Fragility of Immanent Ontology

The immanent ontology of human intelligence provides the beginning subject matter for philosophy. Unfortunately this subject matter makes all philosophy fragile or unstable.

Philosophy begins in wonder. But it is a peculiar type of wonder about how there can be anything represented by basic patterns of thought such as “How can Socrates standing be the same as Socrates sitting?” When we ask what are these presupposed realities of our ways of thinking, we encounter inconsistencies and incoherence. Long ago in the 5th century BC, Parmenides uncovered inconsistency in the notion of change. Zeno proposed paradoxes about the possibility of motion and the idea of truth was challenged with liar paradoxes. Plato’s Socratic dialogues revealed inability to define basic moral concepts.

There is a temptation to articulation a general characterization of all philosophical problems. I will not succumb to the temptation. I would encounter a philosophic problem of defining “philosophical problem.” Like all philosophical problems of defining a concept I would be unable to provide a definition necessarily immune to counterexamples.

Nonetheless, using “material” in a philosophically problematic way, I submit that the material of philosophical problems is the material with which we think. What I have been calling “the immanent ontology of human intelligence” is the material with which we think

The material with which we think is not split into thinking, sensing and feeling (emotional state) until we think about our thinking. It is thinking about our thinking-reflective thinking- which develops philosophical problems amongst which is the philosophical problem of how thinking, sensing and feeling are connected.

The reflective thinking of the philosophical style makes immanent ontology explicit only to destroy it as an accurate representation of reality. There is a merciless and unending use of this critical and analytic type of reflective thinking which can destroy all confidence in our ways of thinking and leave us in total skepticism.

Of course, not all use of this critical reflective thinking is totally negative. Most consists of finding inconsistencies or confusion in some basic concepts coupled with efforts to remove or clarify the concepts. Unfortunately, these revisionary efforts invariably fail. The allegedly defective basic concept is a cultural universal, or better an innate concept- while the philosopher’ revised concept is not.

Other philosophical reflection is reductive although constructive in so far as it organizes the immanent ontology. They plan to show how most of the elements in our immanent ontology can be constructed out of, or defined in terms, of some few basic elements. Materialism and nominalism are the major reductive efforts. There is no satisfactory reductions of these types.

There is also the type of effort I am making with the notion of moral harm. I am trying to show that it is indeed a basic notion in human thinking. My work has to be with this material for philosophical problems. So, there is no hope of complete success. Whatever I propose is subject to being torn apart by intense philosophical criticism. Nonetheless, to satisfy demands of philosophical thinking which I have internalized, I need to confront and set aside several philosophical challenges before making assumptions that the proposed notion of moral harm is good enough.

Good enough for what? Good enough to enrich the immanent ontology of human intelligence with existential significance and guide us in how to live in accordance with the truth about how reality apart from human intelligence tells us how we ought to act and to be.

We need to move on to transcendent ontology for human intelligence to enrich it with existential significance.