From: Andrew Brown (Andrew@LUBS.LEEDS.AC.UK)
Date: Tue Nov 18 2003 - 07:22:42 EST
Thanks Ian, Let me give a practical and then a philosophical response. From a practical point of view, acceptance of causal events unknowable in principle (i.e. non-material) leads us to doubt obvious facts like the fact that I am typing on my computer at the moment. This is just silly (to borrow your own falicitous term) but it follows, since there maybe an unknown and unknowable causal mechanism, or 'force', about to turn my computer into an elephant or I may be a brain in a vat or whatever, given the premise in question. The practical point is that we know for certain that we are not brains in a vat and it is scandolous (but a product of capitalism) that our best known philosophies fail to uphold this fact. From a philosophical point of view, the problem is a collapse to scepticism, for, as Hume said, if the ultimate springs of the universe are for ever outside of human cognition then we have absolutely no idea what they are going to do next. So we have no idea what is going to happen next. We know nothing. But this is really a collaspe to a self-contradiction, since scepticism is self-contradictory and it signals a need to find an adequate, non-self-contradictory philosophy. In turn this requires a sublation of Hume's idea-object dichotomy. The usual misinterpretation of my position is that I am after *certain* knowledge. This is quite wrong. I am trying to uphold philosophically the obvious fact that we have *some* knowledge, however weak and fallible. Hume shows us how difficult this is -- see previous para. (My interpretation of Hume is different from the usual one, e.g. that offered by Popper). Thanks again, Andy > I don't see why, for example, its important to > deny the possibility that some causal events may in principle be > unable to be understood by the human mind (however disappointing this > may be), neither do I see why Bhaskar's transcedental argument from > the conditions of possibility of science don't answer Hume, and avoid > the collapse into scepticism. I'm just not grasping the difficulty > that materialist dialectics is supposed to overcome.
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