RE: dualisms

From: Cunningham, Donald J. (
Date: Thu May 06 2004 - 19:07:31 PDT

Ah! I have been "outed" as well.

I guess the pragmatist in me still wishes we, as a community, were interested in making some concrete analyses of a tragedy like the Iraqi prisoner abuses and recommendations for needed changes.

If we ruled the world............what?

The news today about the censorship of Michael Moore's latest film seems another stimulus to action. While I don't always agree with Moore, it is essential that multiple voices are heard..........djc

Don Cunningham
Indiana University

-----Original Message-----
From: Steve Gabosch []
Sent: Thursday, May 06, 2004 4:56 PM
Subject: RE: dualisms

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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