Saturday, November 13, 2010

Con & decon pomo continued

I will be referencing some sources in this post that were cited in the comments section from the last post, so check out those comments for the citations. And all of this comes from my posts at the IPS discussion forum on the topic.

More from Gare:

[criticizing Fichte] "it is inconceivable that an Absolute I could become conscious of itself, Schelling argued that the self-conscious I needs to be explained as the product and highest potentiality of nature....he claims, moreover, that the 'unconscious' stages through which consciousness emerges can only become conscious to an I that has developed out of them and realizes its dependence upon them" (34).

"Hegel's attack on Schelling provoked a sustained response from Schelling, who defended and elaborated his philosophy to expose the defects in Hegel's philosophy. He charged Hegel with producing a self-enclosed dance of abstractions dealing with essences without any place for existence. The crucial move made by Schelling was to show that a system of reason cannot explain the fact of its own existence" (38).

He does later on though note that process philosophers are in a better position to integrate early and late Schelling since they start from Schelling's early work whereas poststructuralists reject it (47). We'll see about that! Especially in light of the American pragmatists, one being Pierce who is cited as one of those process folks who adopted Schelling's early works.

The following are some excerpts from Schelling's entry in the Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy regarding his early work. Tell me this doesn't sound like Desilet's descriptions of Derrida as "not one, not two," I dare you! The latter rejects Schelling's early work indeed.

"The model is a magnet, whose opposing poles are inseparable from each other, even though they are opposites....the ‘principle of all explanation of nature’ is ‘universal duality’, an inherent difference of subject and object which prevents nature ever finally reaching stasis. At the same time this difference of subject and object must be grounded in an identity which links them together, otherwise all the problems of dualism would just reappear.

"One aspect of being, the dark force, which he sometimes terms ‘gravity’, is contractive, the other expansive, which he terms ‘light’. Dynamic processes are the result of the interchange between these ultimately identical forces. If they were wholly separate there would either be no manifest universe, because contraction would dominate, or the universe would dissipate at infinite speed because expansion would dominate. The result would be the same: there would not be a world....the One comes into contradiction with itself and the two forces constantly vie with each other. Differences must, however, be grounded in unity, as otherwise they could not be manifest at all as differences.

"This interaction between what is contained in itself and what draws something beyond itself is also what gives rise to consciousness, and thus to an inherent tension within consciousness, which can only be itself by its relation to an other."

(For some not familiar with Desilet, he participated in a couple of threads at the old Gaia forum. Here are links to two of those threads: Derrida and synergist spirituality. They are stored at Google documents which is sometimes slow in loading these large documents, and sometimes they don't load at all due to system overloads. Keep trying and eventually you'll get them.)

Here's what Mead said about Schelling, from Movements of Thought in the Nineteenth Century (Read Books, 2007):

“The antinomy in knowledge, instead of being the indication that we are trying to know something we cannot know, is the very process by means of which knowledge itself arises. The antinomy is a stage in the process of knowledge” (120-1).

He then goes into an examination of the Sophist tradition of ancient Greece, how they used “the dialectic” to trap opponents in contradictions. For when one sets up a universal definition there will always be particular instances that refute such “orienting generalizations.” Socrates was the champ at such sophistry but for him “it was a means for getting back to certain fundamental realities” (121). That fundamental reality is that there is no perfect, ultimate or universal category as such. Nonetheless, it is in positing such universals that we discover this through the process of antinomy, the process of differánce (not difference) as such! It is a postformal dialectical relationship between the universal and the particular that is not one, not two.

Mead went into an investigation of Kant as prelude to Schelling, given the former's influence on all subsequent philosophical investigation. So let's take a brief look of his critique of metaphysics from a concise, reliable source, the Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. First off, K said that we cannot know the thing-in-itself by reason alone, but that reason and sensibility (experience) combined might enact such knowledge. Reason alone generates a "formal" dialectic and irreconcilable contradictions. This type of reasoning generates an a priori world of ideas from which the world of form depends. Sound familiar? (See real and false reason thread.)

Given this split or antinomy reason seeks to find ultimate or transcendental causes to ground all conditions, to find the ultimate generalization to ground all particulars, to seek "theories of everything." Which of course presumes an ultimate as already given to be found, the now infamous myth of the given. However, this propensity of reason to seek out the ultimate or unconditioned has its functional use if not taken metaphysically, "so long as they are construed 'regulatively' and not 'constitutively.'”

Continuing with Kant's SOP entry, what the author means by regulative use is "as devices for guiding and grounding our empirical investigations and the project of knowledge acquisition." To construe constitutively "is provide the concepts through which we might access objects that could be known through the speculative use of reason." Take away the literal belief in an ultimate but use conditional generalities (quasi-ultimates via metaphor) as categories to organize, manipulate and add meaning to events. Here we seem some roots of the American pragmatists and their offspring the cogscipragos in grounding reason is empirical events and embodiment sans the metaphysical commitments. And again, in this way the ultimate and the particular are in relation, not diametrically opposed, both and neither.

However it doesn't appear Kant went all the way to this conclusion, instead postulating a transcendental idealism (at least according to Mead) as the solution to the antinomies. It seems Fichte went along with this but it was Schelling that took the more "pragmatic" turn.

By transcendental idealism I mean that Kant thought the “categories” were not only inherent to the mind but also the objective world, that they were originary or causal. So even though one could not know the thing in itself with reason alone, one could apprehend it nonetheless because the categories were inherent in the sensible world and in our intelligible mind and this was the connection point. All of which transcended our reason because these ideal categories existed both within and without us. Kant started us down the postmetaphysical trail but this remnant of it remained behind to haunt his philosophy. A remnant we still see in Wilber's transcendental subject (that he got from Fichte and manifested in his transrational “states”) and mathematical models like the MHC with their ideal Platonic forms.

Now Kant was right that the categories are inherent to our mind but not like he envisioned. We know from Lakoff & Johnson (see real and false reason thread) that categorization is indeed inherent to the way or brain-mind works and it cannot be otherwise. But they do not extend this to the world in itself as a causal agency that we just apprehend. We certainly utilize our categorization to organize and manipulate the world for our benefit but they don't confuse this with this remnant myth of the given; they still maintain this every so small separation that we don't actually know the thing in itself but nevertheless well enough within our relationship with it to effect useful change. Recall they warned that because this gap is small it is easy to make the confusion that it is nonexistent which led us down the primrose path of false reason, i.e. metaphysicality.

In criticizing Fichte Schelling turns us back from the transcendental subject (object) by noting it is not originary but arises from the unconscious processes of nature and thus not transcendental in the sense Fichte intends. This was also his criticism of Hegel, who also maintained originary “essences.” While the early Schelling went along with this agenda, the mid- to late Schelling did not. Hence you get Wilber citing early Schelling, Fichte and Hegel as corroborating evidence for his own transcendentalism while ignoring later Schelling and the subsequent American pragmatism that sprang from it (e.g. Mead), and the cognitive science movement that evolved from that (e.g., Lakoff & Johnson). But Wilber himself was not “originary” in that, getting it from the likes of the constructive postmodernists like Griffin, who still retain (as Pedraja notes) a “centeredness” in Whitehead's philosophy.

And along came the likes of Derrida, who Hampson asserts is not strictly of the deconstructive variety but also constructive. The likes of Griffin and Wilber, themselves emphasizing one side of this coin with their essences and formalisms, cannot see like Hampson that Derrida combined both sides in his postformal dialectics. Recall above the quotes from Schelling's mid to late period on the relation of opposition and compare with Desilet's discussion of Derrida.


  1. We went into this dichotomy of absolute and relative in the IPN thread, how those influenced by Kant's metaphysical remnant remains in the likes of Wilber and the con pomos. Recall from that discussion, quoting Mark Johnson's referenced book:

    “What must be the Kantian view that an adequate account of human mind and thought requires the keeping of two sets of books--one for the phenomenal world of things as appearances to us, and the other for the mysterious, noumenal world of things in themselves" (113).

    And we can also see the Kantian remnant is Wilber's use of Murti's interpretation of Nagarjuna that we re-explored in the Batchelor thread. Only there we found ancient Hindu and Hindu-influenced Buddhism as precedent to Kant.

  2. Compare to Wilber on Schelling, from BHOE:

    "Schelling's point is that nature is not the only reality, and mind in not the only reality. Spirit is the only reality. But in order to create the manifest world Spirit must go outside of itself, empty itself, into creation. Spirit descends into manifestation but this manifestation is nevertheless Spirit itself" (459).

    He goes on to note how for Schelling nature is objective spirit still slumbering, unconscious. With the mind spirit becomes subjective and conscious. And for S it is not either/or but both/and in nonduality, where we come to know this through "a direct mystical union...that is not mediated" (461-2). Here W is focusing on early to mid S, which still has traces of this Spirit that, as W interprets, "descends into manifestation." It does appear S retains some of this metaphysical spirit early on but it seems questionable that he does later on. W also notes that Hegel held to this same Spirit.

  3. This interesting review of a book shows Schelling's influence on American pragmatism. Therein Schelling's view of the absolute shifted throughout his oeuvre and the author

    "'shows how the late Schelling overcame the absolutism of the idealist metaphysics of reason' in his account of 'the dark will in nature,' and 'the puzzle of existence....the late Schelling...had gone well beyond Hegel in philosophical reflection, in that [he] emphasized the finite facticity of absolute reason.' According to Schelling, Wetz says, 'reality cannot be derived from reason, and chaos, lack of order, impulse and desire partly dominate in reality; these are, in short, unreasoning or irrational powers, which Schelling summarized under his concept of the dark will'.... Wetz emphasizes, later Schelling seems more existentialist than meliorist."

    H.G. Callaway, "Schelling and the Background of American Pragmatism." A review of Franz Josef Wetz, Friedrich W.J. Schelling, zur Einführung, Hamburg: Junius Verlag, 1996

  4. Oh Jesus, literally. Turns out Schelling's last period was a return to Jesus H. Christ with notions like the following, from this lengthy study of him:

    "On the basis of his Doctrine of Divine Potencies, Schelling now elucidates Positive Philosophy which is to be revealed as Philosophy of Mythology and Revelation. Philosophy of Mythology refers to pagan religion as natural religion, while Philosophy of Revelation deals with Christianity as the revealed Religion. The relation of the former to the latter is the relation of the imperfect to the perfect religion.

    "According to Schelling's Philosophy of Revelation, the temporal sensory World arose from human original sin. Namely because a human committed the original sin, the world came into being."

    What is up with these guys when they are faced with death? Cannot they just go into oblivion with their balls intact? Thank God(less) that this propensity slowly filtered out through the pragmatists to the cogscipragos.

  5. Let us now return to Poonamallee's article on Advaita, which is similar to Wilber's use of Schelling. (And it is no wonder that Wilber also uses Vedanta and the type of Vajrayana Buddhism influenced by it.) What makes it non-dual is the unifying concept of "an all pervasive energy" (191) that "does not separate the spiritual from the mundane because they are all parts of the same ultimate reality" (192). Here's Wilber's and Schelling's (and Hegel's) Spirit, the metaphysically formal dialectical higher synthesis of opposition, or as I came to call it in various threads, dual nonduality.

    I've suggested that a postformal dialectic does not 1) posit an ultimate reality that 2) synthesizes the opposites but rather maintains oppositional tension in relation. In the latter a universal absolute is relatively grounded in particular instances, just as those instances are given meaning and understanding by universal categories. They are symbiotic instead of antagonistic with no need of an outside force like Spirit to ameliorate them. Kant had the right idea to keep the universal regulative in this fashion and not within a constitutive metaphysics. But he like Schelling, while moving in a postmeta direction, nonetheless retained the remnant. As did apparently some of the American pragmatists, if we are to believe Callaway's account.

    Whereas returning to Edwards above, con and decon are not subsumed in a spiritualized or higher synthesis but remain an ongoing complimentarity, almost as if they were "types" in kennilingus and opposed to levels. A basic categorical typology that persists through various incarnations of hierarchically complex levels. And of course one that is interpreted differently by those cognitive levels, wherein the legitimate debate continues as to what is the relatively more accurate interpretation of the absolute.

  6. We have to be careful here with the various meanings of terms in different contexts. Recall Wilber's levels and those of Commons' hierarchical complexity advance through transition steps, for Wilber fusion, differentiation and integration. Commons increases the steps with the same general idea. These uses should not be confused with the bi-polar types of con and decon that might be present at each and every stage and step, but will be viewed differently by each.

  7. I'm cross-posting the following over here from p. 8 of the “integral postmetaphysical nonduality” thread, as it is relevant, particularly in relation to the last post on how to view teleology postmetaphysically and nondually.

    Here are some interesting excerpts from an article called "Interstitial Life" by Steven Shaviro:

    "Darwin provides an immanent, non-teleological mechanism for the development of life.

    "I have elsewhere (Shaviro 2003, 205-212) criticized the way that devotees of evolutionary
    psychology, in particular, tend to invoke “purpose,” attributed to such reified agencies as “evolution.”

    "The outcome of a process is not the same as the conditions that led to its existence in the first place. To equate the two is precisely to confuse the “efficient cause” that gave rise to the trait with the trait’s concrete action as “final cause.”

    "But selection is rendered intelligible, in retrospect, only by means of the “teleological principle”
    that particular traits have been selected for because they are adaptive. Thus the theory of natural selection takes away teleology with one hand, but gives it back with the other. The “argument from design” is rejected as an appeal to a transcendent, external cause, but restored as an immanent principle of emergent order.

    "Kant thus insists that linear, mechanistic causality is universally valid for all phenomena. But at the same time, he also proposes a second kind of causality, one that is purposive and freely willed. This second causality does not negate the first, and does not offer any exceptions to it. Rather, “freedom” and “purpose” exist alongside “natural mechanism”: Derrida would say that they are supplementary
    to it.

    "Purposive (teleological) causality is not altogether eliminated, but it can only be accorded a ghostly, supplemental status.... But in cases of complexity, or of higher-order emergence, supplemental causality becomes far more important.

    "The idea of purpose, or of final cause, involves a circular relation between parts and whole. The whole precedes the parts, in the sense that “the possibility of [a thing’s] parts (as concerns both their existence and their form) must depend on their relation to the whole.” But the parts also precede and produce the whole, insofar as they mutually determine, and adapt to, one another: “the parts of the thing combine into the unity of a whole because they are reciprocally cause and effect of their form” (252). An organism must therefore be regarded as “both an organized and a self-organizing being.” It is both the passive effect of preceding, external causes, and something that is actively, immanently self-caused and selfgenerating."

  8. And my comment in that thread was:

    As I've said before, there is also downward causation in addition to its upward forebear. But it seems that capacity only arises, or rather emerges, at a particular level of development somewhere around egoic rationality. Recall Levin's scheme where it is only at his level 3 that the journey to integrate earlier levels can even begin, and in so doing the higher level integrates and transforms the earlier levels, that is, reciprocal downward causation. Hence prepersonal dream and deep sleep become subtle and causal transpersonal enactions. And all by virtue of the personal ego sans skyhooks, aka integral postmetaphysical nonduality.

  9. Habermas was also a main source Wilber used to denigrate Derrida. As xibalba noted above they reconciled near the end of Derrida's life, something ignored by kennilinguists. Also ignored is extensive research into Habermas' inadequate understanding and critique of the Da. Here's an article* that discusses both of those topics. A few excerpts:

    "I will argue is that it is possible to cast serious doubts about the criticism that...Habermas [has] levelled upon poststructuralist thought....which has seen the shift from the open hostility voiced above, to a more sympathetic stance, being crowned by Habermas’ recent remarks about their relationship [meaning with Derrida].

    "What we need, I will argue, is to move in a non-dialectical [non Hegelian?] way ‘beyond’ the simplistic oppositionalism which has prevented, and continues to prevent, both the ‘post’ and its serious critics to explore the fertile terrain of their intersection."

    Echoing Keller above he goes on about Habbie's critique:

    "This evaluation is very unfortunate, not to say ill-advised, because it is based on the very limited, ‘Americanised’ version of deconstruction.... It is not considered by Habermas that Derrida’s deconstruction of the metaphysical tradition might bring him close to his own pragmatism.... If one reads Derrida’s criticism of Husserl in a slightly more sympathetic way, one might even find a few parallels in Derrida’s and Habermas’ work.

    "That Derrida here could be said to hint towards a form of context-transcendent meaning based in ‘otherness’, that is to say, outside the realm of ‘ownness’ and thus in between subjects, is not picked up by Habermas.... Critchley then argues that there might be a universal, ‘undeconstructable’ ethical moment in deconstruction."



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