ONTIC GENERATION: GETTING EVERYTHING FROM THE BASICS

Peter Simons

Abstract


This is an essay in speculative metaphysics in support of a form of reductionistic physicalism, based on two bold conjectures. Firstly, that everything is comprised in the one spatio-temporal-causal cosmos. Secondly, that everything is either ontologically basic, or is generated from this basis by combinatory operations which are themselves basic. The basis contains two kinds of element: formal factors and material (non-formal) particulars forming natural taxa. The two hypotheses rule out both ontic pluralism and ontic emergence. Generation and its converse reduction are here understood solely ontically, and not in terms of knowledge, language or explanation. There is a widespread discrepancy between the nature of what there is and how we cope with it cognitively. Ontic monism is therefore combined with scientific, linguistic and explanatory pluralism, drawing the sting of much antireductionist argument. Further, much anti-reductionism is micro-reductionism, based on an impoverished conception of what is ontically basic, namely the mereologically simple. With a richer and more adequate palette of formal factors, the prospects for ontic generation being able to encompass life, mind, intentionality, language, culture and science are enhanced. It still remains an uphill struggle however, and the "higher levels of being" can only be cognitively comprehended via a variety of intellectual operations which facilitate understanding while (largely falsely) seeming to denote various entities of reason. The assumption of reality for such items being largely incompatible with physicalistic monism, this reductionism is congenial to nominalism. The resulting metaphysical position cannot be recommended for its comfort, but cognitive discrepancy allows, even predicts, that discomfort be compatible with truth.

Keywords


20th century philosophy; ontology; philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; emergence; factor; fundamental; ontology; reduction

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