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Thursday, 15 February 2018

Recurrence as a theory of experience

Thinking a bit farther on this idea of the de re as the sensible beyond awareness. The idea is to place experience resolutely away from the Cartesian theatre, from the Cartesian conception of a mind that accesses itself in a privileged way entailing a self-envelopping actual entity that has a degree of metaphysical independence. Awareness is rather to be thought as no more than the tip of the iceberg of perceptual experience.

Levinas' model of recurrence can help further. We can posit that experience itself has a recurrent structure. It is not about risking one's existence in a zone of risk, a foray into the dangerous area of uncertainties - the dangerous areas of exteriority, where things can go astray at any moment. This zone is a metaphysically defined space (and it cannot be done unless indexicals are supposed to be some sort of ultimate furniture). Experience makes one be replaced by something other; as a foray, as a trip to the outside, it assumes no coming back. When I come back to where I was after venturing into experience, I do that by changing myself, by becoming something else. Except when I report, when I bring something back, reportare. Reporting is when I come back to myself. The recurrence idea is that there is no subject of experience who is identical to herself, the only moment of identity is the moment where one goes back to herself in consciousness. This is when concepts appear in the picture: they are reporting devices, they have to do with gaining awareness concerning what has been experienced.

Levinas writes that consciousness is maybe the place of return to the facticity of individuation. Consciousness is where one comes back to after the sensorial journey. And this is where conceptual capacities are deployed: to report (bring back) what was uncovered through experience, when the effect is a reporting, we have aware experience, we have consciousness. Through reports we bring back something from experience, but there is far more to experience than what is reported, what is brought back to a contemplating part of the subjectivity. What is reported, though, has the implicit indexical form of expressions like "this is a red patch". Ultimately, concepts are indexicals, and reporting is ultimately de re.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

The de re and the empirical

On the wake of the book I thought I could give a talk on the empirical and the de re. It is promised for early March in Porto Alegre.

The idea would be to develop a positional or indexical account of experience where sensibility is tied to what is around something, to a position, and not to a sensibilia. Sensible experience is a variety of experience, which is broader and is as far-reaching as in the pan-psychist image of Galen Stawson or in the pamn-perceptualist image of Whitehead. So, in the Lockean image of perception embraced by Whitehead, one experiences a res vera before one´s eyes no matter whether it appears to one´s senses as a dagger or as a stick. Say there is a dagger before one´s eyes, this will have effects apart from the sensible effects on one´s eyes. Experience has to do with where you are, or rather, what fills your deictic variables. There is far more experience than what the senses register, awareness through conceptual capacities is no more than the tip of the iceberg.

One of the advantages on the top of my head of such an approach is to make clear that Russell had the right intuition when he connected logical proper names with knowledge by acquaintance but the wrong epistemology of experience: experience doesn´t require contact in the sense of acquaintance, but it requires contact. Experience, to say quickly, is thoroughly external (and therefore one needs to exorcise empiricism as a heir of Descartes).


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