CARNAP AND ONTOLOGICAL PLURALISM

This is a response to a post by André Carus on his very interesting CARNAP BLOG. The post is entitled “ONTOLOGICAL PLURALISM” and seeks to correct what André considers to be a mistaken interpretation of Carnap as an ontological pluralist. So far so good. Butb intermingled with this argumentative strand there is a second strand, that implies a more global attitude, a rejection of “ontological pluralism” considered in itself.

On this blog, I defend a realist ontological pluralism, and I take care to dissociate it from relativism. So I guess I am reacting to a side point to Andrés main argument, but I do not see why he is so mocking of this position. Perhaps he has been exposed only to naive and confused versions of it, or undeveloped slogans.

Ontological pluralism is developed in the later Feyerabend, who was certainly influenced by Carnap (but not in this), amongst many others. So if Carnap was never an ontological pluralist, this is a good point to make. But it is not necessarily something to be proud of. Here I am surprised to find André resembling Wittgenstein grumpily rejecting Esperanto, despite having published Carnap’s reply to such an attitude elsewhere on his blog.

Bruno Latour is another ontological pluralist, but his philosophy does not resemble any “postmodern” silliness. Gilles Deleuze is yet another (in my interpretation of his work). Their positions are certainly worthy of consideration, even if they are non-Carnapian, even if one ultimately disagrees with them. For more details on ontological pluralism in the work of Feyerabend and Latour one can read:

FROM RELATIVIST EPISTEMOLOGY TO PLURALIST ONTOLOGY: The pluralist realism of Paul Feyerabend and Bruno Latour

I was also shocked by André’s rhetoric of the “ivory tower” in relation to ontological pluralism. What’s so wrong with ivory towers? A blog is an ivory tower, and my blog is an ivory tower edified to the glory of epistemological and ontological pluralism. André too has a blog, a very interesting and worthwhile Carnapian ivory tower.

I have read all the posts on André’s blog and I see therein no solution to global warming or to high cost of health care. This is not an objection, as solving this sort of thing is not in the specifications of his blog. No doubt a better knowledge and understanding of Carnap could well help our thinking about these and other practical matters, but that is another matter.

One thing that emerges from André’s portrait of Carnap is that he was concerned with practical matters, but he had no shame of intellectuality as such. Intellectuality without immediate practical relevance is increasingly under attack, and I think anti-intellectualism is an even more pervasive and worrisome ideology than postmodernist relativism. So I think it is a value worth defending.

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