Good News from Janet…

Hello, readers. I’ve been silent here for a couple of months and yet you’ve shown a remarkably steady interest in my postings. Thank you so very much.

I suffered a bout of illness beginning in late November. Then I submerged myself in new work on the questions we’ve pursued here: a paradigm for knowing in the disciplines that would give all the credit in the world to scientific methodology, but without disparaging or relativizing the other ways of knowing in relation to the natural sciences.

Eureka! I have found it. (I think.) It’s still based on the Greeks, but it’s more cogent and more deeply substantiated in the texts of Plato and Aristotle. Also, I’ve had incredible amounts of fun seeing what happens when I apply the “old” model for knowing to Galileo and Newton, to Descartes and Leibnitz, instead of their own rationalist model.

The old model for “how humans come to know,” the theory of the “-ike” I started to talk about in the “Wily Socrates” posts, was based, of course, in the philosophical theorizing that energized the original vision of a liberal arts education: an education in the disciplines for the formation of citizens capable of self-government.

Plato and Aristotle, as we know, developed (so brilliantly and responsibly) this theory of knowing-through-the-disciplines — that is, in my terms, the theory of the -ike — from out of that gleam in the eye of the historical Socrates: from his practice of a “dialectics” devoted to the eidos, as it appeared in area of ethics (What is “Justice,” “Friendship,” the “Good Life”?).

So, I’ve been working out of Plato’s Ion and Aristotle’s Poetics, principally, with help from Plato’s Theaetetus and the Republic and from other writings of Aristotle, to formalize their theory of the ike, but in terms that will be fresh and efficacious for us today. I’ve been using the Greek words in order to do this, attempting to (re)embue them with the formal rigor I believe they carried in the classical philosophical schools of Athens during the 4th century BCE.

The “-ike,” of course, as my readers here will know, is a reference to this original theory of knowing, the Greco-European vision that inspired education for 2000 years in the West until the rise of science in the 17th century gave birth to a new “theory of knowledge.” The term “ike” derives from the manner in which the Greeks formed disciplinary names by adding -ike to the name of the subject matter, as in poietike, musike, logike, grammatike, physike, arithmetike, and so forth. (This would eventually yeild our “poetics,” “physics,” “arithmetic,” “mathematics,” and so forth.)

The -ike suffix, in other words, indicated that a “techne” or an “episteme” was in view. (Poietike or arithmetike were short for techne poietike or techne rhetorike, but the “techne” part dropped out most of the time.) The Romans translated the Greek techne as the Latin ars, artis, and along with this, they translated the Greek episteme as scientia, thus giving us our modern “arts and sciences.”

Yet today we tend to forget or overlook, given our deeply engrained scientific outlook in the Modern West, that while Aristotle formalized an existing distinction between the technes and epistemes as the “productive” ikes and the “theoretical” ikes, nontheless he still frequently employed either word in order to refer more generally to any formalized disciplinary practice, irrespective of its subject matter and methodology. (We would view arithmetic as a scientific discipline, for example, but while Aristotle saw it as “theoretical” and hence an episteme, it was still called techne arithmetike, just as poetics was called techne poietike. This wasn’t incidental, either, but crucial to take into our account.)

By the way, Plato and Aristotles insisted upon using fluid vocabularies because they were concerned with teaching the nature of thought itself, and so, as teachers first, they inculcated the capacity to register and attend to the complicated formal levels of organization manifested by the various kinds of things. This emergence of flexibility and deftness on the part of their students was more important to them than the modern insistence on honing an exact set of technical terms.

Don’t misunderstand me. Precision was as important to them as it was to Kepler, Galileo, or Newton. And the mechanics of motion couldn’t have been developed apart from this method. But for the Greeks, the kind of precision varied according to the kind of discipline, and the precision they most desired was to be located ultimately in the development of persons capable of well-armed thinking, while 17th century thinkers valued as genuine the method that could be operated most mechanically and impersonally so as to acheive the kind of “universality” that they held to be the mark of genuine knowledge.

(This is why so many of Plato’s dialogues warn us of the ambiguities that we must all, as “neophytes,” confront and think through, if we hope to mature as thinkers, yet without showing us the path through the muddle itself. Aristotle is more generous to beginners. He is willing to set out the simplest basics in his Organon.)

Plato and Aristotle, I believe, were learning and teaching how to think dynamically, formally, and elegantly, but not mechanically. Their theory of knowing, in other words, involved the formal elegance of the ike itself, lying at a structural level deeper than the specialized methodologies of any of the individual ikes, whether they happened to be geometry, arithmetic, history, ethics, political theory, or, as in the Ion, cowherding, piloting a boat, or producing clean laundry.

It is striking that in Plato’s very early account of -ike in the Ion, he depicts Socrates as teaching the theory of techne (or episteme) itself, rather than pursuing directly an ethical eidos (the so-called Form or Idea). Like the later Theaetetus, in which “Socrates” asks “What is episteme?” the Ion is devoted in depth to the theory of ike. In it, Socrates proceeds one by one through the formal distinguishing features belonging to any and all of the ikes. (This is in the course of querying whether the rhapsode Ion, who claims an ike for epic poetry, in fact does or does not possess an ike.) Thus we are shown the significance of Socrates’ enquiries in ethics for the new philosophical way of life formalized by Plato. Both are based on an eidetic/dialectical theory of ike.
Both in Ion, and in Aristotle’s brilliant response to the question of whether there is an ike for poetry (contained in the thoughtwork of the Poetics), we see a theory of what constitutes a genuine way of knowing that is quite capable of being held up today — in the spirit of Neils Bohr’s complementarity? — as an alternative model for the arts and sciences and their role in the formation of a free citizenry.

In actuality, I do not think that the “new-old” paradigm of Greco-European knowing stands in the relationship of “complementarity” to the Enlightenment theory of knowledge — that is, to the classical theory of scientific rationalism that was developed in the 17th century, that dominated the 18th and 19th centuries in the West, and that was elaborated exhaustively throughout much of the 20th century in the tradition of Frege, Russell, and Carnap (not to mention Wittgenstein and Husserl).

Instead, I think that each of these two historical models brings out certain features of a very complex and urgent question: how do human beings genuinely come to know? And what are the consequences of genuine learning to know, in terms of the ethical, political, and spiritual good of individuals and of their communities?

Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, along with 12 centuries of Christian thinkers in the medieval and Renaissance worlds, sought nothing less than human salvation through the life of the mind. (It is, after all, the mind‘s path to God for Augustine, Bonaventure, Aquinas, Dante, and the humanists of the Renaissance.) Yet none of them was the kind of intellectual snob that we moderns have been, with our elitist, patronizing, and exclusionary “theory of knowledge” and education. (They had their own snobberies and repressive elitisms, but not when it came to salvation.)

So this is the shape that my own work is now taking: following these two models that Western history offers us. The later model, established during the rise of science, was unquestionably built upon the laws of motion and gravitation, as its far-reaching Kuhnian paradigm. Galileo and Newton established this paradigm, however, by developing a new ike, one which was addressed to a newly redefined kind of thing. (It is utterly fascinating to look at the development of Newtonian mechanics through the lens of the Greek theory of ike, because it fits so remarkably well while placing its features in a fresh light.)

The first model for knowing, I believe, is best captured and represented by the account of ike elucidated by Aristotle in his Poetics. With respect to this “poetic” model, if we take it to serve as the Kuhnian paradigm for all of earlier Greco-European knowing, we must give the last word to Luce Irigary! (Over whom we have languished a good deal here, thanks to Alan Sokel.)

She deserves the nod because the essential differences between the two models turn out to resemble, at least metaphorically, the formal differences between the “mechanics of bodies in motion,” on the one hand, and “fluid dynamics,” on the other.
However, we should remember that “metaphorical” meant something quite different to Plato and Aristotle and later Greco-European thinkers than it has meant to moderns. Ability in the ikes, Aristotle remarked, shows itself in quickness with metaphor. (Contemporary physicists emphasize the creativity and invention of everyday working science. In many respects, they have modified the classical scientific paradigm already. We may all be on the threshold for a third model.)

Does the mark of real brilliance in the sciences differ fundamentally from what it is in the arts? Certainly, the heuristic methods and standards for testing differ from discipline to discipline. But something perhaps lies under them all. Something sub-stantial. the capacity to invent models deftly and fruitfully, by flexibly employing potential structural analogies and relationships, and intuiting likely symmetries. It lies in the human capacity to invent, apply, test, evaluate, modify, and abandon models, in the course of attempting to trace the elegantly formalizable dynamics of any given kind of thing.


[I don’t know how much of this current work I’ll be placing here, but I’ll be letting you know where to find it, for certain. I do intend to put more of the literary theory course here, since folks are reading it, and I’m very glad to engage in dialogue about any of this. Those exchanges last summer and fall with the physicists (and biologist) have proved invaluable to me; thank you all so much. My work will be more accurate and appealing across the disciplines because of all the repeated “checks” I’ve experienced here! And all of your “leads” and invaluable links.]

8 thoughts on “Good News from Janet…

  1. Glad you’re back. I’ve missed reading your thoughts.

    In reading “The Jesuit & The Skull” recently I’ve become more interested in how the Church views science which has something to do with “how we come to know”… and how that can have consequences as it did for Teillard.

  2. Isn’t Teilhard great, Davis? His “omega point” theory has been quite influential and respected in science. I was assigned his main book (Ascent of Man?) when I was in college in the 1960s, and when I finished it, I thought to myself: “I have to come back to this; something really important is going on here.” I was a secularist at the time….
    Be sure to look at his essay called “The Mass on the World,” I think i is. He was far from civilization doing evolutionary paleontology in China and had no communion elements, so as a priest he offered the terrestrial earth as the bread and the sufferings of all of earth’s living things as the wine….

  3. Pingback: -ike and Tina: on techne, or “how do human beings genuinely come to know?” at The Land of Unlikeness

  4. Scott

    Do we know in advance that the techne of a given discipline is intrinsically conducive to bringing about ‘a good citizen’? One might be persuaded to think that the techne has to do with learning how to see and understand the object / subject matter of the discipline (e.g. poetike, politike). rather than some other end like ‘making a good citizen’? Also, do we know that this ordinary language philosophy of ‘techne poetike’ includes some explicit philosophical doctrine about ‘making good citizens’? In other words, wouldn’t we need some explicitly stated doctrine about the intrinsic goal(s) of human nature and how that goal is partly achieved by being apprenticed into various disiciplines? Just some thoughts…

  5. Good point, Scott. (My off-line writing is spelling this out point by point, in fact!) So thanks for bringing it up here.

    In fact, I do not propose that “the techne of a given discipline is intrinsically conducive to bringing about a good citizen,” and for two rather different reasons. In itself, the techne is precisely what you describe, “learning how to see and understand the object / subject matter of the discipline (e.g. poietike, politike).” [By the way, Greek scholars pronounce these as “poy- AY-tee-kay” and “pol-EE-tee-kay,” so -IKE is pronounced “EE-kay.” It’s always fun to know these sorts of things, though we don;t run around saying YULE-ee-us Kai-sar, for Julius Caesar, do we?]

    But given the theory of the ike that Socrates, Plato, Aristotle produced and that informed all education in the liberal arts at least through the Renaissance. it is precisely the fact of the many ikes, and hence the many epistemological ways of knowing (as opposed to the single authoritative way, classical scientific rationalism of the 17th-19th centuries, upon which our own monolithic “modern epistemology” is based) that offered the possibility of producing the new kind of knower: the “liberated” knower. No one ike, however important and broad in its scope, could do it, because it would be single, and the whole point was to learn that truth is various and focused in its objects and aims. (No relativistic, not vague and fuzzy, but highly focused and therefore powerful AND LIMITED in its very constitution.)

    This liberally educated knower is the only one who can really function as a good citizen, because only such a person has a kind of freedom and wholeness in choosing. More on this in a moment.) But the second reason is that nothing EVER guarantees that the person WILL become such a “good citizen” — look at Alcibiades. Nonetheless, only such a knower even has the potential, the potential to become the kind of person that might result when the mind is equipped with many ikes, and who therefore has had to come to terms with the strengths and limitations of each ike, and with the various claims each makes with respect of the others. This person, therefore, is the who has genuinely realized and internalized the deep truth that the real difficulty in knowing is how to value and appreciate the ikes with respect to one another, and how to bring them to bear, something for which no rules can be written in advance.

    Only such an agility and responsibility — that has grown up in the mind or personhood of the knower — will enable any citizen or civic leader to bring all of this to bear on the city’s needs and crises, as well as upon one’s own deepest existential and spiritual issues.

    Christianity had no problem with this Socratic theory of the liberal arts, because it was manifest to the church early on that sound teaching is a matter of balancing many truths, balancing many truths is a matter of personal growth and struggle that never quits, and that teaching which does not nourish knowers (heresy) is simply the taking of one TRUTH and emphasizing it at the expense of other TRUTHS (Christ’s divinity, Christ’s humanity; the intrinsic goodness of created nature. nature’s fallenness; the nature of grace, the production of good works; and so, on and on).

    To grow as a Christian was viewed in the Greco-European tradition in the same way as to grow as a liberall educated knower, which is why it was medieval Christianity that founded the universities, where faculties are brought together in one place to teach many different ikes. (Many “ways” (versa) in one place (uni) — according to medieval theologians and historians. Or see the incredibly enlightening essay by Thomas Merton on the university education in a posthumous collection of his essays called “Living and Loving.”)

    “Freedom,” as enjoyed as a liberally educated knower and as enjoyed by a mature Christian, this “Freedom evolves,” as Daniel Dennett has said in a similar but different context. The ability to act and choose, in complex situations, the one course to follow, with all of its ambiguities and hardships, and then to follow it with the poise of a whole and integral personhood, this is the end result of an ardent life-long struggle in knowing: the struggle of continually re-integrating the various ikes and the various truths and learning to recognize “what truth feels like” in all its different guises.

    Jesus did this in setting his face like a flint toward Jerusalem. Socrates did it when he chose to follow a LESSER good, obedience to the laws of his city, and therefore to drink the hemlock. in a highly equivocal situation, just as wholly as he would have followed a much higher truth or good in another situation (e.g. in the LIFE he had led in recognizing his own ignorance and struggling toward understanding what sort of thing knowing really is).

    Now I know that modern Christians have difficulty with this, and they will often protest that the Christian life isn’t just for an intellectual elite and that it is lived by “faith” and not by “reason.” But this again is a great misunderstanding, based on our modern epistemology, of what it means to engage in “knowing.”

    “Knowing” is not, as modern epistemology suggests, about “knowledge,” except in a secondary sense in which knowledge is alway, always, provisional and heuristic It is not about having in our grasp “some explicitly stated doctrine about X,” as Scott puts it. Nor is “faith” anything other than the ways of knowing that are founded on trust, an acceptance of the bibilical materials and the sacraments and doctrines of the church as means of coming to know God better. But we still have to interpret them, integrate them, understand them, helped by more mature knowers, and always learning by placing the emphasis too much here and too much there and so on. Being blinded by the lights that are given to us.

    Faith is “learning how to work with and benefit from formal means and materials that have been given us, over and above the revelation of God in the natural world. Faith is knowing based on special revelation, but that is just as difficult to understand as the natural world is and must be unceasingly interpreted and re-balanced and re-integrated within the believer’s growing mind. This is a passionate and wholistic process, of course, just like “the philosophical way of life” was in the 4th century BCE, and it uses things like “explicit doctrinal statements” as grist for its mill, but as for the real goal, the understanding of the “object or subject-matter” of all these doctrines and writings and traditions? Knowing God? Knowing Christ? These things that the faith gives us for starting points and aids in knowing are all “ikes” — they are not the to-be-known of our Christian struggle to know.

    You see, not only does this older theory of knowing rest in the many-ness of the ikes, as equipping a knower to USE and balance and integrate them and on occasion choose one over another one, and not only does the many-ness of the ikes help to enlighten the knower as to the many aims that might be in view, so as to be able to choose WHAT the relevant goods might be and which might be best to follow NOW…. No, in addition to all of this, the older theory of knowing always places the dunamis, the power and the generative energies of human knowing, in the hidden depths of reality IN THE TO-BE-KNOWN. (The knower is not the source of knowing until after the ikes in the mind have comes to be mediators of knowing, and they can only be such by opening the mind to genuine characteristics of the to-be-known.)

    The ikes, in other words, WORK to empower the knower ONLY insofar as they are formally organized according to (some aspect of) the true intrinsic formal organization of the to-be-known, the “object or subject matter” in each case.

    Do you see? The ike is like an “invasion” into the knower’s mind, or an “opening” up and reorganization of the knower’s mind, so that it can apprehend the to-be-known, by implanting something inside the knower that is profoundly “like” that which is to be known. The ike in the mind is the mediating formal substance — it is the “something in common” that is BOTH the to-be-known and the knower; BOTH the self and the other. (Aron’s “extimate core” of the knowing subject, over on thelandofunlikeness.)

    Thus the ike is very like Christ in its function and constitution, as being the mediative, revealing, substantiality that is both God and humanity and therefore can bring them into communion, because this one host is God and is “in us,” at the same time. (I could say a lot about Christ the Word, here….)

    So, for a knower to engage in knowing God through Christ, it is absolutely necessary to have a new place in the mind wherein these new ways of knowing can root themselves and transfigure the knower. (The new birth, the spiritual regeneration of Adam.) In ordinary circumstances this building of the ikes as dynamic mediators between the knower and God takes place through daily disciplines and through the ongoing teachings and sacraments of the Church. This is not intellectual elitism, this is the taking in of the “milk” and then the “meat” that makes us mature. The difference between natural knowing and faith knowing is only that in the second case, the milk and meat is a special mediative substance for knowing that we have decided to trust as being from God. Credo ut intelligis.

    But ultimately what matters is deep contact with the divine to-be-known, and this can come in extraordinary ways as well. Thus we all know persons who deeply “know” God without any theological training at all — Aquinas himself said that compared to his contemplative vision of God, all his writings “were as straw.” He did not mean they were wrong or worthless. He never claimed they were right in the first place. They were deeply grounded, humble, heuristic efforts at knowing better, more deeply, and they were submitted in that spirit to the ongoing theological conversations, and he rejoiced in doing it. But they were all for the sake of knowing God, and that knowing was infinitely deeper in his contemplative experience before his death, and who knows if his experience could have come to him in just that way, if his soul had not been strengthened and prepared through the spiritual exertions of his writings.

    The telos of the liberal arts education and of the Christian life in the Western liberal arts tradition (and I think this is entirely biblical as well) was always to produce in the knower, not a set of “explicit statements of doctrinal truth,” but rather, instead, “wisdom”! Wisdom is entirely personalistic. It cannot be scripted and it has no written rules. (Just as Aristotle pointed out about the ethical virtues in NE.) Yet every script and rule can inform it, and often is even necessary to inform it.

    I think that Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, like Jesus and the Apostles, knew that wise persons rarely save the ship of state, yet they are nonetheless essential to the city’s hope for its welfare, and we are taught to commit ourselves to that. Yet, barring the civic salvation, there remains the personalistic salvation Merton describes. Milton saw that the Christian Republic to which he had devoted his life had been abandoned and England has fallen back into the tyranny of monarchs, so he wrote Paradise Lost instead, in his dying years. Athens continued to decline after the execution of Socrates, after all, yet Aristotle tells us that Plato died as a happy man.

  6. Bethany

    I’m so glad you’ve brought Thomas Kuhn’s work on paradigms to this discussion. I had been thinking as I read in this forum (way last summer) that the Greek concept of the ike is like Kuhn on paradigms, though I do get that the ike is more the discipline itself (“physics,” or “biology,” or “literature” rather than ideas within a discipline). But it strikes me that such thinking is not attractive to everyone. For instance, in my literature classes I try to encourage what Judith Langer calls “literate thinking,” i.e., approaching a text with a mind open to numerous possibilities. Certainly some possibilities are going to open up richer veins than others, and yet even a misreading can provoke and challenge us to think more deeply. However, I’m teaching in a learning community this quarter with a history prof. who prefers a “just the facts, ma’am” approach. (It’s driving me nuts!) A passage from Janet’s post that I’d like to highlight is this one: “The ike is like an ‘invasion’ into the knower’s mind, or an ‘opening’ up and reorganization of the knower’s mind, so that it can apprehend the to-be-known, by implanting something inside the knower that is profoundly ‘like’ that which is to be known. The ike in the mind is the mediating formal substance — it is the ‘something in common’ that is BOTH the to-be-known and the knower; BOTH the self and the other.” It strikes me that we have to start with a flexibility, a willingness to be opened up (invaded, or wounded even!) before that can happen. It isn’t that we can’t have authoritative meanings, just that they shouldn’t be our starting point.

    And we may be thrilled or terrified to realize that what we encounter there can shatter our being, and rebuild it. Rilke said, “You must change your life,” but maybe he means something more like, If you’re paying attention, you can’t help but be changed!

    One of the big ideas that ought to unite both science and poetry (to my mind, anyway) is a profound curiosity. If one isn’t willing to entertain other options to the received notions about either, then is that knowledge, or rote memorization of facts?

    So I’m writing quite a bit here, and beginning to wonder if I’m on the right track?

  7. Bethany, I’ve replied to you as well, over in my response to Rick’s most recent comment.

    However, I realize now that I referred to you there as “our poet” — and so you are out-ed….

    That is, you as the speaking subject named “Bethany” are out-ed as the being the same human subject as was previously identified by the name of “poet.”

    But suppose you used the name “Bethany,” this time, in part in order to disavow or detach yourself from the identity you had taken on here (for all of us in this conversation) as “the poet.” And that identity, of course, was (all along)somewhat differently constructed from the identity “the poet” achieved here in the minds of all the readers who were able to know her only from the speech-acts presented here. In contrast, I know the Real Person, as we say, and I bring an more highly developed ike for reading Bethany (a Bethany-ike, if you will) to my reading of your speech-acts, regardless of whether you happen to sign yourself “poet” or “Bethany.”

    Now, by this point already, the empirically-trained of my readers are starting to squirm. They are feeling uncomfortable, because they are recognizing the signals that a “humanist” or a “theorist” is going to try to deconstruct the real, actual Bethany, the “objective” Bethany, the one who exists as a physical, empirical part of the “external world” — quite apart from any human mind’s mere “concepts” about her.

    In thinking thus, they are following the path that thinking rightly takes in the scientific disciplines, to deal with the constitution of the things they examine in terms of the material physicality found there, and to check the validity of every hypothesis against controlled emperical experimentation, and to reject hypotheses that cannot be experimentally confirmed or denied as NOT being ways for thinking to go. Such would be impassible ways (aporias) for scientific thought.

    I hope my readers and conversation partners have seen (and therefore now “know”) that I have no quarrel with this way of directing thought, when we are aiming at elucidating the hidden deep structures within the physical constitution of things, taken as physical objects or physical phenomena. (By the way, one of the main Greek verbs for “know” is simply the past perfect tense of the verb that means “see.” If we have OBSERVED, then we are able to have constructed the formal means of KNOWiNG what we have seen, in its underlying constitutive structure.)

    Here’s what I have seen and observed of Bethany. As a human subject, Bethany engages in characteristic activities that belong to the human kind of thing, and also in the characteristic activities belonging to the various ikes to which she belongs, as humanist, poet, teacher, wife, mother, friend, and so forth. She has simultaneously been formed and in-formed by her membership and functioning within these ikes. She is what the great physical chemist Michael Polanyi said that any living organism is, a “centre of thought and responsibility.” And if we wish to know Bethany, we must inquire into the formal varieties of her characteristic behaviors and formative experiences as such a centre, a human subject.

    Thus, as with “John McCain” in some of our earlier conversations, in order to direct our thinking effectively toward knowing John or Bethany, it is not sufficient to use the ikes that direct our thinking to his or her physical, chemical, and biological functioning. And our inquiries — please note this — does not depend upon his or her current physical presence to us, or even that we understand much in depth about the physical functioning of that bodily presence per se….

    Now it does depend upon his or her having existed physically at some point in history. I am Aristotelian enough, like many persons of faith, to believe that everything we have any possibility of knowing is grounded in our human physical knowing of what is nearest and most (seemingly) knowable to us, the actually existing “tode ti” or the particular concrete one of the various kinds of things that manifest themselves within the totality of the universe — that is, the particular physical be-ings that are evident parts of the “external world.”

    But it is just as evident to me, empirically, that there are kinds of things in the external world and not simply particular ones. There are not just particular human bodies, for instance, but there are the kinds of things that are constituted and that function the way human bodies distinctively do, that are empirically identifiable as human bodies and not feline or equine bodies. Now right here, we are in deep metaphysical territory. (Deep metaphysical doo-doo, in point of fact.)

    I do not wish to open this territory any further, here and now, except to say that the exiling of the “kinds” of things to the mental realm of “concept” or “idea” during the 17th century was the genuinely radical break with the previous Western tradition. Yet the young science of physics was founded, like all previous arts and sciences, upon its definitions of its own disciplinary “kinds of things”: mass, speed, acceleration, force, and so on. Each of these is a function of underlying formal constituents, measures of density, volume, distance, time — and the “kinds of things” formally constituted out of these empirical measurements must be accorded an ontological status of some kind for science to operate. And so they were, in practice (they do all the work, after all.)

    Yet, philosophically or epistemologically, they were not. They were nullified and put in limbo, that that lost space that lies in between physical objects and formulas (the latter thought, equivocally, as atemporal or ideal things, that is, as “laws” whose mode of existence is still obscure today, and will always be so long as we insist on alienating the temporal processes of nature from the object-like material “stuff” of nature. This is inevitably why, I think, we must run finally into those baffling phenomena that we call “wave-packets” — because we began by refusing the empirical reality of kinds of things as well as things, and therefore we could not think that processes and stuffs are mutually self-constituting and belong together as reflexes of one another. Kant thought that the human mind imposes space and time and hence causality on nature. It may be that our minds impose “stuff”-ness and process/activity onto nature, the structure of the subject + verb. In any case, we cannot think causality as something that exists apart, without internal contact and intimacy with that which is “caused,” those discrete inert components within the total phenomenon in view, that we like to say are “caused” without saying what “causes” them, as we tried to keep the kind of thing called mass dualistically separated (as conceptually opposite) first from the gravitational force and then from energy in all its forms….)

    This sort of “forgetting” of the mutual and reciprocal self-constituting interrelationships between formal actions and the formal things those actions produce is much harder to accomplish in the Greek language, where the underlying dynamic formal-ity common to both is much more manifest….

    In any case, John and Bethany “exist” apart from us, and each one of us may pass away without our absence changing what they are as autonomously functioning physical organisms. Nonetheless there are aspects of their be-ing that we desire and need to know, that we can know only by directing our thought along different paths or methods (from meta = hodos or “way”), that is, by using ikes, epistemes, directed at various other aspects of the SAME subject-matter, aspects that do not come into the picture of John and Bethany as the “objects” that they are as they are physically constituted for scientific investigation. (And if my my mind and perceptions pass away, it may not effect John in his be-ing, but it may well change Bethany in her formal be-ing and constitution…. This doesn’t mean that it will change her in some immaterial manner, but that it will change her in that her interactions with me have entered into parts of her constitution as Bethany, though not so much as her interactions with father and mother and siblings and husband no doubt have….

    The kinds of formal constitutions that my disciplines try to make intelligible are no less empirically based than physical science is. My “formalities” are based upon their own real histories of observation made in space and time and upon theoretical formalizations made as a result; those developing formalizations are incessantly tested and checked and corrected against the phenomenon that is our evolving friendship: our knowing of one another, and also therefore our knowing of that larger whole that is the two of us in our constitutive interactions and history of interactions.

    These, by the way, are NOT abstractions. They are not “empty” theory. No more than the formula for the force of gravity ot the surface of the earth is some empty ideality or conceptual abstraction. No, it is a formulation of “what is observed to be the case,” developed with a high degree of rigor and precision.

    We may quite properly be more interested in knowing John’s foreign policy than his bodily chemistry, or Bethany’s teaching or mothering styles, for instance, and I need to emphasize that these subject-matters are not LESS John or Bethany than their being solid bodies is, and that these other aspects are JUST as formally constituted and formally intelligible through their own “sciences,” as is the “objective” subject-matter of how Bethany’s mass is moved by the force of gravity when she is in free fall (from off the horse that we wish that she owned)….

    The so-called “objective” worldview is simply — and magnificently! — the set of ikes or sciences that begin by looking at the object-like nature of physical bodies as physical bodies measurable in time and space and then direct their thinking along the paths designed to reveal the hidden formal constitution underlying these observed things taken as objects and motions.

    This is not a worldview that is to be established by contrast with “subjective” worldviews, as though other ikes assumed a non-existent world made out of some non-physical stuff, whether spiritual or mental or idealist. EVERY way of knowing directs itself toward the “external world,” so long as that natural world is taken as including the human world, as it was so taken, in the pre-scientific Western tradition of thinking.

    EVERY ike generates its distinct disciplinary worldview, based on the “world” of what is brought into sight most prominently by the discipline(s) in which one works and has been formed. What is obstructing the energies of thinking right now in our educational setting is this tendency to dichotomize the many ways of knowing into two camps, based upon a crude underlying assumption of a dichotomy between matter and mind, and between causality and arbitrariness, which I have now come to think of as being most basically a dichotomy between things and motions (space and time, if you will). But that must remain in my off-line work for now….

    Bethany, I may have spoken more directly to your comments in my response to Rick….

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