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It is strange that a book written so clearly has been so clearly misunderstood. The preceding reviewers seem to have either (simply) disagreed with Lawson or not to have grasped the point of the project.
This project is a response to what Lawson identifies as a recurrent and ineradicable problem that has plagued most philosophical positions of the twentieth century (Anglo-American or Continental): the problem of self-reference.
In arguing for the persistence of the problem, one will note close proximities with Graham Priest's (more technical and rigorous) analysis of the Inclosure Schema in _Beyond the Limits of Thought_. Indeed, without knowledge of these more sophisticated arguments, I might not have accepted Lawson's description of the problem (this is why I gave the book only 4 stars).
Granted that self-referential paradoxes constitute an ineliminable feature of thought, Lawson proposes a solution: eliminate reference to the world as the totality of things (this appears to be a metaphysical analogue of Zermelo's solution to Russell sets in set theory). Here one finds some resonance with Alain Badiou's project in _Being and Event_ and its sequel _Logics of Worlds_, as well as Quentin Meillassoux' _After Finitude_ (and hence the title of this review).
I mention these similar projects both to illustrate what may be considered a general family of emerging thought (in both Analytic and Continental thinkers) born from the dissatisfaction of the 20th century's solutions to these paradoxes, and to suggest the philosophical significance of the concern. At stake here is not a repetition of Derrida, Heidegger and Wittgenstein, but grounds for rejecting them.Read more ›
Closure is not a story with new facts. It's a new way to tell the same story. It assumes that we cannot grasp the whole: the reality, the world. The whole is called "openness". Openness is not a thing. We cannot grasp it. What we have achieved is to perform "closures" of perception and language. Our perceptions are limited by our body. We can see only some electromagnetic waves of light (wavebands), not all of them. We can hear only some sound wavebands, not all of them. Our conceptual, religious and scientific closures are limited to our culture, they are limited to our current knowledge. These closures allow us to act within them, even when we cannot grasp the openness. This theory has the advantage of not falling into the problem of self-reference and it uses the material perception as synonymous with conceptual perception, and vice-versa, as guidance. Thus, Closure is just a language feature that allows us to discuss a "theory of everything" without falling into self-referential problem. It has practical implications, it allows to act in the world (this world / reality / all is the openness no-thing, which cannot be named. We don't know what the atomic sub-particles are; we don't know what came before the big-bang; there many hypothesis that cannot be tested by science. There are things we will never know. (What We Can Never Know: Blindspots in Philosophy and Science). Through Closure, without the risk of being self-referential, we can act, conduct, intervene with closures that allow us to appoint and act, until new openings. As a new scientific paradigm almost touch openness, without reaching it, we quickly close inside them again because we cannot act in the "openness".Read more ›
`Closure' is an attempt to plasticise reality, to soften up its dogmatic form not by invoking principles of criticism, rather by showing how criticism of sorts is generated by principles of closure. Briefly, it outlines how our conceptual structures are destined to be incomplete. By aiming them at what is not contained in them (the uncontained referred to as `openness'), it demonstrates how the aiming process itself impedes total containment which is completion. Consequently, the idea of closure is actually a tension between these two words, openness and closure, which generates our concepts, ideas and perspectives concerning the nature of reality. Closure as such a tension generates further concepts and therefore a nested structure of further closures. This duologue closure/openness has a distinguished pedigree (although this is never alluded to) which can be traced back to the Greek ideas of the fixed and the loose, is re-invoked by Kant's noumenal (which gets a mention in passing) is improved upon by Schopenhauer's idea of the Will and objectification of the Will, can be found again in existential texts such as Heidegger's Dasein and Sartres' in-itself and for-itself. In particular, it bears a marked resemblance to Whitehead's notion of eternal objects and their prehension in actual occasions. Unfortunately, closure stands against them as a distant poor relation, beginning as a great-grandchild but soon deteriorating into a distant cousin twice removed related by name only, as though it is embarrassed by such an association. The linguistic analysis is handled well enough, arguing against the inordinate emphasis linguistic philosophy has received in the universities.Read more ›
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