Forum Scientiarum

2020 International Winter School

Maximal Ontogenesis: On the Speculative Satisfaction of Naturphilosophie

February 10th – 13th, 2020
Application deadline: December 1st, 2019

Main speaker: Iain Hamilton Grant (UWE Bristol)

Submission Information

The naturalistic claim that nature is all there is, becomes contentious only once a second claim is added, i.e. the claim that the natural sciences be accorded, on the grounds of the proper regulation of their methods, exclusive priority in stipulating what is. For in the first case, that “nature is all there is” offers no finality of form to this Proteus, while in the second, nature is finally determined as the issuance of the natural sciences. In consequence, a naturalism capable of thinking scientific must forge a philosophy of nature capable of creation, whatever its source.

What is philosophically interesting here is that these facts reveal two philosophical alternatives.

The first of these consists in the elimination of philosophy’s substantive contribution to any question of what nature is, as the means for the validation of philosophy as a dependent, critical science, less a court than a review board before which all our claims to knowledge must henceforward be submitted.

The second, contrastively, consists in taking the question “what is nature” as involving answers that no special science is equipped to provide, and therefore rejects the reduction of ontology to beings sanctioned only insofar as they are accorded ongoing scientific scrutiny, and takes nature to be a set correspondingly unsatisfied by any specific ontic content and neither seeks to eliminate nor isolate those ontic contents in accordance with any special science, be it physics or myth, according to Quine’s famous account of science in ‘The Two Dogmas of Empiricism’ (1963: 44).

I call this naturalism ‘post-naturalistic’ in a twofold sense.

First, it rejects the anti-Aristotelian rejection of ontology as distinct from the special sciences but does not sit critically as judge or review panel over the contributions of those sciences. Instead, it embraces all and is thus additional to it. It thus renews ontology neither on the basis of, nor as opposed to, the content or methods of the special sciences, but as cosmically oriented, i.e. as maximally inclusive. The operation of this cosmical attractor in ontology may therefore be called the first or cosmical precept of post-naturalistic naturalism.

Second, it is post-naturalism because it has so to speak two dimensions, a past and a future, both of which according to the cosmical precept are nature, such that nature can never consist in any given totality of entities but must embrace what no longer is (e.g. a primal nature) and what is not yet (a nature consequent yet autonomous, which must obtain just if nature is ontogenetic).