The Logocentric Predicament and Its Solution by way of Second-Order Private Justification
[I suggest you read my email to Laurence BonJour before reading this for the context of why this very essay was written. You can find the contents of that email here]
In his critique of the a priori, Michael Devitt asks, “how finding something to be intuitively necessary can constitute a reason for thinking that it is true” to which Laurence BonJour responds, “If the insight is genuine, then the answer is obvious” (Contemporary Debates in Epistemology, p. 200). BonJour is totally right here. He continues, “There is (obviously) no non-circular way to establish that such insights are genuine” (Contemporary Debates in Epistemology, p. 200). However, with this, BonJour is totally wrong. A move toward private justification allows us to escape any charge of circularity. If our justification for a rational insight being genuine is private then any attempt of the skeptic to ask us to explicate this justification is not only question-begging against private justification but also categorically erroneous in that the skeptic is trying to apply properties, such as being able to be explicated, to the category of privateness that only apply to the category of publicness.
Many have been worried about private justification as a solution to skepticism because it seems to lead to epistemic relativism, but this is not the case. It is my conviction that private justification is a totally non-relativistic form of justification on the categorical level. What I mean by this is that not every proposition can be justified by private justification. This is my conviction because something that is able to be privately justified must itself be private, i.e., not able to be possibly explicated. So, what fits this bill? Things that are non-inferential and non-propositional. An inference is, by definition, a demonstration. Demonstrations are public, by definition. Furthermore, if something is inferred, it is inferred from something else. Hence, inferences also entail presuppositions that can be questioned. If the presupposition is non-propositional and therefore can not be stated, it would be apt for private justification, but the justification of what presupposes it is not protected by epistemic privacy in this case, because if its presupposition is not the case, then it isn’t either. If the non-propositional presupposition is inferential then the same issue repeats: if its presupposition is propositional then the questioning can begin once more. Hence, to end the regress of reasons, whether they be propositional or non-propositional, non-inferentiality must be the case. The inferentiality of the reason can be publicly stated. The inference itself may not be able to be explained and thus not questioned due to aptness for privacy, but the fact that we can question the presupposition is the case unless this presupposition is both non-inferential and non-propositional. So, non-inferentiality is necessitated to avoid a regress of reasons. Now, the reason non-propositionality is necessitated is because of the fact that if it is propositional then it can be stated, by definition. Whether it be a perfect propositional explication or a general communication of the notion by way of propositions does not change the fact that the skeptic’s ability to question is once again opened up. Thus, one must terminate to something that is both non-inferential and non-propositional in order to, first, escape an infinite regress of reasons, and, two, escape the skeptic’s questioning by way of private justification.
What are the implications of this? Well, things such as divine intuition can not have private justification because of the fact that what gives it its justification is divine confirmation and this is publicly explicated by the usage of “divine” within the public explication “proposition, p, is justified in virtue of my divine intuition, d.” What is left to deal with then? Well, we have perception and then other forms of intuitions. But, let us first understand that the charge of private justification’s total relativism has already been done away with as we have elaborated a criterion that some things simply do not meet.
We will get onto perception later, as for now, we will deal with the variety of intuitions that exist. First, intellectual intuitions, then eidetic intuition, then semantic intuition, then lastly rational intuition/insight.
Intellectual intuition is seen in a variety of ways. It is a concept that goes all the way back to Plato and Aristotle, most probably reached its high point with the German Idealists (Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel Goethe, etc.), and then died down to have a lasting effect on philosophy (especially, Chinese philosophy [see Mou Zongsan]). We are not, however, speaking of Plato and Aristotle’s ideas of intellectual intuitions as they are analogous to rational intuition which we are to look at later.
First, is intellectual intuition inferred? It seems not. It is different from divine intuition in that the element that is the intellect is not what gives the intuition its truth-conducive status. However, is intellectual intuition propositional? To answer this, we must understand, first, the nature of intellectual intuition, and second, the nature of propositionality.
Intellectual intuition is a metaphysical and epistemological notion. For Kant, intellectual intuition is non-sensible intuition of noumena. Kant reserves this intuition for God. Kant believes intellectual intuition to be impossible for humans. Furthermore, his notion doesn’t really concern us here because it can be encompassed within eidetic intuition, and thus it will be dealt with later. For Fichte, intellectual intuition is that intuition of my self-consciousness in the originary act of my self-positing. By way of intellectual intuition, I know that I self-posit myself. Thus, for Fichte, intellectual intuition is at the foundation of the subject-object division that is foundational for phenomenology.
When I have an intuition of something, whether this intuition be semantic, rational, etc., the propositional nature is not found in what it is of. By this I mean, just because someone says they have an intuition of proposition, p, does not mean you can question the intuition because whether it is propositional or not is not in any way denoted by what it is an intuition of. Divine intuition is not propositional, necessarily, but it denotes a propositional principle, that principle being one of divine confirmation being able to confer truth-conduciveness, i.e., genuineness. Whether a divine intuition is genuine or not is of no matter to the skeptic because divine intuition denotes a presupposition that can publicly and propositionally be expressed. Furthermore, propositionality does not have to be exact, i.e., one does not have to give the perfect propositional expression of something for it to be propositional.
It may seem like intellectual intuition is supremely secure, but in regards to Fichte and also Schelling, it certainly is not, because of the very structure of both the Wissenschaftslehre and the System of Transcendental Idealism. Both see that there is a originary and foundational principle of knowledge. This complicates both of their understandings of intellectual intuition because both have the propositional expression in the form of “I = I.” The proposition “I = I” means much more than a simple statement of identity equivalent to “p = p.” “I = I” is the foundational and thus first principle of philosophy for Fichte and the early Schelling. So, we get around their formulations of intellectual intuition, however, what if there was an intellectual intuition that did not have propositional form and was non-inferential? It seems that in the absence of such first-principles, it would be atomistic and not at all dependent on a rule, which is a requirement something must meet if it is to be apt for epistemic privacy. What would such an intellectual intuition be though? It would either be in the form Plato and Aristotle recognize it (as rational intuition) or in the form Kant and Husserl recognize it (as eidetic intuition). But, is this division between rational intuition and eidetic intuition even justified? Before we get to that, let us recognize that there is a third option: it could be the same form as Fichte and Schelling had it, except it would not have a propositional expression. Though, the very fact that those intellectual intuitions have been given propositional expression acts as an argument against any attempt to argue that those intellectual intuitions of Fichte and Schelling obtain epistemic privacy. Descartes’ cogito could similarly be seen as an intellectual intuition, but, like Fichte’s explication of self-consciouness and Schelling’s explication of the Absolute Ego, it has a propositional form, specifically in the form of cogito ergo sum, “I think, therefore I am.”
I think that before we take this detour to eidetic intuition and rational intuition, let us recognize that sense perception has long been considered an intuition impressed upon our mind by way of objects external to our mind (this is the common conception, I’m not claiming it to be right). Thus, I think it would be pertinent to also take sense perception out of its own category separate from intuitions and throw it in with the rest. And, efore we look at that which is left (i.e., semantic intuition, sensible intuition, rational intuition, and eidetic intuition), let us just address intellectual intuition one last time. There seems to be no inherent issue with intellectual intuition like there is with divine intuition, and I doubt we will find one. This is exactly why I think it may be useful in the creation of our metaphysics later on.
I have reflected for a great time on the contents of this essay written out thus far. The path towards relativism seems worrisome to me. Furthermore, I wonder, is it question-begging to ask for justification of private justification? How could one go about proving that some justification is private without first having justification? I think these questions are all wrong headed, and so has our approach to the question of epistemic privacy thus far.
What we must understand is that many forms of intuition are apt for private justification, and, furthermore, that there is no public proof for the meta-justification of private justification. This is not due to circularity, i.e., the private justification of private justification, however. There is no theory of the existence of private justification, rather there is simply justification, and it takes different categorical forms, but these different categorical forms need not be warranted, for such demand for a warrant is analogous to asking for a demand not of private or public justification but of private or public justification. Now, let us go back to the issue of the various intuitions.
Any intellectual intuition is in some sense bound up in sensible intuitions, assuming, of course, that by intellectual intuition we mean that intuition of self-consciousness which is analogous to self-awareness which is fundamentally a posteriori. In no way, is self-consciousness necessary in the modal sense. There are possible worlds in which all that is conceiveable is the world being itself — the corollary of this being that the only metaphysical proposition we can prima facie know to necessarily be the case, by way of rational insight, is “existence exists,” which can, alternatively, be expressed as “in every possible world, there is a world,” “Existence is,” “Being is being.” Thus, these intellectual intuitions are caught up in sensible intuition, and its aptness for epistemic privacy is also, therefore, dependent on sensible intuition’s aptness for privacy. Then again, one could argue that there are a priori intellectual intuitions of metaphysical truths that deal with consciousness. Or, rather, one could argue that there are intuitons of metaphysical propositions that are neither sensible nor rational, but, instead, are “just there.”
Thus, the dispute seems to come down to rational intuition, semantic intuition, sensible intuiton, and eidetic intuition. Semantic intuition seems to be a type of rational intuition (think McGrew’s analytic a priori intuition and BonJour’s synthetic a priori intuition both under the heading of rational insight here). There are rational intuitions that are practically indifferentiable from semantic intuitions of the same thing. But, whether semantic intuition actually is a form of rational insight will be the subject of future investigation.
So, now we have rational intuition, sensible intuition, and eidetic intuition. What is eidetic intuition? An eidetic intuition is the intuition of an essence and is at the foundation of phenomenology (in the Husserlian sense) because of the fact that “[pure] phenomenology will become established, not as a science of matters of fact, but as a science of essences (as an ‘eidetic’ science)” (Husserl, Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy, intro, p. xx). Husserl’s pure phenomenology, then, is a rationalism in that it is an a priori, i.e., eidetic science. Where sensible intuition deals with individual supposedly physical objects, eidetic intuition has as its object Eidos, i.e., pure essence. In this sense, how different is eidetic intuition from certain forms of rational intuition (assuming semantic intuition is the other form of rational intuition) then? It isn’t. Eidetic intuition is indifferentiable from BonJour’s postulation of rational intuition as a “genuine insight into the necessary character of reality” (BonJour, Epistemology, p. 78).
Thus, what we have been left with, in the end, is rational intuition and sensible or (from here on) empirical intuition. Rational intuition is dual in that it has been divided into two: semantic intuitions which is a subcategory of analytic a priori intuitions and eidetic intuitions which is a subcategory of synthetic a priori intuitions. Whereas, empirical intuition is singular. We have yet to discuss empirical intuitions, so let us do that here now.
What can we have empirical intuitions of? All that which is a posteriori. I think this is fair enough. So, the question then becomes what is fundamental nature of the a posteriori? Is, as many since and even before Kant have postulated, the a priori exclusively bound up in necessity and the a posteriori in contingency? In Naming and Necessity, Saul Kripke disputes such a thing, but our response to Kripke is to be saved for another time. We can have direct experiences, no one, not even BonJour, denies such a thing. Moderate rationalism is committed to the idea that one can be justified in believing in direct experiences and Husserlian rationalism holds that direct experiences can be autonomous sources of justification. The only reason this could be the case is because inference rules were empirically intuitied. But, any claim to inference rules, i.e., concepts having been intuited in the way a physical object is seems that it would likely violate the principle of epistemic honesty. One could claim they have empirically intuited that logic is necessarily the case, but, again, any claim to such a thing seems intuitively doubtful in the face of the principle of epistemic honesty.
What are we left with then? Well, we have a few positions that can be extricated from all of it:
Empirical intuitions = extreme empricism
Analytic a priori or semantic intuitions + synthetic a priori or eidetic intuitions = extreme rationalism
Analytic a priori or semantic intuitions + empirical intuitions = moderate empiricism
Analytic a priori or semantic intuitions + synthetic a priori or eidetic intuitions + empirical intuitions = moderate rationalism
Hence, and this is not surprising, the most epistemically illiberal of the combinations is extreme empiricism and the most epistemically liberal of the combinations is moderate rationalism. Because of the fact that someone can garner private justification for all of these, the moderate rationalist position is the justified one, for anything other than the moderate rationalist position would be question-begging against those intuitions they are denying private justification to.
Like I said earlier, intellectual intuition could serve as the basis of a metaphysics. But, how would it serve as such? Well, there is an obvious issue with recognizing self-consciousness. As said above, there is no a priori deduction of self-consciousness, nor is there any modal intuition of its necessitiy. Hence, it is bound up with, and also seen as a consequence of empirical intuitions. We perceive something, but that does not mean we perceive we are conscious, for such perception would have to have consciousness as its object, which, in a certain sense, would be analogous to saying, perception would have to have itself as its object self-reflexively. This territory is not only very abductive but also not entailed within any position regarding intellectual intuition as Fichte correctly points out. Thus, intellectual intuition could be that intuition that reveals self-consciousness to us. This intuition would have to move far away from the German Idealists’ conception of it since their conception is bound up in propositionality and the Absolute. It would also have to move away from the Cartesians because they are, like the German Idealists, caught up in propositionality. Now, there are always exceptions to this within the latter two traditions, and one could, furthermore, attempt to extricate the intuitions from propositionality, but, like I said earlier, the fact that it can be propositionality explication certain counts against any argument for it being apt for epistemic privacy.
But, is there any way we can resolve this epistemic equality between empirical and rational intuition? That is a question for another time.
What we have done here is not a failure. To characterize what we have to done as a retreat, that is, a retreat to privacy would not at all be fair. But, if it was, are we really blameworthy? Not at all. All we have done is pulled the covers over our heads to hide from the man without eyes watching for us.
Deal with the seeming issue — prove that empirical intuitions = seem to actually be the case and the rational intuitions = seem to necessarily be the case. Point out how rational intuitions aren’t seemings. Therefore say that rational intuitions are necessarily the case, while the person with private justification for empirical intuitions can only have private justification that it seems to be the case or something like that.
We need to deal with the modality argument (with contingent a priori and necessary a posteriori). One possible solution is to say that analytic a priori judgements deal with reference (we need to get around Quine’s critique), and that synthetic a posteriori judgements deal with sense. As a result, we can only have alleged “logically necessary” a posteriori judgements, such as water is necessarily H20, if and only if it is demonstrated that H20 and water have the same referent- in which case, the judgment would become analytic a priori. For contingent a priori, we’ll need a response.
Are semantic intuitions relevantly similar to divine intuitions, in that they are both epistemically non-autonomous? Divine intuition appeals to god, semantic intuition appeals to metasemantic propositions (denoted in the word ‘semantic’, like god is denoted in the word ‘divine’). Should we move to get rid of analyticity? If we do so, then the moderate empiricist cannot exist, for they can have no claim to the a priori without analyticity. In fact, they will be forced to either adopt rationalism (whether it be moderate or extreme) or to radicalize into extreme empiricism.
Luckily, it has been brought to my attention by my friend Jojo, that I have used “therefore” in some of my papers concerning the logocentric predicament. How am I not caught up in practical circularity? How can I ameliorate this seeming contradiction? Post-facto explanation, a very old original notion I created at the beginning of this whole journey to solve the logocentric predicament. I have already garnered private justification of logical and inferential principles. I am only explaining how this is so. I am not publicly justifying logic, and to accuse me of doing so would be a categorically erroneous accusation.
Let us also note that the critique of Georges Bataille is finished. Non-knowledge has been defeated, and with it Bataille’s philosophy really does die this time. It is just to Bataille’s luck though, as this fate of philosophical death is exactly what he has always wanted. Sleep well old friend…
Even though we have questions to answer and kinks to work out. We have solved the logocentric predicament. We have finally laid the foundation of sound philosophy out. ONWARDS! WE ARE THE PHILOSOPHERS OF THE FUTURE NIETZSCHE COULDN’T EVEN BEGIN TO DREAM OF!
: I have only found one account which places any division between rational and eidetic intuition: Louis O. Kattsoff’s “Is Eidetic Intuition Necessary” (1950). The issue is that Louis has a very, very unorthodox understanding of rational intuition. In the context of our understanding of synthetic a priori intuitions, Louis would agree that rational intuition and eidetic intuition are the same thing, or at least, the latter is a form of the former.
: The reason I prefer Laurence BonJour’s conception of rational insight to say Robert Audi’s is precisely because of his emphasis on the atomistic, non-rule-circular, and epistemically autonomous nature. For more on this, see BonJour’s In Defense of Pure Reason (1998), Matthias Steup, John Turri, and Ernest Sosa’s Contemporary Debates in Epistemology (2014), and Jason Baehr’s “Necessity and Rational Insight” (2003).
: For more on semantic intuitions and analytic a priori intuitions I suggest looking at Riderick M. Chisholm’s Theory of Knowledge (1989), Arthur Sullivan’s The Constitutive A Priori (2018), and, lastly, Timothy and Lydia McGrew’s Internalism and Epistemology (2007).
: For more on eidetic intuitions and synthetic a priori intuitions I suggest look at Laurence BonJour’s In Defense of Pure Reason (1998) and his Epistemology (2010), and then to Philipp Berghofer’s “Why Husserl’s Universal Empiricism is a Moderate Rationalism” (2018). To make a quick comment, I find Husserl’s phenomenology to be great in terms of a proto-form of Erik and I’s future metaphysics. We will most probably have a neo-Husserlian metaphysics with certain changes to Husserl’s original formulation here and there. Because epistemic privacy precludes propositionality, it seems that the German Idealists are not an option, which is surprising, and also that Descartes and some Cartesians also are not option, which is even more surprising. Then again, this whole journey through the epistemology that tangles with the logocentric predicament has been bumpy and full of knots, so, I do not expect the metaphysics that tangles with the logocentric predicament to be much different — ergo, expect nothing!
: This last sentence is ambiguous in terms of its semantic intent to all, but it is also ambiguous in terms of its reference to all those who are not almost-totally acquainted with me (and I only know of two people who are acquainted with me to that level, the girl I love, and my best friend).