TA110 (Mind and Metaphysics)


Commentary 8




by Herbert FJ Müller

2 December 2008, posted 6 December 2008



Whenever the subjective aspect of experience is omitted (inadvertently or intentionally) the epistemological point of view is by definition metaphysical-ontological.   Metaphysics has in the past several centuries mostly been denounced as meaningless or impossible, but nevertheless it remained the basis of all views that proclaimed that reality is mind-independent.   The result is an eventual relapse into metaphysics (MIR-relapse).   This can be observed in all epistemological developments since Descartes.   


For instance it happened in the empirical-positivist-analytical tradition of Anglo-American epistemology, which has in recent decades embraced metaphysics with a quite unexpected intensity (although a century ago Whitehead had already been a metaphysicist).  Now there are philosophers who practice what they call ‘analytical metaphysics’, such as those whose work was discussed in connection with TA110.


It also happened in idealism, which claimed absolute knowledge.  And it happened in the phenomenological-existential type of Continental epistemology, despite its proclaimed aims of destruction or de-construction of metaphysics.    Not even Derrida wanted to renounce mind-independent ‘referents’.   


Without inclusion of subjective experience, and without a complete de-construction of metaphysics-ontology, MIR-relapse will always occur.   And on the other hand, such a complete de-construction of metaphysics is a pre-requisite for 0-D design (structuring).


Another point is closely related to this.  Subjective experience always has a holistic aspect, which is essentially religious in character, even when atheism is the avowed opinion.    Religion does not necessarily mean ‘theistic’, since there are non-theistic religions like Buddhism with a nirvana holism;  or attempts to design a science-based ‘theory of everything’.    Efforts to design coherent holistic (overall) structures meet with difficulties, because they try to structure the center of structure-generation in experience, which cannot be structured. 



Herbert FJ Müller
    e-mail <herbert.muller (at) mcgill.ca>