RE: dualisms

From: Steve Gabosch (
Date: Thu May 06 2004 - 14:55:38 PDT

Below is a short off-list exchange Don Cunningham and I continued about
dualisms last week. His most recent post (last one below) raises a host of
big questions that do a great job in a few sentences of showing how
interconnected philosophical questions are. Wanted to share his thoughts
with the list.

- Steve

>4/29/2004 Don Cunningham wrote:
> >Steve, this could easily lead us into a broader and potentially very
> >interesting discussion of categories (beyond dualisms) and the joys/woes
> >of nominalism. But I have hit the end of my semester and a slew of
> >grading. I will have to step back for a while. I hope the topic will not
> >have passed me by when I re-surface.
> >Cheers.........djc
> >
> >Don Cunningham
> >Indiana University

>From: Steve Gabosch []
>Sent: Friday, April 30, 2004 3:47 AM
>To: Cunningham, Donald J.
>Subject: RE: dualisms
>(writing off-list)
>Don, our little xmca discussion has been great. I am intrigued by its next
>turn with your introduction of nominalism. I'd like to understand how you
>link that in.
>I am now starting to read Ilyenkov's The Dialectics of the Abstract and the
>Concrete in Marx's 'Capital'. In some of the pages I was reading tonight
>he happened to discuss nominalism in terms of medieval scholasticism,
>nominalist empiricism, Mill, etc., and how nominalism conceives the
>abstract and concrete. His discussion about the abstract and the concrete
>is also of course very relevant to the whole question of categories and
>concepts that you raise.
>What do you say we put this thread on hold until time permits a continuation?
>It has been a pleasure!
>- Steve

At 11:50 AM 5/2/2004 -0500, you wrote:
>(sticking my head up from a pile of papers)
>Hi Steve,
>My link is that the nominalists disavow the notion that we get closer to
>the truth of something by making distinctions, generalizations,
>abstractions, universals). So, for example, are we closer to the "real"
>when we abstract out subject-artifact-object (or closer still when we add
>Yrjö's triangles). If I read Victor's post correctly, this is related more
>broadly to dialectical materialism. One question is whether you can be a
>realist without being a nominalist. Peirce, for example, proposed
>universal categories (the universe consists of qualities, things and
>relationships) but affirmed that they were "real", not just products of
>mind. It's hard for me to imagine science (or cognition/semiosis in
>general) without abstractions and generalizations, but the question is
>What do we make of them. This loops back to Dewey and a transactional
>model. I believe Dewey is saying that we have to always be alert to the
>"constructed" nature of our explanations and the possibility for unlimited
>further connections. In my own head, there is an important distinction
>between meaning and truth. Things can be quite meaningful in a context
>without us ever being able to settle the truth of the matter. We live in
>meaning, not truth. Meanings change, grow, die, etc.
>It will be a while yet before I rejoin the fray, but feel free to share
>this if you think it is helpful......djc
>Don Cunningham
>Indiana University


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