Friday, February 17, 2017

What is postmetaphysics?

Following up on this post, I'm curious if anyone into stages theory thinks they are orders of complexity as ideal and objective forms as Plato would have described it? Does anyone see that as a problem for postmetaphysics?

To answer my own questions: No, the Model of Hierarchical Complexity (MHC) is not postmetaphysical in the way integral postmetaphysical spirituality (IPS) forum has come to define it. I've argued elsewhere at Ning IPS that the postformal stages as defined by MHC may or not express postmetaphysicality, but the latter is not a condition included or even recognized in the MHC. They might indirectly include it in their descriptions of pomo, but only under the general category of relativism and challenging ultimate truths in modern representation.

But the MHC itself, and its premises per above, is not postmetaphysical. Which is why I use postmetaphysicality as the fulcrum leading into what I consider postformal operations. Yes, one can do tasks at what the MHC describes as meta-systemic, paradigmatic or cross-paradigmatic, including some MHC practitioners, but they still contain metaphysical premises and elements. That's why I proposed the 'fold' in the hier(an)archy, which is a different take on states, stages and the WC lattice.

So what is postmetaphysics then?

As for a very broad definition of postmetaphysics, it doesn't negate metaphysics--the study of what is real--per se. It just means it no longer accepts the sort of metaphysics that posits we can directly know or experience the real as it is.

Hence my criticism of the MHC above, which posits objectively real Platonic, mathematical forms that correspond to what we can know and manipulate to define stages of development. The likes of Lakoff math itself is constructed from our perceptual apparatus. Lakoff et al. don't deny the real, just that there is a direct correspondence of our embodied tools with that reality. It's what they call embodied realism, differentiated from the MHC's symbol-system realism.

To continue, from Philosophy in the Flesh (pp. 94-96):
"Perhaps the oldest of philosophical problems is the problem of what is real and how we can know it, if we can know it…. Aristotle concluded that we could know because our minds could directly grasp the essences of things in the world. This was ultimate metaphysical realism. There was no split between ontology (what there is) and epistemology (what you could know), because the mind was in direct touch with the world.

"With Descartes, philosophy opened a gap between the mind and the world…. Ideas…became internal “representations” of external reality…but somehow “corresponding” to it. This split metaphysics from epistemology.

"…embodied realism…is closer to…direct realism…than…representational realism. [It] is, rather, a realism grounded in our capacity to function successfully in our physical environments. It is therefore an evolutionary realism. Evolution has provided us with adapted bodies and brains that allow us to accommodate to, and even transform, our surroundings.

"It gives up on being able to know things-in-themselves, but, through embodiment, explains how we can have knowledge that, although it is not absolute, is nonetheless sufficient to allow us to function and flourish.

"The direct realism of the Greeks can thus be characterized as having three aspects:

1. The Realist Aspect: The assumption that the material world exists and an account of how we can function successfully within it;
2. The Directness Aspect: The lack of any mind-body gap;
3. The Absoluteness Aspect: The view of the world as a unique, absolutely objective structure of which we can have absolutely correct, objective knowledge.

"Symbol-system realism of the sort found in analytic philosophy accepts 3, denies 2 and claims that 1 follows from 3, given a scientifically unexplicated notion of “correspondence.”

"Embodied realism accepts 1 and 2 but denies that we have any access to 3.

"All three of these views are “realist” by virtue of their acceptance of 1. Embodied realism is close to direct realism…in its denial of a mind-body gap. It differs from direct and symbol-system realism in its epistemology, since it denies that we can have objective and absolute knowledge of the world-in-itself.

"…it may appear to some to be a form of relativism. However, while it does treat knowledge as relative—relative to the nature of our bodies, brains and interactions with the environment—it is not a form of extreme relativism, because it has an account of how real, stable knowledge, both is science and in the everyday world, is possible."


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