Deleuze talks about the struggle for primacy in terms of the aspiration of various discipines to become “the official language of a Pure State” (DIALOGUES, 13). Thus in the French context the ancient supremacy of philosophy has been superseded by new contenders: psychoanalysis, linguistics, and cognitive science (Deleuze doesn’t mention physicalist reductionism because this has far less impact in the visible battle for hegemony in France). In each case we have a new “interiority”, ie the very opposite of the transversality that combines various disciplines on an equal footing to produce new ideas and new explanations. Instead we have the same form of an autonomous discipline (interiority) staking a claim for explanatory primacy over its fellow disciplines. But this self-promotion to primacy and universality is accompanied by a desperate endeavour to formalise and unify the hegemonic discipline, to give it explicit and coherent structure, canonical method, apodictic force. From a fruitful heuristic messiness and multipiplicity (diverse partially incompatible hypotheses producing only partially overlapping results) the hegemonic will imposes a unified paradigm or system of judgement. This unificatory interiorisation then functions as what Deleuze calls a “represser of thought”, a rulebook for producing (politically) correct ideas. No wonder mathematicians and physicists resent the incursions of cognitive science – they are too comfortable with their supposed intellectual primacy and academic prestige. Behind the epistemological babble about disinterested research and objectivity as a bulwark against “irrationalism” and “relativism” there is a combat for power, posts, resources, status and funding.
Personally I do not like to talk in terms of “correlationism” as I believe it to be an ill-formed concept (allying maximum extension with minimum intension). However, if one is going to talk about correlationism in the case of cognitive science’s pretentions to account for science itself, its nature and legitimacy, this can only be the case under an extended acception that I would call “structural correlation”. This nicely captures a little-noticed fact: whenever a physicist leaves off his equations and experiments to declare that everything is made of and reducible to sub-atomic particles (or strings, or spacetime, or whatever) and that all disciplines are ultimately explained by his own he is no longer making a scientific claim inside his discipline, but is himself guilty of structural correlationism.
What I am calling “freestyle Jungianism” is an attitude that treats Jung’s works as metaphorical rather than believing in them as expressing literal dogma.
This practice of attention provides the Bene Gesserit with a criterion to distinguish between mere men and women, governed by their pulsions, and human beings capable of sublimating these pulsions, binding their energy, and acceding to the life of desire. T
I have gathered together and slightly updated a few things. This is a first draft, and any help or comments will be appreciated.
What are the consequences of taking seriously the idea that “cognition is heuristic all the way down”? I take R.S.Bakker to task on what I feel is an incomplete assimilation of this idea, that he explicitly espouses. Plunging into the ocean of immanence, where all is heuristics, is still a revolutionary experience. More revolutionary than Bakker in his vaticinations about the dire consequences of the general adoption of his BBT seems to realize. I compare Bakker’s take on immanence with that of epistemologist Paul Feyerabend and that of post-structuralist philosopher Gilles Deleuze. I find that unlike these philosphers Bakker retains some residues of scientism, ie a position that gives cognitive primacy to science.
I argue that not all cognition is scientific, nor even intellectual in the sense of proceeding by abstractions. Practical know-how and coping skills are cognition too. Science is no exception, it in fact includes much tacit knowledge and know-how. Research is a part of our individual and collective individuation, and can give rise to what Bernard Stiegler calls processes of transindividuation that heuristically synthesize and stabilize our interpretations and practices provisionally. In scientific research these partial, provisional points of view constitute paradigms, and there is no reason to believe that a particular science functions, or should function, with only one paradigm at any one time. Bakker’s BBT is in fact less a theory than the sketch of a possible paradigm, based on his own personal selection and combination of various scientific threads. It is part of his own individuation, but he wants it to be more than that (which is OK by me, I thank him for sharing) but this “more” tends in his texts to become too much, ie an implicit claim to unicity and apodicticity.
I further argue that not only do we cognize adequately (ie to a degree of approximation adapted to our tasks) a lot of the time, but that we meta-cognize adequately too, including our own brain. This metacognizing of the brain does not proceed uniquely via scientific research but occurs in artistic and self-transformative processes. Bakker does not take this into account in his synthesis, and thus at the meta-level gives primacy to scientific cognition, even if he denies this at the content-level.
Bakker and I seem to be talking past each other. The problem in communication may lie more in a difference in attitude, than in any great difference in the explicit claims we make. Scott claims that he already says what I accuse him of not saying, I reply that he may say it sometimes, but that at other times he proceeds as if he had never said it. Such talking at cross-purposes is the sign that there is no substantive difference between our philosophical visions and that a mere nuance in noetic attitude is all that separates us.