Sunday, September 30, 2012

More Pluralism on the Way, Someday

I’m not done with my pluralism series. Two more things need to be done. First, I need to say something about Realms other than the various cultural Realms I’ve discussed in connection with literature. I figure I’ll do that with a post that discusses Realms of living vs. non-living beings.

There’s a problem there. In the world of quantum mechanics and complex systems plain old matter isn’t the dead res extensa of Cartesian dualist thought. It’s more like Jane Bennet’s vibrant matter. So I’ll have to deal with that, which seems to be, in part, a matter of mere definition. But not entirely so. Note that I’ve been over some of this territory in some posts on vitalism.

Then I want to conclude with some discussion of philosophy as a discourse that covers everything. How’s that possible in a sensible way? The Anglo-American tradition’s pretty much given up on that, and it’s not at all clear to me that the Continental tradition is much better. Yet that’s what the educated laity think philosophy is, an all-encompassing synthetic view of the world and what it all means.

Well, is it, or could it be? And could it speak to the general public, in which I include intellectual specialists other than academic philosophers?

I’m not making any promises about when I’ll get around to those issues, which I figure for one substantial post each. But in August I figured I write them by the end of the month. But other things became more pressing. As recently as a week ago I was thinking the same thing about the end of September, but it’s not going to happen.

At the moment all I’m willing to say is, someday...But I want to end up at the living cosmos.


  1. Keep it up! I think the generalisation of pluralism to a non-laruellian non-philosophy is very promising.

  2. Sorry for the extreme concision of my last comment. I think that a consequent philosophical pluralism has its own dynamic that leads from a pluralism inside philosophy, eg your pluralism of realms, to a pluralising of philosophy itself as an ontological realm and a cognitive régime claiming completeness and universality: your target of "philosophy as a discourse that covers everything ... an all-encompassing synthetic view of the world and what it all means". Here I think comes the move of putting philosophy in relation to a non-philosophical outside (non-philosophical not meaning a negation but a wider practice, as in non-Euclidean geometies). Laruelle has written on this sort of thing at length, but I don't think he can claim exclusive ownership (nor even chronological priority)of this idea, nor is he even necessarily the best exemplar of the practice of such a non-philosophy. But at least his work is a gesture in the right direction. And so he can have the operator "non-" applied to himself with as much justice as he applies it to philosophy. So a non-laruellian non-philosophy is a reasonable prolongation of pluralism.

    1. I'm not quite sure what you're getting at, Terry, but the philosophical pluralism I'm imagining, that of the Realms, can't exist without intimate interaction with all the other disciplines. The philosophers are going to have to negotiate the structure of the Realms with people who are experts many disciplines.