“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”
–Alfred North Whitehead

War of the Worlds: Love and Strife in the Pluriverse

Another one for the ontological pluralism file. Delivered a few months back at the Cosmology of Love conference at CIIS.






4 responses to “War of the Worlds: Love and Strife in the Pluriverse”

  1. Adam Avatar

    Excellent Matt! Thank you for continuing the work.

  2. David Walsh (@DavidWalshEire) Avatar

    You say at 8.30…
    “There is no way the world is, independent of our views of it.”
    What world are you referring to here? The natural world studied by physics and chemistry and biology etc; or the human world studied by sociology and economics and politics etc?
    These are not the same worlds or realms
    I don’t mean to say they are discontinuous with each other; but they are radically different realms or levels of (natural) order.
    In reference to the physical realm studied by physics and chemistry etc, there is a way the world is, independent of our views of it. This principle is part of the fundamental basis of the possibility of science. Science and the technologies we have developed from science work precisely because the underlying physical order is consistently lawful. It is not our views or opinions that account for the nature of gravity or electromagnetic radiation etc.
    As regards the human world; the world of the polis; our communities and civilisation; I acknowledge, there is no way the human world is, independent of our views of it. Anthropology makes that abundantly clear. There is no one right way to be a human being or constitute a human society.
    One may have a preferred way to be human and live in community, and in this regard I can see the applicability of an aesthetic and ethical truth criteria (but not in physical science). We can see that such criteria are necessarily subjective and thus relative criteria. Not all humans will agree on the same preferred conditions and outcomes. On the contrary, there are fundamental differences in human beings which account for the political spectrum we see in human politics.
    [In my view the political spectrum emerges naturally on account of pre-conscious dispositions in human beings which are not inherently rational, but are given rational expression after the fact.]
    So my critical point here is – if we do not clearly distinguish between levels of natural order, and if we try to apply criteria appropriate to one level to another level, we end up with level confusions and incoherence. Applying criteria appropriate to the human world to the nonhuman natural world is anthropomorphism; which seems to me to be a covert anthropocentrism. Perhaps?

    Another point:
    Modern materialistic monism collapses all levels of natural order into physics; and thus consciousness and the human world (the product of consciousness) is reduced to a mechanical phenomenon of matter. But no one has yet presented anything like a satisfactory account of human consciousness and mind and the human world created by human consciousness and mind in purely physicalist terms. Thus far in respect to consciousness and mind and the human world, materialistic monism is at best a promissory belief; and at worst, a prohibitory dogma.
    Reductive materialist monism forbids us to explain or validate human consciousness and mind in its own terms, and constrains us to explain it by other means. Such as projecting the characteristics we want to affirm in humanity onto matter – anthropomorphic panpsychism.
    Likewise we are forbidden to explain or validate the world created by human consciousness in its own terms, so we are obliged to explain it by other means. Such as projecting human social and political and aesthetic and ethical characteristics onto matter – anthropomorphic pluriverse.
    In this way we endeavour to explain and validate these essentially human characteristics vicariously as characteristics of matter; and smuggle them back into philosophical discourse about human consciousness and mind and the human world as legitimated characteristics derived from matter and physics. A sort of metaphysical laundering operation. Perhaps?
    I detect in your philosophy a desire to develop a humanist perspective within the bounds and restrictions of materialistic monism. A humanised materialism?
    I hope what I have written does not offend; and will be received in the spirit of a critical contribution; and that perhaps something I wrote may be of some value or use.

    1. Matthew David Segall Avatar

      I understand your concerns, but I am also after what I refer to as an “anthrodecentric” philosophy of nature, as described in this talk about panpsychism v. eliminative materialism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fyyu3BW7LCM

  3. Matthew David Segall Avatar

    “There is no way the world is, independent of our views of it.” — When I refer to “our” views of the world, I mean to include far more than just human beings into the intersubjective circle. I mean all experiential agents at every scale, all the way down. Reality is made of perspectives: every entity is and has a perspective on the world. Here, “the world” refers to the physical world studied by natural science as much as the social world of human beings. There are differences in complexity, but there is no ontological gap between the human social world and the physical world. Both scales are composed by experiential agents interlocked in an ongoing creative process.

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