Why the world does not exist but unicorns do

An interview with Markus Gabriel…

Unicorns exist, world doesn't

“The idea that there is an all-encompassing whole, a sphere of being (as Parmenides’ metaphor has it) in my view is a relic from the past. However, it shapes our understanding of the lines of conflict in the contemporary global order. Many would subscribe to the view that there is a scientific world-view in conflict with other world-views (in particular, in conflict with a religious world-view). In addition, many would also subscribe to the view that each of us has locally entrenched value systems ultimately harking back to world-views – think of expressions like “modern Western civilization,” “Asian values” etc. This does not automatically amount to problematic forms of relativism, as one might suspect. Nevertheless, I think all of this is profoundly ideological in a bad sense and mixed up with the metaphysical idea that there is a reality out there into which we humans are thrown at some point in the evolution of species on our planet. We seem to awake to a scene which is already out there. In my book Why the World does not Exist I call this the idea of “the world without spectators”. This gives rise to the idea that the world without spectators is the real world, the one we can only reach by erasing ourselves from reality as we know it, which trivially is the world as grasped by the spectators.”

“The problem is not that we are all hooked on getting things right (I am a standard modern philosopher and, hence, all for truth and reality!). The problem lies in the additional assumption that getting things right requires more than the piecemeal, local activity of making sense of what there is in light of the specific conditions of the various fields of sense in which we encounter things. I have had many discussions with actual politicians who agreed that at least on the ideological level of justifying political actions there is constant reference to assumptions relying on the availability and coherence of the very idea of a world-view. Just think of all those categories we constantly apply in order to make sense of what we experience as cultural difference: East and West, America and Europe, or, closer to home: Anglo-American analytic philosophy and Continental Philosophy. There is a widespread, but misguided holistic assumption according to which we are introduced into the space of reasons from a parochial point of view (as Westerners, Chinese, Christians, Germans, Californians or whatever) such that we cannot help but adhere to some kind of overall world-view transmitted from generation to generation by institutions. I think that the reality of world-views is nothing but the ideological use made of the idea that there are many world-views which compete with each other. The struggle of world-views (the “clash of civilizations”) as a matter of fact exists, but here it is important to understand that its existence is ideological.”

“Beyond the technical details of the ontology I am still spelling out by defending it against objections coming from various directions in philosophy, I believe that the no-world-view (the view that the world does not exist) can also serve as a therapeutic tool in the context of ideology critique.”

~ Markus Gabriel

Read More at 3ammagazine


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