Three Types of Pluralism

February 21, 2014 § 18 Comments

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Over the past few weeks there has been extensive discussion over the so-called “ontological turn” in anthropology. Many of these commentaries were written either in direct response to a recent meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA), or were aimed at the rising tide of “ontology” in anthropology more generally. I first came to learn of the AAA’s shift to ontology through friend and colleague Jeremy Trombley (see here and here). Like so many “turns” this one has inspired seemingly equal parts enthusiasm and dismay, and that’s not surprising. Initiating any kind of “turn” within any discipline is always problematic. Disciplines are by their nature very conservative institutions, and any attempt to initiate change within them is often met with resistance (and this is as it should be, I think, since most “new” ideas just either aren’t very good or aren’t very new). Thus to some “turns” reek of opportunism, confusing and competing claims, and unnecessary jargon. To others they breathe fresh air into a discipline confronted with new problems not solvable with existing methods. Most of the time “turning” is a tangled mixture of both. We shouldn’t be surprised then that the turn to ontology in anthropology has both harsh critics and proud defenders. You can find a general appraisal of the action written a few years ago here, and a much more vague though contemporary response here. For a more positive endorsement — as well as a very specific bibliography — head over to Somatosphere here and here where you can find resources for grappling with many of the figures in question. (Thanks to Joe Henderson for pointing me to some of these larger conversations.)

Closer to home many of Jeremy’s initial posts — and the discussion and links surrounding them — have initiated several rounds of responses from a philosophical perspective. Scu gives us a good roundup of the action here. Much like the arguments occurring within anthropology the philosophers find themselves at odds with one another, and especially with regards to the term “ontological pluralism.” While discussion has been heated at times I have to say that it has been one of the more interesting debates I have seen online in a while. However, I also see quite a bit of room to increase the conceptual clarity of the dialogue, which may also shed some light on the debates in anthropology as well.

One issue that has emerged amongst both the philosophers and the anthropologists surrounds just what, exactly, one is to make of the notion of ontological pluralism — or “multiple ontologies” as I’ve heard it called more than once. My view is that we cannot answer the question of what ontological pluralism is without also discussing epistemic and worldview pluralism. In order to untangle the situation, then, I propose we distinguish three types of pluralism — worldview pluralism, epistemological pluralism, and ontological pluralism. In his response to Jeremy, Levi Bryant has already begun making some of these distinctions (see here). My aim is to further parse some of these distinctions and put a finer point on each one, which I think will help clear up some of the confusion and hopefully move us forward. To do so I distinguish each mode of pluralism from its monistic alternative, hopefully so that we can get a better sense for what’s at stake philosophically at each rung of the ladder.

1. Worldview pluralism / monism. A worldview is simply a set of fundamental beliefs and values that help determine, guide, or constitute a group of people’s collective outlook on life. It’s a very abstract category, and it’s not clear to me that worldviews are necessarily consistent, unified, or intentional schemas. Each one is more like a pragmatically constructed bricolage that results in the rendering of a certain set of evolving and pre-reflective aims. Nevertheless, we can say a worldview consists of, even if only unconsciously or tacitly, a set of descriptions about what being is (an ontology) the different ways we can know about it (an epistemology) and a set of rules or principles for relating to others (an ethic). Worldview monism would then be the view that there is only one set of comprehensive beliefs and values that organize the collective of humanity. Basically, no one is a worldview monist; it’s even banal to point out that different groups of people hold different collective value structures that produce different kinds of effects, and it’s even more banal to talk about psychological pluralism / monism — the question of whether other individuals interpret the world differently than you do. There’s no reason to even debate the claim. There are, however, plenty of worldview fundamentalists out there — people who acknowledge that multiple worldviews exist, but insist that theirs is the only true and correct one. Thankfully, in everything I’ve read from both the philosophers and anthropologists no one is advocating for worldview monism or fundamentalism. However, there are some unresolved issues with regard to the relation between worldviews, epistemology, and ontology. Thus we have to talk about epistemology next.

2. Epistemological pluralism / monism. Here our first real sticking point arises. “Worldview” and “Epistemology” do not necessarily refer to the same set of cognitive structures (though they might be related in complex ways). What do I mean by that? Epistemology is concerned with examining the structures, methods, and practices that ground the possibility of knowledge and knowing. Here I don’t mean just the theory of knowledge philosophers try to generate, but also the actual structures by which philosophers try to ground their claims. We should also add that epistemology is never just a human question: Whether the human cognitive apparatus is universal or plural, it is always the outcome of multiple species acting from both within and without the human organism (the human first-person perspective being the outcome of a unified ecology of beings housed in and around the human skin). This much is true for all living things. Each organism possesses its own intuitions of space, time, and causality that help situate that organism in its ecology. There is also evidence that many organisms besides humans deploy structures of belief, intentionality, and concept-use (see here). That all organisms feel and experience affect is no longer any point of debate, but it also needs to be mentioned in this context. Thus we can say epistemological pluralism is true in a multispecies sense, though our concern here is with humans in particular. Epistemological monism in the sense I am using the term then simply means that the structures by which human beings cognize experience are universal (i.e., are invariant across cultures, geography, and historical periods). Epistemological pluralism on the other hand is the thesis that multiple modes of human cognition — multiple ways of structurally experiencing experience — are possible.

In relation to worldviews there are two options here: (A) Worldviews are multiple and variant across culture, time, and geography, but the underlying cognitive structures that support the possibility of forming a worldview are invariant regardless of circumstance. (B) Worldview pluralism and epistemological pluralism are true: People hold multiple comprehensive beliefs about the world (true) in addition to their existing multiple kinds of epistemic structures (probably true, but this is not entirely clear as far as I can tell). My sense is that philosophy and science alike are moving towards grounding the possibility of epistemological pluralism — which, again, is something quite different from worldview pluralism — and thus I think epistemological pluralism will also end up being true. (From philosophy consider, for example, Foucault’s analysis of the historical a priori or John Protevi’s work on developmental context and cognitive plasticity — all of which, I think, point to the variable and ecological nature of cognitive apprehension. The question here is what kinds of factors constrain cognitive plasticity; pluralism seems to be the case, but that’s not the same thing as saying any kind of cognitive mode of apprehension is possible, or that each is equally successful at apprehending the real.)

3. Ontological pluralism / monism. The distinction between ontological pluralism and monism is perhaps the most difficult to explicate, and I think much of the confusion (as Bryant points out) results from an inconsistent and / or un-transparent use of these terms. Ontological monism in brief is the idea that reality ultimately consists of a single principle, being, force, or substance; another way to say this is that only one kind of being actually exists even if there are many varieties of that kind of being floating around. On this account materialism and idealism are both kinds of monism. In the case of the former only Mind or Idea exists, and in the case of the latter only Matter exists (though of course there are multiple variations of each depending upon what we mean by “Mind,” “Idea,” and “Matter.”)

On this view a traditional materialist is not a pluralist but a monist; there are quarks, protons, electrons, galaxies, planets, plants, and people — all very different things, though they are all, in the end, different kinds of material things. What of ontological pluralism, then? In my understanding ontological pluralism is not the thesis that whatever people say or believe exists actually exists, but that the variety of entities that do exist are so diverse so as to make the monistic title “Materialism” basically useless. There is no matter as such; no unformed matter waiting to be given shape and property by outside forces or forms, and thus no capital “M” “Materialism.” Bryant — who argues for a non-reductive materialist monism — is also aware of this and has discussed the problem of conflating the concept of materialism with materiality itself. (As he says, “In reducing matter to the concept, we authorize ourselves to ignore the things of the world” see here.) Bryant believes that through the concept of emergence we can secure both irreductive materiality and still maintain an ontological monism. While I agree with much of what Bryant says I find it difficult to synthesize the diversity of irreducible materials with the idea of monism. Perhaps we will hear more about how he deals with this issue when his new book is published later this year.

Reducing materiality to the concept of matter is also a problem Bruno Latour has argued against in the past. (As he comments, “Materialism, in the short period in which it could be used as a discussion-closing trope, implied what now appears in retrospect as a rather idealist definition of matter and its various agencies.” See here.) Contra Bryant, Latour’s latest work An Inquiry into Modes of Existence (“AIME”) gives an account of an ontological pluralism; here Latour argues that the beings that actually exist are so diverse that we need multiple languages and modes of causation to account for them. (Terence Blake gives us a short summary of that kind of pluralism here). AIME is an example of an ontological pluralism opposed to traditional materialist / idealist monisms that does not smuggle in the kind of relativism Bryant is right to be concerned about (Latour attempts this by suggesting publicly observable rules and constraints — “felicity conditions”— through which each mode operates). This to me is quite different from saying that every human perspective results in an entirely new world created out of human perspective taking; it is rather a more empirically adequate way of dealing with the complexity and diversity of the actors that make up the cosmos.

Outlining a few of theses approaches to worldviews, epistemic structures, and ontology hopefully gives us some language to discuss some of the issues surrounding the concept of ontological pluralism, and the way ontology is used, in multiple ways, in anthropology. The primary issues arise, I think, when we try to collapse worldviews into epistemic structures, or both into ontology. For example, if we collapse worldviews into epistemology then we lose any ability to define the real limits to human plasticity, and the ability to publicly evaluate and assign value to competing claims is lost. Here personal opinion can be exchanged with the structure of experience as such, and this makes grounding any kind of normative knowledge claim basically impossible. Even worse is the tendency to collapse both worldviews and epistemic structures into ontology. This results in a kind of extreme solipsistic idealism. Here the real is collapsed into what human perception of the real is (ever heard anyone say, “Reality is what you make of it?” this kind of insidious statement is evidence of a collapse of epistemology into ontology). 

As far as I can ascertain all three kinds of pluralism — worldview, epistemic, and ontological — are true; however, each one operates as a distinct though nested set of entangled operations. What does that mean? When we’re talking about multiple humans from multiple places and times we are dealing with an interlocking ecology of epistemes delimiting various and diverse cognitive capacities (the constraints placed upon worldview diversity by epistemic boundaries). At the same time these multiple modes of embodied cognition are themselves cognizing another ecology of mind-independent entities that delimit the structure and flow of space, time, and causality (where the cognizer is itself one of the entities being cognized). There are thus multiple modes of cognition capable of bringing to presence a variety of different kinds of beings, and a variety of different kinds of beings impressing themselves on the plasticity of an array of cognitive structures. This is the central contribution something like actor-network theory makes to our understanding of worldviews: What we call worldviews need to be re-thought not just in terms of epistemological structures, but also in terms of material technologies (media ecologies) and more-than-human conditions. If we can keep track of these distinctions without collapsing one into the other I think we have a viable research program for philosophy and anthropology. If however we begin collapsing any one mode into the next I think the game is basically up and we need to start over from the beginning.

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§ 18 Responses to Three Types of Pluralism

  • Melek-Taus says:

    Reblogged this on Manticore Press.

  • Isabelle Stengers says:

    have not those distinctions the flavour of misplaced concreteness? Ecology makes it difficult to deal separatedly between the “what is” a being question, the “how it relates to its mileu” question” and “what it requires from its milieu” question,and the “how it makes it milieu matter” question. So why the stress on the “cognitive” – is it not a dangerous abstraction ?
    Also the point about “that’s not the same thing as saying any kind of cognitive mode of apprehension is possible, or that each is equally successful at apprehending the real” brings back the old “relativist” spectrum. I do not think there is one scale measuring success (“equally succesful”). Each modes of apprehension rather brings with it its own definition of the success/failure contrast. Cf Deleuze’s truth as relative, and Haraway situatedness (by the way what is the real from an ecologoiogical (NOT relativist) standpoint ?) .
    Sorry for this critical intervntion but classification always makes me ticklish.

    • dirk says:

      Isabelle, very kind of you to give us a hand in sorting out these matters, would be interested (if time/interest allows) in your take on this lecture by Alva Noë:
      http://anthem-group.net/2013/07/02/alva-noe-concepts-and-practical-knowledge/

      • Isabelle Stengers says:

        I fully agree with Alva Noel’s points, but to me (and this is why classification leaves me cold) pluralism is to be reclaimed (in a rather activist sense) meaning dramatizing the question “what did happen to us if we forgot or neglected, or were asked to ignore what are indeed rather obvious points?”. David Abram, Spell of the Sensuous, may help here with his picture of Socrates convincing the Athenians that they do not understand what they are speaking about.
        Concepts, and epistemology, by the way, are not descriptive categories liable to pluralization, they are active operators of qualification and disqualification. I am not sure that even knowledge may be saved, that is, defined in a way that escapes the retaliation that maybe birds know how to fly but we know better because looking for what flying requires we got planes flying…
        I would rather follow Whitehead for whom (animal) perception is already a crowning gift of abstraction, as contrasted with “being aware”, and relate it with Abram’s ecology of the senses. For instance when US evangelists come to know/perceive that God is talking back to them (Luhrmann) they have achieved (for better or worse) a very particular mutation of this ecology of the senses – modifying the way they perceive what they are aware of.
        Abstraction is not “knowledge”, it is about HOW something matters. And the most important point, to me, would be to insist upon “something matters” against the retaliation “Yes, it matters…for you” .
        Each “how” has its own correlative demands upon what matters and here pluralism starts – “objective kowledge” corresponds to the very specific demands that matter for experimental scientists. Oxygen satisfies specific demands that matter for aerobic living beings. The chemist’s “objective” definition of oxygen as such is mute about the high feat which was the appearance of aeriobicity. Do aerobic bacteria ‘know” oxygen? Or did the metabolic circuity which turned oxygen into a vital ressource transform the very distribution of what matters on the Earth? Is it an “epistemological” or an “ontological” event ? At least it is not a “subjective one….

      • Adam Robbert says:

        This is very interesting to me, Isabelle. Thank you for offering your responses here. I’m wondering if I can draw you out a little bit on your statement “Abstraction is not ‘knowledge’ ” — a statement which I think raises several additional questions such as: What is abstraction? What is knowledge? And perhaps, what is a concept? What is an idea? I attended your Sawyer Seminar Lecture at UC Davis where you spoke with Donna Haraway. There you spoke of both the power of concepts as well as a distinction between a knowledge economy and an ecology of knowledge. (You can probably guess by the name of this site that I am more than fond of the latter term.) Donna Haraway in her response to you spoke about the ‘doings of ideas that populate different territories,’ and that your work with cosmopolitics had everything to do with crafting abstractions as lures for holding (fragile) worlds together. If you have a moment can you say more about the differences between abstraction and knowledge, or even the differences between knowledge-as-economic-calculation and knowledge-as-force-that-attaches-different-beings?

      • Isabelle Stengers says:

        What is an abstraction? What is knowledge ? – those are the kinds of questions Socrates asked from Athenians, with the happy result that they were unable to define what they were talking about.
        Deleuze spoke about the need to replace “what is” questions by a method of dramatization.
        For instance “who is knowing?” gets dramatically different answers following the situation. – do we speak about swimming, about protests like “I know I did it!”, of school questioning “do you know the answer or are you bluffing?”
        Knowledge is always to be situated.
        As for abstraction, it may certainly be related to what is usually called cognition in the way Socrates did – please, abstract the meaning of “knowledge” from all these situations ! But then it is neither anmal nor even generally human – it is what Wittgenstein criticized, an artefact the pragmatic meaning of which must always be situated (crucial for judges and lawyers who dramatize it admirably)
        Then you have abstract as “extract” – to partially select an aspect of a situation (then relating partial with “making it matter”). It is in this sense that Whitehead writes that perception is a crowning achievement of abstraction, as lure for feeling (lure implying positive partiality – in French we strongly differenciate partial and partiel. But abstraction is the a problem of ontology if we accept (ecology) that whatever exists exists through its partial connections with other existants.
        But then what is the room for epistemology ? I think that if we wish to make such a room, we have to add “concern”, “conscious concern” even to the pot. This is event Whitehead’s point about consciousness, the felt contrast between a situation and the way we perceive/address it is our “pariality well-placed? And we get pluralization indeed because the concern is never in general, always situated…

      • dirk says:

        yes very good Isabelle I think I’m with you here (have been arguing that there are no such thing(s) as Concepts apart from particular human-doings) and would follow folks like Tim Ingold that we are always already improvising/reassembling our ways with/in (manipulating as my old teacher Rorty would say) our ever shifting environs.
        I share your interest than in prototypes (and oppose them to arche-types) and follow Annemarie Mol and others in tracing out how such working-models/instruments have to be bricolaged/retooled (or even scrapped) as we co-ordinate new contexts and interests. So yes a need for ever more know-how, more response-abilities, more innovation and perhaps even reflexivity.

      • Adam Robbert says:

        Yes, whatever does exist exists through its partial connections with other existants. This is very well put, as is the underlying emphasis on concern, trajectories, values, situatedness, selection, decision, abstraction, concrescence . . . this is very infectious language for me. It makes me think of what Vicki Bell calls an “ecology of concern,” and of course Latour’s “matters of concern.” The question of epistemology, then, is also the question “who is the knower?” “what is the concern?” “how does it come to matter?” Perhaps epistemology is an ethological question. The same could be said of (situated) knowledges, which are always partial sets of luring and constraining factors within a given milieu (as you and Deleuze would put it) — and all of this occurring before the question is even asked. At the same time this to me raises new problems about what kinds of connections knowledges make and unmake and what kinds of existants they do or do not connect and make circulate. Latour writes of knowledge as having a “mode of existence,” where “objects and knowledge of objects are similarly thrown into the same Heraclitean flux.” Can we not talk about situated knowledges as having a kind of being, then, or this is already too much sorting? It seems an important path of inquiry for cosmopolitics.

      • dirk says:

        I’m already on record that Latour’s recent project-ion of “modes” is already too much of this sort of sorting, but would be interested in I.S.’s take as Bruno often employs her author-ity on such matters,
        better I think to talk in terms like Wittgenstein’s perspicuous-re-minders, familial-resemblances, or just further develop the potentials (and particularities), the affordances and resistances, of prototypes.

    • terenceblake says:

      I cannot speak for Adam, but I sketched out a similar typology of pluralism based on stages in Feyerabend’s intellectual development: http://terenceblake.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/pluralists-progress-1-feyerabend-and-latour/. Obviously this involves a certain amount of abstraction, but Feyerabend mentions key experiences of conversation and teaching that led him to give up one abstraction, that previously he had taken for granted, after another. Latour describes such phase changes too. The idea was to give some differentiation to a homogeneous grab-bag stereotype of pluralism that was being set up only to be knocked down. I agree that the abstract noun “cognition” reeks of scientism, which is why I prefer the adjective “noetic”, as it allows for affect as well. Adam has also used this concept in quite interesting ways, even (as I do) talking about “noetic wonder” (“cognitive” seems to grasping to go with such things as wonder). Nonetheless I do think that people in non-modernist cultures know stuff about the world, it would be a shame to leave all knowledge to science.

  • Adam Robbert says:

    These are all great questions, Isabelle. Let me try to respond to some of the issues you are raising as these kinds of interventions are very helpful. As you know any time we speculate on what is and what it is not, or more importantly on why some things come to matter and others don’t, we are already at risk (or, just as often, we are putting others at risk). So, yes, I am risking a certain kind of abstraction with my distinctions that might be dangerous in certain contexts. The cuts matter, as Karen Barad might say, and I am keen to stay aware of accountable to their effects.

    At the same time, my point is also to begin an intervention into another abstraction that I find even more dangerous, namely, the equation that world = perception. To deal with this problem I need to begin somewhere, and thus my proposed categories, which I acknowledge are everywhere tangled, un-tangled, and re-tangled with one another (in much the same way Whitehead talks about a “fusion of reality and appearance” in the organism, for instance). The distinctions, then, are more about getting us somewhere than they are about positing clean and reified domains. That last paragraph is an attempt to re-tangle some of my earlier distinctions.

    Similarly, the “cognitive” for me is a term I would like to hold on to even if it is also problematic in ways. When I use the word “cognitive” I deploy it in a context where cognition is embodied (in the organism), extended (throughout the ecology), and is in every way a multispecies affair. Cognition, I think, is a mode of apprehension caught in what you might call reciprocal capture and emerges amidst an ecology of practices, techniques, and technologies, though I still think it marks an important set of contrasts by which we come to know about things. Maybe it still sounds too reified even with the caveats, though.

    A last point: When you say, “I do not think there is one scale measuring success (“equally successful”). Each modes of apprehension rather brings with it its own definition of the success/failure contrast,” I am in full agreement. I can see how my phrase “equally successful” doesn’t quite do the work I want it to vis-a-vis responding to or accounting for multiple modes of success and failure. Though, again, my aim here is to make more difficult the equation perception = world (or even practice = world) so that we can talk about an ecological real that is situated and multiple though not susceptible to the kinds of relativistic arguments the US anti-climate change lobby likes to throw around. As far as I can tell this requires that we be able to talk about practices like epistemology and ontology — each with respective conditions of success and failure — without equating the one with the other, even if they are always entangled. Problematic and difficult, though I think sometimes necessary!

    Hopefully some of these responses move the discussion forward. Any further comments / interventions you might have are always welcome here.

  • Sue says:

    It seems to me that one writer who has written extensively on the ever-changing fluidity of the humanly created world is William Irwin Thompson. His book Coming Into Being Artifacts and Texts ub the Evolution of Consciousness is superb.
    A good selection of his essays are available at Wild River Review.

  • […] Knowledge Ecology on “Three Types of Pluralism” […]

  • […] AIME. Some of the key links that I have seen are here (Jeremy Trombley), here (Levi Bryant) and here (Adam Robbert) – though if you visit these pages, I’m sure you’ll find they have […]

  • […] Adam Robbert of Knowledge-Ecology has summarized some of the distinctions that emerged these past few weeks in the ongoing discussion on pluralism. Adam warns against collapsing the three sorts of pluralism (worldview pluralism, epistemological pluralism, and ontological pluralism), as to do so would result in the nastiest sort of relativism (“reality is whatever you make it”). […]

  • Philip says:

    I don’t think that there are X kinds of pluralism; however, the word is clearly being used in a few different ways and this is causing some confusion. Here’s my initial (and rather sleepy, 1 am) attempt at a disentanglement:

    (1) Metaphysical pluralism in the sense of Leibniz, Whitehead and von Uexküll (if he’s read metaphysically). That is, there exists a vast plurality of beings; every being has its own perspective on existence; there is no über-being that contains or determines all other beings; i.e. there is no universe but rather a pluriverse.

    This basic tenet is common to many of the ‘pluralisms’ under discussion. In fact the above is probably unproblematic within this debate; I don’t think that this is what anyone’s disagreeing with.

    (2) Pluralism as its understood in political philosophy. This is complicated; to name but a few pluralists in this sense: Harold Laski, Isaiah Berlin, Robert Dahl, William Connolly, Chantal Mouffe… Many different ideas here. To some extent political pluralism responds to the basic fact that there are many different identities and ways of living and that these have to co-exist somehow; this problem is particularly acute in heterogeneous, multicultural, modern, liberal democratic societies, etc. etc. Pluralists embrace this diversity, argue for its virtue and try to think through ways of living together in this pluralistic condition.

    (3) Bruno Latour’s modal pluralism is a metaphysical pluralism in another sense: he argues not just for a plurality of *beings* but for the plurality of *being* itself – that is, there are many ways of being; being is itself pluralistic. To be is to persist in being somehow but there are many ways of achieving that persistence and, so, being is pluralistic.

    Bruno is not the first to come up with this basic idea (see Souriau, Simondon, Deleuze, etc.) but his is a striking and unusually sophisticated example of the genre.

    (4) The order that I list the three above meanings (or circumstances) of ‘pluralism’ is not accidental. Latour’s modal, metaphysical pluralism is also a kind of political pluralism; it would be well termed ‘value pluralism writ-metaphysical.’ There is his mode of politics [pol], of course, but the entire project is a matter of detecting, evaluating and re-instituting values. It is as much a political as a metaphysical pluralism in this sense. And so, at risk of gross oversimplification, we can say that (4) fundamentally differs from (1) because it passes through (2) and (3). It is a far deeper pluralism that places far greater demands on us, should we follow its lead.

    Levi subscribes to (1) – pluralism in the sense of umwelten – but has seemingly little time for the others. He can thus pursue a scientistic, modernist pluralism (I’m not even sure he’d disagree with those adjectives at this point) that is a metaphysical but not political; a metaphysics that is pluralistic with regard to beings (1) but monistic with regard to being (3) and which endorses a disqualificatory attitude towards ontology and a politics of speaking truth to ignorance and irrationality.

    Myself, I disagree with many of Latour’s arguments but I follow him all the way to (4). My preferred understanding of his pluralism (i.e. an interpretation that is creative but, I hope, a fair translation of his texts) is summarised here:

    http://circlingsquares.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/pluralism-and-ontology-second-attempt.html

    Politically I understand it to be an agonistic pluralism much like that of Chantal Mouffe but extended to a metaphysical level through the modes philosophy. My understanding of Isabelle’s philosophy is that it is broadly compatible with the above also, perhaps with some differing nuances and emphases compared to Bruno but mostly on the same page, as they say.

    Both, it seems to me, are committed to a pluralism that goes beyond cosmography and enters into cosmopolitics. Their pluralisms are not disinterested or neutral, they are committed and committing – that is, they commit us to certain ways of being with each other. They offer us not just a ‘picture’ of existence, framed as a multiplicity, but offer suggestions for living.

  • […] have been made recently about the ontological turn in anthropology – see the posting abut three types of pluralism, and read the interview with Michael W Scott about ontology and […]

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