Phenomenology and Evolutionary Theory

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AshvinP
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Phenomenology and Evolutionary Theory

Post by AshvinP »

Ashvin wrote:
Justin wrote:
Ashvin wrote:As for Hegel, the "certainty of sense data" is not really an assumption but a given of experience. He is not starting with the assumption that sense data reveals the essence of the phenomena, but rather that the sense data exists. In our experience, we are confronted with phenomena perceived by our senses. Fichte also starts in a similar way in The Vocation of Man. That is the phenomenological approach - there are no metaphysical assumptions added on at the beginning of the analysis, so in that sense it is the opposite of how you begin in the paper.
This is a big and important topic. But I think it would be best discussed in another thread (if desired) as it digresses substantially from the OP.
OK, if you actually want to continue discussing it, then I will start a new thread in a bit.

This is continuing a discussion from Justin's thread on evolution. I argue here that Hegel's approach to evolution of the Spirit is a phenomenological one, hence the name of his book "Phenomenology of the Spirit", which starts with very minimal assumptions and reasons out from the givens of experience in our sense-perception and conceptual thinking. I also would include Goethe (who came before Hegel) and Steiner (who came after) in this approach to evolutionary theory. I contrast that approach with modern formulations of evolutionary theory which came after Hegel and incorporate all sorts of flawed rationalist, materialist, and dualist assumptions when deriving their conclusions. If anyone wants to discuss further, then feel free to comment, question, critque, etc.
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Re: Phenomenology and Evolutionary Theory

Post by JustinG »

I thin this comes down to whether dialectical methodology prioritizes thought over being, and contemplation over practice, or visa versa. Hegel prioritized thought but, after Hegel, others such as Italian philosophers Labriola, Gramsci, Croce and Gentile reversed this prioritization. Croce and Gentile were idealists too, so this is not a matter of Marxists vs idealists.

In terms of my paper on the causal efficacy of consciousness, in this paper (https://www.cosmosandhistory.org/index. ... e/view/263) philosopher Arran Gare uses the dialectical approach of Schelling to support process metaphysics rather than idealism, so the arguments I made are consonant with the position of Gare. Some excerpts:
Gare wrote:

Focusing on the crucial question of teleology and the nature of life, in this paper I will argue that in his early career, under the tutelage of Goethe, Schelling not only advanced Kant’s insights but successfully used these advances to overcome the incoherencies in Kant’s whole system of philosophy while preserving Kant’s most important insights. In doing so, he created a more coherent system of philosophy than Kant (or Hegel) which was neither idealist nor materialist, but as he himself claimed, a system that overcame the oppositions between idealism and realism, spiritualism and materialism. It was, I will argue, the first coherent system of process metaphysics, and should be seen as the origin of the tradition of process philosophy.....

For dialectical thinking as it was developed by Fichte, Schelling and Hegel, “subjectivity and objectivity, of both mind and the encompassing world of nature, are mutually implicating aspects of a single, comprehensive system.” While Schelling concurred with Fichte and Hegel on this, in opposition to their dialectics in which logically implicit contents are progressively unfolded, Schelling developed a form of dialectics that requires thought to confront causal influences from what exists as well as to draw inferences (although Schelling appeared to depart from this view for a time with his Philosophy of Identity). For Schelling, thought is inherently synthetic, and begins with genuine opposition either between thought and something opposing it, or other factors within thought. in which the I sees itself as unintentionally but necessarily engaged, precisely through the act of self-positing.” This form of dialectics does not reduce Nature to either law governed matter or “nothing more than the organ of self-consciousness” but affirms that “[t]he first maxim of all true natural science, to explain everything by the forces of nature, is therefore accepted in its widest extent in our science.”

...... By overcoming the limitation of Kant’s philosophy, Schelling has provided the basis for definitively transcending scientific materialism, in doing so, overcoming the opposition between science and the humanities and enabling people to understand themselves as culturally formed, socially situated, creative participants within nature.
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Re: Phenomenology and Evolutionary Theory

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JustinG wrote: Thu Sep 16, 2021 4:06 am I thin this comes down to whether dialectical methodology prioritizes thought over being, and contemplation over practice, or visa versa. Hegel prioritized thought but, after Hegel, others such as Italian philosophers Labriola, Gramsci, Croce and Gentile reversed this prioritization. Croce and Gentile were idealists too, so this is not a matter of Marxists vs idealists.

In terms of my paper on the causal efficacy of consciousness, in this paper (https://www.cosmosandhistory.org/index. ... e/view/263) philosopher Arran Gare uses the dialectical approach of Schelling to support process metaphysics rather than idealism, so the arguments I made are consonant with the position of Gare. Some excerpts:
Gare wrote:

Focusing on the crucial question of teleology and the nature of life, in this paper I will argue that in his early career, under the tutelage of Goethe, Schelling not only advanced Kant’s insights but successfully used these advances to overcome the incoherencies in Kant’s whole system of philosophy while preserving Kant’s most important insights. In doing so, he created a more coherent system of philosophy than Kant (or Hegel) which was neither idealist nor materialist, but as he himself claimed, a system that overcame the oppositions between idealism and realism, spiritualism and materialism. It was, I will argue, the first coherent system of process metaphysics, and should be seen as the origin of the tradition of process philosophy.....

For dialectical thinking as it was developed by Fichte, Schelling and Hegel, “subjectivity and objectivity, of both mind and the encompassing world of nature, are mutually implicating aspects of a single, comprehensive system.” While Schelling concurred with Fichte and Hegel on this, in opposition to their dialectics in which logically implicit contents are progressively unfolded, Schelling developed a form of dialectics that requires thought to confront causal influences from what exists as well as to draw inferences (although Schelling appeared to depart from this view for a time with his Philosophy of Identity). For Schelling, thought is inherently synthetic, and begins with genuine opposition either between thought and something opposing it, or other factors within thought. in which the I sees itself as unintentionally but necessarily engaged, precisely through the act of self-positing.” This form of dialectics does not reduce Nature to either law governed matter or “nothing more than the organ of self-consciousness” but affirms that “[t]he first maxim of all true natural science, to explain everything by the forces of nature, is therefore accepted in its widest extent in our science.”

...... By overcoming the limitation of Kant’s philosophy, Schelling has provided the basis for definitively transcending scientific materialism, in doing so, overcoming the opposition between science and the humanities and enabling people to understand themselves as culturally formed, socially situated, creative participants within nature.

If this is all relevant to your paper, then I am not sure why we created a new thread, as it will make it more difficult for others to follow. But that's fine.

You have opened up very important avenues of discussion above. The bolded part reflects Schelling's early work, I believe in Naturphilosophie, which is tightly aligned with Hegel and Fichte. All three advanced past Kant because they recognized that the essential "I" (Thinking activity) cannot be explained by any external factors. It precedes all dualisms of subject-object, ideal-real, etc. - that is the "self-positing" they all asserted. My understanding is that Schelling later did an about face and regressed back to Kant, looking to find an external explanation for the "I" activity of Thinking. I believe you are also doing the same thing - you are implicitly assuming a dualism between personal "thought" and Nature which exists "out there". That is the exact same implicit assumptions Kant made when deriving his epistemology. It views our Thinking activity as something separate from "being and practice" (i.e. Nature), and therefore rejects the participatory understanding of Thinking of Goethe, Coleridge, early Fichte, Hegel, early Schelling, Steiner, Jung, etc.

It is from that flawed dualism which one then "reverses the prioritization" of Thinking activity. Idealism is not at all compatible with any ontic dualism in that manner. Basically it is a dualism of "personal" vs. "transpersonal", and a consistent metaphysical idealism can only recognize the ontic reality of the latter. There is no "personal" realm of Thinking and thought-forms. As implied in the OP, though, we don't need to rely on any metaphysical systems to confirm the "self-positing" of the essential "I" i.e. Thinking activity which Hegel, early Fichte, and early Schelling concluded. We can start with the givens of our experinece as we observe them in our own Thinking activity. That phenomenology is laid out clearly in Steiner's PoF. It's not true that "objective idealism" or "absolute idealism" in this manner is incompatible with "process philosophy". All of the thinkers mentioned in this post clearly hold to a process philosophy, as the Spirit-"I"-Thinking is forever metamorphosing. It is really the "reversal" view which denies processual foundation, as it seeks to fix natural relations in space-time in order to understand their essence. That is pretty clear from modern "secular" Darwinian theory.
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Re: Phenomenology and Evolutionary Theory

Post by JustinG »

AshvinP wrote: Thu Sep 16, 2021 1:45 pm
JustinG wrote: Thu Sep 16, 2021 4:06 am I thin this comes down to whether dialectical methodology prioritizes thought over being, and contemplation over practice, or visa versa. Hegel prioritized thought but, after Hegel, others such as Italian philosophers Labriola, Gramsci, Croce and Gentile reversed this prioritization. Croce and Gentile were idealists too, so this is not a matter of Marxists vs idealists.

In terms of my paper on the causal efficacy of consciousness, in this paper (https://www.cosmosandhistory.org/index. ... e/view/263) philosopher Arran Gare uses the dialectical approach of Schelling to support process metaphysics rather than idealism, so the arguments I made are consonant with the position of Gare. Some excerpts:
Gare wrote:

Focusing on the crucial question of teleology and the nature of life, in this paper I will argue that in his early career, under the tutelage of Goethe, Schelling not only advanced Kant’s insights but successfully used these advances to overcome the incoherencies in Kant’s whole system of philosophy while preserving Kant’s most important insights. In doing so, he created a more coherent system of philosophy than Kant (or Hegel) which was neither idealist nor materialist, but as he himself claimed, a system that overcame the oppositions between idealism and realism, spiritualism and materialism. It was, I will argue, the first coherent system of process metaphysics, and should be seen as the origin of the tradition of process philosophy.....

For dialectical thinking as it was developed by Fichte, Schelling and Hegel, “subjectivity and objectivity, of both mind and the encompassing world of nature, are mutually implicating aspects of a single, comprehensive system.” While Schelling concurred with Fichte and Hegel on this, in opposition to their dialectics in which logically implicit contents are progressively unfolded, Schelling developed a form of dialectics that requires thought to confront causal influences from what exists as well as to draw inferences (although Schelling appeared to depart from this view for a time with his Philosophy of Identity). For Schelling, thought is inherently synthetic, and begins with genuine opposition either between thought and something opposing it, or other factors within thought. in which the I sees itself as unintentionally but necessarily engaged, precisely through the act of self-positing.” This form of dialectics does not reduce Nature to either law governed matter or “nothing more than the organ of self-consciousness” but affirms that “[t]he first maxim of all true natural science, to explain everything by the forces of nature, is therefore accepted in its widest extent in our science.”

...... By overcoming the limitation of Kant’s philosophy, Schelling has provided the basis for definitively transcending scientific materialism, in doing so, overcoming the opposition between science and the humanities and enabling people to understand themselves as culturally formed, socially situated, creative participants within nature.

If this is all relevant to your paper, then I am not sure why we created a new thread, as it will make it more difficult for others to follow. But that's fine.

You have opened up very important avenues of discussion above. The bolded part reflects Schelling's early work, I believe in Naturphilosophie, which is tightly aligned with Hegel and Fichte. All three advanced past Kant because they recognized that the essential "I" (Thinking activity) cannot be explained by any external factors. It precedes all dualisms of subject-object, ideal-real, etc. - that is the "self-positing" they all asserted. My understanding is that Schelling later did an about face and regressed back to Kant, looking to find an external explanation for the "I" activity of Thinking. I believe you are also doing the same thing - you are implicitly assuming a dualism between personal "thought" and Nature which exists "out there". That is the exact same implicit assumptions Kant made when deriving his epistemology. It views our Thinking activity as something separate from "being and practice" (i.e. Nature), and therefore rejects the participatory understanding of Thinking of Goethe, Coleridge, early Fichte, Hegel, early Schelling, Steiner, Jung, etc.

It is from that flawed dualism which one then "reverses the prioritization" of Thinking activity. Idealism is not at all compatible with any ontic dualism in that manner. Basically it is a dualism of "personal" vs. "transpersonal", and a consistent metaphysical idealism can only recognize the ontic reality of the latter. There is no "personal" realm of Thinking and thought-forms. As implied in the OP, though, we don't need to rely on any metaphysical systems to confirm the "self-positing" of the essential "I" i.e. Thinking activity which Hegel, early Fichte, and early Schelling concluded. We can start with the givens of our experinece as we observe them in our own Thinking activity. That phenomenology is laid out clearly in Steiner's PoF. It's not true that "objective idealism" or "absolute idealism" in this manner is incompatible with "process philosophy". All of the thinkers mentioned in this post clearly hold to a process philosophy, as the Spirit-"I"-Thinking is forever metamorphosing. It is really the "reversal" view which denies processual foundation, as it seeks to fix natural relations in space-time in order to understand their essence. That is pretty clear from modern "secular" Darwinian theory.
I've not read much Schelling, but your view of him seems to have both similarities and differences to the reading of Gare:
Gare wrote:
Schelling argued that it is also necessary to appreciate that we are part of nature, and that it is necessary to explain how ideation can have emerged within nature. For Schelling, knowledge is not transcendental insofar as it determines nature for consciousness. Nature is transcendental as the producer of intelligence able to cognize nature. Nature must be seen as capable of organizing itself, generating life and the human consciousness capable of knowing nature. From this perspective, the organic is not divided from the rest of nature but is seen as a particular kind of selforganization, which is the condition for the emergence of consciousness. Biology comes to take an even more central place in Schelling’s philosophy than in Kant’s....

His solution to the question “How do we know that our concepts conform to objects?” was to develop a metaphysics in which, by reconceiving being as productive activity, he was able to make the interaction between the mental and the physical, the subjective and the objective and the ideal and the real, intelligible in accordance with Kant’s view that we only know what we construct...

Schelling attempted to complement Fichte’s philosophy with a Philosophy of Nature that took nature as the source of both subjects and objects...

Belying the usual characterization of Schelling as an Idealist, Schelling noted in his System of Transcendental Idealism that “Nature … would exist, even if there were nothing that is aware of it.” Soon after, in Universal Deduction of the Dynamical Processes where Schelling attempted a “dynamic construction of matter”, he argued that the Philosophy of Nature is more fundamental than Idealism,55 and in the third version of The Ages of the World written circa 1815 he characterized Idealism as the philosophy of people who had dissociated themselves from the forces that are not only the basis of their existence, but “the foundation of all greatness and beauty.” They have become “people who are nothing but images, just dreams of shadows.”
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Re: Phenomenology and Evolutionary Theory

Post by AshvinP »

JustinG wrote: Fri Sep 17, 2021 11:41 pm
AshvinP wrote: Thu Sep 16, 2021 1:45 pm My understanding is that Schelling later did an about face and regressed back to Kant, looking to find an external explanation for the "I" activity of Thinking. I believe you are also doing the same thing - you are implicitly assuming a dualism between personal "thought" and Nature which exists "out there". That is the exact same implicit assumptions Kant made when deriving his epistemology. It views our Thinking activity as something separate from "being and practice" (i.e. Nature), and therefore rejects the participatory understanding of Thinking of Goethe, Coleridge, early Fichte, Hegel, early Schelling, Steiner, Jung, etc.

It is from that flawed dualism which one then "reverses the prioritization" of Thinking activity. Idealism is not at all compatible with any ontic dualism in that manner. Basically it is a dualism of "personal" vs. "transpersonal", and a consistent metaphysical idealism can only recognize the ontic reality of the latter. There is no "personal" realm of Thinking and thought-forms. As implied in the OP, though, we don't need to rely on any metaphysical systems to confirm the "self-positing" of the essential "I" i.e. Thinking activity which Hegel, early Fichte, and early Schelling concluded. We can start with the givens of our experinece as we observe them in our own Thinking activity. That phenomenology is laid out clearly in Steiner's PoF. It's not true that "objective idealism" or "absolute idealism" in this manner is incompatible with "process philosophy". All of the thinkers mentioned in this post clearly hold to a process philosophy, as the Spirit-"I"-Thinking is forever metamorphosing. It is really the "reversal" view which denies processual foundation, as it seeks to fix natural relations in space-time in order to understand their essence. That is pretty clear from modern "secular" Darwinian theory.
I've not read much Schelling, but your view of him seems to have both similarities and differences to the reading of Gare:
Gare wrote:
Schelling argued that it is also necessary to appreciate that we are part of nature, and that it is necessary to explain how ideation can have emerged within nature. For Schelling, knowledge is not transcendental insofar as it determines nature for consciousness. Nature is transcendental as the producer of intelligence able to cognize nature. Nature must be seen as capable of organizing itself, generating life and the human consciousness capable of knowing nature. From this perspective, the organic is not divided from the rest of nature but is seen as a particular kind of self-organization, which is the condition for the emergence of consciousness. Biology comes to take an even more central place in Schelling’s philosophy than in Kant’s....

His solution to the question “How do we know that our concepts conform to objects?” was to develop a metaphysics in which, by reconceiving being as productive activity, he was able to make the interaction between the mental and the physical, the subjective and the objective and the ideal and the real, intelligible in accordance with Kant’s view that we only know what we construct...

Schelling attempted to complement Fichte’s philosophy with a Philosophy of Nature that took nature as the source of both subjects and objects...

Belying the usual characterization of Schelling as an Idealist, Schelling noted in his System of Transcendental Idealism that “Nature … would exist, even if there were nothing that is aware of it.” Soon after, in Universal Deduction of the Dynamical Processes where Schelling attempted a “dynamic construction of matter”, he argued that the Philosophy of Nature is more fundamental than Idealism,55 and in the third version of The Ages of the World written circa 1815 he characterized Idealism as the philosophy of people who had dissociated themselves from the forces that are not only the basis of their existence, but “the foundation of all greatness and beauty.” They have become “people who are nothing but images, just dreams of shadows.”

Exactly. I believe Gare is writing about Schelling's work after his "about face" when he tried to accomodate Kant for whatever reason and tried to reduce the essential "I" (ideational activity) to processes of "Nature". Ultimately, it's not really important whether one thinker held to this and another to that. There are a lot of shifting positions in the history of philosophy, not only between thinkers but within a single thinker's career, especially in German idealism. The underlying content of their positions is what is important. The content which Gare is expressing and presumably endorsing above is the metaphysical dualist position, as reflected in the bolded part. One cannot hold to that assertion and also embrace idealism. And, as we all know, that dualism runs smack into the "hard problem of consciousness", regardless of how "Nature" is defined (assuming "Nature" is not defined as ideational activity itself). So let's be clear on our respective positions here - do you agree with Gare (and presumably later Schelling) in their above assertions?
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Re: Phenomenology and Evolutionary Theory

Post by JustinG »

AshvinP wrote: Sat Sep 18, 2021 12:06 am Exactly. I believe Gare is writing about Schelling's work after his "about face" when he tried to accomodate Kant for whatever reason and tried to reduce the essential "I" (ideational activity) to processes of "Nature". Ultimately, it's not really important whether one thinker held to this and another to that. There are a lot of shifting positions in the history of philosophy, not only between thinkers but within a single thinker's career, especially in German idealism. The underlying content of their positions is what is important. The content which Gare is expressing and presumably endorsing above is the metaphysical dualist position, as reflected in the bolded part. One cannot hold to that assertion and also embrace idealism. And, as we all know, that dualism runs smack into the "hard problem of consciousness", regardless of how "Nature" is defined (assuming "Nature" is not defined as ideational activity itself). So let's be clear on our respective positions here - do you agree with Gare (and presumably later Schelling) in their above assertions?
Yes I do agree with Gare. However, I would not characterize this view as dualism but as ideal-realism (as Schelling called it). I think it could also be characterized as an immanentist 'this-worldly' form of idealism (as opposed to 'other-worldly' forms of idealism which devalue the world of lived experience).

Further, as Schelling's process philosophy, thus interpreted, can be seen as a precursor to the process philosophy of Whitehead, there is also no 'hard problem of consciousness' for it.

I have read a lot of Gare's other stuff and respect his work, so I am comfortable with accepting his interpretation of Schelling. However, if you come across any published papers which dispute his interpretation, I would be interested in seeing them.
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Re: Phenomenology and Evolutionary Theory

Post by AshvinP »

JustinG wrote: Sun Sep 19, 2021 12:47 am
AshvinP wrote: Sat Sep 18, 2021 12:06 am Exactly. I believe Gare is writing about Schelling's work after his "about face" when he tried to accomodate Kant for whatever reason and tried to reduce the essential "I" (ideational activity) to processes of "Nature". Ultimately, it's not really important whether one thinker held to this and another to that. There are a lot of shifting positions in the history of philosophy, not only between thinkers but within a single thinker's career, especially in German idealism. The underlying content of their positions is what is important. The content which Gare is expressing and presumably endorsing above is the metaphysical dualist position, as reflected in the bolded part. One cannot hold to that assertion and also embrace idealism. And, as we all know, that dualism runs smack into the "hard problem of consciousness", regardless of how "Nature" is defined (assuming "Nature" is not defined as ideational activity itself). So let's be clear on our respective positions here - do you agree with Gare (and presumably later Schelling) in their above assertions?
Yes I do agree with Gare. However, I would not characterize this view as dualism but as ideal-realism (as Schelling called it). I think it could also be characterized as an immanentist 'this-worldly' form of idealism (as opposed to 'other-worldly' forms of idealism which devalue the world of lived experience).

Further, as Schelling's process philosophy, thus interpreted, can be seen as a precursor to the process philosophy of Whitehead, there is also no 'hard problem of consciousness' for it.

I have read a lot of Gare's other stuff and respect his work, so I am comfortable with accepting his interpretation of Schelling. However, if you come across any published papers which dispute his interpretation, I would be interested in seeing them.

I am fine with the interpretation of Schelling's later work, as that was my understanding of it too - he reverted back to implicit Cartesian and Kantian dualism. How can consciousness "emerge" from "a particular kind of self-organization" without positing a dualism and running into hard problem of consciousness? You can't get around it by simply referring to another philosopher. Please explain that one to me. You can quote Whitehead if you think he has already explained it.
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