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Sunday, 7 October 2012

Transcendental Surrealism

Last night for no simple reason to explain I remembered transcendental surrealism. I believe it was because somehow I was toying with the interdiction Noli Me Legere in the way Blanchot deals with it in Après le coup. In any case, in my thesis, years ago, I presented briefly what I understand now as an embrionary form of process philosophy I called transcendental surrealism. Surrealism came from Leplin. He claimed that a scientific surrealism was an alternative way to understand the predictive successes of science - alternative to a realism that posits the approximate correspondence truth of scientfic theories in terms of the denotation of its major terms (and an ontology built accordingly). Leplin´s surrealism held that things are as if theories of mature sciences with predictive successes were true. As if, he claimed, was enough. My transcendental surrealism was about other cognitive devices - that I called other inductive biases. I wrote that each bias had an "as if" associated to it - and that was based on my research with machines that perform induction due to their biases. Transcendental surrealism was about the plurality of biases and the plurality of appropriate as ifs. Quite Leibnizian in spirit and I believe, those as if, are very close to waht Whitehead calls subjective forms.

I had a conversation with Eros in Porto Alegre about dispositions versus projections. The background was our common interest in Goodman´s work on counterfactuals. My point could be put in terms of transcendental surrealism: each bias sees things in a way and interact with what they see. The bias for green, instead of grue, makes us act according to a projection. The same for the tick, the bee or the grain of sugar. Now, there is no need to postulate dispositions if we just appeal to the horizon of sight (the horizon of prehension) of a bias. This horizon is enough to enable the bias to be inclined to act one way or another. Other things can intervene, as there is a whole world affecting this seen realm, a whole world that is not perceived clearly - the extensive continuum, in Whitehead. So, whatever happens to the grain of sugar has only to do with the actual relations it holds. If we want to make sense of dispositional predicates, we just need to appeal to what its bias prehends in its corresponding subjective form (it sees apple juice as water, for instance). Is this story appealing to as much internal features as the dispositional story? I believe it is not because it doesn´t have to appeal to dark quarters (say, of the grain of sugar) where it has somehow the rest of the world lined up.

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