Thursday, May 27, 2010

romancing conceptuality

Monday, 5.24 — 9:30 pm

Recently, I had a short romance with Edward Slingerland’s desire to shape a new sense of “consilience.”

His detailed sense of that is more or less the introduction to an upcoming book he has co-edited, Creating Consilience, in light of an interesting conference on integrating science and humanities (which he coordinated in 2008) and his 2008 book on the topic.

My enthusiasm is for a philosophical venture, but he seems to tend toward a scientistic sense of consilience. So, my email to him was enthusiastic, but implicitly skeptical. In part, I wrote:
[The new sense of consilience you’re advocating] calls for capabilities of discursive imagination that seem beyond us (like Lee Smolin surmising near the end of The Trouble with Physics that we may not have evolved enough to do the math required). In any case, such potential belongs to our humanity in a way that no reductionism can ever hope to capture (no matter how non-eliminativist), because the very idea of so much consilience2 (lateral-to-vertical evo-devo cultural post-postmodernity) is a humanistic notion (actually: philosophical) that would appropriate science to itself. It is a humanistic mind that conceives and proffers the notion of consilience2 (or, to my mind, proffers a deep interdisciplinarity of philosophical interest. 

So, I hope that your Creating Consilience [book] closes with a philosophical endeavor of integrative discursivity, so to speak. What fun that would be! Indeed, the heart of the consilience2 project—the conceptuality of its interdisciplinarity (lateral as much as vertical)—is especially philosophical.
I talk so much about conceptual prospecting because I’m drawn to an activist sense of philosophy as conceptual facilitation of progressive flourishing.

Thursday, 5.27 — 12:07 pm

I misrepresented my point above, for the sake of briefly making sense out-of-context, by inserting “[The new sense of consilience you’re advocating] calls for…” in my quote from the email to him. To him, I wrote “It calls for….” ‘It’ referred to one of his footnotes (ftn.10, midway through his PDF discussion), where he indicates a 3-volume set of others’ essays, altogether titled The Innate Mind, as “representative” for his new sense of consilience. But merely the contents of volume 3 might occasion vertigo. Integrating the likes of that with the fullness of “lateral-to-vertical evo-devo cultural post-postmodernity” that he’s anticipating easily seems to call “for capabilities of discursive imagination that seem beyond us.”

The “integrative discursivity” that I’m seeking—way up the road—happens to already include The Innate Mind. So, I identify with what Edward is seeking to comprehend. Indeed, over the past few years, I’ve been drawn to some of the main work that he’s been drawn to. (My email to him referenced some very recent books that should interest him, and he said he’d follow up.)

I lament the discursive task because I’m seeking to do what Edward anticipates, though I didn’t say that to him. (Also, it wasn’t Lee Smolin who lamented our finitude, rather some theoretical physicists arguing in Santa Barbara about the plausibility of The Anthropic Principle, early 2007.) I recognize through Edward’s recent book, key parts of which I’ve read (do check out the table of contents!), that his work can’t be basically helpful to what I’m seeking to do. But it’s good supplementation, and his project excellently exemplifies the interest in integrative discursivity that I’m pursuing. (I may seem arrogant, but it’s said recently that productive obsession isn’t a bad thing, and I’m in love with aspiration, you know.)

“…[T]he very idea of so much consilience2” is a highly discursive one. A constitution of consilience would not have a reality that is scientific, and Edward would surely agree. Only philosophy has traditionally dwelt with the conceptuality that Edward has in mind, and philosophy’s conceptuality is natively interdisciplinary (or interdomainal, I prefer to say). Thus, the contemporary situation of philosophy, relative to its fraternity of specialties, is fundamentally important for any prospect of consilience2. But I find Edward’s sense of philosophical argument misleading (though I didn’t say that to him), while his dependence on philosophical claims is pivotal for his sense of consilience2.

I pursue a sense of “humanistic mind that…proffers a deep interdisciplinarity of philosophical interest” which is essentially conceptual in its humanity and possibly progressive only relative to discursive comprehensions (cf. “integrative discourse,” § 6.14 onward).