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Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Rethinking BUG's monadology of fragments

In my contemporary philosophy class, I'm approaching Meillassoux's book and diagnoses through some traditions of Kantism in the XXth century, especially post-Sellars. Yesterday I was speaking about the two response-dependence alternatives conceptions of the content of the perceptual experience put forward by McDowell in, respectively, Mind and World and "Avoiding the Myth of the Given". In both case, one needs to be prepared to exercise receptivity, and this preparation involves being able to become a human perceptual reporter. In both cases, the espontaneity involved in the exercise of conceptual capacities ties the perceiver to self-determination as a human subject, capable to recognize the authority of concept and to formulate empirical judgments in perceptual experience. The response-dependence itself, though, is a broader strategy to avoid the Given - the idea that something can be given to me without any contribution of anything that needs to be acquired. In Whitehead, that is unrelated to human perceptual reporters: there cannot be anything captured through perception that is not co-ordinated to whatever else has been acquired and, to be sure, to what matters from a particular perceiver's point of view. The monadology of fragments, in my forthcoming Being Up For Grabs, inherits these features for no composer - this is the way perceivers are labeled - can avoid existing at the same time as compositions and as fragments. To compose is always also to attend to its composition.

The monadology of fragments, on the other hand, can also be thought as the flip side of the ontology of doubts, also in the book, where doubts and indeterminations are part of what the world is. The ontology of doubts is motivated by a possible interpretation of the modes of Aenesidemus and Agrippa that contrasts to the one Sextus puts forward and embraces the idea that the epockhé reveals something about the world, and not only about the way we fail to commit to any belief. But the neo-pyrrhonist epoché has itself two interconnected sides: the rejection of a content as worth believing and its acceptance as a phenomenon. Phenomenon, for Sextus, is not restricted to what the sensibility gives us, it is not in itself an episode of the Given. The ontology of doubts takes doubts to reveal the indeterminacies of the world. It could also take phenomena as constituting the world - they are appearances informed by a perspective that are directly perceived. There could be nothing beyond the phenomenon and in that case it appears as a composition (which is also a fragment and a composer). In other words, if we take the epoché not as a strategy to manage one's cognitive content but as a line of access to things - much like a direct form of cognition - then doubts are part of the world and phenomenons are always composed but could also be part of what there is.


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