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Jag nämnde tidigare att för Whitehead så är de grundläggande kategorierna actual occasions, eternal objects, societies och propositions. Vad är då en "proposition" för Whitehead?
"They are the prehensions of 'theories.' It is evident, however, that the primary function of theories is as a lure for feeling, thereby providing immediacy of enjoyment and purpose. Unfortunately theories, under the name of 'propositions' have been handed over to logicians, who have countenanced the doctrine that their one function is to be judged as to their truth or falsehood." (Process and reality s.184)
"Feeling" ska förstås ungefär som att man har en känsla av nånting. Det är en uppfattning om ett sakförhållande. En "feeling" definieras som en "positive prehension". En "proposition" ska alltså väcka en känsla av ett sakförhållande, och kan som "förslag" inte enbart bedömmas som sant eller falskt.
"The conception of propositions as merely material for judgements is fatal to any understanding of their rôle in the universe. In that purely logical aspect, non-conformal propositions are merely wrong, and therefore worse than useless. But in their primary rôle, they pave the way along wich the world advances into novelty. Error is the price we pay for progress." (Process s.187)
"In fact, error is the mark of the higher organisms, and is the schoolmaster by whose agency there is upward evolution." (Process s.168)
"If we concider any scheme of philosophical categories as one complex assertion, and apply to it the logician's alternative, true or false, the answer must be that the scheme is false." (Process s.8) (även Prince of networks s.169)
"But in the real world it is more important that a proposition be interesting than that it be true. The importance of truth is that it adds to interest."
(Process s. 259)
"The proper test is not that of finality, but of progress." (Process s.14)
Tankens äventyr inom filosofin fortsätter alltså den evolution som har hela universum som sin bakgrund. Och varje steg ska leda frammåt, inte vara det sista.
"A new idea introduces a new alternative; and we are no less indebted to a thinker when we adopt the alternative wich he discarted. Philosophy never reverts to its old position after the shock of a great philosopher." (Process s.11)
"It has been remaked that a system of philosophy is never refuted; it is only abandoned. The reason is that logical contradictions, except as temporary slips of the mind - plentiful, though temprary - are the most gratious of errors; and usually they are trivial." (Process s.6) (även Prince s.168)
"It is more important that a proposition be interesting than that it be true. This statement is almost a tautology." (Whitehead - Adventure of ideas)
"For Whitehead, as for me, any statement of a philosophical argument is always an oversimplification not just of the world as a whole, but even of what the statement itself discusses. Rhetoric is not the devious art of non-rational persuasion, but the best tool we have for exposing the unsated assumptions that lie behind any surface proposition. The analytic contempt for rhetoric and metaphor must not be emulated - not just because this attitude leads to boring results, but because it is philosphically false." (Prince s.169)
"For rhetoric deals with veiled background assumptions rather than explicit dialectical figures - and if philosophy does not expose background assumptions and play counterpart against them, then I do not know what philosophy is for. Plato, Spinoza, and Leibniz do not make fewer logical blunders than the average university professor, but are simply much vaster in adequacy, coherence, originality, relevance, and insight. This answers Jerry Fodor's puzzled question as to why lay readers have more interest in 'Kierkegaard [...] Heidegger [...] Kant, Hegel and the pre-Socratics' than in mainstream analytic philosophy, even if we grant his point that 'anyhow, our arguments are better' (Fodor 2004). But I will not even playfully grant Fodor's bizarre additional claim that 'most of us write better than most of them', a ridicuous statement devoted to the fallacy that good writing means making as many explicit, univocal staements as possible while hinting at nothing more. In fact there are stunningly few good writers among the analytics, despite innumerable clear ones." (Prince s.176)
Harman uppskattar Whiteheads kritik av en alltför logisk och analytisk filosofi. En sådan utgår från en tveksam ontologi. Det är inget fel med logisk stringens men det är det inte heller med retoriska antydningar. Harman kopplar dock detta samman med sin syn på det substantiellas ovetbarhet.
"This suggests a good definition of a minor author, minor character, minor concept, minor invention, or minor argument: one that is reductible to content. The more a person, object, or idea can be summarized in a list of univocal assertions, the less substantial they are, since substance always wears different costumes when seen from different angels. This has important stylistic implications for philosophy. Against the program for philosophy written in 'good plain English', I hold that it should be written in good vivid English. Plain speech contains clear statements that are forgotten as soon as their spokesman closes his mouth, since they have already said all that they are capable of saying. But vivid speech forges new concepts that take on a life their own, like good fictional characters." (Prince s.140)
Harman påminner mej om Göthe som även han la vikt vid en filosofs litterära stil, som indikator på hur pass intressant filosofen var. Varken Harman eller Göthe är speciellt intresserade av matematik. (Medan Whitehead var framstående matematiker och logikforskare i världsklass.) Harman kritiserar både analytisk och kontinental filosofi för att vara litterärt undermåliga, på olika sätt. Svårlästa, inte pga innehållet, utan pga formen.
"Here we find the sole but towering advantage of continental philosophy over its analytic rival - the awareness that a philosophy is more than a list of true and false arguments. Yet the continentals waste this advantage by honoring great thinkers with shrines and prayers wheels rather than exploring the forest from wich they came." (Prince s.140)
"For the analytics the great enemies of human thought are fuzziness, non sequiturs, lack of clarity, poetic self-indulgensce, and insufficiently precise terminology. I disagree with this threat assessment. In my view these are all relatively minor problems in comparison with shallowness, false dichotomies, lack of imagination, robotic chains of reasoning, and the aggressive self-assurance that typifies analytic philosophers at their worst." (Prince s.167)
"Any cocky, well-trained analytic philosopher can make logical mincemeat of Plato's Phaedo or Spinoza´s Ethics in ten minutes or less, yet everyone knows that the latter two authors are still the more impressive figures - and not merely due to their 'great historical importance'. Somehow, we all sense that getting the arguments right is not quite enough to build a philosophy." (Prince s.168)
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