THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE FUTURE, #21–The Emergence of Post-Classical Analytic Philosophy.
By Robert Hanna
This book, THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE FUTURE: Uniscience and the Modern World, by Robert Hanna, presents and defends a critical philosophy of science and digital technology, and a new and prescient philosophy of nature and human thinking.
It is being made available here in serial format, but you can also download and read or share a .pdf of the complete text–including the BIBLIOGRAPHY–of THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE FUTURE HERE.
This twenty-first installment contains sub-section 2.2.2.
We know the truth not only through our reason but also through our heart. It is through the latter that we know first principles, and reason, which has nothing to do with it, tries in vain to refute them. (Pascal, 1995: #110, p. 28)
If there is any science humankind really needs, it is the one I teach, of how to occupy properly that place in [the world] that is assigned to humankind, and how to learn from it what one must be in order to be human. (Rem 20: 45)
Natural science will one day incorporate the science of humankind, just as the science of humankind will incorporate natural science; there will be a single science. (Marx, 1964: p. 70, translation modified slightly)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A NOTE ON REFERENCES TO KANT’S WORKS
2.2 The Emergence of Post-Classical Analytic Philosophy
Chapter 3. Thought-Shapers
Chapter 4. How To Complete Physics
Chapter 5. Digital Technology Only Within The Limits of Human Dignity
00. Conclusion: The Point Is To Shape The World
Appendix 1: A Note on The Löwenheim-Skolem Theorem, “Skolem’s Paradox,” and Neo-Organicism
Appendix 2: A Neo-Organicist Approach to The Nature of Motion
Appendix 3: Sensible Set Theory
Appendix 4: Neo-Organicism and The Rubber Sheet Cosmos
2.2.2 The Emergence of Post-Classical Analytic Philosophy
By the end of World War II, the early Cold War, and the period of the sociopolitical triumph of advanced capitalism and technocracy in the USA, classical Analytic philosophy had triumphed in a social-institutional sense; the first wave of organicist philosophy had virtually disappeared except in a vestigial form, as an aspect of American pragmatism; and existential phenomenology and all other kinds of non-Analytic philosophy, under the convenient and pejorative catch-all label, “Continental Philosophy,” gradually became the social-institutional Other and professional academic house-slave of Analytic philosophy (Rorty, 1982; McCumber, 2001; Akehurst, 2008; Akehurst, 2011; Vrahimis, 2012; Vrahimis, 2015; McCumber, 2016; Bloor, 2017; Katzav and Vaesen, 2017; Katzav, 2018; Strassfeld, 2020; Gare, 2021; Vrahimis, forthcoming). By 1950, however, Quine’s devastating critique of the analytic-synthetic distinction in “Truth by Convention,” “Two Dogmas of Empiricism,” and “Carnap and Logical Truth” (Quine, 1961, 1976b, 1976c), had effectively ended the research program of classical Analytic philosophy and thereby initiated post-classical Analytic philosophy. In the early-to mid-1950s, post-classical Analytic philosophy produced a Wittgenstein-inspired language-driven alternative to Logical Empiricism/Positivism, ordinary language philosophy. In the late 1950s and 1960s, powered by the work of H. P. Grice and Peter Strawson, ordinary language philosophy became conceptual analysis (Grice and Strawson, 1956; Grice,1989; Hanna, 1998). In turn, during that same period, Strawson created a new “connective” — that is, holistic — version of conceptual analysis, that also constituted a “descriptive metaphysics” (Strawson, 1959, 1992). In the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s, Strawson’s connective version of conceptual analysis gradually fused with Donald Davidson’s non-reductive naturalism about language, mind, and action (sometimes rather misleadingly called semantics of natural language), John Rawls’s holistic method of “reflective equilibrium,” and Noam Chomsky’s psycholinguistic appeals to intuitions-as-evidence, and ultimately became what can be called The Standard Model of mainstream post-classical Analytic philosophical methodology, by the end of the 20th century (Jackson, 1998). In the late 1990s and first two decades of the 21st century, a domestic critical reaction to The Standard Model, combining direct reference theory, scientific essentialism and modal metaphysics, yielded recent and contemporary Analytic metaphysics.[i] In contemporary mainstream post-classical Analytic philosophy, co-existing and cohabiting with The Standard Model and Analytic metaphysics, is also the classical Lockean idea that philosophy should be an “underlaborer” for the natural sciences, especially as this idea was developed in the second half of the 20th century by Quine and Wilfrid Sellars, and by their students, and then by their students’ students, as the materialist aka physicalist (whether eliminativist, reductive, or non-reductive) and scientistic doctrine of scientific naturalism, and again in the early 21st century, in even more sophisticated versions, as experimental philosophy, aka “X-Phi,” and the doctrine of second philosophy (Sellars, 1963a, 1963b, 1963c; Quine, 1969; Maddy, 2007; Knobe and Nichols, 2008).
More precisely, scientific naturalism includes four basic theses: (i) anti-mentalism and anti-supernaturalism, which says that we should reject any sort of explanatory appeal to non-physical or non-spatiotemporal entities or causal powers, (ii) scientism, which philosophically valorizes the formal and natural sciences, and says that they are the paradigms of reasoning and rationality, as regards their content and their methodology alike (Haack, 2017), (iii) materialist or physicalist metaphysics, which says that all facts in the world, including all mental facts and social facts, are either reducible to (whether identical to or “logically strongly supervenient”[ii] on) or else strictly dependent on, according to natural laws (aka “naturally/nomologically strongly supervenient”[iii] on), fundamental physical facts, which in turn are formally mechanical and naturally mechanical microphysical facts, and (iv) radical empiricist epistemology, which says that all knowledge and truths are a posteriori. Thesis (iii) entails universal formal and natural mechanism. And a direct implication of the conjunction of these four theses is that everything which does not fit the scientific image can be safely regarded as epiphenomenal, folkloristic, quaint, superstitious, a matter of taste, or else downright naïve. So, to summarize, scientific naturalism holds first, that the nature of knowledge and reality are ultimately disclosed by pure mathematics, fundamental physics, and whatever other reducible natural sciences there actually are or may turn out to be, second, that this is the only way of disclosing the ultimate nature of knowledge and reality, and third, that even if everything in the world, including ourselves and all things human (including language, mind, and action), cannot be strictly eliminated in favor of or reduced to fundamental physical facts, nevertheless everything in the world, including ourselves and all things human, is metaphysically grounded on and causally determined by fundamental physical facts, which, in turn, satisfy the theses of universal formal mechanism and universal natural mechanism. So scientific naturalism bottoms out in the mechanistic worldview, and is thereby committed to providing The Vienna Circle’s value-neutral set of formulae, expressing the underlying mathematical and causal structure of the natural universe, just as architectural high modernism promised to provide a value-neutral set of design principles that express the ultimate order of the human universe.
Generalizing now, the central topics, or obsessions, of the classical Analytic tradition prior to 1950 were meaning and necessity, with special emphases on (i) pure logic as the universal and necessary essence of thought, (ii) language as the basic means of expressing thoughts and describing the world, (iii) the sense (Sinn) vs. reference, aka Meaning (Bedeutung) distinction, (iv) the conceptual truth vs. factual truth distinction,
(v) the necessary truth vs. contingent truth distinction, (vi) the a priori truth vs. a posteriori truth distinction, and (vii) the analytic vs. synthetic distinction. A common and profoundly embedded thread running through all of these sub-themes is the following rough-and-ready multiple identity (or at least necessary equivalence):
So, a very useful way of characterizing classical Analytic philosophy from late 19th century Frege to mid-20th-century Quine, is to say that it consisted essentially in the rise and fall of the concept of analyticity. By vivid contrast to classical Analytic philosophy, however, the central commitment, and indeed dogmatic obsession, of post-classical Analytic philosophy since 1950 until today at 6am, continues to be scientific naturalism, bottoming out in the dual doctrines of universal formal mechanism and universal natural mechanism.
[i] The leading figures of Analytic metaphysics include David Lewis, David Chalmers, Kit Fine, John Hawthorne, Theodore Sider, and Timothy Williamson; and some of its canonical texts are (Lewis, 1986; Fine, 1994, 1995, 2005b; Sider, 2011; Chalmers, 2012; Williamson, 2013). For a critique of Analytic metaphysics, see Hanna, 2006a: chs. 3–4, 2015: section 4.5, 2017a.
[ii] For explicit definitions of logical and natural/nomological strong supervenience, see sub-sub-section 184.108.40.206 below.
[iii] See note [ii].
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