Total Pageviews

Monday, 29 July 2013

The necessary a posteriori and the synthetic a priori

In the last meeting of my course on (introduction to) metaphysics, I found myself lecturing on two different ways to unbind factual necessity from what it has been usually connected: the analytic and the a priori. These two ways to unbind the necessary correspond to two ways to reinvent metaphysics - the Kantian and the Kripkean. In other words, given a Humean critique of the availability of necessary connections known a priori about the world (there are no accessible necessary a priori judgements about the world), we can either give up that they must be about the world or give up that they must be accessible on a purely a priori basis. Kant reinvents necessity as something to do with our obligations as subjects of experience while Kripke insists that it can be found in whatever truth is found about an otherwise fixed denoting term. In both cases, necessity stops being attached to analyticity - either because it is more closely linked to the a priori or because it is more closely linked with being about the world. One could think that in both cases metaphysics is replaced by something lesser. Kripke's take is considered to pave the way for a metaphysical resurgence (an ontological turn) while Kant's take is seen as the renunciation of metaphysics because giving up the a priori seems today less drastic than to have the world in itself (the great outdoors) well lost.

In a sense, the fate of metaphysics depends on that of necessity. Can it renounce necessity altogether? A way to formulate the question is in epistemological terms: is there a science of the symbebekos - of the accidental? Aristotle, of course, would take the question on whether there is metaphysics beyond necessity as the question on whether there is a science of the accidental. The two questions could be distinct: there could be no science, and yet there could be a metaphysics of the accidental. (This is Lévinas approach: metaphysics ought to be not science, not cognition, not based on ontological thinking). Metaphysics, in this sense, could be something different from the access to the ontoscape. Maybe it is another type of ontotechnics, another kind of getting close to what it is - maybe something like ontodrama or diplomacy. This is maybe an easy way out. Another way around the question is to think of metaphysics as disolved in the observations concerning the contingent, the perennial flow - and consider the time of apprehension as much as the time of flowing (the Doppler effect). The question then becomes a question about thinking: for how much time one apprehends something.

No comments:

Post a Comment