Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Regarding Conflicts Between Science and Forms of Experience

   By 'forms of experience' (or forms of unity, forms of cognition, forms of order, or, simply, form) I understand the basic power (unities, orders, cognitions) we can speak of that make up our considerations of anything.  By 'forms of experience' I understand only primitive forms, not forms of things only knowable empirically; forms of experience concern only forms that are necessary, that is, where their possibility is sufficient to show their existence - things we cannot learn from experience, yet are required for experience.
   Because sciences are higher level organizations of what is given through our forms of experience, it is clear that all sciences are governed by forms of experience.  By being drawn from only some forms of experience, a science excludes consideration of other forms, or brackets them from consideration, which excludes concern with sciences grounded through other forms of experience.  Additionally, no science can undermine a form of experience, nor should it be considered rightful in any science to reject a form of experience.  This is because either a science has bracketed forms of experience, and so has no dealings with them,  or the science is developed out of those forms of experience, and so depends upon them.  (It is true that science first begin without a clear determining ground, but this does not mean that they do not depend upon this ground.)
   In spit of the relationship between forms of experience and sciences, confusion about this relationship leads forms of experience to be challenged by arguments drawn from the vantage point of certain sciences.  More often than not, these challenges really arise from conflicts between two sciences which are each grounded on different forms of experience, and seem to have incompatible concepts.  Compounding these difficulties is the apparent fact that many conceptions of a science are given the same name, and so different things are sometimes spoken of as equal.  The summation of all this is that many disputes that proceed along the lines of these perceived difficulties are chaotic and undisciplined (they  have no clear grounding principles).  In time I would love to address all of these difficulties, but for now I will restrict myself to clarifying the supposed conflicts between forms of experience and sciences, so far as these forms of experience lead to sciences that appear to compete.
   When someone is drawing from a science in order to reject a form of experience they are either:

a) demanding that the analysis we have carried out for some form of experience be clarified, since we have excluded possible experiences, or including impossible experiences, within the forms we have accounted for.  Or,

b) that the science is itself concerning forms of human experience.

In the former case there is no conflict of science, but if there is something excluded (or superadded) by our account of the forms of experience, then we have an excellent opportunity to improve our account of the forms of experience.  In the latter case, there will be a conflict of metaphysics (systems of forms of experience), and we can work to see if the basic principle of our forms of experience are compatible or not with the others suggested.  When comparing different systems of metaphysics we must decide if there are real conflicts, or if the conflict is ultimately over terminology and the structure of terms - a procedure that is beyond the scope of this essay.
   In my experience of philosophical disputes, a conflict between forms of experience is rarely acknowledged, and usually  a distinction between forms of experience and sciences is needful.  In order to illustrate this more common scenario, I will select an example that, I hope, will be familiar.
   Physics draws its basic concepts from some forms of experience of objects (of a possible experience), while excluding other forms of experience.  It is often supposed that freewill is in conflict with laws of physics.  I do not intend to resolve this debate here explicitly, but merely to show the landscape of the debate from the vantage point of the distinctions I have been articulating.
   If we grant that the science of freewill, which I will call praxology, is derived from forms of experience excluded by physics, then physics and praxology are not themselves in conflict; instead, we have a question concerning our understanding of forms of experience.  As we already noted, if a science has a concern with the accuracy of our articulation of the forms of experience, this conflict is to be understood as a demand to clarify, and once more explicate, our forms of experience - a practice that is always needful.  However, the debate rarely becomes this productive since the following circumstances are often in play:  someone thinking vaguely along the lines of physics - a science which is not, by its nature, interested in freewill - does not recognize that they have bracketed certain forms of experience which praxology depends upon, and concludes the absurdity of praxology.  At the same time, a praxologist who also does not see this bracketing will be unable to understand how their own manner of thinking is able to be rejected, but is also unable to justify it.  By ignoring the difference between forms of experience, and sciences, this arrangement will never lead to a productive discussion, but only confusion.  
   Praxology, understood along the lines of Kant's practical philosophy, depends upon a different conception of cause than physics does, namely the notion of a self-cause.   Cause and self-cause both form foundations for different manners of organizing knowledge, and their is no need to suppose that the discussion of either comes in to determine what the state of the other is.  I hope to face this particular example in greater detail soon in order to clarify the notion of a self-cause, but there is no room in the current essay for this.
   The arrangement above is not an attempt to describe disputes between sciences as empty, but as typically in a chaotic state.  There is a lot to be gained by coming to terms.  I hope that all of this suggest that when sciences come into conflict, and particularly when they come into conflict with forms of experience, there is a lot to consider in order to make sure that those who argue do not make a spectacle of themselves.  Unfortunately, the crowd who may recognize such a spectacle for what it is seems to be small, since it is far more common that these sorts of conflicts tend to divide people into factions immediately, and before any investigation into the origin of the dispute has been made.
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