Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 3, No 1 (2007)

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On Letting the Dialectic Go

Murray Code


Alfred North Whiteheadrsquo;s critique of modern naturalisms suggest that they betray reason by ignoring the vast extent and depth of the problematic of symbolism. This is partly borne out by the still unexplained fact that highly abstract systems of symbolism, as in mathematics, can throw light on the hidden workings of nature. But since these include ordinary perception itself, and since symbolisms always mediate between minds and nature, all reasonings about truth or reality elicit references to mysterious natural powers. Good reasoning in natural philosophy thus requires an artful dialectic which is primarily concerned not with exact analyses of meanings but rather with the element of creativity in their ongoing production. Such a dialectic must be based on a polar logic that is opposed to the modern tendency to treat fundamental conceptual contrasts, such as nature-culture, subject-object, matter-spirit, and so on, as separable.

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