Language, Logos, and Social Ontology: Naturalist and Post-Naturalist Narratives of Human Rationality and Social Reality
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I distinguish two ways that philosophers have approached and explained the reality and status of human social institutions. I call these approaches “naturalist” and “post-naturalist”. Common to both approaches is an understanding that the status of mind and its relation to the world or “nature” has implications on a conception of the status of institutional reality. Naturalists hold that mind is explicable within a scientific frame that conceives of mind as a fundamentally material process. By proxy, social reality is also materially explicable. Post-naturalists critique this view, holding instead that naturalism is parasitic on contemporary science—it therefore is non-compulsory and distorts how we ought to understand mind and social reality. A comparison of naturalism and post-naturalism will comprise the content of the first chapter. The second chapter turns to tracing out the dimensions of a post-naturalist narrative of mind and social reality. Post-naturalists conceive of mind and its activity of thought as sui generis, and it transpires from this that social institutions are better understood as a rational mind’s mode of the expression in the world. Post-naturalism conceives of social reality as a necessary dimension of thought. Thought requires a second person and thereby a tradition or context of norms that come to both structure its expression and become the products of expression. This is in contrast to the idea that social reality is a production of minds, and thereby derivative. Social reality, self-conscious thought, and thought of the second person are therefore three dimensions of a greater unity.