Vanity Fea

Metaphysics and Consilience

Metaphysics and Consilience

"Causality has to do with questions about what would happen if something had gone differently."

James Ladyman's interview and lecture on his coauthored book Everything Must Go, which proposes a consilient interpretation of metaphysics as a way of conciliating the different views of reality offered by the scientific disciplines, the humanities, and everyday experience. It is only in some kind of consilient middle ground that the dialogue between these layers of reality can take place:




The key notion (the one alluded by the "Everything Must Go" motto): that there is no intrinsically privileged way of describing things or the world as being "this" or "that", e.g. particles of energy, or matter, or whatever, but that every description is relational, and the terms it privileges cannot be sustained at their own level by any self-sufficient intrinsic properties.

One slide on the nature of those things which "must go":

Negative thesis: every 'thing' must go in so far as the world is not made of little things, in the sense of little material objects as modeled by intuition and as perceived in the manifest image; particles are not particles.

Positive theses: the scale relativity of ontology, the real patterns account of ontology, realism about modality, the unity of science, there may not be a fundamental level, and composition is a real feature of the world and there is higher order ontology, but composition is diachronic not synchronic, and domain specific since dependent on the relevant kinds of interaction.

I would add (JAGL) that a consilient approach to knowledge has to be, in the last analysis, a symbolic interactionist one.

El interaccionismo simbólico

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