File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_1999/bhaskar.9904, message 34

Date: Fri, 16 Apr 1999 12:57:25 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: BHA: Re: Kant's realism

Hi Jan,

Sorry for the long delay.  I saved this message, half written, and kind of
forgot about it, having exhausted myself trying to get a handle on Bhaskar
and Kant.  For what it's worth, here's my response!  Thanks again for the

You wrote:
>What we are looking for are "the knock down *arguments*",
>and the "convincing reasons" in support of Bhaskar's TR but contra
>Kant's TI.

Yes.  A Kantian would argue, I think, that 

(a) while there may indeed exist a reality that in principle cannot be
experienced -- and, in the nature of the case, that we therefore can say
nothing about -- and 

(b) while it is even the case that reference to such a (possible, but by
definition un-knowable) realm is in fact required, as a negative, limiting


(c) to simply assert that causality as such (and here, remember, for the
Kantian we are talking not about which particular x's cause which particular
y's -- that is indeed a matter to be investigated empirically -- but of what
is it to *be* a cause) ...simply asserting that causality is a property of
mind-independent matter (i.e., that it is a matter of the real powers of
generative mechanisms) is a materialist version of rationalist metaphysical

So: how do we convince the Kantian that s/he is wrong, that Bhaskar's got
the better epistemology and the better metaphysics?  You suggest that
Bhaskar would propose the following as evaluative criteria:

>Imo Bhaskar would respond something as follows: "I prefer Ta
>over Tb because it is 'capable of explaining more or more
>significant phenonema in its own terms than the other does in
>his'. So Ta is better because it contains a (elaborated) notion
>of ontological stratification (ID-TD, R>A>E), can account for a
>greater number of problems solved, can 'predict' more accurately,
>generates the most relevant hypotheses, etc."

But I would still want to ask this:  assuming that we can mean by
ontological stratification something other than "causality is a
Mind-independent property of objects" (i.e., something other than "Bhaskar
is right" -- for that would be to argue circularly), can't it be
incorporated into Kantian trandscendental idealism fairly easily?  

And if we *can't*, in fact, mean by it anything other than "causality is
Mind-independent," then it can't be the deciding point according to which we
evaluate Bhashar's position relative to Kant -- because once again it is
simply a re-assertion *of* Bhaskar's position.  See what I mean?  

I'm just saying, the Kantian position is harder to dispense with than one
would think.  And if there is an important philosophical difference between
Bhaskar and other dialectical thinkers, I think it has a lot to do with just
this point.


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