TA106 (Müller)


Response 22 (to C57 by Adams)




by Herbert FJ Müller

27 September 2009, posted 3 October 2009


I would like to thank William Adams for his comment, and will in the following answer to the questions raised in his <7 to 10>.

My main point is that for purposes of discussion it is a good idea to clearly separate ontology-metaphysics from constuctivism-reality-design.

Scientists do in general not base themselves on intentionally projected objects, à la Brentano.   As a theoretical physicist recently told me, ‘reality just is’, reflecting the earlier opinion of Hermann Weyl of the 1920s.   And the same has to be said about the metaphysical-ontological philosophical tradition in general, since the time of Parmenides, except that Kant brought some modifications.

The phenomenologists have, like Brentano, felt that there was something wrong with traditional metaphysics-ontology, and tried to base themselves on description of mental experience.   But they still did not give up the idea of mind-independent reality, and this resulted in hybrid products, like those of Husserl, Heidegger, Jaspers, and Merleau-Ponty.  

What is missing is the active part of the subject.   Constructivism  is clearer in this respect, but also has the tendency to maintain metaphysics with a Kantian qualification.   Deconstruction of metaphysics-ontology was incomplete, even that of Derrida, who maintained that there was an ‘underlying complexity’ rather than an unstructured background, and thus he did not want to discard ‘referents’.

Onta’ are understood as ‘given’ in mind-independently pre-assembled shape (never mind by whom);  they are not understood as intentionally projected objects.  

And we are not able to produce mind-independent onta.   What we do is  design working-realities  within the unstructured background,  as possibilities for thinking and action.   They remain in our minds and are testable in action;  they are not outside.   That implies a clear change from traditional ontology to reality-design in the unstructured.  

Reality-design  is a  rather different procedure, and does not imply self-alienation to start with, although all tools (conceptual and other) are used at a pragmatic distance, at arm’s length.    The designs remain always ours and do not refer to unknowable objects in a fictitious ‘outside’.  

Of course, seen from the reality-design point of view, metaphysics-ontology is nonsense, a mis-interpretation of what happens.

I hope this clarifies my position.

Concerning the proposal of ‘demiurgicity’ :   I think one has to distinguish between design or structuring (we have to structure all of experience) and creating or making (we create songs, religions and governments, but not toothaches, fleas, or the moon, even though  they too need our structuring).


Herbert FJ Müller
     e-mail <herbert.muller@mcgill.ca>