Purpose: To show the convergences between Josef Mitterer’s non-dualizing way of speaking and actor-network theory. Method: Comparative analysis of Mitterer’s non-dualizing philosophy and actor-network philosophy. Findings: Profound convergences between the two accounts may lead to a unified account that could redefine traditional philosophical problems. Benefits: The paper extends the range of Mitterer’s non-dualizing philosophy and actor-network theory enabling both to face new problems. Among them, extended non-dualizing philosophy may undergo empirical investigations.
Analyzing the outline of the endless literature on consciousness, the separation between science and philosophy rather than being overcome, seems to come back in different shapes. According to this point of view, the hard problem seems to be how to study consciousness while avoiding a slip back to the old dualism. This article outlines the advantages of the phenomenological method. This method, more than getting over the mind-body separation, anticipates it through an open gaze, able to bring back the human presence as something structurally “ambiguous.” Reintroducing Husserl’s scientific project in a complete way, Francisco Varela opened up a research area yet to be explored, which promises to be fertile for neuroscience, provided that we accept that radicalism essential to phenomenology.
In this paper we criticize the “Ashbyan interpretation” (Froese & Stewart, 2010) of autopoietic theory by showing that Ashby’s framework and the autopoietic one are based on distinct, often incompatible, assumptions and that they aim at addressing different issues. We also suggest that in order to better understand autopoiesis and its implications, a different and wider set of theoretical contributions, developed previously or at the time autopoiesis was formulated, needs to be taken into consideration: among the others, the works of Rosen, Weiss and Piaget. By analyzing the concepts of organization and closure, the idea of components, and the role of materiality in the theory proposed by Maturana and Varela, we advocate the view that autopoiesis necessarily entails selfproduction and intrinsic instability and can be realized only in domains characterized by the same transformative and processual properties exhibited by the molecular domain. From this theoretical standpoint it can be demonstrated that autopoietic theory neither commits to a sharp dualism between organization and structure nor to a reflexive view of downward causation, thus avoiding the respective strong criticisms.
Purpose: The text searches for possible uses of a daring postulate to reject dualism, formulated by Josef Mitterer. Furthermore, it explores the inconsistencies of dualism and its remnants in three projects: Richard Rorty’s neopragmatism, the strong program of the sociology of knowledge, and radical constructivism. The final aim of the argument is to demonstrate that a very interesting incorporation of Mitterer’s postulates is possible, and that it must take the form of a consistent antiessentialism. At this point the article presents Bruno Latour’s actor-network theory. Findings: The article underlines the specific role of the so-called other side of the discourse – which, according to Mitterer is fabricated by the dualizing mode of speaking. Such an instance is a priori essentialized and it plays a crucial role as a tool for settling arguments. The text traces the role of this instance in the concepts mentioned above. Benefits: Through the use of Latour’s constructivism, the text indicates that there exists a fruitful empirical (non-speculative) research program, which was projected in accordance with Mitterer’s postulates.
Context: In his work on neurophenomenology, the late Francisco Varela overtly tackled the well-known “hard problem” of the (physical) origin of phenomenal consciousness. Problem: Did he have a theory for solving this problem? No, he declared, only a “remedy.” Yet this declaration has been overlooked: Varela has been considered (successively or simultaneously) as an idealist, a dualist, or an identity theorist. Results: These primarily theoretical characterizations of Varela’s position are first shown to be incorrect. Then it is argued that there exists a stance (let’s call it the Varelian stance) in which the problem of the physical origin of primary consciousness, or pure experience, does not even arise. Implications: The nature of the “hard problem” of consciousness is changed from an intellectual puzzle to an existential option. Constructivist content: The role of ontological prejudice about what the world is made of (a prejudice that determines the very form of the “hard problem” as the issue of the origin of consciousness out of a pre-existing material organization) is downplayed, and methodologies and attitudes are put to the fore.
The representational view of mind in mathematics education is evidenced by theories that characterize learning as a process in which students modify their internal mental representations to construct mathematical relationships or structures that mirror those embodied in external instructional representations. It is argued that, psychologically, this view falls prey to the learning paradox, that, anthropologically, it fails to consider the social and cultural nature of mathematical activity and that, pedagogically, it leads to recommendations that are at odds with the espoused goal of encouraging learning with understanding. These difficulties are seen to arise from the dualism created between mathematics in students’ heads and mathematics in their environment. An alternative view is then outlined and illustrated that attempts to transcend this dualism by treating mathematics as both an individual, constructive activity and as a communal, social practice. It is suggested that such an approach might make it possible to explain how students construct mathematical meanings and practices that, historically, took several thousand years to evolve without attributing to students the ability to peek around their internal representations and glimpse a mathematically prestructured environment. In addition, it is argued that this approach might offer a way to go beyond the traditional tripartite scheme of the teacher, the student, and mathematics that has traditionally guided reform efforts in mathematics education.
Context: Traditional research on the fiction/non-fiction distinction is the fruit of an essentialist methodology in which the procedures of ontologizing and textualizing are assumed as obligatory. Ontologizing and textualizing form the basic discursive technique, in which analyses are focused on the object as the semantic centre. Theory of literary fiction – deeply rooted in Alexius Meinong’s theory of non-existent objects – is object-orientated and, as a result, is always ontologically involved/engaged. Problem: The re-description of the fundamental literary problems as a kind of epistemological experiment for which non-dualizing philosophy is a foundation. Considerations are aimed at providing answers/solutions to the three following issues: 1. Is it possible to connect non-dualism with a literary discourse about literary fiction? 2. What difference does the non-dualizing perspective make in comparison to a philologically-orientated discourse? 3. What difference does the non-dualizing perspective make in comparison to the constructivist approach to the problem of fiction? Approach: Mitterer’s non-dualism is considered from both the context of ontologically-orientated discourse about fiction and literary research and the context of constructivist discourse about fiction. Results: Mitterer’s non-dualizing conception may be considered a foundation of a radical non-essentialist way of thinking about literary fiction. As a result, the philologically-orientated research on literary text, focused on the explanation of its semantics, would rather move towards a culturally-, pragmatically-, and/or sociologically- orientated type of discourse. The notion of (literary) fiction should be reformulated as follows: fiction is not the reason for interpretation; fiction is the result of interpretation because the description comes from the object of speech (from-object-cognition). Implications: This is only an introduction to the project of a potential non-ontologizing discourse about literary fiction. Therefore it should be developed and discussed as the option for the dualizing type of the discourse as it still stirs up a lot of controversies.
In the reception of Josef Mitterer’s writings up to now, there are two predominant types of motifs: the radical constructivist background of his philosophy and the ontological and epistemological foundations and consequences of non-dualism. The critics are focused rather on some problematic consequences of non-dualism, ranging from the problem of infinite regress up to the thesis assuming that Mitterer’s philosophy presupposes a world reduced to descriptions. However, these two types of readings are founded on dualizing assumptions which are not coherent with non-dualism. \\Thus, in the present paper I interpret non-dualism in the frame of non-dual-ism, based on non-dualizing assumptions. I argue that non-dualism is a rhetorical project resulting in far-reaching consequences in the field of academic and scientific debates, poetics and practice of negotiations and deliberations, as well as in ordinary discourse. Non-dualism fulfills Richard Rorty’s dream of culture as a never-ending conversation in which the argument of power is successfully replaced by the power of argument. Mitterer makes transparent the rhetorical techniques performed in the dualizing discourse (not only in situations of conflict) in order to present an alternative – the non-dualizing mode of discourse. Mitterer’s philosophy – reread in the context of Rorty’s pragmatism, Foucault’s conception of discourses, Perelman’s new rhetoric – offers the new vocabulary (in Rorty’s meaning) which may change the practice of speaking
Problem: The question of the moral and social effects of non-dualism has not yet been clarified to the necessary extent. The relation of truth claims, power and violence has been simplified; critical questions of non-dualist practises have not yet been addressed. Approach: By discussing relevant philosophy and political theory, this paper draws the attention of non-realists towards the issues of power, conflict and discourse rules and asks to rethink the issue of the pragmatic justification of non-realist epistemology. Findings: (1) Constructivists, as well as the non-dualist Josef Mitterer, are critical of the discursive effects of truth claims. Yet, neither constructivism nor non-dualism solve the power issues that are ascribed to realism by constructivists and dualism by Mitterer. Even if participants abstained from truth claims in discourses, many of the power issues would still be prevalent. (2) The question arises of whether a practical difference between non-dualism and dualism exists. (3) There is a tendency in constructivist and non-dualist theory to regard any form of influence on others as illegitimate. This tendency is not sound. Instead, the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate power is necessary in non-dualism as well. Implications: Constructivist and non-dualist theory need to scrutinise statements about the moral implications of the respective theories and to emphasise power issues not solely by extrapolating from epistemology, but by acknowledging the social dynamics of discourses and conflicts. Non-dualist social scientists could contribute to the discussion through empirical analyses of the effects of the use and the debunking of truth claims.
Open peer commentary on the article “Towards a PL-Metaphysics of Perception: In Search of the Metaphysical Roots of Constructivism” by Konrad Werner. Upshot: In his target article, Werner proposes a metaphysical foundation for a radical constructivist epistemology that is nonetheless claimed to reconcile constructivism with some sort of realism. While acknowledging his success in demonstrating that constructivism without an external/internal dualism is suitable for his purposes, I shall argue that rejecting a distinction between epistemological and ontological issues makes it questionable whether PL-metaphysics can make constructivism compatible with realism.