Re: MD NAZIs and Pragmatism

From: Scott R (
Date: Sun Feb 16 2003 - 17:28:46 GMT

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    I think you are dodging my point. Which is, that in philosophy there are
    certain questions that come under the heading 'metaphysics', as opposed to
    'ethics', 'aesthetics', 'philosophy of science', etc. Under the heading of
    metaphysics, one asks, in Philosophy 101 terms (that is, there are a bunch
    of refinements, variations) whether one's general view is that of an
    idealist, a dualist, or a materialist. Rorty, by espousing Darwinism and the
    mind-brain identity hypothesis, clearly aligns himself with the materialist
    viewpoint. This does not mean that he spends a great deal of time defining
    materialism, or trying to establish secure foundations for it, but, simply,
    that materialism is his final vocabulary, if you like.

    And this is, IMO, a Bad Thing, intellectually, and as a consequence,
    socially. Intellectually, since Darwinism doesn't stand up to rational
    scrutiny (viz., the incredible improbabilities it requires, and that it
    cannot give a coherent account of perception -- see my Jan. 10 post). As a
    result it rules out of court a vast set of data (roughly, religous
    experience, which, *by materialist definition* cannot be taken at face
    value), and this has social consequences. That is, just as Rorty accuses
    religion of stopping the conversation, so does materialism.

    - Scott

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Matt the Enraged Endorphin" <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Saturday, February 15, 2003 8:37 PM
    Subject: RE: MD NAZIs and Pragmatism

    > DMB, all,
    > Platt asked me recently what "betterness" is for pragmatists like myself
    > and Rorty. I said it was the same for Rorty as it was for Pirsig:
    > undefined. Platt kinda' pressured me for a better answer and I was a
    > little confused by it all. Here's a main point of commensurability
    > Pirsig and Rorty: for Pirsig, "betterness" is Dynamic Quality and any
    > attempt to define Dynamic Quality outside of "betterness" or any other
    > vague hint will lead to the second line of definition for Dynamic Quality:
    > it is undefinable. I take Pirsig's reason for leaving it undefined to be
    > the same pragmatist reason that Rorty says, "normative terms like 'true'
    > and 'better' are not susceptible to definition." ("Hilary Putnam and the
    > Relativist Menace")
    > So, when Scott says, "you [Matt] are using an incorrect definition of
    > metaphysics," I translate it into "Matt, by following Rorty, Dewey,
    > Heidegger, Derrida, and Nietzsche, you are using a definition of
    > metaphysics that isn't as useful as the one I am using." You would agree
    > with Scott on this point and there is good reason to take Pirsig as
    > agreeing with this also. When you say, "That is really what it comes down
    > to, isn't it? The ferocity and rigidity with which we believe our
    > I can only agree. Rorty conflates the traditional philosophical
    > absolutisms of metaphysics with the psychological doubts of skeptics in
    > explication of the difference between a metaphysician's and ironist's
    > relation to their final vocabulary. (see footnote 58 of my "Confessions"
    > essay for a short explanation of metaphysician, ironist, and final
    > vocabulary) However, I still don't think retaining the title
    > as what we are doing when figuring out how our assumptions all hang
    > together in the widest sense and calling these assumptions "metaphysical"
    > is better than not. I think "philosophy" is a better moniker for what we
    > are doing and "final vocabulary" a better moniker for what we are fiddling
    > with. I think this because, when looking at the history of philosophy,
    > most of the people who thought themselves to be actively doing metaphysics
    > thought of themselves as looking for an absolute ground zero. The attacks
    > on metaphysics have been attacks on this attempt to find a foundation. I
    > simply find it exceedingly more convienient to call it an attack on
    > metaphysics than an attack on something else.
    > Matt
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