Der Weltbegriff

This morning, before work, I read some sections from Kant’s KRV. One passage in particular struck me as relevant to the project on which I’m currently working: The attempt to provoke Naturalism to account for and justifiy its metaphysical claims despite its motivational bent to the contrary. “Motivational bent to the contrary” here connotes Naturalism’s professed allergy to the metaphysical project and its so-called avoidance of entering the game of speculating about metaphysical entities like God, Soul, Mind, Free Will, Thought, etc. However, agreeing with Russell when he claims in the opening sentence of his wonderful essay “Mysticism and Logic” that metaphysics can be construed as an Ausgriff aus der Ganze it’s easily seen how blatantly Naturalism involves itself malgré lui in a dialectical contradiction. Naturalism, then, enters the “Kampfplatz endloser Streitigkeiten” by achieving a Blick von Nirgendwo and explicity making wholesale metaphysical claims concerning the actual domain-category of all actual-existing entities. The problem for Naturalism is that the domain category, The World, doesn’t exist in the empirical world, nor can it be inferred from any set of data one might encounter in everyday life nor in experimentation. “The World” is not out there in the world; “The World” is not in the world. Metaphysical Naturalism, as we can now call it, makes the ontological salto mortale, an unconscious death-drive which leaps from the living-breathing empirical world in order to extract and abstract itself to a view from nowhere from which it can assert pronouncement regarding the World. MN leaps from its presumed local domain of empirical objects and their relations to an ontological determination of the Whole which amounts to nothing less than a theory of totality. MN will then run into serious problems attempting to justify not only the nature of its limited ontological domain but more importantly to justify how, according to its own criteria, it can even make such claims in the first place. As I’ve mentioned before Naturalism cannot justify its claims by appeals to what’s contain within its domain for qua domain it determines the intelligibility of those entities which appear within the Domain and as such determines a priori what can and can’t appear within the domain over which it quantifies.

So, after reading some sections from Kant, I found the following passage informative and rather surprising. “Surprising” because I don’t recall Kant employing the metaphor of Horizon, a metaphor I’ve always associated with Heidegger and Gadamer. Kant claims:

“Man kann einen jeden Begriff als einen Punkt aansehen, der, als der Standpunkt des Zuschauers, seinen Horizont hat, d.i. eine Menge von Dingen, die aus demselben können, deren jeder wiederum seinen engeren Gesichtskereis hat. Aber zu verschiedenen Horizonten, d.e. Gattungen, die aus eben so viel Begriffen bsteimmt werden, läßt sich ein gemeinschaftlicher Horizont, daraus man sie insgesamt als aus einem Mittelpunkte überschauet, gezogen denken, welcher die höhere Gattung itst, bis endlich die höchste Gattung der allgemeine und wahre Horizont ist, der aus dem Standupunkte des höchsten Begriffs bestimmt wird, und alle mannigfaltigkeit, als Gattungen, Arten und Unterarten, unter sich befaßt”.  (KRV pg. 686 Suhrkamp)

A determinate concept of the Whole, like Metaphysical Naturalism, functions as an ersatz for an illusory and non-existent unity and organization within the world.

We can see this thought running throughout the so-called philosophical conversation, most recently in Habermas’ invocation of the notion of a shared reality “halfway between worldviews” which is a condition for the possibility of his communicative heaven in which Interlocuters exist. Heaven as a silent kingdom, perhaps a silent, gestureless School of Athens, in which everyone agrees and, therefore, says nothing. (Or, suppose we all disagree but at least agree that we disagree and therefore invoke this as axiomatic therefore leading to disagreeable and disagreement-silence.) Also, though I’ve not yet read the book itself in its entirety, only scattered sections secondary sources and equally as scattered conversations, Badiou’s challenging Logics of Worlds appears to adapt some of the insights from his magesterial Being and Event to a more explicity notion of world-fashioning using, among other things, category theory. Badiou’s use of the plural is relevant here as the conversation has thus far intentionally circumvented an obvious idea: the notion of a multi-verse. Worlds. A world of Worlds. The World of Worlds. Here’s a representative passage for my purposes here:

“Given a world and a function of appearing whose values lie in the transcendental of this world, we will call ‘existence’ of a being x which appears in this world the transcendental degree assigned to the self-identity of x. Thus defined, existence is not a category of being (of mathematics), it is a category of appearing (of logic). In particular, ‘to exist’ has no meaning in itself. In agreement with one of Sartre’s insights, who borriows it from Heidegger, but also from Kierkegaard or even Pascal, ‘to exist’ can only be said relatively to a world. In effect, existence is nothing but a transcendental degree. It indicates the intensity of appearance of a multiple-being in a determinate world, and this intensity is by no means prescribed by the pure multiple composition of the being in question”.


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