Blogging through Markus Gabriel's Why the World Does Not Exist Pt. 2
Please click here for Pt 1, which sums up the beginning of Gabriel's introduction, particularly his discussion of metaphysics and constructivism. This is to set the stage for his own proposal, which is discussed in what follows.
Markus Gabriel, Gregory S. Moss, trans., Why the World Does Not Exist (Cambridge: Polity, 2015)
The position Gabriel presents, however, rejects what he dubs as metaphysics and constructivism. New realism, over against both of these, asserts that knowledge is not a collective hallucination. New realism “assumes that we recognise the world as it is in itself. Of course we can be mistaken, for in some situations we indeed find ourselves in an illusion. But it is simply not the case that we are always or almost always mistaken” (5).
He offers a helpful illustration: Imagine Mount Vesuvius is looked at from Sorrento, by Astrid, and Naples, by us. Metaphysics says there is only one real object, namely Vesuvius. Constructivism claims that there are two objects, Astrid’s Vesuvius and our Vesuvius. “Beyond that there is absolutely no object or thing in itself – at least, no object which we could ever hope to know” (6). New realism, however, claims that there are three objects: 1. Vesuvius, 2. Vesuvius viewed from Sorrento by Astrid and 3. Vesuvius viewed from Naples by us (actually, Gabriel points out that this is two views, me and you).
This is the key: “New realism assumes that thoughts about facts exist with the same right as the facts at which our thoughts are directed” (6). Ultimately, metaphysics and constructivism fail …
“…because of an unjustified simplification of reality, in which they understand reality unilaterally either as the world without spectators or, equally one-sided, as the world of spectators … The world is neither exclusively the world without spectators nor the world of spectators. This is new realism. Old realism – that is metaphysics – was only interested in the world without spectators, while constructivism quite narcissistically grounded the world and everything that is the case and our fantasies. Both theories lead to nothing” (7).
This is to say that both metaphysics and constructivism cannot explain how there can be spectators in a world in which spectators do not exist at all times and in all places (see page 7). Gabriel claims that this problem is solved by the introduction of a new ontology, which he will go on to explain in what follows (Gabriel also uses this opportunity to wax against materialism, and explain that if all that exists is that which can be investigated by natural science, the federal state of Germany would not exist, nor would the future etc).