File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_2000/bhaskar.0010, message 68

Date: Fri, 13 Oct 2000 20:39:32 +0100
Subject: BHA: categorial necessities? 

Dear Caroline,

>Caroline New <> writes
> >Hello all,
> >Isn't this business of absence being a transcendentally necessary category
> >part of what was disputed in the CCR conference during Mervyn and Nick's
> >session on FEW?
> >
> >As I understand categories, ABSENCE is transcendentally necessary for
> >causation and change to be able to occur, but the CATEGORY of absence isn't
> >necessary at all, since I see that as part of the human, transitive world,
> >and there was certainly plenty of causation and change in our absence...
> >i.e. before humans came along.
> >

You are quite right in what you say in the second paragraph.

Two other issues were at stake at Lancaster between ourselves and Roy. The 
first was whether or not reality has a categorial structure which is 
captured by the system of categories. The second is whether or not there is 
a second categorial structure which Roy refers to as 'absolute' and 
describes the categorial structure of ideal reality and is somehow 
'fundamentally constitutive' of reality.

The debate on the first of these would be over the status of the referent 
of philosophy. Categories do refer to aspects of reality. However, Roy's 
1M-4D system developed in DPF provides us with a system of internally 
related categories. This system could not be said to refer to the 
'categorial structure of reality'. Instead, it should be seen as working 
through the logical implications of universally applicable abstractions. 
The categorial logic, or grammar, of DPF provides us with a general 
framework within which we conceptualise substantive realities. We draw on 
the system whenever we refer to reality. When we depart from this logic or 
grammar we fall into irrealism.

If this is right, then the second issue falls by the wayside from the 
start. If there is no 'categorial structure of reality' then there is no 
'absolute categorial structure'. If we let this go for the moment the idea 
of the absolute raises other questions. Most problematic is the idea that 
this structure of being is 'fundamentally consititutive' to reality. e.g. 
the structure of the eudaimonistic society is 'fundamentally constitutive' 
of all social reality. What this idea means is that the structure of a 
social condition which it is hoped could come about in the future is 
somehow constitutive of all other social conditions. Roy develops this idea 
as a way of guaranteeing the possibility that eudaimonia is always and 
everywhere a possibility. In so doing it by-passes all questions about 
specific historical conditions of possibility.

What we see happening in Roy's thought is a progressive expansion of the 
claims being made on behalf of philosophy. While I'm very keen to 
acknowledge that philosophy has a genuinely constructive role to play in 
the development of our knowledge about the world, and to acknowledge Roy's 
contribution,  I'm also very keen to keep that role within its proper limits.

Perhaps I should have siad that what the limits of philosophy are is what 
was really at stake between ourselves and Roy and those who accept the idea 
in FEW.


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