Excerpt: The difference between realism and constructivism is reduced from an epistemological distinction to merely a difference in (epistemological) attitude… Both modes of thinking – the realist just like the constructivist – are manifestations of an argumentation technique.
Upshot: The article compares the standard dualistic reference-model of interpretation to a nondualistic preference-model. So far, philosophical education has propagated almost exclusively the dualistic model and has tried to establish it as a condito sine qua non of rational discourse. The development of a nondualistic alternative makes this model optional: we can opt for it, but also against it. Erratum: (a) The expression “arenas of philosophy” (§3) was coined by Kurt Flasch rather than Wilhelm Flasch. (b) In §24, the third paragraph should read “But the framework of the dualist is the result…”
Purpose: This paper aims to mediate Josef Mitterer’s non-dualistic philosophy with the claim that speaking is a process of embodied experience. Approach: Key assumptions of enactive cognitive science, such as the crossmodal integration of speech and gesture and the perceptual grounding of linguistic concepts are illustrated through selected performance pieces of multimedia artist Laurie Anderson. Findings: The analysis of Anderson’s artistic work questions a number of dualisms that guide truth-oriented models of language. Her performance pieces demonstrate that language is both sensually enacted and conceptually reflected through the integration of iconic signing (e.g. sound play, dance) with symbolic communication. Moreover, Anderson’s artistic practice demonstrates that media such as voice, gesture and recording technologies realize different forms of embodied language. Benefits: Media aesthetics in the vein of embodied cognition can overcome a number of the dualisms that inform analytical philosophy of language, linguistics, and communication studies, such as perceptual/conceptual meaning, iconicity/symbolicity, emotion/cognition, body/technology and voice/script.
Context: The relation between language and reality, the problem of truth, and ontological questions in general belong to the perennial problems of philosophy. Although non-dualism deals with these problems and their presuppositions, it still remains at the periphery of philosophical discourse. Problem: How to deal with ontological questions within the non-dualizing mode of discourse. Method: The paper tries to reconstruct the origin of, and the interest in, ontological questions addressed to non-dualists; it discusses the possible types of answers to these questions and proposes an alternative way of dealing with them. Results: Ontological questions cannot be formulated within a non-dualist conceptual framework and hence they cannot be answered. Implications: This paper tries to pave the way for leaving ontological questions behind and moving on to a different range of philosophical queries ensuing from a non-dualizing perspective.
Context: In recent years, the debates surrounding radical constructivism have increasingly paid attention to the problematic dualist logic of radical constructivism as well as that of realism. Mitterer’s non-dualism is an attempt to overcome such approaches. Problem: Although Mitterer succeeds in identifying the flaws of dualism, he takes a reductionist position that does not account for materiality and is therefore not convincing when it comes to describing epistemic processes appropriately. Method: Having identified the conceptual problematic to be found in Mitterer, I introduce Whithead’s basic framework as an alternative non-dualistic approach. I argue that starting from Whitehead’s notion of “prehension” allows for more appropriate accounts of epistemic processes. Results: By following this train of thought, it is possible to develop a position that is non-dualist, realist, and constructivist at the same time. Implications: The article demonstrates the need to develop process theoretical approaches to epistemology and contributes to developing an epistemologically relaxed way of arguing, as was recently called for. This implies the requirement of developing a radical process constructivism that integrates concepts such as performativity and enactment.
Purpose: The paper aims at examining whether George Herbert Mead’s theory of language is an appropriate candidate for developing a non-dualistic conception of experience and empirical research. Problem: Josef Mitterer has limited his theory of a non-dualizing way of speaking to criticizing dualistic positions in philosophy and sciences but has not developed a non-dualistic conception of empirical research. To do this, the task is to forego the notion “description” as a remainder category of dualism to develop a new understanding of language. Findings: Mead’s communication and action theory contains a non-dualistic nucleus. His gesture theory of communication allows us to distinguish action and speech and connect them in a non-dualizing way. Further research should especially focus on the relation between immediate and reflective experience in Mead’s work.
Purpose: The paper tries to explore the possibility of developing a theory of science that is compatible with the non-dualizing way of speaking. Problem: The difficulty of developing a non-dualism-compatible theory of science consists in the difference of the perspectives of the theory of science and the non-dualizing way of speaking. The non-dualizing way of speaking deals with descriptions as results of inquiries, whereas science theory thematizes the process of gaining descriptions in empirical research. If we want to reach compatibility between these different perspectives, we are led to the question of what kind of relationship exists between inquiry and description and what is the source of attaining knowledge. In respect of social sciences, there is the additional problem that a great deal of their objects are text; therefore the relationship between text and interpretation is relevant for the empirical research process of social sciences. Findings: George Herbert Mead’s theory of action and communication allows a productive approach to the above-mentioned problem to be found. Mead conceives of speaking as potential acting, as action that is initiated but not carried out. In this way, describing and inquiring can be connected non-dualistically. The source of gaining knowledge and descriptions is, however, according to Mead’s action theory, practical activities. Objects are not presupposed, but are results from action. New experiences and descriptions come from inquiries that are stimulated by action problems and action inhibition and the endeavor to overcome the inhibition. Implications: The result of the argumentation is that Mead’s conception of action and language can serve to develop a theory of science that is compatible with non-dualizing thinking. The reason for this is that in Mead’s conception, acting and speaking, experiencing and describing are not conceived of as categorical differences but are related to each other as executed and initiated.
Excerpt: Is Josef Mitterer’s non-dualizing philosophy yet another philosophical flavor, of which there are so many in the academic world? Yet another philosophical trinket that arouses the short-lived attention of some people and disappears quickly thereafter? Yet another dalliance without implications either for philosophy or for science? We are convinced of the contrary. For many years Mitterer has steadily built up a reputation as an innovative but at the same time also very careful thinker. His claims have been discussed in various circles, but, unfortunately, this has so far happened in German- and Polish-speaking countries only. Meanwhile “take your time” has taken time and Mitterer celebrated his 60th birthday in July 2008, an opportunity we used to gather connoisseurs of his work to discuss, for the first time in the English language, his achievements and impact. The result is in no relation to the limited spread of his ideas so far. We have collected some 22 contributions covering a large variety of intellectual terrain and pointing out the potential impact of his philosophy from now on.
Context: Non-dualism suggests a new way of utilizing language without the assumption of categorically extralinguistic objects denoted by language. Problem: What is the innovative potential, what is the special value of non-dualism for science? Is non-dualism a fruitful conceptual revision or just a philosophical thought experiment with no or little significance for science? Method: We provide a concise introduction to non-dualism’s central new proposals and an overview of the papers. Results: Fourteen contributors show how this way of thinking and speaking can be operationalized creatively, but also address some of its boundaries. Implications: Since not all of the aspects and problems highlighted for discussion in the original Call for Papers were answered satisfactorily, further research is necessary. For example, research is needed on the relationship between dualism’s distinction between object language and metalanguage on the one hand and non-dualism’s distinction between descriptions so far and descriptions from now on on the other; or on the infinite regress allegations by non-dualism against dualism. Constructivist content: Some authors show that non-dualist thinking is anti-essentialist, in a similar way as constructivist thinking. Some also show that comparable questions arise; for example, the question of whether non-dualism denies the material world (containing extralinguistic objects).