File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_1999/bhaskar.9911, message 16

Date: Wed, 10 Nov 1999 17:01:24 GMT
Subject: Re: BHA: Transcendental argument

Dear Andrew, 

Some thoughts on your questions.

> 1. Your interpretation of RB in terms of working at the level 'greatest 
> generality' and organising his philosophy in terms of levels of generality 
> is very interesting. Does RB himself put his work in these terms? I 
> hadn't noticed that he did (though I haven't read Plato etc.).

I don't think that RB does use this language. I find it a useful way 
of making sense of what he does. 

> 2. There is a difference between CR and DCR in that, by DPF, RB 
> claims to derive (D)CR from any human act, as you point out. But, 
> apart from this, I don't see a great gulf between CR and DCR; rather, 
> I agree with RB's characterisation of their relation (deepening, 
> enrichment, 'mostly preservative sublation', etc.). Your interpretation 
> also seems to back up such a view. Yet at one point you seem to 
> suggest that CR and DCR are very different. Surely, a non-
> conceptual, non-empirical reality is as much part of CR as DCR? (you 
> seemed to suggest otherwise, but this maybe a mis-reading - I know it 
> is so annoying to keep having to write 'CR/DCR' or (D)CR or some 
> such).

I would  argue for both continuity and change. If DCR really is a 
deepening, broadening etc. then it must, to varying extents, imply 
that CR was limited. For instance, some readings of CR have a tendency to collapse 
realism back into 'vulgar' forms of materialism. Relocating CR within 
DCR serves to prevent this kind of collapse. Such readings of CR are 
partly licensed by its limitations. 

> 3. Do you think RB provides an adequate account as to why all 
> philosophy (except CR/DCR) has made such a stupid mistake as to 
> fail to recognise a non-conceptual / non-empirical realm? I'm not sure 
> that he does but am ready to be convinced otherwise.

I don't have a considered response to this question. I would
suggest, off the cuff, that i) it only looks stupid from the other
side, and that ii) moves which which break with actualism are easily
brought down because of their partial character (and it remains to be
seen whether there are debilitating problems with RB's attempt to
make the break - the jury has barely begun its deliberations).
Dominant philosophies can ravage attempts to make serious
epistemological breaks. Just look at some varieties of Marxism.  I
would also suggest that one of the really curious features of late
capitalism is that it makes the kind of abstraction we are dealing
with here seem plausible and provides us with a necessity not faced
by other societies. The need to theoretically retotalise the social
is greater now than ever before and the intellectual resources are
available in a greater abundance than ever before. In other words
purely rationalistic accounts of these matters seem implausible and,
indeed, a stronger sociology of knowledge can be grounded by DCR.


Nick Hostettler,
Department of Political Studies,
SOAS (University of London),
Thornaugh Street,
Russell Square,
London WC1H 0XG

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