Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ruminations and the Criteria for Metaphysics

For me and Heidegger, theology can never be a true science, or deeply reflective as philosophy. Theology always presupposes the validity of its object even prior to its study whereas philosophy questions and undermines even itself. Thus, theology is forever ontic, but can never be truly ontological. And the question facing me is would we truly want theology to be ontological?

Given that I said yesterday there is no such thing as constitutive reasoning, and I am opening up the possibility of ontology, an adept reader would pose the question if I am contradicting myself. How can we have an ontology without speculation? Of course, such an objection would have me if by ontology I meant to arrive at the most basic categories of being through speculation alone. However, I do not mean ontology through speculation. Instead, I mean ontology through the analysis of experience in terms of what is revealed within experience itself, and how the essence revealed in experience meshes with human action. In this way, I want to explore two criteria about how ontology of experience can be pursued. First, the phenomenological reduction can open up the constitutive layers of a phenomenon by tracing back our experience of a phenomenon within the natural attitude and revealing the necessary genetic development of a phenomenon. Thus, the essence of an experience peels back the natural attitude and shows the concatenations of constitution. These concatenations open up socio-historical life, and reveal the intersubjective and communal nature of experience of individuals.

Next, the intersubjective field now revealed must not only pinpoint how it is that a phenomenon acquires its constitutive development in socio-historic life. Instead, the intersubjective field is opened up, clarified, and the structure of human action incorporates the discerned essence into the person. The discerned essences become internalized and therefore projected upon the world. In this way, the discerned structure discloses the possibilities of projected interest, and these possibilities either affirm the intersubjective valence of the disclosure or takes hold of new possibilities. When new possibilities are generated from this internalization, the socio-historic life becomes illuminated and given possibility anew. This is largely a pragmatic structure in which we can internalize the possibility and reconstruct possibilities for the future and it is an open question whether we maintain the same continuity of experience into the future or change. Either option is an event in which the greater the valence of the disclosed possibility will be a reverberation for an individual's person/al life and possibly the life of others. This might come in the form of internalizing a norm, creating a new habit individually or disclosing a created possibility in socio-historic life that permeates human culture. One might call this last one the annunciation of the possible, and takes on a uniquely felt religious dimension. In fact, the Annunciation to the Blessed Mother might be one such event, an event so earth-shattering that the consequences of it are important for us all. There can be secular moments of this as well, such as the alleged Peace of Westphalia in which the first moment of human history successfully encounters collective security of the modern state.

Now, I have not thought this through in any great length of time. I am attempting to merge two criteria for ontology and respect the boundaries of a regulative conception of reason, although I interpret this Kantian injunction loosely. In phenomenology, we identify the form of constituting-consciousness that plays out in genetic and static analysis. In pragmatism, we test the form by exploring the manner in which content could vary in the opening up of possibility suggested by phenomenological description. In this way, we synthesize the role both phenomenology and pragmatism share.

Culture is the reification of the dynamic unfolding of internalization and projection of socio-historic life, and when Christian theologians base a metaphysical opinion stemming from a literal reading of the Bible, we must remind them of how literal and naive such readings are; they invoke a passive mind in relation to the world, taking it only on faith that the object of their speculation is present. This problem is worsened by a Biblical-only theology that eschews the hermeneutic constitution and historicity of interpretation. Such naive readings run very close to constitutive reasoning (or it is a species thereof to which Kant's critique still remains salient). Instead, the Bible should be taken as expressing no ontological language at all. The Bible only establishes itself as a field of common symbols and narratives that help us adjust our orientation towards others (by this one might read into the phrase "towards others" a Levinasian otherness as a notable influence in my thought). The Bible provides an intersubjective richness of meaning that gives rise to a shared culture of possibilities.

What will not jibe with the extremely religious orthodox is that this structure that is the same for Christians, at least as I see it, is the same for other religious orientations as well. Each tradition resonates in the same way. As a philosopher, I do not immediately discount learning from other wisdom traditions. For instance, Buddhist thought describes the problem of human desire more intricately than Aristotelian-Thomist accounts do. Moreover, this does not immediately mean that I subscriber to faith or belief in Buddhism in relation to the stock of my other opinions concerning the world. But let me get back to

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