File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_2003/bhaskar.0312, message 274

Subject: BHA: Objective existence
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2003 17:42:11 -0600

Hi all,

For me the thing about scientific essentialism that is the most helpful, in the discussion about which things exist non-socially, is that it shifts attention away from objects and onto certain kinds of processes, as the things that we pick as examples of things that are "objective" IN THIS SENSE.  I think that this is really just to tweak what Howard is saying.  

Yes, houses are weight-bearing, etc., and this fact about them is (a) one that Bhaskar's version of scientific essentialism helps us to notice and (b) not social -- though HOW much weight they are built to bear, etc., is) but they are also clearly social products.  For me the thing that is so helpful about scientific essentialism is that it leads me to point to photosynthesis, rather than to houses, as things that exist "objectively."  This is important, as people like Horkheimer and Adorno will make a lot out of the inherently social character of almost any made object that you can think of.  

The difference between what I'm saying here and what Howard said is the difference between saying that things are real because they have causal powers and saying that the causal relationship is real.  These are not incompatible claims; the empasis is just on a different sy-LAH-ble.


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