Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Challenge to Materialists

A challenge and a query.

My recent posts on nominalism vs. scholastic realism are a challenge to any philosophical view that insists on pure immanence, such as common materialist, physicalist, etc. views.  Any view that rejects the existence of universal descriptive categories now faces a challenge when trying to justify any metaphysical claim, and any transcendental or abductive methods risk anthropomorphizing such claims, because the descriptions cannot claim universality beyond the human.  There are many ways around these problems if one chooses to embrace nominalism, but few embrace the consequences of the alternative solutions, e.g., rejecting the principle of sufficient reason.  Instead, they hold conflicting and paradoxical views.

I now have a query for various individuals that would propose materialism, nominalism, etc.  How do you handle this charge?

I will offer one.  A metaphysics based on a derivative of Nietzschean will-to-power.  If everything that is, is conflicting points and perspectives of power, then any description is an interpretation performed by one able to impose its will.  The cosmos may be pure chaos except as it is ordered by a powerful will, whether the power occurred spontaneously or through chance striving, eventially it imposes order on the rest.  The entire structure of our universe is, in fact, the product of a cosmic agon between mad chance that would rend order and the tyranny of a superior will.  Dionysus and Apollo battle yet.


  1. The most frequent arguments that I have seen against what I describe on my blog constantly commit the fallacy of being beside the point. At some point, one should stop presuming that an interlocutor misinterprets what one says or writes and assert that their thinking is fallacious. What I have been seeing of late is a continuance of the argument that "form" is
    "in" or "outside" of matter and whether that view is defensible. That is entirely beside the point and also potentially commits the fallacy of simple location as well. If something is real but non-existenct, it is neither within or without anything, as it is not determinately spatial. Insomuch space is conceived as the connectivity of existences as in the process and Einsteinian relativistic model, which itself is relative and not absolute, the notion of an absolute spatial location is suspect.

  2. Jason,
    Can a nominalist hold that "axioms" are true? What are they if not "material alliances?" Ok, then, what are "material alliances?" And so on. At some point the nesting effect ends in either an arbitrary or nominal distinction.

    Can I even assert something "axiomatically" if I am a materialist through and through? What does that even mean?

    Geesh...I smell troll bait.

    Leon / after nature

  3. Leon,

    I think it can be done in historic models, e.g., Hume, but since the advent of sub-atomic physics, relativity, and now quantum physics, Newtonian-based nominalisms cannot survive the scientific counter-examples. That is why I gave a Nietzschean example, which happens to be panpsychist, that implies matter-energy equivalence and is able to skirt the obvious counter-examples.

    I think a nominalist can hold that axioms are true, but only if they accept the reality of logic as was often the case with scholastic nominalists. However, contemporary nominalists generally do not have that route, since rarely they do not hold that intelligence is a divine gift whose a priori correctness is assured.

    Of contemporary nominalists, I think that only anti-realists, Rortian pragmatists, etc. have a chance. In Rorty's case, the argument is that human social, cultural, political, and historical factors are inseparable from knowledge-claims such that an ideal of the pure thought that can think metaphysics is bunk. As I have noted, that route either eschews realist metaphysics or settles for a descriptive, human-centered metaphysics.

    I repeat my query. I am certain that there are novel ways around this challenge, and I would enjoy hearing about them.

    I would prefer that there be no troll-baiting here.

  4. I should be very clear.

    I am not certain whether object-oriented ontologies have the problem that I describe here or not. I suspect that it will depend on which one. I say this because some might presume, given my past blogosphere encounters, that I am making subtle jibes. I am not. I most certainly am defending my view against those who would reject it, and much of my recent comments come out of a discussion among Adam, Michael, and Matt.

    To be honest, I still suspect that some OOO philosophies have an infinite regression problem. Maybe they resolve it and maybe they don't. On the flip side, process philosophies tend to make identity a complicated affair ... though I am fairly certain that is also true for some OOO philosophies. As for the other views, I will address them as I find interlocutors.

  5. I am beginning to wonder if there is some correlate between my view of "teleology" and what is implied in the notion of autopoesis or even Levi's regimes of attraction. The more I think about it, the more I think that the differences between what I am saying and what others are saying is real, but not as wide as it appears. The perspective, rather than the substance, is likely the wider gulf.


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