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Monday, 12 March 2012

Monism and grounding

Been somehow thinking about Schaffer's priority monism. I like his stress on the possibility of heterogeneous basic elements of the world - more for the heterogeneous element all the way through than for his stress on the need for basic elements. I'm still unconvinced that gunky worlds are more possible than junky worlds, as Bohn calls a world where everything is a part. I guess my problems lie mostly in what is connected to the acceptance of an ontological foundationalism. Schaffer thinks sometimes in terms of how to build a baseless world - where would one start? He also appeals to the Big Bang as a starting point for an entangled system that would constitute the cosmos. But foundationalism in ontology is far from being the only alternative - as creationism and a single common origin is not the only alternative.

I take, rather, that the relation of grounding is ontologically important. I think there is a relevant type-token distinction to be considered in the relation of ground - grounds can act on types, just like relations of requisite. One thing demands another but by demanding types. Myself and Manuel tried to put this in terms of Molnar's physical intentionality. It doesn't have to be put in those terms, I realise. But the type-token structure in grounding allows for something to play a role, to be used as something else - and for a different bunch of elements to come in the picture at any point. I guess this was Anaxagoras' point. Yes, things are connected in relations of ground - and the ground is something akin to a cosmos - but nothing, not even this cosmos, acts as a unitary whole.

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