miércoles, 21 de noviembre de 2012

For a refoundation of the positivist Philosophy

Positivism, under the last form of the Anglo-Saxon Analytic Philosophy, is going today through a strong crisis, suffering from fatal symptoms of creative exhaustion such as scholasticism, triviality and lack of interest of their discussions for a general public, specialism in regional philosophical issues (language, the “mind”), lethal for authentic philosophy, although not so much for sciences, etc. This crisis runs parallel to the one suffered by Marxist philosophy after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In the USA, main bastion during the Cold War and still today of positivist philosophy, this is leading to the search for a new replacement philosophy which will allow them to remain the world forerunners in philosophy, as it happened in the second half of the past century. This can be clearly seen in the work of its most famous intellectual at the present moment, George Lakoff, disciple, critic and successor of the great Chomsky, when he proposes in his book Philosophy of the Flesh (1999), written in collaboration with M. Johnson, a return to a Phenomenological Positivism inspired in Merleau-Ponty's Husserl.

A Phenomenological Positivism inspired in the last Husserl of the “life world” (Lebenswelt) and which looks for the genesis of metaphors (Lakoff & Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, University of Chicago Press, 1980) in the rationality embedded in the human bodies, in the “flesh” of their neuronal circuits that coordinate in a logical way the movements and actions of the subject. Such North American scientific-philosophical movement, of which Lakoff himself forms part, is wider and includes neurophysiologists such as Antonio Damasio, G. Edelman, biologists like G. Bateson, H. Maturana, F. Valera, E. Rosch or E. Thompson, experts in Robotics like R. Brooks, H. Moravec, philosophers such as A. Clark, H. Hendriks-Jansen, Shaun Gallagher or the Danish Dan Zahavi, etc. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embodied_philosophy). This movement, as well as having strictly philosophical roots in Husserl and MerleauPonty, also points out Unamuno, Ortega y Gasset and Heidegger as illustrious predecessors of the basic approaches of the thesis of the “embodiment”.

In this sense, the proposal of a renewal of the philosophy that the author names Pensamiento Hábil (see Manuel F. Lorenzo, Introducción al Pensamiento Hábil (2007), Principios Filosóficos del Pensamiento Hábil (2009) and Del Yo al Cuerpo (2011)) inserts itself in and converges with the already mentioned positivistic movement in its most basic aspects, although putting more emphasis on strictly philosophical issues. Not only because of the interest shown by the author in rescuing, for the philosophical renewal, the proposal of a Positive Philosophy made by the old Schelling against the Negative Philosophy of his rival and contemporary philosopher, Hegel, (see Manuel F. Lorenzo, La última orilla. Introducción a la Spätphilosophie de Schelling, 1989) but also to rescue philosophical approaches which appeared to be out of date, as the Ratio-vitalism of Ortega or Heidegger's most pragmatic aspects related to his Idea of the “ready-to-hand being”.

Nevertheless, we would put a difference, more in degree than substantial, in the greater importance that the author gives to the figure of a predecessor of the “embodiment” thesis like Jean Piaget. For, in the USA, the influence of the Swiss psychologist has been greater in the area of Pedagogy than in the properly psychological area, partly due to the weight and greater prestige of the Behavioral Psychology like Skinner's. In Spain, the influence of Piaget has been very big, both among pedagogues and psychologist, and for this reason the starting point of the Pensamiento Hábil necessarily remits to his innovative work. Furthermore, Piaget must not be considered as a mere psychologist, but as somebody who initiated a ambitious project of a new general explanation of knowledge, named Genetic Epistemology, who's frontiers move between science and philosophy. Being a connoisseur of classic philosophical tradition, although he believed that he could overcome it to step on purely scientific grounds by approaching again the foundations of human knowledge, he actually could not escape basic philosophical assumptions as the thesis that knowledge derives not so much from the mere sensations as from the actions of the individuals, thesis which was articulated in a modern way by Fichte. For this reason it is partly accepted his rejection of the purely speculative philosophy but not of positive philosophy, which regards unavoidable to assume the necessarily partial results of the cognitive sciences as the positive starting point from which a more general, properly philosophical, reflection can begin.

A philosophy, in the positivistic tradition inaugurated by Comte, must develop, as well as a general explanation of knowledge, a particular explanation of scientific knowledge following the different classes of sciences. In this area, however, Piaget didn't go beyond the organization of congresses and interdisciplinary reunions, not achieving a finished theorization of scientific knowledge. But Piaget, in Spain, had a stronger influence, maybe stronger than in other countries, in the field of the most strictly philosophical creation. As a proof of this the author remits to the work of Gustavo Bueno, who, in his Teoría del Cierre Categorial (1992-93) develops a theory of science in which an essential importance is given to the corporal operations of scientists in the construction of the theorems in which scientific laws are condensed. Such a conception incorporates essential aspects of Piaget´s work, without which it wouldn't have been possible to develop. But, at the same time, by mixing them with ontological components closer to the Marxist materialist tradition, the philosophical work of Bueno places itself in a position that, for a positivistic mentality, is suspicious of relapsing into a sort of scholastic “metaphysic”. Hence, from the proposal of a new positive philosophy like the one that makes its way in the “embodied philosophy”, the Pensamiento Hábil proposed must insert the brilliant achievements of Piagetian Genetic Epistemology as well as Bueno's Teoría del Cierre Categorial, in a new philosophical foundation able to correct at the same time one's defect of “scientism” and the other's mistake of “the metaphysic”. In such a sense it has been proposed a operatological positive philosophy as one that overcomes Husserl's Phenomenological Positivism and, at the same time, as an open way to achieve new and promising philosophical results. 

(Translated into English by Luis Fernández Pontón)

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