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1 Conceptual Frameworks and Ontological Priority: An Analytic Approach to Transcendental Metaphysics Kraków, 2 Dec 2010 Conceptual Frameworks and Ontological.

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1 1 Conceptual Frameworks and Ontological Priority: An Analytic Approach to Transcendental Metaphysics Kraków, 2 Dec 2010 Conceptual Frameworks and Ontological Priority: An Analytic Approach to Transcendental Metaphysics Kraków, 2 Dec 2010 Winfried Löffler Department of Christian Philosophy University of Innsbruck / Austria 1.Strawson on “descriptive” and “revisionary metaphysics” 2.Some closer characteristics of DM 3.Some minor points in need of clarification 4.Thesis I: Strawson regards DM as a sort of “transcendental metaphysics” 5.Thesis II: DM is indeed indispensable 6.On what there is: A proposal for “ontological priority” 7.An outlook at the philosophy of religion

2 2 1. Strawson on “descriptive” and “revisionary metaphysics” Peter F. Strawson, Individuals. An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics (1959) (Indywidua. Próba metafizyki opisowej (1980)) Starting-point of modern analytic metaphysics A possible connection to Kant & Aquinas:The Bounds of Sense „Aristotelian“ tendency

3 3 Result of Individuals (roughly): – Distinction between “DM” and “RM” – DM: the categorial framework that factually guides our thinking about the world – RM: a “better” framework [better in respect to what?] –  “Aristotelian” ontology; persons as primitive category – Objects of DM are “ontologically prior” – Ambiguous: “only descriptive”  “transcendental”

4 4 2. Some closer characteristics of DM (i): Forms of RM might be useful, but are indebted to DM DM is only indebted to research/investigation in general Can be found in “depth grammar” More general than mere “conceptual analysis” DM is mostly trans-historical and trans-cultural Concepts of DM are not sophisticated, but commonplaces behind any form of thinking, more or less elaborate DM provides reasons for what we believe instinctively %

5 5 2. Some closer characteristics of DM (ii): Criterion for ontological priority: A’s are prior to B’s iff A’s are identifiable without reference to B’s, but not conversely  “Aristotelian”, i.e. mid-size objects of Lebenswelt are prior Special importance of persons in their double aspect: physical & mental predicates Only persons admit of referring to and acting within our spatio-temporal world

6 6 3. Some minor points in need of clarification Is DM an empirical or non-empirical discipline? (Dilemma: If empirical, it would be as inconsistent as “folk ontology”; if non-empirical, is it still “descriptive”?) Relatively to “folk-ontology”, any DM has revisionary aspects: e.g. “colour-predicates are dispositional predicates” Do the natural, social etc. sciences influence DM? (Körner 1984) In relation to what is RM better than DM? What is the difference between a mere model and a RM? (Löffler 2007)

7 7 4. Thesis I: Strawson regards DM as a sort of „transcendental metaphysics“ – Usual reading: DM is “descriptive” / just our factual conceptual framework But: – Strawson’s wordings like “indispensable core…” – Individuals contains at least 4 transcendental arguments (retorsive type: doubting p presupposes the truth of p) %

8 8 Four transcendental arguments in Individuals: – The argument for diachronic identity of individuals (Summary: formulating doubts about the identity of x presupposes the identity of the objects other than x) – The argument against “no-ownership” doctrine of mental states (Summary: “my mental states have non owner, they are just causally dependent from a body” – but in order to single out a bundle of mental states as mine, one must presuppose an owner) – The argument for the adequacy of the attribution criteria for mental predicates (Summary: you couldn’t understand yourself as a case of mental life if you couldn’t successfully attribute mental predicates to others) – The argument for the indispensability of singular terms (Summary: anyone who wants to replace all singular terms (à la Russell/Quine) must have understood the applicability conditions for singular terms)

9 9 5. Thesis II: DM is indeed indispensable Result so far: Strawson – if he succeeds – shows that DM is factually indispensable. But what exactly is the function of DM?

10 10 5. Thesis II: DM is indeed indispensable A proposal of DM, somewhat richer: – Basic ontology of mid-size, “meso-scopic” objects: Persons, animals, Tools, etc. – bear monadic and relational properties of various kinds – Human persons with double aspect (mental & physical) – Basic principles (causality, identity [Leibniz’ law], …) – Further objects (electrones, genes, magnetic fields, edges, gross national products, social groups, symphonies etc.) make up other, “regional ontologies” – Discourse about such objects is stable, provided discourse about DM-objects is stable

11 11 5. Thesis II: DM is indeed indispensable The function of DM: – Recall ch.2: “DM provides reasons for what we believe instinctively” (i.e. what we presuppose in our acting etc.) – Proposals: “what we believe instinctively”  “Weltanschauung”/ Światopogląd (  Muck!) Weltanschauung has integration function (see next slide) DM then explicates general structures behind Weltanschauung that fulfils its integrative task, or: Any Weltanschauung that fulfils its integrative task has Aristotelian-Strawsonian DM as its core

12 12 5. Thesis II: DM is indeed indispensable “What we believe instinctively”: The contents of Weltanschauung / Światopogląd – Theories of more/less generality, all-day and scientific – Valuations and preferences, local and “ultimate” – Beliefs about various fields of inquiry & practice – (Rudimentary) beliefs about how those fields relate – Beliefs which domains of objects are presupposed in those fields – Beliefs about which theory-approach fits to what problem – etc. … and the operative structure behind such Weltanschauung is a Strawsonian / Aristotelian DM

13 13 6. On what there is: A proposal for ontological priority Further question: Does the traditional idea of “ontological priority” make sense? Recall Strawson’s criterion for ontological priority: A’s are prior to B’s iff A’s are (re-)identifiable without reference to B’s, but not conversely  Strategy: Elaboration of this idea

14 14 6. On what there is: A proposal for ontological priority Strawson’s criterion for ontological priority: A’s are prior to B’s iff A’s are identifiable without reference to B’s, but not conversely Can be read (i) as a broader methodological priority of DM: – Dependent objects within DM (accidents, events, processes …) cannot be identified without reference to DM-objects – Objects in revisionary metaphysics (boundaries, fields, “tropes”, …) cannot be identified without reference to DM-objects – Even the vocabularies of such metaphysics could not be introduced without reference to DM-objects – The same holds for theoretical objects within scientific disciplines (potentials, inflation rates, …) – Judgements on reasonable application-cases of scientific theories and the success/failure of applications are being made on DM level

15 15 6. On what there is: A proposal for ontological priority Three examples: 1.Usual introductory examples in “trope theory” (tropes = non- unversal, individual property): “the brown of my table”, “the temperature of this wire”, … 2.The way we handle disturbance cases in scientific practice, e.g. singling out a broken-down thermometer: activities of comparing, standardizing etc. at the level of meso-scopic, Lebenswelt objects (not by reference to natural laws: they explain the behaviour of the broken-down thermometer just as well!) 3.The description of a medical syndrome: bundling reported headache, blood-pressure, paleness, temperature, … as properties of one DM-object; - similarly: judgements about success/failure of therapy (ultimately) on DM level

16 16 6. On what there is: A proposal for ontological priority Strawson’s criterion can be read/extended (ii) as ontological priority of DM: Objects of category A are ontologically prior iff (i)The (re-)identification of objects of all other categories B, C, D, … is dependent on objects of category A (ii)The linguistic handling of the objects of category A is the basis for the introduction of concepts for the objects of categories B, C, D, … (abstractors in various directions) … & plausible that DM objects are indeed ontologically prior.

17 17 6. On what there is: A proposal for ontological priority Is this explication of ontological priority preferable? At least 2 reasons: (i)What else could be the criterion? What stronger requirement could be demanded? (Simple “appeal to reality”, “appeal to evidence” etc. relies on obscure phenomenology!)

18 18 6. On what there is: A proposal for ontological priority Is this explication of ontological priority preferable? (ii)Avoids some common mistakes: –Taking abstractions as ontologically prior (i.e. in naturalist, materialist ontologies, trope theories etc.) –Fruitless attempts to reconstruct the initial phenomenon from such abstractions (e.g. naturalist accounts of the mind, trope theories) “Fallacy of reciprocal constitution of concepts”; “broken symmetry” between initial phenomenon and abstraction (indication: e.g. appeal to “structure tropes”!) –Throwing objects of different into one ontological pot: e.g. treating atoms and tables as “material objects” –Misunderstanding metaphysics as “the great collection of all things”, by summing up all regional ontologies

19 19 6. On what there is: A proposal for ontological priority What about the inhabitants of other ontological regions? Do tropes / universals / boundaries / electrons / points / lines / edges / tunes / masses / weights / groups / … “really” exist? – Yes, as long as a stable discourse on such objects is possible. – But not in the same way as DM-objects exist. – Traditionally: “entia rationis cum fundamento in re”

20 20 7. An outlook at the philosophy of religion So far: DM is “transcendental”; in the sense of indispensable No reference to a special notion of “being” No reference to God But: Re-established rationality of “Weltanschauung” and its explication in DM; Concepts of traditional metaphysics are not an extravagant addendum, but explicate the core of our access to reality. (“Reveiling apriori, not conceiling apriori”); Plausible arguments for God’s existence, if any, are formulated in terms of DM, not in some RM. Under some plausible evaluation criteria (consistency, coherence, completeness etc.), DM-plus-theism scores better than a naturalist world-view which usually rests on RM. (Löffler 2006, ch. 5)


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