Sunday, December 30, 2012


This comment is undoubtedly naïve. A major sin in the contemporary philosophical environment. It is what it is.

The sin of correlationism is generally laid at the feet of Immanuel Kant and his Copernican revolution. Why not implicate Descartes?

He’s the one who divided the cosmos into two utterly different kinds of substance, res cogitansand res extensa. That’s where the problem lies, no? Given that these two substances are utterly different, and that our minds are constituted by one of them, the relationship between mind and the world becomes problematic. Descartes invoked God to handle that problem.

If you jettison God, then you’ve really got a problem. Correlationism is one solution. But it’s not the only one.

Why not jettison the division of the cosmos into two utterly different substances? What happens then? The relationship between humankind and the rest of the world becomes just another relationship. It may be a particularly complex one, but that’s OK. Complexity is not the same as Utterly Different.

In this regime correlationism simply disappears. Hence, you don’t even have to take the trouble to deny it or argue against it.


The flip side of this comment is this: The obvious argument against the anti-correlationism is that declaring yourself against correlationism doesn’t in any way alter your basic perceptual or cognitive capacities. It’s not at though you acquire a new mental organ that allows you to see around correlationist corners. You’re still stuck with ordinary human capacities.

It would be better to admit that you’re not essentially different from the rest of the cosmos, no?

It’s a simpler work-around.

You might also invoke history, in which humankind has changed the local world, which would seem to require genuine knowledge. The last two centuries of such change have endangered our own lebensraum. That’s knowledge! Those old correlationist blinders don’t seem to have prevented us from messing with the environment, big time.

Perhaps we actually know something.

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