Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Toward a good metagenealogy on the genesis of learning
I just now read the last part of Habermas' new essay on free will, naturalism, etc., which was a very personal experience, as I've been searching to clarify a "genealogy" covering all those "conceptual levels" (p.42) for some time. I recognize (and, I believe, well appreciate) his view of the condition of inquiry now (early 21st century), and I ambitiously anticipate a "natural genealogy of the mind [that is fated to be] a self-referential project" (ibid.) that in no sense "fall[s] back into metaphysics." Dare I say I'm getting close?
Yes, "it must remain uncompromising in its orientation to empirical science" (ibid.), while staying true to the manifold complex of relevant genealogicalities, so to speak, that may generatively integrate into (as) the evolutionarity of ongoing inquiry: evolving "universal" discourse, associating here to the evolution of science as singularityongoing for our self-designing form of life; and intending to contributehopefully in leading waysto durable global human development, as cosmopoly, as self-designing flourishing, etc.
"[T]he genesis of the learning mind itself" (ibid.) becomes a discourse on genesis within the generativity of multidomainal inquiry. It can only be a long and difficult story that effects more inquiry.
I'm very actively working through the paper, from its middle (at section IV) toward the end, after reading (without working through the argument) from the beginning to section IV. By "working through," I mean treating the paper as a draft discussion that I revise as I go along, in order to make the essay better (in light of my earlier Habermasian engagement with the same issues that JH is now engaging). The experience is like having a colleague I've known a long time send me a draft of his own results in research that we've both (coincidently) been doing; and, since (in the case of Habermas' essay) I'm so deeply influenced by the master in the first place, I'm able to revise the discussion.
A thrill of this is that, being unaware of what he has written in the upcoming paragraph (since I'm working with the document as I go along in first reading), I have revised a paragraph to be a better argument and found that my revision still allows that point of the essay to lead smoothly into his next paragraph as having strengthened the argument he was on the way to making.
For example, I've inserted points about contemporary research in philosophy of mind that expands his point against materialism, in biological terms that he didn't employ, which results in a different upshot for the enhanced paragraph, but then I find that his upcoming biological point is much strengthened, though his point is more limited than what my revision allows; so, I can revise that paragraph, too, to retain his point while enhancing the essay's argument.
This kind of collaborative endeavor gradually makes his discussion a draft in a collaborative writing project which goes beyond what he's doing, but in close accord with the argument he wants to make. This is something I'm very experienced at doing. It will probably result in critical points later in divergence from JH's argument. For example, I would make a case, in terms of my revisions, for the indeterminacy of the universe (Is this Nida-Rümelin's "underdetermination of higher emergent levels by physicalist laws" ?), which bolsters the integrity of intelligible self-determinability (rendering determinism a false thesis in the first place, thus the compatibilism problem a pseudoproblem). Is that contrary to JH's apparent acceptance of the "causal closure" of the universe (the determinist premise) that compels a hermeneutic of openness (or is he just going along with the determinist problematic as a matter of critical inquiry)? Indeed, I am in the middle of his argument, and I'm not reading ahead of where I'm working.
Anyway, I think that a better sense of the openness of intelligible self-determinability can be explicated in terms of the indeterminacy of causality (from quantum level through complexity of hybridization across and within systems levels of emergent properties) and in terms of the evolutionarily emergent determinability of choice in action, thereby posing intelligent life not against a deterministic universe; rather as self-determiningly (in the long run) emergent (albeit disentropically) from indeterminacy of an evolving universe (or "the life of the cosmos," as theoretical physicist Lee Smolin and others would put it). I suspect that JH takes a similar view, because my view in self-differentiation from his (during a first-thinking process with a new text of his) tends to anticipate his closing view, which wouldn't surprise me, given his influence on my thinking in the first place. It's just all so much fun!
Accordingly, we think that intelligible design is an emergent potential of life on this planet. Thus appreciation of emergent design in the evolving universe is an emergent prospect for an intelligible planet in such a universe (where laws of physics may be relatively regionalthe ascendent sense of "multiple universes" with anthropic regions). Yes, I tend to find the anthropic perspective plausible (so, too, some leading theoretical physicists in recent years, beyond the dismissal of anthropic hypothesization before the notion of multiple universes came to make sense). Appreciation of emergent design in the knowable universe is a "destiny" of intelligent life, as we are just now (the past few decades) discovering, amid stars much, much older than ours in "Our" galaxy Of the Local Region, that intelligible design is not prior to order but emergent from it (as if a god outside all the universes threw some "marbles" of possible physics and has no idea which relatively Big Bangs led to universalistically-relative intelligent life in some of each's regionsand couldn't care less). So, we evolve toward competence for Contact with the Archive left by other forms of intelligent life who die away and pick up the evolving Archive, contribute to it, die away, and it goes on, like a self-determining cosmic Internet. In the meantime, we make the meaning that we are (spinning tropes like "self-determining cosmic Internet," so reflective of where we are in evolution), as ultimately self-designing form of life (that will spin an interstellar communications netweave?). We die away and leave archives. Life goes on, forgetting, retrieving, building, dwelling, thinking.
9:50 PM: Just back from my usual, rather strenuous evening trek, in light of having finished (about 30 minutes ago) revising the second half of Habermas' essay.
What can I say briefly? That it's a much better essay now than it was? Yes. I can say that the beautiful kindredness of collaborative thinking is elating to recall—not involving overt critique (except tacitly as revision), rather being an improvement?, a deepening?, an enriching of his case, much beyond his own, now our better case for a philosophical cognitive science that is evolutionarily embedded—a case, I hope, he would enjoy.
[March 29, 2009: Oct. 2006, this posting was based on the copy of the essay presented by Habermas at a NYU symposium. That text was published in 2007. The above discussion was slightly revised and links updated, in view of the 2007 publication.]
-- 1:29 AM