Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Questions about the Real

In this IPS post Balder explains the basics of Bhaskar's notions of the real, actual and empirical. I responded and we had an exchange, some of which follows. See the link and following for the rest of the conversation.

Me: So we might draw out into the actual and empirical some latent real potentialities via controlled experiments. I presume though this is not to say that we can draw out all of the latent real potentials if we could but devise enough experiments? Bryant might say that this withdrawn real (in distinction from the actual real) is virtually infinite.

A comment on the actual/empirical. The cognitive unconscious, for example, has quite a bit of actuality of which we can infer empirically though not experience directly. Which of course helps us tremendously in using such data to curb the overstatements of phenomenological access to postmetaphysically ground claims of god or nirvana or the causal. But then there is the transcendental deduction of what must be necessary to get the actual going. So is this part of Bhaskar's real or actual?

We see this explored in Bryant and DeLanda, that we have withdrawn and virtual generative mechanisms that we infer from traces in the actual, like attractors. According to them such attractors never enter into the actual and hence the empirical, yet it seems we can empirically use them anyway.

Balder replied: Great questions.  In my understanding, yes, Bhaskar's notion is similar: the real is such that it is virtually infinite: no set of experiments will entirely exhaust or expose the real. Yes, the transcendental deduction addresses the "real," as that which is necessary to get the actual going.  was that your question, or were you asking more specifically whether Bhaskar would consider the cognitive unconscious to be the actual or the real?  If the latter, I haven't heard him address this directly, but it would seem to me that cognitive science deals with both: trying to discern the activity of the cognitive unconscious, and also to posit and test for possible generative mechanisms of/for the cognitive unconscious.

Me: I guess my inquiry is about the strict boundaries between Bhaskar's 3 elements. It seems we can infer a lot about the real and test those assumptions to make ontological statements about the ontic. So in that sense the real ontic is not unavailable to the actual or the empirical, at least in part. To say the real, or the virtual in Bryant's case, is strictly withdrawn seems a bit too dogmatic perhaps? To use Bryant's own Borromean hypothesis, there are areas of overlap and connection between these domains, none being 'pure.'

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.