The Flight From Contingency 6



42. The competence for judging discourse contributions for truth or falsehood in school is on the part of the teacher. Even when students are asked to evaluate the performance of their teachers, they are expected to judge the didactic skills of the teachers, but certainly not, whether the views presented are true or false.


43. The procedure of marking true sentences as true is characteristic of traditional teacher-student relations. The students repeat what the teachers have taught them. They appropriate the teacher’s knowledge. 

Whether the learning was successful, what the students know and what they don’t, that is determined from the position, from the point of view of the teacher. 

The teacher judges the performance of the students (their descriptions from now on) for true or false from the position which he himself holds, that is, from his descriptions  so far

Philosophers are mostly also teachers of philosophy – and if they teach only their own theory or views.


44. In the dualist tradition of thinking the path from the description of the object to the object of the description is a path with a backward direction: back to the object which precedes the description and to which the description refers. On this path the  creative knowledge description – the first variant – becomes a  receptive knowledge -description.

The relation object (snow) to the description (“The snow is white.”) is transformed into a relation 1 : “1”, p : ”p”. How does this happen?

A. The sentence “The snow is white.” describes the snow.

B. The object is denoted/specified using the description “The snow is white.”

C. Thus the object of further descriptions is no longer the snow, but the white snow.


45. This path is not open to arbitrary descriptions, but only to those descriptions which correspond/agree with the object. 

So it is a matter of filtering out from the multitude of possible descriptions those which describe the object as it is. For this purpose the dualist way of thinking has developed theories of truth and other procedures which, by using certain criteria and instances, are supposed to guarantee a critical but reliable test of the claim of correlation/correspondence between object and description.


46. If the descriptions have successfully passed this test process, then with them the object of the description can be denoted/indicated for further descriptions. 

These further descriptions can now either be creative: in that they go beyond the descriptions that served to denote/specify the object – or they can describe the object as it is: and are thus a receptive description, as when the sentence “The snow is white.” describes the white snow. 

The description of the white snow through the sentence “The snow is white.” does not require any more examination procedures, it is self-evident: as in this description no knowledge-claims are made over and above the already available description denoting the object. The sentence “The snow is white” remains in the domain of secure knowledge.

47. The transition from creative to receptive description and cognition also takes place in science: First a thesis describing element X is proposed: “The element X behaves so and so.” Denotating/stating the object of this description with the help of the description is legitimate only if we know that element X behaves so and so. When the scientist arrives at this knowledge through the application of the scientific method, then the thesis “The element X behaves so and so.” is no longer merely a description of the element X but a description of the element X which behaves so and so.


48. In science the path from A to B, from variant 1 to variant 2 is also the path from research to teaching (and to the textbook), the path from the presentation of new views/opinions to their anchoring in the object and their subsequent presentation in discourse.

If the knowledge-gain claim is redeemed, is realized through a creative description, then it is no longer a gain, but belongs to the state of knowledge, that is passed on in teaching and ought to be increased by new knowledge-claims in further research.


49. However this path is not a one-way-street. What was knowledge can become error and vice versa. The dualist would reject this and say: “What was considered knowledge, but turned out to be error, was already error before it was recognized as such.” The dualist, however, is right in his self-understanding only if he succeeds in extending his present position, from which he marks the difference between knowledge and error, into the past and into the future. Only then can he universalize his opinions/views that are valid here and now into opinions/views which are valid always and everywhere.


50. To achieve this goal, dualist thinking must be able to reliably distinguish between true and false, between truth and error. It must not allow that arbitrary sentences, theses, theories, views or opinions can be shown to be true or false through the instruments it has developed for the true-false distinction. Then dualist philosophy would be no more than an argumentation technique that allows to present/show any arbitrary opinions as knowledge as far as the dualist epistemologist holds them.


51. The distinctions between true and false, holding to be true and being true, perception and illusion, between the world as it is and the world as it appearsto us, are distinctions that are either presupposed (and then made accordingly in discourse) or made (and then presupposed to further discourse).

These distinctions are universal in the realist and objective-idealist variants of dualism and they are local/regional/temporal in the relativist variants of dualism.


52. The alternative between universal dualism and relativist dualisms is the alternative between one scale and several scales, between one world (level) and plural world levels, between one universe and several or even many versa.


53. The realist says: “We live in one world and not in two or three or seventeen.”

The relativist says: “We live in one of many worlds.” 

The “we” of the realist is universal: it includes all of humanity. 

The “we” of the relativists is regional: it includes the members of one community among several, and one of these may even be the community of realists.


54. The realist often accuses the relativist of “denying” the (one, universal) world: but by speaking of “denying”, the realist insinuates that the relativist rejects what he presupposes to his speech, namely the one world. 

The relativist rejects this accusation: he presupposes the one world: but he insinuates that it is cognitively inaccessible.


55. The relativistic units: worlds, versa, realities, frameworks, can be determined by theories, cultures or by languages and accordingly then theory-worlds, cultural worlds or language-worlds are formed -- but life-worlds, world-versions, “own” or “alien” worlds are possible as well.


56. Relativists distinguish between a world-2 (a reality, a substratum) and various worlds-1 (language-, theory- and cultural worlds). World-2 forms the unfathomable foundation for the worlds-1. The worlds-1 are, so to speak, “intermediate worlds” in the area between the language level and the cognitively inaccessible reality level.

The conceptual distinctions between worlds-1 and world-2, between the “world for & of us” and the “world in & of itself” are often confusing. Sometimes reality functions as a “world in between”, sometimes a “soft” world is pushed between language and reality and sometimes plural theories and language-worlds prevent perusal of and access to reality.

The distinction between “Wirklichkeit” und “Realität”, which is so convenient for German speaking relativists/constructivists, is missing in English, but “world-versions” or “worlds” as opposed to “reality” also do the job. And “reality” can easily be pluralized in English ... “In reality” corresponds to “in Wirklichkeit” in German or to “en réalité” in French or “in realtá” in Italian.But also in front (or above) the unquestionable <em>one</em>world of realism other, “inferior”, “minor” worlds can be put: when, for example, opponents accuse each other in discourse that their world is only an apparent world, that behind the putative or observable world a true, real, deeper of even higher world or reality exists.

The relativistic worlds/versa become increasingly stable downward: toward the reality, the substratum: until the Wittgensteinian spade bends back and we come upon the foundation which the constructions in which we speak and act are built. In religious thinking it is rather the other way round: there certainty and imperishability increase in the higher worlds.


57. In dualist thinking the object of the description is description-resistant. This resistance to description is limited in relativist and constructivist modes of thought. But in all relativisms description-resistant domains remain within the respective relativistic frame of reference as worlds 1, which allow a dualistic distinction between object and description: Each relativism is non-relativistic within its own framework. Within the respective framework even the relativist does not construct, does not generate the object through his descriptions.


58. In the construction of worlds-1 it is not (yet) possible to distinguish between the language level and the corresponding world level.

Possible conflicts when building, when constructing the relativistic units, lead to divisiveness and thus to several units.

The inhabitants of relativistic worlds-1 have a choice: either they get involved in constructing and creating them or they adapt into the respective world-1.

If they are involved in their construction then the question arises: how this construction process comes to an end or in any case to a standstill? How can be decided, whether the world-1 is a final or an intermediate result of a construction? The theory-world of Aristotelian physics and also that of Newton have long since come to a (perhaps only preliminary) end whilst others are still active.


59. The dualist goal of cognition and truth survives also in relativism, relativized to the respective worlds-1, the respective frames of reference. 

The reality, the world-2, loses its function as an instance of cognitive decision, but this function passes over to the worlds-1, the theory-worlds, language-worlds and other frameworks that allow true-false decisions relative to them.Reality remains efficient at best as a negative instance.


60. The validity of true-false distinctions is limited to a domain within certain frameworks, conceptual apparatuses and worlds-1. Only there true-false distinctions have their place. As soon as the construction of the relativist objects comes to a halt, they can be talked about and described dualistically. 

Within the relativistic frameworks/worlds-1, as in universal realism, the goal is unification, levelling and consensus – and whoever tries to escape this can either evade into another world-1 himself or he is relegated into yet another one against his will. The boundaries between the different frameworks are flexible: in case of conflict, they can be (re-)drawn as needed in such a way that potential competitors either drop out of the framework or cannot get into it.


61. In the practice of discourse it makes little difference whether the claims raised by true-false distinctions apply only to a world-1, only to the domain of discourse in which they are raised – and hence are local/regional/temporal claims – or whether they pertain universally, for all discourse. 

Claims transgressing the discourse are hardly heard outside the discourse in which they are made. And if they are heard, then the listeners are thereby included in the discourse.


62. In the various relativisms the universal true-false distinctions are either relativized to “true-false for ...” or replaced through distinctions like “reasonably justified” vs. “not reasonably justified”, “viable/not-viable”, “fitting/not fitting” or “adequate/inadequate”.


63. Relativistic frameworks must be drawn wide enough to at least provide room for disagreements: that an X can be so for one person and different for another.It is trivial that every relativistic framework must leave room for the thoughts that occur in it.


64. A problem which relativists/constructivists do not solve: How does the transition from constructing a world-1 to its interpretation occur? 

The indeterminacy of this transition makes it possible, in case of conflict, either to discredit any counter opinions as false but belonging to the framework -- this would have the unwelcome consequence that the framework unites true and false opinions -- or to relegate the counter position as false to another framework: by which it ceases to be a counter position. 

The first possibility leads to the question how at all from the framework still between true and false descriptions can be distinguished. The second possibility cannot be realized unrestrictedly, otherwise the relativism/the relativistic world-1 would lose every hold: If in a world-1 only consensual opinions are possible, then every conflicting opinion is equivalent to another world and there is no place for conflicts.


Next: The Flight From Contingency 7


Josef Mitterer is an Austrian philosopher.

The Flight From Contigency 1 here

The Flight From Contingency 2 here

The Flight From Contingency 3 here

The Flight From Contingency 4 here

On Interpretation here

On Interpretation 2 here

The Beyond of Philosophy 1 here

The Beyond of Philosophy 2 here

The Beyond of Philosophy 3 here

The Beyond of Philosophy 4 here

The Beyond of Philosophy 5 here

The Beyond of Philosophy 6 here

The Beyond of Philosophy 6 here

The Beyond of Philosophy 7 here

The Beyond of Philosophy 8 here

The Beyond of Philosophy here

The Beyond of Philosophy 10 here

The Beyond of Philosophy 10 here