August 03, 2006

The interior-exterior categories

mark Says: August 1st, 2006 at 11:02 pm Hi Anand, one way of viewing the interior-exterior and individual-collective are that they are fundamental ways of explaining reality. All scientists and philosophers have used forms of explanation that rely on these distinctions. These are not made up categories they are forms of percieving, knowling being and doing that all knowledge quests describe in some way.
The interior-exterior can be thought of in terms of the nominalism-realism distinction in onology, interpretivism-positivism in epistemology, voluntarism-determinism in discussions of human nature, ideographic-nomothetic in methodology, and subjective-objective in phenomenology. Anywhere where these or similar terms are used then the interior-exterior distinction is relevant.
The individual-collective dimension is berhaps the most important one in the social sciences. In many ways the array of disciplines that are taught in Universities are based on this distinction, e.g. the distinction between psychology and sociology, quantum theory and cosmology, biology and ecology, chemistry and materials engineering. Once again they are not categories that Wilber has pulled out of the air. In the human sciences the individual-collective dimension is also known as the micro-macro link (see Alexander, J. C., Bernard, G., M√ľnch, R. & Smelser, N. J., 1987, ‘The Micro-Macro Link’, University of California Press, Los Angeles, also the work of Giddens and Luhman). The individual-collective dimension is crucial in organisation studies because organising is such an inherent quality of working together.
The dualism that these distinctions set up are not epiphenomenal. Every philosopher and scientists battles with how to deal with the problems they throw up. These dualisms are real and enduring and so the question that Wilber poses is - recognising these dualisms how do we create holisitic views of our world. Wilber’s suggested solutions to this issue are profound and novel. They may be inadequate in many ways but those who dismiss them will be the poorer for it.
There are other contenders of course for fundamental dimensions to reality - form-energy might be one, task-relationship might be another. Wilber has never denied the possibility for other dimensions but the ones he describes need to be included in any framework for explaning how we have made some sort of sense of it all for the past couple of millennia.
mark Says: August 2nd, 2006 at 7:17 pm Hi Anand, you could very easily read a dual-aspect or even a supervenience interpretation into Wilber’s interior-exterior proposition. It’s an extremely general delineation and you need to approach it as a way of aknowledging different knowledge quests rather than as a firm definition of theories of consciousness etc.
Wilber is proposing that reality can be considered in terms of the distinctions between such contrasts as nominalism-realism, interpretivism-positivism, voluntarism-determinism, ideographic-nomothetic, subjective-objective, physicalism and psychism. The history of philosophy (east and west) is recorded in many ways through the debate between such viewpoints, hence Wilber’s proposition is very reasonable.
He is attempting to make generalisations and abstractions so that a framework can be assempled that will accommodate (not assimilate) many different points of view into a meaningful system of thought. If you hold on dogedly to one of those points of view (physicalism) and deny the validity of the others (psychism) you will never understand what Wilber is on about.

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