relations to values—this is an idea I will come back to below. For now, I turn to Anderson’s comment that arguments for neutrality and, by association, a wariness toward values in science, relies in a significant way upon ethical thought. How can an understanding of this ethical thought help to explain the tendency toward an exaggerated need for exclusivity between the cognitive and the non-cognitive dimensions of science? This question will guide the following sections.
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Conflation of Dogmatism and Values: Anscombe’s Historical Insights About Value-Laden Language
Dogmatically held claims are resistant to evidence in that they are considered non-inferential foundations for further knowledge. Often, such insulated views are “taken to rest on factual claims about God or the divine that are themselves held dogmatically” (Anderson, 8). Put another way, dogmatically held judgements typically rest on factual judgements which are held apart from evidence themselves. Once a belief has such a foundation, it can be held, come what may, in accordance with its root in an “incontrovertible” fact. Promisingly, however, most value judgements need not and cannot be held dogmatically (Anderson, 9). Let us turn briefly to G.E.M. Anscombe’s “Modern Moral Philosophy” in order to develop a deeper understanding of how the fear of dogmatism warrants wariness toward values and a call for neutrality, despite the non-inherently dogmatic nature of values in general. Anscombe elaborates on a point mentioned in passing by Anderson: that claims resting on dogmatically held facts often have to do with God or the divine (Anderson, 8). Engaging the relevant recent history of ethical thought, spanning back slightly more than a century, Anscombe suggests that the historical use of value-laden language within a Christian or divine law conception of ethics imbued such language with a “special moral force”—a force which has been carried beyond its context (Anscombe, 177). No evidence serves to contradict a value judgement in accordance with the divine law because it rests upon a sturdy foundation of dogmatically held factual judgement that God exists and is infallible. If one holds this despite evidence, there is nothing that can be brought to bear upon the value judgements believed in accordance with divine law that will trump its authority as an unquestionable and universal law. The justification for value judgements held dogmatically allows for reasoning about final ends or what is inherently good or bad, since judgements about them are fully justified by their foundation upon facts about God’s laws, without needing to defer to further reasons or explanations for support. Anscombe begins her paper with a brief and biting criticism of ethical thought from the late nineteenth to the late twentieth century, raising complaints about the difficulty of the concept of “morality” in or ethics in general. From Kant to Mill, she complains that any ethical theories of note rest upon maxims or principles which are similarly unsuited to guide moral action. She cites their failure to “realize the necessity for stipulation as to relevant descriptions, if [their theories] are to have content” (Anscombe, 172). For example, what are normally considered vicious acts such as murder and theft could be described in other ways and thereby ostensibly permissible within that particular ethical theory. Thus proceeds the game of calculating potential consequences as they align with particular principles of action (whether principles of utility or not): the description of any action “can be described as to make it fall under a variety of principles” (Anscombe, 172). This suggests a need for some sort of evidentiary relationship between facts and judgements—principles that are too far abstracted from factual judgements or empirical considerations cannot properly be guides for action if they do not hold some connection to states of affairs in a way that shows support for some value judgements. Though such facts might not spell out clear courses of actions or obviously support certain values over others, opportunity for some influence between the two appears potentially beneficial. Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
The need for such a relationship is brought to light in Anscombe’s treatment of “Hume’s Law,” wherein he “defines ‘truth’ in such a way as to exclude ethical judgements from it” (Anscombe, 172). As discussed earlier, and as Rachel Cohon (2004) argues, the consequences of Hume’s argument upon reasoning are that “no ethical or indeed evaluative conclusion whatsoever may be validly inferred from any set of purely factual premises.” 3
Interpretations of statements such as this raise important questions about the relationship between value judgements and factual judgements; Hume’s law would appear to overstate the gravity of its conclusion. Anscombe’s reflection upon this argument reveals important considerations about this relationship. Anscombe names the relationship of facts to value judgements one of “brute relativity” and describes this relationship as follows:
if xyz is a set of facts brute relative to a description A, then xyz is a set out of a range some set among which holds if A holds; but the holding of some set among these does not necessarily entail A, because exceptional circumstances can always make a difference; and what are exceptional circumstances relatively to A can generally only be explained by giving a few diverse examples, and no theoretically adequate provision can be made for exceptional circumstances, since a further special context can theoretically always be imagined that would reinterpret any special context. (Anscombe, 173) Since factual judgements cannot logically entail value judgements, no formal principle can logically entail all relevant factual descriptions. Most know well that a set of facts often fails to clearly prescribe a specific course of action, as extenuating circumstances are always possible. This also means that value judgements which sometimes clearly prescribe action (for instance, “one should not murder”) cannot properly entail what is the case from what ought to be the case, because penumbral cases continually stretch the relevant descriptions of action. The relevant description of murder could be stretch, for example, to justify killing with the purpose of preventing some other, “greater” evil.. What remains to be explained here is why one ought not murder, or what it is that makes the person who murders “bad”. Within Hume’s framework, “no amount of truth as to what is the case could possibly have a logical claim to have influence on your action … [since i]t is not judgements as such that sets us in motion; but our judgement to get or do something we want” (Anscombe, 177). Surely our judgements about what we want must be in some way linked to our judgements about facts or what is the case? This seems a necessary aspect of survival: that our value judgements facilitate desires for things which are, in actuality, valuable. Anscombe posits that confusion (such as Hume’s) about the possible relationship between facts and values is in part fueled by misleading connotations of value-laden language—in the case of Hume, this specifically refers to the words “should” and “ought.” In instances of value judgements such as “one should not murder,” the sense of the word “should” or “ought” are often being used in a special moral sense which they acquired “by being equated in the relevant contexts with ‘is obliged’ or ‘is bound’ or ‘is required to’, in the sense in which one can be obliged or bound by law” (Anscombe, 175). This special moral sense, she asserts, is derived primarily from Christianity and its divine law ethics. The law conception of ethics dictates that failure to attain given virtues makes a person bad qua person—that is, not merely Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
bad according to some other relevant definition which might apply in some way to a person (say, as a carpenter or a student). The judgement that a person is bad qua person requires divine law; without this we can only say that a person is “bad” insofar as they fail to meet an adequately defined virtue that we deem valuable in accordance with its relevant description. The judgement that a person is bad qua person or that something is bad in an unqualified way thus requires some ultimate arbiter in the matter. Without a divine lawgiver, “ought” only really retains the sense more easily associated with “need” insofar as it relates to what a thing “needs” if it is to attain some socially or culturally valued end or manifest a virtue. We are able to use the sense implied by “need” in the absence of a divine lawgiver because, unlike “ought,” it does not carry with it special, unqualifiable moral connotations. To illustrate this point, Anscombe uses the example of when we say that “machinery needs oil, or should or ought to be oiled, in that running without oil is bad for it or it runs badly without oil” (174; emphasis mine). This is because an obvious aspect of the machine is its need for oil, according to the relevant definition of what it is to be a good machine. With humans, it is much more difficult to determine what makes someone good qua human, or what would be necessary for such an absolute verdict. 4.
Exploring the Possibilities of Factually Supported Non-Cognitive Values
Recognizing uses of value-laden language without its moral connotations allows for a vastly more optimistic position with regards to values and their relationship to facts, as per the aforementioned assumptions about the risks of dogmatism associated with values in science: the fear is directed at value judgements insofar as they are thought to be based upon dogmatically held factual judgements. What remains is a conception of value judgements as nonsensical without an adequate relationship to factual judgements. The value judgement that “killing is wrong (and so we need to refrain from doing it),” for example, can only defensibly be called “wrong” in the absence of the divine lawgiver if this value stands in relation to factual judgements about why killing is a reprehensible action, such as “killing causes pain and suffering” or “killers experience psychological trauma.” Recall our concern with the character of social or pragmatic value judgements insofar as they have been the target of exaggerated criticism for their place in science. The nature of these judgements was taken to risk interfering with the epistemic or truth-directed nature of good science because of their supposed ability to be held regardless of the evidence. Social or non-cognitive value judgements were thought to cause knowers to attend selectively to dogmatically held factual judgements or evidence, and the concern was identified as a concern about dogmatism rather than a concern about values in general. I suggest that one of the reasons values are assumed harmful for science and associated with dogmatism is that a significant portion of the historical use of value judgements and associated language implies deferral to a divine lawgiver—a view which is no longer dominant in contemporary ethics.4 This history has been misleading with regards to the nature of value judgements, causing some to miss the way value judgements which are not derived from a divine law conception of ethics—or dogmatically held values in general, for that matter—have an important relationship to factual judgements. These values can be rationally critiqued because Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
they stand in relation to factual judgements, especially where they exist within communities and between knowers in the way advocated by Longino. One final and critical concern about how value judgements work requires exploration into the emotional or psychological aspect involved in human action, and thereby social or non-cognitive value judgements. Cognitive or epistemic value judgements are thought to concern truth and thereby knowledge, whereas social or pragmatic value judgements have to do with goals and ends. If no divine lawgiver, no foundation to which we can refer about final ends exists, then a link between the domains of the cognitive and the non-cognitive or social may be understood to rely on their shared connection to the empirical—the matters of fact. The exaggerated exclusivity between these realms relies on misunderstandings about the possibility of rational links between facts and value judgements. While our present inquiry helps to show that this relationship is possible, much investigation is needed into the nature of this relationship. Hume criticized the transition from “is” to “ought” because of the connection values have “with a moral subject matter: namely that of human passions and (non-technical) actions” (Anscombe, 175). Anderson’s account of instrumentalism echoes this view that “reason can only inform us about means to our ends … [because] our ends are given by our motives, which are beyond rational criticism” (Anderson, 6). Motives are taken to be unsusceptible to rational criticism because they have to do with complex psychological phenomena which are yet to be well understood (Anderson, 6). Indeed, Anscombe’s work illustrates an example of the complex psychological force which holds the interesting power of compelling a sense of obligation, even out of its context. This is an instance of values held in a dangerously dogmatic fashion, and likely contributes to value-wariness: if values are to be appropriately regulated within science, we must be able to prevent them from driving inquiry to predetermined conclusions and insulating certain views from criticism (Anscombe., 11). This means that we must, as Anscombe suggests, attempt to develop an adequate philosophy of psychology that studies the wanting and desiring that can serve as links between value judgements and matters of fact. We cannot infer value judgements featuring the special moral sense of the word “ought” or “should” from the facts, but we can determine what someone “needs” or “ought” to have if one wants to obtain some goal for which there is an adequate description: [T]here is some sort of necessary connection between what you think you need, and what you want. The connection is a complicated one; it is possible not to want something that you judge you need. But, e.g. it is not possible never to want anything that you judge you need. This, however, is not a fact about the meaning of the word ‘to need’ but about the phenomenon of wanting. (Anscombe, 178) Anderson makes a further important step toward an understanding of this phenomenon by taking seriously and addressing “emotional experiences” as among those things which can provide evidence for value judgements. Anderson briefly makes a case for the plausibility of emotional experiences as reliable evidence for value judgements.5 For our present purposes it will suffice to note that her defense posits that our emotional experiences stand in necessary relationships to states of affairs or factual judgements, and often serve to make us aware of meaningful cognitive Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
content. This means that if emotional experiences have “passed the tests of representational adequacy [i.e. we can determine their association with meaningful, accurate factual judgements] it is hard to see, apart from special cases … why we shouldn’t [trust them]” (Anderson, 10). 5.
Conclusion: Respecting and Reconceiving of Non-Cognitive Values
From this it is clear that much work would need to be done to properly understand the role of emotional or other psychological experiences in such a way that we could easily regulate and control their effects on the formation and maintenance of value judgements. What is important to take away from this exploration of the psychological phenomenon of “wanting,” “desiring,” and “valuing” is that there is a common connection between the so called cognitive or epistemic realm of science and the social or non-cognitive realm which forms one dynamic practice—all with a consistent and necessary connection to the empirical, the matters of fact. Longino’s commitment to empirical adequacy as the only properly epistemic virtue or value is telling: the values which turn out to be illicit in science are those which are held regardless of the evidence, and those which are licit hold a necessary relationship, no matter how underdeveloped and unexplored this relationship may be. Anscombe’s point about value-laden language and the divine law conception of ethics which facilitates dogmatically held value judgements calls attention to the nature of problematic connotations about value judgements which prevent them being taken seriously and explored. Where value judgements are associated with dogmatism and a sense of “ought” which need not be justified save by a dogmatically held factual judgement (for example, a claim about God’s law), their potential relationship to matters of fact will continue to be ignored or perhaps even taken for granted. The result in both cases is the continued treatment of values as exogenous influences on science, and the halt of progress toward a social conception of science. Though perhaps philosophers of science might be inclined to acknowledge and investigate interaction between the scientific and the social, where work is not done to bring such longstanding misconceptions about value judgements to light, practicing scientists—and therefore developing scientific research—may fail to develop in terms of important social considerations.
The wariness I reference can rightly be understood as part of a “value-free ideal.” See Heather Douglas’ Science, Policy Making, and The Value Free Ideal (Douglas 2009, 1-23). Although I do not discuss this ideal at length, it can be understood as the belief that, aside from their possible roles in the collection of evidence and the acceptance of scientific theories, values ought to be jettisoned in scientific practice wherever possible (Reiss and Springer 2014, 1). This, as I have suggested, seems to be in light of concern that values might corrupt the reasoning involved in scientific research.
Here I reference the underdetermination thesis as it is outlined in Quine (195120–46).
This is the most common interpretation of Hume’s argument. Others take this to be a weaker point about emotions or “passions” as non-demonstrable content in reasoning. See, for example, Cohon
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(2005, 1). 4.
Anscombe references the Reformation as a significant point of abandonment of a strict conception of divine law ethics, due to reinterpretation regarding the human ability to follow divine law and its promulgation (177). Her broader discussion of the development of ethics between the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries also illustrates the trend away from divine law ethics, from Kant’s deontology, to consequentialist theories, and onward to the eventual revival of virtue ethics, which is often considered today to have been significantly initiated by Anscombe’s “Modern Moral Philosophy” (Athanassoulis 2015, 1).
5. Anderson’s defense of emotional experiences as evidence discusses three important characteristics: “First, they have objects … [;] second they have a positive or negative aspects … [;] third, they reflect the perspective or point of view of subjects who care about themselves or others” (9). These characteristics defend the use of emotional experiences as acceptable guides for judging, and specifically, they show the way in which emotional experiences can be linked to matters of fact or factual judgements.
Bibliography Anderson, Elizabeth. "Uses of Value Judgments in Science: A General Argument, with Lessons from a Case Study of Feminist Research on Divorce." Hypatia 19.1 (2004): 1-24. Project MUSE. Web. 9 Dec. 2015. Anscombe, G. E. M. "Modern Moral Philosophy." Ed. Mary Geach and Luke Gormally. Human Life, Action, and Ethics: Essays. Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2005. 170-94. Print. Athanassoulis, Nafsika. "Virtue Epistemology." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Internet Encylopedia of Philosophy, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2015. Brown, Matthew J. "Values in Science Beyond Underdetermination and Inductive Risk." Philosophy of Science 80.5 (2013): 829-39. Web. Cohon, Rachel. "Hume's Moral Philosophy." Stanford University. Stanford University, 29 Oct. 2004. Web. 21 Dec. 2015. Douglas, Heather E. "Introduction: Science Wars and Policy Wars." Science, Policy, and the Value-free Ideal. Pittsburgh, PA: U of Pittsburgh, 2009. 1-22. Print. Elliott, Kevin. Direct and Indirect Roles for Values in Science. 78 Vol. , 2010. Web.
Longino, Helen E. "How Values can be Good for Science." Science, Values, and Objectivity. Eds. Peter K. Machamer and Gereon Wolters.University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004. 127-142. Web. Longino, Helen E. "What We Could Know." Studying Human Behavior: How Scientists Investigate Aggression and Sexuality. Chicago: U of Chicago, 2013. 125-51. Print. Quine, Willard V. O. "Two Dogmas of Empiricism." Philosophical Review 60.1 (1951): 20-43. Web. Reiss, Julian, and Jan Sprenger. "Scientific Objectivity." Stanford University. Stanford University, 25 Aug. 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2015. Stanford, Kyle. "Underdetermination of Scientific Theory." Stanford University. Stanford University, 12 Aug. 2009. Web. 12 Dec. 2015. Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
Fields of Difference: Ideology and Epistemology in Scientific Worldviews Anthony Gavin
Science is a dynamic process, carried out by collectives, rather than individuals, whose shared epistemic cultures shape the basic aims and assumptions implicit in their practices of scientific research. Such a view of the social conditions of modern knowledge production could be traced back to Hegel (among others). For Hegel, labour drives the realization of subjective rational categories in reality, and science is a kind of abstract social and cultural labour. Hegel’s concern for the self-justification of modernity in the twilight of the Enlightenment drove him towards a theory of subjectivity in which the knowing “I,” as part of a higher-level collective subjectivity, has its subjective cognitive freedom delimited, licensing epistemic authority over to the new institutions, which were taken to dirempt a shared cultural subjectivity, for example modern liberal universities, or research universities (adjusted for the context of a knowledge technocracy).1 It is with the rise of institutions of the latter sort that the social generation of knowledge can be said to shift in emphasis from Bildung (“en-culturing,” denoting creation/formation and culture/education) to production.2 Here I do not mean to overthrow the old gold Marxist critique, but rather only to speak of how the process of social knowledge generation is seen internally by its own immanent criteria in cultural institutions. With this in mind, our considerations of the actual standards of scientific discovery and justification should reflect the basic aims and assumptions of groups of researchers, collectivized as organs of knowledge production into institutional arrangements. Hegel believed that the relations between scientific concepts, the ways in which these concepts are supposed to relate to objects in the material world, as well as other beliefs widely held by scientific communities, are possessed by an historical factor of change, that is, expressed in and gripped by the historical process of the self-constitution of (the) rational subject(s) – here we should take note both of Hegel’s individualistic and collectivistic conception of subjectivity, and that this factor of change was explained by the historical development of the subject. In line with Hegelian thought, I use the words process and project in a largely interchangeable way in this essay. When a process is of and by a subject, it is also rightly called a project; a project is for a subject. The grammar of scientific concepts is embodied by scientific process, which is an historical process. To borrow from Thomas Kuhn’s vocabulary, such changes might be said to transpire either in “normal” periods of consistent and collaborative scientific research, or during “revolutionary” periods, where theoretical alternatives are taken up in favour of their unsatisfactory orthodox forebears, setting forth new paradigms of scientific research in the process.3 Ingo Brigandt grounds the sociohistorical turn in a shift away from the dominant 20th-century philosophies of science growing out of logical positivism, which largely envisioned justification as a means of logically licensing inferences made between observation statements and theoretical statements, towards the dynamic explanatory mechanisms of epistemic standards and aims.4 Standards and “[e]pistemic aims (e.g., explanatory problems deemed to be important) are not descriptions of the Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
object of science, but values held by scientists as the actors of science” (Brigandt 2012, 2). Epistemic aims and standards provide a reference point by which to account for historical change in scientific beliefs, as well as changes in the inferential and referential content of scientific concepts. For Brigandt, the content of a scientific concept consists in its reference, its inferential role, and the epistemic goal(s) pursued by its use.5 The objects of Brigandt’s analysis are scientific communities themselves, as engaged in their activities of research.6 Brigandt’s focus on epistemic values is an example of one of the ways in which Kuhn’s work has been taken up by philosophers interested in the historiography and sociology of scientific knowledge, perhaps truer to the emphasis Kuhn himself placed on the epistemic values such as explanatory scope and precision in theory choice.7 On my view, the difference between epistemic and sociopolitical values underpinning scientific beliefs—that is, between the epistemic and ideological dynamics of scientific belief production—will be seen as a difference that collapses into its determined state only upon the synthesis of particular beliefs in the understanding of knowing subjects, in the formation of concepts. Historical relations of knowledge production are concretized only when beliefs—its immediate products—are taken up subsequently by subjects. This, I argue, is because epistemic standards and aims perform a structurally ideological function in the context of scientific knowledge production. The self-justification of knowledge always arrives after the point of its differential collapse. The goal of this essay is to elaborate this collapse in the field of difference between the ideological and epistemic dynamics of the production of scientific beliefs, as a dialectical movement that (re)opens as a potential at the level of the synthesis of the concept. In §1, I argue for the synthesis of the ostensibly differential ideological and epistemic dynamics of scientific belief production, treating their difference as indeterminate and potential. In §2, I attempt to reopen the collapsed differential in production in the locus of its collapse; that is, at the level of the subject, in the synthesis of the concept and the projection of a scientific worldview. Here I argue that knowing and social action are materially indistinguishable, except for and by subjects. §3 concludes, with some brief reflections regarding the history and present of the worldview concept in relation to fields of scientific knowing. 1.
Scientific Beliefs: The Differential Synthesis in Production
Marx reminds us that relations of production are not immediately perceptible in their products; in Capital, we learn that we can’t taste the exploitation in capitalist modes of production in our wheat.8 The same Marxist caveat ought in principle apply to the production of scientific beliefs. In my view, “ideological” and “epistemological” refer to the productive dynamics of scientific beliefs, which is, if not directly expressed, then inscribed in theories, which bring together scientific concepts as if under the logic of a special grammar. I argue that epistemology determines and provides justification for knowledge production in just the same way as ideology does, the latter by representing imaginary relations of production as material to encode reproduction into the relations perceived as actual. In order to bring together the apparent difference between ideological and epistemic dynamics of the scientific production of beliefs, let us consider the following two theses from Louis Althusser. “Ideology,” says Althusser, “represents the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence” (Althusser 2009, 36). This thesis is coupled with a second in which Althusser maintains that ideology has a material existence, in rituals and practices (Althusser 2009, 39-44). In what Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
follows, I argue that epistemic goals, aims and standards have an analogously material existence. This material existence does not derive from the referential content of scientific concepts; rather, it inscribes material referents with relational content according to the rituals and practices of scientific communities. For Brigandt, epistemic goals carry the function of coordinating cross-disciplinary research in pursuit of a particular problem agenda; that is, of a problem or set of related problems deemed both solvable, in reference to existing paradigms of scientific research, and worthy of solving, the determination of which falls back on the moral or sociopolitical values of scientists or scientific institutions. Moreover, a “stable epistemic goal causally determines and rationally justifies historical change in inferential role and reference, and variation in a concept’s epistemic goal (across different persons) accounts for variation in inferential role and reference” (Brigandt 2012, 29). Inferential role and reference help to fix the content of particular beliefs. Hence, goals are not the same as particular beliefs, which are rather produced partly as a result of epistemic goals deemed worthy of pursuit. As a form of social production, scientific knowledge aims to produce true beliefs. The stability and robustness of the goals and standards used in the production of prior beliefs are, in part, that upon which the production of latter beliefs are based. The result is a veritable Quinean web of beliefs, the silken strands of which become strengthened as a function of the reproductive role played by epistemic goals in ordering the dynamics of processes of belief production. Stable epistemic goals and standards become simple epistemic norms. Ideology, too, can be thought of as a web, crystallized into interstitial structures which form specific boundary conditions on the self-constitution of subjects; as belief production is a process immanent to the subject, and carried out by subjects, it constitutes the reproduction of specific conditions of production, immanent to its internal logic. Ideology, as conceived by Althusser, in its very functioning discloses imaginary relations as real relations. But because beliefs are the product of knowledge production, there are no “real relations” to hide in the production of scientific knowledge. What gets taken for real relations are precisely the relations that adhere between beliefs in a conceptual scheme. The real relations exist in material only as an imaginary projection, which immediately dissolves as the imaginary world falls back on the real. The inferential and referential content of scientific concepts appear as real relations, grounding beliefs produced by scientific knowledge in a real world. Epistemic goals both connect these dynamics to an historical factor of change, and – by representing imaginary relations as real ones – reproduce relations of knowledge production in accordance with a world in which certain explanatory concepts are taken to be true. While the inferential and referential elements of scientific concepts are taken to refer to the world, for Brigandt, epistemic goals do not consist in beliefs about the world. Epistemic goals are about scientific practice, rather than objects.9 They are part of a dynamic epistemology insofar as epistemic goals embody the activity of scientific research. The example Brigandt uses to illustrate the case is the epistemic goal pursued by the concept of “evolutionary novelty.” The problem agenda introduced by the concept has been central to the development of evolutionary developmental biology as a discipline, coordinating research practices across the divergent disciplines of evolutionary and developmental biology respectively. But, on Brigandt’s analysis, whatever conceptual clarity has been gained as a result of their synthesis, it has not come in the Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
form of a clear idea of what does and does not count as a case of a novel morphological trait.10 This, however, does not make evolutionary novelty a useless concept from the point of view of a dynamic epistemology; rather, it is useful precisely because the concept of evolutionary novelty coordinates cross-disciplinary cooperation. The internal structure of a problem agenda foreshadows the shape of this coordination.11 And in this, epistemic activity embodies a structural analog to the relational structure of Althusser’s ideological apparatuses. We should also note how the object of analysis indicated by the second Althusserian thesis is consistent with Brigandt’s object of analysis for the articulation of an epistemic dynamics of scientific concepts. Althusser asks us to recall Aristotle’s idea, also upheld by Marx, that “matter is discussed in many senses,”12 as he identifies the object of analysis for the science of ideology:13 “I shall talk of actions inserted into practices. And I shall point out that these practices are governed by the rituals in which these practices are inscribed, within the material existence of an ideological apparatus” (Althusser 2009, 42; emphasis his). Ritual I define simply as a tradition of observance, custom or usage. Practice can thus be additionally understood as ritual inserted into material. Ritual is only in potency, that is, until inserted into material, which immediately puts the former into action, as the very mode of existence of matter is motion: we could say that ritual defines a force field of ideology. But practice both inscribes, and is inscribed, in ritual; each exerts some causal influence on the other.14 This relates to scientific research insofar as scientific theories are highly specialized technical apparatuses that coordinate nature’s participation in the rituals of scientists. In scientific research, the practices of the researchers themselves form the material existence of the apparatus, while the relevant epistemic values carry the function of ritualistic observance. I conclude that the material existence of both epistemic values and ideology is inscribed in the rituals of scientific communities. The field of difference between ideology and epistemology is traditionally opened here, by materialist critiques aimed at exposing the ideological relations of production underpinning, and adhering in the conceptual relations between, in this case, scientific beliefs. So far, it has been shown that epistemic dynamics bring to light certain features of ideological dynamics of production, and vice versa, when considered together. In my view, in the context of production, the field of difference between ideology and epistemology exists, but only as a potentiality actualized in scientific practice. How this difference collapses into a determinate state, as I argue in the following section, is grounded in the process of a subject’s conceptual synthesis. Furthermore, I argue that the manner in which this synthesis is grounded falls back on the historical self-consciousness of knowing subjects as they synthesize and systematize indifferent scientific beliefs within the frameworks of their own subjective conceptual schemes, or schema. all ideology represents in its necessarily imaginary distortion not the existing relations of production (and the other relations that derive from them), but above all the (imaginary) relationship of individuals to the relations of production and the relations that derive from them. (Althusser 2009, 38-9) The imaginary relationship to history that subjects have in ideological knowledge production—whose hidden binary is the production of the real by way of the epistemic dynamics Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
of production—is just one way of producing oneself as a subject in an historical situation. By setting problem agendas and by acting as vectors of historical change in the conceptual language of scientific knowledge, epistemic goals function to structure the relations of knowledge production in science through the causal determination and rational justification of inferential and referential change in that language. Epistemology determines and provides justification for knowledge production in just the same way as ideology does, the latter by representing imaginary relations of production as material to encode reproduction into the relations perceived as actual. In Althusser’s view, all ideology is bourgeois ideology imagined in place of the real relations of class struggle. His philosophy is explicitly partisan—after all, Althusser defines philosophy as class struggle in the field of theory.15 The “history of ideology” is just the undisclosed history of class struggle, and what Althusser intends to pursue by the “science of ideology” is first and foremost the material existence of class struggle, with the proletariat taken as the real material force of history, rather than an ideological subject. This commitment is drawn from the epistemic commitments of the science of historical materialism. I believe that the sciences are far too discontinuous, the realities of struggle too multifarious, to reduce the function of Marxist critique to a sweeping pre-ontological reduction of these discontinuities to an ethical totality. Post-modern science is too pluralistic to be bourgeois. What I intend to propose – call it a dynamic ideology model of science – will be misconstrued if interpreted as a replacement thesis, substituting the insights of social epistemology entirely with the conceptual framework of the science of ideology proposed by Althusser. Much like the theory proposed by Brigandt, the dynamic ideology model is best seen as a way to take up the activity of scientific communities as an object of analysis, valuable precisely insofar as it makes explicit the field of difference between epistemology and ideology as an indeterminate field of potentiality. For example, beyond the broad epistemic goals of “inference, prediction, and classification,” Brigandt argues that “causal-mechanistic explanation can be an epistemic goal, as witnessed by the homology concept used in evolutionary developmental biology, the molecular gene concept, and,” as seen above, “the concept of evolutionary novelty” (Brigandt 2012, 27).16 Some Marxist critics have taken up causal-mechanistic explanation as an epistemic goal connected to pernicious capitalist ideology in evolutionary biology.17 Inference, prediction, and classification seem to be good examples of ideologically benign epistemic goals, while other goals—like causal-mechanistic explanation—can be laden with pernicious ideology, at least from some critical perspectives. The plain empirical fact that different knowing subjects identify the same dynamics of belief production differently as either epistemic or ideological makes it clear that their difference is not found determinately in the material contexts in which beliefs are produced, but only in the recombination of such contexts in their coexistence with, and coproduction of knowing subjects. 2.
Scientific Worldviews: Synthetic Differentiation in the Concept
Having collapsed the ostensibly different material dynamics of scientific belief production, it is now my aim to re-open their difference, as field of possibility at the level of the concept. This field of possibility exists as a potential in which, I argue, all knowing is possibly social action, and all social action is possibly knowing. “Knowing” is normally seen as the orientation of the epistemic, and “social action,” that of the ideological. The conceptual synthesis of the subject reflects a relation to their material dynamics of production, without being wholly Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
determined by it—for an agent cannot be wholly determined by what is itself indeterminate. For Brigandt, the dynamic epistemology model provides a methodology for the analysis and study of scientific concepts, rather than a metaphysical position on the actual conceptual structure of science.18 Regardless, according to the model, the usage of scientific concepts is taken as a kind of metaphysics-in-motion, just as for Althusser’s science of ideology the conceptual schema offered by capitalist state institutions is called “metaphysical” in the sense that it obscures real material relations of exploitation, which are potentially real material conditions for the self-constitution of an historical subject—these are precisely the revolutionary ground conditions which Marxist science aims to uncover. Regardless of whether Brigandt wishes to convey a metaphysical position on the conceptual structure of science, his view already expresses one. If it is correct to say that epistemology and ideology refer to identical material structures ordering processes of scientific belief production, it follows that their functioning is identical as process. The functioning of ideology belongs not to the individual, nor even to a community (strictly speaking), but—as I have already said—only to a knowing subject, insofar as they are a subject. [T]here is no ideology except by the subject and for subjects. Meaning, there is no ideology except for the concrete subjects, and this destination for ideology is only made possible by the subject: meaning, by the category of the subject and its functioning… the category of the subject is constitutive of all ideology, but at the same time and immediately I add that the category of the subject is only constitutive of all ideology insofar as all ideology has the function (which defines it) of ‘constituting’ concrete individuals as subjects. (Althusser 2009, 44-5; emphasis his) This process is what Althusser calls the ideological interpellation of the subject. Interpellation names the manner in which a belief, which is an indifferent product of the differential dynamics of production, is synthesized as a concept and dispersed into the world as actual. Interpellation further suggests an interrupting, a summoning, speaking and driving-into the subject (inter-, meaning “between”, and –pellare, “to drive” or even “to pulse”). Interpellation is a process by which individual subjects take beliefs produced by the functioning of ideology immediately to be their own. The causally determining and justificatory roles of epistemic goals in the inferential and referential elements of scientific concepts similarly construct, both conceptually and actually, scientific worlds and their relational objects, in which scientists constitute themselves as privileged knowing subjects. The ideological interpellation of the subject is another name for what is inscribed in the rituals and practices of scientific communities and brought to the level of a real, conceptual world; viz., what we call a scientific worldview. A scientific worldview is a conceptual world posited as actual in and through scientific practice by knowing subjects, in which the latter self-constitute as knowing subjects. A worldview is material if the dynamics of the concepts describing it and set forth by it make material reference. Hence even the material world is deeply ontologically pluralistic and discontinuous, acted on differently by different scientists in different research programs. What this moreover suggests is that a subject is only a subject insofar as they take up objects in a particular way—a subject constitutes themselves in relation to objects; a world of relational objects constitutes a set of ground conditions for the self-constitution of subjects. In this way, my usage of the “worldview” concept closely resembles the young Hegel’s Weltanschauung: Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
literally the world-intuition of a subject.19 The category of the “subject” is the metaphysical category of the “I,” the articulation of which was a major theme in the works of the German Idealists, from Kant, through Hegel, by way of Fichte and Schelling. How the subject finds itself in a world and develops an understanding of it became a theme for philosophical projects enthralled with the achievements of Enlightenment rationality. My understanding of these scientific worldviews closely mirrors Thomas Kuhn’s understanding of scientific paradigms.20 My “worldview,” however, rather than being centred around history as an object is oriented toward the history of the subject. This emphasis reflects Hegel’s own in Phenomenology Of Spirit, the first volume in his system of science. The worldview concept I develop here could also appear as recognizably post-Hegelian (I say post- to foreshadow my humble bastardization of Hegel to follow shortly in this section). A worldview is often not explicit. Worldviews are expressed in the relations between concepts whose aim is to identify and describe objects, mechanisms, structures, processes (and so on), of interest in the world, taken as such by a subject’s attempt to grasp it and thus grounded in their rituals, the rituals of their forefathers, those of ancestral institutions and of revolutionary impetus. This subjective relation bears a material relation to history—whether Aristotelian or Galilean astronomy is taken to provide a more accurate depiction of the cosmos is in the last instance a function of one’s historical situation, and perhaps one’s relation to the Church—but, even this relation is inferred by the relation of the subject to its own process of development, as an individual knower, as a scientist working in a research context reaffirming or questioning the established epistemic norms of their particular specialization. The logic that holds between a set of scientific concepts—that is, their dynamics, embodied in the rituals of scientific practice—constitutes a grammar. The grammar of a scientific language is as important as the contents of scientific concepts; for it means little to say that chlorophyll is an evolved organic structure distinctive of plants and algae without also knowing how chlorophyll relates to other structures and processes in the worlds of plant biology, biochemistry, even evolutionary ecology, paleontology, spectrometry, such as to know how chlorophyll as structure, and photosynthesis as process, is distinctive of plant life. It is not so much that language and grammar sets matter into motion, as it is that living processes are material grammars, living languages. In the Introduction to the Second Edition of the Science Of Logic, Hegel relates the act of learning the conceptual schemes of the sciences through education to that of learning a grammar. He who is beginning to make his acquaintance with grammar finds in its forms and laws dry abstractions, arbitrary rules, quite in general a disconnected aggregate of definitions that have no other value or meaning than what they immediately signify; at the start, there is nothing to be known in them except themselves. On the other hand, he who has mastered a language and is also acquainted with other languages with which to compare it, to such is given the capacity to feel in the grammar of the language the spirit and culture of a people; the same rules and forms now have an enriched, living value. In the medium of the language, he can recognize the expression of spirit as spirit, and this is [a] logic. (Hegel 2010, 36) I add the indefinite article “a” to reintroduce into Hegel’s scheme the field of difference between ideology and epistemology that I have argued for. The addition of the indefinite article reveals Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
something about my point of departure from Hegel, as well as my particular interpretation of him. On Hegel’s view, the language of science that is at the same time “the expression of spirit as spirit” is the language of Absolute Knowing.21 Thus, in “the medium of the language,” the logic of the sciences discovered by Hegel is supposed to trace the actual. The grammar of Hegel’s science is purely epistemic.22 By contrast, the indefinite article should suggest a pluralism about the possible logical expressions of spirit. The epistemic dynamics of one science are potentially the ideological dynamics of another. Hegel’s understanding of his own system of science was, at root, ontological; what is real is brought to the level of reality in and through the historical evolution of the subject and the synthesis of concept. Loosely in league with other “Left Hegelians,” I suggest that this pluralism resides in the disjunctive field of subjects, which is at the same time a field of different self-conceptions of ideal self-expression as spirit. To a significant degree, by pursuing different research programs and by thus refining and reproducing distinct scientific worldviews, some subjects come to live in different worlds than others. By the same token, living a reality of exploitation and oppression can shape subjective worldviews, by constituting subjects under the formation of their self-consciousness towards determinate extrinsic orientations in relation to external reality, and the fields of knowledge there discovered; that is, in relation to the world of worlds uncontained, at the boundaries of their own subjective worldviews, encountered either as pressing in upon them, or—worse—as a proximal limit standing in the way of the expansion of the subject’s understanding. The other stands as an outer limit over the ability to inhabit one’s world, the hearth land of the subject, by displacing subjects from knowledge of the hearth. The force of ideology makes all subjects refugees. Ideology for one is an occupation, for the other, is knowledge in the sanctity of one’s home. Thus, the foregoing analysis should be read as indicating the shared material structures of ideology and epistemology in the production of scientific beliefs expressed in the relations between conceptual structures of scientific languages. Scientific concepts and certain chords of the grammatical relations that hold between them interpellate social existence with partial elements of the living narrative of scientific research. Science is thought inherently progressive, as a means of discovering the way the world is. Pluralism and pessimistic induction seldom enter into the social narrative. This is another way of saying that science is thought to be a purely epistemic enterprise. The struggle of scientific research programs from whose perspective these epistemic dynamics appear as manifestly ideological is to interpellate subjects in the socius with subversive elements, deconstructions and, in some cases, a final revolutionary cause to counterpose the immanent finality of Capital, of patriarchy, and so on. The intellectual historian John C. Greene23 locates this difference between epistemology and ideology in the different orientations of knowing and social action: a difference which, I argue, oscillates partially as a function of the narrative historical process (or project-ion, in the sense of both a construct-ion, and something projected out) of the subject.24 Science I viewed as grounded partly in intellectual curiosity, the desire to know for the sake of knowing. Ideology I conceived as oriented towards programs of social action. World view [sic] I thought of as a set of assumptions (accompanied by feeling tone), sometimes explicit but generally implicit in figures of speech, concerning reality. Unlike Thomas Kuhn … I did not believe that ideology and Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
world view [sic] became less influential in scientific thought as the sciences became more « mature ». (Greene 1986, 202) In addition to knowing or epistemology as science, and social action as ideology, Greene employs the idea of a worldview. Worldview psychologists have described their object as being like a culture whose axis is set on the individual.25 Worldviews shape and are shaped. Hegel’s concept of a culture, emerging from the rift torn between reason and faith by the cultural attitudes of the Enlightenment, basically amounts to the worldview of a collective subjectivity, or a community of knowers. A culture is a kind of collective work of individuals, which at the same time reflects and relates itself to those individuals in a stable and enduring way, and is internalized by those individuals as something intrinsic to their individuality.26 Cultures shape worldviews, and worldviews shape cultures. I introduce the worldview concept to interrogate how the activities of scientific cultures interpellate knowing subjects, and how by doing so they bring about the actualization of real scientific worlds. Scientific beliefs count as bona fide knowledge only in a world that cooperates with their concepts; that is, only in a worldview expressed in the dynamics of a scientific process that is able to materially anchor the subject’s project(ion) of a conceptual scheme. The grammatical rules immanent to systems of scientific concepts are a kind of scientific ritual. Here I am basically in agreement with a view espoused elsewhere by Brigandt, that material inference is part of an account of word meaning in the language of scientific concepts; we can advance here the thesis that the epistemic legitimation of scientific concepts is grounded in the basic ontological presupposition of materialism. Kuhn distinguishes between “normal science” and “revolutionary science” as periods determined by both epistemic and historico-socially determined relations toward established scientific paradigms. Here, we can make at last make an explicit attempt to describe the field of difference between ideology and epistemology, as situated within the field of history. Ideology and epistemology are structural analogs. Their difference oscillates in the situated present of a field of historical projections. “Projects” are processes with an historical orientation realized as such by a subject, in the dynamics of its concepts and their grounding in material.27 Fig. A illustrates two modes of the historical self-consciousness of knowing subjects (“normal” vs. “revolutionary”), as well as two modalities of conceptual synthesis (“ideology” vs. “epistemology”). Each square contained underneath these categories attempts to characterize the scientific worldviews that could arise as a result of particular combinations. In an historical situation of Kuhnian “normal,” paradigm-based scientific research, ideology projects an imaginary past from a presently idealized historical beyond, while epistemology projects from the past only up to the present as the culmination of a continuous and flattening historical process. In the historical projects of “revolutionary” science, it is the reverse. Ideology is perceived as the projection of a reimagined past as a justification of present oppressions, and epistemology as the scientific projection into the past from a presently conceived utopian beyond that promises to heal all the wounds of history. Illustrated thus, it appears that all Marxist epistemology carries out faithfully the Trotskyite mandate of a “permanent revolution,” at least in terms of its critical disposition.
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Projects history taken as imaginary from point of an idealized future (beyond).
Projects justification of present from point of past taken as actual.
Projects justification of present from point of history taken as imaginary.
Projects history taken as actual from point of idealized future (utopia: beyond taken as possible).
Ideology is grounded in what is taken as imaginary, and epistemology in what is taken as actual, during both periods of normal and revolutionary science. However, we can see that ideology presented in normal periods is taken to project a history, while in revolutionary periods it is taken to project the present. Similarly, epistemology projects the present from what is taken for the actual past in normal periods, while projecting history from the point of a possible future in revolutionary periods. The axis of rotation on which this shift occurs is itself the knowing subject, in which self-justification falls back on its historical process as a knowing subject, and as subjectivated by the factical conditions of their self-constitution. Scientific objectivity is in the worldview of a scientific subject, of what is taken for a field of possibility immanent to the logic of a science: a field of potency inscribed in material by the activity of theory. Tracing the difference between ideology and epistemology, social action and the activity of knowing, is contingent upon the historical situation of the knowing subject or collectives of epistemic agents. In revolutionary periods, Greene’s binary becomes its opposite: orthodox knowing is ideology, and science is social action. I conclude that, in the sciences on the axis of history, as present in the worldviews of knowing subjects, all knowing is possibly social action, and all social action is possibly knowing. 3.
In explaining the epistemic dynamics of scientific concepts, the intrinsic and extrinsic relations of scientific languages—that is, relations said both between their concepts and between these latter and the material world to which they are implicitly taken to refer—Brigandt also makes explicit a structural dynamic that is analogous to Althusser’s understanding of ideology. The difference is in the historical axis of the concept, where the former locates the dynamics of epistemology, and where I – in the spirit of a post-Marxist reading of the latter—additionally locate the dynamics of ideology, also understood as a difference between knowing and social action. However, the analysis of the dynamics of scientific belief production treated conjunctively reveals that the mechanisms underlying knowing and social action are identical. Only on the axis of our historical self-recognition can normal scientific knowing come to be understood as pernicious ideology, can the utopian poetics of a Fourier or a Saint-Simon be Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
translated into the scientific socialism of an Engels or Karl Marx, can the grammars of existing scientific languages and their traditional narratives be deconstructed and subverted. And this self-recognition is implicit in our individual worldviews, in the ways we use language to represent reality, and in the ways that social reality interpellates our subjective self-understanding as individuals. I take it that none of these processes admit of totalizing reductions. As stated above, the sciences are far too discontinuous, the realities of struggle too multifarious, to call a worldview a veil of ignorance under which one finds through every crack the reality of class struggle, even if class struggle creates many such cracks, and even though its science generates fruitful critique. The worldview forecasts all reality, and I suspect that it is by weathering a reality of violence that epistemic flows are disrupted and ideologies there discharged.
Notes 1. 2. 3.
5. 6. 7.
See “Hegel’s Concept of Modernity,” in Habermas (1990, 23-44). The reader might note that my emphasis on ‘production’ suggests slightly more Marx and slightly less Hegel. See Norrie (2015, 31-38). T.S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962/1996). One can hardly overstate Thomas Kuhn’s influence on later-20th and 21st-century philosophies of science. See Feyerabend (1975) for an early response to Kuhn and further treatment of ‘incommensurability’ that has been influential on my own work; see also Alexander Bird, “Thomas Kuhn” in Edward N. Zalta (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2013), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2013/entries/thomas-kuhn/>. Ingo Brigandt, “The Dynamics of Scientific Concepts: The Relevance of Epistemic Aims and Values” in Uljana Feest & Friedrich Steinle (eds.), Scientific Concepts and Investigative Practice. De Gruyter 3:75 (2012). The author admits that the sense in which each element of its content gets spoken by the name of a concept is not at all straightforward. Brigandt, “Scientific Reasoning is Material Inference,” in International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 24:1 (2010), 31-43. See Kuhn, “Objectivity, Value Judgment, and Theory Choice” (1977). Others, such as feminist and post-colonial critics, have rather emphasized the direct influence of social and political values to account for the dynamics of belief change and the acceptance or rejection of certain hypotheses; see Helen Longino, Science as Social Knowledge (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990); and more recently, Heather Douglas, Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009). See also Sandra Harding, “Introduction: Beyond Postcolonial Theory” in The Postcolonial Science and Technology Studies Reader (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011). Some, like Philip Kitcher, have taken the more moderate line of avowing an interplay of both epistemic and pragmatic or sociopolitical values, without deciding on a definite priority between the two; see Kitcher, Science, Truth, and Democracy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001) for a modest realism that takes seriously the claims of the social constructivists. Marx, Capital, Vol. III (1999). Ingo Brigandt, “The Dynamics of Scientific Concepts: The Relevance of Epistemic Aims and Values” in Feest, & Steinle (eds.), Scientific Concepts and Investigative Practice (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2012): 27-8. Ibid., 5-11. It is appropriate to call evolutionary and developmental biology ‘divergent disciplines’
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11. 12. 13.
16. 17. 18. 19.
because, as Brigandt notes, the two were largely alien to each other during the 20th-century, despite close relations in the late-19th. Ibid., 8. Althusser (2009), 40. In both the Physics and the Metaphysics, Aristotle advances a theory of matter as ‘hypothetical necessity’. The ‘science of ideology’ refers to Althusser’s method of discovering the conditions of subjects interpellated by ideology as such. This science studies imaginary relations (of production), rather than material ones, insofar as the imaginary exists in a dialectical relation with material. "Now it is this knowledge that we have to reach... in order to dare to be the beginning of a scientific (i.e. subjectless) discourse on ideology" (2009), 47. As Feyerabend once pointed out, special sciences progress when the world responds to them in a specific way. Feyerabend’s philosophy of science offers a historicist account of a slightly different character than Marxist thought. For the latter, the objects and relations of a science are taken as real when the theory that describes them is delivered from the historical perspective of the proletariat in the historical material reality of class struggle. By contrast, Feyerabend reasons that, “[a] realism that separates being and history is forced to populate being with all the creatures that have been considered and are still being considered by scientists, prophets and others… But not all projections are successful. The ‘scientific entities’ mentioned above are not simply dreams; they are inventions that went through long periods of adaptation, correction, and modification, and then allowed scientists to produce previously unknown effects… They influenced the lives of individuals, groups, and entire nations. Gods and atoms may have started as ‘projections’ – but they received a response, which means they apparently succeeded in bridging the gulf that naïve realists had erected between being and their own historical existence.” Conquest of Abundance: A Tale of Abstraction versus the Richness of Being (Chicago: University of Chicago), 139. Althusser expounds this definition in a reply to John Lewis, a British humanist-Marxist and member of the Communist Party, appearing in in the political journal of the Communist Party of Great Britain, Marxism Today, in 1972. The role of philosophy in general, for him, is to under-labour for the legitimation of scientific theories – that is, to collapse the difference between ideology and epistemology, in a certain way. Althusser’s philosophical aim in particular is to work for the epistemic legitimation of the ‘science of history’, viz., Marx’s historical materialism. “[I]n the end, philosophy ‘works’ in the sciences. Either it helps them to produce new scientific knowledge, or it tries to wipe out these advances and drag humanity back to a time when the sciences did not exist. Philosophy therefore works in the science sin a progressive or retrogressive way.” Quoted in Althusser (2009), 97. My emphasis. Levins & Lewontin (1985). Brigandt (2012), 5. Weltanschauung is best translated as ‘worldview’. I situate my usage of the concept in the context of Hegel’s earlier works, in an effort to read against the Absolutizing subjective idealism of the developed Hegelian position. Hegel’s first two major works, Phenomenology Of Spirit, and Science Of Logic, were written during his years in Jena, between 1801-1861; see also Habermas, “Labor and Interaction: Remarks on Hegel’s Jena Philosophy of Mind,” in Theory and Practice (London: Heinemann, 1974), 142-169. This remark is to differentiate my position from the several strains of analytic and continental Neo-Kantian anti-realist ‘worldmaking’; see, for example, Nelson Goodman, Ways Of Worldmaking (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1978) for a paradigmatic Neo-Kantian conception of worldviews and ‘worldmaking’. As such, some examples of scientific worldviews would be: Aristotelianism; Newtonianism; quantum vs. general relativistic physicalisms (taken by some to be incommensurable, and with
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further incommensurable subdivisions); (Neo-)Darwinism; Freudianism (psychoanalysis); Marxism (scientific socialism), etc. For example, from the Chapter “Absolute Knowing” in Phenomenology Of Spirit, “to each abstract moment of Science corresponds a shape of manifest Spirit as such. Just as Spirit in its existence is not richer than Science, so too it is not poorer either in content” (§805). It is an overcoming (Aufhebung) of the rift torn between reason and faith that Hegel saw in the Enlightenment itself, expressed in something like a subjectively and collectively constructed logos binding the sensuous world to our conceptual schemes, in their ever increasing complexity. Again from Phenomenology Of Spirit, “Whereas in the phenomenology of Spirit each moment is the difference of knowledge and Truth, and is the movement in which that difference is cancelled, Science on the other hand does not contain this difference and the cancelling of it. On the contrary, since the moment has the form of the Notion, it unites the objective form of Truth and of the knowing Self in an immediate unity” (§805). Greene’s work has dealt extensively with the West’s decisive turn towards modernity in the periods leading up to and after the Darwinian Revolution. See Greene, Darwin and the Modern World View (Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 1973); see also Durant, “Evolution, ideology and world view: Darwinian religion in the twentieth century” in History, Humanity & Evolution: Essays for John C. Greene (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 355-374. That is, considering Greene’s ‘science’ to be roughly equivalent to the specific sense of ‘epistemology’ that has been proposed in this essay. This epistemology is concerned with the dynamic relations between scientific concepts as grounded in the histories of their actual usage in the intellectual activities of scientific communities. Johnson et al., “Integrating the Study of Culture and Religion: Toward a Psychology of Worldview” in Social and Personality Psychology Compass 5/3 (2011), 137-152. In the Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel calls human culture “the world of self-alienated spirit” (1807/1977, 294-7, §484-7). Spirit is something both internal to individuals, and external in the sense of the spirit of a nation, a sports team, or a sovereign. The self-alienation of spirit describes a process of projecting (alienare, meaning “dispossession” or “giving away”) what is internal to the ‘I’ as an individual, collectively, and in recognition of others doing the same, as an external actuality; this external actuality is subsequently re-internalized by the individuals in the given culture. We should note that Hegel, also a historian of ideas, has the particular sense of culture brought into view during the Western European Enlightenment in mind in this movement of the Phenomenology. The idea here is that, while both 'projects' and 'processes' have some historical trajectory immanent to their internal logic, a 'project' is realized by and from the perspective of the subject. This is a bit like how any construction project requires some foreplanning, some architectural design, abstraction, some self-consciousness of the process, while merely building does not. Yet, both are kinds of subjective processes.
Bibliography Althusser, L. (2008). Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (1971). On Ideology. London: Verso. Brigandt, I. (2010). Scientific Reasoning is Material Inference: Combining Confirmation, Discovery, and Explanation. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 31-43. Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
Brigandt, I. (2012). The Dynamics of Scientific Concepts: The Relevance of Epistemic Aims and Values. In U. Feest, & F. Steinle (Eds.), Scientific Concepts and Investigative Practice (pp. 75-104). Berlin: de Gruyter. Douglas, H. E. (2009). Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. Habermas, J. (1990). The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures. Cambridge: MIT Press. Hegel, G. (1807/1977). Phenomenology of Spirit. (A. Miller, Trans.) Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hegel, G. (1832/2010). Science Of Logic. (G. d. Giovanni, Trans.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Koltko-Rivera, M. (2004). The Psychology of Worldviews. Review of General Psychology, 3-58. Kuhn, T. (1962/1996). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (3rd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Kuhn, T. (1977/1998). Objectivity, Value Judgment, and Theory Choice. In M. Curd, & J. Cover (Eds.), Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues (pp. 102-118). New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Levins, R., & Lewontin, R. (1985). The Dialectical Biologist. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Longino, H. (1990). Science as Social Knowledge. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Marx, K. (1894/1999). Capital Volume III. New York: International Publishers. Norrie, S. (2015). So, What Is a Research University? A Review of Chad Wellmon’s Organizing Enlightenment. Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, 31-38.
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Defending Patient Phenomenology: A Critique of Murphy’s Psychiatry in the Scientific Image Dennis Papadopoulos
This paper aims to criticize conceptions of psychiatry that are narrowly focused on causal and naturalistic explanation, and therefore exclude phenomenological research practices. I take as exemplar of this mistaken paradigm Dominic Murphy’s (2012) prescription of a causal nosology for psychiatry, focusing on two of his basic assumptions: (i) The Causality Assumption that it is necessary for psychiatric research to advance causal accounts, rather than descriptions of experience or meaning; and (ii) The Naturalistic Primacy Assumption that psychiatric research can admit non-natural factors if these do not contradict findings from current cognitive neuroscience. An adequate accommodation of phenomenology requires overturning these commitments. This critique is important, I argue, because an inclusion of phenomenological insights into psychiatric research will yield a psychiatry that is both more empowering and critical of social institutions. It is above all patient experience that I seek to defend here. 1.
Murphy’s Recommendation for the Future of Psychiatry
Murphy argues for three main theses that I want to criticise. First, he criticizes the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) for its failure to acknowledge both the need and utility for causal explanations of diagnostic categories (2012, 331; 344). In place of the DSM, he proposes a causal nosology (ibid., 333; 343), which would provide psychiatry with diagnostic tools that resemble those used in somatic medicine (ibid., 325). This thesis is what I refer to as The Causality Assumption. Second, he conceives of psychiatry as indistinct from applied cognitive neuroscience (ibid., 93). He expects that cognitive neuroscience’s relation to psychiatry can mirror the role of biology to somatic medicine, insisting this proposal is not mere biological reductionism (ibid., 149) because social factors need to be accounted for (ibid., 256). However, these inclusions are always brought within the fold of “cognitive neuroscience,” broadly conceived. I call this thesis The Naturalistic Primacy Assumption. This naturalism seems to be how Murphy roots his dismissal of patient phenomenology. After all, if psychiatry is just cognitive neuroscience, what does it matter how patients understand their reality? In the end, Murphy leaves some room for the patient, but relegates it to the exclusively clinical side of psychiatry (ibid., 365-366). I will argue that it ought to be considered in psychiatric—that is, medical—research as well. Third, Murphy argues that when people have psychiatric disorders, their neurocognitive processes are dysfunctional (ibid., 87; 105). He provides an account of dysfunction that matches his broad conception of psychiatry’s domain. And it is on this account that he saves the two-stage medical-model. In the first stage, the psychiatrist is expected to identify dysfunctions in neurocognitive systems (providing a value-free description) and only after should she attend to an evaluation of which remedial action would be best (ibid., 26). It is this basic assumption about what a psychiatric disorder is that I take issue with. Instead of a two-stage medical model, I Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
endorse a dialectical and reflexive approach to understanding a patient as a person who might be radically different. I am not suggesting that the notion of dysfunctionality is never appropriate to characterize mental disorder. Rather, my point is that we can learn a great deal from patients when we look at how they function on their own terms, embracing difference, and not just how their functioning may seem “impaired.” I take Murphy’s nosology as my target, not because Murphy is the worst offender for medicalizing psychiatry, but because he presents an apparently accommodating front. It is because Murphy tolerates social causation, focuses his discussion on research rather than clinical practice, and demarcates psychiatry in broad terms that his position is especially hard to attack. Yet, despite his concessions, he is still resting this admirable breadth and inclusivity on a narrow footing that misses the importance of patient experience. 2.
Prior to embarking on a research program of any sort, one must have an object of investigation—preferably one without any dubious ontological status. Despite this intuitive ideal, however, psychiatric research is often guilty of failing to adhering to this tenet. Strong cognitivist research programs—for example, research models relying on computational theories of mind—do not honour this ideal, since the very objects under investigation (mental disorders) are necessarily theoretical postulates. Friedrich Wertz explains that because scientific phenomena are external to experience, they “cannot be given directly to observation therefore they must be hypothesized” (1993, 9). That is, the cognitivist computational model crucially relies on a tacit ontological indeterminacy of scientific objects. R. Lachmann, J. Lachmann, and E. Butterfield criticise cognitive psychology for this ontological indeterminacy: “Logico-mathematical forms may be viewed as reflecting mental structures and mechanisms. … The prudent theorist … does not know what ontological claims to make for his inferred mechanisms” (1979, 530). Because the supposed mechanisms of a computational model have no independent ontological status from the investigation, there is a gap with which rigorous description has something to add to such a scientific inquiry. It is this need for rigorous description that opens up the possibility for phenomenological inquiries to fruitfully inform future scientific research. Aaron Mishara and Michael Schwartz develop one possible example of a phenomenological approach, arguing that phenomenological descriptions can help develop more effective interventions and generate new hypotheses for neuroscientific research (2013, 127). They explain that phenomenology helps break down assumptions of the naively given world we call “normal,” so that we might better picture the sometimes very different world of others (ibid., 132; 133). They explain: the fear of subjective experience as being unreliable, and therefore the resistance …to shift paradigms to a more embracing definition of human experience as embodied intersubjective relationship … has prevented psychiatry from being able to augment diagnostic classification systems on this basis. (Ibid., 137) Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
Here we have a criticism of approaches like Murphy’s. The fear of the “unreliability” of subjective experience cuts off his program from important sources of information. Mishara and Schwartz’s view of the relationship between phenomenology and neuroscience is considered part of a broader development within cognitive neuroscience, which is centred on the idea of a “working self” (ibid., 138). In-line with phenomenology as part of neuroscience, they suggest that “it still has not been investigated how a phenomenology of the patient’s subjective experience of symptoms may provide fine-grained analyses that could be linked with very specific neural circuit dysfunction” (ibid., 139). The implication here is that we ought to make such an investigation, that phenomenology is well suited for this task, and that locating “fine grained neural dysfunction” is an aim that is compatible with phenomenological methods. Although Mishara and Schwartz present a research project compatible with a certain understanding of phenomenology, they are relying on a defanged conception of phenomenology, which is compatible with most of Murphy’s project. So while they rightly hold that patient phenomenology has an important role to play in neuroscience, a supporter of Murphy’s general project could rectify this error by producing a more broad, more inclusive, and more holistic cognitive neuroscience compatible with a two-stage medical model. Mishara and Schwartz’s phenomenological criticism loads phenomenology with preconceptions about neurology. This limits its radical method of approaching a phenomenon without theoretical preconceptions framing the experience. 2.1
Phenomenology as Primordial
As a methodology, phenomenology takes up the “primordial” as its object of study, both the pre-objective and non-representational. As soon as someone presumes that a phenomenological analysis might lead to insights about a neurocognitive process, they already imports the natural attitude from neurology which in turn structures the experience. Against this, I argue that the utility provided by phenomenology is found in its detachment from the scientific that can nevertheless productively interact with theoretically loaded methods of scientific inquiry. The descriptive project is important because it outlines what theories are about. In the natural attitude, theorizing is entangled with direct experience. Phenomenology and scientific abstraction are both ways of disentangling the natural attitude. On one hand, scientific constructs leave the immediate experience in search of something general, a disembodied, impersonal “truth.” On the other hand, phenomenology holds our interpreting to the lived reality that inevitably grounds any interpreting. Neither is “basic” or “superior.” These lines of inquiry are, rather, complementary. To conceive of psychology grounded in the primordial experience of being a mind, I suggest that psychiatry is not about cognitive neuroscience. Psychiatry must also be about the life of those struggling with mental disorders. The theories of psychiatry are ways of abstracting, generalizing, and devising rules to help people overcome a struggle with their mental life. Mishara and Schwartz get things backwards when they suggest we check the effectiveness of phenomenological description against its contribution to neurological theory. Instead, Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
neurological theory can make use of phenomenology as a kind of parallel processor providing a reference point with which scientific practice can—and should—check in. Our scientific theories and descriptions of patient experience should evolve cooperatively, yet independently; in partnership, not hierarchically. A defender of Murphy’s project, therefore, can only integrate those defanged phenomenological approaches (such as Mishara and Schwartz’s) into his or her theory through an erroneous inversion of the primordial with the theoretical. Murphy’s nosology is constructed using exemplars (typical cases which explain typical manifestations of causally defined impairments to mental functioning), each responding to a unique cause that could have a wide range of symptoms (2012, 349-350). Murphy could accommodate phenomenological descriptions as part of a rich and expansive set of exemplars that include case data. However, the nosology would still be set around dysfunctions causing a range of effects. These dysfunctions, understood as causal processes, are necessarily theoretical. Therefore the inclusion of a causal nosology loads the description of symptoms—the crucial description of what sort of patient experience is being caused—with a reductionist ontology, wherein meaningful experience must be articulable in an etiology of causal models. 3.
I want to emphasize that the challenge I am making to Murphy, and related models, is not that phenomenology ought to be included in psychiatry because it is useful to a growing embodied and enactive understanding of neurology—although I think this is true. Rather, my argument seeks to demonstrate how the scientific conception of psychiatry—that is, a psychiatry that is divorced from the humanities, severed off of the meaningfulness of individual (existential) human life—suffers its alienation. In place of reducing meaningful human experience to causal models, psychiatric research ought to make use of reflexive research methodologies that oscillate between descriptions of experience and theoretical models of cause or treatment. This understanding balances psychiatry as an independent discipline between cognitive neuroscience and the humanities, between causation and meaning. Rather than identifying psychiatry as the study of theoretical mental disorders, I identify psychiatry’s object of study with the struggling mental lives. The theoretical interpretation of that life as functional or not (according to social norms or neurological systems) is a dominant and highly productive schema for psychiatry. By making this distinction, I seek to open up a new space for understanding the lives of the “dysfunctional.” In other words, by challenging the notion of “dysfunction” as a theoretical presupposition, I gesture for psychiatry research to reflect on the primordial world of meaning. In Foucault’s discussion of the nature of the “human sciences” in the Order of Things he explains, “Since the human being has become historical, through and through, none of the contents analysed by the human sciences can remain stable in itself or escape the movement of history” (1970, 404). As a result, the more human sciences and the ontological categories they produce aim at general or universal truths “beyond the historical relativity of its origin and its choices … the more clearly it bears the marks of its historical birth” (ibid., 404). This is a problem for a static conception of what psychiatry studies. While the truths of cognitive Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
neurology may not be very easily seen to be historical, the idea that those lives that we currently call mentally disordered are dysfunctional is deeply historical. And, it is the latter which psychiatry tracks over time, through it’s various phases and forms. The close relationship with cognitive neurology is a new turn, and an important one, but it is a new turn in an ongoing investigation of something (mental lives) that is not limited to cognitive neurological definition. To his credit, Murphy acknowledges this problem. He rightly identifies that some concepts used in psychology are historically contingent and not strictly the product of rigorous scientific investigation (2012, 331). However, he believes this can be rectified in psychiatry by interdisciplinary consistency between psychology, neuroscience, and cognitive sciences (ibid., 332). But this proposal misses an even more fundamental historical contingency: the very account of the “dysfunctions” of specific systems constituting mental disorders. Therefore, Murphy’s account fails to recognize how fundamental the problem of historical contingency is. Foucault begins to offer a solution. He suggests that “the more it [History] accepts its relativity, and the more deeply it sinks into the movement it shares with what it is recounting” (1970, 404). So a “genuine” or honest, self-critical approach to the human sciences would have to engage with the dynamic, responsive, historical structure of the object of investigation. The science ought to track, and parallel, the development of its object. This can be done through a reflexive relationship between theory and purely descriptive phenomenology. 3.1
I propose that phenomenology can offer a more optimistic future for psychiatry because phenomenology provides a minimally presumptuous ground by practicing, as much as possible, the suspension of the natural attitude. In order to get an accurate description, the phenomenologist brackets her preconceptions and theoretical knowledge to produce a description that stands on its own. That is, a phenomenological description should not require any theoretical background to verify it. Joseph Keeping explains: “phenomenological claims must be reproducible by following the lines of thought and gesture expressed in language” (2014, 236). However, we should remember that the suspension of the natural attitude itself is always only partial. Thus, Keeping’s reproducibility criterion provides a more persuasive evaluation of phenomenological merit. Each reader, on their own, is the replication. Phenomenology is justified by the resonance found between the phenomenologist and the audience. This resonance is lost in abstraction into causal models and theoretical constructs. This directive sets phenomenological descriptions apart from the regular presumptions of scientific inquiry. In response to Murphy’s view that philosophical reflection, either in a hermeneutic reflexive practice or a phenomenological suspension of the natural attitude, is unnecessary for psychiatry, Francois LaPointe explains: “The pretension of possessing a method of investigation which would be philosophically ‘neutral,’ already implies a philosophy perfectly constituted and identifiable” (1972, 238). Following Maurice Merleau-Ponty, he argues against “the unscientific attitude of making science the ultimate source and goal of knowledge and life” (ibid., 245). Instead he stresses that “the life-world has meaningful structures of its own, which must be approached in a very different way if it is not to be radically reduced and distorted” (ibid., 245). This means that if the object of psychiatry is the life-world (the co-constituting Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
experience of embodied life and world through consciousness) of the patient, thinking about it in an uncritically causal or “scientific” way will distort it. In order to preserve a genuine account of the object under investigation, we ought to suspend our “philosophically neutral” scientific methods, bracket etiology, and just articulate the patient’s experience. The resulting description is comparably safe from patchy, blurry, or vague scientific categories. Such a description provides a reference point for the indistinct psychological constructs, which then makes the constructs more determinate because their operational definitions can be evaluated, capturing the described phenomenon in question, for better or worse. Applying this imperative to etiology, any specific causal story is not a description of a patient’s life; it is a construct that will fit better or worse with a descriptive account that was produced without that causal story in mind. Since I am arguing for the inclusion of this method, I will consider Matthew Ratcliffe’s (2008) account of “double counting” in order to make clear how phenomenological and theoretical explanations might differ. Whereas my approach recommends adhering to phenomenological descriptions, Ratcliffe gives phenomenological explanations of patient reported experience that reveal interesting features traditional “scientific” accounts miss. Ratcliffe’s explanation relies on some of the specialized apparatus of traditional phenomenology; these are not theoretical postulates of entities or systems, but are explanations that, nevertheless, might be unintuitive, considering our ordinary use of language. Importantly, Ratcliffe talks about the possibilities of the patient, conceived as features of his lived experience rather than non-actual events (ibid., 122). Consider, for example, the way a doorway reveals the possibility of entering another room. This possibility does not reside in some “objective fact,” such as the recognition that “this door can be used to enter another room.” Rather, the experienced possibility comes from the recognition of the doorway as such, regardless of whether or not I first experienced the doorway, inferring only afterward that the doorway is the ground for the opening of that possibility. The possibilities that seeing the door affords me can neither be divorced from the perception of the door in its sense-embedded whole, nor can it be inferred that the door affords such a possibility. That is, one does not see the door and think to oneself “oh, this door leads to the next room. I can take this door to go to the next room.” One sees the door as possibility for embodied action all at once. Ratcliffe uses this explanation of possibilities to offer an alternative to the standard psychiatric account of Capgras Syndrome, a disorder wherein a patient cannot recognize the possibility of interacting with familiar people (e.g., one’s spouse) in a normal way, making those familiar people seem like imposters. He explains: “There is the conspicuous feeling of unfamiliarity, the feeling that something is absent” (2008, 153; author’s emphasis). He goes on to suggest that this feeling provides persistent and replicable evidence for the belief that the familiar person is an imposter (ibid., 162). This suggests that the two-stage model, dominant in psychiatric accounts, is problematic because it distinguishes between dysfunctionality of experience (the unfamiliarity of familiars) and belief systems (specifically the inconsistent supposition that someone is an imposter but otherwise non-threatening) (ibid., 161).
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In a different example, Ratcliffe suggests that when psychiatrists differentiate between positive symptoms (the appearance of things not corroborated by other’s experience) and negative symptoms (the apparent lack of features normally present) in schizophrenia, they fail to recognize that “[o]ur phenomenology [whether you have schizophrenia or not] is not a cooking pot that can contain varying amounts of several distinct ingredients” (ibid., 190). That is to say, breaking our lived experience into symptoms seriously undermines the holistic integrity of that experience. After all, the world does not typically appear as broken into clearly and already distinguished parts, such as beliefs and apparent possibilities, feelings of unreality and unreality itself, or anything that could be “added” or “taken away” discretely. Although typical of a scientific worldview, these reductionist assumptions occur because they arise from a worldview that is itself always already fragmented into arbitrary theoretical models. As useful as these models can be, we need to nevertheless check them against something less ontologically dubious: namely, the world as it is experienced. 4.
Patient experience doesn’t allow for a preconceived distinction between value and fact. Patients have a whole world, a life, which is affected by their mental illness. Taking for granted that the object of psychiatry is the dysfunctional mind misses the fact that it is a value-loaded mind in a value-laden life. So any genuine understanding of the mind, functional or dysfunctional, needs value. Charles Taylor explains that self-conception and self-reflection are inherently value loaded (1988, 317). From the point of view of the patient, their mental life is not valueless. The mentally disordered struggle in a life that is co-constituted by their values, which are sometimes attributed by the functions Murphy considers dysfunctional. This occurs because the kind of functionality Murphy wants to repair or treat are dysfunctions of causal systems. Instead of this kind of approach, Taylor suggests the functionality that psychiatry should be interested in is the “taking care of oneself” (ibid., 311). Taylor argues that often the “cure” in a treatment comes from within the patient (ibid.). As a result, the functionality that needs to be restored is the functional experience of the patient, not the functions of a patient’s systems. Murphy’s account assumes that there is typically a strong correlation between dysfunctions of cognitive neurological systems and dysfunctional “taking care of oneself.” This assumption implies a rather rigid conception of normal mental function, as it would occlude occasional hallucinations, unobtrusive addictions, periodic depression, frequent lapses of attention, and so on. I am inclined to suggest that “normal function” is widely varied, often including some “symptoms” that could be considered products of dysfunctional systems. That is to say, instead of saying that mental disorder is dysfunction, we could understand everyone as mildly dysfunctional and widely varied, but some of us end up struggling more than most; these struggles are the dysfunction that needs to be addressed. Cognitive neuroscience might help but the object of study should be the struggle of a living person with a value-laden world, not the causes of their dysfunctional mental life. In this way psychiatry can make use of cognitive neuroscience without being subsumed under it. 4.1
The Purpose of Psychiatry
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Between “the dysfunctional” and the “pretty much functional” are those people who are considered neurologically normal but still seem to benefit from psychiatric treatment. Murphy’s nosology doesn’t leave psychiatry any leeway to handle these cases; for him, you either have a dysfunction and therefore a mental disorder or your problems are not to be treated as psychiatric. An alternate understanding of psychiatry’s purpose is outlined by Robert Woolfolk (1998). He sees psychiatry as a humanism, a structure for self-understanding that can support wellness as a goal. Further, because it isn’t committed to any conception of dysfunction relative to a norm, it can criticize normal experience. Psychiatry, on this account, is a value-laden science. Woolfolk accepts that the subject of the psychiatry is the experience of patients. He explains, “Self-knowledge derived from everyday life experience is framed most often within the boundaries of our personal concerns and our efforts to orchestrate our lives around those concerns” (1998, 110). This means he takes as his starting point the contextual, meaningful, experience as the object of investigation. Woolfolk goes on to explain that “we live our lives not as disinterested observers of events but rather as engaged participants whose existences are consequential to us” (ibid., 116). Here, he recognizes the essentiality of meanings and values in our everyday experience. Woolfolk concludes that “any undertaking, such as psychotherapy, that describes, analyzes, discovers, or modifies emotion will be deeply involved in moral-evaluative material” (ibid., 117). Thus he disagrees with Murphy’s two-stage model, arguing that patient experience, as necessarily value-laden, cannot be disentangled from either research or clinical practice. Further, Woolfolk recognizes the historical reflexivity intrinsic to psychiatric practice. He explains: Clearly the proliferation of therapy has the effect of further ‘psychologizing’ society, thus creating demand for therapy by sensitizing people to their emotional discomforts, establishing a psychological idiom and frame of reference for understanding life, and creating life expectations whose realization requires psychotherapy. (Ibid., 31) With this observation Woolfolk addresses two of the central problems I raised. First, psychiatry is seen as historically related to society through psychologizing. Second, the patients conceived of here are those psychologized individuals who can make use of psychiatric resources, not necessarily only the neurocognitively dysfunctional. This conception tolerates people who are more or less neurotypical benefitting from psychiatric expertise. More importantly, it suggests that a consumer of psychiatric services is not an identity that relies on any intrinsic failure of neurocognitive processes. With these observations Woolfolk suggests psychiatry is or ought to be: an activity involving the development, elucidation, and application of practical knowledge and acumen through dialogue—a form of pedagogy encompassing fact and value analogous to what in other times has been called the cultivation of character or the development of practical wisdom. (Ibid., 5) This “cultivation” of “practical wisdom” suggests an aim in line with Taylor’s “taking care of oneself.” This contrasts starkly with Murphy’s vision. For Murphy, psychiatry is applied Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
cognitive-neuroscience:not a cultivation but a treatment, not about developing as a person but remediation of someone who is a dysfunctional person. I have criticized Murphy’s view by arguing that it fails to provide a holistic or authentic understanding of the object to be remedied. Murphy takes for granted that empirical evaluation of functionality carries with it no problematic philosophical baggage. He attempts to accommodate criticisms of breadth, but in doing so he misconstrues criticisms of the very foundation of scientific psychiatry as criticism of its narrowness. A properly broad account of psychiatry must include a distance from cognitive neuroscience, such that a careful reflection on the needs of patients can be understood, researched, and developed. This requires taking causal etiological knowledge as a research tool, which may not be accurate or useful. Instead of approaching patients with an eye to isolating what their dysfunction is, we ought to receive from them an expression of their struggles. This means that future research should aim to finding causes and remedies as alleviating struggles and developing the practical wisdom needed to take care of oneself. Cutting up psychiatry and dismissing phenomenological descriptions that do not contribute to neuroscience as “clinical” loses meaningful opportunities for research and treatment and takes for granted a theoretical ontology, which is a product of a history of psychologizing.
Bibliography Foucault, Michel. 1970. The order of things. NY: Routelage. Keeping, Joseph. 2014. “The time is out of joint: A hermeneutic phenomenology of grief.” Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy (Revue canadienne de philosophie continentale) 18 (2): 233-255. LaPointe, Francois. 1972. “Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological critique of psychology.” Journal of Phenomenological Psychology 2 (2): 237-255. Mishara, Aaron and Michael. Schwartz. 2013. “What does phenomenology contribute to the debate about DSM-5?” In Making the DSM-5: Concepts and controversies, edited by J. Paris and J. Phillips, 125-142. New York, NY: Springer Science and Business Media. Murphy, Dominic. 2012. Psychiatry in the scientific image. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Ratcliffe, Matthew. 2008. Feelings of being: Phenomenology, psychiatry, and the sense of reality. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Taylor, Charles. 1988. “The moral topography of the self.” In Hermeneutics and psychological theory, edited by S. Messer, L. Sass, and R. Woolfolk, 298-320. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Wertz, F. 1993. “Cognitive psychology and phenomenology”. Theoretical and philosophical psychology 13 (1): 3-24. Woolfolk, R. 1998. The cure of souls. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
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The Science of Modern Political Philosophy Alexander Anderson
I would like to explore aspects of modern political philosophy, and their relation to the modern scientific project I see as their origin. To do this, I forward a critique of this “scientific” approach to political philosophy. I claim that it distorts the nature of the political as well as human nature in general. It is important to see that thinkers like Hobbes and Locke are really attempting to build an account of the political which mirrors the efforts of mechanical and mathematical sciences. Hobbes especially bases his style on Euclid, attempting to build everything from a set of starting axioms, allowing to move from sense to the state and finally to eschatology at the end of the Leviathan. One of the aims of laying out the arguments this way is to set up the state for a number of instrumental ends: that of peace and tranquility, specifically ordered to the fulfillment of the desires of the individuals which make up the society. This was framed explicitly in contrast to the classical (broadly Aristotelian) political philosophy which preceded them, and they were meant to be just as revolutionary as the new science. 1.
The Problem Within the New Science
Modern Science and modern political philosophy have an intertwined history. This should not be surprising, as the advocates of the first were often the formulators of the second. Thinkers such as Hobbes sought to apply a systematic, mathematical approach to political thought like that which had been applied to the natural world. Modern political philosophy, like modern science, is “instrumental”, that is, it focuses largely on procedures (“instruments”) of state creation and maintenance. Just as modern science rejected Aristotle’s final cause in favor of the instrumental uses we give to a world perceived as inert before us, so has modern political thought rejected a common good in favor of the desires of the individuals within the state. This creates multiple tensions within the modern political philosophical project. The political analysis was based upon the model of modern scientific analysis, specifically as a “subject” observing “objects.” Since the objects of political analysis are themselves human subjects, this creates a bizarre dualism within humanity: humans emerge as both objects to be manipulated by the state and, paradoxically, as inviolable subjects. This creates much of the tension at the heart of the modern political project, the resolution of which we see in Hobbes’ Leviathan. I will focus largely on Hobbes in this paper, but I will do so with the assumption that these themes, and the problems they pose, are taken up by later thinkers, such as Locke and Kant. The era of modern science shares the emphasis that modern political philosophy places on instrumentality. Francis Bacon provides a very visceral image for this in The Masculine Birth of Time: I am come in very truth leading to you Nature with all her children to bind her to your service and make her your slave… so may I succeed in my only earthly wish, namely to stretch the deplorably narrow limits of man's dominion over the universe to their promised bounds. (Bacon 1836, chap. 1) Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
This “dominion over the universe,” which made nature a “slave” to human whims, was the goal that animated many of these early modern thinkers, including René Descartes, Thomas Hobbes, and John Locke. The purpose of inquiry into nature, for these thinkers, is to control it for the purpose of harnessing its power to human ends. A fascinating illustration of this instrumental mindset is provided to us by a list of goals for the scientific project drawn up by the chemist Robert Boyle sometime in the 1660’s. These included instrumental goals such a “the prolongation of life,” “The Recovery of Youth, or at least some of the Marks of it, as new Teeth, new Hair colour'd as in youth,” “The art of flying,” “The Attaining Gigantick Dimensions,” and “The Emulating of Fish without Engines by Custome and Education only” (Alleyne 3 May 2010; interestingly, continuing the mentality pioneered by Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, and Boyle, Alleyne includes modern technologies which can be said to have achieved Boyle’s goals). This is to be contrasted with pre-modern approaches to studying nature, which focused more on contemplating the harmony of nature’s ends—that is, it focused on the ends within nature itself and not on those ends we impose upon it. The emphasis that modern political philosophy places on instrumentality manifests itself in a preoccupation with the procedures of government. We can see this in Locke’s limited government, where government is ordered to the ends of the individuals that make them up. “The great and chief end, therefore, of men's uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property” (Locke 1689 , chap. IX.). Hobbes, similarly, sees the purpose of establishment of government in instrumental terms: “The final cause, end, or design of men (who naturally love liberty, and dominion over others) in the introduction of that restraint upon themselves, in which we see them live in Commonwealths, is the foresight of their own preservation” (Hobbes  2010, ch. XVII). The government was established to remove themselves from the state of war and better situate themselves to procure their desires, albeit in a way now limited by the state. The operative action here, though, is the instrumental trade of freedom for security, emphasized in terms of life in the case of Hobbes and in terms of property in the case of Locke (although each element is really present in both). In this way, government is seen as an instrument to the individual ends of those who make up the body politic, and not in any way seen as natural. While Aristotelian or Scholastic political philosophy might see a question such as “What is the nature of the political?” or “What end should political bodies aim for?” as the primary questions in political philosophy, it is only later that it asks what sort of structures might best achieve these goods. Modern political philosophy assumes the answer to this “what” is the individual’s own chosen ends, and seeks to set up procedures and structures that can best achieve those ends for everyone, balancing the ends and actions of each individual such that they are able to pursue their own ends to the utmost degree, without taking this opportunity away from others. This creates an emphasis on the procedural structures of government, making sure they are finely tuned to this task of creating open space for the attainment of individual desire. This is a shift in focus from seeing the political not as a natural entity, but as a tool wielded by the citizens. This instrumental account of the body politic also entails a rejection of a final cause for the whole of political society, and with that the idea of the common good. This, too, is influenced Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
by modern science. Coupled with the instrumental focus in modern science is a denial of the Aristotelian concept of final causality. Interestingly, Descartes makes this connection explicit, reimagining the objects in the world as tools of God: “I regard the common practice of explaining things in terms of their purposes to be useless in physics: it would be foolhardy of me to think that I can discover God's purposes” (Descartes 1641 , Meditation IV). The final cause of the thing is taken to be unknowable because they are taken to be external to the thing, given by a distant and unknowable God. This opens up space for our own ends and purposes to be imparted onto nature. Individuals form “neutral” matter into tools for achieving his own ends. In a similar way, the individuals that make up the state use a “neutral” state to achieve their ends. Hobbes himself denies a common good in the Aristotelean or Scholastic sense. People chafe under the common good: “...amongst [bees] the common good differeth not from the private; and being by nature inclined to their private, they procure thereby the common benefit. But man, whose joy consisteth in comparing himself with other men, can relish nothing but what is eminent” (Hobbes 1651 , ch. XVII). According to Hobbes, people are inclined only toward private goods, and must be coaxed toward any sort of common good. Thus the common good can only be seen as something like the average or sum of a large number of private goods. This echoes Descartes’s conception of the work of natural science, and foreshadows Hobbes’s own. As Douglass Jesseph (1996) put it, “[Hobbes’s] methodology therefore dictates that the scope of natural science be restricted to the investigation of the mechanical causes of natural phenomena, and it entails a rejection of a Scholastic-Aristotelean natural philosophy grounded in the consideration of such nonmechanical principles as substantial forms or final causes” (86-87). Since Hobbes considered political philosophy to be a “civil science” on par with “natural science” (Sorell 1996, 49), he attempted this erasure of final causes in the realm of political philosophy as well. The political, however, must be understood as having some end, insofar as the state, and the people operating within it, are consciously working toward achieving ends. This ties back to the instrumentalism of modern political philosophy. The only ends allowed the state are the private ends of individuals, which seek to control and manipulate others to achieve their ends. This, again, gives a precedence to procedures and structures. Modern political philosophy also borrows its methodology from modern science. This comes with a certain vision of the world, and certain a model of investigating this world. This is the model of the subjective observer passively observing the world in front of him. As the historian John Lukacs (2002) describes it, this is “[o]bjectivity: meaning principally the ideal (and, alas, so often the pretense) of an absolute and antiseptic separation of the observer from the subject or object of his observation” (88). The objectivity of science is seen as a radical separation between the observer and the observed: the observer is not really seen as part of the world of objects that he is submitting to scientific analysis, and the “objects” are not seen as possible subjective observers. The observer attempts to come disinterested and neutral, the observer pretends to describe things “as they are,” and ends up with Cartesian results: a dualistic separation between the thinking thing and the extended thing. This, again, ties into the instrumentality of modern science, allowing the scientist to come from outside nature and engineer for it new ends. How does this get worked out in the political thought of these early modern thinkers? There was a great desire to come up with an account of the political and of the state that would Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
have this very same objectivity. This desire very much animated Hobbes: “Hobbes wished to be seen as an important scientist himself—an important worker in the field of optics and no less than the inventor of the science of politics” (Sorell 1996, 45). Hobbes truly saw the work of the Leviathan as applying the new techniques of scientific inquiry to the field of the political and sought to achieve this largely by attempting to copy the methodology from Euclid’s Elements. “It is well-known that Hobbes took geometry as the ideal for all demonstrative knowledge” (Jesseph 1996, 87). Just as Descartes sought to achieve complete objectivity in science and philosophy by attempting to base all knowledge on similar foundations as mathematical knowledge (see Descartes 1637 , Part I),1 so did Hobbes wish to ground political thought on solid and objective foundations by trying to emulate Euclid’s method of moving from simple axioms to complex systems, or in the case of Hobbes’ Leviathan, from motion and senses all the way to the Commonwealth and finally to eschatology. Hobbes believed that by laying out the unfolding logic of his position in this way, he could achieve scientific objectivity even in the exploration of a system so complicated as the state. 2.
The Problem Within Political Philosophy
However, the quest for a completely objective political philosophy is a fraught one, and contains within it a paradox. The ideal of objectivity, as I noted above, depends on “an absolute and antiseptic separation” (Lukacs 2002, 88). between the observer and the objects observed. The objects of a political philosophy or “civil science,” of course, are human beings. The observer is invariably a party to the class of the observed within political philosophy. This means that true objectivity in this sense in political philosophy is impossible. However, I do not think that this is where our investigation should end on this matter: this internal paradox in the heart of modern political philosophy is at the heart of the peculiar creature that populates it: that of the individual. Hobbes’ anthropology is set up from the ground up on the senses, which are the bases for the desires: Concerning the thoughts of man, I will consider them first singly, and afterwards in train or dependence upon one another. Singly, they are every one a representation or appearance of some quality, or other accident of a body without us, which is commonly called an object. Which object worketh on the eyes, ears, and other parts of man's body, and by diversity of working produceth diversity of appearances. The original of them all is that which we call sense, (for there is no conception in a man's mind which hath not at first, totally or by parts, been begotten upon the organs of sense). The rest are derived from that original. (Hobbes 1651 , ch. I)
“I was especially delighted with the mathematics, on account of the certitude and evidence of their reasonings; … I was astonished that foundations, so strong and solid, should have had no loftier superstructure reared on them. On the other hand, I compared the disquisitions of the ancient moralists to very towering and magnificent palaces with no better foundation than sand and mud” 1
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Senses are “thoughts” in Hobbes’ system, and they ultimately form the basis of our desires. Notice, here, though, that Hobbes takes great care to formulate his anthropology in objective and mechanistic terms. After describing the action of the desires and aversions which Hobbes sees as the mechanistic and deterministic driver of all human action, Hobbes switches gears and starts discussing the “laws of nature,” the first of which “is the liberty each man hath to use his own power as he will himself for the preservation of his own nature” (ibid., ch. XIV). Hobbes continues to discuss other laws, such as the law of contract. It would be a mistake to see Hobbes’ sudden shift from describing physical processes driving human actions to the laws of nature as a shift between a scientific mode and a moral one. Hobbes clearly sees himself as still simply describing the situation of man, not prescribing anything. The point of the laws is to create mechanisms for which humans rationally decide to enter a social contract, creating the Leviathan of the Commonwealth which will instrumentally provide the protection for their lives which is lacking in the state of nature. According to Hobbes, all of this action follows mechanically from our senses, desires, aversions, and the actions of other humans. Even if we grant this, there is a shift of emphasis that we must notice here. Where before Hobbes considered man as we might consider a dissected frog, with each of its parts laid out so that we may grasp the mechanistic movement which leads to the action of the whole, now Hobbes considers man as a subjective actor making rational decisions about his own future chances of survival. Where before man is a specimen, he is now an individual. Here we see the paradox in the scientific approach to political philosophy. Man must occupy, simultaneously, the positions of both subject and object within the same system. He must be both in the system and in a way stand outside of it. Here we can see the connections to the other two markers: man makes up the state but he is also able to stand outside it, in a way, allowing both the creation of the state and the use of it instrumentally. Further, any end of the state will be given by these actions of creating and using the state by man as an inviolable subject outside the state. This action of man as subject, however, does not eliminate man as object. Man is also within the Commonwealth and subject to its power. For Hobbes, that power is nearly absolute. The individual cannot free himself from the sovereign, and “consequently none of his subjects, by any pretence of forfeiture, can be freed from his subjection” (Hobbes 1651 , chap. XVIII). The sovereign has the power to do anything to his subjects he deems necessary for the instrumental end of defense and cannot be put to death or really held accountable in any way for it: consequently to that which was said last, no man that hath sovereign power can justly be put to death, or otherwise in any manner by his subjects punished. For seeing every subject is author of the actions of his sovereign, he punisheth another for the actions committed by himself. And because the end of this institution is the peace and defence of them all, and whosoever has right to the end has right to the means, it belonged of right to whatsoever man or assembly that hath the sovereignty to be judge both of the means of peace and defence, and also of the hindrances and disturbances of the same; and to do whatsoever he shall think necessary to be done, both beforehand, for the preserving of peace and security, by prevention of discord at home, and Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
hostility from abroad; and when peace and security are lost, for the recovery of the same. (Ibid.) The sovereign, then, stands in the same relation to the populace as the modern scientists stands to the world. He is able to use and dispose of the populace in the same way as he is able to form inert matter to achieve his ends. The sovereign is something like the ultimate subjective force within the commonwealth, and this is a paradox, since he was elevated to this lofty position by the subjects which make up the populace in pursuit of their instrumental ends. Locke and subsequent thinkers have attempted to soften the conclusions of Hobbes on this point, but they retain his mechanics. The sovereign’s power and subjectivity is gained by the populace giving up their own power and subjectivity. The adjustments in Hobbes’s system are often in the direction of limiting the instrumental power of the sovereign, thus providing more instrumental power for the sovereign’s subjects. However, the sovereign’s power is always conceived in this same instrumental way. In Locke’s scheme, our liberty is always checked against the authority placed above it. Power and freedom are always, owing to this objective and instrumental design, opposed to each other, and our freedom is therefore always limited within the context of the state, and within society in general. The most important, and most intuitively contradictory consequence of the Lockean is this: freedom being conceived this way, it does not make sense to consider man a social creature by nature, since the social is always seen as limiting him. Philosophical views that arrive at this conclusion make a mistake about and distortion of human nature. These arise from the objective and instrumental view of man and society that are inherited from the methods of modern science into political thought. 3.
Early modern thinkers attempted to enact a revolution in political thought just as they inaugurated a revolution in political thought. But this revolution was, from the beginning, a flawed one. The detached, instrumental standpoint that was behind the revolution in science was imported into the political sphere, where the questions it set aside were indeed tremendously important. The result is full of tensions and contradictions which are still with us today in the thought of such 20th century philosophers as, for example, John Rawls and others. These latter rely on little more than modified versions of Thomas Hobbes’s political assumptions, imported from the modern scientific methods of his day. Any future political thought will have to move beyond this instrumental viewpoint, to incorporate something of the human good.
Bibliography Bacon, Francis. 1836. “The Masculine Birth of Time.” In The Works of Francis Bacon. Edited by Basil Montagu, 223-224. London, Pickering. Alleyne, Richard. 3 May, 2010. “Robert Boyle’s Wish list” The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/7798201/Robert-Boyles-Wish-list.html Locke, John. 1689 . Second Treatise on Government. EBook: Project Gutenberg. Descartes, René. 1641 . Meditations on First Philosophy. Translated by Donald A. Cress. Indianapolis: Hackett. Gnosis 15.1 | 2016
———. 1637 . Discourse on Method. Published online by Jonathan Bennett, amended 2007. http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/assets/pdfs/descartes1637.pdf. Hobbes, Thomas. 1651 . “Leviathan.” In Political Philosophy: The Essential Texts, 2nd edition. Edited by Steven M. Cahn, 282-302. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Jesseph, Douglas. 1996. “Hobbes and the method of natural science.” In Cambridge Companion to Hobbes. Edited by. Tom Sorell, 86-107. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Sorell, Tom. 1996. “Hobbes’ scheme of the sciences.” In Cambridge Companion to Hobbes. Edited by Tom Sorell, . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lukacs, John. 2002. At the End of An Age. New Haven: Yale University Press.
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